02/09/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

USS George H.W. Bush: A Ship With a History

The father of the outgoing president likes to note that "we Bushes cry a lot." Well, here's cause for crying out loud.

On Saturday, January 10, the Navy will commission the aircraft carrier CVN-77, to be named USS George H.W. Bush. In a departure from tradition, the ship will be christened before it is finished. They seem in a hurry to burnish the reputation of the elder Bush while his son is still in office. But the truth is that this is not a case of an honorable man being honored, but of a continued cover-up of a shocking career. The former President calls the upcoming ceremony "the last big thing in my life," but he should not be allowed to shuffle quietly out of the limelight on the heels of this noble valedictory.

As I reveal in my new book, Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put it in the White House and What Their Influence Means for America, there are two George H.W. Bushes: the public one and the private one.

The public Bush 41 was acclaimed a war hero as a Navy pilot in World War II. The private Bush 41, against all Navy tradition, bailed out of the plane he was piloting while one or more of his crew remained on board to perish.

The public Bush 41 was an oilman and congressman who entered politics and then served in a wide variety of posts, from UN ambassador to Republican Party Chairman to director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The private Bush 41 was a deeply secretive man living a double life as an intelligence asset two decades before he was appointed CIA director as a purported "intelligence virgin." Though he served as director for just a single year, the Agency named its headquarters after him.

The public Bush 41 was a genial patrician who got along with everybody. The private Bush 41 was deeply connected to operations that damaged, removed or destroyed several American presidents. Bush 41, who has famously claimed not to recall where he was on November 22, 1963, the day JFK was shot, was a longtime friend of the man who mentored Lee Harvey Oswald. That Bush 41 placed a suspicious call to the FBI at the time of JFK's death to establish himself as being outside Dallas. He was connected to many figures surrounding Kennedy's motorcade and the events of that tragic day.

Naming this military vessel after George HW Bush is problematic, given the disrespect the Bush family has shown for the American constitution. And given the hatred unleashed the world over by the Bush name, asking US military personnel to serve on a carrier so named is surely exposing them to extra unnecessary risk. All around, this is one ship with a history before it ever sets sail.