BRANDOLAND: Talking to God...For You!

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Happy Saturday.

(Please read Friday's post if ya haven't already.)

Sick as a dog, people. Sick as a dog.

Got me a case of the Los Angle-leez flu, so it's kinda hard ta post today: Me can't think straight.

Hey, speaking of dogs, please head to Crooks & Liars. They've got the Bushies' Xmas video, "A Very Beazley Christmas", up and running.

The video, featuring Bush-pups Barney & Miss Beazley, is incredibly painful, oddly cute, and includes some good news from the White House: "The economy is gettin' better, Barney!"

Laura stands out, by the way.


Back to the flu thing.

I'm gonna keep things light today, and will simply encourage you to read "The Man Who Sold the War", Rolling Stone's brilliant piece on THE RENDON GROUP, the PR firm that was "hired by the CIA to help 'create the conditions for the removal of Hussein from power.'"

The road to war in Iraq led through many unlikely places. One of them was a chic hotel nestled among the strip bars and brothels that cater to foreigners in the town of Pattaya, on the Gulf of Thailand.

On December 17th, 2001, in a small room within the sound of the crashing tide, a CIA officer attached metal electrodes to the ring and index fingers of a man sitting pensively in a padded chair. The officer then stretched a black rubber tube, pleated like an accordion, around the man's chest and another across his abdomen. Finally, he slipped a thick cuff over the man's brachial artery, on the inside of his upper arm.

Strapped to the polygraph machine was Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, a forty-three-year-old Iraqi who had fled his homeland in Kurdistan and was now determined to bring down Saddam Hussein. For hours, as thin mechanical styluses traced black lines on rolling graph paper, al-Haideri laid out an explosive tale. Answering yes and no to a series of questions, he insisted repeatedly that he was a civil engineer who had helped Saddam's men to secretly bury tons of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

The illegal arms, according to al-Haideri, were buried in subterranean wells, hidden in private villas, even stashed beneath the Saddam Hussein Hospital, the largest medical facility in Baghdad.

It was damning stuff -- just the kind of evidence the Bush administration was looking for.

If the charges were true
, they would offer the White House a compelling reason to invade Iraq and depose Saddam. That's why the Pentagon had flown a CIA polygraph expert to Pattaya: to question al-Haideri and confirm, once and for all, that Saddam was secretly stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.

There was only one problem: It was all a lie.

After a review of the sharp peaks and deep valleys on the polygraph chart, the intelligence officer concluded that al-Haideri had made up the entire story, apparently in the hopes of securing a visa.

The fabrication might have ended there, the tale of another political refugee trying to scheme his way to a better life.

But just because the story wasn't true didn't mean it couldn't be put to good use.

Al-Haideri, in fact, was the product of a clandestine operation -- part espionage, part PR campaign -- that had been set up and funded by the CIA and the Pentagon for the express purpose of selling the world a war.

And the man who had long been in charge of the marketing was a secretive and mysterious creature of the Washington establishment named John Rendon.
I think you know where this is going?

"They used the dude's original story?"

One of the most powerful people in Washington, Rendon is a leader in the strategic field known as "perception management," manipulating information -- and, by extension, the news media -- to achieve the desired result.

His firm, the Rendon Group, has made millions off government contracts since 1991, when it was hired by the CIA to help "create the conditions for the removal of Hussein from power."

Working under this extraordinary transfer of secret authority, Rendon assembled a group of anti-Saddam militants, personally gave them their name -- the Iraqi National Congress -- and served as their media guru and "senior adviser" as they set out to engineer an uprising against Saddam.
The Iraqi National Congress = Ahmed Chalabi.

As the CIA official flew back to Washington with failed lie-detector charts in his briefcase, Chalabi and (Zaab) Sethna didn't hesitate.

They picked up the phone, called two journalists who had a long history of helping the INC promote its cause and offered them an exclusive on Saddam's terrifying cache of WMDs.


The INC's choice for the worldwide print exclusive was equally easy: Chalabi contacted Judith Miller of The New York Times.

Miller, who was close to I. Lewis Libby and other neoconservatives in the Bush administration, had been a trusted outlet for the INC's anti-Saddam propaganda for years.
The rest, as they say, is history.



More later...hopefully.

Off to Ralph's for some Gatorade.


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