George BushÕs First Torture Scandal
To comment on this article go to BÕManÕs Revolt.
George W. Bush had almost completed his first year as president when I wrote the article that is reproduced below (updated in 2007 with the long lead-off quote from Richard Wright). Most of the article is a reprint of the piece from the tabloid Star written in 1999 when Bush was still the governor of Texas. If you do a Net search of the terms ŌBush torture fraternityĶ you will see that others have also reported on the severe hazing—amounting to torture—that Bush presided over as president of Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity at Yale University, but I was the first to put the full story on the Internet.
At that time, we had invaded Afghanistan, but the revelations of the torture engaged in by our military and the CIA were yet to come. My introduction to the Star article contained some grave forebodings about what the little man from Texas was capable of. Fortunately, the worst of them did not—or have not yet—come to pass. We have not yet gone the way of Joseph StalinÕs Soviet Union. But that is cold comfort for the hundreds of Muslim victims of the other things the article portended, rampant torture with George BushÕs blessings.
Here is a full reproduction of that article:
"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." – George W. Bush
To hold absolute power over others, to define what they should love or fear, to decide if they were to live or die and thereby to ravage the whole of their beings—that was a sensuality that made sexual passion look pale by comparison. It was a noneconomic conception of existence. The rewards for those followers who deserved them did not cost one penny; the only price attached to rewards was the abject suffering of some individual victim who was dominated by the recipient of the reward of power.... No, they were not dumb, these [subordinate power wielders].... They knew a thing or two about mankind. They had reached far back into history and had dredged up from its black waters the most ancient of all realities, man's desire to be a god.... How far wrong most people were in their appraisal of dictators! The popular opinion was that these men were hankering for their pick of beautiful virgins, good food, fragrant cigars, aged whisky, land, gold.... But what these men wanted was something much harder to get and the mere getting of it was in itself a way of keeping it. It was power, not just the exercise of bureaucratic control, but personal power to be wielded directly upon the lives and bodies of others. – Richard Wright, The Outsider, pp. 198-199
Because of his clear intellectual limitations, because he would be an embarrassment on a quiz program like Jeopardy, or even Who Wants to be a Millionaire or The Weakest Link, people tend to take George W. Bush too lightly. Intellectuals like Leon Trotsky, Nikolai Bukharin and Evgeny Preobrazhensky, and millions of other people took Joseph Stalin too lightly, too, and we know how that story played out. A person's other dimensions can be of much greater moment than his ability to engage in abstract reasoning.
With that in mind, it is useful to examine George W's performance in his first executive position, his first opportunity to wield power over others. The following article, which appeared in the supermarket tabloid, Star, a couple of summers ago, seems to be quite well documented. The essential facts alleged, that George W. Bush was president of a social fraternity at Yale that was disciplined for branding pledges, were also related in a Washington Post feature on Bush some time later, but The Post played them down and buried them away.
STAR, July 27, 1999 Special Star Investigation
George W. Bush in Torture Scandal by Richard Gooding*
Presidential candidate George W. Bush once led a Yale fraternity that barbarically branded its new members
on their backsides with a red-hot metal rod as part of a sadistic hazing practice.
"I got branded and I didn't like it one bit," Professor Bradford Lee of the elite Naval War College** in Newport, R.I.—an ex-football player and onetime member of Bush's Delta Epsilon Kappa [sic] fraternity—told STAR in an exclusive interview.
"It did burn," he says, recalling the terrifying experience. "I think I still have the mark on me."
Bush, the oldest son of former President George Bush, is now the runaway front-runner for the Republican
nomination for president. His campaign stresses responsible individual behavior, family values and
compassion for one's fellow citizens.
But a STAR investigation has revealed that he was president of Delta Epsilon Kappa when the hazing scandal
broke in the campus newspaper in the late '60s—leading to the fraternity being fined and the branding practice
Amazingly, Bush, now the governor of Texas, defended the illegal torture of the young fraternity pledges at the
time as a harmless prank-insisting that it was comparable to "only a cigarette burn" which left "no scarring
mark physically or mentally."
But others said the branding resulted in a second-degree burn that left a half-inch scab in the shape of the Greek letter Delta.
Lee—who still bears the mark 32 years later—is not sure who actually wielded the brand because the pledges
were not allowed to look at their tormentors. "But I do know that George Bush was very active in all the
fraternity activities then."
Lee, who was a guard on the Yale football team, recalled that the branding came after "a long initiation that
went on into the early morning hours."
He says the idea was to wear you out so much that you allowed your bare flesh to be singed. "I was already
tired from football practice earlier that day. I was so groggy I wasn't exactly sensitive to what they were up to. I wasn't very happy about it."
The branding was a key reason why Lee quit the fraternity after just one year. "It got things off on a sour note,
you might say," he notes.
Bill Katz, now a community college teacher in northern New Jersey, told STAR that the branding was done
with "a wire coat hanger twisted into a triangle and heated up" in the fireplace.
"They touched you just above the buttocks, in the small of the back," he says.
And Boston lawyer Franklin Levy said that to increase the fear of the moment, the older fraternity men first
brandished an actual glowing hot branding iron-to make them think that was what awaited them.
"When they burned me," Levy remembers, "I jumped a mile."
Before the brandings, pledges had to endure hours of being kicked and a vicious round of tannings with wooden paddles—another practice that Yale has ruled taboo.
"On that night," according to an account in the Yale Daily News in 1967, each pledge was forced to sit with his head between his legs, motionless, for two to five hours.
"If he coughed, raised his hand or talked, he was kicked by an older brother." After all the beatings, recalled
one fraternity member, the branding was almost a relief.
In the wake of the Yale Daily News' expose of the fraternity's hazing, Bush, whose father was also a DKE at
Yale, admitted the branding to the New York Times in November 1967.
But Bush—whose college nickname was "Lip" for his Texas wisecracks—also ripped into Yale for being too
"Haughty" to "allow this type of pledging to go on."
Bush's days and nights at Yale were mostly remembered as non-stop party and prank time by his former
fraternity brothers. During his junior year, he was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge in the theft of a
Christmas wreath from a storefront to decorate the DKE house. At a football game against Princeton, he helped
tear down a goal post and ended up being hauled to the campus police station.
"We drank heavily at DKE," says Gregory Gallico, now a Boston plastic surgeon, as he recalled Bush and his
other fraternity brothers. "It was absolutely off the wall-appalling.
"I cannot for the life of me figure out how we all made it through."
Sadism for Its Own Sake
Seen in this light, itÕs very clear that the CIAÕs torture was, and is, not really about intelligence gathering. ItÕs a power trip. As Richard Wright so well explains, itÕs getting off on playing god. ThereÕs not a lot of useful intelligence collected from the continuing torture of fraternity pledges around the country.
ItÕs a well-known fact that the Ivy League is a primary recruiting ground for the CIA. Surely their preference is for those who have been in fraternities there. George W. Bush, as president of the torturing DKE social fraternity and a member, like John Kerry, of the sinister Skull and Bones secret society, was so well qualified to be a part of our secret government that he was made president of the entire country. The genesis of the widespread torture on BushÕs watch as president is, more than anything, in the mentality that he and his personality type represent.
For what it is worth, the only person who I have known for sure was a covert CIA operative, the late Scott Runkle, was a graduate of Dartmouth College. Dartmouth, as the model for the movie Animal House, is notorious for its fraternity scene and the hazing that goes on there, although I donÕt know if Runkle belonged to a fraternity. I wish now that I had asked him.
One of the worst offenders, both at Dartmouth and nationally, is Sigma Alpha Epsilon. The reports that the late Vincent Foster might have been a spy for Israel may not be true, but he was president of SAE at Davidson College. He might well have been one of our spooks involved in the drug smuggling operation through Mena Airport.
* Gooding is best known for having broken the news of Bill Clinton counselor Dick MorrisÕ toe-sucking frolics with a call girl. More recently he has been writing for the more mainstream magazine, Vanity Fair.
** Dr. Bradford Lee was recently appointed to the prestigious Henry A. Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations at the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress. I wonder if he would show me the brand that ŌLipĶ and the boys gave him.
December 10, 2014