Poppy Bush’s Virgin Born Intelligence Knowledge

Jack Goldsmith links to an interesting document from the RummyLeaks library: then Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld’s memo to President Ford reviewing possible candidates to replace William Colby as head of the CIA.

But Goldsmith doesn’t call out the most amusing part of the memo: the way that Rummy asserts that Poppy has the intelligence experience to do the job without pointing out where he got that experience.

Where Rummy thought someone had real experience with the CIA he laid that out: Harold Brown’s experience with the NRO and SALT,  his and John Foster’s experience with Defense Research and Engineering, Douglas Dillon’s membership on the Rockefeller Committee on the CIA, William Baker and Robert Galvin’s service on the Presidential Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, Melvin Laird’s service on the Appropriations and Armed Services Committees and Gale McGee’s service on Foreign Relations and Appropriations Committees, Stanley Resor’s service as Secretary of the Army and as member of the Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions delegation, Elliott Richardson’s service as Secretary of Defense. Every single member of the Council on Foreign Relations had that detail noted. For a number of these (particularly those with a research focus, Rummy explained precisely how the experience applied).

But Rummy doesn’t really explain how Bush acquired his general familiarity with intelligence.

This is perhaps most obvious when you compare Rummy’s description of Bob Dole’s qualifications with those of Bush.

Robert J. Dole: 52 years old (this month); U.S. Senator (R-Kansas); Past Chairman, RNC; Lawyer, WWII Service.

Pros: Strong “law and order” image. Confirmable.

Cons: No background in intelligence; no management experience; RNC post raises question over politicization potential.


George Bush: 51 years old; Member of Congress; US Ambassador to the UN and subsequently to USLO Peking; Oil producer; Politician.

Pros: Experience in government and diplomacy; generally familiar with the components of the intelligence community and their missions; management experience; high integrity and proven adaptability.

Cons: RNC post lends undesirable political cast.

After all, at this point of their life, these men shared many of the same resume points: they are nearly exact contemporaries, with World War II experience (though Rummy didn’t mention Poppy’s), time in Congress, and service at the head of the RNC. Yet according to Rummy, Bush had the intelligence experience to lead CIA and Dole did not.

Now, obviously, Bush’s service as Ambassador to the UN and–to an even greater degree–as Ambassador to China would clearly have put him in positions at the front line of the Cold War.

But of course Bush’s most direct experience to be Director of the CIA came from that innocuous other resume point: “oil producer.” Heck, Rummy doesn’t even note by name Bush’s leadership of Zapata Oil, which was reportedly a cover for Bay of Pigs preparation. Russ Baker even found a J. Edgar Hoover note indicating that “Mr. George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency” was briefed on concerns that the Kennedy assassination would encourage anti-Castro groups to strike at Cuba.

Rummy doesn’t explain any of that background. But then, had he done so, he probably couldn’t have claimed (as he did) that “all 23” candidates “are outsiders to the CIA.”

  1. behindthefall says:

    Being a child of the 60s, I ought to remember the reason given for JFK not knowing about the Bay of Pigs operation. (I still accept that he was blindsided by it.) Just a breakdown in the briefing process between CIA and WH, was it? CIA had so many things going on that it forgot to tell the new kids about the ongoing game? “Oops, my bad. We’ll try not to let that happen again. Go away now.”

    But there are getting to be too many coinkydinks. Maybe “Group B” goes back farther than we tend to think. Maybe they’ve been there since, oh, I don’t know, WWII? FDR’s first or second term?

    Gad, what a paperback that’d make!

    • behindthefall says:

      I meant “Team B”, not “Group B”. And there are GHWB’s hands, again. This stuff must go back at least as far as the 50s (Zapata, Bay of Pigs). I just wonder how much farther.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Those descriptions have a touch of the hilarious about them. They’re pretty casual for an attempt to differentiate among equally highly-qualified candidates.

    In listing the “cons” for Bush, he hadn’t previously mentioned his RNC post, as he had with Dole. Nor, as you say, had he mentioned Bush’s experience as a naval aviator in the Pacific. Odd, since prior military service seems to have been a requirement.

    I fail to see what the descriptor “Politician” adds to Bush’s experience as a Member of Congress (the House or Senate one wonders) that didn’t also apply to Bob Dole, as a sitting US Senator, who doesn’t have that mentioned about him.

    “High integrity and proven adaptability” are characterizations that Rummy claims apply to Bush, but he doesn’t tie them to specific experiences. Rummy doesn’t mention such traits for Dole, though one would think they applied equally to him, especially his having overcome his war wounds so spectacularly.

    It seems hilarious now to think that the ueber-political, ueber-ambitious Rumsfeld, even then, would have considered “politicization” at the CIA to have been a bad thing.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    It might be useful to note that Dick Cheney did much of Rummy’s memo writing back then, as well as all the grunt work, which he had been doing for Rummy since he joined him as a staffer when Rummy was in Congress.

  4. fran66 says:

    John Hankey’s DVD, “The Dark Legacy” (2009), makes some stunning connections between the elder Bush and the JFK assassination. EW, I recommend you get a copy from the library to view. Readers would be extremely interested in your thoughtful seasoned comments. Elder Bush, like Nixon, has given different answers to the media over several decades when asked, “where were you when JFK was shot?”

    Who wouldn’t remember that?

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The Church Committee was hard at work when Ford/Rumsfeld replaced Colby with Bush – because of Colby’s too open attitude toward cooperating with Congress. Putting in a reliable hand at CIA was a top priority.

    From Rummy’s perspective, the important task in all of this was to put himself in as SecDef and have Cheney replace him as Ford’s chief of staff. “Halloween Massacre” is right, and not simply because of the date.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    And there’s the little matter of how William Colby died in 1996. Aged 76, he went out for a solo midnight canoe trip on a local river, without his usual life jacket. His body was found more than a week later, but never the life jacket. Funny way to go for a guy careful enough to have survived a lifelong career as a spy, from working in the OSS to the nascent CIA with Angleton, running the Phoenix program in Vietnam, multiple coup assists, and eventually running all of the CIA.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I suspect there’s a special circle in hell carved out for him just because of the Phoenix program. Yet, Rummy and Cheney didn’t think he was hardline enough. Hilarious.

        • Jeff Kaye says:

          Colby talked too much for their taste about Phoenix, was too open to discussions with anti-CIA critics, and testified to Congress. I’m sure Colby’s admission that Phoenix assassinated 20,000 was even so a low estimate, but since when do CIA chiefs admit war crimes.

          Bush connects to the Kennedy assassination through George de Mohrenschildt, who appears to have gone psychotic in his last months, as his pending testimony to the House Committee on Assassinations drew nearer. He had Bush’s phone number in his address book when he died, and had written CIA director Bush for help because he felt he was being harassed on the Oswald matter. See Bush’s reply.

          As most JFK assassination followers know, de Mohrenschildt was the CIA-connected White Russian oilman who befriended the “communist” Oswald and his wife after their return from the Soviet Union. It never made sense that this very conservative Russian, a friend of the tonton macoutes in Haiti, would befriend Oswald. Reading his memoir of Oswald (PDF), an attachment to the House Committee report (1976) is an exercise in perusing a disingenuous document. (Hearing about the assassination, de Mohrenschildt supposedly thought, “I hope it wasn’t Lee.” At the same time he thought, “I hope it wasn’t in Texas, especially Dallas,” though only a page or so later, he explains to a friend that it makes no sense that provincial Dallas was the site. — The whole document is meant to set up an “anti-fascist” Lee as someone who went farther than his kindly, naive friend would have thought with his views.)

          — The mild reference by Rumsfeld (the man doesn’t deserve a nickname, which humanizes him even a little, since he is a monster) to Bush’s intelligence experience means that Bush’s old CIA connection was highly classified.

  7. parsnip says:

    Colby’s next door neighbor told me that Colby always washed the dishes and tidied up. There were dirty dishes in the sink at the time of his death.

  8. PJEvans says:

    I’m wondering if Bush and his company were involved in some of the coups and revolutions and uprisings that happened in so many of those smaller oil-producing nations in the 50s and 60s.

  9. Citizen92 says:

    What about the candidates’ Bechtel and Brown Brothers’ experience?

    Wink, wink, nod, nod Mr. President?

    Also nice to see that Rummy (or ghostwriter Dick) was making up fictitious classification terms back then too “administratively confidential.”

    • emptywheel says:

      Glad you pointed that out!!

      For those who didn’t read closely, C92 is noting a couple of other candidates:

      George Shultz, for whom Rummy-Dick list NO Cons. The memo also doesn’t claim he has any intelligence experience: just “very knowledgeable in govt and bureaucracy.” But he’s President of Bechtel, so…

      Then there’s Robert Roosa. The memo says he’s “sensitive to limitations on CIA activities,” but “limited knowledge of intelligence systems and requirements.” But he, like Shultz, is “experienced in bureaucracy.” Perhaps he got that from being a Partner in Brown Brothers Harriman. (Or maybe the Rockefeller Foundation.

      Actually, this memo really ought to set the tinfoil ablaze, since many of these items cited as “experience” are precisely the orgs that we’ve always suggested were the seats of real power and spookery in this country.

  10. gmoke says:

    Suspected for a long, long time that Poppy Bush was a CIA operative from the moment he got out of the Navy and maybe even before. Remember the aviator in his squadron who claimed that Bush’s heroic moment in WWII was actually cowardice? Wonder whatever happened to him.

    • pokums says:

      Remember the aviator in his squadron who claimed that Bush’s heroic moment in WWII was actually cowardice? Wonder whatever happened to him./blockquote>

      Went for a canoe ride with Colby.

  11. Desider says:

    From Down With Tyranny: http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2011/01/nous-ne-sommes-plus-vos-macaques-anti.html

    UPDATE: Russ Baker Wants To Make Sure We’re Aware Of The Bush Connection

    Baker points out that the CIA was a sponsor of Mobutu’s and that George H.W. Bush later welcomed the savage kleptocrat and tyrant to America as “one of our most valued friends.” Three days after Lumumba was murdered, JFK was sworn in as President of the United States and Baker’s nook, Family of Secrets makes a hard to deny case for the involvement of the CIA, Dulles and… George H.W. Bush. From Baker’s WhoWhatWhy:
    In my book, Family of Secrets, I cite evidence that the elder Bush was deeply involved in C.I.A covert operations during the time in which both assassinations took place. I document his close ties to mining interests comparable to the ones Lumumba himself had angered– by declaring, as Hochschild recounts, that it was not enough for the Congolese to gain political independence from colonial rule, but that “Africans had to also benefit from the great wealth in their soil.”

    More troubling are the many inconsistencies and gaps that I discovered in accounts by Bush and others concerning his activities on and around the day of the assassination, all of which are extensively documented and footnoted. These include:

    • Bush’s noted inability to recall where he was on November 22, 1963;

    • his longtime friendship with George de Mohrenschildt, a mentor and confidant to Lee Harvey Oswald;

    • a declassified FBI memo identifying Bush as a C.I.A officer working with Cuban exiles at the time of the assassination;

    • FBI records documenting a call Bush himself placed to the Bureau on Nov. 22 from a location near Dallas, offering to identify a possible triggerman in the assassination– a man Bush knew far better than he revealed at the time, and who he knew could not have been the triggerman

    • Barbara Bush’s revelation in her 1994 book, Barbara Bush: A Memoir, that the Bushes were having lunch the week of November 22 with Alfred Ulmer, an old friend who, research shows, was one of the C.I.A.’s experts in deposing leaders.

    • Bush’s close relationship with the military intelligence official whose unit and unit members played an astonishing array of roles on November 22, from forcing their way into the lead car of Kennedy’s motorcade to providing the interpreter who framed Marina Oswald’s statements in a way that implicated her husband.
    Labels: Belgium, CIA, Congo, George H.W. Bush, Patrice Lumumba, Russ Baker

    posted by DownWithTyranny @ 10:00 AM

    • gigi3 says:

      Is there no end to the incestuous relationships within and between the U S government and multinational corporations?

  12. al75 says:

    A few thoughts

    1) My understanding was that the Bay of Pigs was a Nixon-coordinated “October surprise” geared to the 1960 elections, and then delayed by logistical factors until after the election.

    I think I got this from Dalleck’s book.

    2) The frenzy of Castro-hatred became a political shibboleth in the US at the time, always quietly underlain by mafia influence – Havana was a Xanadu of gambling/prostitution; I don’t think we will ever fully document the degree to which some of the cash flowed back to Washington.

    3) the cia-mafia collaboration to murder castro is well known, and the relationship dates back to at least WWII, when mob influence was seen as a strategic intelligence asset in the Sicily/Italy campaigns.

    4) more generally, the mob was tolerated and used as a means to control labor unions, and eliminate leftist/progressive uniion leadership.

    5) The CIA is still illegally refusing to release critical JFK files. John Newman’s “Oswald and the CIA” is an excellent and (as far as Ican tell) authoritative read on the subject.

    Short version: Oswald knew a great deal about the critical U2 spy program due to his work as a radar operator in Japan prior to his defection to the USSR in 1959. Oswald openly stated to the US consul his intent to spill his secrets to the USSR when he attempted to renounce his citizenship – and this would have made him a target of intense concern + scrutiny at the CIA, unless he was a CIA-sponsored “dangle” (as the KGB thought at the time).

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      Washington Post journalist Jefferson Morley sued the CIA to obtain files concerning Miami-based undercover CIA agent named George Joannides. He discussed the suit in a Salon article a few years back.

      The authors supporting the suit include anti-conspiracist Gerald Posner, author of the 1993 book “Case Closed,” and Norman Mailer and Don DeLillo, two leading novelists who have explored the mysteries surrounding accused JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Also backing the lawsuit are legal experts G. Robert Blakey, the former chief counsel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which in the late 1970s investigated Kennedy’s death, and John Tunheim, a federal judge who chaired the Assassination Records Review Board of the mid-1990s….

      In 1963 Joannides served as chief of the CIA’s anti-Castro “psychological warfare” operations in Miami. According to declassified CIA records corroborated by interviews, Joannides secretly financed exiled Cuban agents who collected intelligence on Lee Harvey Oswald three months before Kennedy was killed. Fifteen years later, Joannides was called out of retirement by the CIA to serve as the agency’s liaison to the House committee looking into Kennedy’s assassination. While working with the committee, the spy withheld information about his own actions in 1963 from the congressional investigators he was supposed to be assisting. It wasn’t until 2001, 38 years after Kennedy’s death, that Joannides’ support for the Cuban exiles, who clashed with Oswald and monitored him, came to light.

      “[Joannides’] behavior was criminal,” said Blakey, the former House committee counsel who was deceived by the CIA agent. “He obstructed our investigation.”

      Morley’s FOIA lawsuit continues in the courts.

    • TarheelDem says:

      What I remember about the turn of the 1960s (I was 14) was that Life Magazine prior to Castro’s seizure of power puffed him as a freedom fighter in the Sierra Maestra. After he came to power, all of a sudden conservative Congressmen, mostly Dems by the way, were blathering on about his Communist ideology.

      Henry Luce also puffed the Kennedy presidency. Both of those are very curious for Mr. “American Century”.

  13. behindthefall says:

    Rolling Stones’ lyrics keep rattling around:

    “But what’s puzzlin’ you

    Is the nature of my game.”

    Did GHWB share his father’s interests and leanings? But Prescott was a friend of German industry and so the war machine there.

    Is it just so simple that these people pursue economic benefit for themselves, that war brings profits, hence they pursue war?

  14. john in sacramento says:

    Bush Senior started in intelligence when he was flying spy planes in WWII, and when he was with the rumored CIA front, Dresser Industries, after the war. In other words his entire adult life

    And Nixon was in charge of Operation 40, not to be confused with the 5412 Special Group, later known as the 303 Committee, and later as the 40 Committee, but the first Operation 40 seems to have been later reprised during Iran Contra in this Operation 40

    • Margaret says:

      Bush Senior started in intelligence when he was flying spy planes in WWII

      He flew a TBF Avenger which is a torpedo bomber. though there was a photo recon version planned, Bush served first in VT-51 and later in VT-153. Neither of those units have ever done recon.

  15. eCAHNomics says:

    Somewhere I read that Poppy may have been recruited out of college. Prolly was Baker’s book, which claims that the Bushes are behind almost everything.

    • Margaret says:

      Poppy flew TBF Avengers right out of college in WWII, (or more accurately he got shot down in TBF Avengers), so I don’t know where the CIA might have fit in but it would have almost certainly been post WWII.

      • sadlyyes says:

        wasnt Joe Kennedy junior also on some “secret” mission,when he was shot down

        mustof been the preppy thing to do

            • gigi3 says:

              Our sheepskin heroes in the sky went to Harvard to learn to fly
              Some even attended MIT to study philosophy

              At Yale they were the BMOCs
              Now they pray for rain and rare disease

              Hail to life’s All-American boys
              Who play with girls and wooden toys.

              This was written in 1968. I lived in Pensacola from 1965 to 1969 and dated fly-boys exclusively. Many of them hoped it would rain or called in sick so they could have play days. A popular hobby was putting together model planes and ships.

      • eCAHNomics says:

        I don’t remember any of the details, but if it was Baker’s book, he musta had a story for that. Baker had a story for everything. That was my problem with the book.

          • Margaret says:

            He was in aerial photography reconnaissance intelligence in WWII.

            No. He was not. He was a TORPEDO bomber. Period. It might be fun to imagine otherwise but the evidence doesn’t support that assertion.

            • AitchD says:

              The evidence available to just folks, that is. In Rummyspeak, the absence of evidence is also blah blah. There’s no rock-solid ‘evidence’ that Poppy’s guys foisted crack onto the ghettos as a counterattack to Affirmative Action, or that Rummy’s Aspartame was approved and foisted to counter the effects of Head Start. Why, Clarence Thomas is the proof to the contrary.

              • Margaret says:

                But by that “logic” you could claim that anything at all is true just because the CIA might have “covered it up” or something. I know! W must have been a secret U-2 pilot because there is no evidence saying he was.
                On Edit: There is a word for stating possibilities that sound rational but aren’t supported by evidence: It’s “speculation”.

                • AitchD says:

                  Is ‘logic’ required to persuade you, e.g., that those guys are white supremacists, and extremely dangerous as such? Won’t Godwin’s Law suffice?

                  • Margaret says:

                    Not at all. There is more than enough evidence for me to accept that they are white supremacists and dangerous. What does that have to do with torpedo bomber vs reconnaissance pilot though?

                    • AitchD says:

                      I was asking if you should expect there to be evidence of intel work unless there’s a need to know as they call it.

                    • Margaret says:

                      I was asking if you should expect there to be evidence of intel work unless there’s a need to know as they call it.

                      Look, there is hard evidence of Poppy being a torpedo bomber, including video of him getting fished out of the Pacific by a US submarine, the fact that both of the units in which he served were torpedo bombing units, various photographs and etc. There is NO evidence of him being a spook during WWII. And that’s just the reality. While there may be an outside possibility that he was involved in some sort of secret reconnaissance, it’s extremely unlikely and definitely wasn’t anywhere near Europe.

                    • AitchD says:

                      It’s futile to argue on the Internet. Nevertheless, what’s his not being “anywhere near Europe” have to do with anything? On pre-edit: his family’s money was definitely in Hitler’s Europe.

                    • Margaret says:

                      On pre-edit: his family’s money was definitely in Hitler’s Europe.

                      That. Yes, his family’s money was in Europe, specifically Nazi Germany of which Prescott was a big fan. It’s also futile to argue about speculation. Maybe not so much futile as pointless. It’s like arguing whose world was real: JRR Tolkein’s or CS Lewis’?

  16. sfmikey says:

    Wait, wait! George (“Bring it!”) Bush wasn’t too afraid to go to Vietnam. (Must’ve been something else; who knows?) But he was too afraid to go to Switzerland. Why was that?

  17. AitchD says:

    Hardly anyone anywhere mentions President Ford’s visit to Cairo and his full prostrate Moslem salute at Sadat’s feet when he touched Egyptian soil. Oh, right. He tripped on the steps coming off the airplane in the rain and fell. Right. Like he fell a few other times. For the news. For our amusement. Really so we wouldn’t notice the Moslem salute for what it was. And Ford wasn’t elected, he was appointed as VP. His VP, Rockefeller, was also appointed. The only other POTUS who was appointed was Poppyseed.

    Maybe it’s just coincidence also that Nixon devalued the dollar when he did (1971? 1972?), which very soon doubled the price and cost of oil that sold in US dollars, which made it economically impossible for the recently de-colonialized countries of Africa to begin to build their infrastructures and new societies with ‘cheap’ oil– in fact they could have leapfrogged the ‘Industrial Revolution’ phase of development.

  18. sfmikey says:

    George W. Bush. Didn’t he have, like, a 5,000 acre ranch in Texas once upon a time? And, as president, didn’t he spend a lot of time (on our dime) cleaning brush from his ranch? I figure by now, there’s no brush left in the state of Texas, at all. Eh? Does he still have the photo-op ranch? How many cattle did he own? Oh, none? On a spread that big? Zero cows, no steers? How about horses? Y’know, I cannot for the life of me remember one picture of George W. Bush sitting on a horse. (My friends tell me, he was afraid of horses. Well, maybe.)

    Were these perhaps manipulations? Does it continue? I don’t think so, because I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows.

  19. Watson says:

    It does stand to reason that the security establishment will have some clandestine apparatchiks in the permanent government.

    My favorite candidate is Leon Panetta. Decades after leaving the Republican Party for being too liberal, and with scant intelligence experience, he was nominated and confirmed as CIA chief with nary a protest from the Party of No.

  20. host says:

    I updated the Tom Devine article yesterday.:

    William Macomber was inquiring about Lee Harvey Oswald years earlier…
    Essay – Otepka RFK Sheridan Oswald
    Sep 4, 2007 … Otepka examined Oswald’s return from the Soviet Union with the unlikely assistance of a …… Whoto: William B. Macomber, Jr. /State. NARA. … http://www.maryferrell.org/wiki/index.php/Essay_-_Otepka_RFK_Sheridan_Oswald

    Chafee was a close friend of Bush’s sister, Nancy’s husband, Ellis, Jr., and Macomber was their best man, as well as Tom Devine’s…

    Chafee: Folksy ways but fierce competitor Astutely balances GOP…
    – Providence Journal – ProQuest Archiver – Oct 26, 1988
    …But the story of how he became Navy secretary goes back to one of the friendships he he made at Yale, Class of ’47, on the wrestling team and as a member of a member of a campus society known as Skull & Bones. “That’s one of those great quirks of fate,” said Chafee.
    Bill Macomber, a “great friend of mine from college,” had been working his way through the ranks at the State Department while Chafee was working his way up up Rhode Island’s political ladder. In late 1968, when Chafee was on his way out of the State House, Nixon’s designee as defense secretary, Melvin Laird, was looking for a Navy secretary….Charles Whitehouse, one of Chafee’s roomates at Yale who is now an assistant secretary of defense, has another memory of Chafee’s collegiate career,…

  21. PAR4 says:

    WTF, Why is he called an “oil producer”? Granted he’s a oily son of a bitch but it would be better to call him an oil exploiter.