Officially, George H.W. Bush’s association with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) began with his appointment to the post of Director of Central Intelligence by then President and former Warren Commission member Gerald Ford. However, speculation persists that Bush’s relationship with the Agency began long before his tenure as DCI.
How a politician with no known background in intelligence was able to ascend to the top post of a famously insular and opaque organization remains unclear. According to the CIA’s internal history, Bush was selected as an outsider to improve both morale and the Agency’s relationship with Congress.
However, evidence exists which points to a connection between George Bush and the CIA long before his assent to the Agency’s top post.
After the assassination of President Kennedy in November 1963, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover reported in a memo to the State Department that he had verbally briefed a man named George Bush of the CIA on the reaction to President Kennedy’s death in the Cuban exile community.
During this time in Bush’s career, he was in charge of Zapata Offshore Company in Houston, Texas. When The Nation first published evidence of Bush’s involvement with the Agency in 1988, reporter Joseph McBride alleged that Bush’s position at the oil company was a cover for clandestine operations. McBride cited a November 29, 1963 memo from J. Edgar Hoover saying Bush “started working for the Agency in 1960 or 1961, using his oil business as a cover for clandestine activities.”