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All in the (Profiteering, First) Family
Published on Monday, February 23, 2004 by the Prince George's County Journal /Maryland
All in the (Profiteering, First) Family
by Margie Burns
 

Close relatives of President George W. Bush continue to benefit financially from the Iraq invasion, as revealed by sources including regulatory filings.

St. Louis, Mo.-based Engineered Support Systems (EASI), where William H. T. Bush, an uncle of George W. Bush, joined the board of directors in 2000, is a major military contractor. William H. T. Bush is a Bush ``Pioneer," a contributor raising more than $100,000, in the 2000 and 2004 elections. Following the 2000 election and Sept. 11, 2001, the company's federal contracts, revenues and stock price have increased. The company declined to comment for this article.

EASI received contracts from all branches of the armed forces in 2003. The Defense Department listed EASI in its top 100 contractors in 2001, with $330 million in contracts; and in 2002, with $380 million in contracts Estimates for 2003 are over $380 million.

As luck would have it, company products include ``Field Deployable Environmental Control Units" to deal with weapons of mass destruction.

On Jan. 17, 2003, the company announced orders from the Air Force and the Marines for these units, complete with Nuclear Biological Chemical Kits, in preparation for secret arsenals of WMDs hidden, the White House insisted, by Saddam Hussein.

On Jan. 22, 2003, President Bush delivered one of several speeches in St. Louis. On Jan. 28, 2003, he delivered his State of the Union address, including the famous accusations linking Saddam's Iraq to WMDs and illicit nuclear material.

On March 26 the company announced an Army order for its ``Chemical Biological Protected Shelter" systems, bringing Army orders for this product to a total of 204 units. On March 25, the Bush administration requested supplemental funding from Congress ``to cover military operations, relief and reconstruction activities in Iraq, and ongoing operations in the global war on terrorism."

On May 1, EASI announced the acquisition of its Maryland subsidiary, TAMSCO, coincidentally the day President Bush made his televised flight-suit appearance to announce ``mission accomplished" in Iraq. The following week, TAMSCO announced that it had begun technology support for U.S. Army logistics operations in the Middle East, stating that this tech support began linking the United States, Kuwait and Germany in February, 2003.

The White House has not responded to repeated telephoned and e-mailed requests for comment.

The stock advisor service VectorVest, which puts out a daily list of 7,500 American stocks ranked by value, safety and timing, has more than once listed EASI stock in first place. Directors of the company including William Bush, who is on the audit committee, received monthly consulting fees and options to buy stock at $28.42 per share. Company stock, which tripled in two weeks after 9/11, now trades at $49. In January 2003, William Bush owned 33,750 shares. In January 2004, he owned 56, 251 shares. Directors also own blocks of stock as a group.

This company track record is only part of a larger pattern, in which close associates of the sitting president share in financial benefits generated by the foreign policy of our highest office.

Former president George H. W. Bush resigned in fall 2003 from the finance giant Carlyle Group, heavily associated with military and security contracts, which received $677 million in contracts in 2002 and $2.1 billion in contracts in 2003. Carlyle recently sold $335 million in stock from its chief military subsidiary.

Neil M. Bush, a younger brother of George W. Bush, has a $60,000-per-year contract with a principal in Washington-based New Bridge Strategies, a private firm set up to generate contracts in Iraq.

A controversial $327 million contract, awarded in January by the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, benefits Winston Partners, the private investment firm of Marvin P. Bush, another brother.

The contract, to equip the Iraqi armed forces and Civil Defense Corps, went to Nour USA, a Virginia company formed last May, which also benefited from an $80 million CPA contract awarded in July. Nour USA has come under scrutiny through its ties to Ahmed Chalabi, a member of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council.

It also has ties to Bush family interests. Nour USA is invested or affiliated with several companies in Winston Partners' portfolio, including Hobart West, an employment agency; LogoTel, a clothing company; and Axolotl, a computer-services company.

Controversy may obscure President Bush's reasons for embarking on the war in Iraq, but the record is clear that it profits his family.

Margie Burns is a writer and teacher who lives in Cheverly.

Copyright 2004 The Journal

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