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[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] News Views & Analyses Ask About Islam Ask the Scholar A Media War? Questions Raised About Australian Photographer Paul Moran By Lisa Sanderson Freelance Writer Australia 03/12/2003 Australian photographer Paul Moran 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, Internet.au, Writing Australia, Crescent Blues and Suite101. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. _______________________________________________ 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 email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk