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December 31, 2007


Sara, great to see these posts of yours. Although the comments section is blank at the moment, I hope you have a way of telling that people are visiting and learning from you.

WRT the Bush Family and the BCCI scandal, I was wondering if you could make any sense of the panel investigating the Siegelman case. Specifically, Jill Simpson's attempt to talk about Bush 41 and 'his bank' were thwarted twice during her Sept 2007 interview:

I wrote this in the comments section to emptywheel's Oct 24, 2007 post "What Riley Said About Rove":

Oct 25, 2007

"I finally read the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Interview of Jill Simpson on September 14, 2007 in Washington, DC.

Scandal porn, indeed. It looks damning for the prosecution and for BushCo if the Rove ties are proved. Politicization of the DoJ and the ‘criminalization of politics,’ as the Republicans like to call it, are all rolled into one.

Off topic: I was side tracked by something in Simpson’s testimony.

Does George H. W. Bush own a bank? (River Oaks Bank & Trust in Houston). Is this common knowledge?

Simpson mentions it twice in her interview. Each time Bush’s bank comes up, the committee cuts her off. The timing could be just a coincidence. Simpson is quite a rambler--for a lawyer, it seems.

Nonetheless, here are the two occurrences in the transcript. Curious to hear what you think:"

From PAGES 7 and 8
A= witness (Dana) Jill Simpson
Q= Mr. Broderick-Sokol, Majority Counsel

A Okay. I guess I would start around 1979 or '80. My
sister worked at George Bush Senior's bank in Houston at the

(page break)

River Oaks Bank & Trust and so she recruited me to help. I
mean -- and I don't know how much help, I mean, but I handed out stuff, put up signs and --

Q And I was raising my hand. That's why the witness

Just to jump in, just to really run through the
campaigns. That would probably do it I think.

Then again:

Page 92-93
A Oh, I want to tell you it has been very stressful,
and it's been difficult for my family. People have
challenged that we're Republicans. My mother was on some
kind of business council at some point where the President
would invite people, you know, to come up for dinners and
stuff like that, and she never came, but she got -- you
know, she always got the invitations and all that, and
people have said, you know, "Jo," they say, "you're not a
good Republican." I mean she had all kinds of awards in her
office, when she was an accountant, from Tom DeLay, and I
mean -- and when I say "awards," you know, plaques and stuff because Mr. DeLay sent out a lot of that kind of stuff, and so she -- it's caused her a lot of embarrassment.

My sister, she -- she loves the Bushes, I mean, and
always has. I mean she worked for Mr. Bush before he --

Ms. Lynch (Minority Counsel, Crime Subcommittee): I think we've reached the point where the question is answered here.

The Witness: -- at River Oaks Bank and Trust, so --

Mr. Broderick-Sokol: Okay. I think I just --
The Witness. -- and that's been hard on her, too.

(page break)

Mr. Broderick-Sokol. Okay.

The Witness. So, yes, it's been hard on my whole

Mr. Broderick-Sokol. Okay. With that, I'm done.
Why don't we go off the record.

and here's my additional comment about the fire at that bank:

FYI: River Oaks Bank had a fire in June 1991. The BCCI scandal occurred around this time, I believe. George H. W. Bush was already in the White House.

from Disaster Recovery Journal

Thursday, June 6, 1991, was a normal banking day at the River Oaks Bank in Houston, Texas, until 7:30 that evening when fire alarms sounded.
The shrieking alarms forced employees from the building and company officials into a disaster recovery mode — even though the company’s disaster recovery and business continuity plan wasn’t fully operational at the time and had never been tested.
“We had just converted to our current system (IBM AS-400) in November, 1990,” explained John Q. Kershner, senior vice president of River Oaks Bank. “We were scheduled to do a test of our disaster recovery facility in July. Instead, we got to do our test early — in a live mode.”

No, I have no background information on the Houston Bank. BCCI was involved in the US with First American, which is a major bank with many branches in DC and Northern VA and Maryland. BCCI also bought the North Georgia Bank from Bert Lance -- pulled him out of a hole after his bad luck in the Carter Administration. Clark Clifford, a Dem dating back to the Truman Years got caught up in First American when it collapsed in the wake of BCCI.

GHWBush's brother was part of a group that owned Riggs National, also in DC. Riggs had to sell out to a Pittsburg bank during GWBush's first term. It has never been clear to me exactly what kind of goods the FBI had on Riggs, but I do remember some of it involved Bandar -- the Saudi Ambassador.

The Bush sins regarding BCCI had a good deal to do with the cover-up -- keeping them in business long after the US Treasury should have closed down their operations in the US. The whole thing broke into the open because of investigative reporting in England, forcing the Bank of England to close down all BCCI operations in GB. That forced the hand of the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve. Because BCCI had some operations in NYC, that provided an opening for Robert Morgenthau, DA in NYC, to use NY State Banking Laws to bring criminal charges -- and it was in part through that trial that much of what came to be known about US BCCI operations came to light.

Kerry's work on BCCI came from a very different direction -- he started with the financial side of the drug trade as related to Central America, and focused on Panama. BCCI had many operations in Panama, and these were linked with operations in Florida. Apparently one of Bush Senior's cover-up's had involved pulling the USA off the case in Miami when an investigation of aspects of money laundering had been brought to the Miami USA by the Coast Guard.

Apparently BCCI was heavily used by the CIA moving money into Pakistan to cover costs of the 1980's war in Afghanistan. Likewise it was partly owned by Gulf Arabs -- and used by them for the same purpose -- moving money to support the Afghan resistance fighters. BCCI made lots of money on these operations, and in addition, also serviced the Heroin Trade then centered in the tribal areas of Pakistan (raw material coming in part out of Afghanistan) and much of the business was owned by officers in the Pak Military. Back in the mid-1980's when the CIA was running arms into Afghanistan on Mules, the normal mode of operation was to make use of the "return trip" by bringing out 100 lbs or so of unprocessed opium base on each mule, and sell it to the Pakistani Army Officer on the border. This was the "profit" the mule skinner made for a hard and dangerous trip, and it worked around providing an incentive for the skinner to get himself and the mule back to Pakistan in good shape.

If CBS had the guts to put it on, they actually have this whole story in the can and on the shelf. Dan Rather reported the story in 1984 and apparently had an hour of finished material. Found out about it from a translator we hired, who also worked for one of the NGO's working out of Peshwar, but had also worked for Rather on one of his hikes into Afghanistan to meet up with resistance fighters. The drug trade was very open in that period, so all Rather had to do was just shoot and ask a few questions. The Pakistani Military had hired the chemists from the French end of the French Connection, and they were all staying at Dean's Hotel in Peshwar. You know, dinner hour at the Hotel had one table of dark haired men from Corsica, all speaking rough French!!! Our translator told us that Rather had eaten with them a number of times and in fact had brought in a French Speaking producer to help with his research.

You know if CBS had allowed Rather to broadcast what he apparently had in the can in early 1985, History might have been quite different. I seriously doubt if Congress and the US Public would have tolerated the Heroin Trade as part of the price of supporting Reagan's "Freedom Fighters" in Afghanistan. Secretly building Nuclear Weapons, BCCI, and the details of Iran-Contra were a little too complex to screw Reagan's policy with the American Public -- but I think the Heroin Trade would have been easily comprehendable.

Wow. There is quite a history behind this BCCI scandal. Maybe Katie Couric could find the canned broadcast and use it now: her ratings leave her with nothing to lose.

I looked into River Oaks Bank of Houston, Texas. According to this website http://www.banking.state.tx.us/pubs/stbks.pdf

River Oaks Bank opened 4-2-1984. It merged with and into Compass Bank-Houston,
Houston, Texas, on 11-19-92.

When I looked up Compass Bank on this same wesite, the formatting is mangled, but I think it reads:
Houston 2920 Compass Bank (6-17-96) Merged with and into Compass Bank,
Compass Bank-Houston (9-28-90) Alabama, on 10-23-1998; opened 12-9-1988 due
Compass Bank (12-9-88) merger of Compass Bank, N.A., Houston, TX,
and First
National Bank of Crosby into Compass Bank

I assume First National is different from First Amercian.

Then I checked into Compass Bancshares on wikipedia.com Looks like the bank is owned by bank in Spain now. Not sure if it does any dealing with Central and South America:

"Compass Bancshares, Inc., is a privately held company based in Birmingham, Alabama. Its subsidiary, Compass Bank, is a Southwestern financial holding company with US$47 billion in assets and 417 full-service banking offices in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, and Texas. Compass Bancshares, one of the nation’s 25 largest banks, and was previously a member of the S&P 500 Index and the Dow Jones Select Dividend Index. The corporate headquarters are located in the Daniel Building in downtown Birmingham.

On February 16, 2007, Compass announced that it would be acquired by Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, the second largest bank in Spain. The deal was completed on Friday, September 7th, 2007, when Compass Bancshares became a wholly owned subsidiary of BBVA. The transaction gave BBVA a substantial stakehold in the US banking sector by creating the largest financial institution in the sunbelt region. BBVA plans to integrate banks previously acquired in the US with the current Compass technology and management platforms."

Compass Bank (12-9-88) merger of Compass Bank, N.A., Houston, TX, and First National Bank of Crosby into Compass Bank (Interim)

This looks like Compass bought FNB of Crosby.

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