Co-editors: Seán Mac Mathúna John Heathcote
Consulting editor: Themistocles Hoetis
Field Correspondent: Allen Hougland
George H.W. Bush, the CIA & a Case of State Terrorism: A new CIA report reveals close ties between the CIA under director George H.W. Bush and the mastermind of a 1976 terrorist bombing in Washington, D.C. By Robert Parry. September 23, 2000
Accusation no 1: Bush alleged to have killed Japanese fishermen
Former US president and CIA chief George H. Bush, the father of the current US President George W. Bush, has been accused throughout his life of being involved either with terrorism, the Mafia, and drug trafficking, either during his time as CIA director (1976-1977) or his term as Vice President (1980-1988) or President (1989-1992). Apart from his alleged involvement in the CIA during the Kennedy assassination, he is also said to have carried out violations of the Geneva Convention as a US fighter pilot during the war. He was alleged to have killed Japanese trawler men in a lifeboat whilst a fighter-pilot during the second world war. The latest person to make these allegations is the former Panamanian dictator and CIA stooge, General Manuel Noriega, who is presently serving a 40 year jail sentence in the USA. Calling Bush a "cold blooded killer", he repeats the story that Bush had found Japanese trawler men in a lifeboat, who all had their hands up, but Bush shot them anyway. According to The Observer, Bush has always refused to respond to accusations that he killed Japanese trawler men whose ship he sunk in 1944.(1)
In his interview with The Observer, Noreiga also alleged that Bush, when he was CIA chief in 1976, was responsible for a bomb blast in Panama that destroyed a car owned by William Drummond, a prominent US resident of the American occupied Canal Zone. He was a vocal critic of the negotiations between the US and Panama, and the blast was said to have been "arranged" by the CIA in an attempt to pressurise US residents to end their resistance to the treaty. Noreiga says:
"the US embassy in Panama didn't known about 'Bush's scheme' and got nervous . . . so Bush had to calm the embassy down - he created a problem to solve a problem".
Bush denies Noreiga's claims.
Bush was CIA director from 1976 until 1977. Some background information on this period discussed by William Blum in The CIA: A Forgotten History. During the mid-seventies, the CIA poured money into the Cuban exile terrorist groups such as Omega 7 and Alpha 66, who used the US soil as a "safe haven" to launch attacks on Cuba and it's perceived supporters in the US. In 1976, a bomb was discovered at the New York Academy of Music shortly before a celebration of the 1959 Cuban Revolution was about to begin and a bombing of the Lincoln centre after the Cuban ballet had performed.
Japan indicts Bush as war criminal
In early 1997, Bush was further indicted as a alleged war criminal by the Japanese government. This was in response to the US decision to bar 16 Japanese citizens from the USA for alleged war crimes committed during the second world war. A Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hiroshi Hashimoto announced that 10 American's would be barred from Japan for their "war crimes, crimes against humanity, and violations of human rights". Top of the list was George Bush for "the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, including thousands of children, in attacks on Iraq and Panama" in 1990 and 1988. The other alleged war criminals were: General's Colin Powell and "Stormin" Norman Schwarzkopf, former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, and other US military and government figures such as Colonel Oliver North, Henry Kissinger, Robert MacNamara, CIA director John Deutch and Elliot Abrams.(5)
But by far the most serious act of terrorism alleged against the CIA, when Bush was it's chief, was the blowing up of a Cuban Airlines plane shortly after it took of from Barbados on 6th October 1976. The attack, which was claimed by a then new Cuban exile terrorist group called CORU, killed 73 people, including the entire Cuban Olympic championship fencing team. (2)
Proof has recently emerged of the lengths that the CIA would go to carry out acts of terrorism against civilian targets and, even more pertinently, how the agency was prepared to fabricate evidence "providing irrevocable proof" that Cuba was responsible for terrorist actions which they knew Cuba was not involved in. The Guardian reported the existence of Operation Dirty Trick - a plan to blame Cuba for any mishap during John Glenn's pioneering Earth orbit flight on February 20th 1962. This would be accomplished by "manufacturing various pieces of evidence" which would "prove" electronic interference by Cuba. This evidence was among 1500 pages of classified documents released by the Assassination Records Review Board - the agency that oversees the release of papers connected with the murder of President Kennedy in 1963.
In a March 1962, an U.S. army memorandum entitled Possible Actions to Provoke, Harass or Disrupt Cuba suggested "downing a US plane and blaming it on Mr Castro", or showing "convincingly that a Cuban aircraft has shot down a chartered civilian airliner". It also proposed sinking a U.S. warship - and presumably killing their own servicemen - "which could be blamed on Cuba". The CIA would use Cuban exile terrorists who would fly close to the island to "distract local pilots with radio conversation's with the aim of causing the crash".
The memo also proposed developing a strategy of tension with exile groups that involved a plan to "sink a boatload of Cubans en route for Florida". This has the U.S. planning acts of treason and piracy on the high seas as well as indiscriminate terrorist acts against civilian airliners in it's ambition to remove the popular government of President Castro, and replace it with the mobsters and autocrats who supported the Batista regime until the revolution in 1959.(3)
Accusation no 3: involvement in the murder of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in 1976
This is relevant because when Bush was CIA director, Salvador Allende's former ambassador to the USA, Orlando Letelier and his assistant Ronni Moffitt were murdered on September 21st, 1976, when a remote-controlled bomb ripped apart Letelier's car as they drove down Massachusetts Avenue, a stately section of Washington known as Embassy Row. Allende, the world's first democratically elected Marxist President was ousted in a bloody CIA-backed coup that lead to his assassination in 1973. The attack on Letelier was later attributed to CORU.
Within four months of forming in 1976, CORU claimed to have killed 76 people in North and South America, including Letelier. CORU were later described as a terrorist group which had "the active support of the CIA". CORU members also had close links with Chile's feared secret police, DINA, which was also implicated in the murder of Letelier. Two Cuban exiles and a US citizen were later charged with Letelier's murder.(4) Many CORU members served with the CIA's contra terrorist movement in Nicaragua.
Under George Bush, the CIA leaked a false report that not only cleared Chile's military dictatorship - it pointed the FBI in the wrong direction. The bogus CIA assessment, was spread through Newsweek magazine and other American media outlets, was planted despite CIA's now admitted awareness at the time that Chile was participating in Operation Condor, a cross-border campaign targeting political dissidents, and the CIA's own suspicions that the Chilean junta was behind the terrorist bombing in Washington, according to the author Robert Parry writing on the website consortiumnews.com.
In a 21-page report to Congress on September 18th 2000, the CIA officially acknowledged for the first time that the mastermind of the terrorist attack, Chilean intelligence chief Manuel Contreras, was a paid asset of the CIA. The new report was issued almost 24 years to the day after the murder Letelier and Moffitt. In the new report, the CIA also acknowledged publicly for the first time that it consulted Contreras in October 1976 about the Letelier assassination. The report added that the CIA was aware of the alleged Chilean government role in the murders and included that suspicion in an internal cable the same month.
Bush, who is the father of the current Republican nominee for the presidency, has never explained his role in putting out the false cover story that diverted attention away from the real terrorists. Nor has Bush explained what he knew about the Chilean intelligence operation in the weeks before Letelier and Moffitt were killed. In 1988, Parry said that when the then-Vice President Bush was citing his CIA work as an important part of his government experience, he submitted questions to him asking about his actions in the days before and after the Letelier bombing. Bush's chief of staff, Craig Fuller, wrote back, saying Bush "will have no comment on the specific issues raised in your letter."
Accusation no 3: knowledge of state terrorism in Italy
In February 2000, according to The Guardian (6), Bush may be called to give evidence in a terrorism trial, amid claims that the "CIA knew of a rightwing bombing campaign in Italy 30 years ago". Four neo-fascist suspects are accused of planting a bomb in Milan on December 12th 1969, killing 16 people. It is widely accepted that this bombing, and subsequent attacks (like the Bologna railway massacre in 1980), were part of a "strategy of tension" to destabilse the country and "reduce electoral support for the Communist party". One of the suspects, Carlo Digilio is alleged, like his father, to have been a CIA informant. An investigating judge, Guido Salvini said that:
American agents were responsible for promoting the strategy of tension, even though they did not intervene directly but through orgainsations whose actions could not be traced to them.
Apparently, a key issue in the trial is whether US agents were aware of preparations for the bombing and "did nothing", or worse, as the newspaper noted, "they promoted it". Thus, the court is to decide whether to call all the CIA heads from 1960 to the present, including Bush, to testify. According to Puppet Masters: The Political Use of Terrorism in Italy by Philip Willan (Constable, London, 1993), Bush is alleged to had a close relationship with Lucio Gelli, the infamous head of the P2 masonic lodge. Gelli said in an interview, in which he was careful to claim that he had only met Bush in 1981, not when he was CIA director in 1976, that he once spent a whole week with George Bush at the time of his inauguration as Vice President in 1981. Willan wonders:
"What could the two men, who had only just met, have discussed for an entire week ?"
Two years after Bush left the CIA, the Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro was murdered in May 1978, ostensibly by the Red Brigades, and in September 1978, the Pope died in disputed circumstances. Puppet Masters details how the first phase of state terrorism, which lasted in Italy until 1974, was
"Characterized by right-wing terrorism and, in particluar, by indiscriminate bombings against the public"
Willan shows how this strategy of tension was the result of secret NATO accords and was "sanctioned at the highest level of the Atlantic Alliance" - something the CIA would have been closely involved in. Thus, the reason why Bush could be called to give evidence in Italy.
One thing that the Bush family is said to be worried about is the release of General Manuel Noriega from jail in the USA. If this happens he could spill on the beans on the CIA's links to the cocaine industry in Latin America that played such a vital role in the arming and financing of the Contra terrorists in Nicaragua during the 1980's. Also, their is the possibility that, at last, the CIA and ex-President Bush will be held to account for the murder in Washington of Letelier and their support for the coup in Chile that bought the fascist General Pinochet to power.
1. The Observer Review,
22nd July 1997.