Wednesday, July 22, 2015

WAYNE MADSEN SPECIAL REPORT : Not So Fast On Ex - White House Chef's "Accidental" Death While Hiking

CIA openly murdering journalists and whistle-blowers in the U.S.  

By Wayne Madsen

If any responsible law enforcement officer or journalist had made the effort to read the 2007 memoir of ex-White House chef Walter Scheib, “White House Chef: Eleven Years, Two Presidents, One Kitchen,” which was written with Andrew Friedman, they might not have been so quick to accept the ruling that his death while hiking in the mountains near Taos, New Mexico was merely "accidental." Scheib, who was hired as White House executive chef and was well-liked by one 2016 presidential candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, was adamantly disliked by George W. Bush, the brother of Jeb Bush, another 2016 presidential candidate.

Walter Scheib
On June 13, Scheib started hiking the Yerba Linda trail in the Sangre de Cristo (literally, "blood of Christ") Mountains after parking his car at a lot at the trailhead. His body was found in a river within the wilderness area on June 21. Scheib, who was previously twice married, was reported missing by his girlfriend. An autopsy revealed that Scheib drowned in a rain-swollen river. As with the suspicious deaths of other politically-connected individuals, including former CIA director William Colby, CIA agent John Paisley, and former Export-Import Bank chairman Phil Merrill, bodies found in the water normally result in inconclusive toxicology examinations conducted as part of the autopsy.

While Scheib wrote in his introductory Author's Note that he had no intention of dishing dirt on anyone he worked with during his eleven years as the "First Chef," it is clear that his time as a White House employee markedly changed when the Clintons left the White House in 2001 and the Bushes arrived. 

Scheib wrote, "there's no so-called 'dirt' to be found about the First Families here, and no commenting on the personal or political challenges faced by either of the administrations I served." 

While there was no "dirt" offered up in the Clintons -- the name Monica Lewinsky does not appear once -- there is enough on the high-browed haughtiness of Laura Bush, who practically personally approved every menu, always insisting on "country club food," and the simple-mindedness of Dubya to indicate that Scheib might have proven to be an embarrassment to the Bush family as Jeb Bush prepared to announce his White House bid.

It is Scheib's personal recollections about what happened at the White House on the morning of September 11, 2001, that may have made him a target for Bush-style "silencing" in the weeks before Jeb Bush's announcement that he was running for the presidency. The Bush family, known as the "family that preys together," may have found Scheib's recollections of the Bush years from 2001 to February 2005, when, after Bush's re-election, he was unceremoniously fired by the trio of Laura Bush, White House social secretary and DC socialite Lea Berman -- the wife of GOP lobbyist Wayne Berman -- and a pretentious dandy named Kenneth Blasingame, Laura's good friend and her interior decorator from Texas, to be too much "insider information" that might prejudice the voting public's desire to have yet a third Bush occupy the White House.

Bush with sleaze-master  Karl Rove
Wayne Berman is a close confidante of Karl Rove and was part of the GOP dirty tricks team that railroaded former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman into prison

Berman, now with the Blackstone Group, was also influential due to his position as the vice chairman of the London-based private banking firm Jardine Lloyd Thompson and chief lobbyist for Lazard Frères and the Carlyle Group. Lea Berman was Vice President Dick Cheney's social director before taking on the same duties for First Lady Laura Bush. 

Berman was also a close adviser to then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and helped steer Reliant Energy funds into DeLay's Texas Republican Majority PAC). Berman was one of 19 members of DeLay's so-called "Kitchen Cabinet" that also included future con Jack Abramoff, former DeLay Chief of Staff Ed Buckham of the Alexander Strategy Group, former G.W. Bush Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget and current General Electric Government Affairs director Nancy Dorn, American for Tax Reform director Grover Norquist, and former New York Representative Bill Paxon.

The Bermans were known around socialite Washington for the A-List parties they threw at their 13,000 square foot mansion on Washington's Embassy Row. One of the first popular items that was always featured on Mrs. Bush's luncheon menus, hummus, was stricken from White House fare by Lea Berman. Hummus is a traditional Arab offering. She had written next to the item on a menu submitted by Scheib, "yuk [sic] on hummus." Hubbie Wayne Berman happens to serve on the board of the Republican Jewish Coalition. He is now serving as Marco Rubio's national finance chairman.

Scheib, a CIA graduate -- the Culinary Institute of America -- not the one that has coddled three generations of Bushes, was irritated about the Bush's order to serve no French-style food or recipes after France refused to support Bush's war in Iraq. But it was not just Scheib's disgust over having to jettison continental European fare in favor of less-than-healthy junk food products manufactured by the top food industry campaign donors to Bush's 2004 campaign -- Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Doughnuts, Coca Cola, Dole Foods, Asher's Candies, and Nestlé -- but what Scheib saw and heard on 9/11 that may have painted a target on his back a year before the 2016 presidential campaign goes into full swing. Scheib was reported missing on June 16, a day after Jeb Bush announced his run for the presidency.

Although New Mexico police immediately ruled out foul play in Scheib's death, the chef, who was called "Cookie" by George W. Bush, had a testy relationship with Laura Bush and her staff even before 9/11. While Hillary Clinton insisted on menus of healthy food with a traditional American flair, Bush demanded to be served, always with immediacy, such unsophisticated fare as peanut butter and honey sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches using single slice Kraft cheese and white bread, hamburgers, and always Lay's potato chips and French's yellow mustard on the side with his grilled cheese.

Scheib recorded how on Inauguration Day in 2001, Jeb Bush, then Florida's governor, wasted no time in taking up residence in the White House. Jeb's first order of business was to order the White House kitchen to deliver food to the guest quarters.

Scheib, a career government, not a political employee of the White House, nevertheless believed that he felt certain he would be replaced by the Bush team in January 2001. However, Bush's social secretary, Catherine Fenton, and chief usher Gary Walters, the latter having had a better relationship with the Bushes than the Clintons or Carters, assured Scheib he would be kept on.

In the chapter, prophetically titled, A New World Order," Scheib wrote, "Gary Walters was openly delighted at what a Bush presidency would mean for the White House. 

The looseness and spontaneity of the Clinton Administration would be replaced by the Bush Administration's buttoned-down approach." Walters was appointed as chief usher by Ronald Reagan and served George H.W. Bush before working for Clinton and George W. Bush. 

Walters was part of the Secret Service presidential detail for Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford before being appointed Assistant Usher by President Ford until his promotion to chief usher by Reagan in 1986.

In 1994, the Clintons decided to sack a member of Walters's staff, assistant chief usher Chris Emery. The Clintons had discovered, much to their dismay, that Emery had been less than discrete in a phone conversation with former First Lady Barbara Bush. The Clintons were convinced that Emery had violated Clinton family privacy by talking repeatedly to Mrs. Bush. Congressional Republicans sought to subpoena Emery's boss, Walters, to testify about the sacking. However, the White House contended that Walters was immune from testifying as he was a member of President Clinton's personal staff.

As far as the White House cuisine was concerned, after the Bushes moved in on January 20, 2001, out was rack of lamb, Mrs. Clinton's favorite, and French-style sauces and in was fried catfish and Tex-Mex fare.

It was Walters who told Scheib on February 2, 2005, that Mrs. Bush wanted to "go in a different direction." Walters told Scheib that he didn't have to leave until a replacement was found. But, Gordon Johndroe, the First Lady's press secretary, soon told the press that Scheib was "already gone," which is not what Walters had told Scheib. After Scheib later told the New York Times's Marian Burros that he had been fired, Walters called Scheib at home and informed him that he was not to return to work at the White House. 

Scheib did not appear to have much of a fan club with the security types at the White House. In addition to the Secret Service veteran Walters, who served seven presidents but liked only the Republican ones, Johndroe, who later came out as gay, went on to become the spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security and Bush's National Security Council. He is now the spokesman for Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon contractor giant.

Lea Berman [left] with Laura Bush [right]. Scheib became their primary target after Bush's re-election in 2004

On June 23, 2015, WMR carried the following report: "On September 11, 2011, Scheib told ABC News's Rebecca Cooper that he was too upset to talk about what was happening to the country after the White House began evacuating non-essential staff after a plane was reported to be heading toward the executive mansion. Cooper described what Scheib told her to ABC News anchorman Peter Jennings . . . Cooper describes Scheib as 'too rattled' and 'couldn't speak' but Cooper also reported that Scheib and his staff  'did know what's going on in the country today.'" 

Scheib recounted how his day began on 9/11: "The ushers kept a small television set in their office, and it was on, and on the screen there was an image of the Twin Towers in New York City. One of the towers was leeching smoke out of a huge hole that had been blown in its side, and, before I could ask what was going on, a plane rocketed into the frame and slammed into the second tower."

Scheib recalled the odd comment from chief usher Walters: "Gary Walters turned to the only other usher in the room, Dennis Freemyer, and said, in a detached monotone,'Well, that's two.' I left the office with those words echoing in my mind. Gary said it with such finality, as though two were some kind of magic number. What was transpiring dawned on me. I thought, this is clearly intentional. It could be two. Or it could be ten."

It turned out to be four, but that does not alter the speculation that Walters was somehow privy to some total number of plane crashes that were to occur that day. Scheib's puzzlement over Walters's comment would also explain Scheib's later statement to ABC News's Rebecca Cooper that he and his staff knew "what's going on in the country today." Walters, in a rare television interview, stated he was emotional on 9/11, however, that does not match Scheib's description of the chief usher's reaction to that morning's events.

Scheib remembered how after he got to the southwest gate of the White House, he heard the walkie-talkies of the Uniformed Secret Service personnel crackling with "unidentified incoming." When Scheib realized there was no organized evacuation of the White House, he returned to order his staff to leave immediately. Scheib also wrote, "The scene inside was strangely calm as employees who had heard what was going on were telling others to leave." Evacuating the Executive Mansion was a well-rehearsed clockwork-like evolution in the 1980s. For some reason, on 9/11, all the contingency and continuity planning failed miserably. And Vice President Cheney, who, in the absence of Bush was the senior official present, took no initiative to order the immediate evacuation of the White House. The employees, political appointees and civil service, were left to fend for themselves.

After ensuring that the White House cafeteria staff also evacuated, Scheib proceeded to join his staff in Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue. On the north side of the mansion, he heard a loud thud followed by billowing smoke, which he later learned was from the aircraft that struck the Pentagon. Scheib then recounts something that has largely been forgotten about 9/11, "Just as I reached my colleagues, two more explosions went off in the distance. People were whipping out their wireless phones, PDAs, and such and reading the headlines over the Internet, and word quickly began to spread that two car bombs had exploded at the State Department. Somebody hypothesized aloud, 'They got us out of the buildings and now they're going to get us with car bombs.'"

At that point, the Secret Service walkie-talkies crackled with "second unidentified incoming." Scheib and the others then saw a four-engine jet heading right for the White House. The Secret Service agents looked helpless, according to Scheib. It later was discovered the plane was the emergency airborne command plane flying out of Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. But why did it fly directly over the White House when there were already reports of two incoming aircraft aircraft also heading toward the White House? Scheib was later told that the two explosions at the State Department were the "sonic echoes" of two F-14 fighter jets. However, WMR reported on May 10, 2010, there was at least one car bomb at the State Department that morning:

"Over the past several years, WMR has reported on the mysterious car bombing that took place on the morning of the 9/11 attacks. That morning, a car parked on Virginia Avenue, aside the main State Department building, exploded. The car bombing was also referenced in thousands of text messages from 9/11 that were released last year. 

WMR has now learned from a State Department source that residents of the State Plaza Hotel, which lies across the street from the State Department and the location where the car bomb went off on 9/11, were told to remain in their rooms because, as the source put it, a 'car exploded across the street.'

The car was immediately towed off by security officers after the explosion before forensics teams could examine the car and the surrounding area."

Scheib also recounted how he saw a woman, who he presumed to be a West Wing employee, heading back toward the White House, crossing Pennsylvania Avenue, as everyone else was streaming away from the building:

"There was a dazed look in her eyes and she held her security pass aloft in her right hand, as though it were some sort of talisman that would grant her entry anywhere she wanted to go . . . Directly in her path was a member of the Uniformed Division, shotgun in hand. As soon as he spotted her, he trained the gun on her and said, 'Halt!' She didn't seem to notice he had spoken. She just kept moving forward in a trance-like state, the pass held up in the air.

'I said halt,' the guy repeated.

Still she kept moving toward him, and by this point was only about 15 feet away. He pumped the shotgun and retrained on her. 'Goddamn it lady. I'm begging you. You got to stop.'

He seemed to have gotten through to her. She slowed down, almost to a standstill. But almost wasn't good enough. 'I'm telling you, if you keep going, I'm going to have to shoot you. It's my job.'

Finally, she looked up.

'I'm not kidding you. When I tell you to stop, stop. I don't know who you are or what's going on. Nobody knows anything except there's explosions and fires, and you're not paying attention to an armed man.'

I thought for certain I was about to witness a tragedy, but the woman finally stopped and disappeared back into the growing crowd."

After returning to work later, Scheib spent the rest of the day preparing food that was ordered for the White House's Congressional picnic, which was to be held on the South Lawn of the White House on the afternoon of 9/11, but ended up being served to the first responders at the Pentagon, personnel at Fort Myers, as well as any Secret Service, Washington Metropolitan Police, or anyone else who needed something to eat that day.

Scheib said that the security cordon established around the White House on 9/11 "brought to mind a sense of being in a police state." It was what Dick Cheney began referring to as the "new normalcy."

After 9/11, Scheib recounted how he began "looking into my rearview mirror to gauge whether or not I was being followed." Scheib lived in Great Falls, Virginia, just past the CIA's headquarters in Langley. Scheib also told his young sons, "Don't talk to anyone whom you don't know about what I do. If anybody asks what I do, just say I work for the Park Service. As a matter of fact, don't talk to anybody about it if you can avoid it at all."

With these words, Chef Scheib admitted that was paranoid about his personal safety. Did the New Mexico police even take this into consideration when they quickly determined his death was an "accident."

Scheib also wrote that a month after 9/11, someone at the White House arranged for psychological counselors invited small groups of White House employees in small groups to discuss their innermost thoughts about the 9/11 attack and their fears of working in the White House. Scheib and many of his coworkers thought the exercise was a waste of time. However, Cheney's "new normalcy" could use the guise of psychological counseling to determine what White House staffers saw and heard on 9/11 and in the following days and weeks.

On one occasion, in the months after 9/11, Scheib was driving into the employee's parking lot and as the Secret Service began to sweep his car with dogs and mirrors, one of the guards said to the others, "he's okay, he's the chef." Scheib insisted that his car be swept also. He told the guards that he could not be sure that someone did not attach something to his car during the night while his car was parked in his driveway. Scheib, already suspicious about the "new normalcy," told the guards, "I don't want my family name to go down in history as the one who transported a bomb into the White House." 

Scheib's death while hiking brings to mind the 2005 death of former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook in Scotland shortly after he wrote that "Al Qaeda" was nothing more than a database of militants, mercenaries, and businessmen put together by the CIA. Cook, 59, reportedly suffered a heart attack while hiking. Scheib was 61 at the time of his death.

Scheib's suspicious death and his run-in with the Bush family also evokes memories of the death of Bertha Champagne, the governess and house maid of Dubya's and Jeb's brother, Marvin Bush. Mrs. Champagne was crushed to death by her own vehicle in Marvin's driveway in Alexandria, Virginia on September 29, 2003. On October 21, 2005, WMR reported: "WMR has obtained a copy of the Fairfax County police report on the mysterious death of First Brother Marvin Bush's maid, Bertha O. Champagne, in the driveway of Bush's Alexandria, Virginia home on September 29, 2003. The Fairfax County Police report on the incident states: "Marvin stated that he arrived home at approximately 2045 hours. He advised me that he had a brief conversation with Bertha in the kitchen. Bertha then tells Marvin that she wants to show him a video tape of her and President Bush. She then leaves the residence to take out the family dogs and retrieve the video tape. There are no witnesses to the crash."

As Jeb Bush continues to collect a campaign war chest that may eventually add up to $2 billion, it should be recalled that many who have worked for or have otherwise confronted this most sinister of American political families often end up dead under suspicious circumstances.

Wayne Madsen

Wayne Madsen
Investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist, Madsen has over twenty years experience in security issues. 

As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. Madsen has been a frequent political and national security commentator on Fox News and has also appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, BBC and MS-NBC. He has been invited to testify as a witness before the US House of Representatives, the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and an terrorism investigation panel of the French government. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club, Madsen is based and reports from Washington, D.C.



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