Clearing the Bushes (On At Least One Thing)

Barbara BushAnyone who has read Family of Secrets, the investigative history of the Bush dynasty by WhoWhatWhy’s founder and editor Russ Baker knows that he doesn’t shrink from reporting tantalizing material, but also won’t go one step beyond what he believes to be true. Anyone who regularly visits this site knows that we pride ourselves on the same approach.

Thus, we’re glad to offer a new piece of evidence in the ongoing research into George H.W. Bush’s secret work with US intelligence, decades before he was named by President Gerald Ford as CIA director—purportedly as an “outsider.”

As Russ reports in Family of Secrets, there’s plenty of evidence that Bush was using his offshore oil drilling company as cover for CIA operations, including in the Caribbean, in the 50’s and 60’s. Because of what appears to have been Bush’s covert involvement with the Bay of Pigs invasion operation, many have surmised that boats used in the doomed expedition were named by Bush himself.

After all, Bush’s company, headquartered in Houston, was called Zapata Offshore, and the code name for the Bay of Pigs invasion was “Operation Zapata.” The two transport ships used in the operation were “The Houston” and the “Barbara J.” And Bush’s wife, the former first lady, is of course Barbara.

Yet others have pointed out that Barbara is not known to have had a middle name (or middle initial). Some have speculated that, indeed, Barbara Bush may have once had a middle name, and that she could have stopped using it earlier in her life.

We can’t claim to have definitively resolved this, but we’d like to offer pretty good evidence that the ship was not named after Barbara Bush—or at least that she doesn’t appear to have ever had a middle name or middle initial.

Here is a snapshot of the United States Census for 1930, with the section of a page recording details about the family of Marvin and Pauline Pierce and their children, including Barbara. You’ll note that middle initials are recorded for Barbara’s older siblings Martha and James, but not for her parents, and not for her. This doesn’t absolutely mean that Barbara was not given a middle name, but, absent additional evidence, it certainly seems she did not have one.


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  • concerned

    i wouldn’t bend over backwards to be “fair” to the bushies on this point. that barbara might never have had a middle name doesn’t mean that “barbara j” didn’t denote her. after all, the “j” might have been the first letter of a nickname/pet name that poppy had for her. and really, most reasonable people would raise a very strong eyebrow at the fact of the names of those ships – both names pointing up a bush connection. we would also do well to remember that poppy had a history of using his wife’s name to name his transport vehicles. if i’m not mistaken he named his WWII airplane “the barbara.”

    • Russ

      I think the point of this article is to impart factual information. In my years of research into the Bush family, I probably would have heard of the use of the J in some context of a nickname. At minimum, good journalism involves not always just publishing things that run in one direction–but making available findings, whatever you or others may think of them. Have you even read Family of Secrets? Suspect you haven’t. FYI, we have heard from JFK researchers who confirm that the ship most likely was named years before, when Bush would not even have been in a position to do so.

      • Brian

        Maybe the J. was for Judas as in the traitor in the Bible. George HW Bush would certainly fit that description. LOL Kidding aside, but who knows, maybe the J. is a red herring meant to throw off a real journalist from finding a clue. The CIA is known for misinformation and if George HW knew she didn’t have a middle name, by placing a J. after the name would create doubt as it does. Covert and deniability I believe is part of the reason why the CIA Act was enacted. But true it is not definitive. I like solid answers and truth too! (great website)

      • TwoLegsGood

        Dear Russ: the only reason I was paying attention to the JFK tweet about a fire in the JFK library during today’s Boston Marathon tragedy …

        … Is because I had a dream a month ago about George HW Bush having stolen some Presidential Papers when he was much younger, maybe as VP, and was now frantic to have them put back where they belonged. I posted it here:

        LOL. I need to post another dream I just had about McCain being blackmail-able. Peculiar. Anyway I really saw a much younger Bush with his brown hair swept over and covering his forehead in an unusual way.

        And let me tell you, I am a longtime GOPer who voted both Bushes. I would never have realized how weird they were until I realized it was the Bushes who were behind the sabotaging of Sarah Palin as McCain’s VP pick. And then I read your book a few weeks ago. My head nearly exploded.

        I DM’d a friend about the dream in March…

  • Orangutan.

    The Bushes have been involved with and done some pretty deep level crimes in this country. They need to be called out on it more.

    • Russ

      Having spent five years on that family and its doings and misdoings, I don’t know what your point could possibly be. This article adds a piece of documentation regarding a specific dispute. Ok? It’s called….journalism.

      • Orangutan.

        I meant the usual stuff of appointing Henry Kissinger to head up the Commission to investigate 9/11. The underfunded, unwanted, and delayed commission to somewhat investigate 9/11, but not follow the money or place blame on anyone in gov’t. Not only did Bush appoint Kissinger, who along with Max Cleland were the only members of it to resign, (for two very different reasons) but Bush Sr. was meeting with a family member of Bin Laden on the morning of 9/11 as well. It’s just a total lack of investigative journalism in the mainstream USA that I’m concerned with. The book “Family of Secrets” woke up my family members to the complex criminality of this family, but not enough in the general populace or mainstream press call out the Bushes on their obvious criminality. R.I.P. Mike Connell. And I wish The Bush Administration would have taken the anthrax attacks seriously enough to investigate them as well.

        • concerned

          @ orangutan: my guess is that anthrax was staged by the same cabal – cheney/saudis/mossad – who perp’d 9/11. they needed the nation and the media distracted in order to clean up the crime scene at the twin towers as quickly as possible, so there would be next to nothing for subsequent researchers/questioners to examine in the way of forensic evidence. the twin tower rubble was crated up and shipped overseas for disposal about as quickly (on a relative time scale) as johnson got out of dallas with jfk’s corpse. unseemly – and unnecessary – haste, all around.
          @ russ: i have read Family of Secrets, and loved it and applaud your work. I agree with you that honest journalism requires publishing all relevant facts, no matter where they lead. i’m not criticising you for publishing the evidence (i.e. i think it’s relevant). what i’m doing is ARGUING the evidence and suggesting how we might best interpret it. in law this is the difference between evidence admissability (does it come in for the jury’s consideration) and evidence weight (what should the jury make of it).

      • TheManInTheUmbrella

        Hey Russ. Question: how does Prescott Bush fit into all of this, if at all? According to Wiki, Prescott was one of the directors at Union Banking Corp. which was found to be holding assets for German steel magnate Fritz Thyssen, thus seized by US under Trading With The Enemy Act. It was subsequently thought that UBC was holding gold and assets for the Nazis in particular. Now, Prescott was absolved of having any knowledge of the latter; however, as the recent Bank of America scandal shows, whereby not only did execs launder money for terrorists but also gave them legal advice on how best to act, it’s not beyond top executives to sell their souls to make a buck.

        I realize this is simply conjecture or circumstantial evidence at best, but is there any information that you know of which implicates Prescott in the Union Banking Corp. scandal. If so, this would set a telling precedent for both George Herbert Bush and his son George W.

        Brief addendum: one thing we do know, is that eugenics didn’t start in Germany but in America. Further, the Rockefeller Foundation funded many of these eugenic programs prior to the second war. Rockefeller and other international bankers are keen on a one world government; Bush Sr. time and time again as President cited the importance of a “new world order” in his speeches. Might there be a connection here between eugenics, new world order and the Bush family? Or is this just simply tenuous?

      • TwoLegsGood

        The letter “J” is missing from ancient Hebrew, Greek and Theban alphabets; it’s a relatively new “letter” about five hundred years old. Google around.

        But here’s an answer to your “Barbara J” conundrum from Wikipedia:
        “The letter ‘J’ originated as a swash character, used for the letter ‘i’ at the end of Roman numerals when following another ‘i’, as in ‘xxiij’ instead of ‘xxiii’ for the Roman numeral representing 23.”

        So it stand for “3” or III in Roman Numerals.
        Draw your own conclusions.

  • spearman

    fishhooks have barbs and a J is a cryptic image for a fishhook.

  • whatwaysup

    Maybe its Barbara J[ust don’t GAF? as in: “Why should we hear about body bags and deaths … I mean, it’s not relevant, so why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that …” (Former First Lady, Barbara Bush, Good Morning America, 18th March 2003)
    or maybe Barbara Jmwave…….just kidding. Will cut and glue into my copy family of secrets as evidence of due diligence.

  • smokinbluebear

    Apparently there is a treasure trove of documents being released regarding British Virgin Islands bank accounts–with over 4,000 Americans being named. The investigation has been centered by the Int’l Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and contains files far exceeding the size of those released by Wikileaks/Bradley Manning. There are 86 journalists involved in deciphering the documents and I read the full article on the ICIJ website in which the subjects being interviewed all seemed to KNOW the documents were being released and did not seem to be surprised by the questions regarding their off-shore accounts. The articles I read seemed to be just a teaser–very similar in content to the guardian’s article (and a slow-drip release of information).
    Obviously, it will come out at some point if the Bushes, the Romneys, the Obamas (etc) are on the list–but it will be interesting to find out WHEN the ICIJ first received the documents. It would certainly take time for the ICIJ and the newspapers to read, analyze and sign agreements regarding the release of information. But by organizing the release did the ICIJ allow the subjects time to move their accounts around and allow them to escape a FULL EXPOSURE–and full investigation??? Would a wikileaks-style of document drop have better served the public???

  • Marin

    Bravo, Russ, for accurate reporting! and correcting potentially inaccurate info. Especially, when it comes to the Bush family, anything less than precision and confirmed accurate facts can lead to problems. (Just ask Dan Rather!)

  • Westcoastliberal

    The most potent image I can recall of Ms Bush is during the Katrina disaster when she visited one of the shelters for the refugees, which I believe were cots set up in rows in a school gym and she said, “Well they’re probably better off” or something to that effect. Mindless and no empathy, that’s my impression of this woman.

  • Staffan H W

    To know is always better than to guess. Now we know that “J” was probably not her middle name and we dont have to waste time on speculating on it. So the answer lies elsewhere, we can look in another direction.

  • onedavide

    recall that at the time of the planning of this covert op (Ike/nixon) i’m sure these guys viewed themselves as patriots, so why not be proud (pride not being one of the qualities poppy found himself lacking) of what they were doing, they likely thought they’d be viewed as heros. it’s only with history we learn alan dulles didn’t give the op much chance of succeeding & then only if a young, inexperienced president went back on his word of pledging not to use u.s. forces in any invasion. but kennedy fooled them, taking blame for the debacle, then he did something they couldn’t have imagined > he formed a study group (including dulles) to find out why it failed, on which he placed his brother robert. after meeting everyday for several months they released their report-‘the maxwell taylor report’, (from-which comes nsam #55, verbatim), which stated, ‘henceforth, the joint cheif’s of staff will be responsible for ALL military operations in peacetime as well as war time!’ sounds almost innocuous, yet it shook the high priests at the pentagon to the very core; because what kennedy was saying was, were not going to trust the cia to do these covert operations anymore. it was only in late 1961, after the inspector general’s report blamed the bay of pigs debacle on the top cia planners that JFK fired allen dulles, richard bissell & air force general charles cabell. JFK made the mistake of thinking he could ride in an open car in the city (dallas) where gen. cabell’s brother, earl, was mayor in 1963.

  • Mari Caplan

    Just wondering….W’s daughters…Barbara and Jenna …..the bush’s recycle family names as a rule, so where did Jenna come from?

  • Mark Sharp

    This is why I trust Russ!

  • TwoLegsGood

    The Letter J is missing from ancient Hebrew and Latin and Theban alphabets; it’s a relatively new “letter” about five hundred years old. Google around.

    But here is the answer to your “Barbara J” conundrum from Wikipedia:

    “The letter ‘J’ originated as a swash character, used for the letter ‘i’ at the end of Roman numerals when following another ‘i’, as in ‘xxiij’ instead of ‘xxiii’ for the Roman numeral representing 23.”

    It means III or 3 in Roman Numerals. Draw your own conclusions.

  • Meremark

    Mystery solved as: Barbara June, for the month she was born, the same as Bush, Sinister, I mean, Senior, to suggest in him an insipid sensitivity to hearing it said, even if only one time, intimately, … evil Twins Gemini’s joined after birth.

  • Zambanini4Equality

    I’ve discovered another theory as to the the true origin of the “Barabara J.” – not Barbara Bush but “Barbara Jester Burris” – the wife of Col. Howard Lay Burris – the author of SIOP 62 /The Burris Memorandum.

    SIOP62, was aka “The Burris Memorandum” since it was written by LBJ’s personal military advisor, Col Howard Lay Burris who was also an Air Force intelligence officer. It was the secret Pentagon/JCS plan recommending a US NUCLEAR FIRST STRIKE on the USSR at the end of ’63. In complete disgust, JFK declined this psychopathic plan immediately. The plan/memo has only come to light in recent years. Even though it was called “SIOP62” it was a plan for a nuclear first strike the end of ’63 – not ’62 as one might imagine. It had something to do with the calendar year. Excellent article about it here!:

    It turns out Burris’ name was in George de Mohrenschildt’s address book 4 times!!!

    De Mohrenschildt was friends with both LBJ and Col Howard Lay Burris and his wife Barbara J Burris. Over the years De Mohrenschildt wrote several letters to LBJ. In fact, in the last of the de Mohrenschildt-to-LBJ letters, dated June 13, 1969, in which he infamously wrote requesting LBJ’s help in keeping FBI agents from harassing him, he opens by mentioning their mutual friends Barbara and Howard Burris: “You possibly remember me and we do have a lot of mutual friends, Barbara and Howard Burris, George Brown and the late Herman Brown…. ”

    His wife, Barbara Jester Burris, was no innocent, JuneCleaver-style 50s-60s housewife either! It turns out she had close connections to extremist anti-Castro Cubans:

    “Barbara J. Burris who was press secretary to Representative Dante Fascell (D, FL) of Miami. She is also a fund raiser and supporter of the Cuban American National Foundation run by Jose S. Sorzano. The chairman of the foundation is Jorge L. Mas Canosa [also a Brigade 2506 veteran].141”

    Citation 141 reads:

    141. “Jorge Mas still says that the man he hates most after Fidel Castro is John F. Kennedy.” For more on Mas Canosa, his links to Operation 40 veterans Felix Rodriguez and Luis Posada, and his relationship with Dante Fascell, see “Who is Jorge Mas Canosa?”, Esquire, Jan. 1993, pp. 86-89, 119-122. Its author is former HSCA investigator Gaeton Fonzi. Operation 40 was under the CIA’s ZR/RIFLE assassination project umbrella.

    So she was a fundraiser for the foundation chaired by an anti-Castro Cuban, Canosa, whose hated for Castro was closely followed by his hatred for JFK! These connections raise very serious questions.

    Also, Interestingly, it’s frequently been posited that the Bay of Pigs invasion ship, the “Barbara J.” was named after Poppy Bush’s Barabara Bush – but she does not have a “J.” in her name. So this is possibly a new connection, as the article below asks: “…the question arises anew concerning the origin of the name Barbara J. for the infamous Bay of Pigs troopship.”

    Col Howard Lay Burris died in 2009 and his wife, Barbara J. [Jester] Burris, died in 2011 according to

    Her father was Beauford H. Jester (1893 – 1949) who was a governor of Texas until he died in office in 1949.