connections and favoritism

On George W. Bush's flight suspension record from the Texas Air National Guard, there is another airman also suspended for the same reason: James R. Bath.

Mr. Bath was the subject of a Houston Chronicle article in 1992. Excerpt:

"Federal authorities are investigating the activities of a Houston businessman -- a past investor in companies controlled by a son of President Bush -- who has been accused of illegally representing Saudi interests in the United States.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network -- known as FinCEN -- and the FBI are reviewing accusations that entrepreneur James R. Bath guided money to Houston from Saudi investors who wanted to influence U.S. policy under the Reagan and Bush administrations, sources close to the investigations say. FinCEN, a division of the U.S. Department of Treasury, investigates money laundering.
"The federal review stems in part from court documents obtained through litigation by Bill White, a former real estate business associate of Bath. White contends the documents indicate that the Saudis were using Bath and their huge financial resources to influence U.S. policy.

Such representation by Bath would require that he be registered as a foreign agent with the U.S. Department of Justice. In general, people required by law to be registered are those who represent a foreign entity seeking to influence governmental action or policy. An Annapolis graduate and former Navy fighter pilot, White, 46, claims that Bath and the judicial system, under the veil of national security, have blackballed him professionally and financially because he has refused to keep quiet about what he regards as a conspiracy to secretly funnel Saudi dollars to the United States. White became entangled in a series of lawsuits and countersuits with Bath, who for some six years has prevailed in the courts. White says the legal action has financially devasted him and Venturcorp Inc., the real estate development company in which he and Bath were partners.

"In sworn depositions, Bath said he represented four prominent Saudis as a trustee [one of whom was Saudi Sheik Salem M. Binladen] and that he would use his name on their investments. In return, he said, he would receive a 5 percent interest in their deals. Tax documents and personal financial records show that Bath personally had a 5 percent interest in Arbusto '79 Ltd., and Arbusto '80 Ltd., limited partnerships controlled by George W. Bush, President Bush's eldest son. Arbusto means bush in Spanish. Bath invested $50,000 in the limited partnerships, according to the documents. There is no available evidence to show whether the money came from Saudi interests.

Bill White is the new mayor of Houston, as of this year. There are additional articles on Bath here: by John Mecklin, and Tom Flocco.

In other news, there is more evidence of favoritism with regards to Bush's TANG service:

The White House disclosed information in documents Thursday showing that President Bush (news - web sites) had been arrested once for a college prank and was cited for two automobile accidents and two speeding tickets before he enlisted in the National Guard.

The accidents and tickets were disclosed for the first time in response to questions about a portion of Bush's military record that had been blacked out when the file was made public during the 2000 presidential campaign.

The traffic violations are significant in the context of Bush's military career. At the time Bush enlisted in the Texas National Guard, the Air Force typically would have had to issue a waiver for an applicant who had multiple arrests or driving violations.

An officer who served at the same time as the president, former Texas Air National Guard pilot Dean Roome, was required by the Air Force to get a waiver for a $25 speeding ticket when he enlisted in the Air National Guard in 1967.

There is no record of an enlistment waiver in Bush's military file.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan showed a small group of reporters a copy of Bush's application to be an officer, with nothing blacked out, after USA TODAY published a picture of the blacked-out document Thursday. The accompanying report said that Guard officials in Texas had been concerned about embarrassing information in Bush's military records before the files were released to the public beginning in 1999, according to two former Guard officials. Bush aides denied there was any effort to suppress any potentially embarrassing information.
Bush's military file contained a second document that also asked for information on any arrests. Portions of that page, his enlistment application, are also blacked out.

Bush was placed ahead of the line to get entry into the TANG, ahead of more-qualified applicants who had better test scores. Affirmative Action indeed.

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