OAKLAND, California - When former president George H W
Bush takes the stage to deliver the keynote
address in honor of the 25th anniversary of the
ultra-conservative Washington Times newspaper in
mid-May, it will not be the first time he has
spoken in support of one of the Reverend Sun Myung
And whatever fee Bush
will realize from his appearance is only one
aspect of what author Kevin Philips has termed
Moon's "close" relationship with the Bush family.
While the elder Bush - and other family
members - have benefited
financially and politically from this relationship
with Moon, the head of the Unification Church has
a more varied agenda in mind, one that includes a
pardon from current President George W Bush.
In the 1980s, Moon served a 13-month jail
sentence for tax evasion. He doesn't want to be a
considered a convicted felon and is hoping for a
pardon before Bush leaves office.
family/Moon relationship dates "to the overlap
between [H W] Bush's one-year tenure as CIA
[Central Intelligence Agency] director  and
the arrival in Washington of Moon, whose
Unification Church was widely reported to be a
front group for the South Korean Central
Intelligence Agency [KCIA]", Phillips wrote in his
best-selling book American Dynasty, Aristocracy,
Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House
During a time when the
activities of the KCIA were the subject of a US
congressional investigation - dubbed Koreagate -
Phillips pointed out that "within Washington
councils, Bush was a powerful voice against any
unnecessary crackdown on the US activities of
allied intelligence services".
George H W Bush's first tasks as director of the
CIA was managing the 'Koreagate' scandal, in which
the government of South Korea and its intelligence
agents had waged espionage against the US
government," said Fred Clarkson, the author of
Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between
Theocracy and Democracy - which includes a
chapter on the Moon organization.
those agents were leading members of Moon's
Unification church. Some members managed to
infiltrate congressional staffs - primarily
Democrats," he said.
During the 1980s,
Moon's Washington Times consistently supported the
Ronald Reagan-Bush team in its version of the
events surrounding the Iran-Contra scandal.
According to Clarkson, "The Moon organization was
part of the private supply lines to the Nicaraguan
Contras, the Washington Times was given special
access and provided consistently flattering
coverage and the newspaper also set up a special
fund for private funding of the Contras."
In 1996, the relationship became decidedly
financial when the former president traveled to
Latin America to help Moon launch Tiempos del
Mundo (Times of the World). At the time Bush
called Moon's flagship US publication, the
Washington Times, "an independent voice" and
assured the crowd that "Tiempos del Mundo ...
[will be] the same thing". According to published
reports, Bush received at least US$100,000 for his
participation in that event.
recently, Moon's Washington Times Foundation
funneled a million dollars to Bush's presidential
library through the Houston, Texas-based Greater
Houston Community Foundation.
also contributed to the financial wellbeing of
other Bush family members. In 2005, Neil Bush, the
former president's son and current president's
brother, accompanied Moon on a few legs of the
reverend's "World Peace King Bridge-Tunnel" tour,
showing up at his side in the Philippines and
Late last year, Business Week
reported Neil Bush's Ignite! Inc - an educational
software company featuring what it calls
"curriculum on wheels", or COWs - received a
million dollars from "a foundation linked to the
controversial Reverend Sun Myung Moon ... for a
COWs research project in Washington-area schools".
But perhaps the most tangible aspect of
the close relationship between the Bush family and
Moon is the unbending support the Washington Times
has given to George W Bush ever since he announced
he was running for the presidency. In recent
years, the newspaper's editorial and opinion pages
have consistently supported the president's "war
on terror" and war in Iraq.
Reverend Moon is
a monster in the laboratory of conservative politics;
no one wants to think about him, yet in order
to ensure his continued support they must periodically
feed his appetite for tribute," said John
Gorenfeld, an investigative reporter and a longtime
chronicler of Moon's activities. "One of Moon's
paybacks at Times-sponsored events is to have
his picture taken and rub shoulders with the politically
powerful and well connected."
"Besides the gift of the support of the
Washington Times, Bush and his son have accepted
large amounts of money from Moon's church," said
Gorenfeld, the author of a forthcoming book about
Moon and US politics.
"In the Clinton
years, George and Barbara Bush toured Japan with
Moon, as well as Argentina. He is believed to have
taken over a million dollars. More recently, a
Moon company funneled $250,000 to the fund for
George W Bush's inauguration."
enterprises extend far beyond the Unification
Church, said Steve Hassan, an expert on cults and
a licensed mental health counselor who was once a
leader in the Moon organization.
are a number of business and political fronts;
it's a multibillion-dollar international
conglomerate headed by a demagogue who claims that
he's the greatest guy in history, who wants to
abolish democracy, end or destroy the United
Nations and set up a theocracy for his heirs to
rule," said Hassan.
When the elder Bush
takes to the podium next month, it would be
surprising if the close relationship between the
Bush family and Moon is scrutinized by the
mainstream media, since it has been basically
ignored or glossed over for decades, Hassan
"It infuriates me, as one who has
been in the group and often heard Moon say that he
wanted to destroy democracy and take over the
world, that the mainstream media has not gotten
this story right," he said. "While they have
talked about corporate lobbying, they've neglected
to discuss the lobbying and political influence of
cults. Moon has been basically mainstreamed."
Hassan also noted that Moon's operation in
the US, which began with the "street recruiting"
of members - especially in university towns - has
shifted to lavish dinners and awards ceremonies
where Moon is able to hobnob with powerful
political figures and later claim their
"Having George H W Bush come
and speak at the Washington Times anniversary
event is definitely a coup," Hassan pointed out.
"That George H W Bush has such a long-term
alliance with the theocratic Reverend Moon, who for all
of his flag waving is on record as hating American
constitutional democracy, is disturbing and will
no doubt come to be seen as a defining aspect of
Bush's political career, before, during and since
his presidency," Fred Clarkson added.
"Bush's headlining the Washington Times'
25th anniversary event couldn't be more
appropriate, since the Rev Moon and Bush's
fortunes, political and otherwise, have been
closely intertwined for decades."
Bill Berkowitz is a longtime
observer of the conservative movement. His column
"Conservative Watch" documents the strategies,
players, institutions, victories and defeats of
the US Right.