The Rendon Group Reloaded
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John Rendon is CEO of Rendon Group (TRG) and a self-described “information warrior.”
He was formerly Executive Director and National Political Director for the Democratic Party of the United States,Director of Scheduling for President Jimmy Carter, and Analyst for American Political System for BBC World TV.In Weapons of Mass Deception and The Best War Ever Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber report on Rendon’s work for the CIA naming and nurturing the Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress, the source of much of the misinformation and propaganda about non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq,including front page New York Times articles by Judith Miller.
Stewart Brand and his Long Now Foundation brought John Rendon to San Francisco
for a rare public address on July 14, 2006, promoting him and his CIA and Pentagon-funded work in the war on terror.
Rendon Group as one of the most fierce , cruel , clever , dominant,a true Danger for a democracy happens when a Corporation rules over military institutions of defense, such as N.S.A. and C.I.A. .
The Rendon Group is a secretive public relations firm that has provided communication services to the CIA and the Pentagon. The company is reported to have played a role in U.S. military activities in Argentina, Colombia, Haiti, Iraq, Kosovo, Panama and Zimbabwe. Rendon’s activities include organizing the Iraqi National Congress, a group created to overthrow Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
In a 1998 speech to the National Security Conference (NSC), company founder John Rendon described himself as “an information warrior, and a perception manager.”
“Through its network of international offices and strategic alliances,” the Rendon Group website stated in 2002, “the company has provided communications services to clients in more than 78 countries, and maintains contact with government officials, decision-makers, and news media around the globe.” In a Dec. 1, 2005, piece in Rolling Stone, John Rendon said the company had worked in 91 countries.
John Rendon began his career as an election campaign consultant to Democratic Party politicians. According to Franklin Foer, “He masterminded Michael Dukakis‘s gubernatorial campaign in 1974; worked as executive director of the Democratic National Committee in the Jimmy Carter era; managed the 1980 Democratic convention in New York; and subsequently worked as chief scheduler for Carter’s reelection campaign.” In the mid-1980s, however, he began working for clients in the Caribbean and other places outside the United States. “[His] career took an unlikely turn in Panama, where his work with political opponents of Manuel Noriega kept him in the country straight through the 1989 American invasion. As U.S. forces quickly invaded and quickly pulled out, he helped broker the transition of power.” This in turn led to contacts with the CIA, and in 1990 the government-in-exile of Kuwait hired him to help drum up support for war in the Persian Gulf to oust Iraq’s occupying army.
The Rendon Group and Kuwait
According to Rendon’s web site, it “established 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.” Rendon also provided media support for exiled government leaders and helped Kuwaiti officials after the war by “providing press and site advance to incoming congressional delegations and other visiting US government officials.”
Rendon’s work in Kuwait continued after the war itself had ended. “If any of you either participated in the liberation of Kuwait City … or if you watched it on television, you would have seen hundreds of Kuwaitis waving small American flags,” John Rendon said in his speech to the NSC. “Did you ever stop to wonder how the people of Kuwait City, after being held hostage for seven long and painful months, were able to get hand-held American flags? And for that matter, the flags of other coalition countries? Well, you now know the answer. That was one of my jobs.”
Rendon was also a major player in the CIA’s effort to encourage the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. In May 1991, then-President George H. W. Bush 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 set up 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.” Journalist James Bamford reports that Rendon came up with the name for the INC and helped install Ahmad Chalabi as its head. In addition, ABC reports that Rendon channeled $12 million of covert CIA funding to the INC 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.
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?”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.
Franklin Foer reports that Rendon has been dogged throughout his career “by complaints of profligate spending–even charged with being the PR equivalent of the Pentagon’s $400 toilet seat. In 1995 CIA accountants demanded an audit of his work. As ABC reported in 1998, Rendon’s own records show he spent more than $23 million in the first year of his contract to work with the INC. Several of his operatives in London earned more than the director of Central Intelligence–about $19,000 per month. Rendon shot across the Atlantic on the Concorde, while his subordinates flew on open business-class tickets. According to one of those subordinates, ‘There was no incentive for Rendon to hold down costs.'” Others have complained that his work is often inept and ineffective. However, he continues to win contracts because he is “superbly networked” with friends in high places in Washington.
Publics relations work in the war on terror
The San Jose Mercury News reported in October 2001 that the Pentagon had awarded Rendon a four-month, $397,000 contract to handle PR aspects of U.S. military strikes in Afghanistan. Rendon and Pentagon officials declined to discuss details of the firm’s work, which included monitoring international news media, conducting focus groups and recommending “ways the US military can counter disinformation and improve its own public communications.” All of which can be found in public Contracts between The Rendon Group and the Department of Defense.
The New York Times reported in February 2002 that the Pentagon was using the Rendon Group to assist its new propaganda agency, the Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) Of which it only consulted The Rendon Group. However, the OSI was publicly disbanded following a backlash when Pentagon officials said the new office would engage in “black” propaganda (disinformation) which The Rendon Group was not part of.
In December, 2005, the Chicago Tribune reported that the Rendon Group in 2004 received $1.4 million to help Afghan President Hamid Karzai with media relations. According to the paper, after seven months Karzai and Zalmay Khalilzad, then the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, were ready to get rid of the company. Despite the lack of support from Karzai and the ambassador, the company received another $3.9 million for anti-drug programs from the State Department and not the department of Defense. The paper quoted Jeff Raleigh, who helped oversee Rendon in Kabul for the U.S. Embassy, as saying the contract was “a rip-off of the U.S taxpayer”. Later Jeff Raleigh’s Afghan supervisor said Jeff wanted full control of The Rendon Group and was out of his bound. Furthermore the same official, Ambassador Daod, in a signed letter said that The Rendon Group did a great job and really helped his office.
- John Rendon
- Linda Flohr, a CIA covert operations veteran, worked for the Rendon Group at one point before returning to the government, where she is now a top anti-terrorism official at the National Security Council
- Francis Brooke worked in the mid-1990s on the Rendon Group’s anti-Iraq campaign in London at a salary of $19,000 a month. He subsequently became the chief assistant in Washington to Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress
- Paul Moran (1963 – 2003) was a journalist who had formerly worked for both the INC and the Rendon Group.
Clients of the Rendon Group have included a number of foreign nations, as well as major corporations. Clients have included:
- American Housing Consortium (based in Kuwait)
- American Business Council of Kuwait
- Colombian army
- KPMY/Peat Marwick
- Kuwait Petroleum Corporation
- Kuwait University
- Monsanto Chemical Company
- United States
- United States for International Development (USAID)
- Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
- The Pentagon
- Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (which it helped promote a ban on landmines)
- Rendon Group website
- Miller, Laura and Sheldon Rampton. “The Pentagon’s Information Warrior: Rendon to the Rescue,” PR Watch, vol. 8, no. 1, fourth quarter 2001.
- Hedges, Stephen J. “U.S. Pays PR Guru to Make Its Points,” Chicago Tribune, May 12, 2002.
- Foer, Franklin. “Flacks Americana: John Rendon’s Shallow PR War on Terrorism,” The New Republic, May 20, 2002.
- Rendon Group, “Response to Rolling Stone Article,” Rendon Group website, November 17, 2005
- Stein, Jeff. “When Things Turn Weird, the Weird Turn Pro,” TomPaine.com, February 27, 2002.
- Pratap Chatterjee. Rendon wins hearts & minds in business, politics & war, CorpWatch, August 4, 2004.
- Bamford, James. “The Man Who Sold The War,” Rolling Stone, December 1, 2005 (posted Nov. 17, 2005).
- Goodman, Amy “The Man Who Sold the Iraq War,” Democracy Now, Nov 21, 2005.
- SourceWatch article on Rendon Group