The Consortium On-line is a product of The Consortium for Independent Journalism, Inc. To contact CIJ, click here.
Triangle of Money
After George H.W. Bush lost in 1992, The Washington Times shifted from defense to offense. The newspaper became a leading conservative weapon in mounting attacks on the Clinton administration.
During the Bush familys years out of power, Moon put money directly into their pockets, too. Moon-affiliated organizations paid for speeches by former President Bush in the United States, Asia and South America. Sometimes, Barbara Bush joined her husband in these appearances.
The price tag for the speeches has been estimated at from hundreds of thousands of dollars to $10 million, a figure cited to me by a senior Unification Church official in the mid-1990s. The elder Bush has refused to divulge how much money he received from Moon-affiliated organizations.
During one 1996 appearance in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the senior Bush went beyond a mere speech to act as a kind of international lobbyist for the Moon organization.
At the time, Moon was planning to launch a new newspaper, Tiempos del Mundo, and his supporters were upset over critical coverage in South American newspapers. The South American press was pointing out Moons close association with right-wing death-squad governments of the 1970s and the so-called Cocaine Coup regime in Bolivia in the early 1980s.
Moon's defenders were forced to issue public denials that Moon's mysterious source of wealth came from drug trafficking and other organized-crime activities.
These allegations were threatening the Tiempos del Mundo launch, Moon's followers feared. But Moon had a special weapon to prove his respectability: the endorsement of the 41st president of the United States.
Bush arrived on Nov. 22, 1996, and stayed with Argentine President Carlos Menem at his official residence. The next day, Bush gave the keynote address at the newspapers inaugural dinner.
Mr. Bushs presence as keynote speaker gave the event invaluable prestige, wrote the Unification News. Father [Moon] and Mother [Mrs. Moon] sat with several of the True Children [Moons offspring] just a few feet from the podium.
Bush lavished praise on Moon and his journalistic enterprises. I want to salute Reverend Moon, Bush said. A lot of my friends in South America dont know about The Washington Times, but it is an independent voice. The editors of The Washington Times tell me that never once has the man with the vision interfered with the running of the paper, a paper that in my view brings sanity to Washington, D.C.
Bush's endorsement wasn't exactly accurate. A stream of editors and correspondents have left The Washington Times, complaining about the interference of Moon's operatives. But Moon's followers believed Bush's intervention stanched the flow of negative press stories and saved the day.
In those eight years of the Bush family's hiatus from power, Moon also grew increasingly anti-American, often telling his followers that the United States was Satanic. He vowed to build a movement powerful enough to absorb America and eliminate what Moon saw as America's destructive tendencies toward individualism.
Americans who continue to maintain their privacy and extreme individualism are foolish people, Moon told his followers during one speech on Aug. 4, 1996. He then said, Once you have this great power of love, which is big enough to swallow entire America, there may be some individuals who complain inside your stomach. However, they will be digested.
During the 2000 campaign, The Washington Times was back helping the Bush family achieve its political restoration. Day after day, the newspaper published articles undercutting Democrat Al Gore even questioning his sanity while boosting the candidacy of George W. Bush.
In late 1999, The New York Times and The Washington Post created a controversy by misquoting Gore as claiming credit for starting the Love Canal toxic-waste cleanup. The two newspapers quoted Gore as saying "I was the one that started it all" when in fact he was referring to a similar Tennessee toxic-waste case and said, "that was the one that started it all."
Yet, with the bogus quote touching off a wave of media ridicule about Gore's supposed lack of credibility, The Washington Times eagerly joined the pack and returned to its old game of questioning the sanity of its political enemies.
A Washington Times editorial termed Gore delusional and stated, The real question is how to react to Mr. Gores increasingly bizarre utterings. The editorial went on to call Gore a politician who not only manufactures gross, obvious lies about himself and his achievements but appears to actually believe these confabulations. [WT, Dec. 7, 1999]
Even after The New York Times and The Washington Post corrected their misquote, The Washington Times continued to use the bogus quote.
On Dec. 31, 1999, Moon's newspaper published a column entitled "Liar, Liar; Gore's Pants on Fire." The column repeated the false quote and concluded that "when Al Gore lies, it's without any apparent reason."
The media drumbeat about Gores supposed lies often built on similar press exaggerations and outright errors became a key element of the 2000 campaign. Many Republican strategists viewed the widespread perception of Gore as untrustworthy as crucial in holding down Gore's vote and clearing George W. Bush's route to the White House.
Now, with the Bush family back in charge, Moons organization appears in line for some financial payback. George W. Bushs plan to funnel government money into religious charities is expected to be especially profitable for Moon's front groups that are organized as non-profit charities.
The Rev. Pat Robertson, the conservative televangelist, is among those who have raised the alarm about how Bushs "faith-based" initiative could line Moon's pockets.
On the "700 Club" television program, Robertson warned that Moons Unification Church could become one of the financial beneficiaries of the proposal to expand eligibility for government grants to religious charities. [Washington Post, Feb. 22, 2000]
Besides the possibility of collecting U.S. taxpayers money, Moon also continues to benefit from a determined see-no-evil stance of the U.S. government toward Moons political-religious-business organization.
Widespread evidence exists of money-laundering by Moons operation including first-hand statements by church insiders including his former daughter-in-law. But this evidence simply disappears into a black hole of federal indifference.
Moons business dealings with communist North Korea, dating back to 1991 and the first Bush administration, also have prompted no official U.S. reaction.
Based on what is known publicly, Moon would appear to be in violation of the long-standing U.S. trade embargo against North Korea. That embargo covered Moon because he is a legal U.S. resident possessing a "green card" and thus required to abide by U.S. sanction laws.
According to other DIA documentation that I obtained under FOIA, Moon delivered millions of dollars in secret payments to North Koreas top officials including current communist leader Kim Il Song.
Those payments, in the early-to-mid 1990s, came at a time when the communist regime was desperate for hard currency to support its development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
Ironically, it is that arms buildup that George W. Bush now cites as a chief reason for postponing further negotiations with North Korea and for spending tens of billions of dollars to build a U.S. nuclear "Star Wars" shield.
During this past weeks summit, South Koreas president Kim Dae Jung disagreed with Bush over the cessation of talks with North Korea. Bush attacked the North Koreans as untrustworthy.
Yet, behind the scenes -- though perhaps not fully apparent to either man -- was this odd connection linking the Bush family, Kim Dae Jung and the communist leaders of North Korea.
It was the secret bond of Rev. Sun Myung Moons mysterious money.
Robert Parry is an investigative reporter who broke many of the Iran-contra stories in the 1980s for The Associated Press and Newsweek.
For more on Moon's organization, go to the Dark Side of Rev. Moon series in our Archives.