Thomas Devine was born in around 1926. After the Second World War he joined the Central Intelligence Agency. According to a de-classified memo, Devine left the CIA in 1953 to help his associate, George H. W. Bush to establish the oil company, Zapata Oil. Other major investors included Prescott Bush and Bill Liedtke.
In 1954, Zapata Off-Shore Company was formed as a subsidiary of Zapata Oil, with George H. W. Bush as president of the new company. According to Bush's autobiography,Eugene Meyer, the publisher of the Washington Post, and his son-in-law, Philip Graham, were major investors in the new company.
Zapata Corporation split in 1959 into independent companies Zapata Petroleum and Zapata Off-Shore, headed by George H. W. Bush, who moved his offices from Midland to Houston. In 1960, Bush created a new company, Perforaciones Marinas del Golfo (Permargo) with Edwin Pauley of Pan American Petroleum. Pauley is alleged to have had close ties to Allen Dulles. During the Second World War Pauley aided the Dulles brothers former clients in shifting Nazi assets out of Europe.
In 1963, Zapata Petroleum merged with South Penn Oil and other companies to become Pennzoil. In his book Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty (2009) Russ Baker argues: "For Devine, who would have been about twenty-seven years old at the time, to resign at such a young age, so soon after the CIA had spent a great deal of time and money training him, was, at minimum, highly unusual. It would turn out, however, that Devine had a special relationship allowing him to come and go from the agency, enabling him to do other things without really leaving its employ."
After the sale of the company, Devine became a member of the investment firm of Train, Cabot and Associates in New York City. According to a CIA memo this was an “investment banking firm which houses and manages the (CIA) proprietary corporation WUSALINE.” John Train was one of the founding editors of the CIA-connected The Paris Review.
Devine later rejoined the CIA under non-official cover (NOC) status on 12 June 1963, as a covert commercial asset for Project WUBRINY/LPDICTUM. Joan Mellen points out that: "This CIA document reveals that Thomas Devine had informed George Bush of a CIA project with the cryptonym WUBRINY/LPDICTUM. It involved CIA proprietary commercial operations in foreign countries."
Mellen goes onto argue that this links George H. W. Bush to George de Mohrenschildt and Lee Harvey Oswald. "WUBRINY involved Haitian operations, in which, the documents reveal, a participant was George de Mohrenschildt, the Dallas CIA handler of – Lee Oswald." Russ Baker interviewed Devine in 2008 and he refused to say whether he was involved with WUBRINY. However, another CIA officer, Gale Allen, confirmed in another interview that Devine did take part in the project.
Devine continued to work closely with George H. W. Bush. According to the CIA memo Devine "accompanied Bush on a trip to Vietnam from 26 December 1967-11 January 1968, for which he was issued an interim top-secret clearance by the US Department of Defense." Russ Baker has suggested that there might be a link with the controversial Phoenix Program.
Bush has long denied allegations that he had connections to the intelligence community prior to 1976, when he became Central Intelligence Agency director under President Gerald Ford. At the time, he described his appointment as a 'real shocker.'
But the freshly uncovered memos contend that Bush maintained a close personal and business relationship for decades with a CIA staff employee who, according to those CIA documents, was instrumental in the establishment of Bush's oil venture, Zapata, in the early 1950s, and who would later accompany Bush to Vietnam as a “cleared and witting commercial asset” of the agency.
According to a CIA internal memo dated November 29, 1975, Bush's original oil company, Zapata Petroleum, began in 1953 through joint efforts with Thomas J. Devine, a CIA staffer who had resigned his agency position that same year to go into private business. The '75 memo describes Devine as an “oil wild-catting associate of Mr. Bush.” The memo is attached to an earlier memo written in 1968, which lays out how Devine resumed work for the secret agency under commercial cover beginning in 1963.
“Their joint activities culminated in the establishment of Zapata Oil,” the memo reads. In fact, early Zapata corporate filings do not seem to reflect Devine's role in the company, suggesting that it may have been covert. Yet other documents do show Thomas Devine on the board of an affiliated Bush company, Zapata Offshore, in January, 1965, more than a year after he had resumed work for the spy agency.
It was while Devine was in his new CIA capacity as a commercial cover officer that he accompanied Bush to Vietnam the day after Christmas in 1967, remaining in the country with the newly elected congressman from Texas until January 11, 1968. Whatever information the duo was seeking, they left just in the nick of time. Only three weeks after the two men departed Saigon, the North Vietnamese and their Communist allies launched the Tet offensive with seventy thousand troops pre-positioned in more than 100 cities and towns.
While the elder Bush was in Vietnam with Devine, George W. Bush was making contact with representatives of the Texas Air National Guard, using his father's connections to join up with an elite, Houston-based Guard unit - thus avoiding overseas combat service in a war that the Bushes strongly supported.
The new revelation about George H.W. Bush's CIA friend and fellow Zapata Offshore board member will surely fuel further speculation that Bush himself had his own associations with the agency.
Indeed, Zapata's annual reports portray a bewildering range of global activities, in the Mideast, Asia and the Caribbean (including off Cuba) that seem outsized for the company's modest bottom line. In his autobiography, Bush declares that “I'd come to the CIA with some general knowledge of how it operated' and that his 'overseas contacts as a businessman' justified President Nixon's appointing him as UN ambassador, a decision that at the time was highly controversial.
Previously disclosed FBI files include a memo from bureau director J. Edgar Hoover, noting that his organization had given a briefing to two men in the intelligence community on November 23, 1963, the day after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The memo refers to one as “Mr. George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency” and the other as “Captain William Edwards of the Defense Intelligence Agency.”
When Nation magazine contributor Joseph McBride first uncovered this document in 1988, George Herbert Walker Bush, then vice president and seeking the presidency, insisted through a spokesman that he was not the man mentioned in the memo: "I was in Houston, Texas, at the time and involved in the independent oil drilling business. And I was running for the Senate in late '63. I don't have any idea of what he's talking about." The spokesman added, "Must be another George Bush."
When McBride approached the CIA at that time, it initially invoked a policy of neither ing nor denying anyone's involvement with the agency. But it soon took the unusual step of asserting that the correct individual was a George William Bush, a one-time Virginia staffer whom the agency claimed it could no longer locate. But that George Bush, discovered in his office in the Social Security Administration by McBride, noted that he was a low-ranked coast and landing-beach analyst and that he most certainly never received such an FBI briefing.
Meanwhile, there is much more to learn about George H. W. Bush's friend, Thomas Devine. The newly surfaced memos explain that Devine, from 1963 on, had authority from the agency to operate under commercial cover as part of an agency project code-named WUBRINY.
Devine at that time was employed with the Wall Street boutique Train, Cabot and Associates, described in the memos as an “investment banking firm which houses and manages the [CIA] proprietary corporation WUSALINE.” These nautical names - 'Saline' and 'Briny' - or, for the Bay of Pigs invasion 'Wave' - are CIA cryptonyms for the programs and companies involved.
George H.W. Bush's own ties are amplified in the 1975 CIA memo, dated November 29, which makes it clear that he had knowledge of CIA operations prior to being named the new director of the CIA in the fall of that year.
The 1975 memo notes that, through his relationship with Devine, “Mr George Bush [the CIA director-designate] has prior knowledge of the now terminated project WUBRINY/LPDICTUM which was involved in proprietary commercial operations in Europe.”
At his 1976 confirmation hearings for the post of Director of Central Intelligence, a post into which he was elevated by Gerald Ford, Bush denied that he had any prior connection to the CIA. This was a falsehood. At the National Archives, and on the Internet, is a CIA document directed to its clandestine service (Record Number 104-10310-10271) that reveals that when, in the 1950s, Bush founded Zapata Oil, his partner was one Thomas J. Devine, who was not only an oil wildcatter, but a long-time CIA staff employee. Thomas Devine's name does not appear in the original papers of Zapata, but it does in the company Bush created shortly thereafter as “Zapata Offshore.”
This CIA document reveals that Thomas Devine had informed George Bush of a CIA project with the cryptonym WUBRINY/LPDICTUM. It involved CIA proprietary commercial operations in foreign countries. By 1963, Devine had become not a former CIA employee, but ‘a cleared and witting contact” in the investment banking firm which managed the proprietary corporation WUSALINE. WUBRINY involved Haitian operations, in which, the documents reveal, a participant was George de Mohrenschildt, the Dallas CIA hander of – Lee Oswald.
In late April 1963, in Haiti, de Mohrenschildt appeared to discuss investment possibilities. The CIA officer, the author of the document, named only as WUBRINY/1, had no idea of de Mohrenschildt's already long-standing CIA connections, and in particular his role in shepherding Oswald in Dallas. De Mohrenschildt could safely pursue CIA interests in Haiti because it was that month, April 1963, that Lee Oswald, his charge, moved from Texas to New Orleans, on the orders of the CIA, with Oswald reporting to – Hunter Leake.
February 11, 2004—A mutually beneficial relationship—both in politics and in business—between George Herbert Walker Bush and the Washington Post began in the early 1950s, when Bush solicited a substantial investment in his first Texas oil company from Eugene Meyer, former president of the World Bank, founder of the Washington Post Company, and father of the late Katharine Graham. The relationship continues to this day in the illegitimate presidency of Bush's firstborn son, George Walker Bush.
The inner dynamics of this relationship are mostly invisible to those outside the murky, ruling-class nexus of the military-industrial-intelligence complex and international investment and elite social circles that make up the permanent hidden government behind America's Potemkin republic. But the very public nature of both Bush and Graham families, combined with the diminishing need for discretion from an ever-monopolizing corporate media, make the arm's-length back scratching between the Bushes and the Post increasingly transparent.
Of course, appearances must be kept up. The natural "conflict of interests" between the political class and its "watchdog," the "independent" media—all so critical to American political mythology—must be maintained. This is especially true when the globalizing ambitions of media boards of directors dovetail perfectly with the imperial goals of the national security state, and when media operates primarily as the propaganda arm of a neofascist government. There needs to be "plausible deniability" for media to credibly claim its independence from the state.
So, for example, while the Washington Post editorial page endorses the Democratic candidate for president one day every four years, in keeping with its "liberal" tradition, the rest of the time it can spend on the front page advancing the agenda of what George W's role model Winston Churchill called "the high cabal" that oversees the interests of Wall Street and the national security state—which are generally Republican. But of course the Post, the inside-the-beltway national newspaper of record, will endorse the ideas of whichever party the Graham family and its retainers feel will best advance the unique political and financial goals of their own shape-shifting ruling-class faction.