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Bush hoover cia 1961 1963 { July 16 1988 }

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"The Man Who Wasn't There, 'George Bush,' C.I.A. Operative" By Joseph McBride

THE NATION, July 16/23, 1988

Vice President George Bush's resume is his most highly touted asset as a candidate. But a recently discovered F.B.I. memorandum raises the possibility that, like many resumes, it omits some facts the applicant would rather not talk about: specifically, that he worked for the Central Intelligence Agency in 1963, more than a decade before he became its director.

The F.B.I. memorandum, dated November 29, 1963, is from Director J. Edgar Hoover to the State Department and is subject-headed "Assassination of President John F. Kennedy November 22, 1963." In it, Hoover reports that the Bureau had briefed "Mr. George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency" shortly after the assassination on the reaction of Cuban exiles in Miami. A source with close connections to the intelligence community confirms that Bush started working for the agency in 1960 or 1961, using his oil business as a cover for clandestine activities.

That memo also provides insight as to the qualifications for why George Bush was selected Director for Central Intelligence in 1976, during a period when the CIA was washing its dirty linen and allegedly reforming itself.

Here are some excerpts from the NATION:

Informed of this memorandum, the Vice President's spokesman, Stephen Hart, asked, "Are you sure it's the same George Bush?" After talking to the Vice President, Hart quoted him as follows: "I was in Houston, Texas, at the time and involved in the independent oil drilling business. And I was running for the Senate in late '63." "Must be another George Bush," added Hart.

Because the Vice President's response seemed something of a non-denial denial (he described what else he was doing rather than specifically denying C.I.A. involvement), I put the following queries to him via Hart:

Did you do any work with or for the CIA prior to the time you became its director?

If so, what was the nature of your relationship with the agency, and how long did it last?

Did you receive a briefing by a member of the F.B.I. on anti-Castro Cuban activities in the aftermath o the assassination of President Kennedy?

Half an hour later, Hart called me back to say that he had *not* spoken again to the Vice President about the matter, but would answer the questions himself. The answer to the first question was no, he said, and so he could skip number two.

"This is the first time I've ever heard this," C.I.A. spokesman Bill Devine said when confronted with the allegations of the Vice President's involvement with the agency in the early 1960s. "I'll see what I can find out and call you back." The next day Devine called back with the terse official response, "I can neither confirm nor deny." Told what the Vice President's office had said, and asked if he could check whether there had been another George Bush in the C.I.A., Devine seemed to become a bit nonplused: "twenty-seven years ago? I doubt that very much. In any event, we have a standard policy of not confirming that anyone is involved in the C.I.A."

Hoover's memo, which was written to the director of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, was buried among the 98,755 pages of F.B.I. documents released to the public in 1977 and 1978 as a result of the Freedom of Information Act suits. It was written to summarize the briefings given to Bush and Capt. William Edwards of the Defense Intelligence Agency by the F.B.I.'s W.T. Forsyth on November 23, the day after the assassination, when Lee Harvey Oswald was still alive to be interrogated about his connections to Cuban exiles and the C.I.A. The briefing was held, according to the F.B.I. director, because the States Department feared that "some misguided anti-Castro group might capitalize on the present situation and undertake an unauthorized raid against Cuba, believing that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy might herald a change in U.S. policy, which is not true." Hoover continues:

"Our sources and informants familiar with Cuban matter in the Miami area advise that the general feeling in the anti-Castro Cuban community is one of stunned disbelief and, even among those who did not entirely agree with the President's policy concerning Cuba, the feeling that the President's death represents a great loss not only to the U.S. but to all of Latin America. These sources know of no plans for unauthorized action against Cuba.

"An informant who has furnished reliable information in the past and who is close to a small pro-Castro group in Miami has advised that these individuals are afraid that the assassination of the President may result in strong repressive measures being taken against them, and although pro-Castro in their feelings, regret the assassination.

"The substance of the foregoing information was orally furnished to Mr. George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency..."

(We attempted to locate William T. Forsyth, but learned that he is dead. Forsyth worked out of the Washington F.B.I. headquarters and was best known for running the investigation of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Bureau's subversive control section. Efforts to locate Captain Edwards by press time were unsuccessful.)

Vice President Bush's autobiography, "Looking Forward," written with Victor Gold (Doubleday, 1987), is vague to the point of being cryptic about his activities in the early 1960s, when he was running the Houston-based Zapata Off-Shore Company. ("Running an offshore oil company," he writes, "would mean days spent on or over water; not only the Gulf of Mexico but oceans and seas the world over.") But the 1972 profile of Bush in "Current Biography" provides more details of his itinerary in those years: "Bush traveled throughout the world to sell Zapata's oil-drilling services. Under his direction it grew to be a multimillion-dollar concern, with operations in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Japan, Australia, and Western Europe." And according to Nicolas King's "George Bush: A Biography," Zapata was concentrating its business in the Caribbean and off South America in the early 1960s, a piece of information that meshes neatly with the available data on Bush's early C.I.A. responsibilities.

Bush's duties with the C.I.A. in 1963 -- whether he was an agent, for example, or merely an "asset" -- cannot be determined from Hoover's memo. However, the intelligence source (who worked with the agency in the late 1950s and through the 1960s) said of the Vice President: "I know he was involved in the Caribbean. I know he was involved in the suppression of things after the Kennedy assassination: There was a very definite worry that some Cuban groups were going to move against Castro and attempt to blame it on the C.I.A."

The initial reaction of Senator Frank Church, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, to the firing of William Colby and the naming of Bush as Director of Central Intelligence in 1975 was to complain that it was part of a pattern of attempts by President Gerald Ford (a former member of the Warren Commission) to impede the Church committee's nearly concluded investigation into C.I.A. assassination plots, with which Colby was cooperating but which Ford was trying vainly to keep secret.

Asked recently about Bush's early C.I.A. connections, (former Texas Democratic Senator Ralph) Yarborough said, "I never heard anything about it. It doesn't surprise me. What surprised me was that they picked him for Director of Central Intelligence -- how in hell he was appointed head of the C.I.A. without any experience of knowledge." Hoover's memo "explains something to me that I've wondered about. It does make sense to have a trained C.I.A. man, with experience, appointed to the job."

Bush's C.I.A. connections might throw new light on his knowledge of the *contra* funding and supply operation, and his alleged knowledge of *contra* drug smuggling and the activities of General Noriega. It is worth noting in this context that, as Leslie Cockburn writes in "Out of Control," "The anti-Castro C.I.A. team in Florida were already drawing attention to their drug-smuggling activities by 1963," and that it was Felix Rodriguez, the C.I.A., "alumnus who wore Che Guevara's watch and counted George Bush among his friends," who allegedly coordinated a $10 million payment to the *contras* by the Colombian cocaine cartel.

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