The GOP's $3 Billion Propaganda
[Sun Myung Moon's Washington Times]
by Robert Parry
The American Right achieved its political
dominance in Washington over the past quarter century with the
help of more than $3 billion spent by Korean cult leader Sun Myung
Moon on a daily propaganda organ, the Washington Times, according
to a 21-year veteran of the newspaper.
George Archibald, who describes himself
"as the first reporter hired at the Washington Times outside
the founding group" and author of a commemorative book on
the Times' first two decades, has now joined a long line of disillusioned
conservative writers who departed and warned the public about
extremism within the newspaper.
In an Internet essay on recent turmoil
inside the Times, Archibald also confirmed claims by some former
Moon insiders that the cult leader has continued to pour in $100
million a year or more to keep the newspaper afloat. Archibald
put the price tag for the newspaper's first 24 years at "more
than $3 billion of cash."
At the newspaper's tenth anniversary,
Moon announced that he had spent $1 billion on the Times - or
$100 million a year - but newspaper officials and some Moon followers
have since tried to low-ball Moon's subsidies in public comments
by claiming they had declined to about $35 million a year.
The figure from Archibald and other defectors
from Moon's operation is about three times higher than the $35
million annual figure.
The apparent goal of downplaying Moon's
subsidy has been to quiet concerns that Moon was funneling vast
sums of illicit money into the United States to influence the
American political process in ways favorable to right-wing leaders
- and possibly criminal cartels - around the world.
Though best known as the founder of the
Unification Church, Moon, now 86, has long worked with right-wing
political forces linked to organized crime and international drug
smuggling, including the Japanese yakuza gangs and South American
Moon insiders, including his former daughter-in-law
Nansook Hong, also have described Moon's system for laundering
cash into the United States and then funneling much of it into
his businesses and influence-buying apparatus, led by the Washington
The Times, in turn, has targeted American
politicians of the center and left with journalistic attacks -
sometimes questioning their sanity, as happened with Democratic
presidential nominees Michael Dukakis and Al Gore. Those themes
then resonate through the broader right-wing echo chamber and
into the mainstream media.
Washington Times articles are routinely
cited by C-SPAN, for instance, without explanations to viewers
that the newspaper is financed by an ultra-right religious cult
leader, a convicted tax fraud and a publicly identified money-launderer.
Most American listeners just think they're getting straightforward
The Times also has led attacks on investigators
who threatened to expose crimes committed by Republican and right-wing
operatives. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Times targeted
Iran-Contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, who recounted in
his memoir Firewall the importance of the Times in protecting
the Reagan-Bush administration's legal flanks.
When journalistic and congressional investigations
began uncovering evidence of drug trafficking by the Nicaraguan
contra rebels, the Washington Times counter-attacked, too, although
in that case the Moon organization may have had a direct interest
in containing the probes that could have exposed its relationship
with South American drug lords.
Besides the estimated $3 billion-plus
invested in the Washington Times, Moon has spread money around
to influential right-wingers, often coming to their rescue when
they are facing financial ruin as happened with Moral Majority
founder Jerry Falwell in the mid-1990s. [See below.]
Moon also has paid lucrative speaking
fees to political figures, such as former President George H.W.
Bush who has appeared at Moon-organized functions in the United
States, Asia and South America. At the launch of Moon's South
American newspaper in 1996, Bush hailed Moon as "the man
with the vision."
Moon has key defenders, too, in the U.S.
Congress, such as Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a ranking member of
the Senate Judiciary Committee. In 2004, Moon was given space
in the Senate's Dirksen building for a coronation of himself as
"savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent." [See
The Hill, June 22, 2004]
Though primarily allied with the Republican
Right, Moon has tossed money to some African-American ministers
to gain favor with a key Democratic constituency.
Moon's multi-billion-dollar political
investments, in turn, have shielded him from sustained scrutiny
since 1978 when he was identified by the congressional "Koreagate"
investigation as part of a covert Korean influence-buying scheme.
As a result of those findings about his finances, he was convicted
in 1982 of tax fraud.
Ironically, however, as Moon implemented
the influence-buying blueprint exposed by the "Koreagate"
probe - investing in U.S. media, politicians and academia - he
became an untouchable. He founded the Washington Times in 1982
and quickly put it into the service of Republican power.
President Ronald Reagan hailed Moon's
publication as his "favorite newspaper"; it even helped
raise money for the Nicaraguan contras; and President George H.W.
Bush invited its editor Wesley Pruden to the White House in 1991
"just to tell you how valuable the Times has become in Washington,
where we read it every day."
Washington Times defenders argue that
the newspaper is independent of Moon's religion and doesn't proselytize
for his faith.
But the argument misses the point because
Moon's organization is only a religious entity on one level. More
substantively, it is an international conglomerate with investments
in fishing, restaurants, gun manufacturing, tourism, banks, real
estate and media.
Since its finances often operate on the
shady side of the law, Moon's organization requires, most of all,
political influence for protection.
Similarly, Moon's operation is not really
"conservative" in the normal sense of the word. While
it has worked with everyone from right-of-center Republicans to
neo-fascist organizations, it also has joined forces with the
reclusive communist leaders of North Korea when that was to Moon's
advantage. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Moon, North Korea &
Veteran Washington Times journalist Archibald
as well as other Times employees who recently spoke to The Nation
magazine have described a bitter internal struggle at the newspaper.
Times president "Douglas" Dong
Moon Joo is standing by Pruden and other right-wing editors who
have run the Times for years, while other influential Moon operatives
believe it's time to abandon the newspaper's hard-right positions.
"A nasty succession battle is now
heating up at the paper, punctuated by allegations of racism,
sexism and unprofessional conduct, that have implications far
beyond its fractious newsroom," wrote Max Blumenthal in The
"According to several reliable inside
sources, Preston Moon, the youngest son of Korean Unification
Church leader and Times financier Sun Myung Moon, has initiated
a search committee to find a replacement for editor-in-chief Wesley
Pruden - a replacement who is not Pruden's handpicked successor,
managing editor Francis Coombs.
"Preston Moon wants to wrest control
of the paper from Pruden and Coombs, according to a Times senior
staffer, in order to shift the paper away from their brand of
conservatism, which is characterized by extreme racial animus
and connections to nativist and neo-Confederate organizations.
A Harvard MBA, Preston Moon is said to be seeking to install an
editorial regime with more widely palatable politics."
Archibald's essay describes Pruden as
"an unreconstructed Confederate from Little Rock, Arkansas,
who still believes the South and slavery were right and Lincoln
was wrong in saving the Union."
Pruden's father, Wesley Pruden Sr., was
a Baptist minister and chaplain to Little Rock's segregationist
Capital Citizens Council, which spearheaded the opposition to
President Dwight Eisenhower's order in 1957 to integrate the city's
Central High School.
In the 1990s, Pruden's Washington Times
continued to tap into those old segregationist ties, such as "Justice"
Jim Johnson, to get salacious allegations about President Bill
Clinton and his wife, Hillary. The mainstream press soon followed,
setting the stage for the Republican congressional sweep in 1994
and Clinton's impeachment in 1998.
In 2000, the Washington Times again was
at the center of the assault on Al Gore's candidacy - highlighting
apocryphal quotes by Gore and using them to depict him as either
dishonest or delusional. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Al Gore
vs. the Media."]
By then, however, the Washington Times
had the help of a rapidly expanding right-wing media as well as
mainstream journalists from the New York Times and the Washington
Post who had come to realize the career advantage of tilting their
reporting to the right.
Arguably one of the measures of the Washington
Times' success was how the major U.S. news organizations increasingly
seemed to march to the same drummer, even when not under direct
pressure to do so.
Over the past half dozen years, it has
often been hard to distinguish between the fawning coverage of
George W. Bush from the Washington Times and from the Washington
Post. Both major Washington dailies bought into Bush's false claims
about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction with almost no skepticism.
Currently, the Washington Times seems
inclined to continue serving as a leading defender of Republican
power and thus of President Bush. Calling itself "America's
Newspaper," the Moon-financed Times also has championed the
cause of anti-immigration activists, another hot-button issue
on the Right.
But the Times and other right-wing news
outlets risk a credibility crisis as more and more Americans turn
away from the Bush presidency and are turned off by the right-wing
rhetoric demonizing citizens who have objected to Bush's policies.
Nevertheless, history will surely record
that Moon's $3 billion-plus investment succeeded in buying a remarkable
degree of Washington influence - and legal protection - for his
dubious political/business/religious empire.
The extraordinary rise of Sun Myung Moon
also tells a cynical story about how "respectability"
is just one more Washington commodity that can be purchased with
Known for crowning himself at lavish ceremonies
and ranting for hours in Korean about the proper use of sex organs,
Sun Myung Moon may have the distinction of being the most unusual
person ever to gain substantial influence in the U.S. capital.
He has proved that in Washington, money talks.
When Moon became a major benefactor of
the American conservative movement starting in the latter half
of the 1970s, it was a time when the conservatives desperately
needed money to build what they called their counter-establishment.
From a mysterious and seemingly bottomless
slush fund, Moon ladled out cash to sponsor lavish conferences,
to finance political interest groups and to publish the Washington
Despite his strange goals - including
the need to replace democracy and individuality with his own personal
theocratic rule over the most intimate details of every person's
life - Moon lured into his circle some of the most prominent political
figures of the modern era, including George H.W. Bush who grasped
Moon's value as a deep pocket for the conservative movement and
for the Bush family.
Moon began building his political influence
in Washington at a time when he was best known to Americans as
the leader of the Unification Church, called the "Moonies."
Moon was blamed by thousands of American parents for brain-washing
their children and transforming them into automatons who gave
up their previous lives to devote nearly every waking hour in
the service of Rev. Moon.
Gradually, however, Moon's money gained
him access to the nation's ruling elite. The worst of the negative
press coverage subsided. But few Americans, even those who took
his money, knew much about his life and his true allegiances.
Who Is Moon?__Moon was born on Jan. 6,
1920, in a rural, northwestern corner of Korea, a rugged Asian
peninsula then occupied by Japan, an occupation that would continue
through the first 25 years of Moon's life. Allied forces liberated
the peninsula from the Japanese in 1945 and then divided Korea
into two sections, the south controlled by the United States and
the north occupied by Soviet troops.
In this post-war period, Moon, who had
been raised within a Christian sect, moved to southern Korea and
joined a mystical religious group called Israel Suo-won. The group
preached the imminent arrival of a Korean Messiah and practiced
a strange sexual ritual called "pikarume," in which
ministers purified women through sexual intercourse, the so-called
"blessing of the womb."
As he developed his own theology, Moon
returned to the North, to communist-ruled North Korea, where he
soon ran into legal troubles. North Korean authorities arrested
him twice, apparently on morals charges connected to his sexual
rites with young women. Moon's supporters, however, have tried
to portray Moon as the victim of communist repression, claiming
that he was arrested not for sex charges but for espionage.
Whatever the real story about his detention
in North Korea, Moon's luck soon changed. On Oct. 14, 1950, with
war raging on the Korean peninsula, United Nations troops overran
the prison where Moon was held, freeing Moon and all the other
inmates. According to Unification Church histories, Moon then
trekked south, carrying on his back an injured prisoner named
Pak Chung Hwa.
For years, church officials even published
a photograph purportedly showing Pak piggy-backing on Moon across
a river. But much of that story appears to be propaganda. Several
church sources have since admitted that the photo was a hoax,
that Moon is not the man in the picture and the location is not
where Moon was. __Moon's southward journey ended in the South
Korean port of Pusan, where he resumed his missionary work. He
later moved to Seoul, South Korea's capital, where he founded
his own church in May 1954. He called it T'ong-il Kyo, or Holy
Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity.
It became known as the Unification Church. __At the center of
Moon's theology was a new twist to the Old Testament story about
the Fall of Man. Instead of biting into a forbidden apple, Eve
copulated with Satan and then passed on the sin by having sex
Thousands of years later, God sent Jesus
to restore man to his original purity, Moon taught. But Jesus
failed because he was betrayed by the Jews and died before he
could father any sinless children.
Sex, therefore, remained at the center
of Moon's theology, the need for a Messiah to purify the human
race through the reversal of the contamination caused by Satan's
seduction of Eve. __Moon taught that the failure of Jesus to begin
this purification process by fathering children forced God to
send a second Messiah, who turned out to be Moon himself. Moon
saw his task as starting this sexual purification process and
thus establishing God's Kingdom on Earth.
The ultimate goal would be a worldwide
theocracy ruled by Moon and his followers cleansed of Satan's
influence. Political power and religious authority went together,
Moon lectured. "We cannot separate the political field from
the religious," Moon said.
But in South Korea, Moon found that government
continued to be an obstacle to his religious plans. When he began
to concentrate his religious recruitment on young idealistic college
students, especially from an all-girls Christian school, Moon
landed in legal hot water again.
The South Korean government arrested Moon
in 1955 for allegedly conducting more sexual "purification"
rites, according to several U.S. intelligence reports which are
now public. Moon was freed three months later because none of
the young women would testify for fear of public humiliation,
according to an undated FBI summary, released under a Freedom
of Information Act request.
"During the next two years in the
national news media of South Korea, Rev. Moon was the butt of
scandalist humor," the FBI report said.
Church officials repeatedly have denied
the reports of Moon's sexual rituals. But the charges received
new attention in 1993 with the Japanese publication of The Tragedy
of the Six Marys -- a book by the early Moon disciple, Pak Chung
Hwa, whom Moon supposedly carried to South Korea.
According to Pak's book, Moon taught that
Jesus was intended to save mankind by having sex with six already-married
women who would then have sex with other men who would pass on
the purification to other women until, eventually, all mankind
would have pure blood. __Pak contended that Moon took on this
personal duty as the second Messiah and began having sex with
the "six Marys." But Pak alleged that Moon began to
abuse the practice by turning the "six Marys" into a
kind of rotating sex club.
Pak wrote that Moon's first wife divorced
him after catching him in a sex ritual. In all, Pak estimated
that there were at least 60 "Marys," many of whom ended
up destitute after Moon discarded them. __According to the testimony
of one "Mary," named Yu Shin Hee, she met Moon in the
early 1950s and became a follower along with her husband. Devoted
to the church, her husband abandoned her and her five children,
whom she then put into an orphanage. She, in turn, agreed to become
one of Moon's "six Marys."
But Yu Shin Hee claimed that Moon tired
of her after just one "blood exchange," a phrase referring
to sexual intercourse. Still, she was required to have sex with
other men. Seven years later, a broken woman with no money, she
tried to return to her children, but they also rejected her.__When
Moon impregnated another one of the women, Moon sent her to Japan
where she gave birth to a baby boy, according to Pak's account.
Moon later admitted fathering the child, who died in a train crash
at the age of 13. But Pak wrote that Moon refused to admit responsibility
for other illegitimate children born to the women.
"By forwarding this teaching, he
violated mothers, their daughters, their sisters," Pak wrote.
(After The Tragedy of the Six Marys was published, the Unification
Church denounced the allegations as spurious. Under intense pressure,
the aging Pak Chung Hwa agreed to recant. However, his book's
accounts tracked closely with U.S. intelligence reports of the
same period and interviews with former church leaders.)
Moon's history of sexual liaisons out
of wedlock also was corroborated by Nansook Hong, one of Moon's
daughters-in-law who broke with the so-called True Family in 1995
over abuse she suffered at the hands of Moon's eldest son, Hyo
Jin Moon, during their 14-year marriage.
Nansook Hong reported in her 1998 book,
In the Shadow of the Moons, that family members, including Moon
himself, acknowledged that he had "providential" sex
with women in his role as the Messiah. Nansook Hong said she learned
about Moon's sexual affairs when her husband, Hyo Jin, began justifying
his affairs as mandated by God, as his father claimed his affairs
"I went directly to Mrs. Moon with
Hyo Jin's claims," Nansook Hong wrote. "She was both
furious and tearful. She had hoped that such pain would end with
her, that it would not be passed on to the next generation, she
told me._"No one knows the pain of a straying husband like
True Mother, she assured me. I was stunned. We had all heard rumors
for years about Sun Myung Moon's affairs and the children he sired
out of wedlock, but here was True Mother, confirming the truth
of these stories.
"I told her that Hyo Jin said his
sleeping around was 'providential' and inspired by God, just as
Father's affairs were. 'No, Father is the Messiah, not Hyo Jin.
What Father did was in God's plan.'" Later, in a discussion
about the extramarital sex, Moon himself told Nansook Hong that
"what happened in his past was 'providential,'" she
As for the sexual purification rituals,
Nansook Hong said the rumors had followed the church for decades,
despite the official denials.
"In the early days of the Unification
Church, members met in a small house with two rooms," Nansook
Hong wrote. "It was known as the House of the Three Doors.
It was rumored that at the first door one was made to take off
one's jacket, at the second door one's outer clothing, and at
the third one's undergarments in preparation for sex."
As for Chung Hwa Pak's Tragedy of the
Six Marys, Nansook Hong said Moon succeeded in persuading his
old associate to rejoin the church and then got him to disavow
the memoirs. "I've always wondered what the price was of
that retraction," Nansook Hong wrote.
Madeleine Pretorious, a Unification Church
member from South Africa, also had worked closely with Moon's
temperamental son, Hyo Jin, and had learned from him that the
long-denied accounts of Moon's sexual rites with female initiates
"When Hyo Jin found out about his
father's 'purification' rituals, that took a lot out of wind out
of his sails," Pretorious told me in an interview after she
left the church in the mid-1990s.
In late 1994, during conversations in
Hyo Jin's suite at the New Yorker Hotel, "he confided a lot
of things to me," Pretorious said. Hyo Jin also had discovered
that the Reverend Moon fathered a child out of wedlock in the
early 1970s. Moon arranged for the child to be raised by his longtime
lieutenant Bo Hi Pak, Pretorious said.
The boy - now a young man - had confronted
Hyo Jin, seeking recognition as Hyo Jin's half-brother. Pretorious
said she later corroborated the story with other church members.
The alleged sexual rituals, which involved
passing around women, would become a point of embarrassment later,
but the practices apparently helped the Unification Church in
recruiting men in the early days.
By the late 1950s, Moon had managed to
build a small cadre of loyal followers and was reaching out beyond
Korea. By the early 1960s, the church also was pulling in better
educated young men, including some with connections to South Korea's
Kim Jong-Pil and three other young English-speaking
army officers became closely associated with Moon's church during
this transitional phase as the institution evolved from an obscure
Korean sect into a powerful international organization.
Beyond his association with Moon's sect,
Kim Jong-Pil was a rising star in South Korea's intelligence community.
In 1961, he founded the KCIA, which centralized Seoul's internal
and external intelligence activities. Another one of the promising
young KCIA officers was Colonel Bo Hi Pak, also a Moon disciple.
__With these KCIA officers, however, it was never clear whether
the benefits of the religion were paramount or if they simply
recognized the potential that an international church held as
a cover for intelligence operations.
In many countries, especially the United
States, churches are granted broad protections against government
interference. With missionaries traveling around the world and
with church members attending international religious conferences,
a church also provided an effective cover for spying, money-laundering
or passing on messages to agents.
In 1962, KCIA founder Kim Jong-Pil traveled
to San Francisco where he met with Unification Church members.
According to an account later published by a congressional investigation,
Kim Jong-Pil promised discreet support for Moon's church.
At the same time of his contacts with
associates from the Unification Church, Kim Jong-Pil was in charge
of another sensitive negotiation: talks to improve bilateral relations
with Japan, Korea's historic enemy.
Those talks put Kim Jong-Pil in touch
with two other important figures in the Far East, Japanese rightists
Yoshio Kodama and Ryoichi Sasakawa, who once hailed Italian dictator
Benito Mussolini as "the perfect fascist."
Kodama and Sasakawa were jailed as fascist
war criminals at the end of World War II, but a few years later,
both Kodama and Sasakawa were freed by U.S. military intelligence
The U.S. government turned to Kodama and
Sasakawa for help in combating communist labor unions and student
strikes, much as the CIA protected German Nazi war criminals who
supplied intelligence and performed other services in the intensifying
Cold War battles with European communists.
Kodama and Sasakawa obliged U.S. intelligence
by dispatching right-wing goon squads to break up demonstrations,
according to the authoritative book, Yakuza, by David E. Kaplan
and Alec Dubro.
Kodama and Sasakawa also allegedly grew
rich from their association with the yakuza, a shadowy organized
crime syndicate that profited off drug smuggling, gambling and
prostitution in Japan and Korea. Behind the scenes, Kodama and
Sasakawa became power-brokers in Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic
Kim Jong-Pil's contacts with these right-wing
leaders proved invaluable to the Unification Church, which had
made only a few converts in Japan by the early 1960s. Immediately
after Kim Jong-Pil opened the door to Kodama and Sasakawa in late
1962, 50 leaders of an ultra-nationalist Japanese Buddhist sect
converted en masse to the Unification Church, according to Kaplan
"Sasakawa became an advisor to Reverend
Sun Myung Moon's Japanese branch of the Unification Church"
and collaborated with Moon in building far-right anti-communist
organizations in Asia, Kaplan and Dubro wrote.
The church's growth spurt did not escape
the notice of U.S. intelligence officers in the field. One CIA
report, dated Feb. 26, 1963, stated that "Kim Jong-Pil organized
the Unification Church while he was director of the ROK [Republic
of Korea] Central Intelligence Agency, and has been using the
church, which had a membership of 27,000, as a political tool."
Though Moon's church had existed since
the mid-1950s, the report appeared correct in noting Kim Jong-Pil's
key role in transforming the church from a minor Korean sect into
a potent international organization.
With alliances in place in Tokyo and Seoul,
the Unification Church next took aim at Washington.
In 1964, Bo Hi Pak, who was emerging as
one of Moon's most able lieutenants, moved to America and started
the Korean Cultural and Freedom Foundation, a front that performed
the dual purpose of helping Moon meet important Americans, while
assisting the KCIA in its international operations.
Bo Hi Pak named KCIA founder Kim Jong-Pil
to be the foundation's "honorary chairman." The foundation
also sponsored the KCIA's anti-communist propaganda outlets, such
as Radio of Free Asia, according to the congressional report on
the "Koreagate" scandal.__Moon's church also was active
in the Asian People's Anti-Communist League, a fiercely right-wing
group founded by the governments of South Korea and Taiwan. In
1966, the group expanded into the World Anti-Communist League,
an international alliance that brought together traditional conservatives
with former Nazis, overt racialists and Latin American "death
Retired U.S. Army Gen. John K. Singlaub,
a former WACL president, told me that "the Japanese [WACL]
chapter was taken over almost entirely by Moonies."
By the 1970s, the U.S. public was aware
of Moon and his church, but much of the attention was negative.
Parents complained that the church brainwashed their children
and pressured them to cut off contacts with their families, while
proclaiming Moon their "True Father."
The totalitarian nature of Moon's church
stood out in his staging of mass marriages, or "blessings,"
in which he would pair up husbands and wives who had never met.
Moon also regulated the sexual behavior of even his married followers,
a practice that replaced the more personal method of "blessing
the womb" that allegedly had prevailed in the church's early
In 1973, amid American reversals in Indochina,
alarm began to spread within Seoul's right-wing dictatorship about
the strength of the U.S. commitment to defend South Korea in case
of aggression from the communist North. Those fears led the KCIA,
long known for its gross human rights violations, to begin plotting
how to bolster its friends in the United States and undermine
Lee Jai Hyon, the chief cultural and information
attaché at the South Korean embassy in Washington, later
testified before the U.S. Congress that he sat in on a series
of meetings chaired by the KCIA's station chief, involving senior
Lee Jai Hyon described six sessions over
a five-week period in spring 1973 at which a conspiracy was outlined
to "manipulate," "coerce," "threaten,"
"co-opt," "seduce," and "buy off"
political and other leaders of the United States. Lee Jai Hyon
said one of the South Koreans participating in the operation was
Moon's top aide Bo Hi Pak.
At the time, Moon was raising concerns
among U.S. immigration authorities for bringing hundreds of foreign
followers to the United States on tourist visas and then assigning
them to mobile fund-raising teams.
But Moon, who owned property outside New
York City while maintaining a residence in South Korea, somehow
managed to secure a "green card" from the Nixon administration
on April 30, 1973. The permit making Moon a "lawful permanent
resident" also granted him more legal rights than would be
available to a foreign visitor.
"The advantages of using the First
Amendment were seen early," wrote Robert Boettcher, the former
staff director of the House Subcommittee on International Relations,
in his 1980 book, Gifts of Deceit. "Before Moon moved to
the United States in 1971, he and his small band of followers
realized the operation would have the most flexibility if it was
called a church. Businesses, political activities, and tax-exempt
status could be protected."
As Moon stepped up his activities, however,
the FBI soon began to suspect that Moon's activities had a political
motive. The FBI summary of its evidence about Moon's church was
marked by a number indicating that the Unification Church was
under a counter-intelligence investigation in the 1970s.
Although blacked-out portions obscured
who was stating some of the conclusions - an individual source
or the FBI - the report described the church as "an absolutely
totalitarian organization" which was part of an international
"conspiracy" that functioned by its own rules.
"One of the central doctrines of
the Moon relig[i]ous aspects is what they call heavenly deception,"
the FBI report said. "It basically says that to take from
Satan what rightfully belongs to God, you may do most anything.
You may lie, cheat, steal or kill."
Despite the FBI's concerns, Moon began
making friends in Washington the old-fashioned way: by spreading
around lots of money. Moon also had his followers cozy up to government
According to the FBI summary, Moon designated
"300 pretty girls" to lobby members of Congress. "They
were trying to influence United States senators and congressmen
on behalf of South Korea," the FBI document read.
"Moon had laid the foundation for
political work in this country prior to 1973 [though] his followers
became more openly involved in political activities in that and
subsequent years," a congressional investigative report on
the "Koreagate" influence-buying scandal stated in 1978.
The report added that Moon's organization
used his followers' travels to smuggle large sums of money into
the United States in apparent violation of federal currency laws.
Moon organized rallies in support of the
Vietnam War and in defense of President Richard Nixon during the
Watergate scandal. Moon sponsored a National Prayer and Fast Committee,
using the slogan: "forgive, love, unite." The public
rallies earned Moon a face-to-face "thank you" from
the embattled President on Feb. 1, 1974.
In late 1975, the CIA intercepted a secret
South Korean document entitled "1976 Plan for Operations
in the United States." In the name of "strengthening
the execution of the U.S. security commitment to the ROK [South
Korea]," it called for influencing U.S. public opinion by
penetrating American media, government and academia. __Thousands
of dollars were earmarked for "special manipulation"
of congressmen; their staffs were to be infiltrated with paid
"collaborators"; an "intelligence network"
was to be put into the White House; money was targeted for "manipulation"
of officials at the Pentagon, State Department and CIA; some U.S.
journalists were to be spied on, while others would be paid; a
"black newspaper" would be started in New York; contacts
with American scholars would be coordinated "with Psychological
Warfare Bureau"; and "an organizational network of anti-communist
fronts" would be created. __Several months later, in summer
1976, Moon returned to the United States and delivered a flattering
pro-U.S. speech at a red-white-and-blue flag-draped rally at the
"The United States of America, transcending
race and nationality, is already a model of the unified world,"
Moon declared on Sept. 18, 1976. Calling America "the chosen
nation of God," Moon said, "I not only respect America,
but truly love this nation."__While professing his love for
America in public, Moon shared with his followers a very different
sentiment in private. He despised American concepts of individuality
and democracy, believing that he was destined to rule through
a one-world theocracy that would eradicate all personal freedoms.
"Here's a man [Moon] who says he
wants to take over the world, where all religions will be abolished
except Unificationism, all languages will be abolished except
Korean, all governments will be abolished except his one-world
theocracy," Steve Hassan, a former church leader, told me.
"Yet he's wined and dined very powerful people and convinced
them that he's benign."
In 1976, Moon's search for growing influence
in the United States seemed to be following the KCIA script.
Moon started a small-circulation newspaper
in New York City that featured a column by civil rights leader
Jesse Jackson. Moon promoted the anti-communist cause through
front groups which held lavish conferences and paid speaking fees
to academics, journalists and political leaders.
In 1976, Moon, Bo Hi Pak and other church
members deepened their investments in the U.S. capital, buying
stock in the Washington-based Diplomat National Bank. Simultaneously,
South Korean agent Tongsun Park was investing heavily in the same
But the South Korean scheme backfired
in the late 1970s with the explosion of the "Koreagate"
scandal. Rep.Donald Fraser, a Democrat from Minnesota, led a congressional
probe which tracked Tongsun Park's influence-buying campaign and
exposed the KCIA links to the Unification Church.
The "Koreagate" investigation
revealed a sophisticated intelligence project run out of Seoul
that used the urbane Park as well as the mystical Moon to cultivate
U.S. politicians as influential friends of South Korea - and conversely
to undermine politicians who were viewed as enemies.
Though it's clear the church did collaborate
with the KCIA during the 1960s and 1970s, it's less clear whether
Moon was using the KCIA or it was using him. Most likely, the
relationship was symbiotic, each using the other to advance their
overlapping but different interests.
The alliance with the KCIA gave Moon political
protection and business opportunities, while the KCIA got a cover
for promoting South Korean interests inside the United States,
the country responsible for South Korea's defense.
The "Koreagate" investigation
traced the church's chief sources of money to bank accounts in
Japan, but could follow the cash no further. In the years since,
the sources of Moon's money have remained cloaked in secrecy.
In the mid-1990s when I inquired about
the vast fortune that the Unification Church has poured into its
American operations, the church's chief spokesman refused to divulge
dollar amounts for any of Moon's activities.
"Each year the church retains an
independent accounting firm to do a national audit and produce
an annual financial statement," wrote the church's legal
representative Peter D. Ross. "While this statement is used
in routine financial transactions by the church, [it] is not my
policy to make it otherwise available." __In 1978, Fraser
got a taste of the negative side of Moon's propaganda clout as
the South Korean religious leader's new U.S. conservative allies
mounted a strong defense against the "Koreagate" allegations.
In pro-Moon publications, Fraser and his
staff were pilloried as leftists. Anti-Moon witnesses were assailed
as unstable liars. Minor bookkeeping problems inside the investigation,
such as Fraser's salary advances to some staff members, were seized
upon to justify demands for an ethics probe of the congressman.
One of those letters, dated June 30, 1978,
was written by John T. "Terry" Dolan of the National
Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC). Dolan's group
was pioneering the strategy of "independent" TV attack
ads against liberal Democrats. In turn, Moon's CAUSA International
helped Dolan by contributing $500,000 to a Dolan group, known
as the Conservative Alliance or CALL. [Washington Post, Sept.
With support from Dolan and other conservatives,
Moon weathered the "Koreagate" political storm. Facing
questions about his patriotism, Fraser lost a Senate bid in 1978
and left Congress.
Though Moon had helped defeat his chief
congressional critic, the evidence unearthed by Fraser became
the foundation of a tax-fraud conviction of Moon in 1982 and his
sentencing to two years in federal prison.
A Media Empire
Despite his felony conviction, Moon pressed
ahead with his boldest bid for political influence. In 1982, Moon
launched the Washington Times._The Times was just what the Reagan
administration wanted, a reliable voice for its version of events
that would push the message into the public debate.
Though Moon would have to subsidize his
publications with hundreds of millions of dollars from his seemingly
bottomless pool of cash, the newspaper - over the next two decades
- would change the parameters of how the U.S. press corps works
and affect the course of U.S. presidential campaigns.
Where all that money came from, however,
would remain one of Washington's least examined secrets.
Authors Scott Anderson and Jon Lee Anderson
wrote in their 1986 book, Inside the League, that Sun Myung Moon
was one of five indispensable Asian leaders who made the World
Anti-Communist League possible.
The five were Taiwan's dictator Chiang
Kai-shek, South Korea's dictator Park Chung Hee, yakuza gangsters
Ryoichi Sasakawa and Yoshio Kodama, and Moon, "an evangelist
who planned to take over the world through the doctrine of 'Heavenly
Deception,'" the Andersons wrote.
WACL became a well-financed worldwide
organization after a secret meeting between Sasakawa and Moon,
along with two Kodama representatives, on a lake in Yamanashi
Prefecture, Japan. The purpose of the meeting was to create an
anti-communist organization that "would further Moon's global
crusade and lend the Japanese yakuza leaders a respectable new
façade," the Andersons wrote.
Mixing organized crime and political extremism,
of course, has a long tradition throughout the world. Violent
political movements often have blended with criminal operations
as a way to arrange covert funding, move operatives or acquire
Drug smuggling has proven to be a particularly
effective way to fill the coffers of extremist movements, especially
those that find ways to insinuate themselves within more legitimate
operations of sympathetic governments or intelligence services.
In the quarter century after World War
II, remnants of fascist movements managed to do just that. Shattered
by the major Allies - the United States, Great Britain and the
Soviet Union - the surviving fascists got a new lease on political
life with the start of the Cold War, helping both Western democracies
and right-wing dictatorships battle international communism.
Some Nazi leaders faced war-crimes tribunals
after World War II, but others managed to make their escapes along
"rat lines" to Spain or South America or they finagled
intelligence relationships with the victorious powers, especially
the United States.
Argentina became a natural haven given
the pre-war alliance that existed between the European fascists
and prominent Argentine military leaders, such as Juan Peron.
The fleeing Nazis also found like-minded right-wing politicians
and military officers across Latin America who already used repression
to keep down the indigenous populations and the legions of the
In the post-World War II years, some Nazi
war criminals chose reclusive lives, but others, such as former
SS officer Klaus Barbie, sold their intelligence skills to less-sophisticated
security services in countries like Bolivia or Paraguay._Other
Nazis on the lam trafficked in narcotics. Often the lines crossed
between intelligence operations and criminal conspiracies.
Auguste Ricord, a French war criminal
who had collaborated with the Gestapo, set up shop in Paraguay
and opened up the French Connection heroin channels to American
Mafia drug kingpin Santo Trafficante Jr., who controlled much
of the heroin traffic into the United States. Columns by Jack
Anderson identified Ricord's accomplices as some of Paraguay's
highest-ranking military officers. __Another French Connection
mobster, Christian David, relied on protection of Argentine authorities.
While trafficking in heroin, David also "took on assignments
for Argentina's terrorist organization, the Argentine Anti-Communist
Alliance," Henrik Kruger wrote in The Great Heroin Coup.
During President Nixon's "war on
drugs," U.S. authorities smashed the famous French Connection
and won extraditions of Ricord and David in 1972 to face justice
in the United States.
By the time the French Connection was
severed, however, powerful Mafia drug lords had forged strong
ties to South America's military leaders. An infrastructure for
the multi-billion-dollar drug trade, servicing the insatiable
U.S. market, was in place.
Trafficante-connected groups also recruited
displaced anti-Castro Cubans, who had ended up in Miami, needed
work, and possessed some useful intelligence skills gained from
the CIA's training for the Bay of Pigs and other clandestine operations.
Heroin from the Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia soon filled
the void left by the broken French Connection and its mostly Middle
Eastern heroin supply routes.
Enter Rev. Moon
During this time of transition, Sun Myung
Moon brought his evangelical message to South America. His first
visit to Argentina had occurred in 1965 when he blessed a square
behind the presidential Pink House in Buenos Aires. But he returned
a decade later to make more lasting friendships.
Moon first sank down roots in Uruguay
during the 12-year reign of right-wing military dictators who
seized power in 1973. He also cultivated close relations with
military dictators in Argentina, Paraguay and Chile, reportedly
ingratiating himself with the juntas by helping the military regimes
arrange arms purchases and by channeling money to allied right-wing
"Relationships nurtured with right-wing
Latin Americans in the [World Anti-Communist] League led to acceptance
of the [Unification] Church's political and propaganda operations
throughout Latin America," the Andersons wrote in Inside
"As an international money laundry,
the Church tapped into the capital flight havens of Latin America.
Escaping the scrutiny of American and European investigators,
the Church could now funnel money into banks in Honduras, Uruguay
and Brazil, where official oversight was lax or nonexistent."
In 1980, Moon made more friends in South
America when a right-wing alliance of Bolivia military officers
and drug dealers organized what became known as the Cocaine Coup.
WACL associates, such as Alfred Candia, coordinated the arrival
of some of the paramilitary operatives who assisted in the violent
Right-wing Argentine intelligence officers
mixed with a contingent of young European neo-fascists collaborating
with Nazi war criminal Barbie in carrying out the bloody coup
that overthrew the elected left-of-center government.
The victory put into power a right-wing
military dictatorship indebted to the drug lords. Bolivia became
South America's first narco-state.
One of the first well-wishers arriving
in La Paz to congratulate the new government was Moon's top lieutenant,
Bo Hi Pak. The Moon organization published a photo of Pak meeting
with the new strongman, General Garcia Meza.
After the visit to the mountainous capital,
Pak declared, "I have erected a throne for Father Moon in
the world's highest city." __According to later Bolivian
government and newspaper reports, a Moon representative invested
about $4 million in preparations for the coup. Bolivia's WACL
representatives also played key roles, and CAUSA, one of Moon's
anti-communist organizations, listed as members nearly all the
leading Bolivian coup-makers.
Soon, Colonel Luis Arce-Gomez, a coup
organizer and the cousin of cocaine kingpin Roberto Suarez, went
into partnership with big narco-traffickers, including Trafficante's
Cuban-American smugglers. Nazi war criminal Barbie and his young
neo-fascist followers found new work protecting Bolivia's major
cocaine barons and transporting drugs to the border.
"The paramilitary units - conceived
by Barbie as a new type of SS - sold themselves to the cocaine
barons," German journalist Kai Hermann wrote. "The attraction
of fast money in the cocaine trade was stronger than the idea
of a national socialist revolution in Latin America." [An
English translation of Hermann's article was published in Covert
Action Information Bulletin, Winter 1986] __A month after the
coup, General Garcia Meza participated in the Fourth Congress
of the Latin American Anti-Communist Confederation, an arm of
the World Anti-Communist League. Also attending that Fourth Congress
was WACL president Woo Jae Sung, a leading Moon disciple.
As the drug lords consolidated their power
in Bolivia, the Moon organization expanded its presence, too.
Hermann reported that in early 1981, war criminal Barbie and Moon
leader Thomas Ward were seen together in apparent prayer.
On May 31, 1981, Moon representatives
sponsored a CAUSA reception at the Sheraton Hotel's Hall of Freedom
in La Paz. Moon's lieutenant Bo Hi Pak and Bolivian strongman
Garcia Meza led a prayer for President Reagan's recovery from
an assassination attempt.
In his speech, Bo Hi Pak declared, "God
had chosen the Bolivian people in the heart of South America as
the ones to conquer communism." According to a later Bolivian
intelligence report, the Moon organization sought to recruit an
"armed church" of Bolivians, with about 7,000 Bolivians
receiving some paramilitary training.
But by late 1981, the cocaine taint of
Bolivia's military junta was so deep and the corruption so staggering
that U.S.-Bolivian relations were stretched to the breaking point.
"The Moon sect disappeared overnight
from Bolivia as clandestinely as they had arrived," Hermann
reported. __The Cocaine Coup leaders soon found themselves on
the run, too. Interior Minister Arce-Gomez was eventually extradited
to Miami and was sentenced to 30 years in prison for drug trafficking.
Drug lord Roberto Suarez got a 15-year prison term. General Garcia
Meza became a fugitive from a 30-year sentence imposed on him
in Bolivia for abuse of power, corruption and murder. Barbie was
returned to France to face a life sentence for war crimes. He
died in 1992. __But Moon's organization suffered few negative
repercussions from the Cocaine Coup. By the early 1980s, flush
with seemingly unlimited funds, Moon had moved on to promoting
himself with the new Republican administration in Washington.
An invited guest to the Reagan-Bush Inauguration, Moon made his
organization useful to President Reagan, Vice President Bush and
other leading Republicans.
An early concern of the Reagan administration
was the possibility that a popular movement - similar to the anti-Vietnam
War protests - would undermine the hard-line policies that the
new U.S. government considered indispensable for stopping the
spread of Soviet influence in Central America.
Staunch anticommunists in the administration
also suspected that some groups opposed to U.S. intervention in
the region could be discredited for holding suspect political
loyalties. Though Moon's organization itself had been exposed
by the "Koreagate" investigation as a foreign intelligence
operation, the administration still turned to it to help probe
the loyalty of Americans.
Starting in 1981, the FBI cooperated with
one of Moon's front groups during a five-year nationwide investigation
of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador
(CISPES), a domestic organization critical of Reagan's policies
in Central America.
According to FBI documents obtained by
Boston Globe reporter Ross Gelbspan, the FBI collected reports
from Moon's Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles
(CARP), which was spying on CISPES supporters. The reports came
from CARP members at 10 university campuses around the United
States and included commentaries on the purported political beliefs
of Reagan's critics. [Boston Globe, April 20, 1988]
One CARP report called a CISPES supporter
"well-educated in Marxism" while other CARP reports
attached "clippings culled from communist-inspired front
groups." The Globe investigation reported that Frank Varelli,
who worked for the FBI from 1981 to 1984 coordinating the CISPES
probe, said an FBI agent paid members of the Moon organization
at Southern Methodist University while the Moon activists were
raiding and disrupting CISPES rallies.
"Every week, an agent I worked with
used to go to SMU to pay the Moonies," Varelli said in an
interview. Because of the CARP harassment, CISPES closed its SMU
While Moon's organization was helping
to spy on American citizens, the case against Moon as a suspected
intelligence agent for South Korea was petering out. It's still
not clear why. __"I don't think there was any doubt that
the Moon newspaper took a virulently pro-South Korea position,"
Oliver "Buck" Revell, then a senior FBI official in
the national security area, told me. "But whether there was
something illegal about it..." His voice trailed off. As
for the internal security investigation of Moon, Revell added
only: "It led its full life."
Part Two: Mysterious Money
Where Moon gets his cash has been a long-time
mystery that few American conservatives have been eager to solve.
"Some Moonie-watchers even believe
that some of the business enterprises are actually covers for
drug trafficking," wrote Scott and Jon Lee Anderson. "Others
feel that, despite the disclosures of Koreagate, the Church has
simply continued to do the Korean government's international bidding
and is receiving official funds to do so."
While Moon's representatives have refused
to detail how they've sustained their far-flung activities - including
many businesses that insiders say lose money - Moon's spokesmen
have angrily denied recurring allegations about profiteering off
illegal trafficking in weapons and drugs.
In a typical response to a gun-running
question by the Argentine newspaper, Clarin, Moon's representative
Ricardo DeSena responded, "I deny categorically these accusations
and also the barbarities that are said about drugs and brainwashing.
Our movement responds to the harmony of the races, nations and
religions and proclaims that the family is the school of love."
[Clarin, July 7, 1996]
Without doubt, however, Moon's organization
has had a long record of association with organized crime figures,
including ones implicated in the drug trade. Besides collaborating
with Sasakawa and other leaders of the Japanese yakuza and the
Cocaine Coup government of Bolivia, Moon's organization developed
close ties with the Honduran military and the Nicaraguan contras
who were permeated with drug smugglers.
Moon's organization also used its political
clout in Washington to intimidate or discredit government officials
and journalists who tried to investigate those criminal activities.
In the mid-1980s, for instance, when journalists and congressional
investigators began probing the evidence of contra-connected drug
trafficking, they came under attacks from Moon's Washington Times.
An Associated Press story that I co-wrote
with Brian Barger about a Miami-based federal probe into gun-
and drug-running by the contras was denigrated in an April 11,
1986, front-page Washington Times article with the headline: "Story
on [contra] drug smuggling denounced as political ploy."
_ _When Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, conducted a Senate probe
and uncovered additional evidence of contra drug trafficking,
the Washington Times denounced him, too. The newspaper first published
articles depicting Kerry's probe as a wasteful political witch
hunt. "Kerry's anti-contra efforts extensive, expensive,
in vain," announced the headline of one Times article on
Aug. 13, 1986.
But when Kerry exposed more contra wrongdoing,
the Washington Times shifted tactics. In 1987 in front-page articles,
it began accusing Kerry's staff of obstructing justice because
their investigation was supposedly interfering with Reagan-Bush
administration efforts to get at the truth.
"Kerry staffers damaged FBI probe,"
said one Times article that opened with the assertion: "Congressional
investigators for Sen. John Kerry severely damaged a federal drug
investigation last summer by interfering with a witness while
pursuing allegations of drug smuggling by the Nicaraguan resistance,
federal law enforcement officials said." [Washington Times,
Jan. 21, 1987]
Despite the attacks, Kerry's contra-drug
investigation eventually concluded that a number of contra units
- both in Costa Rica and Honduras - were implicated in the cocaine
"It is clear that individuals who
provided support for the contras were involved in drug trafficking,
the supply network of the contras was used by drug trafficking
organizations, and elements of the contras themselves knowingly
received financial and material assistance from drug traffickers,"
Kerry's investigation stated in a report issued April 13, 1989.
"In each case, one or another agency of the U.S. government
had information regarding the involvement either while it was
occurring or immediately thereafter."
Kerry's investigation also found that
Honduras had become an important way station for cocaine shipments
heading north during the contra war.
"Elements of the Honduran military
were involved ... in the protection of drug traffickers from 1980
on," the report said. "These activities were reported
to appropriate U.S. government officials throughout the period.
Instead of moving decisively to close down the drug trafficking
by stepping up the DEA presence in the country and using the foreign
assistance the United States was extending to the Hondurans as
a lever, the United States closed the DEA office in Tegucigalpa
and appears to have ignored the issue." [Drug, Law Enforcement
and Foreign Policy - the Kerry Report - December 1988]
The Kerry investigation represented an
indirect challenge to Vice President George H.W. Bush, who had
been named by President Reagan to head the South Florida Task
Force for interdicting the flow of drugs into the United States
and was later put in charge of the National Narcotics Border Interdiction
In short, Bush was the lead official in
the U.S. government to cope with the drug trade, which he himself
had dubbed a national security threat.
If the American voters came to believe
that Bush had compromised his anti-drug responsibilities to protect
the image of the Nicaraguan contras and other rightists in Central
America, that judgment could have threatened the political future
of Bush and his politically ambitious family.
By publicly challenging press and congressional
investigations of this touchy subject, the Washington Times helped
keep an unfavorable media spotlight from swinging in the direction
of the Vice President.
The evidence shows that there was much
more to the contra drug issue than either the Reagan-Bush administration
or Moon's organization wanted the American people to know in the
The evidence - assembled over the years
by investigators at the CIA, the Justice Department and other
federal agencies - indicates that Bolivia's Cocaine Coup operatives
were only the first in a line of clever drug smugglers that tried
to squeeze under the protective umbrella of Reagan's favorite
covert operation, the contra war. [For details, see Robert Parry,
Lost History, or for a summary of the contra-drug evidence, see
Consortiumnews.com's "Gary Webb's Death: American Tragedy."]
Other cocaine smugglers soon followed,
cozying up to the contras and sharing some of the profits, as
a way to minimize investigative interest by the Reagan-Bush law
The contra-connected smugglers included
the Medellin cartel, the Panamanian government of Manuel Noriega,
the Honduran military, the Honduran-Mexican smuggling ring of
Ramon Matta Ballesteros, and the Miami-based anti-Castro Cubans
with their connections to Mafia operations throughout the United
The drug traffickers' strategy also worked.
In some cases, U.S. intelligence officials bent over backwards
not to take timely notice of contra-connected drug trafficking
out of fear that fuller investigations would embarrass the contras
and their patrons in the Reagan-Bush administration.
For instance, on Oct. 22, 1982, a cable
written by the CIA's Directorate of Operations stated, "There
are indications of links between [a U.S. religious organization]
and two Nicaraguan counter-revolutionary groups. These links involve
an exchange in [the United States] of narcotics for arms."
The cable added that the participants
were planning a meeting in Costa Rica for such a deal. When the
cable arrived, senior CIA officials were concerned. On Oct. 27,
CIA headquarters asked for more information from a U.S. law enforcement
The law enforcement agency expanded on
its report by telling the CIA that representatives of the contra
FDN and another contra force, the UDN, would be meeting with several
unidentified U.S. citizens. But then, the CIA reversed itself,
deciding that it wanted no more information on the grounds that
U.S. citizens were involved.
"In light of the apparent participation
of U.S. persons throughout, agree you should not pursue the matter
further," CIA headquarters wrote on Nov. 3, 1982. Two weeks
later, after discouraging additional investigation, CIA headquarters
suggested it might be necessary to knock down the allegations
of a guns-for-drugs deal as "misinformation."
The CIA's Latin American Division, however,
responded on Nov. 18, 1982, that several contra officials had
gone to San Francisco for the meetings with supporters, presumably
as part of the same guns-for-drugs deal. But the CIA inspector
general found no additional information about that deal in CIA
Also, by keeping the names censored when
the documents were released in 1998, the CIA prevented outside
investigators from examining whether the "U.S. religious
organization" had any affiliation with Moon's network of
quasi-religious groups, which were assisting the contras at that
As Moon continued to expand his influence
in American politics, some Republicans began to raise red flags.
In 1983, the GOP's moderate Ripon Society
charged that the New Right had entered "an alliance of expediency"
with Moon's church. Ripon's chairman, Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa,
released a study which alleged that the College Republican National
Committee "solicited and received" money from Moon's
Unification Church in 1981. The study also accused Reed Irvine's
Accuracy in Media of benefiting from low-cost or volunteer workers
supplied by Moon.__Leach said the Unification Church has "infiltrated
the New Right and the party it wants to control, the Republican
Party, and infiltrated the media as well." Leach's news conference
was disrupted when then-college GOP leader Grover Norquist accused
Leach of lying. (Norquist is now a prominent conservative leader
in Washington with close ties to the highest levels of George
W. Bush's administration.) __Despite periodic fretting over Moon's
influence, American conservatives continued to accept his deep-pocket
assistance. When White House aide Oliver North was scratching
for support for the Nicaraguan contras, for instance, the Washington
Times established a contra fund-raising operation.
By the mid-1980s, Moon's Unification Church
had carved out a niche as an acceptable part of the American Right.
In one speech to his followers, Moon boasted that "without
knowing it, even President Reagan is being guided by Father [Moon]."__Yet,
Moon also made clear that his longer-range goal was destroying
the U.S. Constitution and America's democratic form of government.
"History will make the position of
Reverend Moon clear, and his enemies, the American population
and government will bow down to him," Moon said, speaking
of himself in the third person. "That is Father's tactic,
the natural subjugation of the American government and population."__In
September 1987, conservative columnist Andrew Ferguson cited some
of Moon's anti-American sentiments as cause for concern, despite
his appealing anticommunism.
"There is little else in Unificationism
that American conservatives will find compelling," except,
of course, the money, Ferguson wrote in the American Spectator.
"They're the best in town as far as putting their money with
their mouth is," Ferguson quoted one Washington-based conservative
Though Moon's money sources remained shrouded
in secrecy, his cash undeniably gave the Right an edge over its
After the Iran-Contra scandal exploded
in fall 1986, the Washington Times and other Moon-related organizations
rushed to the battlements to defend Reagan's White House and Oliver
Ronald S. Godwin, who was a link between
Rev. Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority and Moon's Washington Times,
raised funds for North through a group called the Interamerican
Partnership, which was a forerunner to North's own Freedom Alliance.
[See Common Cause Magazine, Fall 1993]__Another Moon-connected
group, the American Freedom Coalition, went to bat for North.
According to Andrew Leigh, who worked for a Moon front called
Global Image Associates, AFC broadcast a pro-North video, "Ollie
North: Fight for Freedom," more than 600 times on more than
100 TV stations.
Leigh quoted one AFC official as saying
that AFC received $5 million to $6 million from business interests
associated with Moon. AFC also bragged that it helped put George
H.W. Bush into the White House in 1988 by distributing 30 million
pieces of political literature. [Washington Post, Oct. 15, 1989]
When Vice President Bush was struggling
in his 1988 presidential campaign against Democratic nominee,
Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, Moon's Washington Times
came to the rescue again publishing a slanted story about Dukakis's
Times reporter Gene Grabowski had interviewed
a Dukakis relative and asked whether Dukakis had ever sought psychiatric
help during a low period in his life. "It's possible, but
I doubt it," the relative responded.
Grabowski's editors, however, snipped
out the phrase "but I doubt it" while keeping the phrase
"it's possible" and then spotlighting the story under
a headline, "Dukakis Kin Hints at Sessions."
Dukakis's supposedly questionable mental
health became an important theme for the Republicans. President
Reagan personally underscored the message by referring to Dukakis
as a "cripple," which forced more mainstream publications
to reprise the suspicions about the suspected psychiatric treatment.
The story spread doubts among the electorate
about Dukakis's fitness for office. For his part, Grabowski, a
former Associated Press reporter, resigned in protest of the distortion,
but by then the damage to Dukakis was done.
But even as Moon consolidated his influence
in Washington during the 12-year Reagan-Bush reign, Moon's weird
behavior was splitting the church leadership and making some American
In 1989, published reports disclosed that
Moon had declared that one of his sons, Heung Jin Moon who died
in a car crash in 1984, had come back to life in the body of a
church member from Zimbabwe.
The muscular African - known inside the
church as the "black Heung Jin" - then compelled church
leaders to stand before him and engage in humiliating self-criticisms,
sometimes making them sing songs. __During one of these rituals
in December 1988, the Zimbabwean severely beat longtime Moon lieutenant
Bo Hi Pak, who was then publisher of the Washington Times. Pak
reportedly suffered brain damage and impaired speech from the
assault, which church sources told me had been sanctioned by Moon
after Pak had fallen out of favor. Afterwards, Pak was transferred
back to Asia.
Commenting on the beating of Pak, former
Washington Times editor William P. Cheshire wrote, "Where
the Moonies are concerned, it seems clear, we are dealing with
something besides just an exotic cult. The Pak beating smacks
strongly of Jonestown [the site of a mass murder-suicide by a
"And with Moon lavishing hundreds
of millions of dollars a year on newspapers, magazines and political-action
groups in this country and abroad, such occult and aggressive
practices give rise to secular apprehensions. If the 'reincarnation'
doesn't rock those conservative shops that have been taking money
from Moon, not even fire-breathing dragons would disturb them."
[San Diego Union-Tribune, April 9, 1989]_ _But Moon's organization
had proved itself too valuable to be cast aside, regardless of
the strange behavior and the questionable sources of money. By
the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Washington Times was the daily
billboard where conservatives placed their messages to each other
and to the outside world.
In 1991, when conservative commentator
Wesley Pruden was named the new editor of the Washington Times,
President George H.W. Bush invited Pruden to a private White House
lunch. The purpose, Bush explained, was "just to tell you
how valuable the Times has become in Washington, where we read
it every day." [Washington Times, May 17, 1992]
Government documents showed that the Reagan-Bush
team was shielding Moon's operation from investigations at the
same time Moon's newspaper was doing the same for the administration.
According to Justice Department documents
released under the Freedom of Information Act, federal authorities
were rebuffing hundreds of requests - many from common citizens
- for examination of Moon's foreign ties and money sources.
Typical of the responses was a May 18,
1989, letter from Assistant Attorney General Carol T. Crawford
rejecting the possibility that Moon's organization be required
to divulge its foreign-funded propaganda under the Foreign Agent
Registration Act (FARA).
"With respect to FARA, the Department
is faced with First Amendment considerations involving the free
exercise of religion," Crawford said. "As you know,
the First Amendment's protection of religious freedom is not limited
to the traditional, well-established religions."__A 1992
PBS documentary about Moon's political empire and its free-spending
habits started another flurry of citizen demands for an investigation,
according to the Justice Department files.
One letter from a private citizen to the
Justice Department stated, "I write in consternation and
disgust at the apparent support, or at least the sheltering, of
the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, a foreign agent ... who has subverted
the American political system for the past 20 years. ... Did Reagan
and/or Bush receive financial support from Moon or his agents
during any of their election campaigns in violation of federal
law?" __Another letter complained that "apparently Moon
gave the Bush and Reagan campaigns millions of dollars in support
and helped fund the [Nicaraguan] contras as well as sponsoring
rallys [sic] in 50 states to support the Persian Gulf war. No
wonder the Justice Department turns a blind eye?"__"I
feel it is necessary to find out who is financing the operation
and why other countries are trying to direct the policies of the
United States," wrote another citizen. "If even one-half
of the allegations are true, Moon and his assistants belong in
jail rather than being welcomed and supported at the highest level
As public demands mounted for Moon and
his front groups to register as foreign agents, the Justice Department
added a new argument to its reasons to say no. In an Aug. 19,
1992, letter, Assistant Attorney General Robert S. Mueller dismissed
a suggestion that the Moon-backed American Freedom Council should
register under FARA because Moon, a South Korean citizen, had
obtained U.S. resident-alien status - or a "green card."
Mueller, who is now FBI director, wrote
that "in the absence of a foreign principal, there is no
requirement for registration. The Reverend Sun Myung Moon enjoys
the status of permanent resident alien in the United States and
therefore does not fall within FARA's definition of foreign principal.
It follows that the Act is not applicable to the [American Freedom]
Council because of its association with Reverend Moon." __Ironically,
Mueller, who went out of his way to find reasons not to investigate
Moon, touts in his official FBI biography his background investigating
and prosecuting "major financial fraud, terrorist and public
corruption cases, as well as narcotics conspiracies and international
money launderers."_ _Hidden Money
Some prominent figures on the American
Right went to great lengths to conceal their financial connections
to Moon, making sure his assistance passed through several hands
before it got to their pockets.
For instance, on Jan. 28, 1995, a beaming
Rev. Jerry Falwell told his Old Time Gospel Hour congregation
news that seemed heaven sent. The rotund televangelist hailed
two Virginia businessmen as financial saviors of debt-ridden Liberty
University, the fundamentalist Christian school that Falwell had
made the crown jewel of his Religious Right empire.__"They
had to borrow money, hock their houses, hock everything,"
said Falwell. "Thank God for friends like Dan Reber and Jimmy
Thomas." Falwell's congregation rose as one to applaud. The
star of the moment was Daniel Reber, who was standing behind Falwell.
Thomas was not present.__Reber and Thomas earned Falwell's public
gratitude by excusing the Lynchburg, Virginia, school of about
one-half of its $73 million debt. In the late 1980s, that flood
of red ink had forced Falwell to abandon his Moral Majority political
organization and the debt nearly drowned Liberty University in
Reber and Thomas came to Falwell's rescue
in the nick of time. Their non-profit Christian Heritage Foundation
of Forest, Virginia, snapped up a big chunk of Liberty's debt
for $2.5 million, a fraction of its face value. Thousands of small
religious investors who had bought church construction bonds through
a Texas company were the big losers.
But Falwell was joyous. He told local
reporters that the moment was "the greatest single day of
financial advantage" in the school's history.
Left unmentioned in the happy sermon was
the identity of the bigger guardian angel who had appeared at
the propitious moment to protect Falwell's financial interests.
Falwell's secret benefactor was Sun Myung Moon, the self-proclaimed
South Korean messiah who is controversial with many fundamentalist
Christians because of his strange Biblical interpretations and
his alleged brainwashing of thousands of young Americans, often
shattering their bonds with their biological families.
Covertly, Moon had helped bail out Liberty
University through one of his front groups which funneled $3.5
million to the Reber-Thomas Christian Heritage Foundation, the
non-profit that had purchased the school's debt.
I discovered this Moon-Falwell connection
while looking for something else: how much Moon's Women's Federation
for World Peace had paid former President George H.W. Bush for
a series of speeches in Asia in 1995. I obtained the federation's
Internal Revenue Service records but discovered that Bush's undisclosed
speaking fee was buried in a line item of $13.6 million for conference
expenses.__There was, however, another listing for a $3.5 million
"educational" grant to the Christian Heritage Foundation.
A call to the Virginia corporate records office confirmed that
the foundation was the one run by Reber and Thomas.
In a subsequent interview, the Women Federation's
vice president Susan Fefferman confirmed that the $3.5 million
grant had gone to "Mr. Falwell's people" for the benefit
of Liberty University. "It was Dan Reber," she said.
But she could not recall much else about the grant, even though
it was by far the largest single grant awarded by the federation
that year. __For details on the grant, Fefferman referred me to
Keith Cooperrider, the federation's treasurer. Cooperrider was
also the chief financial officer of Moon's Washington Times and
a longtime Unification Church functionary._Cooperrider did not
return calls seeking comment. Falwell and Reber also failed to
respond to my calls, though Falwell later defended his acceptance
of the money by saying it had no influence on his ministry.
"If the American Atheists Society
or Saddam Hussein himself ever sent an unrestricted gift to any
of my ministries," Falwell said, "be assured I will
operate on Billy Sunday's philosophy: The Devil's had it long
enough, and quickly cash the check." [See "Moon-Related
Funds Filter to Evangelicals," Christianity Today, posted
on Web, Feb. 9, 1998]
But the public record also reveals that
Falwell solicited Moon's help in bailing out Liberty University.
In a lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court of Bedford County - a
community in southwestern Virginia - two of Reber's former business
associates alleged that Reber and Falwell flew to South Korea
on Jan. 9, 1994, on a seven-day "secret trip" to meet
"with representatives of the Unification Church."
The court document states that Reber and
Falwell were accompanied to South Korea by Ronald S. Godwin, who
had been executive director of Falwell's Moral Majority before
signing on as vice president of Moon's Washington Times.__According
to Bedford County court records, Reber, Falwell and Godwin also
had discussions at Liberty University in 1993 with Dong Moon Joo,
one of Moon's right-hand men and president of the Washington Times.
Though Reber was queried about the purposes
of the Moon-connected meetings in the court papers, he settled
the business dispute before responding to interrogatories or submitting
to a deposition. He denied any legal wrongdoing. __But Moon's
secret financial ties to Falwell raised some sensitive political
questions since the bail-out came at a time when Falwell was collaborating
with other conservatives who were producing videos that accused
President Bill Clinton of murder and cocaine trafficking.
The videos - "Circle of Power"
and "The Clinton Chronicles" - were produced by Pat
Matrisciana and Larry Nichols and were distributed nationwide
by Falwell's Liberty Alliance.
Reaching hundreds of thousands of viewers,
the videos helped stoke the fires of the "Clinton scandals,"
which kept the Clinton administration on the political defensive
for much of its eight years and helped create the hostile environment
that made the Clinton impeachment possible in 1998.
Did the $3.5 million from Moon's front
group give Falwell the means to become a national pitchman for
the conspiracy videos? Did Moon help bankroll the scandal mongering
as part of a design to cripple the Clinton Presidency and pave
the way for an administration more to Moon's liking?
Although the most serious allegations
in the videos lacked any credible evidence, the Christian Right's
Citizens for Honest Government continued to peddle the allegations
of Clinton-connected cocaine smuggling through the Mena, Arkansas,
airport in another video, "The Mena Cover-up."
In a promotional letter, the group's president,
Pat Matrisciana, declared that "with Bill Clinton in the
White House, it is entirely possible - even probable - that U.S.
government policy at the highest levels is being controlled by
the narcotics kingpins in Colombia."
The irony of the allegation, however,
was that Falwell's financial angel - Sun Myung Moon - was the
one with mysterious connections to South American drug lords dating
back at least to his cozy relations with Bolivia's Cocaine Coup
in the early 1980s.
Moon, whose history also included close
ties to the Asian yakuza crime organization and longstanding allegations
of money laundering, had achieved extraordinary influence at the
highest levels of the U.S. government by funneling billions of
dollars into conservative and Republican causes.
Still, the Mena accusations against Clinton
were kept alive through the 1990s by right-wingers although a
two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Banking
Committee failed to turn up any incriminating evidence.
"We haven't come up with anything
to support these allegations concerning then-Governor Clinton,"
committee spokesman David Runkel told me. But the Republican-controlled
committee held off on publishing a long-promised report that would
have formally cleared Clinton.
Falwell reached a conclusion, too, that
the "Clinton Chronicles" may have been unfair, but he
still refused to apologize to Clinton. On CNBC's "Rivera
Live" on March 25, 1998, Falwell said, "If I had it
to do all over again, I wouldn't do it, and I'm sorry I did."
But he immediately sought to push the
blame back onto Clinton: "The fact is the President has over
these last five years, there's just a continual cloud. And - I
would think that he himself would want to get this behind him
and deal with it forthrightly."
Part Three: Hating America
By the mid-1990s, Sun Myung Moon represented
a potential embarrassment to the American Right because Moon had
grown harshly anti-American after his political ally, George H.W.
Bush, was ousted from office.
The conservatives were lucky that few
American news outlets were interested in the increasingly bizarre
utterances from the South Korean benefactor of U.S. conservative
In earlier years, though privately disdaining
America's concept of individual liberty, Moon publicly stressed
his love for the United States. On Sept. 18, 1976, for instance,
Moon staged a red-white-and-blue flag-draped rally at the Washington
Monument, declaring that "I not only respect America, but
truly love this nation." __Even years later, Unification
Church recruiters would show that video to young Americans. One
recruit, college freshman John Stacey, was impressed with the
patriotic images after he was shown the video by the Moon front,
Collegiate Association for Research of Principles (CARP).
"American flags were everywhere,"
recalled Stacey, a thin young man from central New Jersey. "The
first video they showed me was Reverend Moon praising America
and praising Christianity." In 1992, Stacey considered himself
a patriotic American and a faithful Christian.
Stacey soon joined the Unification Church
and rose to become a Pacific Northwest leader in CARP. "They
liked to hang me up because I'm young and I'm American,"
Stacey told me. "It's a good image for the church. They try
to create the all-American look."
But Stacey gradually discovered a different
reality. At a 1995 leadership conference at a church compound
in Anchorage, Alaska, Stacey met face-to-face with Moon who was
sitting on a throne-like chair while a group of American followers,
many middle-aged converts from the 1970s, sat at his feet like
"Reverend Moon looked at me straight
in the eye and said, 'America is Satanic. America is so Satanic
that even hamburgers should be considered evil, because they come
from America,'" Stacey said. "Hamburgers! My father
was a butcher, so that bothered me. ... I started feeling that
I was betraying my country."
Moon's criticism of Jesus also unsettled
Stacey. "In the church, it's very anti-Jesus," Stacey
said. "Jesus failed miserably. He died a lonely death. Reverend
Moon is the hero that comes and saves pathetic Jesus. Reverend
Moon is better than God. ... That's why I left the Moonies. Because
it started to feel like idolatry. He's promoting idolatry."
After years in the sunlight of acceptance
from the Reagan-Bush administrations, Moon's entered years of
eclipse as his influence faded during the Clinton administration
and his animosity toward the United States grew.
"America has become the kingdom of
individualism, and its people are individualists," Moon preached
in Tarrytown, N.Y., on March 5, 1995. "You must realize that
America has become the kingdom of Satan."
In a speech to his followers on Aug. 4,
1996, Moon vowed that the church's eventual dominance over the
United States would be followed by the liquidation of American
individualism and the establishment of Moon's theocratic rule.
"Americans who continue to maintain
their privacy and extreme individualism are foolish people,"
Moon declared. "The world will reject Americans who continue
to be so foolish. 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 same sermon, Moon decried assertive American women.
"American women have the tendency
to consider that women are in the subject position," he said.
"However, woman's shape is like that of a receptacle. The
concave shape is a receiving shape. Whereas, the convex shape
symbolizes giving. ... Since man contains the seed of life, he
should plant it in the deepest place. Does woman contain the seed
of life? Absolutely not. Then if you desire to receive the seed
of life, you have to become an absolute object. In order to qualify
as an absolute object, you need to demonstrate absolute faith,
love and obedience to your subject. Absolute obedience means that
you have to negate yourself 100 percent."
Though Moon had downplayed his provocative
sexual beliefs since coming to America, sometimes the old themes
popped up. After Moon spoke in Minneapolis on Oct. 26, 1996, a
reporter for the Unification News, an internal newsletter, commented
that "what the audience heard was not the usual things that
one would expect to hear from a minister. Reverend Moon's talk
included a very frank discussion of the purpose, role and true
value of the sexual organs." [See Unification News, December
1996]_ _On May 1, 1997, Moon told a group of followers that "the
country that represents Satan's harvest is America." Moon
also declared that "Satan created this kind of Hell on Earth,"
the United States. He again denounced American women as having
"inherited the line of prostitutes. American women are even
worse because they practice free sex just because they enjoy it."__Lashing
out at the United States again, Moon decried American tolerance
of homosexuals, whom he likened to "dirty dung-eating dogs."
For Americans who "truly love such dogs," Moon said,
"they also become like dung-eating dogs and produce that
quality of life." [Washington Post, Nov. 23-24, 1997]__Bush
to the Rescue
In fall 1996, another of Sun Myung Moon's
forays into the high-priced world of media and politics was in
trouble. South American journalists were writing scathingly about
his plan to open a regional newspaper that Moon hoped would give
him the same influence in Latin America that the Washington Times
had in the United States.
As publication day ticked closer for Moon's
Tiempos del Mundo, leading South American newspapers recounted
unsavory chapters of Moon's history, including his links with
South Korea's fearsome intelligence service and with violent anticommunist
organizations that bordered on neo-fascist.
Moon's disciples fumed about the critical
stories and accused the Argentine news media of trying to sabotage
Moon's plans for an inaugural gala in Buenos Aires on Nov. 23,
1996. "The local press was trying to undermine the event,"
complained the church's internal newsletter, Unification News.
__Given the controversy, Argentina's president, Carlos Menem,
rejected Moon's invitation. But Moon had a trump card to play
in his bid for South American respectability: the endorsement
of an ex-President of the United States, George H.W. Bush.
Agreeing to speak at the newspaper's launch,
Bush flew aboard a private plane, arriving in Buenos Aires on
Nov. 22. Bush stayed at Menem's official residence, the Olivos,
though Bush's presence didn't change Menem's mind about attending
Still, as the biggest VIP at the inaugural
gala, Bush saved the day, Moon's followers gushed. "Mr. Bush's
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 [Moon's offspring]
just a few feet from the podium" where Bush spoke before
about 900 of Moon's guests at the Sheraton Hotel.
"I want to salute Reverend Moon,
who is the founder of the Washington Times and also of Tiempos
del Mundo," Bush declared. "A lot of my friends in South
America don't 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. I am convinced that Tiempos del Mundo is going to do the
same thing" in Latin America. __Bush's speech was so effusive
that it surprised even Moon's followers. "Once again, heaven
turned a disappointment into a victory," the Unification
News exulted. "Everyone was delighted to hear his compliments.
We knew he would give an appropriate and 'nice' speech, but praise
in Father's presence was more than we expected. ... It was vindication.
We could just hear a sigh of relief from Heaven." __While
Bush's assertion about Moon's newspaper as a voice of "sanity"
may be a matter of opinion, Bush's vouching for the Washington
Times' editorial independence simply wasn't true.
Almost since it opened in 1982, a string
of senior editors and correspondents have resigned, citing the
manipulation of the news by Moon and his subordinates. The first
editor, James Whelan, resigned in 1984, confessing that "I
have blood on my hands" for helping Moon's church achieve
But Bush's boosterism was just what Moon
needed in South America. "The day after," the Unification
News observed, "the press did a 180-degree about-turn once
they realized that the event had the support of a U.S. President."
With Bush's help, Moon had gained another beachhead for his worldwide
business-religious-political-media empire. __After the event,
Menem told reporters from La Nacion that Bush had claimed privately
to be only a mercenary who did not really know Moon. "Bush
told me he came and charged money to do it," Menem said.
[La Nacion, Nov. 26, 1996].
But Bush was not telling Menem the whole
story. By fall 1996, Bush and Moon had been working in political
tandem for at least a decade and a half. The ex-President also
had been earning huge speaking fees as a front man for Moon for
more than a year. __In September 1995, Bush and his wife, Barbara,
gave six speeches in Asia for the Women's Federation for World
Peace, a group led by Moon's wife, Hak Ja Han Moon. In one speech
on Sept. 14 to 50,000 Moon supporters in Tokyo, Bush insisted
that "what really counts is faith, family and friends."
Mrs. Moon followed the ex-President to
the podium and announced that "it has to be Reverend Moon
to save the United States, which is in decline because of the
destruction of the family and moral decay."[Washington Post,
Sept. 15, 1995] __In summer 1996, Bush was lending his prestige
to Moon again. Bush addressed the Moon-connected Family Federation
for World Peace in Washington, an event that gained notoriety
when comedian Bill Cosby tried to back out of his contract after
learning of Moon's connection. Bush had no such qualms. [Washington
Post, July 30, 1996] __Throughout these public appearances for
Moon, Bush's office refused to divulge how much Moon-affiliated
organizations have paid the ex-President. But estimates of Bush's
fee for the Buenos Aires appearance alone ran between $100,000
and $500,000. Sources close to the Unification Church have put
the total Bush-Moon package in the millions, with one source telling
me that Bush stood to make as much as $10 million total from Moon's
organization. __The senior George Bush may have had a political
motive as well. By 1996, sources close to Bush were saying the
ex-President was working hard to enlist well-to-do conservatives
and their money behind the presidential candidacy of his son,
George W. Bush. Moon was one of the deepest pockets in right-wing
Fishing for Influence
In a sermon on Jan. 2, 1996, Moon was
unusually blunt about how he expected the church's wealth to buy
influence among the powerful in South America, just as it did
"Father has been practicing the philosophy
of fishing here," Moon said, through an interpreter who spoke
of Moon in the third person. "He [Moon] gave the bait to
Uruguay and then the bigger fish of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay
kept their mouths open, waiting for a bigger bait silently. The
bigger the fish, the bigger the mouth. Therefore, Father is able
to hook them more easily." __As part of his business strategy,
Moon explained that he would dot the continent with small airstrips
and construct bases for submarines which could evade Coast Guard
patrols. His airfield project would allow tourists to visit "hidden,
untouched, small places" throughout South America, he said.
"Therefore, they need small airplanes
and small landing strips in the remote countryside," Moon
said. "In the near future, we will have many small airports
throughout the world." Moon wanted the submarines because
"there are so many restrictions due to national boundaries
worldwide. If you have a submarine, you don't have to be bound
in that way." __(As strange as Moon's submarine project might
sound, a cable from the U.S. Embassy in Japan, dated Feb. 18,
1994, cited press reports that a Moon-connected Japanese company,
Toen Shoji, had bought 40 Russian submarines. The subs were supposedly
bound for North Korea where they were to be dismantled and melted
down as scrap.)__Moon also recognized the importance of media
in protecting his curious operations, which sounded a lot like
an invitation to drug traffickers.
He boasted to his followers that with
his vast array of political and media assets, he will dominate
the new Information Age. "That is why Father has been combining
and organizing scholars from all over the world, and also newspaper
organizations - in order to make propaganda," Moon said.
With his background and prominence, Moon
and his organization would seem a natural attraction for U.S.
government scrutiny. But Moon may have purchased insurance against
any intrusive investigation by buying so many powerful American
politicians that Washington's power centers can no more afford
the scrutiny than he can.
Even as he turned his back on the United
States in the 1990s, Moon remembered to keep up some of his important
friendships in the United States. In 1997, his Washington Times
Foundation made a $1 million-plus donation to George H.W. Bush's
presidential library in Texas. [Washington Post, Nov. 24, 1997]
Despite his confidence about hooking fish,
Moon's relocation to Uruguay didn't go entirely without a hitch.
More evidence surfaced about Moon's alleged South American money
In 1996, the Uruguayan bank employees
union blew the whistle on one scheme in which some 4,200 female
Japanese followers of Moon allegedly walked into the Moon-controlled
Banco de Credito in Montevideo and deposited as much as $25,000
The money from the women went into the
account of an anonymous association called Cami II, which was
controlled by Moon's Unification Church. In one day, Cami II received
$19 million and, by the time the parade of women ended, the total
had swelled to about $80 million.
It was not clear where the money originated,
nor how many other times Moon's organization has used this tactic
- sometimes known as "smurfing" - to transfer untraceable
cash into Uruguay. Authorities did not push the money-laundering
investigation, apparently out of deference to Moon's political
influence and fear of disrupting Uruguay's banking industry.
Still, Opus Dei, a powerful Roman Catholic
group, and some investigative journalists kept up pressure for
a fuller examination of financial irregularities at Moon's bank.
Sometimes, the critics found their work a risky business._In January
1997, only two months after the money-laundering flap, Pablo Alfano,
a reporter for El Observador who had been investigating Moon's
operations, was kidnapped by two unidentified men. The men claimed
not to belong to Moon's Unification Church, but threatened Alfano
at gunpoint unless he revealed his sources on Moon's operations.__One
gunman shoved a revolver into Alfano's mouth and warned "this
is no joke." After holding Alfano for 30 minutes, the gunmen
returned the reporter to his house, with a warning that they knew
his movements and those of his family. Despite the threats, the
reporter said he refused to disclose his sources. But the message
was clear: he should drop his investigation. [fn, FBIS, Jan. 30,
1997.]__Other critics condemned Moon's heavy-handed tactics. "The
first thing we ought to do is clarify to the people [of Uruguay]
that Moon's sect is a type of modern pirate that came to the country
to perform obscure money operations, such as money laundering,"
said Jorge Zabalza, who was a leader of the Movimiento de Participacion
Popular, part of Montevideo's ruling left-of-center political
coalition. "This sect is a kind of religious mob that is
trying to get public support to pursue its business."__Finally,
in 1998, Uruguayan Central Bank president Ramon Diaz pushed the
long-whispered allegations against Moon's bank into the parliamentary
record. Diaz accused Banco de Credito of violating financial rules,
operating at a constant loss, practicing dubious credit policies
with insolvent customers and holding inadequate cash reserves.__Diaz
demanded that the bank add $30 million in capital within 48 hours
or face government intervention. Within hours, panicked customers
pulled $10 million in deposits out of the bank. Diaz's goal of
forcing Moon to sell the bank seemed within reach. One senator
claimed that Diaz hoped an Argentine investment group would step
in and take over the bank. __Moon proved, however, that his seemingly
bottomless well of cash could fill the bank's vaults in a crisis.
Before the 48-hour deadline, Moon transferred $30 million into
the ailing bank and retained control. Banco de Credito continued
to suffer chronic financial troubles. The bank again slipped into
a deficit estimated at $120 million. __On September 18, 1998,
Uruguay's central bank intervened to seize control of the management
of Moon's Banco de Credito. The action followed a warning a day
earlier that the bank was violating the nation's liquidity rules
by running massive debts and was in need of recapitalization.
Instead, Moon-connected companies took out an additional $35 million
in loans, leaving the bank effectively devoid of assets. Uruguay's
bank controller put the bank's accumulated debt at $161 million.
Moon's need to "crater" one
of his principal financial institutions was not the sign of an
up-and-up businessman who simply supported political projects
because he had plenty of extra money and a strong sense of civic
In Nansook Moon's 1998 memoirs, In the
Shadow of the Moons, Moon's ex-daughter-in-law - writing under
her maiden name Nansook Hong - alleged that Moon's organization
had engaged in a long-running conspiracy to smuggle cash into
the United States and to deceive U.S. Customs agents.
"The Unification Church was a cash
operation," Nansook Hong wrote. "I watched Japanese
church leaders arrive at regular intervals at East Garden [the
Moon compound north of New York City] with paper bags full of
money, which the Reverend Moon would either pocket or distribute
to the heads of various church-owned business enterprises at his
"The Japanese had no trouble bringing
the cash into the United States; they would tell customs agents
that they were in America to gamble at Atlantic City. In addition,
many businesses run by the church were cash operations, including
several Japanese restaurants in New York City. I saw deliveries
of cash from church headquarters that went directly into the wall
safe in Mrs. Moon's closet."
Mrs. Moon pressed her daughter-in-law
into one cash-smuggling incident after a trip to Japan in 1992,
Nansook Hong wrote.
Mrs. Moon had received "stacks of
money" and divvied it up among her entourage for the return
trip through Seattle, Nansook Hong wrote. "I was given $20,000
in two packs of crisp new bills," she recalled. "I hid
them beneath the tray in my makeup case. ... I knew that smuggling
was illegal, but I believed the followers of Sun Myung Moon answered
to higher laws."
U.S. currency laws require that cash amounts
above $10,000 be declared at Customs when the money enters or
leaves the country. It is also illegal to conspire with couriers
to bring in lesser amounts when the total exceeds the $10,000
In the Shadow of the Moons raised anew
the question of whether Moon's money laundering - from mysterious
sources in both Asia and South America - has made him a conduit
for illicit foreign money influencing the U.S. government and
Moon's spokesmen have denied that he launders
drug money or moves money from other criminal enterprises. They
attribute his wealth to donations and business profits, but have
refused to open Moon's records for public inspection.
Still, Nansook Hong's first-hand allegations
and the alleged money-laundering in Uruguay might reasonably have
prompted more questions in the United States about how Moon could
continue lavishing billions of dollars on U.S. conservative publications
But those follow-up questions were never
asked. Moon apparently had hooked too many large-mouthed fish
in both South and North America.
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra
stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His
latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty
from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com.
It's also available at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 book, Lost History:
Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'