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James Baker

James BakerAKA James Addison Baker III

Born: 28-Apr-1930
Birthplace: Houston, TX

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Government
Party Affiliation: Republican

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: US Secretary of State, 1989-92

Military service: USMC (1952-54)

James Baker III ran for public office just once, losing in a race for Texas Attorney General in 1978. Baker managed Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign against Jimmy Carter, and prepped Reagan for the debates using notes stolen from the Carter campaign. As Secretary of the Treasury in the mid- and late-1980s, Baker took no action on the emerging savings & loan crisis, leaving the situation to explode under his successor's watch.

In 1989, thirteen months after the oft-cited occasion when Saddam Hussein "gassed his own people" in Kurdish villages, then-Secretary of State Baker sent a nice note to Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz, seeking "to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Iraq whenever possible". In 1990, while Baker was Secretary of State under Bush, Saddam met with U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie before attacking Kuwait, and specifically asked Glaspie if the U.S. would object to an attack. Glaspie referenced Baker, her boss, in her response: "We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America." Saddam subsequently attacked Kuwait, and America went to war.

During the 2000 post-election debacle, the Bush team called on Baker as their front man for the media. It was Baker's strategy to have the election decided in the U.S. Supreme Court, instead of through more traditional means such as counting the ballots. "The vote in Florida has been counted," Baker said, "and the vote in Florida has been recounted. Governor George W. Bush was the winner of the vote, and he was also the winner of the recount. Based on these results, we urge the Gore campaign to accept the finality of the election."

On September 11, like most Americans, Baker watched television coverage of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Unlike most, he watched from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington DC, where Baker and representatives of Osama bin Laden's family were among those attending the annual conference for the Carlyle Group. Baker is Senior Counselor for the Carlyle Group, and the bin Ladens are among its major investors.

Baker's law firm, Baker Botts, was founded by Baker's grandfather, James A. Baker, and has offices in Houston, Washington DC, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Baker Botts is the legal council defending the Saudi Arabian government in a lawsuit filed by families of those killed and injured in the 9/11 attacks. Affidavits and copies of cancelled checks suggest that Saudi Arabian Defense Minister Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have funneled millions of dollars to assorted Islamic charities that U.S. officials and others suspect have covertly financed the operations of al Qaeda and other international terrorist groups.

After the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Baker was appointed to the unpaid position of "special envoy" on Iraq's post-war debt. While on a worldwide tour asking nations to forgive or restructure Iraq's debt, Baker finagled a billion-dollar investment in the Carlyle Group from the Kuwaiti government.

In 1982, Baker's son sold a quarter of an ounce of marijuana to an undercover cop. Under Texas law at the time, that was a felony that came with a prison term of between two and twenty years. But being Baker's son, it was reduced to a misdemeanor -- young John Baker was fined $2,000, but other than that, walked.

Father: James Addison Baker, Jr. (lawyer)
Mother: Ethel Bonner Means (d. 26-Apr-1991)
Wife: Mary Stuart McHenry (d. 1970, seven children)
Wife: Susan Garrett (m. 1973)
Son: John C. Baker (rescued from a prison stint by his father's connections)

    High School: Hill School, Pottstown, PA
    University: BA, Princeton University (1952)
    Law School: JD, University of Texas at Austin (1957)
    Professor: Rice University

    White House Chief of Staff (1992-93)
    US Secretary of State (1989-92)
    US Secretary of the Treasury (1985-88)
    White House Chief of Staff (1981-85)
    US National Security Council (1981-85)
    US Commerce Department Undersecretary of Commerce (1975)
    George Bush Presidential Library Trustee
    Smithsonian Institution Trustee (1977-)
    Baker Botts
    Carlyle Group Senior Counsel
    Enron Lobbyist
    Member of the Board of EDS (1996-2003)
    Alfalfa Club President, 1985
    American Academy of Diplomacy Charter Member
    American Success PAC
    Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Honorary Member, Board of Directors
    Atlantic Council Honorary Director
    Bretton Woods Committee
    Council on Foreign Relations
    Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies Honorary Patron
    Friends of Giuliani Exploratory Committee
    Gerald R. Ford Foundation Trustee
    John McCain 2008
    Partnership for Public Service Board of Governors
    Pilgrims Society
    Reagan-Bush '84
    Phi Delta Theta Fraternity
    Presidential Medal of Freedom 1991
    Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service
    Secret Service Codename Fencing Master, Foxtail
    Traveled to the USSR Mar-1991
    Florida 2000 Recount
    Bush Pioneer 2004
    Iraq Study Group Co-Chairman
    Funeral: Ronald Reagan (2004)
    Funeral: Gerald Ford (2007) Honorary Pallbearer
    Funeral: Margaret Thatcher (2013)

    Reagan (23-Jan-2011) · Himself
    Countdown to Zero (25-Jan-2010) · Himself

Author of books:
The Politics of Diplomacy: Revolution, War, and Peace, 1989-1992 (1995, international affairs)
Work Hard, Study... and Keep Out of Politics! Adventures and Lessons from an Unexpected Public Life (2006, memoir)

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