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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