Reports today suggest that former Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, the brother of George W and son of George Snr, is contemplating a run for the Presidency in 2012 or 2016.  I saw this just as I finished reading “Family of Secrets“, a fascinating book by Russ Baker.  This is a well-researched and properly referenced account of three generations of Bushes: Senator Prescott Bush (George W’s grandfather); President George HW Bush; and President George W Bush.  It argues that through three generations the family has been at the heart of a network encompassing the oil industry and the intelligence community that has been manipulating public policy in the USA to serve its own interests.

Maybe some of the material in the book is well-known to those who follow American politics more closely than I do.  I had, of course, heard of the close links between the Bushes and the Saudis (and also to the bin Laden family), but there is a lot more here. 

For example, George HW Bush was apparently involved in or close to all sorts covert operations that profoundly affected America’s history long before he became CIA Director or President.  Notably, he cannot recall where he was the day John F Kennedy was assassinated, but according to the book at 1:45 pm on 22nd November 1963, he called the FBI to identify James Parrott as a possible suspect in the President’s murder, and to mention that he, George H.W. Bush, happened to be in Tyler, Texas.  As he was making the call, his own assistant was visiting Mr Parrott at home.  He then created a misleading paper trail regarding his own whereabouts that day while protecting his business interests and political future.

The book also examines a whole series of connections between George Bush Snr, Bob Woodward (of “All the President’s Men” fame) and White House counsel JohnDean (the key witness in the Watergate hearings) and suggests that the whole Watergate affair was a bloodless coup in three parts: creating the crime, implicating Nixon, and then ensuring that an aggressive effort would be mounted to use the ‘facts’ of the case to force him from office.  Apparently, Nixon was threatening some oil industry tax breaks …

Then there are all sorts of details about how George Bush Snr engineered his son’s rise to the presidency with details of how CIA expertise was used to erase records of  George W’s misdoings and build a resume befitting a future president.  The book examines in detail the still-murky story of George W’s National Guard service record, and how his long track record as a womanizer and party animal was sanitised by a carefully calculated born-again Christian conversion that few dared question.  The book also reports interviews with the man who wrote the memos to the Bush family on how to gain the vast evangelical vote that put him in the White House.

You don’t need to believe everything in the book to take the Jeb Bush threat seriously, but, if – like me – you find it difficult to understand why so many Americans voted for his brother, this book helps explain that phenomenon and also to underline why the Bushes and the interests they represent should not be underestimated.

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