Afghanistan: The Other Information War

Seven months after the "Rendon Group was hired to help Afghan President Hamid Karzai with media relations in early 2004," both Karzai and then-U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad were "ready to get rid of Rendon." They complained that the secretive PR firm was being paid too much - $1.4 million - for "not enough work." Yet Rendon won a second U.S.-funded contract worth $3.9 million, to "create a media team for Afghan anti-drug programs." The goal was "to train five Afghan press officers ... but it trained only three, and one has left her job." U.S. Embassy officials estimated that the work done "could have been performed for about $200,000." That contract expired in October, but Rendon is reportedly under consideration for a new multimillion-dollar, "three-year deal to work on counternarcotics public relations" in Afghanistan. Rendon's supporters say the firm "did an excellent job in a tough circumstance."