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John Rendon & The Rendon Group

William Kelly

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FROM ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE (Issue 988-Dec. 1, 2005)

The Man Who Sold The War: Meet John Rendon, Bush’s general in the propaganda war, By James Bamford.

“There was a reason Judith Miler bought into the lies about Iraq – they were part of a $100 million PR campaign hatched by a shadowy Beltway consulting firm.”

“THE ROAD TO THE WAR IN IRAQ LED THORUGH MANY unlikely places…..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.

“Rendon is a man who fills a need that few people even know exists. Two months before (Oct-Nov., 2000) the Pentagon had secretly awarded him a $16 million contract to target Iraq and other adversaries with propaganda. 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 advisor’ as they set out to engineer an uprising against Saddam. It was as if President John F. Kennedy had outsourced the Bay of Pigs operation to the advertising and public-relations firm of J. Walter Thompson.”

“….A recent congressional report suggests that the Pentagon may be relying on ‘covert psychological operations affecting audiences within friendly natikons.’ In a ‘seret amendment’ to Pentagon policy, the report warns, ‘psychops funds might be used to publish stories favorable to America policies, or hire outside contractors without obvious ties to the Pentagon to organize rallies in support of administration policies.’ The report also concludes that military planners are shifting away from the Cold War view that power comes from superior weapons systems. Instead, the Pentagon now believes that ‘combat power can be enhanced by communications networks and technologies that control access to, and directly manipulate, information. As a result, information itself is now both a tool and target of warfare.”

“’…I am a politician, a person who uses communication to meet public policy or corporate policy objectives. In fact, I am an information warrior and a perception manager.’ To explain his philosophy Rendon paraphrased a journalist he knew from his days a staffer on the presidential campaigns of George McGovern and Jimmy Carter: ‘This is probably best described in the words of Hunter S. Thompson, when he wrote, ‘When things turn weird, the weird turn pro.’”

“According to Pentagon documents obtained by ROLLING STONE, the Rendon Group is authorized ‘to research and analyze information classified up to Top Secret/SCI/SI/TK/G/HCS” – an extraordinary high level of clearance granted to only a handful of defense contractors. ‘SCI’ stands for Sensitive Compartmented Information, data classified higher than Top Secret. ‘IS’ is Special Intelligence, very secret communications intercepted by the National Security Agency. ‘TK’ refers to Talent/Keyhole, code names for imagery from reconnaissance aircraft and spy satellites. ‘G’ stands for Gamma (communications intercepts from extremely sensitive human source). Taken together, the acronyms indicate that Rendon enjoys access top the most secret information from all three forms of intelligence collection: eavesdropping, imaging satellites and human spies.”

“Rendon lives in a multimillion-dollar home in Washington’s exclusive Kalorma neighborhood. A few doors down from Rendon is the home of former Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara; just around the corner lives current Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld;…In recent years spys-for-hire have begun to replace regional desk officers, who control clandestine operations around the world;…..half of the CIA’s work is now performed by private contractors – people completely unaccountable to Congress….The son of a stockbroker, Rendon grew up in New Jersey and stumped for McGovern before graduating from Northeastern University….Rendon, who went on to serve as executive director of the Democratic National Committee, quickly mastered the combination of political skullduggery and media manipulation that would become his hallmark…

“…In 1989, shortly after his election, President George H.W. Bush signed a highly secret ‘finding’ authorized the CIA to funnel $10 million to opposition forces in Panama to overthrow Gen. Manuel Noriega. Reluctant to involve agency personal, the CIA turned to the Rendon Group…..”

“…Although his work is highly secret, Rendon insists he deals only in ‘timely, truthful and accurate information.’ His job, he says, is to counter false perceptions that the news media perpetuate….the difference between perception and reality is one of the greatest strategic communications challenges of war.’”

“…Rendon was also charged with engaging in ‘military deception’ online – an activity once assigned to the OSI. The company was contracted to monitor Internet chat rooms in both English and Arabic – and ‘participate in these chat rooms when / if tasked.”

“…Still another newly formed propaganda operation in which Rendon played a major part was the Office of Global Communications, which operated out of the White House and was charged with spreading the administration’s message on the War in Iraq….Never before in history had such an extensive secret network been established to shape the entire world’s perception of war….”

“….Last year, he (Rendon) attended a conference on information operations in London, where he offered an assessment on the Pentagon’s efforts to manipulate the media….”

James Bamford is the author of “Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-secret NSA” and “A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies”

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