Russ Baker is an award winning investigative journalist. He has written for the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, the New York Times, the Nation, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Village Voice, and Esquire, and has served as a contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. He is the founder of WhoWhatWhy.
Now that President George Herbert Walker Bush has been buried, we felt it was finally time to address his troubled past. I spoke with Investigative Journalist Russ Baker, who has written Family of Secrets, the definitive book on the Bush family dynasty.
This interview has been condensed and edited:
DAVID: On January 30, 1976, when President Ford appointed George Herbert Walker Bush to run the CIA, the spin was Bush could clean up the place because he had “fresh eyes.” Ford sold Bush to us as an “outsider.” When George Herbert Walker Bush took over the CIA, was he an outsider? Was that Bush’s first experience inside the CIA?
RUSS: That always seemed strange. So much of my approach to journalism is you’re always looking for rationality. You’re looking for logic, and if you’re being told something that doesn’t make sense, but the people telling it to you also insist you should accept it, I say you shouldn’t accept it.
What I found after years of digging was an alternate career for George HW Bush. I found that in fact, he was a very different person that we understood him to be. That he was not this “neophyte” over at the CIA. That he was not really an oil man, or a congressman. By that I mean, he was nominally those things. But those things are certainly what you might call “commercial cover,” as the lingo goes, in the spy business. That those jobs were cover for what he was really doing.
DAVID: Which was?
RUSS: That he was working under very, very, deep cover for the Central Intelligence Agency doing all kinds of things for not just years but decades prior to being named CIA director on January 30, 1976.