Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rendon Group still running things

U.S. public affairs officials in Afghanistan acknowledged to Stars and Stripes that any reporter seeking to embed with U.S. forces is subject to a background profile by The Rendon Group, which gained notoriety in the run-up to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq for its work helping to create the Iraqi National Congress. That opposition group, reportedly funded by the CIA, furnished much of the false information about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction used by the Bush administration to justify the invasion.
Rendon examines individual reporters' recent work and determines whether the coverage was "positive," "negative" or "neutral" compared to mission objectives, according to Rendon officials. It conducts similar analysis of general reporting trends about the war for the military and has been contracted for such work since 2005, according to the company.

The above is from Charlie Reed's "Journalists' recent work examined before embeds" (Stars and Stripes). June 23rd, news broke that Heath Druzin, of Stars and Stripes, was being barred from an embedding assignment in Iraq. At that time, New West Boise's Jill Kuraitis declared, "In my opinion, it's a serious matter when the delivery of accurate and timely news is denied to the American people who always deserve the truth in accordance with our founding principles. We are funding the war with our tax dollars, which makes us even more deserving of the information. Druzin is a professional trained to do exactly what he is doing, and his efforts to be accurate should not be impeded, nor his priorities manipulated." She is correct and why is it that a firm is 'vetting' journalists? Stars and Stripes, to focus on them, isn't smart enough to know their own reporters? They assign someone to Iraq or wherever because they feel that is their best correspondent available. But the government needs to approve it? This is no different than the stomping of the feet by brutal governments that the US regularly decries but this is coming from the US. SourceWatch provides an overview of the Rendon Group and we'll excerpt their section on James Rendon and Iraq:

Rendon was also a major player in the CIA's effort to encourage the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. In May 1991, then-President George Bush, Sr. signed a presidential finding directing the CIA to create the conditions for Hussein's removal. The hope was that members of the Iraqi military would turn on Hussein and stage a military coup. The CIA did not have the mechanisms in place to make that happen, so they hired the Rendon Group to run a covert anti-Saddam propaganda campaign. Rendon's postwar work involved producing videos and radio skits ridiculing Saddam Hussein, a traveling photo exhibit of Iraqi atrocities, and radio scripts calling on Iraqi army officers to defect.
A February 1998 report by Peter Jennings cited records obtained by ABC News which showed that the Rendon Group spent more than $23 million dollars in the first year of its contract with the CIA. It worked closely with the Iraqi National Congress (INC), an opposition coalition of 19 Iraqi and Kurdish organizations whose main tasks were to "gather information, distribute propaganda and recruit dissidents." According to ABC, Rendon came up with the name for the Iraqi National Congress and channeled $12 million of covert CIA funding to it between 1992 and 1996. Writing in The New Yorker, Seymour Hersh says the Rendon Group was "paid close to a hundred million dollars by the CIA" for its work with the INC.[12]
ClandestineRadio.com, a website which monitors underground and anti-government radio stations in countries throughout the world, credits the Rendon Group with "designing and supervising" the Iraqi Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) and Radio Hurriah, which began broadcasting Iraqi opposition propaganda in January 1992 from a US government transmitter in Kuwait. According to a September 1996 article in Time magazine, six CIA case officers supervised the IBC's 11 hours of daily programming and Iraqi National Congress activities in the Iraqi Kurdistan city of Arbil. According to a Harvard graduate student from Iraq who helped translate some of the radio broadcasts into Arabic, the program was poorly run. "No one in-house spoke a word of Arabic," he says. "They thought I was mocking Saddam, but for all they knew I could have been lambasting the US government." The scripts, he adds, were often ill conceived. "Who in Iraq is going to think it's funny to poke fun at Saddam's mustache," the student notes, "when the vast majority of Iraqi men themselves have mustaches?"[13] In any case, the propaganda campaign came to an abrupt end on August 31, 1996, when the Iraqi army invaded Arbil and executed all but 12 out of 100 IBC staff workers along with about 100 members of the Iraqi National Congress.

Meanwhile the big story in the morning papers is yesterday's news that Nouri wasn't wanted in the new Shi'ite coalition. Ernesto Londono and K.I. Ibrahim (Washington Post) observe, "Maliki's exclusion from the alliance was not entirely surprising. Despite his considerable popularity, the prime minister has become a divisive figure, and a recent surge in violence has triggered criticism from Iraqis who view his administration as cocky and incompetent." Even the headline points to this, "Major Shiite Political Parties Exclude Maliki in Forming Coalition" but when we switch the channel to state-run media, we find Steven Myers of the New York Times spinning a yarn about how Nouri is the one who didn't want to join. Pick the knee-jerk reaction in defense of Nouri and there the paper will go. Nouri wants to continue as prime minister and the new coalition doesn't need him and made it known they wouldn't make any promises. But Myers frantically works as Nouri's p.r. man and scribbles, "Mr. Maliki's refusal to join the alliance, after weeks of negotiations behind the scenes, intensified a bitter political struggle over the leadership of the country's largest sect ahead of parliamentary elections in January." No, NYT readers do not hold the paper with alarm wondering, "Will Nouri be okay!!!!" It's just the editors who do that. Liz Sly and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) add:

In addition, Maliki has so far been unable to sway any significant Sunni or Kurdish factions to join his prospective coalition.
But even if the prime minister loses support in the coming months, political analyst Nabil Salim of Baghdad University believes, few Shiites will vote again for the Shiite coalition so closely associated in their minds with the failures of the post-Saddam Hussein era. The list of candidates who introduced themselves at the launch of the new alliance read like a Who's Who of politicians discredited by the setbacks of recent years.
Among them was former Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari, whose term in 2005 was considered so disastrous that Sunnis and Kurds teamed up, with American support, to prevent him from being appointed again in 2006, even though he was the chosen candidate of the Shiite alliance.

On where Nouri stands now, Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) observes, "His stature, nonetheless, took a dent last week when suicide bombers detonated explosives in front of two government ministries, killing at least 95 and wounding more than 1,200, and undercutting the image of stability that Maliki has tried to convey while American forces reduce their presence in Iraq."

"Two of his most steadfast supporters in the media—columnists Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert of the New York Times are wondering about Mr. Obama's plans," observes Ralph Nader in "Between the Rhetoric and the Reality" (Nader.org) which Brady notes this section of:

The Obama voters do not know what they are supposed to support. Obama never did identify with a clear health insurance proposal--not to mention the single payer approach (full Medicare for all) he says he would favor if he was "starting from scratch." There has been nothing upstanding for his supporters around the country to rally around.
It is sad to say that all this could have been predicted by Obama's political record as an Illinois and U.S. Senator. He rarely has taken a stand and fought against his adversaries. Even after he cuts a deal with them, they continue to undermine his agenda.
Once again, Bob Herbert senses the disturbing trend: "More and more the president is being seen by his own supporters as someone who would like to please everybody, who is naïve about the prospects for bipartisanship, who believes that his strongest supporters will stay with him because they have nowhere else to go, and who will retreat whenever the Republicans and the corporate crowd come after him."

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the washington post
ernesto londono

liz sly

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends