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"[Texas] Observer readers are familiar with much of the ground [Charles] Lewis covers in The Buying of the President 2000 [Avon Press], including accounts of how he:

made $15 million off the Texas Rangers deal with the help of $135 million in corporate welfare from Arlington taxpayers;
took $4.5 million from the business interests clamoring for "tort reform" and rewarded them with laws that make it harder to sue irresponsible businesses; and
invited oil industry executives to develop a do-nothing public relations response to the "grandfathered" air pollution problem in Texas.

The Observer has not yet covered the University of Texas Investment Management Company (UTIMCO) scandal, in which huge sums of money flow back and forth between Bush and his top donors. Tom Hicks (of the Dallas corporate takeover firm Hicks Muse Tate & Furst) made Bush a millionaire fifteen times over by buying the Texas Rangers. Hicks and his brother Steven contributed $146,000 to Bush's gubernatorial campaigns; Steven is a Bush fundraising "Pioneer," who has raised at least $100,000 for Bush's presidential race. Tom Hicks long urged U.T. to move part of its $13 billion endowment into riskier investments. In 1990, for example, he tried to get it to invest in his takeover of Healthco, a dental supply company that went bankrupt three years later. In 1995, the Texas Senate confirmed Tom Hicks as a U.T. regent, just as Bush was moving into the Governor's Mansion. Hicks hired lobbyists to push a bill -- signed into law by Bush -- that created UTIMCO. With Hicks as its first chair, UTIMCO began to dole out lucrative contracts to private investment firms to manage portions of the endowment. Many of these firms had ties to Hicks and Bush:

"The Carlyle Group. The elder George Bush reportedly has an equity stake in this firm, which is run by leading members of his presidential administration.
Maverick Capital Fund. Its investors include Bush Pioneer Charles Wyly and his brother Sam, who gave $210,273 to Bush's gubernatorial campaigns.
Bass Brothers Enterprises. Bass family interests funneled $215,000 to Bush and financed a Bahraini drilling contract won by a small oil exploration company where Bush served as a director.
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. This corporate buyout firm would soon join Hicks, Muse in a $1.5 billion takeover of Regal Cinemas.
Evercore Partners. Evercore joined Hicks, Muse in a $900 million buyout of television stations soon after its UTIMCO deal.
American Securities Partners. The company won a UTIMCO contract soon after selling eleven radio stations to Hicks, Muse."


The Bush-Bin Laden Money Connection


"Former President George Bush met with King Fahd, right, on a trip to Saudi Arabia last year as part of his work for the Carlyle Group." (NYT, 3/5/01)


A Second Bush Oil Deal To Come With Murky Ties To Saudi Financiers And Osama Bin Laden

"On September 24, President George W. Bush appeared at a press conference in the White House Rose Garden to announce a crackdown on the financial networks of terrorists and those who support them. “U.S. banks that have assets of these groups or individuals must freeze their accounts,” Bush declared. “And U.S. citizens or businesses are prohibited from doing business with them.”

"But the president, who is now enjoying an astounding 92 percent approval rating, hasn’t always practiced what he is now preaching: Bush’s own businesses were once tied to financial figures in Saudi Arabia who currently support bin Laden.

"In 1979, Bush’s first business, Arbusto Energy, obtained financing from James Bath, a Houstonian and close family friend. One of many investors, Bath gave Bush $50,000 for a 5 percent stake in Arbusto. At the time, Bath was the sole U.S. business representative for Salem bin Laden, head of the wealthy Saudi Arabian family and a brother (one of 17) to Osama bin Laden. It has long been suspected, but never proven, that the Arbusto money came directly from Salem bin Laden. In a statement issued shortly after the September 11 attacks, the White House vehemently denied the connection, insisting that Bath invested his own money, not Salem bin Laden’s, in Arbusto.

"In conflicting statements, Bush at first denied ever knowing Bath, then acknowledged his stake in Arbusto and that he was aware Bath represented Saudi interests. In fact, Bath has extensive ties, both to the bin Laden family and major players in the scandal-ridden Bank of Commerce and Credit International (BCCI) who have gone on to fund Osama bin Laden. BCCI defrauded depositors of $10 billion in the ’80s in what has been called the “largest bank fraud in world financial history” by former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. During the ’80s, BCCI also acted as a main conduit for laundering money intended for clandestine CIA activities, ranging from financial support to the Afghan mujahedin to paying intermediaries in the Iran-Contra affair.

"When Salem bin Laden died in 1988, powerful Saudi Arabian banker and BCCI principal Khalid bin Mahfouz inherited his interests in Houston. Bath ran a business for bin Mahfouz in Houston and joined a partnership with bin Mahfouz and Gaith Pharaon, BCCI’s frontman in Houston’s Main Bank.

"The Arbusto deal wasn’t the last time Bush looked to highly questionable sources to invest in his oil dealings. After several incarnations, Arbusto emerged in 1986 as Harken Energy Corporation. When Harken ran into trouble a year later, Saudi Sheik Abdullah Taha Bakhsh purchased a 17.6 percent stake in the company. Bakhsh was a business partner with Pharaon in Saudi Arabia; his banker there just happened to be bin Mahfouz.

"Though Bush told the Wall Street Journal he had “no idea” BCCI was involved in Harken’s financial dealings, the network of connections between Bush and BCCI is so extensive that the Journal concluded their investigation of the matter in 1991 by stating: “The number of BCCI-connected people who had dealings with Harken—all since George W. Bush came on board—raises the question of whether they mask an effort to cozy up to a presidential son.” Or even the president: Bath finally came under investigation by the FBI in 1992 for his Saudi business relationships, accused of funneling Saudi money through Houston in order to influence the foreign policies of the Reagan and first Bush administrations.

"Worst of all, bin Mahfouz allegedly has been financing the bin Laden terrorist network—making Bush a U.S. citizen who has done business with those who finance and support terrorists. According to USA Today, bin Mahfouz and other Saudis attempted to transfer $3 million to various bin Laden front operations in Saudi Arabia in 1999. ABC News reported the same year that Saudi officials stopped bin Mahfouz from contributing money directly to bin Laden. (Bin Mahfouz’s sister is also a wife of Osama bin Laden, a fact that former CIA Director James Woolsey revealed in 1998 Senate testimony.)

"When President Bush announced he is hot on the trail of the money used over the years to finance terrorism, he must realize that trail ultimately leads not only to Saudi Arabia, but to some of the same financiers who originally helped propel him into the oil business and later the White House. The ties between bin Laden and the White House may be much closer than he is willing to acknowledge." --Wayne Madsen, 10/22/01

Wayne Madsen, an investigative journalist based in Washington, is the author of Genocide and Covert Operations in Africa 1993-1999.


Part One: "Hike in US defence spending to benefit Osama's family": Bin Laden-Bush business connection seen through Carlyle Group

"If the United States boosts defence spending in its quest to stop Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden's alleged terrorist activities, his family may be the unexpected beneficiary of that, media reports said. "Among its far-flung business interests, the well-heeled Saudi Arabian clan, which says it is estranged from Laden, is an investor in a fund established by Carlyle Group, a well-connected Washington merchant bank specialising in buyouts of defence and aerospace companies," The Wall Street Journal said in an investigative dispatch. It said "through this investment and its ties to Saudi royalty, the bin Laden family has become acquainted with some of the biggest names in the Republican Party." "In recent years, former president George H W Bush, ex-secretary of state James Baker and ex-secretary of defence Frank Carlucci have made the pilgrimage to the bin Laden family's headquarters in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia). "Ex-president Bush makes speeches on behalf of Carlyle Group and is senior adviser to its Asian Partners Fund, while Baker is its senior counsellor and Carlucci is the group's chairman," the journal said." --Hindustani Times, 9/28/01


Part Two : Inside The Carlyle Group

With former US Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci as its chairman, it's no surprise that The Carlyle Group is drawn to defense. Defense and aerospace firms such as United Defense Industries make up a significant share of the world's largest private equity firm's portfolio. Also represented are information technology (Federal Data), health care, real estate, and bottling companies. Since Carlucci joined in 1989, a host of staffers from the Reagan and first Bush administrations have stinted at the company, including ex-Secretary of State James Baker and ex-budget chief Richard Darman. Former President Bush and former UK Prime Minister John Major have also made appearances. --Hoovers Online

***

...Traveling with the fanfare of dignitaries, Mr. Bush and Mr. Baker [use] their extensive government contacts to further their business interests as representatives of the Carlyle Group, a $12 billion private equity firm based in Washington that has parlayed a roster of former top-level government officials, largely from the Bush and Reagan administrations, into a moneymaking machine. In a new spin on Washington's revolving door between business and government, where lobbying by former officials is restricted but soliciting investments is not, Carlyle has upped the ante and taken the practice global. Mr. Bush and Mr. Baker were accompanied on their trips by former Prime Minister John Major of Britain, another of Carlyle's political stars. With door-openers of this caliber, along with shrewd investment skills, Carlyle has gone from an unknown in the world of private equity to one of its biggest players. Private equity, which involves buying up companies in private deals and reselling them, is a high-end business open only to the very rich. Over the last decade, the Carlyle empire has grown to span three continents and include investments in most corners of the world. It owns so many companies that it is now in effect one of the nation's biggest defense contractors and a force in global telecommunications. Its blue-chip investors include major banks and insurance companies, billion-dollar pension funds and wealthy investors from Abu Dhabi to Singapore. In getting business for Carlyle, Mr. Bush has been impressive. His meeting with the crown prince was followed by a yacht cruise and private dinners with Saudi businessmen. And Mr. Bush led Carlyle's successful entry into South Korea, the fastest-growing economy in Asia. After his meetings with the prime minister and other government and business leaders, Carlyle won a tough competition for control of KorAm, one of Korea's few healthy banks. The steady flow of politicians to lucrative private-sector jobs based on their government contacts is a familiar Washington tale. But in this case, it is being played out for more dollars, on a global stage, and in the world of private finance, where the minimal government rules prohibiting lobbying by former officials for a given period are not a factor. These rules say nothing about potential conflicts when former government officials use their connections and insights for financial gain, and they may attract more notice now that George W. Bush is president. Many of those involved with Carlyle, which invests largely in companies that do business with the government or are affected by government regulations, have ties to the Oval Office.

For instance, Frank C. Carlucci, a Reagan secretary of defense who as much as anyone is responsible for Carlyle's success, said he met in February with his old college classmate Donald H. Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, and Vice President Dick Cheney, himself a defense secretary under former President Bush, to talk about military matters — at a time when Carlyle has several billion-dollar defense projects under consideration.... "Carlyle is as deeply wired into the current administration as they can possibly be," said Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit public interest group based in Washington. "George Bush is getting money from private interests that have business before the government, while his son is president. And, in a really peculiar way, George W. Bush could, some day, benefit financially from his own administration's decisions, through his father's investments. The average American doesn't know that and, to me, that's a jaw-dropper."

It is difficult to determine exactly how much money the senior Mr. Bush and Mr. Baker have made. Mr. Baker is a Carlyle partner, and Mr. Bush has the title senior adviser to its Asian activities. With a current market value of about $3.5 billion on Carlyle's equity and with the firm owned by 18 partners and one outside investor, Mr. Baker's Carlyle stake would be worth about $180 million if each partner held an equal stake. It is not known whether he has more or less than the other partners. Unlike Mr. Baker, Mr. Bush has no ownership stake in Carlyle; he is an adviser and an investor and is compensated by obtaining stakes in Carlyle investments. Carlyle executives cited, for example, Mr. Bush's being allowed to put money he earns giving speeches for Carlyle into its investment funds. Mr. Bush generally receives $80,000 to $100,000 for a speech. He sits on no corporate boards other than Carlyle's. Carlyle also gave the Bush family a hand in 1990 by putting George W. Bush, who was then struggling to find a career, on the board of a Carlyle subsidiary, Caterair, an airline-catering company....

With $12 billion from investors, Carlyle claims to be the nation's largest private equity fund and makes money by investing in undervalued companies and reselling at a profit.... The California state pension fund invested $305 million with Carlyle, and the Texas teachers pension fund — whose board was appointed when George W. Bush was governor — gave Carlyle $100 million to invest in November. Carlyle also works as a financial adviser to the Saudi government....Carlyle has done well for its investors, returning an average of 34 percent a year over the last decade, in line with other private equity funds. It has done this by buying what it knows best — companies that are regulated by the government. Nearly two-thirds of its investments are in defense and telecommunications companies, which are affected by shifts in government spending and policy. ...Carlyle has become the nation's 11th largest defense contractor, owning companies that make tanks, aircraft wings and a broad array of other military equipment. It also owns health care companies, real estate, Internet companies, a bottling company and even Le Figaro, the French newspaper.... And its access extends well beyond American shores. In Europe, Carlyle has assembled an advisory board that besides Mr. Major includes Karl Otto Pöhl, former president of German's Bundesbank, and the past or present chairmen of B.M.W., Hoffman-LaRoche, Nestlé, LVMH-Moët Hennessy, Louis Vuitton and Aerospatiale, the French Airbus partner. Carlyle's Asia advisory board, which helps raise money and finds and reviews deals, includes former President Fidel V. Ramos of the Philippines, the former prime minister of Thailand and the executive director of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. The former South Korean prime minister Park Tae Joon was also an adviser to Carlyle.... In an office adorned with photographs of Mr. Carlucci and the politically mighty — he sits beneath an Oval Office picture of himself and Mr. Reagan — Mr. Carlucci makes it clear that his extensive government and global ties are as fresh as ever. "I know Rumsfeld extremely well," Mr. Carlucci said in an interview. "We've been close friends throughout the years. We were college classmates."...NYT, 3/5/01


***

Part Three : Ex-Prez Bush's Financial Ties With Defense Contractors Leads To Call For Resignation

Judicial Watch, the public interest law firm that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and abuse, reacted with disbelief to The Wall Street Journal report of yesterday that George H.W. Bush, the father of President Bush, works for the bin Laden family business in Saudi Arabia through the Carlyle Group, an international consulting firm. The senior Bush had met with the bin Laden family at least twice. (Other top Republicans are also associated with the Carlyle group, such as former Secretary of State James A. Baker.) The terrorist leader Osama bin Laden had supposedly been “disowned” by his family, which runs a multi-billion dollar business in Saudi Arabia and is a major investor in the senior Bush’s firm. Other reports have questioned, though, whether members of his Saudi family have truly cut off Osama bin Laden. Indeed, the Journal also reported yesterday that the FBI has subpoenaed the bin Laden family business’s bank records. Judicial Watch earlier this year had strongly criticized President Bush’s father’s association with the Carlyle Group, pointing out in a March 5 statement that it was a “conflict of interest (which) could cause problems for America’s foreign policy in Middle East and Asia.” Judicial Watch called for the senior Bush to resign from the firm then. “This conflict of interest has now turned into a scandal. The idea of the President’s father, an ex-president himself, doing business with a company under investigation by the FBI in the terror attacks of September 11 is horrible. President Bush should not ask, but demand, that his father pull out of the Carlyle Group,” stated Judicial Watch Chairman and General Counsel Larry Klayman.... --Judicial Watch, 9/28/01


Part Four : Why Did Bush Withdraw From Treaty Talks On Cleaning Up Money Laundering?

"Just a few weeks ago, the Bush administration -- another group well-watered by the murky flow of offshore capital -- announced its withdrawal from international treaty talks on cleaning up the money-laundering swamp. Why on earth did they oppose this strike against terrorism and organized crime? Let's ask Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist of the World Bank -- no "left-wing fifth columnist" he: "The answer is, it's in the interests of some of the monied interests to allow this to occur," he told The Nation in June. "It's not an accident; it could have been shut down at any time."

"And this week, the Bush administration finally reversed the long-standing conservative appeasement of wealthy murderers, at least in part, by freezing the financial assets of Bin Laden and his associates and threatening to, er, bar any foreign countries and banks from U.S. financial markets if they didn't cooperate with investigators. Of course, it took them 13 days to get around to blocking the cash flow of their "prime suspect" -- but maybe some of their comfortably entwined High Finance pals needed time to get untangled before the freeze. Oh well, better late than never, right?" --Chris Floyd, 9/28/01


Part Five : Daddy Bush's Campaign Manager (Nixon's "Jew-Counter") Has Carlyle Connections

"Fred Malek received his 15 minutes of fame in the 1970s as deputy director of CREEP (Committee to Re-elect the President), the Nixon White House operation behind Watergate. Unlike many of his former associates, Malek walked--but not out of Washington. After lying low for a time, he made his political comeback as a leader in the Republican Party in the late 1980s, only to resign as deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1988 when an ugly incident from his past came to light: At Nixon's behest, he had drawn up a list of Jews in the Bureau of Labor Statistics, where Nixon thought a "Jewish cabal" was out to get him. Nonetheless, Malek rebounded yet again in 1992 as campaign manager for the Bush/Quayle ticket. --MOJO.

A Continuation Of Part Two..."Can it be true that Bush and Major hire themselves out as props, without realizing what Carlyle deals they might be abetting? To schmooze without being aware of the end results? In any event, they did not have to explain their presence in Saudi Arabia, for both had been invited to speak at an economic forum in Jeddah. Bush and Major were also received by King Fahd. "But for part of the time they were just with us," says the Carlyle source. According to two sources familar with the mission, Carlyle executives were focusing on the telephone system deal. In 1998 the Saudi government announced it was privatizing the kingdom's phone service, and the Saudis have been seeking foreign investors. Several companies from around the world have expressed interest. SBC has been looking at this potential deal for about a year and brought in well-wired Carlyle as a partner.

"It might not trouble the (supposedly) unknowing Bush that he is aiding SBC, a Texas-based company run by executives who have contributed nearly $50,000 to George W. Bush's gubernatorial and presidential campaigns. Governor Bush's administration has also been supportive of SBC, which spends more on lobbying in Texas than any other corporation (at least $5 million in 1999). In December the Texas Public Utilities Commission, comprising three Bush appointees, approved SBC's highly controversial request to enter the long-distance market in that state. Critics of SBC complained that the company had not opened up the local market as it had promised, and after the PUC granted its OK, the Justice Department, citing SBC's anticompetitive ways, urged the Federal Communications Commission to reject the company's long-distance application. (By the way, SBC once donated $400,000 to a reading initiative promoted by Govenor Bush.)...

"It's pretty obvious," says one person with knowledge of the trip. "Carlyle wanted to open up doors, and they bring in Bush and Major, who saved the Saudis' ass in the Gulf War. If you got these guys coming in for SBC or any other company, those companies are going to have a pretty good chance." The Carlyle connection runs in the family. In 1990, a year after Carlyle acquired Caterair, a large airline-catering firm, Fred Malek, a longtime Bush associate [and elsewhere described as an advisor to Carlyle], helped place George W. on the board of Caterair. And this past fall the Bush campaign received a scare when one of its lead fundraisers, GOP lobbyist Wayne Berman, was implicated in a scandal involving Carlyle. On September 23 former Connecticut State Treasurer Paul Silvester pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges regarding his handling of state pension funds. Berman pocketed about $1 million from Carlyle for helping the firm win $100 million in pension investments from Silvester. Shortly before Silvester left office in early 1999, Berman allegedly promised him a job while angling for another $50 million investment in a Carlyle fund. Berman then hired Silvester for a position in the consulting firm he operates with former Senator Alfonse D'Amato. After Berman's role in the affair became public, the Bush campaign announced that Berman, who had worked in the Bush Administration, was no longer fundraising for George W. Carlyle has been good to the Bushes. But if the Berman-Carlyle scandal spreads, it may draw more attention to the back-scratching, deal-making financial-political world in which the Bush family and their friends have flourished. That won't be good for the son of Carlyle's most famous meet-and-greeter." --David Corn, The Nation, 3/27/00


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