Rise & Fall of The Washington Times: The Ex-Nazis, Cocaine Smugglers & Cultists Who Created a Right-Wing Propaganda Organ, And Brought It Crashing Down
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On the Offensive
Moon’s organization also used the Washington Times and its political clout in the nation's capital to intimidate or discredit government officials and journalists who tried to investigate Moon-connected criminal activities.
In the mid-1980s, for instance , when journalists and congressional investigators began probing the evidence of contra-drug trafficking, they came under attack from the Times.
An Associated Press story that I co-wrote with Brian Barger about a Miami-based federal probe into gun- and drug-running by the contras was denigrated in an April 11, 1986, front-page Washington Times article with the headline: “Story on [contra] drug smuggling denounced as political ploy.”
When Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, conducted a Senate probe and uncovered additional evidence of contra-drug trafficking, the Washington Times denounced him, too. The newspaper first published articles depicting Kerry’s probe as a wasteful political witch hunt.
“Kerry’s anti-contra efforts extensive, expensive, in vain,” announced the headline of one Times article on Aug. 13, 1986.
But when Kerry exposed more contra wrongdoing, the Washington Times shifted tactics. In 1987 in front-page articles, it began accusing Kerry’s staff of obstructing justice because their investigation was supposedly interfering with Reagan administration efforts to get at the truth.
“Kerry staffers damaged FBI probe,” said a Jan. 21, 1987, Times article that opened with the assertion: “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.”
Despite the attacks, Kerry’s contra-drug investigation eventually concluded that a number of 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 stated 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.”
The Kerry investigation represented an indirect challenge to Vice President George H.W. Bush, who had been named by President Reagan to head the South Florida Task Force for interdicting the flow of drugs into the United States and was later put in charge of the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System.
In short, Vice President Bush was the lead official in the U.S. government to cope with the drug trade, which he himself had dubbed a national security threat.
If the American voters came to believe that Bush had compromised his anti-drug responsibilities to protect the image of the Nicaraguan contras and other rightists in Central America, that judgment could have threatened the political future of Bush and his politically ambitious family.
By publicly challenging press and congressional investigations of this touchy subject, the Washington Times helped keep an unfavorable media spotlight from swinging in the direction of the Vice President – and bought some cover for Moon’s drug-connected right-wing allies, too.