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Famous Texans George H.W. Bush

"Read my lips. No new taxes.”  --A broken campaign promise made by George Bush in 1988.

Best known for: Forty-first president of the United States.

Born: June 12, 1924

Family: Father: Prescott Sheldon Bush, Republican senator from Connecticut. Wife: married Barbara Pierce, daughter of McCall’s publishing empire chairman Marvin Pierce, in 1945. Children: George Walker Bush, Pauline Robinson Bush (“Robin” died at age 4), Dorothy, Marvin, Jeb, Neil Mallon Bush. Maternal grandfather: George Herbert Walker, Sr., founder of private Wall Street banking firm, G.H. Walker and Company.

Education: Yale graduate (1948) with a degree in economics.

Profession: As a Texas businessman who made a fortune drilling for oil before entering politics, George Herbert Walker Bush proved somewhat successful at using other people’s money to build his own wealth, and ultimately a successful political career.

The company Bush most wanted to work for after graduation, Proctor and Gamble, rejected him. After interviewing with several other companies, Bush used his family connections to get a job.

Like his son George and grandson George W., Prescott Bush, was a Yale graduate and member of Yale’s secretive Skull and Bones Society. Before becoming senator from Connecticut (1952-1963), Prescott was the longest-sitting member of the board of directors of Dresser Industries, a Dallas-based oil drilling equipment supply company.

Prescott convinced his partners at the banking house of Brown Brothers Harriman –among them Averell Harriman, a fellow Skull and Bones member-- to wave the firm’s nepotism rule so George could work there. Uncle George Herbert Walker, Jr. offered him a job at G.H. Walker and Co., the private Wall Street banking firm founded by his father, Bush’s maternal grandfather.

Instead of taking those two prospects, George opted for a third family tie. He met with Henry Neil Mallon, the president of Dresser Industries. Mallon offered George his first job at Dresser subsidiary International Derrick and Equipment Company (Ideco), in Odessa, Texas. Brown Brothers Harriman had underwritten Dresser’s transition from a private company to a publicly traded one. Years later, George named a son after Mallon.

In 1953, Bush got money from Brown Brothers Harriman and, with partners Hugh and Bill Liedtke, formed Zapata Petroleum. By the late 1950s they were millionaires. Bush bought subsidiary Zapata Off-Shore from his partners and went into business on his own in 1954. By 1958, the new company was drilling on the Cay Sal Bank in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. These islands had been leased to Nixon supporter and CIA contractor Howard Hughes the previous year and were later used as a base for CIA raids on Cuba. The CIA was using companies like Zapata to stage and supply secret missions attacking Fidel Castro’s Cuban government in advance of the Bay of Pigs invasion. The CIA’s codename for that invasion was “Operation Zapata.” In 1981, all Securities and Exchange Commission filings for Zapata Off-Shore between 1960 and 1966 were destroyed. In other words, the year Bush became vice president, important records detailing his years at his drilling company disappeared. In 1969, Zapata bought the United Fruit Company of Boston, another company with strong CIA connections.

Career: Political leader. Received the Distinguished Flying Cross for Bravery during World War II; U.S. congressman from Texas (1966-1970), ambassador to the United Nations (1971-1974); Special Envoy to China (1974-1975); Republican National Chairman (1975-1976); Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director (1976-1977); vice president of the U.S. (1981-1989); president of the U.S. (1989-1993).

In 1964, Bush campaigned against the Civil Rights Act. He lost that election but was elected to Congress in 1966 and again in 1968. He was defeated in the race for Senate by Democrat Lloyd Bentsen in 1970.

He served as Gerald Ford’s Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) from November 1975 to January 1977.  As head the CIA, Bush was answerable only to President Ford. He was supposedly the first CIA “outsider” to hold the agency's top position. During his tenure as DCI he maintained a policy of disinformation and secrecy, despite a public show of cooperation with congressional investigations of CIA abuses such as assassination plots using Mafia hit men. In September 1976, Chilean dissident leader Orlando Letelier was assassinated in Washington D.C. by agents of DINA, Chile’s secret police. The CIA knew of such plots, and the two assassins entered the U.S. using fake Paraguayan passports. But the FBI was kept in the dark about this information.

In 1979, the year before he campaigned for the Republican nomination for president, Bush claimed a nuclear war was winnable. Ronald Reagan won the 1980 nomination and chose Bush as his running mate. As vice president, Bush cast three tie-breaking votes to renew chemical weapons production, supported sale of missiles to “terrorist” Iran and the illegal arming of the Nicaraguan contras and other paramilitary groups he called “freedom fighters. He also chaired The Presidential Task Force on Deregulation which, according to Mary Fricker in her book Inside Job, “set the tone” for bank deregulation which led to the savings and loan financial disaster of the 1980s.

In his 1988 run for president against Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis, Bush chose J. Danforth (Dan) Quayle as his vice presidential running mate. Quayle’s qualifications for the position were so questionable, Richard Nixon found it necessary to assure the public that Quayle was no “mental midget.”

As Commander-in-Chief, Bush oversaw two major U.S. military deployments. He ordered the invasion of Panama, which began just after midnight on December 20, 1989. It was the twelfth U.S. invasion of that country since 1903. The mission of U.S. forces was to depose long-time CIA asset General Manuel Noriega, an indicted drug trafficker. It was the largest airborne assault since World War II. When it was over, the Army excluded the press and Red Cross from entering heavily bombed areas for three days while soldiers incinerated some civilian casualties and buried others in mass graves. Bush’s Defense Secretary, Richard Cheney claimed a death toll of between 500 and 600. But independent human rights groups put the death toll between 3,000 and 5,000 with about 25,000 left homeless. This military operation turned out to be practice for even greater press censorship, propaganda and human rights violations during and after Operation Desert Storm, the U.S. air and ground attack that failed to depose Iraq’s leader, Saddam Hussein, in 1990. That failure eventually eroded public confidence in Bush and contributed to his defeat by Bill Clinton in the 1992 presidential election.

Sources: New American Desk Encyclopedia (New York: Signet, 1984), p. 189; Paul Brancato, “Bush League” illustrated cards (Forestville, California: Eclipse Enterprises, 1989), pp. 1-4, 7; Paul Brancato and Bob Callahan, “Drug Wars” illustrated cards (Forestville, California: Eclipse Enterprises, 1991), p. 28; Dennis Bernstein and Laura Sydell, “Saving and Loan Scandal” illustrated cards (Forestville, California: Eclipse Enterprises, 1991), p. 16; "Zapata Petroleum Corp.," Fortune magazine, Apr. 1958, p. 248; Darwin Payne, “Initiative in Energy: Dresser Industries, Inc. 1880-1978” (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979), Appendix C; Steve Pizzo et.al., "Inside Job: The Looting Of America's Savings and Loans" (New York: McGraw Hill, 1989); Pete Brewton, "The Mafia, CIA & George Bush" (New York: SPI Books, 1992), Gary Webb, "Dark Alliance: The CIA, The Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion" (New York: Seven Stories Press, 1999); David G. Armstrong, “The Connecticut Cowboy,” Austin Chronicle, March 6, 1992, pp. 20-22; Stephen Schlesinger with Stephen Kinzer, Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala, (NY: Doubleday, 1982/Anchor ed., 1990), pp. 89-95; Richard N. Draheim, Jr., "The Bush Nazi Connection," The Dallas Libertarian Post, December 1999; Richard Bartholomew, “Possible Discovery of an Automobile Used in the JFK Conspiracy” (self-published manuscript, 1993, p. 63; Fair Play Magazine, Issue 17, July-August 1997).