kees/ventana on Tue, 23 Oct 2001 22:20:01 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-nl] Oorlog is Vrede (4)

Wat te doen als je 'clearly losing the hearts and mind issue' bent?  Dan
huur je een pr-firma in. Benieuwd wat voor draai die geeft aan het ziekenhuis
(volgens ander bronnen misschien een verzorgingstehuis voor bejaarden)
dat net platgegooid is, maar dat zien ze vast als een creatieve
uitdaging, zoals dat in die kringen hoort...


Pentagon hires image firm to explain airstrikes to world

Published Friday, Oct. 19, 2001, in the San Jose Mercury News BY

Mercury News Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon has hired a well-known Washington
public-relations firm to help it explain U.S. military strikes in
Afghanistan to global audiences, U.S. officials confirmed Thursday.

It's part of a broader Bush administration campaign to try to
reverse a rising tide of opposition in the Islamic world.

The firm, the Rendon Group, has worked in the past for U.S. government
agencies, including the CIA, which paid it to boost the image of
the Iraqi National Congress, a U.S.-backed group of Iraqis opposed
to the rule of President Saddam Hussein.

That effort in the mid-'90s ended with an investigation by the
CIA's inspector general over how a reported $23 million was spent
on behalf of the Iraqi National Congress and its leader, Ahmed
Chalabi, current and former intelligence officials said. The
officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

For the anti-terrorism public-relations war, the Pentagon is paying
Rendon to monitor news media in 79 countries; conduct focus groups;

create a counterterrorism Web site that will provide information
on terrorist groups and the U.S. campaign against terrorism; and
recommend ways the U.S. military can counter disinformation and
improve its own public communications.

``The war on terrorism started without notice,'' said Lt. Col.
Kenneth McClellan, a Pentagon press officer. ``We needed a firm
that could provide strategic counsel immediately. We were interested
in someone that we knew could come in quickly and help us orient
to the challenge of communicating to a wide range of groups around
the world.''

McClellan said the initial contract, awarded without bidding, is
for $397,000 and lasts 120 days, with an option to extend it for
up to one year.

Officials at the company declined comment, citing a confidentiality
agreement in the contract.

The Bush administration has been widely criticized, both at home
and abroad, for being slow to realize the importance of images in
the war on terrorism. It is struggling to counter a widespread
perception in the Islamic world that the war in Afghanistan is a
war on Islam and that the United States is indifferent to civilian

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said earlier this week, ``To the
extent we need to do a better job to make sure that people are not
confused as to what this is about, then we darn well ought to do
a better job.''

``We are clearly losing the `hearts and minds' issue,'' said one
official involved in the administration spin effort, describing it
as ``not a very well-organized effort.'' The official requested

In recent days, the administration has dispatched waves of officials
for international television interviews, particularly on the widely
watched Arab station Al-Jazeera. Deputy Secretary of State Richard
Armitage has appeared on Metro TV in Indonesia, where anti-American
protests have been widespread, and Great Britain's ITN.

But initial analyses indicate that the outreach effort still has
a long way to go.

An Al-Jazeera interview of Bush national security adviser Condoleezza
Rice ``continued to garner significant press attention,'' but Arabic
press commentators in Morocco and Saudi Arabia ``found nothing
new,'' said a State Department review of foreign media reporting

``They claimed that the U.S. is offering Arabs a `false equation,'

the war against terrorism is not against Islam or Arabs --
nevertheless, it is Muslims and Arabs who will have to pay for
Sept. 11,'' the review said.

The choice of the Rendon Group to advise the Pentagon may not be
a coincidence, given its past work on behalf of the Iraqi opposition.

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