Guest Opinion: The Devil In The Details
THE DEVIL IN THE DETAILS
By Bobby Heart
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA--May 5, 2003--George W. Bush spoke here last Friday to cheering employees at the huge military contractor United Defense Industries, Inc. But while he praised the Army's Bradley tank, which is made at the plant, he neglected to disclose one "detail" - namely, that his immediate family stands to make a fortune from the profits being made by United Defense (NYSE: UDI). And depending on the terms of the bin Laden family trust, so, too, does Osama bin Laden's family.
George W. Bush's father, George Bush, Sr., is a stockholder and former consultant to the private investment firm called the Carlyle Group. Similarly, Osama bin Laden's late father, Mohammed, was also a stockholder in Carlyle, although the Wall Street Journal reported that he withdrew his $2 million investment after 9-11.
According to the Washington Post, the Carlyle Group is one of the world's largest private equity firms with nearly $13.9 billion dollars invested, much of it in military hardware. In fact, it's estimated that Carlyle controls over 10% of the entire U.S. defense industry. Part of those holdings include a 49% stake of United Defense Industries, supplier of the Bradley tanks, among many other weapons, used in the Iraqi invasion.
So after Thursday's photo-ops on board the USS Abraham Lincoln, where Bush declared America's invasion of Iraq was effectively over, it can be reasonably argued that he came to Santa Clara not only for yet another photo opportunity, but also to boost the stock holdings in his father's estate.
Unfortunately, the "press whores" - as the irascible Chicago investigative reporter Sherman Skolnick habitually describes the mainstream press - universally ignored this covert conflict of interest. For example, according to a writer named "David Stout" of the New York Times, "Mr. Bush was lustily cheered by the United Defense Industries workers, especially when he praised the exploits of the Army's Bradley fighting vehicle, which is made at the plant and which Mr. Bush said had played a big role in toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq." Stout dutifully goes on to describe the challenges facing Bush in light of the skyrocketing unemployment figures just released. But not one word from Mr. Stout and countless other writers in the mainstream media about the financial stake Bush stands to inherit from rising share prices of United Defense.
Carlyle's top management of Beltway insiders includes ex-Secy of State James Baker under Bush, Sr., ex-Defense Secy Frank Carlucci under Bush, Sr., Richard Darman, ex-director of the U.S. Office of Mgt and Budget under Bush, Sr.; ex-chairman of the Federal Communications Commission William Kennard; John Major, ex-British prime minister-and, during the time Carlyle invested in United Defense, former U.S. Pres. George Bush himself. In fact, Carlyle's Carlucci is also on United Defense's board, as is John Shalikashvili, ex-chairman of Clinton's Joint Chiefs of Staff, and United's former president and current CFO is Francis "Buzz" Raborn, a retired US Navy Vice Admiral & former CIA deputy director.
According to Hoovers.com,
United Defense depends on the US government (meaning, of
course, American taxpayers) for 80% of its sales. So
decisions by Bush, Jr. as to whether or not to invade Iraq,
and from which military contractors to purchase weapons,
substantially determines how much money goes into the
pockets of his friends and family. Another way of looking at
it is that whenever Iraqi forces - or any force protecting a
country we invade - destroys a Bradley tank on the
battlefield, United Defense, the Carlyle Group and Bush's
friends and family stand to enrich themselves.
It's almost elegant in its simplicity: the son destroys, the father profits by replacing it. Ironically, that's the same formula used by the bin Laden family for years. Every time Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda allegedly destroyed American military barracks in Saudi Arabia, the Binladen Construction Company was hired to rebuild it, earning the bin Laden family millions of dollars profit in the process. And regardless of whether it's the Bush Family or bin Laden Family engaged in this charade, it's always the American taxpayer who foots the bill.
The late US Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler once said, "War is a racket." So any journalist worth his embedded donuts should have known these facts lurking behind Bush's appearance at United Defense last week -- and reported it. But without exception, they did not. I used to wince every time writer Skolnick called them "press whores." But not any more. In fact, "whore" is too kind a term. At least with a whore, you get what you pay for.
And that, dear friends, is the Heart of the matter.