Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Bush in the 1970s

Some more admittedly wild speculation about Bush being involved with the CIA in the 1970s:

When the Bush White House released records showing that he was suspended from the National Guard for missing a physical, they redacted the name of a fellow Guardsman who was suspended for exactly the same reason. As Salon tells it:
The records released by the White House last month . . . add one compelling fact to the story -- namely, that Bush was not the only man in his unit to be suspended for failing to take the physical, and that someone else at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston was suspended for exactly the same reason at almost the same time. However, in the documents, the second man's name was inexplicably redacted -- raising new questions.

. . . [T]he same document that was redacted by the White House had been the subject of a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Marty Heldt, who was investigating the story before the 2000 presidential election. In the same document that the White House selectively censored for release to the public, the name of the man who was also suspended with Bush is clearly printed. His name: James R. Bath.
The Salon article says this about James Bath's early career:
A native of Natchitoches, La., Bath moved to Houston in 1965 at age 29 to join the Texas Air National Guard. In 1968, he was hired by Atlantic Aviation, a Delaware company that sells business aircraft, to open an office in Houston. He went on to become an airplane broker on his own. Sometime around 1974 -- Bath doesn't recall the exact date -- he was trying to sell an F-27 turboprop when he received a phone call that changed his life.

The man on the phone was Salem bin Laden, heir to the great Saudi Binladin Group fortune. Then only about 25, Salem was also the older brother of Osama bin Laden, then 17.

Bath not only had a buyer for a plane no one else wanted but also had stumbled upon an extraordinary source of wealth and power. Bath ended up befriending both Salem bin Laden and his close associate, Khalid bin Mahfouz, then also about 25 and heir to the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia, the biggest banking empire in the kingdom.
The Salon article goes on to speculate that the White House redacted Bath's name because of a desire to hide the fact that Bath had connections to Middle Easterners.

But could there be another reason? Was Atlantic Aviation something more than it seemed? This could be completely untrue, but at least one site that appears to be something like a legal complaint says this:
Charter is a Lanier bank whose directors include E Trine Starnes, Barry Munitz, and Andrew Alexander of Weingarten Realty Inc. The shareholders include Jim Bath who was a trustee for Mahfouz and associated with the CIA's operations Atlantic Aviation, owned by Edward DuPont, and Summit Aviation, owned by Richard C. DuPont.
Was Atlantic Aviation a CIA operation? Who knows?

Summit Aviation, owned by the same family, turned out later to have had CIA connections. As the New York Times reported in 1983:
Both the Summit company, which was established in 1960 by Richard C. DuPont Jr., and Investair, which was organized in 1982, do classified military work for the Government and for the C.I.A., according to company officials and Congressional sources. Both companies also employ officials formerly affiliated with the C.I.A., according to published accounts.
Or as United Press International reported in 1984:
The CIA is secretly using commercial air cargo carriers to deliver tons of weapons and ammunition to Central America in a replay of similar operations carried out during the Vietnam War, it was reported.

CBS News reported Sunday night Southern Air Transport of Miami, Evergreen Air in Tucson and Summit Aviation in Delaware are part of a network of private air freight companies that ''runs guns, airplanes and people'' to aid American covert activities in Central America.
* * *
''There's no need to use private companies as a front, cover, for CIA activities there (in Central America),'' Sen. Jim Sasser, D-Tenn., said in response to the report. ''Everyone knows the CIA activities are going on. It puts a cloud over legitimate American business people operating in Central America.''

At the height of the Vietnam War, according to a Senate report, the CIA operated airlines worth more than $50 million with 8,000 employees.
Recall, if you will, that at the same time Bush was in the National Guard, he was traveling to Central America: A State Department website says, without naming the company, that "George's job was to travel around the United States and to countries in Central America looking for plant nurseries his company might want to acquire."

James Bath may have been connected to the CIA. As the Salon article says:
But exactly what he did beyond that, in the intelligence world and elsewhere, is shrouded in mystery. When asked about his career, Bath downplays his importance. By his account, he is merely "a small, obscure businessman." It has often been said that he was in the CIA, but Bath denied that to Time magazine. Later, he equivocated. "There's all sorts of degrees of civilian participation [in the CIA]," he told me. "It runs the whole spectrum, [from] maybe passing on relevant data to more substantive things. The people who are called on by their government and serve -- I don't think you're going to find them talking about it. Were that the case with me, I'm almost certain you wouldn't find me talking about it."
And another internet article -- which, to repeat, might be completely unreliable -- says this of Bath and the CIA:
“Bath told me that he was in the CIA. He told me he was recruited by George H. W. Bush himself in 1976,” when the elder Bush was CIA Director, according to Beaty’s interview with White.

White added further, “That made sense to me, especially in light of what I had seen once we went into business together. He [Bath] said that [CIA Director] Bush wanted him involved with the Arabs, and to get into the aviation business.”
Then the American Spectator reported in 1992:
In the late 1970s, George Jr. tried to emulate his father's business success in the Oil Patch by setting up a series of drilling partnerships. Called Arbusto '78, Arbusto '79, and so forth, they attracted capital from, among others, a Houston aircraft broker and financial manager named James Bath, who according to a former associate had acted as liaison between Saudi businessmen and the Central Intelligence Agency in 1976, the year in which George Bush, the elder, served as director of central intelligence.
All we have here are tidbits that, even if true, don't prove anything. Still, could it be that Bush and Bath were both working for the CIA in some capacity during the early 70s? They both were definitely connected to the CIA at some point, and they both missed time in the National Guard without ever stating a reason. It would explain their absence, their reticence to speak about it, and the holes that might exist in legitimate records.

Again, I don't know anything here. Just raising the question, that's all.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home