Monday, December 05, 2005

How propaganda ads up

" VICTORIAN taxpayers are carrying the multi-million-dollar cost of the Howard and Bracks governments' shameless public relations campaigns. Victorians were already contributing to the $55 million spent by the Howard Government on advertising its IR reforms. Now the Bracks Government is spending $9 million on an advertising blitz extolling its record on health, major projects, public safety and business investment.",5478,17333132%255E24218,00.html

"This year, the Pentagon granted three contractors $300 million over five years to offer "creative ideas" for psychological operations aimed at what the PR experts call "international perception management." That $300 million will buy a lot of Arabic press releases, but it's unavailable for, say, body armor.

The contractor implicated in the planted Iraqi press story is the Lincoln Group, formerly Iraqex, which boasts to prospective clients that it provides services ranging from "political campaign intelligence" (dirt on your opponents in American elections) to "commercial real estate in Iraq" (so you can buy the choicest properties and tick off the Iraqis even more). It's run by one Christian Bailey, a 30-year-old Oxford-educated fop who helped run the 2004 Republican National Convention, and once cohosted parties in New York limited to those who had graduated from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard or Yale (Princeton was apparently beneath them). I tried to learn whether Bailey's British accent reflected British citizenship or more "perception management," but no one from the Lincoln Group would call me back. Other reporters were told that everything about the firm's operations was "classified." Bailey has put a bunch of Bush campaign hacks on the gravy train, finagled security clearances, then assigned them to corrupt the Iraqi media. Democracy in action!

This outsourcing of covert propaganda (everything is outsourced these days) tells us a lot about the two biggest stories around—the venality of Republican Washington and the colossal failure in Iraq—and how they're connected by a shadowy world of global public relations. We got into the war with the help of something called the Rendon Group, a secretive firm that won a huge government contract to "create the conditions for the removal of [Saddam] Hussein from power." (According to an article by James Bamford in last week's Rolling Stone, Rendon invented the "Iraqi National Congress" and put Judith Miller and other reporters in touch with their bum sources on WMD.)


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