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Wag the Kennel?

The Kenneth Joseph Story

by CAROL LIPTON

On March 21, veteran right-wing journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave, Paris Bureau Chief for Newsweek for 23 years, and now United Press International (UPI) Editor at Large, wrote from the International Desk in Amman Jordan that “a group of American anti-war demonstrators who came to Iraq with Japanese human shield volunteers made it across the border today with 14 hours of uncensored video”, and that Kenneth Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, told UPI the trip “had shocked me back to reality'”. [1]

On March 23, 2003, The Washington Times ran an identical article by de Borchgrave, also from Amman, Jordan via UPI, stating that the “American anti-war demonstrators” who were accompanied by these human shield volunteers had returned not on March 21, but on March 22. [2]

This time, de Borchgrave described Kenneth Joseph, not as an American antiwar demonstrator, but as a “young American pastor of the Assyrian Church of the East”, who was Included in the group of antiwar demonstrators . Joseph’s itensely emotional transformation from dedicated antiwar activist into ardent supporter of the war in Iraq was attributed to those interviews. Within 3 days, the right wing media was saturated with this story, which also received coverage in the mainstream press.

Incredibly, nowhere has a single photo or segment from these 14 hours of interviews been published, nor do any other journalists who have covered this story claimed that they saw the videos.

The Washington Times, which published the first stories on Joseph, is owned by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who acquired UPI in 2000.

Reverend Moon is head of a notorious religious right-wing Christian cult, the Unification Church, whose fanatical followers, called “moonies”, are subjected to mind-control techniques, as written about by former cult members.[3] Rev. Moon, whose organization has been the subject of hundreds of newspaper artiles, stories, and books, was convicted for tax evasion on July 20, 1984, and was in federal prison, has developed close ties with the Reagan and both Bush administrations. [4]

The founding editor of the Washington Times, James Whelan, has spoken out against the Moon organization since resigning his position due to manipulation from Moon officials. Rev. Moon’s political and business operations were the subject of a 1992 Frontline special on PBS.

PBS questioned the financial backing of The Washington Times, which consistently loses approximately two million dolars a month in operating costs. The Moon organization has spent an estimtated one billion dollars since it began the Times, without accounting for its revenue sources.[5]

De Borchgrave, author of “The Spike” and several other political novels, has been linked to the CIA and far-right think-tanks and institutions, including the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). [6]

On March 26, 2003, The Washington Times reprinted a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article by Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, who was deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration, entitled “A shield decides it’s time to turn it in”, describing Rev. Joseph as one of several “repentant” human shields who had been part of “a group of American anti-war demonstrators, that joined a Japanese human-shield delegation” in Iraq. [7]

Johann Hari’s Article

On March 27, an article by British journalist Johann Hari, dateline Amman Jordan and entitled “Spreading peace at gunpoint”, appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Its topic was alsoKenneth Joseph, the “young American pastor” who was “so convinced that the current war would be waged against the will of the Iraqi people” that he went to Iraq to act as a human shield.[8]

He wrote in this highly charged and dramatic piece that “Joseph was “explaining that his trip had shocked him back to reality”. Yet Hari never states to whom Joseph did the “explaining”, or where. He recounts Joseph’s story as if it were his own, clamining that Iraqis were “willing to see their own homes demolished” in order to end Hussein’s tyranny, and proceeds to issue a trenchant indictment of the entire antiwar movement, accusing its members of being “the real imperialists”, for ignoring the “true wishes” of the Iraqi people.

Hari had already written an essay on March 26 for the Independent, a progressive British newspaper, entitled “Sometimes, the only way to spread peace is at the barrel of a gun”, where he describes Joseph as an “ardent antiwar activist,” whose beliefs were “as fervent as any menber of the Stop the War Coalition”. [9]

On March 27, the Washington Times then published “Dissiolusioned Human Shields”, by right-wing pundit Reed Irvine, head of Accuracy in Media, which is illustrative of the broadside attacks on the antiwar movement which followed. [10]

Irvine’s story embellished upon de Borchgrave’s account, stating that this group of American antiwar organizers had “joined a delegation of Japanese human shields” in Iraq. He describes the group’s spokesperson as Kenneth Joseph, pastor of an obscure religious group, the Assyrian Church of the East, with “a substantial membership in the United States”.

On March 28, Irvine also wrote a piece for the right wing newsletter NewsMax.com, making reference to the “plastic shredder” torture methods in Iraq:

“[Rev. Joseph] said that his talks with Iraqis convinced him that Saddam is “a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. . . Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so [the torture masters] could hear the screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head.”[11]

Similar stories, juxtaposing tales of Saddam’s torture with an indictment of peace activists, spread like wildfire. Other conservative columnists, such as William F. Buckley’s National Review, ran the story, which suddenly appeared in right wing media throughout the globe. [12]

Kenneth Joseph Unknown to Human Shield Organizations

The Philadelphia Daily News covered the human shield expedition from London to Iraq, which comprised over 200 people from 30 countries travelling in red double-decker buses on a gueling 3,000 mile10-day trek. They went to guard civilian sites, such as schools, hospitals, water-treatment facilities and electrical plants. After the Department of State travel ban prohibited American citizens from going to Iraq without obtaining special clearance, all human shield groups needed to apply for this clearance. [13]

A glaring ommission from these articles is how Kenneth Joseph obtained State Department clearance, which he seems to have circumvented as a result of his “invitation as a religious person and family connections'”, and which spared having a government “minder” tail him 24 hours a day. [14]

None of the peace organizations or human shield groups whom I contacted had ever heard of Kenneth Joseph, nor is his name found on any human shield-related websites. [15]

Who is Kenneth Joseph?

Both Arnaud de Borchgrave, in his two UPI articles, and Johann Hari, in both the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Independent, describe Kenneth Joseph as an “American antiwar demonstrator”.

In a report posted by the Religious Organizations Network, entitled “Assyrian Christianity in Japan”, by UCAN Report, Reverend Joseph spoke at a conference on March 16, 1998 in Tokyo, on the history of Christianity in the Far East. At the conference, he was introduced as “American Reverend Ken Joseph”. [16]

Kenneth Joseph’s byline appears on a March 26 article, datelined Amman, Jordan, entitled “I Was Wrong”, and posted on the Assyrian Christian News website. He identifies himself not as an American, but as an Assyrian, born and raised in Japan, whose father [Ken Joseph, Sr.] came to Japan to rebuild the country after World War II.[17]

He writes that as a minister, “and due to my personal convictions, I have always been against war for any and all reasons. It was precisely this moral conviction that led me to do all I could to stop the current war in Iraq.” He recites with emphasis his antiwar credentials:

“From participating in demonstrations against the war in Japan to strongly opposing it on my radio program, on television and in regular columns, I did my best to stand against what I thought to be an unjust war against an innocent people – in fact my people”. . .”.

In an interview in Capitalism Magazine, he again spoke about “participating in demonstrations against the war in Japan to strongly opposing it on my radio program, on television, and in regular columns”. [18]

Assyrian Christians.com states that Barbara Walters will be broadcasting his videotape. [19] Yet, there is no mention of Kenneth Joseph on the Abc.com index to Barbara Walters show.

Joseph’s biography is posted on the Assyrian Christian News website. It states that he is pastor at the Narimasu Christ Church in Tokyo, Japan, founder and director of The Japan Helpline, a worldwide 24-hour hotline and relief assistance organization, and founder and director of the Japan-based Keikyo Institute, which studies the historical roots of Christianity in Asia. [20]

A fundraising appeal for The Keikyo Institute, seeking to raise a million dollars for this “Christian museum in Tokyo”, can be found on The Christian Broadcasting Network website. It mentions Ken Joseph’s “discovery of the Nestorian Monument in China,” as proof that Assyrian Christians settled there, and the goal of the fundraising drive was to provide for the reconstruction of this and other Christian sites in China. There is no mention whatsoever of peace or antiwar activism. [21]

Joseph graduated from the Christian Academy in Japan, and Biola University in La Mirada, California, with degrees in Intercultural Communictions and Mass Communications, and after graduation, returned to Japan in 1987, which would make him at least 37 years old. Yet a recent interview in Japan Today magazine, discussing his work on the Japan Helpline states in bold letters that he is 28. [22]

The alumni directory for Biola College posts an entry for Kenneth Joseph. While he states that he is a pastor in Japan, directing the Keikyo Institute, has written 3 books, and a weekly column for one of Japan’s main newspapers, nowhere does he mention being a “peace activist”. [23]

Joseph’s biography also states that he is currently working on a book about his experiences in Iraq and the current situation in the Middle East, and in other articles, he claims to have written a book along with his father on Assyrian Christians in the Middle East. Yet, nowhere does Amazon.com list any references to books written by Kenneth Joseph, Jr., nor was he mentioned on a website email directory of Assyrian authors.

Joseph wrote an article entitled “The Forgotten Christians”, posted on October 29, 2002 to Church of the East News.com, which credits him as a “writer and Assyrian Missionary in Japan”. It lists his address c/o The Keikyo Institute, which his bio says is in Japan, as being in California (Box 16351, Sierra Madre, CA 91104), with an email address, Info@Church of the East.com. Nowhere does this article even hint at fervent antiwar activity, despite the fact that the article begins “with signs of war with Iraq increasing every day”. [24]

Joseph presents a detailed history of the Assyrian Christians, whom he claims still speak Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus. He then segues to a discussion of U.S. foreign policy: “Currently, the State Department is attempting to put together a coalition of Iraqui Nationalist Groups to decide on a future Government, but the Assyrian Christians as the only non-Islamic group in the mix are at a decided advantage”. Id.

Thus, a full 5 months before UN inspections were cancelled and the Iraqi war began, this “antiwar activist” had an inside track on plans for a post-war Iraqi government.

In the January, 2003 Assyrian Christian Newsletter, Dr. Dan Wooding, founder of ASSIST Ministries, penned “Ministering to the Assyrians”, about a clandestine missionary trip led by Kenneth Joseph, an American “Western Assyrian Christian” who “now lives in Japan” to Baghdad. Joseph, who apparently just returned, went there to deliver supplies to “the precious Assyrian Christians and to set up a network to distribute relief once the situation calms”. [25]

He quotes Joseph as having stayed “with relatives in Baghdad”, and being “the only foreigners in the city without a Government agent. Joseph also claims that one of his students was working with a UN Agency, “so we were completely protected and able to work out of the UN Offices and the Church.” Id. Nowhere is there any indication that Kenneth Joseph was an antiwar activist or human shield.

The Assyrian Christian Newsletter, which I logged onto on April 2, has since been disabled.

In an article datelined January, 2003, entitled “The Forgotten Christians of Iraq”, a right wing newsletter emblazoned with the American flag, there is no mention of a planned trip to Iraq to be a “human shield”, nor antiwar sentiment, nor even the missionary relief trip. He did, however, state that he was a delegate from Asia to the recent Assyrian Representation meeting in London, which brought together Assyrians from Europe, the U.S., Asia and the Middle East for the first time, to put together a plan for a post-Saddam Iraq”. [26]

It is obvious that Kenneth Joseph has been involved in long-term policy planning for the future of Iraq, with an eye upon being a key player in post-war reconstruction.

The Japan Times Connection

Kenneth Joseph’s regular newspaper column is published by Japan Times, for which he has a regular column. Japan Times is part of the Nifco group, a multinational corporation. The Chairman of the Board of Nifco is Toshiaki Ogasawara, a member of the Trilateral Commission from 1992 through 2002. [27]

Ogasawara is a graduate of Princeton, and serves or has served in some official capacity on the boards of Bank of America, Avon, Nike, General Electric Japan, Prudential Asia, and LucasVarity. He is also on the Board of Trustees of the University of Southern California, and the Board of Governors of the Pacific Forum, a project of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where Arnaud de Borchgrave works. [28], [29].

The index linked to his name lists 36 articles written by Joseph since he started his column in 2002. [30] None contain any references to antiwar activity, the war in Iraq, political demonstrations in Japan, or human shields in general, until April 1, over a week after de Borchgrave’s UPI article.

The Japan Times did print several articles on human shields arriving in Syria, dateline Damascus, March 29, 2003. They mention two Japanese who left Baghdad after serving as “human shields”, and were staying at a hotel in Damascus. The delegation was described as having guarded water purification plants near Baghdad, to symbolically ward off attacks.

The Japanese Embassy said that both were in good health, and that 41 Japanese were still in Iraq, with 9 still acting as human shields, as reported by the Foreign Ministry. Remarkably, despite Kenneth Joseph being a staff writer for The Japan Times, nowhere is this internationally renowned “human shield” mentioned in his own paper as having joined company with this Japanese delegation, as reported by de Borchgrave. [31]

Then there is the matter of Kenneth Joseph’s column in Japan Times.

In the two years that Joseph has written this column, the first time Joseph mentions the impending war in Iraq was his February 27 article entitled “Persecuted for centuries, Iraq’s Assyrian Christians once again worry of their future”. [32]

In that article, Joseph calmly and dispassionately discusses the global political situation, focusing on Assyrian Christians. He writes about U.S. State Department plans to assemble a coalition of Iraqi nationalist groups to establish a future government.

He seems amazingly knowledgeable about plans for post-war Iraq, making reference to a pan-Assyrian conference in London, which drew up plans for a post-Hussein Iraq. Discussions at the conference covered “the establishment of political priorities for which land would constitute an independent Assyria and a constitution.” This is not the writing of an impassioned, rather naive peace activist, but rather of a seasoned political strategist with advance knowledge of the impending war.

On April 1, he wrote an article for Japan Times, “Many Iraqis see war as their only escape route”, describing a recent trip to Iraq, without giving the dates of that trip. [33]

He alludes to his antiwar views, and his newspaper columns on the subject, but paradoxically doesn’t refer to any antiwar articles in column for that paper. Nor does he mention being part of a delegation, American or Japanese, to Iraq. Joseph recounts how he “began to talk to some of the ‘human shields’ gathered in Baghdad”, who are described as presumptuous, insensitive, and tone-deaf to the needs and desires of the Iraqi people for freedom, even if it means war in their land. He notes how the Iraqis were prepared for a loss of life, perhaps their own.

There’s only one thing Kenneth Joseph doesn’t mention: the videotapes.

1. http://www.upi.com/

2. http://www.washtimes.com/

3. For a detailed discussion of Reverend Moon’s organizational history, the brainwashing techniques employed on cult members, and a profile of his vast, multi-billion dollar business and media empire, see Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, by Steve Hassan, one of the original deputies in the United States to Reverend Moon, who left the Moon organization and has widely lectured and written of his experiences in the organization. On the subject of cults, see also Combatting Cult Mind Control by Steven Hassan, Aitan Publications, May 2000; the document cited here is from:

HD:Moonorg.doc (WDBN/MSWD) (000A82AE)

A chronology of Reverend Moon’s organizational empire and Church, since his arrival in America in 1971, can be found at:

HD:FAST-FACTS-Sun Myung Moon.doc (WDBN/MSWD) (000A82AD)

4. According to Robert Parry, writing in Consortiumnews.com on October 11, 2000, Rev. Moon’s business empire paid millions of dollars to North Korea’s communist leaders in the early 1990’s, when the hard-line government needed foreign currency to finance its weapons programs, according to U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency documents. The payments included a $3 million “birthday present” to current communist leader Kim Jong Il, and offshore payments amounting to “several tens of millions of dollars” to the previous communist dictator, Kim Il Sung.

Besides making alleged payments to North Korea’s communist leaders, the 80-year old founder of the Unification Church has funneled large sums of money, possibly in the millions of dollars, to former President George H. Bush. Both Bush Sr. and Ronad Reagan have close personal ties with Rev. Moon, who was an honored guest at the Reagan inaugural ceremony.

In recent years, the Moon organization has made substantial inroads in expanding its media and corporate power base. Dozens of top politicians, including George Bush Sr., academics, and media celebrities have accepted paid invitations to speak for the Moon group, Women’s Federation for World Peace, unwittingly lending prestinge and credibility.

5. Moon.doc (WDBNMSWD)(000A82AD)

http://www.consortiumnews.com/2000/101100a.html

6. De Borchgrave’s connections to the CIA and far right organizations and individuals can be accessed by a “proximity map” search on the Public Information Research’s website. The search will generate a map, with a background description for each person or entity on the map:

http://www.namebase.org/

A namebase search on this website for Arnaud deBorchgrave produced 101 links to government and political leaders, authors, right wing organizations, and books written about him. A portion of those listings are as follows:

Covert Action Information Bulletin 1983-#19 (15)

Covert Action Information Bulletin 1985-#23 (24 29 32)

Covert Action Information Bulletin 1980-#10 (39-40)

Covert Action Information Bulletin 1980-#10 (41-42)

Covert Action Information Bulletin 1980-#10 (41-42)

Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). Extra! 1988-10 (7)

Executive Intelligence Review 1999-04-23 (48)

Resource Center. GroupWatch 1989-CSIS (1)

Herman,E. O’Sullivan,G. The Terrorism Industry. 1989 (145)55

Scheim, D. Contract on America. 1988 (324)

Covert Action Quarterly 1999-#68 (62)

Executive Intelligence Review 1999-04-23 (48)

CounterSpy 1982-01 (56)

Marshall,J., The Iran-Contra Connection. 1987 (215)

Parenti, M. Dirty Truths. 1996 (77)

Bradlee,B. A Good Life. 1995 (151)

An excellent overview of the CIA’s influence over the media, which also includes de Borchgrave, can be found at the Global Intelligence News Portal, which posted an article entitled “CIA and the Press: The Mighty Wurlitzer”, which can be found at:

http://mprofaca.cro.net/ciapress2.html

7. http://www.washtimes.com/

8. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/

9. http://argument.independent.co.uk/

10. http:www.aim.org/publications/

11. http://www.newsmax.com/

12. The March 24, the National Review, article, by James S. Robbins, also denounces the antiwar movement for lacking the moral rectitude of Reverend Joseph:

“Many peace marchers invoked Gandhi and King, but they will never be subjected to the purifying sacrifices necessary for true satyagraha. They can afford to do this because of their confidence that they will be treated humanely…I would respect the antiwar demonstrators much more if they volunteered to be human shields in Baghdad, because at least then they would be putting themselves at genuine risk for their beliefs (Can we refer to those who do not go overseas for peace as chicken doves?) If they did so, they might have an epiphany like the one recently visited on Kenneth Joseph.” This can be found at:

http://www.nationalreview.com/robbins/robbins/032403.asp

13. http://www.philly.com/mid/dailynews/news/local/5318201.htm

14. http://www.newsmax.com/archives/

15. These are websites found on Google:

http://groups.google.com/groupsSee, also:

http://www.agonist.org/

16. http://www.atour.com/religion/docs/20001221d.html

17.http://www.assyrianchristians.com/

18. http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=2631

19. http://assyrianchristians.com/

20. http://assyrianchristians.com/about_ken_joseph.htm

21. The link for the Christian Broadcasting Network’s article is: http://cbn.org/SpiritualLife/churchandministry/

22. The Japan Today interview can be found at the following link:

http://metropolis.japantoday.com/

23. http://www.biola.edu/admin/alumni/classes.cfm?az=J

24. http:www.thechurchoftheeast.com/news_oct_29_02.htm

25. http://www.christiannewstoday.com/CNTNews85.html

26. http://aanf.org/midwest/jan2003/forgotten_christians.htm

27. http://www.namebase.org/

28. http://cellar.usc.edu:9673/iac2001/speaker?rec_id=4

29. http:www.usc.edu/about/administration/trustees/

30.http://www.japantimes.co.jp/

The list of the 36 articles written by Ken Joseph for Japan Times, his regular newspaper column in Japan, since 2002, are as follows, and can be found at the following website:

* Taking issue with a visa ‘investigation’ March 18, 2003

* Homesickness, toll-free numbers and money orders March 4, 2003

“There are 2 million of our fellow Assyrian Christians in Iraq. They need our prayers at this time. The best way to appreciate all we have in Japan? Leave for a little bit! I’m homesick already.”

No mention of “war”.

* Persecuted for centuries, Iraq’s Assyrian Christians once again wary of their future February 27, 2003

He expresses concern about the effects of instability on Assyrians if there is a regime change. While he sounds ambivalent about regime change here, he seems more afraid of it than not.

* A kind word, visa sponsorship and tax refunds February 18, 2003

* Refunded cash for working at home and a sumo day out February 4, 2003

* Leaving Japan, getting organized and cash refunds January 21, 2003

* Pension posers, recycling visas, and a re-entry tip-off January 14, 2003

* Getting cash reimbursed for medical costs December 17, 2002

December 10, 2002 No mention of “war” or “Iraq”

* Can tourists get themselves working visas? December 3, 2002

* Visa rules and looking for a dream job November 15, 2002

* A good result with Japan’s health insurance system November 1, 2002

No mention of “war” or “Iraq”, nor of the international conference he had just attended in London, and mentioned on the Assyrian Christian News website

* Insuring your health; ensuring your privacy October 18, 2002

* Finding out more about the law and you in Japan October 4, 2002

* Check-up costs, parking perils, and ‘quake advice September 19, 2002

* Reaching out to Japanese hit on Sept. 11 September 5, 2002

* Divorce issues, cheap traveling and getting ADSL September 5, 2002

* Seeking medical redress and keeping control of Spam August 22, 2002

* Looking after your mental and physical well-being in Japan August 8, 2002

* Prominent figures raise questions over numbering system August 8, 2002

* Health insurance, pension cash claims and odd-job search July 25, 2002

* When the ‘Big One’ hits, help will be close at hand July 25, 2002

* Permanent status and foreign driving licences in Japan July 11, 2002

* Seeking a foreign channel July 4, 2002

* Newshungry TV viewers fighting for English service June 27, 2002

* Getting your just rewards for a lifetime of slog June 13, 2002

* The fuss-free way to get you and your stuff home May 30, 2002

* Lifelines May 16, 2002

* Welcome to a new page, welcome to a new column May 9, 2002

* Religious site July 24, 2001

* All in a (24-hour) day’s work June 24, 2001

* Help is on the way June 24, 2001

* Parents driven to ‘kidnap’ children December 13, 2000

* JET sends third relief mission to Turkey August 24, 1999

* Volunteers struck by refugees’ fortitude May 18, 1999

31. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/

32. Kenneth Joseph’s February 27 Japan Times article can be found at:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/

33. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/