Where Was George?

Article excerpt

Where Was George? (cont.)

Where was George? The saga of Vice President George Bush's alleged involvement with the Central Intelligence Agency in 1963 grows curiouser and curiouser. In an article in The Nation of July 16/23 ["'George Bush,' C.I.A. Operative"], I reported the discovery of a memorandum from J. Edgar Hoover, then director of the F.B.I., saying that "Mr. George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency" had been briefed by the Bureau on November 23, 1963, about the reaction of anti-Castro Cuban exiles in Miami to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

After the article appeared, the C.I.A. put out a story that the George Bush mentioned in the memorandum was not Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush; he was George William Bush, who had worked for the agency in 1963-64. Although the agency claimed that his present whereabouts were unknown, I located George William Bush. He told me he was a coast and landing-beach analyst with the agency in those years, with the rank of GS-5, but that he definitely did not receive the F.B.I. briefing in 1963.

As reported in my article, Vice President Bush, through spokesman Stephen Hart, denied that he was the man referred to in the memo: "I was in Houston, Texas, at the time and involved in the independent oil drilling business. And I was running for the Senate in late '63. I don't have any idea of what he's talking about." Hart added, "Must be another George Bush." When I first asked the C.I.A. about Hart's theory, it invoked its policy of neither confirming nor denying anyone's involvement with the agency.

But after the Nation story received wide coverage in the media, the C.I.A. evidently changed its mind. On July 19, agency spokeswoman Sharron Basso told the Associated Press that the Hoover memo "apparently" referred to George William Bush, who had worked in 1963 on the night watch at C.I.A. headquarters, which "would have been the appropriate place to have received such an F.B.I. report." She said this George Bush left the C.I.A. in 1964 to work for the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Why did the agency break with its longstanding policy of "neither confirm nor deny"? Basso said it believed "the record should be clarified." Another C.I.A. official told the A.P., "We put a lot of effort into this."

In fact, the latest C.I.A. release seems less a clarification than a strategic obfuscation. Hart of the Vice President's office put out the same data to Sarah Perl of The Nation. Both Perl and I called the Defense Intelligence Agency, and a spokesman confirmed that George William Bush had worked there between February 1964 and July 1965, performing the same duties that he had with the C.I.A., those of a civilian-grade government intelligence research specialist, leaving with the rank of GS-7. His last known address was 401 Cambridge Road, Alexandria, Virginia. A check of old Alexandria city directories showed that a George W. Bush, "emp US govt," did live at the Cambridge Road address in 1964 and subsequent years, and that he shared the house with Chester K. Bush of the U.S. Army. Current city records show that the deed to the house is in the names of Colonel Bush and his wife, Alice, and that a George William Bush at that address paid his automobile decal fee to the city this February.

I called Colonel Bush, who said he was George William Bush's father. He confimred that his son had worked for the C.I.A. and still lived at the house, but said he could not come to the phone because he was ill; he asked me to call back the following evening. When I did, I spoke to George William Bush, who is 49 and works as a claims representative for the Social Security Administration. He said he had worked for the C. …