Koch Footprints Lead to Political Powder Keg: Exposing the Far Right's Secret Slush Fund to Keep Fear Alive
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
Asecretive libertarian nonprofit with ties to Charles Koch bankrolled what was widely perceived to be a fear mongering effort to throw the Presidential election to Senator John McCain in 2008. Until now, where the money came from has been a hotly debated mystery.
Seven weeks before the Presidential election of 2008, approximately 100 newspapers and magazines in the U.S., including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, and St. Petersburg Times, distributed millions of DVDs of the documentary, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.” The DVDs were included in the Sunday editions. Altogether, including a separate direct mail campaign, 28 million DVDs flooded households in the swing voter states.
The newspapers did not know who was funding this massive propaganda campaign and, apparently, did not care. They inserted the DVD in their Pulitzer properties with the casualness of throwing in a sample of suds free detergent. The nonprofit organization named on the packaging of the DVD as the entity behind the film, the Clarion Fund, Inc., had no known history of operations and had a virtual office address in New York City with no physical presence and no employees on site. Documents submitted to the IRS to obtain its tax-exempt status show the Clarion Fund demanded total secrecy from its vendors:
“At all times, whether during or after the provision of services to Clarion, Service Provider shall keep in confidence and shall not disclose or use, for his or another’s benefit, any nonpublic knowledge, data, material, document or other information of any type that is related to Clarion, or its subsidiaries, directors, members, managers, agents, employees or other affiliates or that Service Provider otherwise acquires in the course of providing services (collectively, the ‘Confidential Information.’).”
The DVD packaging was slick, leveraging the imprimatur of the big league media outlets by listing 73 as part of its distribution network. The cover carried a red banner blaring: “As seen on CNN and FOX News by more than 20 million viewers worldwide.” The title of the film was graphically enhanced with the “O” in “Obsession” sporting the Islamic crescent moon and star and the “N” represented by an upended fearsome automatic weapon. The movie content was slick as well. The first half is endless scenes of suicide bombers and human carnage; the second half of the film intersperses clips of Hitler, Hitler Youth, or Hitler analogies intermittently with Muslim crowds and young children with fists in the air calling for death to westerners. Once at the beginning and again at the end, the film reminds us that not all Muslims ostensibly want to kill us; in the middle of the film it quantifies the number that do (without any support to back up this hunch): a cool 100 to 150 million, i.e., 10 to 15 per cent of 1 billion Muslims.
In one particular respect, it resembles a government-made war propaganda film: it is silent on the hundreds of thousands of civilian Muslims, including women and children, killed by U.S. bombs and ground war.
One possible tie to government interests is Erik Werth. Mr. Werth served under Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin in the Clinton White House where he worked on a Top Secret review of White House Security. He was also a segment producer at NBC’s Dateline. In documents submitted to the IRS to gain tax exempt status for the Clarion Fund, Mr. Werth’s email address is listed. Mr. Werth is named as the Co-Director and Co-Producer of the Clarion Fund’s subsequent documentary, “The Third Jihad.” The Fund’s web site, RadicalIslam.org advises that yet a third film is on the way, “Iraniam,” concerning Iran and nuclear weapons.