At this past weeks summit, George W. Bush
and South Korean President Kim Dae Jung disagreed publicly on how to deal with communist
North Korea Bush advocated a harder line. But the two leaders have a little-known
bond in common: the political largesse of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
more than three decades, Moon, the founder of the South Korea-based Unification Church,
has spun a worldwide spider's web of influence, connecting to hundreds of powerful leaders
through the silken threads of his mysterious money.
beneficiaries include the Bush family and, according to U.S. intelligence reports, Kim Dae
seldom discussed publicly, the Moon-Bush connection has been reported before and
detailed in this publication. But Moons financial links to Kim Dae Jung a
longtime dissident who opposed the authoritarian governments that ruled South Korea during
the Cold War have remained secret.
intelligence stumbled onto the Moon-Kim connection while monitoring South Korean political
developments in 1987.
that time, Moons Unification Church already had built close ties to the Reagan-Bush
administration, especially through Moon's funding of conservative causes and his
$100-million-a-year subsidy of the right-wing Washington Times, hailed by Ronald
Reagan as his favorite newspaper.
in South Korea, however, Moon's longtime coziness with his home nation's autocratic rulers
was strained. Moon was on the outs with the ruling Democratic Justice Party (DJP), the
U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency noted in a cable dated Sept. 10, 1987.
UC (Unification Church)
has not been happy with the somewhat cold treatment it has
received under the current DJP government, the DIA cable reported.
response to this chilliness, Moon secretly began financing several opposition figures, the
DIA reported. One was a longtime Moon ally, Kim Jong Pil, not to be confused with North
Korea's current leader Kim Jong Il.
the late 1980s, Kim Jong Pil had a long record of association with Moon. A 1978 U.S.
congressional investigation into the so-called Koreagate influence-buying
scandal reported that Kim Jong Pil founded the South Korean CIA in the 1960s and assisted
Moon's Unification Church in building its influence in Japan and the United States.
congressional investigation concluded that Kim Jong Pil and the South Korean CIA helped
Moon expand his church into a well-financed international organization. They then used
Moon's organization to buy influence inside the U.S. government, the congressional
Jong Pil also had served as South Korean prime minister in the early 1970s. In 1987,
however, Kim Jong Pil was out of power and considering a run for the South Korean
to the Defense Intelligence Agency, Kim Jong Pil was one of the candidates who benefited
from Moons estrangement from the ruling Democratic Justice Party.
Jong-Pil is reportedly receiving financial and organizational support for his KS (South
Korean) presidential bid from the controversial Unification Church, the DIA reported
in its Sept. 10, 1987, cable.
Moons organization did not stop with its old ally. The DIA discovered that Moon was
hedging his bets by putting money into the hands of Kim Dae Jung and other leaders of the
Reunification Democratic Party.
trying to win influence with the next KS government while defeating the current ruling
party's candidate, read the title of another DIA report dated Sept. 22, 1987.
controversial Unification Church (UC) is actively funneling large amounts of political
funds to opposition Reunification Democratic Party (RDP) advisor Kim Dae-Jung,
president Kim Young-Sam,
and former KS prime minister Kim Jong-Pil for their
campaigns for KS president, leaving out only the ruling party candidate, Democratic
Justice Party (DJP) president Roh Tae-Woo, the DIA report said.
UC wants to see Roh defeated and is funneling large amounts of political funds to Roh's
three opponents with the expectation that it will have influence with whomever of the
three should end up as the next president. [I obtained these DIA reports under a
Freedom of Information Act request.]
the race boiled down to a contest between Roh Tae Woo, Kim Dae Jung and Kim Young Sam. On
Dec. 16, 1987, Roh won with 36 percent of the vote. Kim Young Sam got 28 percent and Kim
Dae Jung received 27 percent. Kim Jong Pil garnered only 8 percent. [For details on the
election, see The Two Koreas by Don Oberdorfer.]
losing that round, Moons beneficiaries did better in the years that followed. Kim
Jong Pil again became prime minister, a post he held from 1998 to early 1999. Kim Dae Jung
became president in 1998 and also won the Nobel Peace Prize.
the years, Kim Dae Jung did not advertise his ties to Moon. Kim's association with the
theocrat who considers himself the new Messiah has remained discreet, with the two men
generally avoiding contact in public.
exception came on Feb. 1, 1999, when Moon and his wife known to their followers as
the True Parents were holding a celebration at the Lotte Hotel in
Seoul. To the surprise of Moons followers, Kim Dae Jung arrived and enthusiastically
joined the couple in their ceremony.
to the Unification News, the church's internal newsletter, the Lotte Hotel event
was the first time President Kim appeared in public with our True Parents.
less secret, Moons relationship with the Bush family also remains little known to
most Americans. Moon's organization has paid the Bush family directly for speeches
in the 1990s but the alliance appears to have grown primarily through Moons
extravagant financial support for The Washington Times, which has consistently
backed the Bushes politically.
its founding in 1982, The Washington Times staunchly supported some of the
Reagan-Bush administrations most controversial policies, such as the contra war in
the contra operation was embarrassed by initial public disclosures of contra drug
trafficking in 1985-86, The Washington Times led the counterattack, criticizing
journalists and congressional investigators who uncovered the first evidence of the
attacks helped cement a conventional wisdom in the Washington political community that the
contra-drug allegations were bogus, a belief that persisted until 1998 when the CIA's
inspector general admitted that dozens of contra units were implicated in cocaine
trafficking and that the Reagan-Bush administration had hidden much of the evidence. [See
Robert Parrys Lost History.]
Washington Times also led the charge against Iran-contra special prosecutor Lawrence
Walsh in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The newspaper's rear-guard defense of its allies
proved important when Walsh's investigation threatened to break through the long-running
White House cover-up that was protecting Bushs assertion that he was out of
the loop on the scandal. [For details on The Washington Times' role, see
Walshs book, Firewall.]
national political campaigns, Moons Washington Times was especially
influential, mounting harsh and often inaccurate attacks on the Bush
1988, when George H.W. Bush was running for president, The Washington Times
publicized false rumors about the mental health of Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis,
an important first step in raising doubts about the Massachusetts governor.
George H.W. Bush grew so appreciative of The Washington Times that in 1991, he
invited its editor-in-chief, Wesley Pruden, to the White House for a private lunch. Bush
explained that the purpose of the lunch was just to tell you how valuable the Times
has become in Washington, where we read it everyday. [WT, May 17, 1992]
Bushs 1992 reelection campaign, The Washington Times was helping again,
spreading new false rumors that Bill Clinton might have betrayed his country during a
college trip to Moscow, possibly being recruited by the KGB as a spy.
After George H.W. Bush lost in 1992, The Washington Times shifted from
defense to offense. The newspaper became a leading conservative
weapon in mounting attacks on the Clinton administration.
the Bush familys years out of power, Moon put money directly into their pockets,
too. Moon-affiliated organizations paid for speeches by former President Bush in the
United States, Asia and South America. Sometimes, Barbara Bush joined her husband in these
price tag for the speeches has been estimated at from hundreds of thousands of dollars to
$10 million, a figure cited to me by a senior Unification Church official in the
mid-1990s. The elder Bush has refused to divulge how much money he received from
one 1996 appearance in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the senior Bush went beyond a mere speech
to act as a kind of international lobbyist for the Moon organization.
the time, Moon was planning to launch a new newspaper, Tiempos del Mundo, and his
supporters were upset over critical coverage in South American newspapers. The South
American press was pointing out Moons close association with right-wing
death-squad governments of the 1970s and the so-called Cocaine Coup regime in Bolivia in the early
defenders were forced to issue public denials that Moon's mysterious source of wealth came
from drug trafficking and other organized-crime activities.
allegations were threatening the Tiempos del Mundo launch, Moon's followers feared.
But Moon had a special weapon to prove his respectability: the endorsement of the 41st
president of the United States.
arrived on Nov. 22, 1996, and stayed with Argentine President Carlos Menem at his official
residence. The next day, Bush gave the keynote address at the newspapers inaugural
Bushs presence as keynote speaker gave the event invaluable prestige, wrote
the Unification News. Father [Moon] and Mother [Mrs. Moon] sat with several
of the True Children [Moons offspring] just a few feet from the podium.
lavished praise on Moon and his journalistic enterprises. I want to salute Reverend
Moon, Bush said. A lot of my friends in South America dont know about The
Washington Times, but it is an independent voice. The editors of The Washington
Times tell me that never once has the man with the vision interfered with the running
of the paper, a paper that in my view brings sanity to Washington, D.C.
endorsement wasn't exactly accurate. A stream of editors and correspondents have left The
Washington Times, complaining about the interference of Moon's operatives. But Moon's
followers believed Bush's intervention stanched the flow of negative press stories and
saved the day.
those eight years of the Bush family's hiatus from power, Moon also grew increasingly
anti-American, often telling his followers that the United States was Satanic.
He vowed to build a movement powerful enough to absorb America and eliminate what Moon saw
as America's destructive tendencies toward individualism.
who continue to maintain their privacy and extreme individualism are foolish people,
Moon told his followers during one speech on Aug. 4, 1996. He then said, Once you
have this great power of love, which is big enough to swallow entire America, there may be
some individuals who complain inside your stomach. However, they will be digested.
the 2000 campaign, The Washington Times was back helping the Bush family achieve
its political restoration. Day after day, the newspaper published articles undercutting
Democrat Al Gore even questioning his sanity while boosting the candidacy of
George W. Bush.
late 1999, The New York Times and The Washington Post created a controversy
by misquoting Gore as claiming credit for starting the Love Canal toxic-waste cleanup. The
two newspapers quoted Gore as saying "I was the one that started it all" when in
fact he was referring to a similar Tennessee toxic-waste case and said, "that was the
one that started it all."
with the bogus quote touching off a wave of media ridicule about Gore's supposed lack of
credibility, The Washington Times eagerly joined the pack and returned to its old
game of questioning the sanity of its political enemies.
Times editorial termed Gore delusional and stated, The real question
is how to react to Mr. Gores increasingly bizarre utterings. The editorial
went on to call Gore a politician who not only manufactures gross, obvious lies
about himself and his achievements but appears to actually believe these
confabulations. [WT, Dec. 7, 1999]
after The New York Times and The Washington Post corrected their misquote, The
Washington Times continued to use the bogus quote.
Dec. 31, 1999, Moon's newspaper published a column entitled "Liar, Liar; Gore's Pants
on Fire." The column repeated the false quote and concluded that "when Al Gore
lies, it's without any apparent reason."
media drumbeat about Gores supposed lies often built on similar press
exaggerations and outright errors became a key element of the 2000 campaign. Many
Republican strategists viewed the widespread perception of Gore as untrustworthy as
crucial in holding down Gore's vote and clearing George W. Bush's route to the White
with the Bush family back in charge, Moons organization appears in line for some
financial payback. George W. Bushs plan to funnel government money into religious
charities is expected to be especially profitable for Moon's front groups that are
organized as non-profit charities.
Rev. Pat Robertson, the conservative televangelist, is among those who have raised the
alarm about how Bushs "faith-based" initiative could line Moon's pockets.
the "700 Club" television program, Robertson warned that Moons Unification
Church could become one of the financial beneficiaries of the proposal to expand
eligibility for government grants to religious charities. [Washington Post,
Feb. 22, 2000]
the possibility of collecting U.S. taxpayers money, Moon also continues to benefit
from a determined see-no-evil stance of the U.S. government toward Moons
evidence exists of money-laundering by Moons operation
including first-hand statements by church insiders including his former daughter-in-law. But this evidence simply disappears into
a black hole of federal indifference.
business dealings with communist North Korea, dating back to 1991 and the first Bush
administration, also have prompted no official U.S. reaction.
on what is known publicly, Moon would appear to be in violation of the long-standing U.S.
trade embargo against North Korea. That embargo covered Moon because he is a legal U.S.
resident possessing a "green card" and thus required to abide by
U.S. sanction laws.
to other DIA documentation that I obtained under FOIA, Moon delivered millions of dollars
in secret payments to North Koreas top officials
including current communist leader Kim Il Song.
payments, in the early-to-mid 1990s, came at a time when the communist regime was
desperate for hard currency to support its development of nuclear weapons and long-range
it is that arms buildup that George W. Bush now cites as a chief reason for postponing
further negotiations with North Korea and for spending tens of billions of dollars
to build a U.S. nuclear "Star Wars" shield.
this past weeks summit, South Koreas president Kim Dae Jung disagreed with
Bush over the cessation of talks with North Korea. Bush attacked the North Koreans as
behind the scenes -- though perhaps not fully apparent to either man -- was this odd
connection linking the Bush family, Kim Dae Jung and the communist leaders of North Korea.
was the secret bond of Rev. Sun Myung Moons mysterious money.
Robert Parry is an investigative
reporter who broke many of the Iran-contra stories in the 1980s for The Associated Press