Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #575 Interview with Robert Parry

Recorded Novem­ber 5, 2006

Intro­duc­tion: Once again, Mr. Emory inter­viewed Robert Parry, who runs the “Con­sor­tium News” web site. The last pro­gram recorded before the 2006 elec­tion, this broad­cast exam­ines how George W. Bush has actu­ally worked with, not against, Osama bin Laden. Begin­ning with analy­sis of a 2004 video­tape released just before the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, the pro­gram high­lights the CIA’s con­tention that bin Laden’s inten­tion in releas­ing the tape was to sup­port Bush’s reelec­tion bid!

In addi­tion, the pro­gram sets forth intel­li­gence that indi­cates that al-Qaeda doesn’t want the U.S. to with­draw from Iraq, as Bush con­tends. Al-Qaeda is said to believe that stay­ing in Iraq is good for its cause. Revis­it­ing past elec­tions, the broad­cast details the media’s delib­er­ate slant­ing of cov­er­age of Al Gore’s 2000 cam­paign in favor of the Repub­li­cans. Con­clud­ing with dis­cus­sion of the recent North Korean nuclear test, the pro­gram notes that the Moon orga­ni­za­tion (which is very close to the Bush fam­ily) gave a great deal of money to North Korea in the early 1990’s—a time at which that regime was seek­ing funds to fur­ther its nuclear program.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: The Wash­ing­ton press corps’ openly par­ti­san behav­ior dur­ing a 1999 debate between Al Gore and Bill Bradley; the truth con­cern­ing Gore’s alleged com­ments about the Inter­net, the Love Canal and the novel “Love Story”; review of the busi­ness rela­tion­ship between the Bush and bin Laden families.

1. Begin­ning with analy­sis of the busi­ness rela­tion­ship between the Bush and bin Laden fam­i­lies, the pro­gram reviews the involve­ment of the bin Laden fam­ily with Arbusto Energy, Bush’s first energy ven­ture. For more about this con­nec­tion, see—among other programs—FTR#’s 248, 310. In addi­tion to the Bush/bin Laden/Arbusto link, Robert dis­cussed the Bush and bin Laden family’s rela­tion­ship to the Car­lyle Group. For more about this, see—among other programs—FTR#347.

2. Mov­ing from the sub­ject of the busi­ness rela­tion­ship between the Bush and bin Laden fam­i­lies to the topic of the polit­i­cal sym­bio­sis that the two have man­i­fested, the dis­cus­sion notes that the CIA con­cluded that a video­tape released by bin Laden on the eve of the 2004 elec­tion was released specif­i­cally to help George W. Bush! Mr. Emory noted in this con­text that the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades (an Islamist group affil­i­ated with al-Qaeda) and al-Qaeda in Iraq released com­mu­niqués in the run-up to that elec­tion which were openly sup­port­ive of George W. Bush. “On Oct. 29, 2004, just four days before the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin-Laden released a video­tape denounc­ing George W. Bush. Some Bush sup­port­ers quickly spun the dia­tribe as ‘Osama’s endorse­ment of John Kerry.’ But behind the walls of the CIA, ana­lysts had con­cluded the oppo­site: that bin-Laden was try­ing to help Bush gain a sec­ond term.

This stun­ning CIA dis­clo­sure is tucked away in a brief pas­sage near the end of Ron Suskind’s The One Per­cent Doc­trine, which draws heav­ily from CIA insid­ers. Suskind wrote that the CIA ana­lysts based their trou­bling assess­ment on clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion, but the ana­lysts still puz­zled over exactly why bin-Laden wanted Bush to stay in office.

Accord­ing to Suskind’s book, CIA ana­lysts had spent years ‘pars­ing each expressed word of the al-Qaeda leader and his deputy, [Ayman] Zawahiri. What they’d learned over nearly a decade is that bin-Laden speaks only for strate­gic reasons. …

‘Their [the CIA’s] assess­ments, at day’s end, are a dis­til­late of the kind of secret, inter­nal con­ver­sa­tions that the Amer­i­can pub­lic [was] not sanc­tioned to hear: strate­gic analy­sis. Today’s con­clu­sion: bin-Laden’s mes­sage was clearly designed to assist the President’s reelection.

‘At the five o’clock meet­ing, [deputy CIA direc­tor] John McLaugh­lin opened the issue with the con­sen­sus view: ‘Bin-Laden cer­tainly did a nice favor today for the President.’’

McLaughlin’s com­ment drew nods from CIA offi­cers at the table. Jami Mis­cik, CIA deputy asso­ciate direc­tor for intel­li­gence, sug­gested that the al-Qaeda founder may have come to Bush’s aid because bin-Laden felt threat­ened by the rise in Iraq of Jor­dan­ian ter­ror­ist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi; bin-Laden might have thought his lead­er­ship would be dimin­ished if Bush lost the White House and their ‘eye-to-eye strug­gle’ ended.

But the CIA ana­lysts also felt that bin-Laden might have rec­og­nized how Bush’s poli­cies – includ­ing the Guan­tanamo prison camp, the Abu Ghraib scan­dal and the end­less blood­shed in Iraq – were serv­ing al-Qaeda’s strate­gic goals for recruit­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of jihadists.

‘Cer­tainly,’ the CIA’s Mis­cik said, ‘he would want Bush to keep doing what he’s doing for a few more years,’ accord­ing to Suskind’s account of the meeting.

As their inter­nal assess­ment sank in, the CIA ana­lysts drifted into silence, trou­bled by the impli­ca­tions of their own con­clu­sions. ‘An ocean of hard truths before them – such as what did it say about U.S. poli­cies that bin-Laden would want Bush reelected – remained untouched,’ Suskind wrote.

One imme­di­ate con­se­quence of bin-Laden break­ing nearly a year of silence to issue the video­tape the week­end before the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion was to give the Bush cam­paign a much needed boost. From a vir­tual dead heat, Bush opened up a six-point lead, accord­ing to one poll.

The impli­ca­tions of this new evi­dence are trou­bling, too, for the Amer­i­can peo­ple as they head toward another elec­tion in Novem­ber 2006 that also is viewed as a ref­er­en­dum on Bush’s pros­e­cu­tion of the ‘war on terror.’

As we have reported pre­vi­ously at Consortiumnews.com, a large body of evi­dence already existed sup­port­ing the view that the Bushes and the bin-Ladens have long oper­ated with a sym­bi­otic rela­tion­ship that may be entirely unspo­ken but nev­er­the­less has been a case of each fam­ily act­ing in ways that advance the inter­ests of the other. [See ‘Osama’s Briar Patch’ or ‘Is Bush al-Qaeda’s ‘Use­ful Idiot?’‘]

Before al-Qaeda launched the Sept. 11, 2001, ter­ror attacks against New York and Wash­ing­ton, Bush was stum­bling in a pres­i­dency that many Amer­i­cans felt was headed nowhere. As Bush took a month-long vaca­tion at his Texas ranch in August 2001, his big issue was a plan to restrict stem-cell research on moral grounds.

Pri­vately, Bush’s neo­con­ser­v­a­tive advis­ers were chaf­ing under what they saw as the com­pla­cency of the Amer­i­can peo­ple unwill­ing to take on the man­tle of global police­man as the world’s sole super­power. The neo­cons hoped for some ‘Pearl Har­bor’ inci­dent that would gal­va­nize a pub­lic con­sen­sus for action against Iraq and other ‘rogue states.’

Other senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials, such as Vice Pres­i­dent Dick Cheney, dreamed of the restora­tion of the impe­r­ial pres­i­dency that – after Richard Nixon’s Water­gate scan­dal – had been cut down to size by Con­gress, the courts and the press. Only a national cri­sis would cre­ate a cover for a new asser­tion of pres­i­den­tial power.

Mean­while, halfway around the world, bin-Laden and his al-Qaeda mil­i­tants were fac­ing defeat after defeat. Their brand of Islamic fun­da­men­tal­ism had been rejected in Mus­lim soci­eties from Alge­ria and Egypt to Saudi Ara­bia and Jor­dan. Bin-Laden and his lieu­tenants had even been expelled from the Sudan.

Bin-Laden’s extrem­ists had been chased to the far­thest cor­ners of the planet, in this case the caves of Afghanistan. At this crit­i­cal junc­ture, al-Qaeda’s brain trust decided that their best hope was to strike at the United States and count on a clumsy reac­tion that would offend the Islamic world and rally angry young Mus­lims to al-Qaeda’s banner.

So, by early sum­mer 2001, the clock ticked down to 9/11 as 19 al-Qaeda oper­a­tives posi­tioned them­selves inside the United States and pre­pared to attack. But U.S. intel­li­gence ana­lysts picked up evi­dence of al-Qaeda’s plans by sift­ing through the ‘chat­ter’ of elec­tronic inter­cepts. The U.S. warn­ing sys­tem was ‘blink­ing red.’

Over the week­end of July Fourth 2001, a well-placed U.S. intel­li­gence source passed on a dis­turb­ing piece of infor­ma­tion to then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who later recounted the inci­dent in an inter­view with Alternet.

‘The per­son told me that there was some con­cern about an inter­cept that had been picked up,’ Miller said. ‘The inci­dent that had got­ten everyone’s atten­tion was a con­ver­sa­tion between two mem­bers of al-Qaeda. And they had been talk­ing to one another, sup­pos­edly express­ing dis­ap­point­ment that the United States had not cho­sen to retal­i­ate more seri­ously against what had hap­pened to the [destroyer USS] Cole [which was bombed on Oct. 12, 2000].

‘And one al-Qaeda oper­a­tive was over­heard say­ing to the other, ‘Don’t worry; we’re plan­ning some­thing so big now that the U.S. will have to respond.’’

In the Alter­net inter­view, pub­lished in May 2006 after Miller resigned from the Times, the reporter expressed regret that she had not been able to nail down enough details about the inter­cept to get the story into the newspaper.

But the sig­nif­i­cance of her rec­ol­lec­tion is that more than two months before the 9/11 attacks, the CIA knew that al-Qaeda was plan­ning a major attack with the intent of incit­ing a U.S. mil­i­tary reac­tion – or in this case, an overreaction.

The CIA tried to warn Bush about the threat on Aug. 6, 2001, with the hope that pres­i­den­tial action could ener­gize gov­ern­ment agen­cies and head off the attack. The CIA sent ana­lysts to his ranch in Craw­ford, Texas, to brief him and deliver a report enti­tled ‘Bin Laden Deter­mined to Strike in US.’

Bush was not pleased by the intru­sion. He glared at the CIA briefer and snapped, ‘All right, you’ve cov­ered your ass,’ accord­ing to Suskind’s book.

Then, putting the CIA’s warn­ing in the back of his mind and order­ing no spe­cial response, Bush returned to a vaca­tion of fish­ing, clear­ing brush and work­ing on a speech about stem-cell research.

For its part, al-Qaeda was run­ning a risk that the United States might strike a pre­cise and dev­as­tat­ing blow against the ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion, elim­i­nat­ing it as an effec­tive force with­out alien­at­ing much of the Mus­lim world.

If that hap­pened, the cause of Islamic extrem­ism could have been set back years, with­out elic­it­ing much sym­pa­thy from most Mus­lims for a band of killers who wan­tonly mur­dered inno­cent civilians.

After the 9/11 attacks, al-Qaeda’s gam­ble almost failed as the CIA, backed by U.S. Spe­cial Forces, ousted bin-Laden’s Tal­iban allies in Afghanistan and cor­nered much of the al-Qaeda lead­er­ship in the moun­tains of Tora Bora near the Pak­istani border.

But instead of using U.S. ground troops to seal the bor­der, Bush relied on the Pak­istani army, which was known to have mixed sym­pa­thies about al-Qaeda. The Pak­istani army moved its block­ing force belat­edly into posi­tion while bin-Laden and oth­ers from his inner cir­cle escaped.

Then, instead of stay­ing focused on bin-Laden and his fel­low fugi­tives, Bush moved on to other objec­tives. Bush shifted U.S. Spe­cial Forces away from bin-Laden and al-Qaeda and toward Sad­dam Hus­sein and Iraq.

Many U.S. ter­ror­ism experts, includ­ing White House coun­tert­er­ror­ism czar Richard Clarke, were shocked at this strat­egy, since the intel­li­gence com­mu­nity didn’t believe that Hussein’s sec­u­lar dic­ta­tor­ship had any work­ing rela­tion­ship with al-Qaeda – and had no role in the 9/11 attacks.

Nev­er­the­less, Bush ordered an inva­sion of Iraq on March 19, 2003, oust­ing Hus­sein from power but also unleash­ing may­hem across Iraqi soci­ety. Soon, the Iraq War – com­bined with con­tro­ver­sies over tor­ture and mis­treat­ment of Mus­lim detainees – were serv­ing as recruit­ment posters for al-Qaeda.

Under Jor­dan­ian exile Zar­qawi, al-Qaeda set up ter­ror­ist cells in cen­tral Iraq, tak­ing root amid the weeds of sec­tar­ian vio­lence and the nation’s gen­eral anar­chy. Instead of an obscure group of mis­fits, al-Qaeda was achiev­ing leg­endary sta­tus among many Mus­lims as the defend­ers of the Islamic holy lands, bat­tling the new ‘cru­saders’ led by Bush.

Mean­while, back in the United States, the 9/11 attacks had allowed Bush to rein­vent him­self as the ‘war pres­i­dent’ who oper­ated almost with­out over­sight. He saw his approval rat­ings surge from the 50s to the 90s – and watched as the Repub­li­can Party con­sol­i­dated its con­trol of the U.S. Con­gress in 2002.

Though the wors­en­ing blood­shed in Iraq eroded Bush’s pop­u­lar­ity in 2004, polit­i­cal adviser Karl Rove still framed the elec­tion around Bush’s aggres­sive moves to defend the United States and to pun­ish Amer­i­can enemies.

Whereas Bush was sup­pos­edly res­olute, Demo­c­rat Kerry was por­trayed as weak and inde­ci­sive, a ‘flip-flopper.’ Kerry, how­ever, scored some polit­i­cal points in the pres­i­den­tial debates by cit­ing the deba­cle at Tora Bora that enabled bin-Laden to escape.

The race was con­sid­ered neck-and-neck as it turned toward the final week­end of cam­paign­ing. Then, the shim­mer­ing image of Osama bin-Laden appeared on Amer­i­can tele­vi­sions, speak­ing directly to the Amer­i­can peo­ple, mock­ing Bush and offer­ing a kind of truce if U.S. forces with­drew from the Mid­dle East.

‘He [Bush] was more inter­ested in lis­ten­ing to the child’s story about the goat rather than worry about what was hap­pen­ing to the [twin] tow­ers,’ bin-Laden said. ‘So, we had three times the time nec­es­sary to accom­plish the events. Your secu­rity is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or al-Qaeda. Your secu­rity is in your own hands. Any nation that does not attack us will not be attacked.’

Though both Bush and Kerry denounced bin-Laden’s state­ment, right-wing pun­dits, blog­gers and talk-show hosts por­trayed it as an effort to hurt Bush and help Kerry – which under­stand­ably prompted the exact oppo­site reac­tion among many Amer­i­cans. [For instance, con­ser­v­a­tive blog site, Lit­tle Green Foot­balls, head­lined its Oct. 31, 2004, com­men­tary as ‘Bin Laden Threat­ens U.S. States Not to Vote for Bush.’]

How­ever, behind the walls of secrecy at Lan­g­ley, Vir­ginia, U.S. intel­li­gence experts reviewed the evi­dence and con­cluded that bin-Laden had pre­cisely the oppo­site intent. He was fully aware that his video­tape would encour­age the Amer­i­can peo­ple to do the oppo­site of what he recommended.

By demand­ing an Amer­i­can sur­ren­der, bin-Laden knew U.S. vot­ers would instinc­tively want to fight. That way bin-Laden helped ensure that George W. Bush would stay in power, would con­tinue his clumsy ‘war on ter­ror’ – and would drive thou­sands of new recruits into al-Qaeda’s wel­com­ing arms.”
(“CIA: Osama Helped Bush in 2004” by Robert Parry; Con­sor­tium News; 7/4/2006.)

3. The broad­cast also notes that George W. Bush’s claim that an Amer­i­can with­drawal from Iraq would play into the hands of the ter­ror­ists is at vari­ance with intel­li­gence inter­cepts of al-Qaeda com­mu­ni­ca­tions. As Robert Parry notes, the Iraq con­flict has actu­ally worked to the ben­e­fit of the Islamists includ­ing al-Qaeda. Not only has the war served as an effec­tive recruit­ing tool for the Islamists, but al-Qaeda in par­tic­u­lar feels that a pre­cip­i­tous Amer­i­can with­drawal from Iraq could under­mine that organization’s efforts in that coun­try. “George W. Bush’s blunt asser­tion that a Demo­c­ra­tic vic­tory in the Nov. 7 elec­tions means ‘the ter­ror­ists win and Amer­ica loses’ misses the point that Osama bin Laden stands to advance his strate­gic goals much faster with a Repub­li­can victory.

Indeed, as U.S. intel­li­gence ana­lysts have come to under­stand, there is a sym­bi­otic rela­tion­ship between Bush’s blun­der­buss ‘war on ter­ror’ and bin Laden’s ruth­less strat­egy of ter­ror­ist vio­lence – one help­ing the other.

Last April, a National Intel­li­gence Esti­mate, rep­re­sent­ing the con­sen­sus view of the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­nity, con­cluded that Bush’s Iraq War had become the ‘cause cele­bre’ that had helped spread Islamic extrem­ism around the globe.

In June, U.S. intel­li­gence also learned from an inter­cepted al-Qaeda com­mu­niqué that bin Laden’s ter­ror­ist band wants to keep U.S. sol­diers bogged down in Iraq as the best way to main­tain and expand al-Qaeda’s influence.

‘Pro­long­ing the war is in our inter­est,’ wrote ‘Atiyah,’ one of bin Laden’s top lieutenants.

Atiyah’s let­ter and other inter­nal al-Qaeda com­mu­ni­ca­tions reveal that one of the group’s biggest wor­ries has been that a prompt U.S. mil­i­tary with­drawal might expose how frag­ile al-Qaeda’s posi­tion is in Iraq and cause many young jihadists to lay down their guns and go home. [See below]

But a Repub­li­can vic­tory in the Nov. 7 con­gres­sional elec­tions almost cer­tainly would end that con­cern. A GOP-controlled Con­gress would con­tinue to give Bush a blank check, mean­ing the Iraq War would be pro­longed and, quite pos­si­bly, expanded into other Mid­dle East countries.

Bush would be tempted to dou­ble up on his Iraq wager by attack­ing Iran and Syria, two coun­tries that U.S. offi­cials have accused of aid­ing Iraqi insur­gents. A num­ber of U.S. mil­i­tary experts also believe that Bush would order the bomb­ing of Iran if it doesn’t agree to cur­tail its nuclear research.

An expanded war would thrill Bush’s neo­con­ser­v­a­tive advis­ers and other promi­nent Repub­li­cans, such as for­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich, who have lusted pub­licly over the idea of fight­ing ‘World War III’ against rad­i­cal Mus­lims around the globe.

But the con­tin­ued war in Iraq and its regional expan­sion would serve bin Laden’s inter­ests, too, by prov­ing to many of the world’s one bil­lion Mus­lims that the Saudi exile was right in his pre­dic­tions of an aggres­sive West­ern assault on Islam.

As the vio­lence wors­ens, Mid­dle East mod­er­ates would be forced to choose between Wash­ing­ton and the Islamic extrem­ists. Like any vio­lent rev­o­lu­tion­ary, bin Laden knows that the greater the polar­iza­tion the faster his extrem­ist ide­ol­ogy can grow.

On the other hand, Bush real­izes that his best chance to retain and con­sol­i­date his polit­i­cal power in the United States is to exploit the Amer­i­can people’s fear and loathing of bin Laden and por­tray­ing his rivals as al-Qaeda’s fellow-travelers.

So, in an Oct. 30 speech in States­boro, Geor­gia, Bush said, ‘How­ever they put it, the Demo­c­rat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The ter­ror­ists win and Amer­ica loses.’

The real­ity, how­ever, is that Bush and bin Laden are the prover­bial two sides of the same coin, both ben­e­fit­ing from the other’s exis­tence and actions. Indeed, in the six years of the Bush admin­is­tra­tion, bin Laden could not have found a more per­fect foil – or some might say a more use­ful fool – than George W. Bush.

First, in sum­mer 2001, when al-Qaeda was an obscure band of extrem­ists hid­ing out in the Afghan moun­tains, Bush failed to react to U.S. intel­li­gence warn­ings about al-Qaeda’s plans for an impend­ing attack.

After nearly 3,000 peo­ple were killed on Sept. 11, 2001,in the worst ter­ror­ist attack in his­tory, Bush reacted by order­ing U.S. forces to charge into the Mid­dle East on what he called a ‘cru­sade’ to ‘rid the world of evil.’ Bin Laden quickly jumped on the anti-Muslim con­no­ta­tion of the word ‘crusade.’

Though U.S.-led forces ousted bin Laden’s Tal­iban allies in Afghanistan and cor­nered bin Laden at Tora Bora, Bush failed to close the trap, allow­ing bin Laden and key fol­low­ers to escape. Then, before Afghanistan was brought under con­trol, Bush diverted U.S. mil­i­tary forces to Iraq.

There, Bush elim­i­nated sec­u­lar dic­ta­tor Sad­dam Hus­sein, one of bin Laden’s Mus­lim ene­mies, and repeated the Afghanistan mis­take by cel­e­brat­ing ‘mis­sion accom­plished’ with­out devot­ing suf­fi­cient U.S. forces to sta­bi­lize the country.

That blun­der allowed al-Qaeda ele­ments led by Jor­dan­ian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to set up shop in the Iraqi heart­land. Though the force never totaled more than about five per­cent of the anti-U.S. fight­ers in Iraq, it con­ducted dra­matic attacks, espe­cially against Shi­ite tar­gets, that wors­ened Iraq’s Sunni-Shiite sec­tar­ian strife.

Mean­while, in the United States, bin Laden’s mur­der­ous 9/11 assaults cre­ated a polit­i­cal cli­mate that helped Bush estab­lish one-party Repub­li­can dom­i­nance. Cit­ing the ‘war on ter­ror,’ Bush also asserted ‘ple­nary’ – or unlim­ited – pres­i­den­tial pow­ers for the conflict’s duration.

In effect, Bush sus­pended the Amer­i­can con­cept of ‘unalien­able rights,’ as promised in the Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dence and enshrined in the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion and the Bill of Rights. Under Bush’s the­ory of pres­i­den­tial pow­ers, gone are fun­da­men­tal lib­er­ties such as the habeas cor­pus right to a fair trial, pro­tec­tion from war­rant­less gov­ern­ment searches and pro­hi­bi­tion of cruel and unusual punishments.

Then, when­ever Bush has found him­self in polit­i­cal trou­ble, he has con­jured up the fright­en­ing spirit of bin Laden to scare the Amer­i­can peo­ple. Other times, bin Laden has stepped for­ward on his own to lend a hand.

On Oct. 29, 2004, just four days before the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, bin Laden took the per­sonal risk of break­ing nearly a year of silence to release a video­tape denounc­ing Bush. Right-wing pun­dits imme­di­ately spun the video­tape into bin Laden’s ‘endorse­ment’ of Demo­c­rat John Kerry. Polls reg­is­tered an imme­di­ate bump of about five points for Bush.

How­ever, inside CIA head­quar­ters, senior intel­li­gence ana­lysts reached the remark­able con­clu­sion that bin Laden’s real intent was to help Bush win a sec­ond term.

‘Bin Laden cer­tainly did a nice favor today for the Pres­i­dent,’ said deputy CIA direc­tor John McLaugh­lin in open­ing a meet­ing to review secret ‘strate­gic analy­sis’ after the video­tape had dom­i­nated the day’s news, accord­ing to Ron Suskind’s The One Per­cent Doc­trine, which draws heav­ily from CIA insiders.

Suskind wrote that CIA ana­lysts had spent years ‘pars­ing each expressed word of the al-Qaeda leader and his deputy, Zawahiri. What they’d learned over nearly a decade is that bin Laden speaks only for strate­gic rea­sons. … Today’s con­clu­sion: bin Laden’s mes­sage was clearly designed to assist the President’s reelection.’

Jami Mis­cik, CIA deputy asso­ciate direc­tor for intel­li­gence, expressed the con­sen­sus view that bin Laden rec­og­nized how Bush’s heavy-handed poli­cies – such as the Guan­tanamo prison camp, the Abu Ghraib abuse scan­dal and the war in Iraq – were serv­ing al-Qaeda’s strate­gic goals for recruit­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of jihadists.

‘Cer­tainly,’ Mis­cik said, ‘he would want Bush to keep doing what he’s doing for a few more years.’

As their inter­nal assess­ment sank in, the CIA ana­lysts were trou­bled by the impli­ca­tions of their own con­clu­sions. ‘An ocean of hard truths before them – such as what did it say about U.S. poli­cies that bin Laden would want Bush reelected – remained untouched,’ Suskind wrote.

How­ever, Bush’s cam­paign back­ers took bin Laden’s video­tape at face value, call­ing it proof the ter­ror­ist leader feared Bush and favored Kerry.

In a pro-Bush book enti­tled Strate­gery: How George W. Bush Is Defeat­ing Ter­ror­ists, Out­wit­ting Democ­rats and Con­found­ing the Main­stream Media, right-wing jour­nal­ist Bill Sam­mon devoted sev­eral pages to bin Laden’s video­tape, por­tray­ing it as an attempt by the ter­ror­ist leader to per­suade Amer­i­cans to vote for Kerry.

‘Bin Laden stopped short of overtly endors­ing Kerry,’ Sam­mon wrote, ‘but the ter­ror­ist offered a polemic against reelect­ing Bush.’

Sam­mon and other right-wing pun­dits didn’t weigh the obvi­ous pos­si­bil­ity that the crafty bin Laden might have under­stood that his ‘endorse­ment’ of Kerry would achieve the oppo­site effect with the Amer­i­can people.

Bush him­self rec­og­nized this fact. ‘I thought it was going to help,’ Bush said in a post-election inter­view with Sam­mon about bin Laden’s video­tape. ‘I thought it would help remind peo­ple that if bin Laden doesn’t want Bush to be the Pres­i­dent, some­thing must be right with Bush.’

In Strate­gery, Sam­mon also quotes Repub­li­can National Chair­man Ken Mehlman as agree­ing that bin Laden’s video­tape helped Bush. ‘It reminded peo­ple of the stakes,’ Mehlman said. ‘It rein­forced an issue on which Bush had a big lead over Kerry.’

But bin Laden, a stu­dent of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, surely under­stood that, too.

Bin Laden had played Brer Rab­bit to America’s Brer Fox as in the old Uncle Remus fable about Brer Rab­bit beg­ging not to be thrown into the briar patch when that was exactly where he wanted to go.

By rhetor­i­cally merg­ing the Iraq War and the ‘war on ter­ror,’ Bush also has kept many Amer­i­cans from under­stand­ing the true nature of the Iraq con­flict. From 2003 to 2005, Bush pre­sented the wors­en­ing vio­lence in Iraq as mostly a case of al-Qaeda’s out­side ter­ror­ists attack­ing peace-loving Iraqis.

‘We’re help­ing the Iraqi peo­ple build a last­ing democ­racy that is peace­ful and pros­per­ous and an exam­ple for the broader Mid­dle East,’ Bush said in one typ­i­cal speech on Dec. 14, 2005. ‘The ter­ror­ists under­stand this, and this is why they have now made Iraq the cen­tral front in the war on terror.’

But this analy­sis blurred the var­ied moti­va­tions of the armed groups fight­ing in Iraq. The main ele­ments of the Iraqi insur­gency are Sun­nis resist­ing the U.S. inva­sion of their coun­try and the mar­gin­al­iza­tion they face in a new Iraq dom­i­nated by their Shi­ite rivals.

Non-Iraqi jihadists, a much smaller group esti­mated at about 5 per­cent of the armed fight­ers, are dri­ven by a reli­gious fer­vor against what they see as an intru­sion by a non-Islamic for­eign power into the Mus­lim world.

As U.S. mil­i­tary offi­cers in the field rec­og­nized – and as new intel­li­gence has con­firmed – al-Qaeda’s posi­tion in Iraq was far more frag­ile than Bush’s rhetoric suggested.

Indeed, an inter­cepted let­ter, pur­port­edly from bin Laden’s deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri and dated July 9, 2005, urged Zar­qawi, then al-Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, to take steps to pre­vent mass deser­tions among young non-Iraqi jihadists, who had come to fight the Amer­i­cans, if the Amer­i­cans left.

‘The muja­haddin must not have their mis­sion end with the expul­sion of the Amer­i­cans from Iraq, and then lay down their weapons, and silence the fight­ing zeal,’ wrote Zawahiri, accord­ing to a text released by the U.S. Direc­tor of National Intelligence.

To avert mass deser­tions, Zawahiri sug­gested that Zar­qawi talk up the ‘idea’ of a ‘caliphate’ along the east­ern Mediter­ranean. In other words, al-Qaeda was look­ing for a hook to keep the jihadists around if the Amer­i­cans split.

A more recent let­ter – writ­ten on Dec. 11, 2005, by Atiyah – elab­o­rated on al-Qaeda’s hopes for ‘pro­long­ing’ the Iraq War.

Atiyah lec­tured Zar­qawi on the neces­sity of tak­ing the long view and build­ing ties with ele­ments of the Sunni-led Iraqi insur­gency that had lit­tle in com­mon with al-Qaeda except hatred of the Americans.

‘The most impor­tant thing is that the jihad con­tin­ues with stead­fast­ness and firm root­ing, and that it grows in terms of sup­port­ers, strength, clar­ity of jus­ti­fi­ca­tion, and vis­i­ble proof each day,’ Atiyah wrote. ‘Indeed, pro­long­ing the war is in our inter­est.’ [Empha­sis added.]

The ‘Atiyah let­ter,’ which was dis­cov­ered by U.S. author­i­ties at the time of Zarqawi’s death on June 7, 2006, and was trans­lated by the U.S. military’s Com­bat­ing Ter­ror­ism Cen­ter at West Point, also stressed the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of al-Qaeda’s posi­tion in Iraq.

‘Know that we, like all muja­haddin, are still weak,’ Atiyah told Zar­qawi. ‘We have not yet reached a level of sta­bil­ity. We have no alter­na­tive but to not squan­der any ele­ment of the foun­da­tions of strength or any helper or sup­porter.’ [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s ‘Al-Qaeda’s Frag­ile Foothold.’]

What al-Qaeda lead­ers seemed to fear most was that a U.S. mil­i­tary with­drawal would con­tribute to a dis­in­te­gra­tion of their frag­ile posi­tion in Iraq, between the expected deser­tions of the for­eign fight­ers and the tar­get­ing of al-Qaeda’s remain­ing forces by Iraqis deter­mined to rid their coun­try of vio­lent outsiders.

In that sense, the longer the United States stays in Iraq, the deeper al-Qaeda can put down roots and the more it can harden its new recruits through indoc­tri­na­tion and training.

Just as U.S. intel­li­gence agen­cies con­cluded that the Bush administration’s occu­pa­tion of Iraq became a ‘cause cele­bre’ that spread Islamic rad­i­cal­ism around the globe, so too does it appear that an extended U.S. occu­pa­tion of Iraq would help al-Qaeda achieve its goals there – and elsewhere.

So, con­trary to Bush’s asser­tion that a Demo­c­ra­tic con­gres­sional vic­tory means “the ter­ror­ists win and Amer­ica loses,” the oppo­site might be much closer to the truth – that a con­tin­u­a­tion of Bush’s strate­gies, left unchecked by Con­gress, might be the answer to bin Laden’s dreams.”
(“Al Qaeda Wants Repub­li­cans to Win” by Robert Parry; Con­sor­tium News; 10/31/2006.)

4. Much of the sec­ond side of the pro­gram focuses on the media’s meta­mor­pho­sis dur­ing the 2000 cam­paign from its role as the Fourth Estate into that of a Fifth Col­umn for the GOP. In par­tic­u­lar, the main­stream press aban­doned all pre­text of objec­tiv­ity and sys­tem­at­i­cally dis­torted state­ments made by Al Gore. One of the exam­ples of delib­er­ate, par­ti­san dis­tor­tion by the media con­cerns Gore’s recount­ing of his role in focus­ing atten­tion on the issue of toxic waste dis­posal. The media delib­er­ately twisted Gore’s state­ments into the false con­tention that he [Gore] claimed to have dis­cov­ered the Love Canal. [The Love Canal was a toxic waste dis­posal site in upstate New York that caused ill­ness among res­i­dents liv­ing in the area.] “ . . . The lop­sided cov­er­age was a sign of how far the Repub­li­cans had come in chang­ing the national media envi­ron­ment in the quar­ter cen­tury since Water­gate. Across the board—from The Wash­ing­ton Post to The Wash­ing­ton Times, from The New York Times to the New York Post, from NBC’s cable net­works to the trav­el­ing cam­paign press corps—journalists didn’t even dis­guise their con­tempt for Gore. At one early Demo­c­ra­tic debate, a gath­er­ing of about 300 reporters in a nearby press room hissed and hooted at Gore’s answers. . . . In Decem­ber 1999, for instance, the news media gen­er­ated dozens of sto­ries about Gore’s sup­posed claim that he dis­cov­ered the Love Canal toxic started it all,’ he was quoted as say­ing. This ‘gaffe’ then let pun­dits recy­cle other sit­u­a­tions in which Gore allegedly exag­ger­ated his role or, as some writ­ers put it, told ‘bold-faced lies.’ But behind these exam­ples of Gore’s ‘lies’ often was very sloppy jour­nal­ism.”
(Secrecy and Priv­i­lege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Water­gate to Iraq; by Robert Parry; Copy­right 2004 by Robert Parry; The Media Con­sor­tium, Inc. [SC]; ISBN 1–893517-01–2; p. 297.)

5. Parry relates the gen­e­sis of the con­tro­versy: “The Love Canal flap started when The Wash­ing­ton Post and The New York Times mis­quoted Gore on a key point and cropped out the con­text of another sen­tence to give read­ers a false impres­sion of what he meant. The error was then exploited by national Repub­li­cans and ampli­fied end­lessly by the rest of the news media, even after the Post and Times grudg­ingly filed cor­rec­tions. Almost as remark­able, though, is how the two news­pa­pers finally agreed to run cor­rec­tions. They were effec­tively shamed into doing so by high school stu­dents in New Hamp­shire who heard Gore’s orig­i­nal com­ment. The error also was cited by an Inter­net site called The Daily Howler, edited by a stand-up comic named Bob Somerby. The Love Canal con­tro­versy began on Novem­ber 30. 1999, when Gore was speak­ing to a group of high school stu­dents in Con­cord, New Hamp­shire. He was exhort­ing the stu­dents to reject cyn­i­cism and to rec­og­nize that indi­vid­ual cit­i­zens can effect impor­tant changes. As an exam­ple, he cited a high school girl from Toone, Ten­nessee, a town that had expe­ri­enced prob­lems with toxic waste. She brought the issue to the atten­tion of Gore’s con­gres­sional office in the late 1970’s.” (Idem.)

6. “ ‘I called for a con­gres­sional inves­ti­ga­tion and a hear­ing,’ Gore told the stu­dents. ‘I looked around the coun­try for other sites like that. I found a lit­tle place in upstate New York called Love Canal. Had the first hear­ing on that issue, and Toone, Tennessee—that was the one that you didn’t hear of. But that was the one that started it all.’ After the con­gres­sional hear­ings, Gore Said, ‘we passed a major national law to clean up haz­ardous dump­sites. And we had new efforts to stop the prac­tices that ended up poi­son­ing water around the coun­try. We’ve still got work to do. But we made a huge dif­fer­ence. And it all hap­pened because one high school stu­dent got involved.’ The con­text of Gore’s com­ment was clear. What sparked his inter­est in the toxic-waste issue was the sit­u­a­tion in tone: ‘That was the one that you didn’t hear of. But that was the one that started it all.’ After learn­ing about the Toone sit­u­a­tion, Gore looked for other exam­ples and ‘found’ a sim­i­lar case at Love Canal. He was not claim­ing to have been the first one to dis­cover Love Canal, which already had been evac­u­ated. He sim­ply needed other case stud­ies for the hear­ings.” (Ibid.; p. 298.)

7. Note how the media delib­er­ately butchered what Gore said: “The next day, The Wash­ing­ton Post stripped Gore’s com­ments of their con­text and gave them a neg­a­tive twist. ‘Gore boasted about his efforts in Con­gress 20 years ago to pub­li­cize the dan­gers of toxic waste,’ the Post said. ‘I found a lit­tle place in upstate New York called Love Canal,’ he said, refer­ring to the Nia­gara homes evac­u­ated in August 1978 because of chem­i­cal con­t­a­m­i­na­tion. ‘I had the first hear­ing on this issue.’ . . . Gore said his efforts made a last­ing impact. ‘I was the one that started it all,’ he said.’ The New York Times ran a slightly less con­tentious story with the same false quote: ‘I was the one that started it all.’ . . . In just one day, the key quote had trans­formed from ‘that was the one that started it all’ to ‘I was the one who started it all.’ But instead of tak­ing the offen­sive against these mis­quotes, Gore tried to head off the con­tro­versy by clar­i­fy­ing his mean­ing and apol­o­giz­ing if any­one got the wrong impres­sion. But the fun was just begin­ning. The national pun­dit shows quickly picked up the story of Gore’s new exag­ger­a­tion. . . .” (Idem.)

8. The media behaved in a sim­i­lar, par­ti­san man­ner with regard to Gore’s state­ments of the car­i­ca­ture of him in the novel Love Story. “The ear­li­est of these Gore ‘lies,’ dat­ing back to 1997, was Gore’s com­ment about a media report that he and his wife Tip­per had served as mod­els for the lead char­ac­ters in the sen­ti­men­tal best­seller and movie, Love Story. When the author, Erich Segal, was asked about Gore’s impres­sion, he stated that the preppy hockey-playing male lead, Oliver Bar­rett IV, indeed was mod­eled after Gore and Gore’s Har­vard room­mate, actor Tommy Lee Jones. But Segal said the female lead, Jenny, was not mod­eled after Tip­per Gore. Rather than treat­ing this dis­tinc­tion as a minor point of legit­i­mate con­fu­sion, the news media con­cluded that Gore had will­fully lied. The media made the case an indict­ment against Gore’s hon­esty. In doing so, how­ever, the media repeat­edly mis­stated the facts, insist­ing that Segal had denied that Gore was the model for the lead male char­ac­ter. In real­ity, Segal had con­firmed that Gore was, at least partly, the inspi­ra­tion for the char­ac­ter, Bar­rett, played by Ryan O’Neal. . . .” (Ibid.; pp. 302–303.)

9. Robert Parry also details the ori­gin and sub­stance of the canard that Al Gore claimed to have invented the Inter­net. Note, again, how the media func­tioned as lit­tle more than an adjunct to the GOP’s pro­pa­ganda oper­a­tions: “The media’s treat­ment of the Inter­net com­ment fol­lowed a sim­i­lar course. Gore’s state­ment may have been poorly phrased, but its intent was clear: he was try­ing to say that he worked in Con­gress to help develop the Inter­net. Gore wasn’t claim­ing to have ‘invented’ the Inter­net,’ as many jour­nal­ists have asserted. Gore’s actual com­ment, in an inter­view with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that aired on March 9, 1999, was as fol­lows: ‘Dur­ing my ser­vice in the United States Con­gress, I took the ini­tia­tive in cre­at­ing the Inter­net.’ Repub­li­cans quickly went to work on Gore’s state­ment. In press releases, they noted that the pre­cur­sor of the Inter­net, called ARPANET, existed in 1971, a half dozen years before Gore entered Con­gress. But ARPANET was a tiny net­work­ing of about 30 uni­ver­si­ties, a far cry from today’s ‘infor­ma­tion super­high­way,’ iron­i­cally a phrase widely cred­ited to Gore. As the media clamor arose about Gore’s sup­posed claim that he had invented the Inter­net, Gore’s spokesman Chris Lehane tried to explain. He noted that Gore ‘was the leader in Con­gress on the con­nec­tions between data trans­mis­sion and com­put­ing power, what we call infor­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy. And those efforts helped to cre­ate the Inter­net that we know today.’ There was no dis­put­ing Lehane’s descrip­tion of Gore’s lead con­gres­sional role in devel­op­ing today’s Inter­net. But the media was off and run­ning. Rou­tinely, the reporters lopped off the intro­duc­tory clause ‘dur­ing my ser­vice in the United States Con­gress’ or sim­ply jumped to word sub­sti­tu­tions, assert­ing that Gore claimed that he ‘invented’ the Inter­net, which car­ried the notion of hands-on com­puter engi­neer. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 303.)

10. Exem­pli­fy­ing the shame­less­ness of the media’s par­ti­san­ship was the behav­ior of reporters view­ing a pri­mary cam­paign debate between Bill Bradley and Al Gore at Dart­mouth Col­lege in Hanover, New Hamp­shire. “ . . . At times the media jet­ti­soned any pre­text of objec­tiv­ity. Accord­ing to var­i­ous accounts of the first Demo­c­ra­tic debate in Hanover, New Hamp­shire, reporters openly mocked Gore as they sat in a nearby press room and watched the debate on tele­vi­sion. Sev­eral jour­nal­ists later described the inci­dent, but with­out overt crit­i­cism of their col­leagues. As The Daily Howler observed, Time’s Eric Poo­ley cited the reporters’ reac­tion only to under­score how Gore was fail­ing in his ‘fren­zied attempt to con­nect.’ ‘The ache was unmistakable—and even touching—but the 300 media types watch­ing in the press room at Dart­mouth were, to use the appro­pri­ate tech­ni­cal term, totally grossed out by it,’ Poo­ley wrote. ‘When­ever Gore came on too strong, the room erupted in a col­lec­tive jeer, like a gang of 15-year-old Heathers cut­ting down some hap­less nerd.’ Hotline’s Howard Mort­man described the same behav­ior as the reporters ‘groaned, laughed and howled’ at Gore’s com­ments. Later, dur­ing an appear­ance on C-SPAN’s ‘Wash­ing­ton Jour­nal,’ Salon.com’s Jake Tap­per cited the Hanover inci­dent, too. ‘I can tell you that the only media bias I have detected in terms of a group media bias was, at the first debate between Bill Bradley and Al Gore, there was hiss­ing for Gore in the media room up at Dart­mouth Col­lege. The reporters were hiss­ing Gore, and that’s the only time I’ve ever heard the press room boo or hiss any can­di­date of any party at any event.’ . . .” (Ibid.; p. 304.)

5. Con­clud­ing with dis­cus­sion of North Korea’s nuclear weapons pro­gram, Robert Parry high­lights the finan­cial aid given to North Korea in the early 1990’s by Rev­erend Sun Myung Moon’s busi­ness empire. This money may well have aided the Korean nuclear effort. In Secrecy and Priv­i­lege, Parry notes the pro­found links between the Bush fam­ily and the Moon orga­ni­za­tion. (For more about the Moon/Bush con­nec­tion, see—among other programs—FTR#’s 490, 491.) “The Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s busi­ness empire, which includes the right-wing Wash­ing­ton Times, paid mil­lions of dol­lars to North Korea’s com­mu­nist lead­ers in the early 1990s when the hard-line gov­ern­ment needed for­eign cur­rency to finance its weapons pro­grams, accord­ing to U.S. Defense Intel­li­gence Agency documents.

The pay­ments included a $3 mil­lion ‘birth­day present’ to cur­rent com­mu­nist leader Kim Jong Il and off­shore pay­ments amount­ing to ‘sev­eral tens of mil­lion dol­lars’ to the pre­vi­ous com­mu­nist dic­ta­tor, Kim Il Sung, the doc­u­ments said.

Moon appar­ently was seek­ing a busi­ness foothold in North Korea, but the trans­ac­tions also raised poten­tial legal ques­tions for Moon, who appears to have defied U.S. embar­gos on trade and finan­cial rela­tions with the Pyongyang gov­ern­ment. Those legal ques­tions were never pur­sued, how­ever, appar­ently because of Moon’s pow­er­ful polit­i­cal con­nec­tions within the Repub­li­can power struc­ture of Wash­ing­ton, includ­ing finan­cial and polit­i­cal ties to the Bush family.

Besides mak­ing alleged pay­ments to North Korea’s com­mu­nist lead­ers, the 86-year-old founder of the South Korean-based Uni­fi­ca­tion Church has fun­neled large sums of money, pos­si­bly mil­lions of dol­lars, to for­mer Pres­i­dent George H.W. Bush.

One well-placed for­mer leader of Moon’s Uni­fi­ca­tion Church told me that the total ear­marked for for­mer Pres­i­dent Bush was $10 mil­lion. The father of the cur­rent U.S. Pres­i­dent has declined to say how much Moon’s orga­ni­za­tion actu­ally paid him for speeches and other ser­vices in Asia, the United States and South America.

At one Moon-sponsored speech in Argentina in 1996, Bush declared, ‘I want to salute Rev­erend Moon,’ whom Bush praised as ‘the man with the vision.’

Bush made these speeches at a time when Moon was express­ing intensely anti-American views. In his own speeches, Moon termed the United States ‘Satan’s har­vest’ and claimed that Amer­i­can women descended from a ‘line of prostitutes.’

Dur­ing the piv­otal pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in 2000, Moon’s Wash­ing­ton Times alsoat­tacked the Clinton-Gore admin­is­tra­tion for fail­ing to take more aggres­sive steps to block North Korea’s mil­i­tary research and devel­op­ment. The news­pa­per called the Clinton-Gore administration’s deci­sions an ‘abdi­ca­tion of respon­si­bil­ity for national security.’

Yet, in the 1990s when North Korea was scram­bling for the resources to develop mis­siles and nuclear tech­nol­ogy, Moon was among a small group of out­side busi­ness­men qui­etly invest­ing in North Korea.

Moon’s activ­i­ties attracted the atten­tion of the Defense Intel­li­gence Agency, which is respon­si­ble for mon­i­tor­ing poten­tial mil­i­tary threats to the United States.

Though his­tor­i­cally an ardent anti­com­mu­nist, Moon nego­ti­ated a busi­ness deal in 1991 with Kim Il Sung, the long­time com­mu­nist leader, the DIA doc­u­ments said.

The deal called for con­struc­tion of a hotel com­plex in Pyongyang as well as a new Holy Land at the site of Moon’s birth in North Korea, one doc­u­ment said. The DIA said the deal sprang from face-to-face nego­ti­a­tions between Moon and Kim Il Sung in North Korea from Nov. 30 to Dec. 8, 1991.

‘These talks took place secretly, with­out the knowl­edge of the South Korean gov­ern­ment,’ the DIA wrote on Feb. 2, 1994. ‘In the orig­i­nal deal with Kim [Il Sung], Moon paid sev­eral tens of mil­lion dol­lars as a down-payment into an over­seas account,’ the DIA said in a cable dated Aug. 14, 1994.

The DIA said Moon’s orga­ni­za­tion also deliv­ered money to Kim Il Sung’s son and suc­ces­sor, Kim Jong Il.

‘In 1993, the Uni­fi­ca­tion Church sold a piece of prop­erty located in Penn­syl­va­nia,’ the DIA reported on Sept. 9, 1994. ‘The profit on the sale, approx­i­mately $3 mil­lion was sent through a bank in China to the Hong Kong branch of the KS [South Korean] com­pany ‘Sam­sung Group.’ The money was later pre­sented to Kim Jung Il [Kim Jong Il] as a birth­day present.’

After Kim Il Sung’s death in 1994 and his suc­ces­sion by his son, Kim Jong Il, Moon dis­patched his long­time aide, Bo Hi Pak, to ensure that the busi­ness deals were still on track with Kim Jong Il ‘and his coterie,’ the DIA reported.

‘If nec­es­sary, Moon autho­rized Pak to deposit a sec­ond pay­ment for Kim Jong Il,’ the DIA wrote.

The DIA declined to elab­o­rate on the doc­u­ments that it released to me under a Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act request in 2000. ‘As for the doc­u­ments you have, you have to draw your own con­clu­sions,’ said DIA spokesman, U.S. Navy Capt. Michael Stainbrook.

Con­tacted in Seoul, South Korea, in fall 2000, Bo Hi Pak, a for­mer pub­lisher of The Wash­ing­ton Times, denied that pay­ments were made to indi­vid­ual North Korean lead­ers and called ‘absolutely untrue’ the DIA’s descrip­tion of the $3 mil­lion land sale ben­e­fit­ing Kim Jong Il.

But Bo Hi Pak acknowl­edged that Moon met with North Korean offi­cials and nego­ti­ated busi­ness deals with them in the early 1990s. Pak said the North Korean busi­ness invest­ments were struc­tured through South Korean entities.

‘Rev. Moon is not doing this in his own name,’ said Pak.

Pak said he went to North Korea in 1994, after Kim Il Sung’s death, only to express ‘con­do­lences’ to Kim Jong Il on behalf of Moon and his wife. Pak denied that another pur­pose of the trip was to pass money to Kim Jong Il or to his associates.

Asked about the seem­ing con­tra­dic­tion between Moon’s avowed anti-communism and his friend­ship with lead­ers of a com­mu­nist state, Pak said, ‘This is time for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. We’re not look­ing at ide­o­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences. We are try­ing to help them out’ with food and other human­i­tar­ian needs.

Sam­sung offi­cials said they could find no infor­ma­tion in their files about the alleged $3 mil­lion payment.

North Korean offi­cials clearly val­ued their rela­tion­ship with Moon. In Feb­ru­ary of 2000, on Moon’s 80th birth­day, Kim Jong Il sent Moon a gift of rare wild gin­seng, an aro­matic root used med­i­c­i­nally, Reuters reported.

Because of the long-term U.S. embargo against North Korea, Moon’s alleged pay­ments to the com­mu­nist lead­ers raised poten­tial legal issues for Moon, a South Korean cit­i­zen who is a U.S. per­ma­nent res­i­dent alien.

‘Nobody in the United States was sup­posed to be pro­vid­ing fund­ing to any­body in North Korea, period, under the Trea­sury (Department’s) sanc­tion regime,’ said Jonathan Winer, for­mer deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary of state han­dling inter­na­tional crime.

The U.S. embargo of North Korea dates back to the Korean War. With a few excep­tions for human­i­tar­ian goods, the embargo barred trade and finan­cial deal­ings between North Korea and ‘all U.S. cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents wher­ever they are located, … and all branches, sub­sidiaries and con­trolled affil­i­ates of U.S. orga­ni­za­tions through­out the world.’

Moon became a per­ma­nent res­i­dent of the United States in 1973, accord­ing to Jus­tice Depart­ment records. Bo Hi Pak said Moon has kept his ‘green card’ sta­tus. Though often in South Korea and South Amer­ica, Moon main­tained a res­i­dence near Tar­ry­town, north of New York City, and con­trols dozens of affil­i­ated U.S. companies.

Direct pay­ments to for­eign lead­ers in con­nec­tion with busi­ness deals also could have prompted ques­tions about pos­si­ble vio­la­tions of the U.S. Cor­rupt Prac­tices Act, a pro­hi­bi­tion against over­seas bribery.

(But in the six years since we dis­closed the Moon-North Korean pay­ments, George W. Bush’s admin­is­tra­tion has taken no legal action against Moon. Mean­while, Moon’s Wash­ing­ton Times has been one of Bush’s most con­sis­tent and aggres­sive back­ers in the U.S. news media.)

Moon’s fol­low­ers regard him as the sec­ond Mes­siah and grant him broad power over their lives, even let­ting him pick their spouses. Crit­ics, includ­ing ex-Unification Church mem­bers, have accused Moon of brain­wash­ing young recruits and liv­ing extrav­a­gantly while his fol­low­ers have little.

Around the world, Moon’s busi­ness rela­tion­ships long have been cloaked in secrecy. His sources of money have been mys­ter­ies, too, although wit­nesses – includ­ing his for­mer daughter-in-law – have come for­ward in recent years and alleged crim­i­nal money-laundering within the organization.

Moon ‘demon­strated con­tempt for U.S. law every time he accepted a paper bag full of untrace­able, unde­clared cash col­lected from true believ­ers’ who car­ried the money in from over­seas, wrote his ex-daughter-in-law, Nan­sook Hong, in her 1998 book, In the Shad­ows of the Moons.

Since Moon stepped onto the inter­na­tional stage in the 1970s, he has used his for­tune to build polit­i­cal alliances and to finance media, aca­d­e­mic and polit­i­cal institutions.

In 1978, Moon was iden­ti­fied by the con­gres­sional ‘Kore­a­gate’ inves­ti­ga­tion as an oper­a­tive of the South Korean CIA and part of an influence-buying scheme aimed at the U.S. gov­ern­ment. Moon denied the charges.

Though Moon later was con­victed on fed­eral tax eva­sion charges, his polit­i­cal influ­ence con­tin­ued to grow when he founded The Wash­ing­ton Times in 1982. The unabashedly right-wing news­pa­per won favor with pres­i­dents Ronald Rea­gan and George H.W. Bush by back­ing their poli­cies and ham­mer­ing their opponents.

In 1988, when then-Vice Pres­i­dent Bush was trail­ing early in the pres­i­den­tial race, the Times spread a base­less rumor that the Demo­c­ra­tic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Michael Dukakis had under­gone psy­chi­atric treat­ment. The Moon-affiliated Amer­i­can Free­dom Coali­tion also dis­trib­uted mil­lions of pro-Bush flyers.

The elder George Bush per­son­ally expressed his grat­i­tude. When Wes­ley Pru­den was appointed The Wash­ing­ton Times’ editor-in-chief in 1991, Bush invited Pru­den to a pri­vate White House lunch ‘just to tell you how valu­able the Times has become in Wash­ing­ton, where we read it every day.’ [Wash­ing­ton Times, May 17, 1992].

While Bush was host­ing Pru­den in the White House, Pruden’s boss was open­ing his finan­cial and busi­ness chan­nels to North Korea. Accord­ing to the DIA, Moon’s North Korean deal was ambi­tious and expensive.

‘There was an agree­ment regard­ing eco­nomic coop­er­a­tion for the recon­struc­tion of KN’s [North Korea’s] econ­omy which included estab­lish­ment of a joint ven­ture to develop tourism at Kimkangsan, KN [North Korea]; invest­ment in the Tuman­gang River Devel­op­ment; and invest­ment to con­struct the light indus­try base at Won­san, KN. It is believed that dur­ing their meet­ing Mun [Moon] donated 450 bil­lion yen to KN,’ one DIA report said.

In late 1991, the Japan­ese yen traded at about 130 yen to the U.S. dol­lar, mean­ing Moon’s invest­ment would have been about $3.5 bil­lion, if the DIA infor­ma­tion is correct.

Moon’s aide Pak denied that Moon’s invest­ments ever approached that size. Though Pak did not give an over­all fig­ure, he said the ini­tial phase of an auto­mo­bile fac­tory was in the range of $3 mil­lion to $6 million.

The DIA depicted Moon’s busi­ness plans in North Korea as much grander. The DIA val­ued the agree­ment for hotels in Pyongyang and the resort in Kumgang-san, alone, at $500 mil­lion. The plans also called for cre­ation of a kind of Vat­i­can City cov­er­ing Moon’s birthplace.

‘In con­sid­er­a­tion of Mun’s [Moon’s] eco­nomic coop­er­a­tion, Kim [Il Sung] granted Mun a 99-year lease on a 9 square kilo­me­ter par­cel of land located in Chongchu, Pyon­gan­pukto, KN. Chongchu is Mun’s birth­place and the prop­erty will be used as a cen­ter for the Uni­fi­ca­tion Church. It is being referred to as the Holy Land by Uni­fi­ca­tion Church believ­ers and Mun [h]as been granted extrater­ri­to­ri­al­ity dur­ing the life of the lease.’

North Korea granted Moon some smaller favors, too. Four months after Moon’s meet­ing with Kim Il Sung, edi­tors from The Wash­ing­ton Times were allowed to inter­view the reclu­sive North Korean com­mu­nist leader in what the Times called ‘the first inter­view he has granted to an Amer­i­can news­pa­per in many years.’

Later in 1992, the Times was again ral­ly­ing to Pres­i­dent George H.W. Bush’s defense. The news­pa­per stepped up attacks against Iran-Contra spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor Lawrence Walsh as his inves­ti­ga­tion homed in on Bush and his inner cir­cle. Walsh con­sid­ered the Times’ relent­less crit­i­cism a dis­trac­tion to the crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion, accord­ing to his book, Fire­wall.

That fall, in the 1992 cam­paign, the Times turned its edi­to­r­ial guns on Bush’s new rival, Bill Clin­ton. Some of the anti-Clinton arti­cles raised ques­tions about Clinton’s patri­o­tism, even sug­gest­ing that the Rhodes scholar might have been recruited as a KGB agent dur­ing a col­le­giate trip to Moscow.

George H.W. Bush’s loss of the White House did not end his rela­tion­ship with Moon’s orga­ni­za­tion. Out of office, Bush agreed to give paid speeches to Moon-supported groups in the United States, Asia and South Amer­ica. In some cases, Bar­bara Bush joined in the events.

Dur­ing this period, Moon grew increas­ingly hate­ful about the United States and many of its ideals.

In a speech to his fol­low­ers on Aug. 4, 1996, Moon vowed to liq­ui­date Amer­i­can indi­vid­u­al­ity, declar­ing that his move­ment would ‘swal­low entire Amer­ica.’ Moon said Amer­i­cans who insisted on ‘their pri­vacy and extreme indi­vid­u­al­ism … will be digested.’

Nev­er­the­less, for­mer Pres­i­dent Bush con­tin­ued to work for Moon’s orga­ni­za­tion. In Novem­ber 1996, the for­mer U.S. Pres­i­dent spoke at a din­ner in Buenos Aires, Argentina, launch­ing Moon’s South Amer­i­can news­pa­per, Tiem­pos del Mundo.

‘I want to salute Rev­erend Moon,’ Bush declared, accord­ing to a tran­script of the speech pub­lished in The Uni­fi­ca­tion News, an inter­nal church newsletter.

‘A lot of my friends in South Amer­ica don’t know about The Wash­ing­ton Times, but it is an inde­pen­dent voice,’ Bush said. ‘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.’

Con­trary to Bush’s claim, a num­ber of senior edi­tors and cor­re­spon­dents have resigned in protest of edi­to­r­ial inter­fer­ence from Moon’s oper­a­tives. Bush has refused to say how much he was paid for the speech in Buenos Aires or oth­ers in Asia and the United States.

Dur­ing the 2000 elec­tion cycle, Moon’s news­pa­per took up the cause of Bush’s son and mounted harsh attacks against his rival, Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore.

In 1999, the Times played a promi­nent role in pro­mot­ing a bogus quote attrib­uted to Gore about his work on the toxic waste issue. In a speech in Con­cord, N.H., Gore had referred to a toxic waste case in Toone, Ten­nessee, and said, ‘that was the one that started it all.’

The New York Times and The Wash­ing­ton Post gar­bled the quote, claim­ing that Gore had said, ‘I was the one that started it all.’

The Wash­ing­ton Times took over from there, accus­ing Gore of being clin­i­cally ‘delu­sional.’ The Times called the Vice Pres­i­dent ‘a politi­cian who not only man­u­fac­tures gross, obvi­ous lies about him­self and his achieve­ments but appears to actu­ally believe these con­fab­u­la­tions.’ [Wash­ing­ton Times, Dec. 7, 1999]

Even after other papers cor­rected the false quote, The Wash­ing­ton Times con­tin­ued to use it. The notion of Gore as an exag­ger­a­tor, often based on this and other mis-reported inci­dents, became a pow­er­ful Repub­li­can ‘theme’ as Texas Gov. Bush surged ahead of Gore in the pres­i­den­tial pref­er­ence polls.

Repub­li­cans also made the North Korean threat an issue against the Clinton-Gore admin­is­tra­tion. In 1999, a report by a House Repub­li­can task force warned that dur­ing the 1990s, North Korea and its mis­sile pro­gram emerged as a nuclear threat to Japan and pos­si­bly the Pacific North­west of the United States.

‘This threat has advanced con­sid­er­ably over the past five years, par­tic­u­larly with the enhance­ment of North Korea’s mis­sile capa­bil­i­ties,’ the Repub­li­can task force said. ‘Unlike five years ago, North Korea can now strike the United States with a mis­sile that could deliver high explo­sive, chem­i­cal, bio­log­i­cal, or pos­si­bly nuclear weapons.’

Moon’s news­pa­per joined in exco­ri­at­ing the Clinton-Gore admin­is­tra­tion for post­pon­ing a U.S. mis­sile defense sys­tem to counter mis­siles from North Korea and other ‘rogue states.’ Gov. Bush favored such a system.

‘To its list of missed oppor­tu­ni­ties, the Clinton-Gore admin­is­tra­tion can now add the abdi­ca­tion of respon­si­bil­ity for national secu­rity,’ a Times edi­to­r­ial said.

‘By decid­ing not to begin con­struc­tion of the Alaskan radar, Mr. Clin­ton has indis­putably delayed even­tual deploy­ment beyond 2005, when North Korea is esti­mated to be capa­ble of launch­ing an inter­con­ti­nen­tal mis­sile against the United States.’ [Wash­ing­ton Times, Sept. 5, 2000]

The Wash­ing­ton Times did not note that its founder – who has con­tin­ued to sub­si­dize the news­pa­per with tens of mil­lions of dol­lars a year – had defied a U.S. trade embargo aimed at con­tain­ing the mil­i­tary ambi­tions of North Korea.

By sup­ply­ing money at a time when North Korea was des­per­ate for hard cur­rency, Moon helped deliver the means for the com­mu­nist state to advance exactly the strate­gic threat that Moon’s news­pa­per chas­tised the Clinton-Gore admin­is­tra­tion for fail­ing to thwart.

That money bought Moon influ­ence inside North Korea. The Korean theo­crat also appears to have secured cru­cial pro­tec­tion from George W. Bush’s admin­is­tra­tion, after invest­ing wisely for many years in the President’s fam­ily.”
(“Moon, North Korea and the Bushes” by Robert Parry; Con­sor­tium News; 10/11/2006.)


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