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Imperial Bush
A closer look at the Bush record -- from the war in Iraq to the war on the environment

2004 Campaign
Will Americans take the exit ramp off the Bush presidency in November?

Behind Colin Powell's Legend
Colin Powell's sterling reputation in Washington hides his life-long role as water-carrier for conservative ideologues.

The 2000 Campaign
Recounting the controversial presidential campaign

Media Crisis
Is the national media a danger to democracy?

The Clinton Scandals
The story behind President Clinton's impeachment

Nazi Echo
Pinochet & Other Characters

The Dark Side of Rev. Moon
Rev. Sun Myung Moon and American politics

Contra Crack
Contra drug stories uncovered

Lost History
How the American historical record has been tainted by lies and cover-ups

The October Surprise "X-Files"
The 1980 October Surprise scandal exposed

From free trade to the Kosovo crisis

Other Investigative Stories




Kerry Attacker Protected Rev. Moon

By Robert Parry
October 15, 2004

Carlton Sherwood, who has produced an anti-John Kerry video that will be aired across the United States before the Nov. 2 elections, wrote a book in the 1980s denouncing federal investigators who tried to crack down on Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s illicit financial operations.

In retrospect, Sherwood’s book, Inquisition: The Prosecution and Persecution of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, appears to have been part of a right-wing counter-offensive aimed at discouraging scrutiny of Moon and his mysterious money flows. The strategy largely succeeded, enabling Moon to continue funneling hundreds of millions of dollars into the U.S. political process, most notably to publish the ultra-conservative Washington Times but also to make payments to prominent politicians, including former President George H.W. Bush.

New evidence also makes clear that Moon resumed his practice of laundering money into the United States after serving a 13-month prison sentence for a 1982 conviction for tax law violations. Former Moon associates, including his ex-daughter-in-law, have disclosed that Moon’s organization smuggled cash across U.S. borders, but those admissions have not led to renewed federal investigations. [For details, see Robert Parry, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.]

Indeed, the pummeling of federal investigators who examined Moon’s financial schemes in the 1970s and early 1980s – and Moon’s enormous clout among conservatives in Washington – have made the South Korean theocrat something of a political untouchable. The congressional investigators, who first uncovered Moon’s financial irregularities, and the federal prosecutor, who narrowed that evidence into a successful prosecution for tax evasion, were made into cautionary tales for others thinking about challenging Moon.

Accused Investigators

Government investigators, including former Rep. Donald Fraser and ex-federal prosecutor Martin Flumenbaum, were accused by Moon defenders of offenses ranging from a lack of patriotism to racial and religious bigotry. Sherwood, a former Washington Times reporter, was among the Moon defenders who lashed out at Fraser and Flumenbaum, portraying them as unscrupulous witch hunters who abused their investigative authority.

In Inquisition, Sherwood claimed he had examined the financial records of Moon’s organization and found nothing improper, concluding that Moon and his associates “were and continued to be the victims of the worst kind of religious prejudice and racial bigotry this country has witnessed in over a century.” Sherwood portrayed Moon as a religious martyr.

But there was a back story to Sherwood’s book. Inquisition was originally put out by a little-known publisher called Andromeda, which apparently operated out of the house of Roger Fontaine, a former member of Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council staff who later worked as a reporter for Moon’s Washington Times. In 1991, the book was republished by Regnery-Gateway, which was run by conservative operative Alfred Regnery, who worked in Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department.

Beyond the conservative allegiances of Sherwood’s backers, there also was evidence that Moon himself subsidized the book. A PBS Frontline documentary in 1992 reported that former Washington Times editor James Whelan said Sherwood told Regnery that Moon’s organization would buy 100,000 copies of Inquisition, which would assure Regnery a handsome profit. Frontline reported that Regnery denied Whelan’s statement, as has Sherwood.

However, a week after interviewing Regnery, Frontline said it obtained a copy of a letter that corroborated claims of a secret Moon role in the production of Sherwood’s book. The letter, addressed to Moon from his aide James Gavin, stated that Gavin had reviewed the “overall tone and factual contents” of Inquisition before publication and had suggested revisions.

“Mr. Sherwood has assured me that all this will be done when the manuscript is sent to the publisher,” Gavin wrote. “When all of our suggestions have been incorporated, the book will be complete and in my opinion will make a significant impact. … In addition to silencing our critics now, the book should be invaluable in persuading others of our legitimacy for many years to come.” Frontline said Gavin refused to be interviewed about the letter.

Sherwood’s book did contribute to a successful campaign that silenced many of Moon’s critics. The self-proclaimed Messiah helped his cause, too, by becoming a major benefactor to the U.S. conservative movement, sponsoring lavish conferences as well as financing right-wing media outlets.


The Right’s "defend Moon campaign" dated back to the late 1970s when an investigation by a House subcommittee headed by Rep. Fraser, a Minnesota Democrat, discovered that Moon had participated in the “Koreagate” influence-buying scheme. In that operation, the South Korean intelligence agency was caught secretly trying to manipulate U.S. policy and politics by spreading money around Washington. One of South Korea’s conduits was Moon, then best known as a religious cult leader who presided over mass weddings of his followers and was accused of “brainwashing” young recruits.

Fraser’s investigators found that Moon’s organization was funneling large sums of money into the United States from Japan, but the investigators couldn’t trace the money all the way back to its source.

Moon, who was already investing in Washington’s conservative political infrastructure, turned to American right-wing operatives for help. In pro-Moon publications, Fraser and his staff were pilloried as leftists. Anti-Moon witnesses were assailed as unstable liars. Minor bookkeeping problems inside Fraser’s investigation, such as Fraser's salary advances to some staff members, prompted letters demanding an ethics probe of the congressman.

One of those letters, dated June 30, 1978, was written by John T. "Terry" Dolan of the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC). At the time, Dolan's group was pioneering the strategy of "independent" TV attack ads. In turn, Moon's CAUSA International helped Dolan by contributing $500,000 to another Dolan group, known as the Conservative Alliance or CALL. [Washington Post, Sept. 17, 1984]

With support from Dolan and other conservatives, Moon weathered the Koreagate political storm. Facing questions about his patriotism, Fraser lost a Senate bid in 1978 and left Congress.

Another early Moon defender was Grover Norquist, who interrupted a 1983 press conference by the moderate Republican Ripon Society as it was warning that the New Right had entered into “an alliance of expediency” with Moon’s organization. Ripon’s chairman, Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa, had released a study which alleged that the College Republican National Committee “solicited and received” money from Moon’s Unification Church in 1981. The study also accused Reed Irvine’s Accuracy in Media of benefiting from low-cost or volunteer workers supplied by Moon.

Leach said the Unification Church has “infiltrated the New Right and the party it wants to control, the Republican Party, and infiltrated the media as well.” Then-college GOP leader Norquist disrupted Ripon’s news conference with accusations that Leach was lying. (Norquist is now a prominent conservative leader in Washington with close ties to the highest levels of George W. Bush’s administration.)

Over the next two decades, despite Moon’s controversial goals that include replacing democracy and individuality with his own personal theocratic rule, Moon lured into his circle prominent political figures. One of those leaders was George H.W. Bush, who accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from Moon’s organization for giving speeches.

Crime Connections

Another concern about Moon was his longstanding ties to organized crime figures in Asia and South America, including Japanese rightists Ryoichi Sasakawa and Yoshio Kodama, reputed leaders of the yakuza organized-crime syndicate that profited off drug smuggling, gambling and prostitution in Japan and Korea.

Though briefly jailed as war criminals after World War II, Sasakawa and Kodama rebounded to become power-brokers in Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party. They also collaborated with Moon in organizing far-right anti-communist organizations, such as the World Anti-Communist League (WACL). According to David E. Kaplan and Alec Dubro in their book, Yakuza, "Sasakawa became an advisor to Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Japanese branch of the Unification Church" and helped recruit many of its original members.

Moon also associated with right-wing South American leaders implicated in cocaine trafficking. In 1980, Moon’s organization made friends with Bolivia’s “Cocaine Coup” conspirators who had overthrown a left-of-center government and seized dictatorial power. The violent coup installed drug-tainted military officers at the head of Bolivia’s government, giving the putsch the nickname the “Cocaine Coup.”

One of the first well-wishers arriving in La Paz to congratulate the new government was Moon’s top lieutenant, Bo Hi Pak. The Moon organization published a photo of Pak meeting with the new strongman, Gen. Garcia Meza. After the visit to the mountainous capital, Pak declared, “I have erected a throne for Father Moon in the world’s highest city.

According to later Bolivian government and newspaper reports, a Moon representative invested about $4 million in preparations for the coup. Bolivia’s WACL representatives also played key roles, and CAUSA, another of Moon’s anti-communist organizations, listed as members nearly all the leading Bolivian coup-makers.

By late 1981, however, the cocaine taint of Bolivia’s military junta was so deep and the corruption so staggering that U.S.-Bolivian relations were stretched to the breaking point. “The Moon sect disappeared overnight from Bolivia as clandestinely as they had arrived,” reported German journalist Kai Hermann. [An English translation of Hermann’s report on the Moon organization’s role in the Cocaine Coup was published in Covert Action Information Bulletin, Winter 1986] 

The Cocaine Coup leaders soon found themselves on the run, too. Interior Minister Luis Arce-Gomez was eventually extradited to Miami and was sentenced to 30 years in prison for drug trafficking. Drug lord Roberto Suarez, who was Arce-Gomez’s cousin and had helped finance the coup, got a 15-year prison term. Gen. Garcia Meza became a fugitive from a 30-year sentence imposed on him in Bolivia for abuse of power, corruption and murder.

But Moon’s organization suffered few negative repercussions from its coziness with the Cocaine Coup plotters. By the early 1980s, flush with seemingly unlimited funds, Moon had moved on to promoting himself with the new Republican administration in Washington. There, Moon made his organization useful to President Reagan, Vice President Bush and other leading Republicans. [For more on Moon and the Cocaine Coup, see Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]

Contra Cocaine

Moon cemented his relationship with the U.S. conservative movement by creating the Washington Times in 1982 and making it a reliable propaganda organ for the Republican Party. Moon’s newspaper also promoted conservative causes dear to Ronald Reagan’s heart, such as the contra rebels who were fighting to overthrow Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government. In the 1980s, Moon’s organization and the Reagan-Bush administration found common cause, too, in covering up evidence of contra-connected drug smuggling.

Ironically, in 1986, the leading U.S. senator who challenged the contra cocaine cover-up was John Kerry. Soon, the freshman senator from Massachusetts found himself under attack from Moon’s Washington Times. The newspaper published articles depicting Kerry’s contra drug probe as a wasteful political witch hunt. “Kerry’s anti-contra efforts extensive, expensive, in vain,” announced the headline of one Times article. [Washington Times, Aug. 13, 1986]

But when the evidence continued to build, the Washington Times shifted tactics. In 1987 in front-page articles, it began accusing Kerry’s staff of obstructing justice because their investigation supposedly interfered with Reagan-Bush administration efforts to get at the truth. “Congressional investigators for Sen. John Kerry severely damaged a federal drug investigation last summer by interfering with a witness while pursuing allegations of drug smuggling by the Nicaraguan resistance, federal law enforcement officials said,” according to one of the articles. [Washington Times, Jan. 21, 1987]

Despite the newspaper’s attacks and pressure from the Reagan-Bush administration, Kerry’s contra-drug investigation eventually concluded that contra units – both in Costa Rica and Honduras – were implicated in the cocaine trade. “It is clear that individuals who provided support for the contras were involved in drug trafficking, the supply network of the contras was used by drug trafficking organizations, and elements of the contras themselves knowingly received financial and material assistance from drug traffickers,” Kerry’s investigation said in a report issued April 13, 1989. “In each case, one or another agency of the U.S. government had information regarding the involvement either while it was occurring or immediately thereafter.”

Kerry’s investigation also found that Honduras had become an important way station for cocaine shipments heading north during the contra war. “Elements of the Honduran military were involved ... in the protection of drug traffickers from 1980 on,” the report said. “These activities were reported to appropriate U.S. government officials throughout the period. Instead of moving decisively to close down the drug trafficking by stepping up the DEA presence in the country and using the foreign assistance the United States was extending to the Hondurans as a lever, the United States closed the DEA office in Tegucigalpa and appears to have ignored the issue.”

In the late 1980s, Kerry’s dramatic findings weren’t taken seriously by the New York Times, the Washington Post and other major news media. The Reagan-Bush attacks on Kerry as an irresponsible investigator had stuck. In a Conventional Wisdom Watch item, Newsweek summed up this dominant view, calling Kerry a “randy conspiracy buff.”

It took another decade for the inspectors general of the CIA and the Justice Department to conduct their own investigations that corroborated Kerry’s findings of both contra trafficking and Reagan-Bush neglect of the evidence. In a two-volume report issued in 1998, CIA inspector general Frederick Hitz disclosed that more than 50 contras and contra-related entities had become involved in the cocaine trade during the 1980s and that incriminating information – which was known to the Reagan-Bush administration – was withheld from Congress.

Hitz said the chief reason for the CIA’s protective handling of the contra drug information was Langley’s “one overriding priority: to oust the Sandinista government. … [CIA officers] were determined that the various difficulties they encountered not be allowed to prevent effective implementation of the contra program.” [For details, see Robert Parry's Lost History.]

Moon’s Washington Times also had played an important role in the cover-up of the contra cocaine trafficking, although the motives of Moon’s organization – including its longstanding relationship with drug-tainted leaders in South America – may have added extra incentives to frustrate Kerry’s investigation.

More Kerry Bashing

Now, nearly two decades after Kerry’s contra cocaine investigation, Moon’s organization is trying to keep its old adversary out of the White House and away from control of the Justice Department.

On a number of topics, the Washington Times has led the way in battering Kerry. For instance, as Kerry emerged as the Democratic frontrunner this year, the newspaper promoted an investigative report questioning whether Kerry was lying when he said some foreign leaders favored him over George W. Bush. [Washington Times, March 12, 2004] Though clearly many foreign leaders did favor a change in the White House, the Times opened up a line of attack against Kerry’s honesty and internationalism that has continued to this day. [See’s “Bush and the L-Word.”]

Also popping up again is Carlton Sherwood, who has produced a video that virtually calls Kerry a traitor for his anti-Vietnam War activities. The video, “Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal,” will be broadcast before the Nov. 2 election on Sinclair Broadcast Group’s 62 stations, the largest chain of television stations in the United States.

The Sinclair chain is headed by David Smith and his three brothers whose collection of TV stations have promoted right-wing causes before, even barring its ABC affiliates from airing Nightline on April 30 when Ted Koppel paid tribute to U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq by reading their names and showing their photographs. Sinclair's thinking apparently was that listing the names of the dead would undermine the war effort.

“The Smith brothers and their executives have made 97 percent of their political donations during the 2004 election cycle to Bush and the Republicans,” according to Washington Post reporters Howard Kurtz and Frank Ahrens. [Washington Post, Oct. 12, 2004]

Democratic leaders have cited these Republican political ties in complaining that the Sinclair chain is simply broadcasting “Stolen Honor” as anti-Kerry propaganda to benefit the Bush campaign.

But Sherwood’s longstanding ties to Moon’s organization raise other troubling questions: Do inside-the-Beltway conservatives have a financial incentive to make sure a Moon-friendly politician like Bush stays in charge of the Executive Branch? Would a Kerry victory potentially mean more trouble for Moon getting his mysterious money into the United States? 

Award-winning investigative reporter Robert Parry's latest book is Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq. It can be purchased at It's also available at

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