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Bush family history shows a dark past unseen by most

Posted in the database on Tuesday, June 20th, 2006 @ 15:40:39 MST (7242 views)
by Douglas Yates    Online Journal  

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Few would argue that trust, like democracy, is earned and not inherited. So how is it that we've missed the lessons of four generations of Bush family history?

As Kevin Phillips recounts in "American Dynasty," the Bush family presents a record of war profiteers who use public office to gain wealth and advantage. Along the way, Bush family business cronies receive political access and legitimacy.

One of the most venal characters is Prescott Bush, the president's grandfather.

In 1942, Congress seized the assets of Prescott Bush and charged him with trading with the enemy. Bush and his father-in-law, George Herbert Walker, were managing directors of the Union Banking Corp. of New York City. Allied with Brown Brothers Harriman, the largest private investment bank in the world, Bush and Walker were front men for Nazi industrialist Fritz Thyssen.

Thyssen, whose empire was founded on coal and steel, financed the rise of Adolf Hitler. Then as now, cloaking funds destined for subversion of democracies or weapons shipment was a useful tactic. To hide transactions and conceal ownership, Thyssen created a banking network. The first node was established in Berlin, a second in neutral Holland. UBC in New York was the linchpin.

Little more than a money-laundering office for Nazi operations in the United States, Bush, Walker and other confederates oversaw almost a dozen separate businesses. Acting with Thyssen's money, they aided the Nazi invasion of Europe by supplying resources for weaponry. In 1937, Bush set up a deal to help the Luftwaffe obtain tetraethyl lead to boost aircraft performance.

Americans first heard about Thyssen's American operations in the New York Herald-Tribune on July 30, 1942, eight months after Pearl Harbor. The headline declared "Hitler's Angel Has $3 Million in U.S. Bank." However, the story did not identify Bush or Harriman as UBC executives.

After the war ended in 1945, investigators learned that Bush had extremely close ties to Thyssen and continued to work as his agent to the end. When hostilities ceased, Bush helped move Thyssen assets to Panama, Argentina and Brazil, all major destinations for the flight of Nazi capital.

In 1951, following Thyssen's death in Argentina, the U.S. alien property custodian released the assets of Union Banking Corp. Prescott Bush cashed out his ownership share for $1.5 million. (In 2004 dollars, that's more than $10 million.) He used it to fund a successful U.S. Senate campaign from Connecticut and launch his son, the president's father, in the oil business.

Other American companies that armed Hitler included General Motors, Standard Oil and Chase Bank. All were quietly sanctioned after Pearl Harbor; then government files were lost or forgotten. For 60 years, the full record of Prescott Bush's complicity in the Nazi war machine has been ignored or denied by participants and the U.S. media.

But no more. Documents relating to the seizures were recently uncovered in the National Archives and the Library of Congress. Confirmed by Dutch government sources, they show that Bush shipped tons of strategic resources to the Third Reich as Hitler prepared to invade Poland.

Despite this history, the news media continue to present a selective picture of the Bush family and its business connections. People who tried to show the warts were shouted down; in 2000, St. Martin's Press, the first publisher of "Fortunate Son," a George W. Bush biography, was forced to recall and destroy its inventory.

After launching a bloody occupation of Iraq, perhaps it's time Americans connect the dots and see the big picture. It ought to have been done before the invasion, but since we're trained to accept media and TV dinners uncritically, developing a context for identifying domestic enemies is a challenge. Rhetoric and flag waving have replaced hard-nosed insistence on the truth. Meanwhile, lies send our troops to die far from home; war profits flow to favored industries in billion-dollar contracts.

In private action and public policy, Bush family history reveals a pattern of war profiteering spanning four generations. It's a legacy of deceit and death. For the naïve and uninformed, the facts may be a slap in the face. For those who look closely, the sign is as clear as blood on snow.

Then again, perhaps the pattern is lost in the noise. According to Bob Woodward's "Bush At War," the president attended a New York Yankees game not long after the 9/11 attacks. Wearing a New York City fireman's jacket, Bush threw out the first pitch and the crowd roared its approval. From a skybox above the stadium, Karl Rove, Bush's political adviser, likened the roar of the crowd to "a Nazi rally."

Douglas Yates, a Marine Corps veteran, is a writer and photographer living in Ester, Alaska.


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