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By Bob Harris
HEY, DID YOU HEAR the one about how President Clinton allegedly sold spots in Arlington National Cemetery to the highest bidder? Insight magazine, owned by the Washington Times, said it was true. It was a big scandal, at least if you listen to talk radio. The Washington Times is the one newspaper that Rush, Ollie, and G. Gordon repeatedly call the most reputable in Washington. So predictably, all three lathered up about ethics and military honor. Which is ballsy as hell, given that Limbaugh, North, and Liddy, in order, are a draft-dodger, an admitted perjurer, and a convicted felon.
And then, shockingly, it turned out the Arlington story wasn't true. Not even slightly. Totally false.
Edward R. Murrow is way dead. These same good folks have also brought you, along with a lot of other baloney: five years of Whitewater, without ever mentioning the apparent influence-buying of toxic waste-dumper International Paper at the heart of the original deal; the Vince Foster "murder," which five investigations have confirmed was a suicide; and the Paula Jones story, which even her own lawyers are fleeing like rats from a sinking ship.
Think for a second about the kind of imaginative disregard for reality required to make Bill Clinton look positively reputable by comparison.
So with all the genuine bribery going on in Congress and the White House, who exactly publishes this diversionary crap in the first place and why? Insight and the Washington Times are both owned by Sun-Myung Moon, the convicted tax swindler who--with a straight face--claims to be holier than Jesus. Moon calls the United States "Satan's harvest" and publicly opposes the very idea of democracy, preferring instead to dream about an absolute religious dictatorship with himself on the throne.
Moon's mind-control tactics over his followers became an object of pop humor when he first became well known, so a lot of folks take his influence lightly. Don't. Even though U.S. membership in his Unification Church is in severe decline, Moon has vastly more money and power than most Americans realize.
Financially, Moon's in the same league as Warren Buffett. Since it's all mixed up in a byzantine array of multinational companies, foundations, and non-profits, nobody knows how much the whole empire is worth. Yet public records confirm that Moon controls over $200 million in real estate just in the Washington, D.C., area alone. The total Moonie haul is well into the billions.
Where does all the money come from? Again, no one really knows for sure. Cheap Moonie labor must be pretty handy. Non-profit status for a lot of the operation probably doesn't hurt much, either. Then again, a '70s-era congressional report bluntly accused Moon of bank fraud and arms smuggling, much of which apparently received sanction from various intelligence agencies. We'd probably know more by now, but the probes ended with the election of Ronald Reagan and former CIA director George Bush, whose circle of contacts in Asia and Latin America overlapped with Moon's closely enough that Moon was even invited to the 1980 inaugural.
Thanks largely to the work of investigative journalist Robert Parry--who first blew the whistle on an unknown Marine illegally running guns from the White House basement (hi, Ollie)--we now know that Moon's financial influence over the Republican Party spans at least two decades. Parry has discovered millions of dollars flowing via various conduits from Moon to the GOP.
A few examples:
When the Iran-Contra scandal broke, Moon supplied at least $5 million to PR efforts on behalf of North, whose later Senate campaign received personnel and financial assistance from several Moonie organizations.
When Jerry Falwell's Liberty University was on the verge of bankruptcy, Moon became his personal savior, sacrificing $3.5 million to pay for Falwell's financial sins. (Some of this money is now financing Paula Jones' ongoing goofiness via a conduit called the Rutherford Foundation.)
More recently, Moon has given a seven-figure series of payments to none other than George and Barbara Bush, in return for a series of little-reported speeches on behalf of Moonie businesses and newspapers in Asia and South America.
Speaking of Moon's newspapers--which were founded for the sole purpose of influencing the U.S. political system on behalf of Moon's larger agenda--the Washington Times loses enormous amounts of money every year. How much, exactly? Moon admitted several months ago than the total for the last 15 years is over a billion dollars. Which means neither the Times nor Insight would even exist without Moon's massive cash flow, almost all of which originates overseas. And these are the publications howling about Asian money influencing the Democrats. Which nicely diverts attention from Moon's own activities.
These are the folks who push any Clinton-bashing allegation whatsoever, thereby currying favor with political allies who, like Moon himself, are more concerned about power than truth, reform, or even democracy.
Follow the money. There's a hell of a lot buried in D.C. these days, on both sides of the aisle. But Arlington's the last place to dig.
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From the Dec. 4-10, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.
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