Saturday, October 29, 2005

The other other other George Bush

Apropos of nothing, let me tell you the story (from memory, but I’m pretty sure I have the facts correct) of a time the White House leaked the name of a CIA employee. It was 1988, and the (former) employee was named George Bush. A researcher, a historian I think, looking into the Kennedy assassination, ran across a document which mentioned that someone at the Agency named George Bush had spoken with Cuban emigres right after the assassination. Was it the George Bush whose hitherto first known association with the CIA was when he was appointed to head it in the 1970s, then running for president? Well, in 1963 he was in the oil business, including in the Caribbean, and from a Republican family, so it was certainly plausible that he’d been asked to develop a few contacts, but the document was unclear, and seemed to be referring to someone more officially employed by the CIA. After this story was published in the Nation, the White House put out a statement that it was indeed a different George Bush, someone who’d left the CIA a couple of years later and they didn’t know what had happened to him. But they named him as a former CIA employee anyway. Not undercover, but still. The Nation tracked that George Bush down, which wasn’t especially difficult because he was listed in the phone book and was living at the same address as in 1963 (he’d left the CIA for another civil service job, in Social Security). He denied being the George Bush mentioned in the document; in 1963 he’d been something like 25 and too low-level to have been liaising with anti-Castro Cubans. So it remains a mystery to this day, but the relevant point for us now is that, just 6 years after the Philip Agee Act, the White House outed a former CIA employee, without even warning him first.

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