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The Rendon Group (TRG) is an American public relations firm with connections at the highest levels within the U.S. intelligence community and the Democratic Party. Over the past decade, it's received more than $100 million in U.S. government funds, both to provoke instability within Iraq and to prepare the American public for war. Of special note: > In 1991-1992, TRG vigorously "spun" news to downplay humanitarian concerns over sanctions. > TRG was influential in the formation of the Iraq National Congress. > TRG most recently surfaced as a key player in the "Office of Strategic Influence", the Pentagon's planned (dis-)information initialtive following 9/11. The history of TRG and Iraq reads like the children's rhyme where an old woman swallows a fly (and next swallows a fly-eating-spider, bird, cat etc.). Beginning with the Gulf War ... (1) The demonization of Saddam Hussein by TRG and others was so successful, that post-war diplomatic progress became politically impossible. (2) Therefore, containing Iraq through sanctions became the most politically expedient solution, and here TRG led the initiative to forestall any question of humanitarian impact. (3) Through TRG's efforts, Iraqi opposition coalesced around the Iraqi National Congress (... though the INC had no credibility within Iraq. The INC is the first proxy army in history that requires a proxy army.) (4) Today TRG retains close ties with the INC and has strong ties with Pentagon conservatives per the 'War on Terror'. Thus, TRG becomes a driver behind the frequent Iraq scare stories that have nudged the American public toward war (anthrax/Prague/al-Qaida in Kurdistan/defector al-Haderi). (5) And now America verges on war without pretext, with no credible post-war plan (save an occupying army), with no discussion of sanctions impact on Iraq's society, and with little thought to regional stability and global economics. The children's rhyme ends: "There was an old woman Who swallowed a fly. Perhaps she’ll die." Following are The Rendon Group's highlights: LEADERSHIP: John Rendon is CEO of TRG. He was formerly Executive Director and National Political Director for the Democratic Party of the United States, Director of Scheduling for President Jimmy Carter, and Analyst for American Political System for BBC World TV. TRG FUNDING RELATED TO IRAQ: >> 1991-1996: TRG was "paid close to a hundred million dollars by the C.I.A." for press issues related to the Iraqi opposition, according to an INC official quoted by Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker (Issue of 2002-03-11, http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?020311fa_FACT). Rendon's own records show he spent $23M during the first post-war year alone, according to ABC News (quoted in TNR (http://www.tnr.com/docprint.mhtml?i=20020520&s=foer052002)). A source of journalist Jeff Stein (familiar to many as Khidir Hamza's co-author) calls it 'a $150 million rip-off'." (http://www.tompaine.com/feature.cfm/ID/5188/view/print) >> 1998 Onward: Congress authorizes expenditure of $97-million under the terms of the Iraq Liberation Act (though much of the money remains unspent amid questions of INC accounting practices). >> Post 9/11/2002: Citing two Pentagon sources, Franklin Foer in the right-wing New Republic says, "The Rendon Group has billed the government at least $7.5 million for its post-9/11 services." (http://www.tnr.com/docprint.mhtml?i=20020520&s=foer052002). Regarding the "Office of Strategic Influence", although it's now disavowed note that TRG's contract with the Pentagon remains in place (http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?020311fa_FACT). TRG HISTORY RELATIVE TO IRAQ: >> Most relevant to CASI, TRG worked to downplay press reports of the humanitarian effects of sanctions following the Gulf War. According to journalists Andrew Cockburn & Patrick Cockburn ("Out of the Ashes", HarperCollins, 1999): "Sanctions were at the center of U.S. policy as it had evolved in the first few months after the war. It was, therefore, imperative to maintain international support for what casual readers of the Harvard team's findings and other reports might conclude was an indefensibly cruel policy. That was where the CIA operation, as deployed through Rendon's public relations exercise in Europe and elsewhere, came in useful. 'Every two months or so there would be a report about starving Iraqi babies,' explains one veteran of Rendon's propaganda campaign. 'We'd be on hand to counter that. The photo exhibition of atrocities and the video that we had went around two dozen countries. It was all part of a concerted campaign to maintain pressure for sanctions'" (p 56) "Unbeknownst to most of those involved in the INC (apart from Chalabi) the organization's funding came from the CIA. Much of the money--over $23 million in the first year alone--was invested in an anti-Saddam propaganda campaign directed at audiences both inside and outside Iraq and partly designed to deflect international concern over the suffering caused by sanctions. This campaign was subcontracted to John Rendon, a Washington PR specialist with excellent agency connections" (p 165) >> For other annecdotes, review the sources below. Of note: Flags waved by Kuwaiti citizens at the end of the Gulf War to welcome American troops were made available by TRG. And - thinking it would play well in Iraq - TRG once scripted a pirate radio program so anti-Semitic, that TRG was upbraded by the Mossad. OTHER CLIENTS: At the time of the Kosovo campaign, TRG claimed it had worked in 79 countries. TRG worked for the Royal Family of Kuwait during the Gulf war and after, and the governments of Indonesia, Panama, and and Uzbekistan. EERIEST FACTOID: TRG's web site (www.rendon.com) has gone dark. As of this writing, The Rendon Group's servers are no longer exposed on the Internet. The O'Dwyer Report -- a PR industry newsletter -- notes the old site "had a wealth of info about clients, case studies, speeches and bios about key execs. [This information is now gone] Its revamped site focuses on its Boston video production arm ..." A TRG spokesperson quoted by O'Dwyer claims the site was taken offline for a graphical re-design. Regards, Drew Hamre Golden Valley, MN USA === See ... ... "Out of the Ashes" Andrew and Patrick Cockburn HarperCollins, 1999 ... http://www.protectchild.org/research.htm (Various clips and links) ... http://www.tnr.com/docprint.mhtml?i=20020520&s=foer052002 JOHN REDON'S SHALLOW P.R. WAR ON TERRORISM. Flacks Americana by Franklin Foer ... http://www.tompaine.com/feature.cfm/ID/5188/view/print When Things Turn Weird, The Weird Turn Pro Propaganda, The Pentagon And The Rendon Group by Jeff Stein ... http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?020311fa_FACT THE DEBATE WITHIN by SEYMOUR M. HERSH The objective is clear—topple Saddam. But how? Issue of 2002-03-11 ... February 19, 2002 Pentagon Readies Efforts to Sway Sentiment Abroad By JAMES DAO and ERIC SCHMITT http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/19/international/19PENT.html?pagewanted=print ... http://www.prwatch.org/prwissues/2001Q4/rendon.html The Pentagon's Information Warrior: Rendon to the Rescue by Laura Miller and Sheldon Rampton ... http://www.odwyerpr.com/0306cia.htm March 6, 2002 TRG GOT $100M FROM CIA ... http://www.odwyerpr.com/0508rendon.htm May 8, 2002 RENDON GROUP GOES ‘UNDERCOVER' ... http://www.msnbc.com/news/714946.asp He Has Saddam in His Sights The Bush agenda is nothing less than the re-assertion of American power in the world, and Iraq is the next target By Evan Thomas NEWSWEEK March 4, 2002 issue ... http://www.observer.co.uk/Print/0,3858,4375878,00.html Should we go to war against Saddam? Peter Beaumont, Kamal Ahmed and Edward Helmore in New York Sunday March 17, 2002 The Observer _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk