An emailer informs me–mistakenly, as it turns out–that Judge Samuel Alito has already done a judicial favor for the Bush family.
That item turns out to be a misreading of a case in the California Supreme Court. Nonetheless, it raises an intriguing detail, and is a useful reminder about yet another of the many lawsuits that our security-and-surveillance industry has gotten itself entangled in, over the years.
Today’s history lesson–
Back in the day, there was an extremely ill-managed security company, now defunct, named Stratesec. As some readers may recall, the company boasted in its SEC filings of fulfilling every big security need from fences to guards to armored vehicles to electronic badging and access control. The company succeeded in attracting a string of investors and backers, and from 1993 to 2000, its board of directors included Marvin P. Bush, youngest brother of George W. Bush.
The company touted longstanding relationships to a few major security clients, and listed several of the biggest, some of whom paid millions for security, on its public filings. The list of big names for several years–prominently displayed with illustrations on the IPO brochure–included the World Trade Center, Dulles and Reagan National Airports, and United Airlines.
Stratesec started out as a company called Securacom. The original company was the well-regarded engineering firm Burns & Roe Securacom (no relation to author), which did some of the security detailing for the World Trade Center. However, in 1992–soon after the first Gulf War–Burns & Roe became Securacom. Its management changed hands accompanying an infusion of capital from the ruling family of Kuwait, the Al Sabahs, two of whom joined its board. Marvin Bush also joined the board at this time, connecting family and Al Sabah interests among other Bush family rewards after the U.S. kicked Iraq out of Kuwait.
The head of the company was Wirt D. (Dexter) Walker, III, and a former colleague in the company suggested in an interview that Walker is a distant relative of the Bush family. Any blood relationship to the Bush Walkers would have to be remote; the first Wirt D. Walker, two generations ago, was based in Chicago; the second in McLean, Va., in the DIA. However, there is no doubt that the company, Kuwait’s Al Sabahs, and Bush financial interests were closely linked for years. Management and control at Wirt Walker’s other companies, a small airplane company named Commander Aircraft (also bankrupt) and a private investment firm named KuwAm (short for Kuwait-American Corporation, also bankrupt), were inextricably linked to management and control at Securacom. Virtually none of the Bush-Al Sabah financial connections were reported in the U.S. during, before or after the 2000 election.
All three companies were headquartered at the Watergate, in office space leased by the Saudi and Kuwaiti governments.
Stratesec is bankrupt and no longer exists. Commander Aircraft later became Aviation General, also bankrupt. The Watergate has been sold to new owners. The Watergate building also housed one of the numerous branches of Riggs Bank, which has been effectively dismantled by SEC action. The head of the SEC during this operation was longtime Bush supporter William O. Donaldson, a classmate of Jonathan Bush, uncle to George W. and a Riggs executive.
Well-connected Riggs was widely considered to be an Agency bank (CIA) and was the bank used by about 95% of foreign embassies in Washington. Saudi accounts at Riggs were linked by investigators to some of the 9/11 hijackers.
Mishal al Sabah, a younger member of Kuwait’s ruling al Sabah family, was a son of one Emir and son-in-law (then ex-son-in-law) of the Emir who recently died. Mishal al Sabah served as officer and director in all three of Wirt Walker’s companies off and on for years and even lived with Walker when he first came to the U.S. He is now abroad and unlikely to return to the U.S., according to private sources, since he faces arrest on contempt charges stemming from a federal civil lawsuit in which he and Walker are defendants.
Walker is being sued in several cases in federal courts in D.C. and Georgia. By all accounts a colorful character,Walker is no stranger to lawsuits. Earlier he tried to force a company already named Securacomm to give up its name, similar to that of Securacom. He ended up losing the case (Securacomm v. Securacom) but not before engaging in some hardball tactics endorsed by the firm’s directors including Marvin Bush.
(Incidentally, Marvin Bush has also been a party in another legal dispute over naming matters. Neither Bush nor the White House has responded to questions. Walker did speak with me more than once.)
One of the few good days for Walker and Securacom in court occurred before the California high court, a day after Sept. 11, 2001. The ruling did not result in ultimate victory for the company. The favorable outcome but did figure in Walker’s next SEC filings.
Note date of Securacom’s rare court win. Things must have looked good for even the worst-of-the-worst security companies, for 48 or more hour after the tragic events of the previous day.
“Information Systems and Networks Corporation, Cross-complainant and Appellant v. Securacom Inc., Cross-defendant and Respondent
SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA
2001 Cal. LEXIS 6179
September 12, 2001, Decided
NOTICE: [*1] DECISION WITHOUT PUBLISHED OPINION
PRIOR HISTORY: Appeal from First Appellate District. Division One. No. A091315.
OPINION: Petition for review DENIED.
Update, Sep 2012:
This post was deleted by the system with many others, here reconstructed from re-posts and Word docs.
Previous errors corrected. Mr. Justice Alito is among the justices who denied cert to Securacom’s opponent in the above-mentioned case.