Remembering CIA Director George H. W. Bush (June 12, 1924 – November 30, 2018) [2020]

“I think we should think of the CIA as a national asset that must be preserved as a vital part of our defense system. . . It is important that the American people understand the intricate job the CIA is doing in an increasingly complex world. It is essential we have the support of the American People.”

George H.W. Bush — Speech in San Antonio, Texas, 1978

November 30 2020 — George H.W. Bush’s tenure as Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) marked a turning point for the Agency as it came out of a period of great controversy. He is credited with restoring focus and boosting morale, and he remains one of the most beloved directors in the Agency’s history. George Bush is the only former Director of Central Intelligence to become President. Follow us on TWITTER: @INTEL_TODAY

RELATED POST: On This Day — CBS Dan Rather and Vice President George Bush Clash Over Iran-contra Affair (January 25 1988)

RELATED POST: On This Day — Robert Gates Becomes 15th CIA Director (November 6 1991) [Test your “Spy Knowledge” with our CIA Directors Quiz!]

RELATED POST: DCIA — Gina Haspel Presented with the 2018 William J. Donovan Award [Biography]

RELATED POST: CIA — Memorial Ceremony 2018

RELATED POST: On This Day — The Central Intelligence Agency Act Is Signed (June 20 1949)

RELATED POST: Message from Director Pompeo to CIA Workforce

“I will never apologize for the United States. I don’t care what the facts are… I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy.”

VP George H. W. Bush (August 7 1988)

Lockerbie — Three Decades of Lies: J’Accuse…!

QUICK NOTES — To make it easier for the readers to retrieve various chapters of my book, I have created a special page  “Lockerbie” where all the links to the chapters will be listed with a brief description. You can access that page directly as it appears at the far right of the top bar of this blog.

On March 11 2020, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission [SCCRC] decided to refer the Lockerbie case back to the High Court of Justiciary for determination. As a result of the Commission’s decision, Mr. Megrahi’s family was therefore entitled to instruct an appeal against his conviction. The first procedural hearing took place on Friday August 21 2020. The Appeal started on November 24 2020 and ended 3 days later. The five judges will now produce a written submission as soon as practicable. 

Lockerbie — Three Decades of Lies: J’Accuse…!

UPDATE (November 30 2020) — A recent whopper by former US president Obama got me thinking… Does the CIA lie to the President?

RELATED POST: Fake News — Obama Tells One Whopper Of A Lie [Halabja chemical attack — March 16 1988]

Certainly, we know that Gina Haspel lied to President Trump about the Skripal’s poison case. [Novichok — Duckgate] Is it an isolated case? What do you think?

While researching the Lockerbie tragedy, I learned that Nelson Mandela was horrified to discover that Clinton knew absolutely nothing about this case. And I know that the CIA director interrupted the conversation when Mandela tried to educate Bill Clinton.

I would like to point out that Madeleine Albright — Secretary of State (from 1997 to 2001) under President Bill Clinton — was very knowledgeable about the Lockerbie Case.

In August 2009, Madeleine ‘Read my pins’ Albright declared during an interview about Lockerbie:

“So many Americans and other nationals died in that terrible, terrible accident.”

Obama had very harsh words for those in Scotland who decided to release the “Lockerbie bomber” on compassionate ground when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Does Obama actually know that Megrahi is innocent? Then he is an extraordinary liar and actor.

But, I would not bet on it. Obama may very well be ignorant of the truth. I wish I could have 60 minutes with the former president…

However, the case of George H. W. Bush is completely different. As a former CIA director, Bush knew what was going on at the agency.

Here is a short extract of my book. [Lockerbie – Three Decades of Lies: J’Accuse…! Chapter II : The Usual Suspects]

In May 1985, Graham E. Fuller — National Intelligence Officer for Near East, including North Africa and South Asia [NESA] – wrote a Memorandum for the Director and the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence. [3]

This document eventually led to the covert sale of United States weapons to Tehran in what became the Iran-contra affair. [4]

At the same time, Fuller argued that the US should use Libya as a geopolitical punching bag just to show to the world that Reagan and Bush were tough guys.

Both ideas turned into major disasters and it is truly a miracle that Reagan and Bush escaped an impeachment!

On October 2 1986, the Washington Post published an extraordinary story written by legendary journalist Bob Woodward: “Gadhafi Target of Secret U.S. Deception Plan”. [5]

Under orders from the White House, the US Intelligence Community was planting false information in the US media regarding totally made-up Libya-sponsored acts of terrorism. [6]

On November 3 1986, the Lebanese magazine Ash-Shiraa exposed the Iran-contra scandal, a US operation, run directly from the White House, during which Israeli weapons were provided to Iran despite an arms embargo. [7]

The profit from these arms sales was used to fund the Contras in Nicaragua despite strict prohibition by an Act of Congress (the Boland Amendment).

Bush has always denied any knowledge of this operation. But ask yourself a simple question.

Who was most likely to run a complex intelligence operation directly from the White House: Ronald Reagan, the old cowboy from Hollywood, whose brain was affected both by age and Alzheimer, or George Bush, the former CIA Director? [8]

(…)

On Christmas Eve 1992, President Bush ended the Iran-Contra investigation by Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh. Bush pardoned all those involved, including Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, whose trial was about to begin. William Barr, Bush’s Attorney General at the time, did not oppose the pardons. In effect, Bush had found a way to pardon the only man the Constitution does not allow the US President to pardon: himself. [15]

PS — I will take this opportunity to share with you an ‘amusing’ fact. When I talk to young people, I notice that all of them are aware that Vladimir Putin is a former KGB officer. I never met one who knew that George H. W. Bush had been the CIA Director…

END of UPDATE

The turbulent 1970s came to be known as the “time of troubles” for the CIA. Six different DCIs served within a ten-year timeframe, and the Agency was shrouded in controversy from the Vietnam War and covert action programs leaked to the press.

By far the most devastating and consequential leak involved the “Family Jewels,” a list compiled for DCI James Schlesinger detailing controversial and, in some cases, illegal activities undertaken by the Agency.

By December of 1974, the list had ended up in the hands of investigative journalist Seymour Hersh.

President Gerald R. Ford sought to quell public and congressional concern by establishing a blue-ribbon commission led by Vice President Nelson Rockefeller to investigate any domestic espionage by the Agency.

Congressional committees led by Representative Otis Pike and Senator Frank Church were formed in early 1975 and aimed to expunge the questionable activities of the CIA in the 1970s.

Church referred to the CIA as a “rogue elephant,” claiming it was unsupervised and designed to tell the President what he wanted to hear.

Neither committee discovered evidence capable of destroying the Agency, although the hearings decimated the public image of the CIA and the pride of its employees.

As the committees continued their investigations into late 1975, the Ford Administration had come to feel that then-DCI William Colby had disclosed more information to Congress than was necessary.

This belief, coupled with the harsh reality that a dark cloud now hung over the CIA, led the President to conclude the Agency needed a new sense of morale and a new director who could improve strained relations with Congress.

On January 30, 1976, Ford replaced Colby with George H.W. Bush. (…)

Three days after Jimmy Carter’s victory over President Ford, Bush called and offered his resignation. Carter became only the second president to pick a new DCI when he first entered the Presidency, setting a trend for presidents to come.

A final briefing between the two occurred on November 19th, when Bush described more than ten sensitive programs being run by the CIA and even mentioned staying on as Director.

Carter was notably quiet. He later shut down many of these programs and accepted Bush’s resignation on January 10, 1977, the day of the Presidential Inauguration. (…)

“We’ve lost a great champion of the Agency—an accomplished Director, faithful advocate, and dear friend—with the passing of former President George H.W. Bush. As a heroic Navy pilot in the Second World War, a skilled statesman who deftly managed the collapse of the Soviet Union and liberated Kuwait from Saddam Husayn’s aggression, and a committed citizen who remained engaged in public service throughout his later years, President Bush exemplified the virtues of patriotism, duty, and compassion. Officers here at the George Bush Center for Intelligence and deployed around the globe honor the memory of a great American. On behalf of the men and women of CIA, I extend our heartfelt condolences to the Bush family.”

CIA Director Gina Haspel (December 1 2018)

In 2016, in honor of Bush’s tenure as DCI and to mark the 40th anniversary of his swearing-in as Director, the Agency announced the newly-created George H.W. Bush Intelligence Officer award.

The award recognizes CIA officers who engage as exceptional partners across the Agency and within the IC; who strive to deepen tradecraft and expertise; and who deliver on mission, to include how we can improve our performance.

Bush returned home to the Agency for the occasion and to present the awards.

“It is a great joy for me to return to a place that means so much to the defense and security of America,” said Bush in a statement to the Agency.

“To be honest, I am not sure what impact I had on the CIA during my fascinating year helping to lead the Agency, but I can tell you the men and women there made a lasting and profound impact on me… They never get the full recognition they deserve, but it did this 91-year-old heart good today to try to express to them the thanks the men and women of the CIA are surely due.”

Richard Welch’s murder as a political windfall

On December 15, 1975, a Senate committee opened hearings on whether George H.W. Bush should be confirmed as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. It was not going to be a slam dunk.

Then, on December 23, 1975 — eight days after his confirmation hearing — Richard Welch, the CIA’s station chief in Greece, was returning home from a Christmas party at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Athens when he was assassinated.

RELATED POST: On This Day — CIA COS Richard Welch Is Assassinated in Athens (December 23 1975)

Bush, the CIA and the Ford White House quickly saw Welch’s murder as a political windfall. Fake News and playing dirty didn’t start yesterday.

“George H.W. Bush led a life of exemplary public service, integrity, and determination—in WWII, in Congress, as UN Ambassador, Envoy to China, CIA Director, and as Vice President & President. A life very well lived; an American who made us all proud. May he rest in eternal peace.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan (December 1 2018)

Instead of admitting gross negligence for the death of Richard Welch, the CIA — under Bush — re-wrote the circumstances of his death in order to  turn the political tide back in favor of the CIA after the damning revelations made by the Church Committee earlier in 1975.

Eventually, Welch’s murder was used politically to help the passage of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, making it illegal to reveal the name of an agent who has a covert relationship with an American intelligence organization.

Boys will be boys… Arnold and George — Camp David (1991)

I Want This Job – George H.W. Bush and the CIA

A retrospective on George H. W. Bush’s tenure as Director of Central Intelligence produced by CIA’s Center for the Study of Intelligence.

This video was shown during a January 29, 2016, visit by President and Mrs. Bush to CIA Headquarters to mark the 40th anniversary of Mr. Bush’s swearing in as Director.

REFERENCES

Bush as Director of Central Intelligence — CIA website

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CIA Directors — George H.W. Bush (June 12, 1924 – November 30, 2018)

Remembering CIA Director George H. W. Bush (June 12, 1924 – November 30, 2018)

Remembering CIA Director George H. W. Bush (June 12, 1924 – November 30, 2018) [2020]

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