This war brought to you by Rendon Group
If Saddam is toppled, a Rendon creation is standing by to try to take his place. The Iraqi National Congress (INC), a disparate coalition of Iraqi dissidents touted by the US government as the best hope for an anti-Saddam coup, has gotten the go-ahead from US officials to arm and train a military force for invasion. The INC is one of the few names you'll hear if reporters bother to press government officials on what would come after Saddam.
At the helm of the INC is Ahmed Chalabi, a US-trained mathematician who fled from Jordan in 1989 in the trunk of a car after the collapse of a bank he owned. He was subsequently charged and sentenced in absentia to 22 years in prison for embezzlement. Back home in Iraq, he's referred to by some as the so-called limousine insurgent and is said to hold little actual standing with the Iraqi public. Shuttling between London and DC, Chalabi hasn't been in Iraq for over years, and draws "more support on the Potomac than the Euphrates," says Iraq specialist Andrew Parasiliti of the Middle East Institute in Washington DC.
"Were it not for Rendon," a State Department official remarked, "the Chalabi group wouldn't even be on the map."
With funding first from the CIA throughout the 1990s and more recently the Pentagon, Rendon managed the INC's every move, an INC spokesperson acknowledges, even choosing its name, coordinating its annual strategy conferences, and orchestrating its meetings with diplomatic heavy hitters, such as James Baker and Brent Scowcroft. Not that the Rendon Group was the first purveyor of psy-op tactics for promoting US foreign policy in the region. In fact, some of the most impressive spin maneuvers and disinformation campaigns occurred during the Gulf War in 1991, the lessons of which are particularly pertinent as the US again gears up.
The Best War Money Can Buy: John Rendon and Iraq
(3)Through TRG's [The Rendon Group’s] efforts, Iraqi opposition coalesced around the Iraqi National Congress (... though the INC had no credibility within Iraq. The INC is the first proxy army in history that requires a proxy army.)
4) Today TRG retains close ties with the INC and has strong ties with Pentagon conservatives per the 'War on Terror'. Thus, TRG becomes a driver behind the frequent Iraq scare stories that have nudged the American public toward war (anthrax/Prague/al-Qaida in Kurdistan/defector al-Haderi).
"Unbeknownst to most of those involved in the INC (apart from Chalabi) the organization's funding came from the CIA. Much of the money--over million in the first year alone--was invested in an anti-Saddam propaganda campaign directed at audiences both inside and outside Iraq and partly designed to deflect international concern over the suffering caused by sanctions. This campaign was subcontracted to John Rendon, a Washington PR specialist with excellent agency connections" (p 165)
The Pentagon's Information Warrior: Rendon to the Rescue
A February 1998 report by Peter Jennings cited records obtained by ABC News which showed that the Rendon Group spent more than million dollars in the first year of its contract with the CIA. It worked closely with the Iraqi National Congress, 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 million of covert CIA funding to it between 1992 and 1996.
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. These activities 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.
War Needs Good Public Relations
Some clients have been more shadowy. Rendon worked for the government of Kuwait in the early 1990s. And the firm made a lot of money by contracting with the CIA to do media work for the Iraqi National Congress, an organization seeking the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.