Sunday, March 26, 2006

Neil Bush: the link between Bush crime cartel and Dubai ports deal?

Cross-posted and recommended at Daily Kos

Since the Dubai Ports World deal was announced, there was lots of speculation as to the motives behind it. More specifically, many people (myself included) thought that this reeked of cronyism and that there was obviously something that would be a direct benefit to the Bush crime cartel.

It was reported how there was a connection between Dubai Ports World, Treasury Secretary John Snow, Carlyle and others.

But now, the dots seem to be connected right back to the Bush family via Carlyle and little brother Neil and his educational software company, Ignite!

After a comment in my diary from yesterday, I wanted to see if there was a direct path from a member of the Bush family to Dubai Ports World. And, even though it is a semi-long line, there certainly appears to be a direct line from one to the other. What tipped me off is the numerous accounts of Neil Bush and his trips to the UAE, as well as the willingness of some high-level international businessmen to throw money at someone who has been a colossal failure in every business venture he has undertaken.

I'll try to connect the dots in a cohesive manner below. It's a bit long, but hopefully not too long winded.....

Neil Bush and the UAE

Neil Bush has been, by all accounts, a horrible businessman. Just read the article linked above for proof. However, he has been doing business in the UAE since 2000:

According to the Emirates News Agency, Neil Bush visited the United Arab Emirates and met with Dubai Crown Prince, General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum on October 7, 2000, and in October and November 2001. It is also known that Neil Bush was in the UAE in 2002 trying to secure financing for another Bush venture - an educational software company called Ignite! Inc. Ignite! Inc. is a private company headquartered in Austin, TX. Neil Bush is listed as the Chairman and CEO. As of February 16, 2001, Ignite! Inc. had raised $10 million from private investors

While some of the information remains unavailable, we do know that some of the financing for Ignite! was from UAE businessmen.

We also know that Neil Bush has been a paid speaker at the Zayed Center, which was under fire because of its chief funder, former UAE President, Sheik Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The controversy was over the Zayed Center's offering of programs such as "Zionist Collusion With the Nazis," and "Jewish Control of the American Government and Media." And its executive director began a symposium at the center, by calling Jews "the enemies of all nations."

Neil has a great relationship with the UAE. According to this article by

Neil Bush seems to be in constant pursuit of investors and government contracts in the Emirates, and is treated there with a respect and deference that have always eluded him in his own country. For reasons that must be painfully obvious, UAE royals have been quite eager to engage the former Silverado Savings and Loan director ever since his eldest brother entered the Oval Office. That embrace only intensified after 9/11.

In October 2001, only a month after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, Neil Bush showed up in Dubai to attend a technology trade fair -- and to meet with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. While peddling the products of Ignite!, his educational software company, Bush was feted as the guest of honor at a gala dinner for a charitable foundation, also hosted by the crown prince. (Former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore, who had been scheduled to travel to the Emirates around the same time, both canceled their attendance at those events.) According to the UAE's official news agency, Bush's discussions with Sheikh Mohammed and with Information Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan focused on "the world economy in light of recent events." During that visit Bush also met with the UAE's finance industry minister.

Exactly how much money Neil Bush raised in the Emirates as CEO of Ignite! isn't clear, but he managed to acquire a local partner, known as Trans-Data Systems, which is required for doing business there. He returned to Dubai in January 2002 to deliver a lecture on educational reform to a "select" audience of 200 government and education officials from the seven emirates that comprise the UAE. The signs of state patronage could not have been more plain. The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry sponsored his seminar, and the official news agency made sure to note that "the younger brother of U.S. President George W. Bush ... agrees with the vision of General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Defense Minister, about adopting new ideas into the existing education system."

Pretty good for a failure in business.

Dubai Holdings and Carlyle

This is a fairly well documented link. We can see from Dubai Holdings' website that they own both Dubai International Capital and Dubai Investment Group. And we also know that Dubai International Capital is a good friend of the Carlyle Group.

The oil-rich United Arab Emirates is a major investor in The Carlyle Group, the private equity investment firm where President Bush's father once served as senior adviser and is a who's who of former high-level government officials. Just last year, Dubai International Capital, a government-backed buyout firm, invested in an $8 billion Carlyle fund.

And how much did they invest? Only around $100 million.

Not only that, but the potential for future business is tremendous:

Last year, to cite only the most recent example, Carlyle's newest buyout fund won an infusion of at least $100 million from the Dubai Investment Corp. -- another state-owned outfit created by the ruling families to reinvest the enormous inflows of capital from rising oil prices and oil consumption. If that individual deal with Carlyle represented only a small fraction of the Emirates' investments, the upside potential of the relationship could be far greater in the future. The directors of Dubai Investment expect to invest as much as $5 billion every year for a long time to come.

The ties between Carlyle, James Baker III, the UAE and the Bush family (especially HW's financial dealings) run deeper, and there are numerous other examples that I won't get into for purposes of this diary. Suffice to say, they go back more than a few years and are not of the "few and far between" variety. Additionally, Carlyle's sole middle east office is in Dubai.

We also know that Dubai Ports World is owned by the government of the UAE.

The Iraq War Connection

Around the time of the Iraq invasion, New Bridge Strategies was formed. According to its website:

New Bridge Strategies, LLC is a unique company that was created specifically with the aim of assisting clients to evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

The principal officers in New Bridge included Joe Albaugh (Chief of Staff to then-Governor Bush of Texas and was the National Campaign Manager for the Bush-Cheney 2000 presidential campaign), Ed Rogers, John Howland and Jamal Daniel, 2 people who have been involved financially with Neil Bush for many years.

Jamal Daniel also heads up a company called Crest Investments and is the co-chairman. The other co-chairman is none other than Neil Bush.

Daniel is a Syrian-American businessmen with an interesting story:

Mr Daniel started cultivating his relationship with the Bush family at about the time that Neil was caught up in the Silverado scandal and facing a lawsuit, according to a US businessman who knows him.

"Jamal likes to ingratiate himself with family members of whoever's in power," the US businessman says. "He squired Neil Bush around . . . Then he also got close to Pappa Bush, George H., when he came back to Houston . . . Socially there were pictures together and he was very supportive of George W's campaign when he ran for governor."

Mr Daniel's family, Christians originating from northern Syria, is said to have been involved in the founding of the Ba'ath Party and sustained links with it in both Syria and Iraq even after being expelled from Syria in about 1966 after Hafez al-Assad came to power. Mr Daniel has told friends that when he was young Tariq Aziz, later foreign minister of Iraq, was a visitor to the family home.

According to businessmen who know him, Mr Daniel boasts connections with the families of the rulers of at least five Middle East countries: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. At a conference in Washington in April 2000, Mr Daniel was introduced as a person "proud to call (Yemeni) President Saleh a friend."

Besides the fact that these aren't the friendliest regimes in the "War on TerrahTM", Saddam's buddy Tariq Aziz used to come to his family's house, and he was one of the founder of the Ba'ath Party - that of Saddam which was so evil that we had to make up a reason to invade.

As for John Howland, let's just say he has quite the checkered past, and has been financially linked to both Neil Bush and Jamal Daniel for quite some time.

A Big and Tangled Web of High Level Business Connections

Ed Rogers, vice Chairman and Director of New Bridge Strategies and former Deputy Assistant to George HW Bush, also happens to be a director of a company called Diligence, Inc.

Ed Rogers and Lanny Griffith are Chairman and CEO respectively, of Barbour, Griffith and Rogers (BGR). BGR is a republican lobbying firm who has strong connections in the Republican Party.

Lanny Griffith is also a Director at New Bridge and was an assistant to George HW Bush.

Ed Mathias, one of the partners and managing directors of Carlyle is also on the Advisory Board of Diligence, Inc.

Diligence Middle East, Inc. is a joint venture between Diligence, Inc. and New Bridge Strategies.

Diligence's current Chairman is Richard Burt, who is also an International Director of BGR and an advisor to Carlyle.

Joe Allbaugh, Chairman and Director of New Bridge Strategies is a Deputy Chairman of Diligence.

The address in DC for BGR is 1275 Pennsylvania Avenue, 10th Floor NW

The address in DC for Diligence was 1275 Pennsylvania Avenue, 10th Floor NW.

The address in DC for New Bridge was 1275 Pennsylvania Avenue, 10th Floor NW.

BGR provided the initial financing for Diligence.

So, at a minimum, there is MAJOR overlap between Diligence LLC, New Bridge Strategies and Barbour, Griffith and Rogers, and much of the same people have strong business, political and financial ties to at least one or 2 members of the Bush family.

Back to Neil Bush

Well, we know that Jamal Daniel and Neil Bush have a history. Neil said that he was a co-chairman of Crest Investments with Daniel. We also know that:

[h]e received $15,000 every three months for a average 3 or 4 hours of work a week doing "miscellaneous consulting services." "Such as?" his ex-wife's Attorney asked, "Such as answering phone calls when Jamal Daniel, the other co-chairman, called and asked for advice," Neil answered.

Not too shabby for 10 hours of work per month. Doing the math, that is a $500 per hour job answering phones.

Of course, there is much more that Neil does for Crest than answer the phones. According to the article:

Neil...attached his signature to letters soliciting business for New Bridge in obtaining contracts in Iraq, and two, he attached his name as a reference for an extremely lucrative proposal submitted by Crest to obtain a lease on a parcel of property located on the island of Quintana, Texas, that will result in payments of at least $2 million a year to Crest.

We also know that both Daniel and John Howland used Neil to get business for themselves:

John Howland, the company president, and Jamal Daniel, a principal, have maintained an important business relationship with Neil Bush stretching back several years. In Mr Daniel's case, the relationship spans more than a decade, with his French office arranging a trip for Mr Bush's family to Disneyland Paris in 1992, while his father, George H.W.Bush, was president.

On several occasions, the two have attempted to exploit their association with the president's brother to help win business and investors.

Three people contacted by the FT have seen letters written by Neil Bush recommending business ventures promoted by Mr Howland, Mr Daniel and his family in the Middle East. Mr Daniel has also had his photograph taken with the elder Mr Bush. Such letters and photographs can be valuable props when doing business in the Middle East.

And with respect to Ignite!, we know that Daniel would tout his connections:

There is evidence that Mr Bush has received financing and contacts for his personal business ventures from Mr Daniel. Crest's company secretary, Joseph Peacock - a man involved in many of Mr Daniel's other companies - was listed as one of the original investors in Ignite!, Mr Bush's educational software company.

According to a businessman in the Middle East, Mr Daniel sometimes introduces himself as one of the founding members of Ignite! and has lobbied potential investors on Neil Bush's behalf. Mr Bush went on a Middle East trip in early 2002 to seek contributions for his company. He has successfully secured funds from people connected to at least three ruling families in the Middle East.

Tying It All Together

As with most things that the Bush crime cartel are involved with, there are a number of layers to peel back before the vile stench shows through. With HW Bush, Carlyle is always a good place to start, but the direct connection wasn't there for the Dubai Ports deal - just the investments by Dubai in Carlyle. And as it seems with this family, there is always someone that can grease the skids for another. Witness the NCLB law signed by DumbYa leading to Jeb wanting brother Neil's Ignite! software in the FL schools as the latest example.

But it looks like Neil's longstanding and strong ties to the UAE has let him leverage his name (for his benefit) and get millions for himself and his latest business venture.

And those who are financing Neil (who gives Dear Leader a run for his money in the race to see which Bush brother can be exploited the most) certainly seem to be benefiting from his connections to the UAE.

So by following the money and the links, the same people's names keep popping up. Not only from Iraq war contracts coordinated by Diligence LLC or New Bridge Strategies, but also other billions of dollars per year revenue streams from the UAE.

Neil's contacts at the UAE make it easier for Dubai International and its subsidiaries to funnel money to Carlyle for "business ventures". And those same people at top positions at Carlyle hold top positions in multiple DC and Houston based lobbying and consulting firms that happen to also employ the services of a Mr. Neil Bush. Whose relationships with high level government officials in the UAE makes it easier for companies like Carlyle to do business in a country that happens to be the home of it's sole middle east office.

It is quite the tangled web they weave. Neil either doesn't know or doesn't care that he is being used because he gets lots of money for doing very little. And those who are using him (both the UAE and his business associates here in the US) set themselves up for millions, if not billions of dollars in business deals.


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