Dealing Media missed the heart of Harken Energy
Expanded from the 7-14-2002 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
I can't explain the silence. Over the past week, the accidental president has been embarrassed over the Enron-style accounting tricks played by Harken Energy, a company in which he was once a principal stockholder.
Dubya's apologists haven't even been willing to slough it off as being in the same minor league with Whitewater and Hillary's cattle futures. The two Clinton investment fiascoes involved the loss of about $165,000 for the former and a $100,000 profit in the latter. The Harken accounting shell game involved about $180,000 if you read the recent media flow.
The glaring omission of recent weeks involves grotesque understatement of the true magnitude of the Harken investment. In Harken Energy lies the root cause of the Gulf War. Harken hearks me back to 1991 when Dubya's Daddy was in the White House, flushed with "victory" in Kuwait.
Dubya sold two-thirds of his holdings for $848,560 just before Bush the elder's ambassador bumblingly gave Saddam Hussein permission to invade Kuwait in 1990.
Herewith, the Barbwire of April 7, 1991.
Replace lusty Dallas Ewings with dealing D.C. Bushes
The Ewings of Dallas are leaving the air after 13 lusty, greedy seasons. I recommend our nation's first family as a replacement. The only rival to the ambition of the Bush clan may be the public's indifference to it. But then, apathy is never having to say you're sorry, especially if you let George do it.
Months ago, I related the story of Santa Fe International. Former President Gerald Ford served on Santa Fe's board of directors, as has Gen. Brent Scowcroft, national security advisor to both Ford and Bush. Roderick Hills also pops up on Santa Fe's lists. He's married to Carla Hills, HUD secretary under Ford and international trade representative under Bush. The Kuwaiti royal family took over Santa Fe in December of 1981.
Our president and his fishing buddy-secretary of state, James Baker, have been in the oil and gas business together in an outfit called Hollywood LPG 2. Thirty years ago, Bush helped found Zapata Oil, which drilled the first oil well off Kuwait.
All of the above may amount to zilch compared to an obscure company called Harken Energy Corp., which may make our first family the next Rockefellers. A report from last September's edition of Forbes was just updated in Common Cause Magazine.
George W. Bush, firstborn son of the first family, is Harken's third-largest stockholder. Harken has drilling rights to what may be the largest untapped oil field in the middle east, off the gulf island nation of Bahrain.
There's a hitch: Harken must sink an undersea exploratory well by next January or the contract goes up like smoke from a Kuwaiti oil fire. Drilling was pretty hard to do last year and this year has been no picnic. Now, after George the elder decided that the moral equivalent of war was war, Harken may just make it.
Talking to Forbes, Houston-based energy analyst Charles Strain called Harken's deal "incredible...unbelievable for this small company."
Not if you got friends in low places. Little George has a few, including William Quasha, "a prominent Manila attorney who represented the Phillippine branch of the Nugen Hand Bank, which collapsed in 1980 amid charges that it was laundering money and had been involved with the CIA," Common Cause Magazine reported.
(Francis Ford Coppola based part of the script of "Godfather III" on the Nugen Hand/Franklin National Bank of Long Island/Banco Ambrosiano/Vatican Bank/P2 Masonic Lodge scandal. For details, I recommend a 1984 New York Times bestseller entitled "In God's Name An Investigation into the Murder of Pope John Paul I" by David A. Yallop, Bantam Books, NY.)
Quasha and his kid are among the principal Harken stockholders and the son serves as chairman. Other major owners hail from S. Africa, Saudi Arabia and Palestine. That should make Israel feel real good.
Little George merged his failing company with Harken in 1986. He became the company's third-largest stockholder seven months before the "incredible deal" was inked.
Is it any wonder that Bahrain is now our number one choice for a major military base and permanent new home for the U.S. Army's Central Command?
Woodrow Wilson was reputed to have said "patriotism is for old women and little children. I'm here to protect my stockholders." The two Georges Bush would make J.R. Ewing proud.
POETIC JUSTICE. Bush the elder's war brought a butcher's peace to the region. The Harken exploration was completed within the contractual time frame after Saddam was kicked out of Kuwait and his army and air force debilitated.
There is sometimes weird justice in this world. The offshore oil field proved worthless, a dry hole in the gulf made warmer with so much blood.
The Harken deal allowed Dubya to pay off the loans for his small investment in the Texas Rangers baseball team. His name on the door generated a couple hundred million in taxpayer-funded corporate welfare for a new stadium.
Read the all-American success story yourself
Notes on a Native Son
by Joe Conason
The Prospect of a Bush Restoration
by Kevin Phillips
It was the baseball deal which brought him a high public profile. Although he owned less than two percent of the team, he showed up at all home games and passed out baseball cards with his picture on them. When he ran for governor in the Year of Our Newt 1994, his media exposure as front man for the team had paved the way. Most people thought he was the "owner." That, combined with his pedigree, made him a good ole boy.
His power was such that the woman he later defeated for governor, Ann Richards, signed the corporate welfare bill allowing the Arlington Sports Facilities Development Authority to condemn private property to build the stadium and parking lot, the first time in Texas history that any such confiscation was allowed. Bush's investment of less than $1 million brought him $15 million when he sold his interest.
When he declared his candidacy for governor, Dubya "didn't blush when he proclaimed that his campaign theme would demand self-reliance and personal responsibility rather than dependence on government," observed writer Joe Conason in the February, 2000, edition of Harper's Magazine.
In Harken Energy lay the seeds of both the Gulf War and the rise of the second president of the Bush family dynasty. So far, the media's short attention span has given us a case of national amnesia on this important story.
Be well. Raise hell.
© 2002 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 33-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org/ He hosts Deciding Factors on several Nevada television stations. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.)Tribune since 1988.
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