"The United States, faced with a survey by diplomats showing widespread foreign skepticism about their motives, is planning a public relations offensive to build international support among foreign opinion leaders for a war against Iraq," reports UPI correspondent Eli Lake. The Iraq Public Diplomacy Group, "which includes representatives from the CIA, National Security Council, Pentagon, State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development," plans to publish a brochure and hold interactive teleconferences targeting "opinion leaders" in Europe and the Middle East.
Brian Whitaker profiles the "cosy and cleverly-constructed network of Middle East 'experts'" who "pop up as talking heads on US television, in newspapers, books, testimonies to congressional committees, and at lunchtime gatherings in Washington." Players include the American Enterprise Institute, the Washington Institute and the Middle East Forum.
In the aftermath of 9/11, Congress gave the U.S. Justice Department substantial new powers to wiretap and spy on suspected terrorists, but the Justice Department refuses to tell Congress what it is doing with those powers.
"After more than five decades of relying on advertising for its recruitment efforts, the Marine Corps has decided to let PR pros take a shot at finding them a few good men," PR Week reports in a front page story. Longtime Marine advertising agency J. Walter Thompson recruited sister company Hill & Knowlton to join in on a bid for the five-year, $200 million contract. Having won the account in July, the campaign details are still being worked out.
"U.S. Public Diplomacy chief Charlotte Beers' approach to generating goodwill and understanding for America and Americans in the Muslim and Arab world is remarkably -- even astonishingly--naive and ignorant," writes David Gaier in a guest commentary for O'Dwyer's PR Daily. Gaier is a former U.S. Marine, ex-Special Agent with the U.S.Department of State, and PR veteran, who has spent much time in the Middle East.
"The Bush administration's refusal to cooperate with even the most routine and basic congressional requests for information is infuriating members of Congress and violating congressional rights and responsibilities," reports Alexander Bolton in The Hill, a newspaper for Washington insiders. Republicans and Democrats alike in Congress are complaining about the secrecy, which extends beyond issues like national defense and foreign policy and includes areas such as environmental, educational and science issues.
The American Civil Liberties Union is denouncing the Bush administration's "surreal" decision to channel Operation TIPS calls to FOX-TV's "America's Most Wanted" program. "It's a completely inappropriate and frightening intermingling of government power and the private sector," said ACLU's Rachel King.
"On Nov. 22, 2000, the so-called 'Brooks Brothers Riot' of Republican activists helped stop a vote recount in Miami -- and showed how far George W. Bush's supporters were ready to go to put their man in the White House," writes Robert Parry, who cites newly-released documents which "show that at least a half dozen of the publicly identified rioters were paid by Bush's recount committee.
David Corn critiques Congressman Henry Hyde's notion that Hollywood and Madison Avenue can razzle-dazzle those pesky foreigners who don't like America. "This is ridiculous. Hollywood pushes escapist fiction, and advertising firms try to hornswoggle people into believing they can get laid if they purchase the right car, the right toothpaste, the right beer, or the right cigarette," Corn writes. "But the poohbahs of U.S.