PR Firms Influence Domestic and International Affairs
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Back in July of this year, Judicial Watch uncovered U.S. Navy contract documents through a FOIA request. These documents detailed U.S. government payments of $1,699,830.00 to a public relations firm known as The Rendon Group for the purpose of influencing the outcome of a public referendum held on the island Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a U.S. Territory.
Because federal law restricts the political activities of government agencies and employees in addition to forbidding the domestic dissemination of U.S. government authored or developed propaganda designed to influence public opinion (Smith-Mundt Act of 1948), the Navy’s use of Rendon is highly suspect, if not outright illegal.
But the U.S. government, along with other foreign governments, has been using the services of Rendon since the early 90s. Rendon has had a sizeable role in the public relations battle in Iraq. The Chicago Tribune recently described The Rendon Group as one of the Pentagon’s “primary weapons” against the propaganda of terrorists.
In addition to Rendon, another group has surfaced that has been helping the U.S. in its public relations battles. According to records obtained by the Los Angeles Times, The Lincoln Group has been helping the U.S. military translate and place articles in Baghdad newspapers.
The LA Times points out the irony of the situation by contrasting the placement of these one-sided ads covertly in Baghdad while the U.S. State Department is putting on workshops meant to train Iraqis in Western media ethics.
The Times story concludes with a reminder of the cost of this information warfare. In addition to its military contract in Iraq, The Lincoln Group has a contract with U.S. Special Operations Command that is good for up to $100 million over five years.