James Baker and Bakerbotts


"[Baker Botts is] Houston's oldest and most prestigious law firm...

"...the financial/political symbiosis between the Bushes and Baker Botts is stronger than ever. Indeed, no law firm in America has profited more from its association with the two Bush administrations than Baker Botts. Much of that influence stems from the firm's patriarch, the silver-maned, silver-tongued former Secretary of State, James A. Baker III. And now that Baker has joined George W. Bush's campaign -- he is leading the negotiations with the Kerry campaign on the presidential debates -- it's assured that he and a battalion of Baker Botts barristers are ready to man the ramparts in the event of another Florida recount scenario.

Nearly four years have passed since Baker stridently proclaimed that "the vote in Florida has been counted and then recounted. Governor George W. Bush was the winner of the vote. He was also the winner of the recount." It scarcely matters now that Baker's statement wasn't true: When Baker made that pronouncement, on November 11, 2000, the recount had not even begun in two of the four counties the Gore campaign had targeted. The important thing was that Baker stuck to the script. He also kept the entire Bush legal team -- which included several Baker Botts lawyers -- focused and determined to win at all costs. Shortly after Bush prevailed at the US Supreme Court in 2000, Baker told an interviewer, "I think all this talk about legitimacy is way overblown"...

"Baker Botts is the second-oldest law firm west of the Mississippi. And since its founding, it has consistently represented the looters, polluters and plutocrats. Baker's great-grandfather Judge James A. Baker made his reputation by representing the infamous railroad robber baron Jay Gould, the man who tried to corner the gold market in 1869. Gould's shenanigans led to "Black Friday," when gold prices collapsed, financial panic ensued and the repuation of President Ulysses S. Grant, who had been duped by Gould, was ruined...

"As soon as George W. Bush got into the White House... Baker Botts went from "being a well-regarded firm with experience in the United States and Latin America to being everywhere"...

"Although Baker now works as an official representative of the United States, none of his personal financial information is available to taxpayers...

"...thanks to the Bush-Baker symbiosis, Baker Botts appears to have closer ties to the Saudie royal family than any of the other firms. When two of the most powerful members of the House of Saud... needed lawyers to defend them against a lawsuit brought against them and other Saudis by survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Sultan and Salman hired Baker Botts...

""Meanwhile, back in Houston, Baker Botts is taking care of another charter member of the Texas crony network: Halliburton. Unfortunately for the oil services giant, Dick Cheney's ineptitude as CEO has left it with a panoply of legal problems...

"...Baker will surely continue being the Bush family's consigliere" (Robert Bryce. "It's a Baker Botts World." The Nation, Oct. 11, 2004: 24-27).


"...former Secretary of State James Baker III... his envoy on Iraq's debt... that mission, which is to meet with heads of state and persuade them to forgive the debts owed to them by Iraq... the Carlyle Group, where Baker is senior counselor and an equity partner with an estimate $180 million stake...

"...his power as Special Presidential Envoy... has been used to benefit...his corporate clients...

"The secret deal involves a complex transaction to transfer ownership of as much as $57 billion in unpaid Iraqi debts. The debts, now owed to the government of Kuwait, would be assigned to a foundation... half of it going to Carlyle...

"If Kuwait agrees to transfer the debts to the consortium's foundation, the consortium will use these personal connections to persuade world leaders that Iraq must "maximize" its debt payments to Kuwait... And the more the consortium gets Iraq to pay during that period, the more Kuwait collects, with the consortium taking a 5 percent commission or more...

"[This deal] directly contradicts the US foreign policy aim of drastically reducing Iraq's debt burden... Carlyle and the other companies are exploiting Baker's current position to try to land a deal with Kuwait that would undermine the interests of the US government...

"It's influence peddling of the crassest kind...

"Iraq is the most heavily indebted country in the world, owing roughly $200 billion in sovereign debts and in reparations from Saddam's wars. If Iraq were forced to pay even a quarter of these claims, its debt would still be more than double its annual GDP, severely undermining its capacity to pay for reconstruction or to address the humanitarian needs of its war-ravaged citizens. "This debt endangers Iraq's long-term prospects for political health and economic prosperity," President Bush said when he appointed Baker last December...

"The New York Times determined that the potential conflicts of interest were so great that on December 12 it published an editorial calling on Baker to resign his posts at the Carlyle Group and Baker Botts...

"Bush assured reporters that "Jim Baker is a man of high integrity..."(Naomi Klein. "Special Investigation: The Double Life of James Baker." The Nation, Nov. 1, 2004: 13-20).


Colby Glass, MLIS