Thursday, July 2, 2009

Financial Disasters/Foreign Policy Disasters (Iraq, et al) Tied At Birth - The LowDown on the Abolition of the Middle Class & the Breakdown Dead Ahead

Doesn't it just frost you to find out that the financial mistakes of the Bushies were tied to the 9/11 mistakes (and were certainly contained within the same scheme which included every type of corruption and graft ever practiced - including the Madoff-with-the-money mistake)? Not to mention that whole brou-ha-ha about getting that large number of resident bin Laden family members safely out of the country on 9/12? As if that were important to the well-being of the U.S. (or its ruling elites). No? You've already figured out most of this mêlée? Good for you. But, have you arrived at the realization that if it wasn't for their involvement in long-term corruption, the Bushes would have had to find honest employment long ago? (And not have been so available to screw up your life?)

So, how about performing what could only be characterized as a public service and oh, perhaps, publicize it so that others may benefit from this secret knowledge? I think everyone should tout Russ Baker's dynamite tome Family of Secrets (and not just the Bush family) to that effect. Give it for birthday, graduation and Christmas/Hanukkah presents (now there's some irony). Their FIB is exquisite (see the book for the footnotes). What other sources do you have?

Chapter 14 Poppy's Web So long as Poppy headed the CIA, working to build an extended off-the-books intelligence network, the center of action was at agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia. But with Poppy's ouster from the CIA directorship in early 1977, the hub shifted with him to Houston. Officially, Poppy was returning to the traditional family business: banking. Wealth in America had been steadily shifting westward since Prescott Bush turned in his Yale baseball cleats for a banker's wing tips, so it was fitting that the son should become a Texas banker. And what a great time to get back into the business. A 1970 law had made it possible for banks to expand rapidly into giant holding companies. One such entity was the Dallas-based First International Bancshares (FIB). At FIB's Houston location, Poppy set up his government-in-exile. During his time with the company, Bush would serve as the Chairman of the Houston subsidiary's executive committee and join the boards of the Dallas-based parent and a subsidiary of First International in London. First International had no trouble getting the needed approvals from the Federal Reserve for its steady diet of acquisitions. While it brought fifty banks under its umbrella, FIB was turned down only once. In some ways, First International was a kind of twin to Republic National Bank in the Dallas oil-intelligence world. In the 1950s, when Poppy's "uncle" Neil Mallon was assembling his off-the-books covert operations via Dresser Industries and the Dallas Council on World Affairs, First International had sent high executives to the council's first planning meeting. (Its competitor, Republic, had done so as well.) First International's association with the Bush family went back many years. In the summer of 1967, young George W. Bush worked as a clerk-bookkeeper at its Houston affiliate, earning $250 for the stint. First International was not your friendly neighborhood bank. Rather, it was a Texas powerhouse whose principals reached well beyond banking into the netherworld of intelligence and intrigue. The holding company chairman, Robert H. Stewart, III, came from a family with long-standing personal ties to J. Edgar Hoover. FIB was intimately associated with the powerful Bass, Hunt, and Murchison families. Its largest shareholder was Joe Allbritton, whose D.C.-based Riggs Bank held the accounts for several embassies, including Saudia Arabia.

Most important, First International itself did a lot of business with Saudia Arabia. George H.W. Bush has said he cannot remember what he did for the bank, but Bill White claims Poppy was a Mercantile Division consultant paid to bring in Arab deposits. According to White, the bank played an important role in handling massive transfers of Saudi funds. It even provided a revolving line of credit for Salem bin Laden. The president and CEO of FIB's London merchant bank, on whose board Poppy Bush sat, was a former FBI agent and employee of Magnolia Oil, the company that provided employment to several figures who associated with Lee Harvey Oswald. It is believed that much of the Saudi business flowed through the London affiliate.

After Bush came on board in 1977, FIB began a massive expansion. First International (known as "Interfirst" by 1980) would merge with its rival Republic to form First RepublicBank, which became the biggest commercial bank in Texas. Fourteen months later, the giant holding company failed, resulting in a $3.5 billion federal bailout.

The demise of First RepublicBank was part of a broad-based failure of financial institutions that - encouraged by the Reagan, Poppy Bush, and Clinton administrations - had combined voracious acquisitions of smaller banks with a spree of speculation and usury that in particular devastated the Texas economy and sent commercial banks into bankruptcy.

A major cause behind the bank failures was the erosion of consumer protections that Franklin Roosevelt had put in place in the aftermath of the Wall Street Crash of 1929. The effort to weaken FDR's protective mechanism began under President Nixon, continued under Ford and Carter, and was characterized as a positive development called "deregulation." It greatly accelerated under the Reagan-Bush administrations, finally imploding under "W" in the form of a collapsing housing market and fortunes lost to arcane financial instruments called "derivatives."

The collapse of FDR's safety net may have looked like a disaster to economists and to the ordinary taxpayers footing the bill for these risky ventures, but it also represented the fulfillment of a dream expressed by Prescott Bush and his confreres to see Roosevelt's hated New Deal brand of "socialism" undone. That it was undone, in steps, by Prescott's son Poppy and grandson "W" is hardly coincidental.

Banking institutions of all sizes have played crucial roles, wittingly and unwittingly, in the repatriation and investment of petrodollars in the West, and in the movement of monies to finance intelligence operations and undeclared wars. But all of this was nothing compared to the role played by an enterprise called BCCI. The involvement of the Bushes and their friends in this international scheme is not easy to tease out of the welter of sub rosa actions and relationships, but it is there nonetheless.

. . . The sprawling global banking empire called Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), which emerged in the 1970s and was shuttered in 1991, is largely forgotten today. But not long ago it was occupying headlines as the world's biggest-ever financial fraud. BCCI, though it called itself a bank, was really much more. It was a vast entity connected to the Pakistani military regime and key Gulf states, with banks and branches in seventy-three countries, including at least fifty developing ones. Although its founder, Agha Hasan Abedi, along with his top brass, emphasized their Muslim religiosity, the institution would apparently do anything for anyone willing to pay for services that needed to be kept quiet. These ranged from helping Pakistan obtain a nuclear bomb to financing secret arms deals on behalf of the West, while simultaneously serving as a money-distribution network for West-hating terrorist organizations.

At its peak BCCI wielded immense political and financial power in world capitals. it was a de facto international crime syndicate, a one-stop banking center for everyone from dictators to drug lords to intelligence services. BCCI engaged in blackmail and provided underage girls to major clients. The reality was like a scene out of a James Bond movie, replete with every imaginable form of villainy and the obligatory bikini beauties. BCCI provided "banking services" broadly defined, to the likes of Saddam Hussein, terrorist mastermind Abu Nidal, Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, and even the elusive heroin kingpin of Asia's Golden Triangle, Khun Sa.

Completely amoral, it seemed to be connected to people in power throughout the world. It was the ultimate expression of the dark side of strategies purportedly designed to help people and produce peace and security. The funding for BCCI had, since its inception, come from ordinary people in developing countries, particularly in the form of remissions from guest workers, such as Pakistanis and Filipinos working in Persian Gulf countries. When it collapsed, literally millions of BCCI patrons, scattered throughout the developing world, suffered, and many lost their life savings.

Starting in 1988, during Poppy Bush's last year as vice president and continuing through his presidency, a handful of investigators and prosecutors - notably Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau and Senator John Kerry - got on the trail of this syndicate. Although they met mysterious resistance from he highest levels of the Reagan-Bush and Poppy Bush administrations, by 1991 they managed to persuade British banking authorities to spearhead a global raid that brought the bank's activities to a halt. The Manhattan District Attorney's Office told the Bank of England, directly and indirectly, that it would be seeking to indict the London-based BCCI for operating as a Ponzi scheme. The Bank of England recognized that a New York indictment would precipatate a run on the bank, with an unfair distribution of bank assets to the first people who could withdraw their funds and nothing for the rest. To prevent that, the Bank of England, working with authorities in other countries, closed BCCI worldwide.

But the complicity of high officials in the United States and elsewhere, in at least some aspects of BCCI's operations, was never fully exposed, as inquiry after inquiry hit walls where supposed "national security" interests were involved. BCCI had aided CIA, British MI-6, the Israeli Mossad, Saudi and Iranian intelligence together with the North Koreans, the Chinese, and above all the Pakistani military, and all parties were afraid that their own secrets would be compromised.

Robert Mueller, chief of the Justice Department's criminal division under Poppy (and later FBI director under "W"), failed to establish any high-level governmental culpability - though BCCI could never have functioned without protection at the highest levels. Had Mueller looked at what his own investigators had found, he might have discovered the identity of one such enabler: William Casey, who was CIA director during the Reagan-Bush administration. According to reporters . . . Casey had met regularly with Abedi, the founder and de facto head of BCCI. Casey allegedly struck a deal in which BCCI would serve as a major conduit for covert operations - that is, a way to wash the hundreds of millions in funds that were not authorized by Congress or the American people for use in Afghanistan, Central America, and elsewhere. The Senate Committee investigating CIA-BCCI ties also found evidence of meetings between Casey and Abedi.

One of the figures implicated in BCCI's activities in the United States was its largest shareholder, none other than Jim Bath's partner Khalid bin Mahfouz. Mahfouz ended up paying $225 million to settle fraud allegations in 1993 as part of a deal in which New York state dropped criminal charges. Mahfouz's own Saudi bank, National Commercial Bank, was barred from operating in the United States.

Nothing, however, was made ever made of the Bush connection to all this. Mahfouz's ties to Jim Bath were not raised, and therefore, neither was Bath's connection to the Bush family. It is worth noting that the Treasury Department official responsible for scrutinizing BCCI's affairs in the Reagan-Bush administration was assistant secretary for enforcement John M. Walker, Jr. - who happened to be Poppy's cousin.

Please read this book. You will never regret this decision. Suzan ____________________

3 comments:

Liberality said...

thanks for sharing this

Beach Bum said...

Hell, I read once where Prescott Bush was in on a possible coup attempt against FDR during the Depression.

Suzan said...

Thanks, Liberality!

When I first saw your blog I thought, "Dang! Why didn't I think of that nom de plume?"

BB, you and me both. And I'm getting ready to blow the lid on some of their other accomplishments!

S