From COVERT ACTION INFORMATION BULLETIN Number 33
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Bush's Boys Club: Skull and Bones
To be a member of the ruling elite, George Bush must meet certain
criteria. He must be white, he must be male, and he must be rich. He must also
belong to certain elite clubs and institutions which help to distinguish him
from those he is called upon to rule.
George Bush is a member of Skull and Bones, an elite secret society open
only to a select 15 males in their senior year at Yale University. If this club
appears somewhat exclusionary, don't worry; they have made great strides in the
past few years. Recent Bones inductees include a few blacks, gays, and even
some foreign students. However, it has been said that if women were ever
allowed into the secret "tomb" (meeting place) of Skull and Bones, the tomb
would "have to be bulldozed."
The importance of Skull and Bones is not that it provides good gossip
about young males doing strange things in tombs, but that it provides a certain
bond between members which they carry for life. Membership to Skull and Bones
is the first initiation into the world of power politics and capitalism. It is
somewhat akin to a "junior" old boys' network.
One of the interesting aspects of this secret society is the number of
Bones members who, after graduation, move on to do intelligence work. There has
even been informed speculation that there is a "Bones cell" in the CIA.
Whether there is a Bones cell or not in the CIA is open to interesting
debate. We can, however, examine the histories of several Bonesmen who have
gone on to illustrious careers in intelligence work.
One of the most unusual Bonesmen is the Reverend William Sloane Coffin,
Jr. Known best for his anti-Vietnam war activities and his political activism
at Riverside Church in New York City, Sloane Coffin was recruited by the CIA
shortly after he graduated from Yale in 1949. Although his tenure at the Agency
was short, he is one example of the CIA's use of the secret society to fill
Another illustrious Skull and Bones member with close ties to the CIA is
arch-conservative and reknowned propagandist William F. Buckley. According to
several experts on the CIA, Buckley began his cooperation with the Agency while
he was in Mexico City in 1952, where his good friend, E. Howard Hunt, was CIA
station chief at the time.
As an interesting aside, Buckley and Bush (as well as many other
Washington and business elites) are members of the "prestigious" older-boys
California getaway, "The Bohemian Club."
It is not surprising, given the Buckley family's wealth and status, that
Bill's older brother, James Buckley, is also a member of Skull and Bones. From
1981-82 Buckley was Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance, Science,
and Technology where it was his job to see the U.S. military aid went to
support the right regimes.
He once stated that CIA covert activities in Chile, which led to the
overthrow of democratically-elected Salvador Allende, were necessary because,
"It was only by virtue of covert help by the United States that these free
institutions were able to survive in the face of increasingly repressive
measures by the Allende regime."
Buckley was also directly connected to the work of the Chilean secret
police, DINA. In September 1976, DINA agents assassinated former Chilean
diplomat Orlando Letelier and his colleague, Ronni Moffitt, in Washington DC.
"Independent researchers verified through the FBI and Department of Justice --
that on September 14, 1976, one week before the Letelier assassination, Michael
Townley and Guillermo Novo [two DINA agents involved in the assassination]
drove to the office of Senator James Buckley in New York City for a meeting.
Buckley had helped finance trips to Chile for Novo and others close to the
When CIA agent David Atlee Phillips was accused of being involved in the
assassination he started an organization entitled "Chalenge: An Intelligence
Officers' Legal Action Fund." The board of "Challenge" included former CIA
director William Colby, former CIA Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick, former
intelligence officer General Richard Stillwell, and interestingly, James
Hugh Cunningham, Bonesman from the class of 1934, is a Rhodes Scholar
with a lengthy career in the CIA. He was in the Agency from 1947 to 1973 during
which time he served in top positions with the Clandestine Services, the Board
of National Estimates, and was the Director of Training from 1969-73. He also
served with the CIA's precursor, the Central Intelligence Group, from 1945-47.
William Bundy is a Bonesman from the class of 1939. Bundy began his
intelligence career in the OSS during World War II. From 1951-61 he worked at
the CIA, including at its Office of National Estimates. During the Vietnam War,
he was the Assistant Secretary of State for Asian Affairs and a vocal advocate
for escalating the war.
A true Cold War liberal, Bundy expressed his belief in the necessity of
CIA covert actions in his foreword to the book "The Counter-Insurgency Era":
"The preservation of liberal values, for America and other nations, required
the use of the full range of U.S. power, including, if necessary, its more
shady applications." "Shady applications" is a veiled euphemism for covert
activities which support dictators, overthrow legitimate governments, and
contribute to the destabilization of world order.
From the class of 1950 comes Bonesman Dino Pionzio. His claim to fame was
the time he spent as CIA deputy chief of station in Santiago, Chile, in 1970,
during the massive CIA destabilization of the Allende government. He is also a
member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. The CIA proved not
to be lucrative enough for Pionzio so he left his intelligence career behind
and became an investment banker. As of 1983, he was a vice president at the
investment firm Dillon, Read. (Just to illustrate how small these circles
really are -- Nicholas Brady, the current Secretary of the Treasury, was the
co-chair of Dillon, Read, and a graduate of Yale University. Brady, however,
was not a Bonesman. He belonged to another Yale secret society called "Book and
From the days of George Bush's father, Prescott Bush, comes former spook
F. Trubee Davidson. Davidson, a Bonesman from the class of 1918, was the
Director of Personnel at the CIA in 1951. Davidson then begot little Bonesmen,
Endicott Peabody Davidson and Daniel Pomeroy Davidson. Endicott Davidson went
to work at the law firm of Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam, and Roberts (Henry
Stimson was the Secretary of War during World War II and also a Bonesman.)
Another interesting Bonesman is David Lyle Boren, the Senate Democrat
from Oklahoma. While he is not an employee of the CIA (some say this is open to
question), Boren nevertheless is part of the intelligence community because he
is the chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence.
Finally, but certainly not the end of the list, comes Richard A. Moore.
Moore began his intelligence career in World War II where he served as a
special assistant to the chief of military intelligence. He was rewarded for
this service with the Legion of Merit for Intelligence Work.
In the 1970s, Moore was special assistant to President Nixon and in the
thick of things during the Watergate scandal. At his recent congressional
confirmation hearing for the post of Ambassador to Ireland, Moore was asked by
one of the committee members if he was one of 14 unnamed and unindicted co-
conspirators of the Watergate scandal. Moore, however, emphatically denied the
accusation. It is interesting to note that Moore, a Bonesman from 1936, was
recently appointed to a high-level State Department post by George Bush,
The list of Bonesmen-made-good goes on and on and includes McGeorge Bundy
(National Security Advisor to Kennedy and Johnson), William Draper (Defense
Department Import-Export Bank, etc.), Dean Witter, Jr. (investment banker),
Potter Stewart (Supreme Court Justice who swore in George Bush as Vice
President in 1981), John Forbes Kerry (Senator from Massachusetts), Winston
Lord (Kissinger protege and former Ambassador to China), Robert H. Gow
(president of Zapata Oil, once owned by Bush and which had possible links to
the CIA), and Henry Luce of Time-Life fame.
This old (and new) boys network helps to illustrate the old adage "it's
not what you know, it's who you know." Given the extent of Bones members in
intelligence, it is also "how you come to know it."