by Wayne Madsen
August 13, 2015
Wayne Madsen is an
investigative journalist who consistently exposes
cover-ups from deep within
During the recent Republican
presidential candidates' "debate" in Cleveland, former Florida
Governor John Ellis Bush (JEB) wanted to recount his eight
years as governor of the Sunshine State.
However, it is not Bush the politician
who should be of interest to voters but Bush the Central
Intelligence Agency "non-official cover" banker in Venezuela and
Miami-based real estate businessman/money launderer who should alarm
the American electorate.
iprphoto / Flickr
While Jeb's brother,
George W. Bush, glossed over
his AWOL status with the Texas Air National Guard, Jeb does not have
a military record to defend but he does have a CIA employment
record to fess up to.
Jeb's early work in Venezuela and south Florida is much more
troubling than Dubya pretending to be on active duty in Texas while
he was actually off in Alabama helping a GOP U.S. Senate campaign
and getting sloppy drunk in redneck bars.
Jeb should fully explain his
relationship with Alberto Duque, a Colombian national who
laundered drug money for the Medellin and Cali Narco-Cartels and
Nicaraguan Contras while serving as owner of City National Bank of
Miami and president of the General Coffee Company of Colombia.
Apparently, there was more than coffee arriving in sacks of coffee
coming into Miami from Colombia. Duque financed a $30 million real
estate development project run by Jeb Bush.
In 1983, Duque was convicted for fraud and sent to federal prison.
Duque hired a Bush family CIA crony to serve as City National Bank's
He was Don Beazley, who previously worked for the CIA's
Nugan Hand Bank in Australia.
Before it collapsed, Nugan Hand was
responsible for laundering money from the CIA's Golden Triangle
opium and heroin smuggling operations from Southeast Asia's Golden
Triangle and paying off U.S. surrogates in Asia, including,
...and various Thai generals.
In return for CIA money gifts, Marcos ordered his Energy Minister,
Geronimo Velasco, to have the Philippines National Oil
Corporation enter into business relationships with three Bush
The three Bush firms were also linked to
various CIA activities, including the abortive
1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
Jeb Bush's Texas Commerce Bank was also the bank used by the Zapata
companies. Velasco died of a sudden heart attack in San Francisco in
2007. Velasco's Republic Glass Corporation became a holding company
that owned a number of British Virgin Islands-based subsidiaries.
Beazley had also been president of Great American Bank of Miami. The
bank was indicted for drug money laundering in 1982. Beazley also
negotiated the sale of Second National Bank of Homestead, a
subsidiary of Great American, to Nugan Hand.
It was in this environment of
interconnected CIA money laundering banks that Jeb Bush
found himself and his real estate business immersed in the 1980s.
On January 25, 1980, Frank Nugan, the Australian co-founder
of Nugan Hand Bank, was found dead in his car near Bowenfels, New
South Wales from a "self-inflicted" rifle shot wound to his head.
The card of ex-CIA director William
Colby, who, himself was found floating in Chesapeake Bay,
Maryland in 1996, was found in Nugan's pocket.
Colby was Nugan Hand's legal counsel. Hand had planned to move with
his wife and three young children to Florida but someone apparently
did not like the idea of Nugan showing up in Florida during the year
George H W Bush was trying to become the president of the United
After serving as vice president for Texas Commerce Bank in Caracas
from 1977 to 1979, Bush joined his father's presidential campaign in
1980. Serving with Bush on the campaign was the CIA official who
gave him his in-brief at Langley in 1977, Robert Gambino, the
deputy director of security at the agency.
In the 1980s, Jeb Bush provided liaison between his father's
national security adviser, Donald Gregg, and various
Florida-based right-wing Nicaraguan and Cuban exile organizations
helping to fight the clandestine war against the Sandinista
government of Nicaragua.
Jeb was appointed by his father to the board of the National
Republican Institute, the GOP branch of the National
Endowment for Democracy (NED),
the CIA-financed money laundering operation that saw
millions pour into the coffers of the Nicaraguan contras, Cuban
exile groups, and Salvadorean, Guatemalan, and Honduran death
Jeb acted as a liaison between Dr. Mario Castejon, a
right-wing candidate for president of Guatemala, and Vice President
Bush. Castejon sought funding for a secret shipment of arms to the
contras and other right-wing rebel groups in Central America that
would be masked as "medical supplies."
Jeb Bush's relationship with City National Bank, whose other senior
director was Leonard Abess, a director of the
Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
Foundation, ensured that a large share of NED money flowed to
Israeli security firms like Tadiran, which helped Guatemala and
Honduras track down leftist guerrillas and exterminate them.
Jeb Bush's current support for Israel stems from his early business
relationships with Zionists like Abess and other offshoots of the
Meyer Lansky "Kosher Nostra" crime family in south Florida. Abess is
currently a member of the Federal Reserve Bank branch of Miami.
Jeb's thank you letter to Gambino after his 1977 CIA in-briefing at
Texas Commerce Bank was owned by the
family of James Baker, an early George H W Bush adviser as
well as close friend.
It could be argued that Jeb Bush, from his in-brief by Gambino at
the CIA in 1977, to his unsuccessful run for governor of Florida in
1994 was a reliable CIA and Israeli asset.
In 1990, Jeb urged his father to pardon Cuban terrorist Orlando
Bosch, a man wanted for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban civilian
passenger plane that had taken off from Bridgetown, Barbados.
Jeb Bush was also a supporter of the U.S. House of Representatives
candidacy of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, one of the most rabid
anti-Castro and pro-Israeli members of Congress.
Jeb also succeeded in having his father
name Dexter Lehtinen, Ileana's husband, to be U.S. Attorney
for Southern Florida.
Lehtinen permitted a number of Jeb's friends in the Cuban and Jewish
communities in southern Florida to escape prosecution for crimes
ranging from drug money laundering to narcotics smuggling and
contract assassinations to banking fraud.
Most of Jeb's business friends were CIA-linked bankers. In addition
to Beazley, Duque, and Abess, these included Paul Helliwell,
a Miami-based lawyer and the owner of two CIA money laundering
Great American Bank of Miami,
later bought by Nugan Hand and indicted in 1982 for drug
Castle Bank & Trust Ltd. of
Nassau in the Bahamas
Helliwell, a veteran of the Office of
Strategic Security (OSS) during World War II, died at the age of 62
on Christmas Eve of 1976, just a few weeks before George H W Bush
departed as CIA director.
The autopsy said Helliwell died from "complications of emphysema."
Castle Bank shut down in 1977, the same year that Jeb moved to
Caracas to work for Texas Commerce Bank.
An affiliated bank that shared directors with Castle Bank,
Mercantile Bank & Trust of Freeport, Bahamas, also suspended
operations in 1977.
Castle Bank, which had laundered CIA
money to pay off such dictators as,
Marcos in the Philippines
Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican
Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua,
...saw much of its revenue initially
come from Nationalist Chinese drug smugglers operating out of the
Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia.
In addition to Nassau, Helliwell's Castle Bank operated out of the
Cayman Islands and Panama. Among the bank's account holders were
the Pritzker family of Chicago, which owns the Hyatt Hotel
chain, and the daughter of President Chiang Kai-shek of Taiwan.
Between 1964 and 1975, Helliwell's major
CIA front company, Sea Supply Corporation, ran covert military
operations against Cuba from Andros Island, the largest island in
Jeb's business deals also put him in close contact with two other
Florida banks, Northside Bank of Miami, owned by the Cali Cartel,
and the Popular Bank and Trust Company, once owned by Nicaragua's
Somoza but transferred to CIA control after his assassination by
Sandinista commandos in Paraguay in 1980.
After his return from Caracas to Florida in 1979, Jeb befriended the
right-wing Nicaraguan community as much as he did the right-wing
Much of the billions of dollars that the
Somoza family stole from Nicaragua ended up in CIA-connected banks
that helped finance Jeb's many real estate and other ventures.
Jeb Bush as
CIA "NOC" in the late 1970s.
Is Jeb Bush [left
circled] at the 1980 funeral of ex-Nicaraguan fascist dictator
Anastasio Somoza at
Miami's Woodlawn Park Cemetery?
Others in attendance
included U.S. Representatives Larry McDonald (D-GA)
and John Murphy
assassinated by a Sandinista car bomb in Asuncion, Paraguay.
The explosion left
only Somoza's feet intact.
One of Gambino's last acts as the CIA's director of security was to
preserve the myriad of CIA special clearance categories, including
those that permitted NOCs like Jeb Bush and drug- and arms-smuggling
proprietary companies and money laundering banks to flourish.
The Carter administration had ordered the intelligence community to
reduce its compartmented access system with over 50 code words to
just five special code word compartments by July 1980. The National
Security Agency and Gambino balked and the new system, code named
APEX, never materialized.
When Jeb's father became vice president in 1981, APEX was scrapped
for the original system, which saw the number of special
compartments grow in number in order to accommodate operations that
included trading weapons for hostages with Iran and covertly funding
the Nicaraguan contras.
One CIA official who was alarmed over APEX was the man who CIA
director George H W Bush named as deputy director for covert
operations in 1976, Ted Shackley, aka the "Blond Ghost."
Shackley was an old colleague of George
H W Bush stemming from his days as the station chief of JMWAVE, the
Miami CIA office dedicated to overthrow Fidel Castro in Cuba.
It was there that Shackley and Bush became involved with Cuban exile
and mafia parties that were later tied to the assassination of
President John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963.
The "Cuba thing" was mentioned by President Richard Nixon on Oval
Office tapes subpoenaed in the Watergate scandal. It is now known
that the "Cuba thing" was code for the assassination of Kennedy and
the CIA's involvement in the operation.
Shackley was also involved with Donald Gregg in the Phoenix
assassination program in South Vietnam and Project FUBELT, the CIA
operation to overthrow President Salvador Allende of Chile on
September 11, 1973.
An undated TOP SECRET memo to Shackley from a CIA official whose
name is redacted but believed to be Gambino provides details of
Shackley and the CIA's security division opposition to APEX.
The memo states:
"there is no intention of
establishing under the Community Security Group responsibility
for a centralized computerized data base of all SCI [Sensitive
Compartmented Information] approvals.
The CSG has no functional role in
this area at this time, and one is planned for the future. The
CIA Special Security Center's Compartmented Information Branch
is the home of the community service on special access
certifications and records. They handle SPECLE...
Any effort to upgrade the SPECLE
system is years away. Further, NSA has taken no steps toward
inputting their COMINT clearances."
In other words, the policy of President
Jimmy Carter and his CIA director, Admiral Stansfield
Turner, to limit CIA special compartments and display more
accountability was being undermined by two Bush embeds in Langley:
Gambino and Shackley.
Shackley and Gambino were eventually
forced by Turner to retire.
The almost limitless penchant of the CIA
to create special compartments permitted assets like Jeb Bush at the
Texas Commerce Bank and Barack Obama, Jr. at Business International
Corporation to evade public scrutiny as CIA employees.
In a January 24, 1980 memo, to Gambino from the CIA member of the
APEX Steering Group, special compartments are described as as
protecting "industrial" personnel working for the CIA, NSA, and
Defense Intelligence Agency.
Shackley became involved in the "October Surprise" plot by Bush and
William Casey against Carter, also known as the
"arms-for-no-hostages" conspiracy. Gambino joined the 1980 Bush for
President and, later, the Reagan-Bush campaign.
According to Jeff Stein, writing
for Newsday's July 25, 1980 issue, joining Gambino on the campaign
were at least 40 other ex-CIA officers hired by Bush and Casey.
Jeb Bush's rise to financial and political power in Florida is
coupled with a trail of,
...and dubious characters who served as
Until Jeb Bush fully accounts for his business activities in
the 1970s, 80s, and early 90s, he is actually more unfit for the
presidency than his draft-dodging and AWOL status brother, George
- SPECIAL REPORT - UPDATE
Jeb Bush Received Comprehensive CIA Briefing
...when he Worked for Bank in Caracas
by Wayne Madsen
June 12-14, 2015
WMR has obtained a copy of a letter sent to the Central Intelligence
Agency by Jeb Bush when he served as the top official of Texas
Commerce Bank in Caracas, Venezuela.
On April 8, 2015, WMR first reported on
the possibility that Bush, a recent college graduate, may have
served as a CIA "non-official cover" (NOC) agent in Venezuela. The
revelation about Bush's past links to the CIA comes two days before
his expected announcement in Miami that he is a candidate for the
2016 Republican presidential nomination.
A June 7, 1977 letter on Texas Commerce Bank stationery from "Jeb
Bush" of the bank's International Banking Division, using post
office box 2558 in Houston, to Robert W. Gambino, director of
security for the CIA thanks Gambino, who was in charge of issuing
clearances for CIA official cover and NOC agents alike, for
"arranging such a comprehensive and informative briefing" for Bush
during his recent trip to Washington.
Bush also wrote,
"I now understand why my father says
that your agency has the most dedicated and professional group
of people with which he has ever been associated."
Bush again thanked Gambino and his
associates for seeing him.
Upon entering office on January 20, 1977, President Jimmy Carter
refused a request from George H. W. Bush that he be retained
as CIA director. Instead, Carter chose his Annapolis classmate,
Admiral Stansfield Turner, to take the helm at Langley.
Although Turner dismissed a number of
Bush clandestine service loyalists, many remained in the CIA's
infrastructure. Update: One of the Bush loyalists was Gambino, the
CIA security director who arranged for Jeb Bush's comprehensive
briefing. In 1980, Gambino retired from the CIA to work for George
H. W. Bush's presidential campaign.
The elder Bush rewarded Gambino in 1991
when he was appointed director of the Selective Service, which
registers young men for a potential draft.
In April of this year, WMR reported:
"One of the last things then-Central
Intelligence Agency director George H. W. Bush did for his son
Jeb, whose actual name is John Ellis Bush from which the
'Jeb' is derived as an acronym, is to have him hired by
the international division of the Texas Commerce Bank as a CIA
'non-official cover officer or 'NOC.'
Texas Commerce Bank was an optimal
cover for CIA activities. The bank was founded by the family of
All the elder Bush had to do was to
call his close friend Baker to have his son hired by the bank's
international division, the usual branch where CIA NOCs were
placed within banks and investment firms.
Other banks used by the CIA for NOC
Bank of America
Chase Manhattan Bank
Texas Commerce Bank, bought by
Chemical Bank in 1987 and which is now part of J.P Morgan Chase,
had the right pedigree to enable it to work closely with the
In 1977, its board members included
Lady Bird Johnson and the recently-defeated President
In the 1980s, Kenneth Lay, who
founded the CIA-connected Enron, became a board member of Texas
Commerce Bank. Howard Hughes's CIA-linked Summa Corporation used
Texas Commerce Bank to purchase a number of properties on the
Las Vegas strip."
Hughes also held major accounts at the
A vanity book marking Texas Commerce Bank's centenary in 1986 and
commissioned by bank president Ben Love in 1981 describes the
bank's cozy relationship with George W. Bush and his Zapata
Zapata was linked to the CIA's abortive
Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961. In 1985, Love also served on
President Ronald Reagan's "President's Private Sector Survey on Cost
Control," also known as the Grace Commission.
The book describes how the,
"major predecessor of Texas
Commerce, Texas National Bank," played a "significant role in
helping finance the early development of Zapata Off-Shore
Company... which grew to national prominence beginning in the
The book also states,
"George Bush, who later became
vice-president of the United States, and J. Hugh Liedtke,
subsequently the head of Pennzoil, formed Zapata Petroleum
Corporation with headquarters in Houston in 1953, the same year
Texas National Bank (TNB) was created through the merger of
South Texas National and Union National Bank.
TNB quickly established mutually profitable working ties with
Zapata Off-Shore Company, an 80 percent-owned subsidiary of
Zapata Petroleum... Loans from Texas National to Zapata for
drilling rigs and vessels to tend to the rigs established the
growing company as one of the bank's most significant
oil-related accounts in the late 1950s."
Three ships owned by Zapata and which
were financed by TNB - the Houston, Barbara J, and Zapata - were
loaned by George H. W. Bush's firm to the CIA for the 1961 invasion
by exiled Cuban mercenaries of Cuba.
Not coincidentally, the Bay of Pigs
invasion was code-named OPERATION ZAPATA by the CIA.
Texas Commerce Bank officials often rubbed shoulders with Zapata
officials at the swank Houston Club during Jeb Bush's two year stint
It was not unusual to see Zapata's vice
president for international operations H. Merle Myers at club events
John Whitmore, chairman of the
Kenneth M. Williams, senior vice
Henry F. LeMieux, director
Thomas Dean Hogan, vice
president of the Trust Department
John West, executive vice
president of Texas Commerce Bank
Other oil executives who frequented the
club were those from,
Brown & Root
In 1977, these and other Houston Club
members would also welcome back to their fold longtime member
George H.W. Bush who moved back to Houston following his year as
Bush entered the University of Texas in 1971 after graduating from
Andover in Massachusetts where his academic record was less than
Bush was forced to redo the ninth grade
at Andover. However, at the University of Texas, Bush majored in
Latin American Studies and graduated in a phenomenal two-and-a
An October 8, 1976 memo to the
CIA's Deputy Director for Operations Training cites the University
of Texas graduate program as a favored recruiting ground for the
CIA. The CIA's Southwest Regional recruiter spoke to some 50
graduate students and faculty at the LBJ School of Public Affairs
about careers in the CIA.
However, as the memo notes, the
recruiter warned a reporter for the University of Texas daily
newspaper covering the talk that certain information "should be off
The reporter agreed to the CIA's terms.
One of those present was Dr. Sydney Weintraub, a former
deputy Secretary of State and deputy administrator for the U.S.
Agency for International Development (USAID).
The CIA recruiter also targeted graduate
students and faculty at the University Center for Asian Studies and
the center's director, Dr. P. Tomasson Jannuzi.
George H. W. Bush was CIA director
during the agency's full court press recruiting effort at the Austin
In 1977, a short time after his father left the CIA as director,
Jeb, fluent in Spanish as a result of his time as an exchange
student in Guadalajara, was sent, along with his Mexican wife
Columba, to Caracas, Venezuela to work as a 'branch manager' and
'vice president' at the young age of 24.
But Jeb was no ordinary 'branch
manager.' He was, officially, Texas Commerce Bank's top point man in
the Venezuelan capital and, unofficially, the CIA's main financial
liaison to the Venezuelan oil industry and the Colombian narcotics
Jeb Bush's dalliance with the covert world of CIA off-shore
financing would introduce him to important future political
benefactors and those who would help shape his brother George W.
Bush's eight year presidency.
Continuing our report from April 8,
"[James] Baker sold Texas Commerce
Bank's Houston skyscraper to the head of the National Commercial
Bank of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz, in 1985.
Bin Mahfouz was later identified as
a key member of Saudi Arabia's support network for the 9/11
terrorist attacks against the United States, which is noted in
the still-classified 28 pages of U.S. Senate Intelligence
Committee Report on 9/11 intelligence failures.
Bin Mahfouz, who lived in the River
Oaks section of Houston near George H.W. Bush, died suddenly in
2009 at the age of 59. Bin Mahfouz, who was also an Irish
citizen, threatened with confiscatory lawsuits any publication
that reported his links to 9/11 and his family ties to Osama bin
Jeb had no problems with the Venezuelan government in providing
financial support for the Colombian cartels.
For much of Jeb's stay in Venezuela,
the extremely corrupt Carlos Andres Perez, known as 'CAP,' was
president. His extravagant spending using Venezuela's revenue
from the recently-nationalized oil industry earned his
government the nickname of 'Saudi Venezuela.'
Although CAP nationalized the oil
industry and created the Petroleos de Venezuela (PdVSA)
state-owned oil firm, he also was generous to American firms
bidding for work with PdVSA.
One of them was Bechtel Corporation,
the firm of future Reagan-Bush cabinet members George P.
Shultz and Caspar Weinberger. With a number of
Bechtel employees in Venezuela, Jeb was not the only CIA 'NOC'
present in the country. But, he was the most influential.
A CIA report about Venezuela's growing international ties in
1977 was prepared during Jeb Bush's assignment in Caracas.
Titled 'Venezuelan Internationalism:
Oil and Influence,' dated July 1977 and classified Confidential,
the report warns against Venezuela's,
'unprecedented series of
agreements with Central American, Caribbean, and Andean
countries' and its vigorous 'global dialogue between the
developing and developed countries.'
The report also warned that
Andres Perez expanded Venezuela's new foreign policy
orientation from that of his predecessor Rafael Caldera and
"identified himself personally with Third World aspirations."
The CIA report indicated particular
alarm by Langley over Andres Perez's November 1976 trip to the
Soviet Union and another trip to the Middle East in April 1977.
What particularly irritated the CIA was Perez's plan to ship
Venezuela's oil to Cuba - petroleum that was normally supplied
by the Soviet Union - in return for the Soviets supplying the
oil normally destined for Cuba, to Western Europe, particularly
Italy, thus reducing transportation costs for all parties
At the center of all the high-stakes oil politics in Caracas was
During CAP's second term as president from 1989 to 1993, a young
army officer named
Hugo Chavez attempted to
overthrow the corrupt CAP in a coup.
Many of Venezuela's elite who Jeb
befriended during his days as Langley's main NOC in Caracas
later became involved with repeated CIA attempts to overthrow
Chavez and his successor, Nicolas Maduro.
Today, they and their progeny live
in the Miami-Dade area, particularly in Doral, nicknamed 'Doralzuela,'
and are among Jeb's strongest and most deep-pocketed political
In 1989, CAP crushed popular protests against his government by
killing as many as 3000 protesters. The massacre is known as the
'Caracazo' massacre. After leaving office the second time,
Andres Perez was convicted of corruption and sentenced to 28
months in prison.
After leaving Venezuela in 1980 to help with his father's
presidential and vice presidential campaigns, Jeb hooked up with
Cuban-American Miami businessman Armando Codina, who had
his own connections with CIA-supported anti-Castro Cuban exiles
in south Florida.
It was Codina who helped Jeb make
millions of dollars in the real estate business and eventually
help launch him on his political career that took him to the
Governor's Mansion in Tallahassee. Jeb, as a principal of the
Codina Group, was able to arrange the sale of high-priced condos
and mansions in the Miami area to his elite friends in
Venezuela, with Jeb receiving handsome sales commissions.
One of Jeb's close Miami associates was Cuban terrorist
Bosch was a key figure in the
Operation Condor, which was
an alliance of Latin American military dictatorships that
targeted leftist leaders for assassination across
From his base in Caracas, Bosch
helped carry out the October 1976 bombing of Cubana Airlines
flight 455, which was en route from Barbados to Jamaica. All
73 passengers and crew were killed in the attack, including
children and the Cuban fencing team.
The Cubana bombing plot was discussed at a 1976 meeting in
Washington between Bosch, another Cuban terrorist, Luis
Posada Carriles, and Michael Townley of the CIA.
Jeb's father, the CIA director, was
fully aware of the plot, as well as another plot to kill former
Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier.
Letelier and Roni Moffitt, his
American associate, were killed when their car exploded on
Sheridan Circle in front of the Irish embassy in Washington on
September 21, 1976, a few weeks before the Cubana airliner was
blown out of the sky off Barbados.
Codina, Bosch, and Posada Carriles were all part of Jeb's inner
circle of friends, which also included Cuban businessman
Camilo Padreda, a former spy for Cuban dictator Fulgencio
Batista, and Hernandez Cartaya, both later indicted for
systematically embezzling funds from the Jefferson Savings
and Loan of McAllen, Texas.
Padreda and Cartaya were also
identified as CIA agents who helped skim funds from Jefferson
and other S&Ls to fund the Nicaraguan contras.
Jeb's work for the CIA in Caracas in
1977 came a few months after the CIA's worst terrorism spree in
history, which also happened to coincide with George H.W. Bush's
single year of 1976 as CIA director.
After his father became Vice President, Jeb served as the
liaison for the Nicaraguan contras and he arranged meetings
between them and their supporters, as well as to the White House
point man for covert assistance to the Nicaraguan rebels, one
Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel by the name of Oliver North.
Another one of Jeb's Cuban cronies,
Miguel Recarey, owner of Miami-based International
Medical Center, an HMO, was awash in ill-gotten Medicare funds.
Recarey and his brother, who had
close ties to the CIA, were also funded by Florida Mafia boss
Santo Trafficante, Jr., a co-conspirator in several
CIA plots to assassinate Fidel Castro and a suspected co-plotter
in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.