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John Whitehead's Commentary

The Secrets of Bush and Kerry: What Are They Hiding from Us?

John Whitehead
"It's so secret we can't talk about it."--George W. Bush

"There's not much I can say, Tim, because it's a secret."--John F. Kerry
A recent New York Times editorial proclaimed that "there cannot be too much disclosure by a candidate seeking the trust of the public for the nation's highest office." It continued by observing that "the path to the presidency can be rooted only in winning the public's trust."

It is a lesson our two leading presidential candidates would do well to learn--and soon. For example, when asked by Tim Russert on Meet the Press about their respective membership in a clandestine Yale society referred to as "The Order"-- better known as "Skull and Bones"--our two presidential candidates could do nothing but dance around the issue. Yet since its inception in 1832, Skull and Bones has grown into a shadowy, elite society that selects 15 members each year from the senior class of Yale University.

It was founded by a group of influential and wealthy students, some of whom were likely influenced by German philosopher Georg Hegel's beliefs--beliefs that were soon to bear ill fruit, such as the concept that government was to be the sole object of worship and obedience by citizens. Hegel argued that the individual's supreme duty was to be a member of and to serve the state. (Both fascism and communism, which would lay ruin to Europe, result in two world wars and lead to death camps, had their roots in Hegel's thinking.)

Known for its celebrity membership, Skull and Bones' alumni include numerous power-wielding individuals such as former President William Howard Taft, Henry Luce--the founder of Time magazine, U.S. Supreme Court justices, mega-corporation founders and leaders and such recent luminaries as former President George H.W. Bush, President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry.

Thus, Bush's and Kerry's silence about their membership in this secret society leaves the door wide open for speculation and suspicion of the sort that Ron Rosenbaum, a former Yale student and attorney who has spent nearly 30 years studying Skull and Bones, seems to have promulgated.

Using high-tech night vision equipment to peer into the inner courtyard of the Skull and Bones headquarters (called the "Tomb") in New Haven, Conn., Rosenbaum claims to have witnessed the elements of this strange organization's rituals.

According to Rosenbaum, the ritual begins with a figure dressed like a devil, another one in a hooded skeleton costume and others in robes chanting what Rosenbaum calls "the death mantra"--the three-line Skull and Bones initiation-theme that has bound three U.S. presidents (including George W. Bush) to their secret society: "The hangman equals death! The devil equals death! Death equals death!"

Skull and Bones has the characteristics of a death cult, and most of the lore surrounding it centers on its death fixation. In fact, the entire secret society revolves around death-centered imagery. The initiates are told that they must "die to the barbarian world" and be born again in the company of the elect or, as they call it, The Order. A macabre report has also surfaced that the initiates spend time during their senior year in the basement crypt of the Bones Tomb, taking turns lying in a coffin. Moreover, in two long, intense, psycho-drama sessions in these coffins, the initiates lie naked and recount their personal and sexual history to the 14 other chosen ones.

The history and practices of Skull and Bones have been documented in numerous articles, books and on the Internet. Alexandra Robbins, author of Secrets of the Tomb (2002), has written extensively on Skull and Bones. She described the organization's initiation ritual in a CBS News report:

There is a devil, a Don Quixote and a Pope, who has one foot sheathed in a white monogrammed slipper resting on a stone skull. The initiates are led into the room one at a time. And once an initiate is inside, the Bonesmen shriek at him. Finally, the Bonesman is shoved to his knees in front of Don Quixote as the shrieking crowd falls silent. And Don Quixote lifts his sword and taps the Bonesman on his left shoulder and says, "By the order of our order, I dub thee knight of Euloga."

During all this folderol, obscenities fly as the privileged Skull and Bones members mock the initiates. Routinely, Skull and Bones members hurl obscene sexual and anal insults. Other members act out a throat-cutting ritual murder. And according to Robbins, the Bonesmen take on secret and occultish names such as Magog and Boaz. Magog is the name traditionally given to the member of Skull and Bones with the most sexual experience.

Yet, as Rosenbaum points out, this is not some fraternity initiation. There is more to Skull and Bones than the mystical mumbo-jumbo of its strange and lewd rituals. "It is an initiation far more secret--and far more significant, in terms of real power in the United States--than that of the Cosa Nostra. It was--and still remains--the heart of the American establishment," writes Rosenbaum.

Some critics point to the fact that Skull and Bones is similar to other powerful secret societies such as the Thule Society, which emerged in Germany in the early 20th century. Much like its modern counterpart Skull and Bones, the German Thule Society initiated its members with elaborate rituals that mimic those of black magic--replete with sexual practices, blood orgies and communicating with spirits such as the devil. And, in fact, both groups use identical symbols to identify their respective group--the nefarious skull with two crossed bones.

The German Nazi death camp guards later wore the emblem of a skull and bones on the shoulders of their uniforms. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Adolf Hitler joined the Thule Society in 1919 and, from there, emerged as the leader of what was then being called the "New World Order." This was Hitler's utopian Aryan society.

The similarities between the two societies are also in keeping with Rosenbaum's view that:

The rituals are less important than the relationships--the bonds of power and influence that develop between Skull and Bones initiates after they graduate. But the relationships are first forged by the rituals and fact that the founders of Time, Inc. and the CIA, as well as several Secretaries of State and National Security Advisors--the men who made the decision to drop the Hiroshima bomb, invade the Bay of Pigs and plunge us into Vietnam, the Tafts, the Bundys, the Buckleys, the Harrimans, the Lovetts--all took part in this initiation ritual may have something to do with the real world power of those bonds. The unspoken understanding, the comfort level with the clandestine, the nods and winks with which power is exercised.

As Rosenbaum was investigating Skull and Bones, he was warned not to get too close. As one source told him, "The alumni still care." And: "Don't laugh. They don't like people tampering and prying. The power of Bones is incredible. They've got their hands on every lever of power in the country. You'll see--it's like trying to look into the Mafia."

Demonic rituals. Bonding among the rich elite of society. The two men running for president are intrinsically involved. And so on and so on. All link to the secret society called Skull and Bones. And we know all this, and they know we know it. Thus, what are our president, John Kerry and our other public leaders keeping secret from us?

As we begin the arduous process of selecting the next president of the United States of America, Americans would do well to demand that all their questions be answered--whether they have to do with full financial disclosures from John Kerry's heiress wife or what Kerry and Bush have to hide about their involvement with this clandestine group.

As President John F. Kennedy said in an April 1961 speech:

The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society. We are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers, which are cited to justify it.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His most recent books are the best-selling Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the award-winning A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, and a debut dystopian fiction novel, The Erik Blair Diaries. Whitehead can be contacted at Nisha Whitehead is the Executive Director of The Rutherford Institute. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at

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