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Response to MinM (Reply #55)

Wed Nov 13, 2013, 01:55 PM

70. This could help explain the Mary Matalin connection

There's a lengthy New York Times story from 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/11/politics/11propaganda.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0) about the Bush White House propaganda operations that covers the Lincoln Group at length. It mentions Matalin in passing just a couple of times, but in fact she was closely involved with those operations, as was her long-time friend, Victoria Clarke, who was the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs (which is to say, propaganda) at the time of the Iraq invasion. In fact, as early as October 2001, Matalin, Clarke, Karen Hughes, and Charlotte Beers had together set up a Coalition Information Center in connection with the Afghan War.

So to some extent, this looks like a revival of Bush-era shenanigans. If there's any sort of conspiracy behind the CBS story, it points to those people and not the teabaggers.

There's also this, from December 2005, which has Matalin running cover for the Lincoln Group:

http://www.mit.edu/people/fuller/peace/price_of_propaganda.htm

Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Pentagon was using U.S. troops to write positive articles about Iraq (for instance, heralding the opening of a school), hiring Washington-based contractors to translate the articles into Arabic, then secretly planting them in the Iraqi press with bribes. As long as the stories are accurate, says Mary Matalin, the former aide to Vice President Cheney who often speaks for the Bush administration, they are "absolutely appropriate" in the war of images.

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.) Now the PR pork scandal is moving to a different level. 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!

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