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[casi] A Funeral and the Rendon Group

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 A Media War?
Questions Raised About Australian Photographer
Paul Moran
By Lisa Sanderson
Freelance Writer ­ Australia   03/12/2003  Australian photographer Paul
500 people attended the funeral of Paul Moran, an Australian freelance
photographer killed in Iraq in March this year. He was killed by a car bomb
which exploded while he was filming for ABC television, one of many suicide
bombings that are sadly now occurring almost every day in Iraq. Mr. Moran
was very popular with his friends and colleagues and beloved by the Kurds
whom he spent much time trying to help. He left a young and beautiful wife
and a baby daughter, Tara. Paul Moran was a highly praised and
well-respected photographer.
The presence of John Rendon, the head of the Rendon Group, at his funeral,
however, has raised concerns that Paul Morganıs stories may have been
tainted with bias. It also stirred up allegations that he was a CIA spy.
These accusations have deeply upset Mr. Moranıs family and friends, who
defended him on the Australian ABC program, Australian Story.
The Rendon Group is a large public relations company which has contracts
with several governments, international clients and important connections to
the Bush administration.
It has organized campaigns for the trade agencies of countries such as
Bulgaria and Russia, was involved in the US fight to defeat Noriega and has
also been employed by large multinational companies such as Monsanto.
The group was contracted by the CIA to run a propaganda campaign against
Saddam Husseinıs dictatorship. It also helped set up the Iraqi National
Congress (INC) in opposition to Hussein, covertly channeling twelve million
dollars of CIA money to this organization. The INC is led by Ahmad Chalabi,
a member of the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council and formerly a banker
who has been accused of embezzlement in Jordan.
The Rendon Group was also heavily involved in promoting the cause of Kuwait
when it was invaded by Iraq. According to PR Watch, the Rendon Groupıs
website states that during the Gulf War, it ³established a full-scale
communications operation for the Government of Kuwait, including the
establishment of a production studio in London producing programming
material for the exiled Kuwaiti Television.² After the Gulf War, hundreds of
excited Kuwaitis waved small American flags pleased by their countryıs
liberation. The Rendon Group provided these flags to the Kuwaitis.
According to an article by Colin James, a well-respected journalist and a
winner of the prestigious Walkley Award, in The Adelaide Advertiser, Paul
Moran worked with INC officials exiled in London for a year and then ran
workshops for Iraqi dissidents in Paris and Iran. He also generously helped
an engineer who stated that he had worked for Saddam Husseinıs weapons of
mass destruction program from Iraq. He obtained an interview with this
engineer, Al-Haideri, a major scoop, because of his links with the Iraqi
National Congress.
Paul Moranıs work for the INC and the Rendon group has raised the issue of
whether he should have been employed by the ABC. Former weapons inspector,
Scott Ritter, speaking on the Australian program Dateline, accused the
Rendon Group of peddling lies and distortions to the media on behalf of the
US government. Norman Solomon, the Executive director of the Institute for
Public Accuracy and co-author of Target Iraq: What the News Media Didnıt
Tell You told me that:
I believe that while itıs possible for a journalist to work for the Rendon
Group, itıs impossible for anyone to function as a journalist while working
for the Rendon Group. In other words, journalistic work is supposed to be
about seeking truth and reporting truthfully. Public relations is about
spinning and often distorting to benefit the paying client.
However, the ABC told Dateline that Paul Moran ³carried out his occasional
ABC duties without fear or favor.²
According to Paul Moranıs family, there was nothing sinister about his work
for the Rendon Group. He was hired by them to help Kurds and Iraqis opposed
to Hussein set up a television station. He also filmed stories about the
Kurds for many other media outlets because he was anxious to tell the world
about their oppression under the Hussein regime. When Paul Moran later
learned that the client of the Rendon Group was the CIA, he felt upset and
misled. Shortly afterwards he left the project.
Although Ansar Al-Islam, a radical Islamic fundamentalist group, set off the
suicide bomb, Paul Moranıs family and friends donıt believe that he was
deliberately targeted because of his work for the Rendon Group. Ansar
Al-Islam, thought to have links with Al-Qaeda, is a group of dissident
Kurdish fundamentalist Muslims believed to be responsible for many suicide
bombings and attacks. It probably has several hundred members who work under
a Taliban-style regime in the border area between Iraq and Iran.
He is remembered by the Kurdish people as a martyr because he did so much to
inform people about the injustices done to them under Husseinıs evil regime.
There are even plans, according to Barhem Salem, the Kurdish leader, to
erect a statue in his honor.
Lisa Sanderson is an Australian freelance writer who holds a BA in English
Literature and a BA in Law. Her articles have been published in many
magazines and websites, including Alive Magazine,, Writing
Australia, Crescent Blues and Suite101. You can reach her at

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