Saturday, September 09, 2006

Further down "The Path": The Scaife/CIA connection (UPDATED)

Update: Readers will want to see this rant by Loren Cunningham, founder of the cult behind the lying schlock-udrama The Path to 9/11: "Winning by Losing: The Importance of Giving Up Rights." (In the immortal words of Anna Russell: "I'm not making this up, you know!") The piece argues that the faithful should hand over their brains (and their cash) to Loren -- sorry: to "God," speaking through Loren. Jesus hates independent thought, you see...

I really must thank dr. elsewhere for bringing this to our attention. A report on Cunningham's Youth With a Mission (YWAM) cult concludes with these words:
This organization is extremely anti-Catholic and should not be allowed to operate it's ministry within the Catholic church.
The situation is actually rather complex: Although mainstream Catholics clerics still tend to view YWAM suspiciously (if not disdainfully), the group has made recent attempts to work within the Catholic charismatic movement. Some evidence suggests that the cult's stance toward Catholicism has shifted -- for tactical reasons.

Even so...
Several complaints have been filed with the San Francisco City Hall Mayor’s Office regarding YWAM “missionaries” harassment of homeless Catholics and Gays. On several occasions homeless Catholics were not allowed to pray their rosaries at the YWAM mission because YWAMers believe that the rosary is idol worship. One YWAMer even threatened to throw a homeless man’s rosary into the garbage simply because she saw it lying on the couch. On another occasion a homeless man who happened to be Gay was told by several YWAMers that he should “come to Jesus because Jesus will make you straight”
Disney has a reputation for tolerance, especially on gay issues. Why is one of the world's best-known entertainment brands associating itself with a cult that preaches bigotry?

Incidentally, YWAM is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization. If they have indeed funded a political "hit" piece, they should lose their tax-empt status.

Today we know more -- though not yet enough -- about the Cunninghams, their cult and Disney's odd decision to air that group's The Path to 9/11 on the ABC network. We still don't know where YWAM gets its money. (Their official history is awfully fuzzy on that question.) But the clues are piling up...

(To read the rest, click "Permalink" below)

Director David Cunningham -- son of YWAM founder Loren Cunningham, and himself a leading member of the cult -- had an interesting brief exchange with The Crimson White, the student paper for the University of Alabama:
"We have out CIA consultants and Clinton has his. It's kind of a 'he said, she said' situation right now," Cunningham said.
And just who might those "CIA consultants" be...?

The best background piece so far comes from Max Blumenthal. The "Nowrasteh" here is far-right screenwriter Cyrus Nowrasteh:
Nowrasteh's conservatism was on display when he appeared as a featured speaker at the Liberty Film Festival (LFF), an annual event founded in 2004 to premier and promote conservative-themed films supposedly too "politically incorrect" to gain acceptance at mainstream film festivals. This June, while The Path to 9/11 was being filmed, LFF founders Govindini Murty and Jason Apuzzo -- both friends of Nowrasteh -- announced they were "partnering" with right-wing activist David Horowitz. Indeed, the 2006 LFF is listed as "A Program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center."

Since the inauguration of Bill Clinton in 1992, Horowitz has labored to create a network of politically active conservatives in Hollywood. His Hollywood nest centers around his Wednesday Morning Club, a weekly meet-and-greet session for Left Coast conservatives that has been graced with speeches by the likes of Newt Gingrich, Victor Davis Hanson and Christopher Hitchens. The group's headquarters are at the offices of Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular Culture, a "think tank" bankrolled for years with millions by right-wing sugardaddies like eccentric far right billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife. (Scaife financed the Arkansas Project, a $2.3 million dirty tricks operation that included paying sources for negative stories about Bill Clinton that turned out to be false.)

With the LFF now under Horowitz's control, his political machine began drumming up support for Cunningham and Nowrasteh's "Untitled" project, which finally was revealed in late summer as "The Path to 9/11."
Since the Horowitz/Scaife public alliance with the film occurred during production, we cannot conclude that Scaife forked over the $40 million. But we should consider this linkage a potentially promising lead. (Even as I write, Pensito Review has posted similar suspicions.)

In a previous piece, I cited material supportive of the notion that the CIA has used YWAM as a cover. The Scaife angle may indicate that the most reactionary elements within the American intelligence community have taken an interest in this odd group.

Time for a refresher course on Scaife/Mellon intelligence links. From an old Salon piece (published when Salon was cool):
During World War II, while Richard and Cordelia's father, Alan Scaife, served in Europe in the OSS, the forerunner to the CIA, the Scaife family lived in Washington. Perhaps it was this once-removed brush with intrigue that led to Dick Scaife's growing fascination with conspiracies of all kinds.
Elsewhere, we read:
After WWII, Martin A. Lee and Bruce Schlain note in Acid Dreams, "members of the Mellon family maintained close ties with the CIA. The Mellon family foundations have been used repeatedly as conduits for Agency funds. Furthermore, Richard Helms was a frequent weekend guest of the Mellon patriarchs in Pittsburgh during his tenure as CIA director (1966-1973)."
Back in the 1970s, Scaife ponied up the dough for a fake CIA "news service" called Forum World Features, which was engaged in propaganda and "political warfare." He was recruited for this gig by his long-time friend, CIA man Frank Barnett.

Writer Steve Kangas was exploring Scaife's CIA background in February 1999. That's when Kangas' body was found in a restroom not far from Scaife's office. Officially a suicide, the death struck many as quite suspicious. (Scaife, for his part, may have felt threatened by an unbalanced Kangas.)

Scaife's underlings and the CIA worked together closely during the Iran/contra period. In the material quoted below, "Godson" refers to Roy Godson, appointed by Scaife to head up the Washington office of the National Strategy Information Center:
Scaife's network did not just provide the "intellectual" underpinnings for the "secret government" and offline intelligence operations. In a couple of instances, his operatives were caught directly laundering money for the drug-running Contras, and they almost found themselves indicted as a result of the Iran-Contra investigation. Two of these were Godson and the aptly named Clyde ("Terry") Sleaze, who described himself, during his Iran-Contra deposition in 1987, as having been "general counsel for Richard M. Scaife and his family and entities" during 1974-86. Sleaze testified that he had met Godson while the latter was working for the NSIC, and Sleaze said that he had attended some of the NSIC seminars, as well as having often visited the NSIC to check up on what they were doing with Scaife's money.
(Godson and Sleaze...? If you included names like that in a screenplay, people would laugh at you...)

So far, I have yet to uncover any direct link between Scaife and YWAM or the Cunninghams. However, Scaife's religious views certainly place him in YWAM territory:
Richard Mellon Scaife's office stated that his position is that Certain Religions aren't "Real" religions... He says on the one hand that only certain Christian denominations are valid.
Scaife may have ties Christian Reconstructionism. As we have noted earlier, Loren Cunningham (founder of YWAM, and father to Path to 9/11 director David Cunningham) is a believer in Reconstructionism -- that is, a believer in replacing America's democratic system with a theocracy.

Scaife funds a group called the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), which, although it has not explicitly embraced Reconstructionsim, adheres to an agenda mixing religion and politics. This piece comes close to calling IRD a CIA front:
At the same time IRD continued to promote the radical right foreign and domestic policy agendas of the neoconservative movement that gave it birth. Its mission has closely tracked the neoconservative agenda over the past two decades - moving from militant anticommunism to post-cold war American global domination to radical anti-taxation for the rich and destruction of the meager social safety-net for the poor and middle-class (Tooley, 2001a; IRD, 2001a).

IRD routinely attacks the patriotism and theological integrity of any United Methodist leaders who do not share its blatant jingoism and Biblical fundamentalism (Howell, 2003; Lomperis, 2004). When several respected bishops and other leaders in the UMC questioned the wisdom of the preemptive invasion of Iraq, IRD published a hate-filled commentary accusing them of "worship at the altar of the United Nations," giving "aid and comfort" to our enemies, and having "hatred for President Bush and for America itself" (Berg, 2003).

In November of 2001, IRD featured an editorial entitled "Methodism and Patriotism" (Tooley, 2001b). In the commentary Mark Tooley, executive director of IRD's United Methodist monitoring program, a former CIA analyst and a board member of Good News, questioned the loyalty and patriotism of a host of UMC leaders in the of wake of September 11.
Here's the kicker: Along with Scaife, another big backer of IRD is Howard Ahmanson -- whose pet project is Christian Reconstructionism.

Final notes:

I hope readers are smart enough to see through the BS coming from Disney -- the stuff about how the "film is still being edited." The studio sent out 900 review copies. That means the final cut was a lock -- and it was unlocked only when the controversy erupted.

In a previous post I misidentified Cyrus Nowrasteh as the film's director. He is, in fact, the writer.

Yes, I'm fully aware that some elements of this post are speculative. As I've said in the past, I have no problem with speculation as long as it comes clearly labeled as such, and as long as one is willing to rewrite one's presumptions as new facts arrive. Do not wed yourself to surmise, but do use it to spur further research.


Anonymous said...

joe, ahamson's name is associated with funding electronic voting machines:
from wikipedia,_voting_machines

Bob Urosevich is currently president of Diebold and was the person who original produced Diebold's software [1]. Todd Urosevich (his brother) is vice president of ES&S. In 1999, American Information Systems (AIS), purchased Business Records Corporation (BRC) to become ES&S. AIS (1980) was formerly Data Mark (1979). Both AIS and Data Mark were founded by the Urosevich brothers. In 2002 Diebold acquired Global Election Systems. Global was founded 1991, which itself acquired the AccuVote system the same year. Bob Urosevich is a past president of Global.

AIS was initially funded by Howard Ahmanson, Jr. [2]. Ahmanson is a member of the Council for National Policy, a “steering group” linked to the Bush administration [3],[4],[5],[6],[7] and has holdings in ES&S. Ahmanson donates substantially to CalTech/MIT, and helps finance the Chalcedon Institute and the Discovery Institute which pushes Creationist science and education in California. Chalcedon is a fundamentalist Christian ministry devoted to "nothing short of ... rebuilding the theological fortifications of Christian civilization ... eroded by the forces of humanism and secularism over the past three centuries", and is at the heart of Christian Reconstructionism, a "recently articulated philosophy which argues that it is the moral obligation of Christians to recapture EVERY institution for Jesus Christ" and "among other things 'mandating the death penalty for homosexuals ...'." [8] and [9]

Anonymous said...

plus a nest of coincidences...

Anonymous said...

Cannonfire, this will sound stupid at the outset but, since Walmart needs to make up with America and American workers, would it not be appropriate to ask them to stop selling all Disney products carried by their stores? Walmart could show some support for America and step up to the plate. When I do not see Corporate America worrying about who will film their industry next and expose all the things they too are doing wrong and bad, I think gee... if only Islamic people were running our government I would tell ya we had fascism going on big time here in America

Anonymous said...

Oh, sweet Lord. The ads to the left of this post are absolutely hillarious right now, in a pathetic, "Could they please just give it up?" kinda way. "How Bill Clinton's new friendship with Canada's Belinda Stronarch is 'making waves.'" Jesus Christ.

Joseph Cannon said...

I should mention something about those ads. They change rapidly as Google's "bots" send out ads based on keywords in the text. This can lead to some problems. A blogger can write "Senator Porky is a doofus," and Google will send out an ad for a firm that promotes "Vote for Porky" bumper stickers.

Absolutely nothing can be done about this. Well, you CAN block specific ads, but the gesture is pointless, since the ads can change every few minutes.

Some keywords bring in ads with high-paying click-through rates. If readers wat to help out a blogger (not just me), when you post a comment, try to use the phrases "structured settlements," "mesothelioma," "erectile dysfuction," "depression drugs" and "psychic readings." Bonus points if you can work all those words seamlessly into a single sentence.

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