Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


UQ Wire: Funding War PR With Foreign Cash

Unanswered Questions: Thinking For Ourselves
Presented by…

Funding War Public Relations With Foreign Cash
Like Father Like Son?

by Tom Flocco * * And
September 4, 2002

As President Bush meets with Congressional Leaders to promulgate his rationale for sending a few hundred thousand U.S. ground troops to spill their blood in Iraq, political polls indicate an eerie public feeling that the rush to war may also be serving to divert attention from scandals at home.

This, portending a certain prior acquaintance with the modus operandus via recent military actions closely related to the nubile dalliances of der Schlickmeister.

Moreover, many members of Congress have followed in lockstep, appearing on cable talk shows to debate the merits of Gulf War II. That the inflaming of war passions has switched focus away from stock and pension fraud, but also the unexplained and continued postponement of public investigative hearings regarding unanswered questions surrounding the September 11 attacks is quite apparent.

The example of one of the most spiked stories of 1991-1992 reveals that the current burgeoning Bush bravado-inspired military advocacy by certain Administration warmongers is only a variation upon the theme of past unspoken agendas surrounding Iraq during the First Gulf War.

This time around, however, polls show that U.S. citizens are less trusting of those who may be surreptitiously placing foreign agendas ahead of what is best for the United States.

American mothers and fathers may also desire an instructive look at how George W.'s father -- also a former president -- permitted foreign government infusion of illegal cash to help influence public opinion and support for war at the very same time that legislative and executive branch decisions were being made to order military action in 1990-91.

Since the findings received such sparse media coverage during Gulf War I, Americans might now want to hear President George W. Bush weigh in on the subject -- and whether foreign cash was used to dupe the American people into the last war. The documented evidence is astonishingly clear:



According to an article by 20-year public relations expert Jack O'Dwyer ("Hill & Knowlton [H&K] leads PR charge in behalf of Kuwaiti cause," published in the January 1991 issue of O'Dwyer's PR Services Report) the government of Kuwait funded as many as 20 public relations, law, and lobby firms in its campaign to mobilize U.S. opinion and force against Saddam Hussein.

And according to O'Dwyer's Foreign Agents Registration Act Report from October 1991, the White House allowed a private American firm -- Hill & Knowlton -- to serve as the public relations mastermind for the Kuwaiti campaign against Iraq. H&K's job was to sell the war to Americans.

H&K's activities alone could have been considered the largest foreign-funded publicity operation ever designed to manipulate American public opinion -- $11.9 million funneled to Citizens for a Free Kuwait (CFK) by the Kuwaiti government.

Even the controversial pre-invasion statements at a meeting with Saddam Hussein by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, expressing sympathy toward Iraq while pointing out that the president himself "had his administration reject trade sanctions" might have to take a back seat regarding war encouragement.

Money, after all, does a lot of talking. [ And in this case -- foreign money. ]

According to John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton, writing in the May-June 1996 edition of Blazing Tattles, the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act should have exposed the use of foreign cash for propaganda purposes to the American people; however, President George H. W. Bush’s Justice Department chose not to enforce the foreign-agents law.

Thus, the foreign-funded PR cash-kitty was hidden from the American people, even while Congress debated war participation. [ This time around, we have even been told by Administration officials to expect heavy casualties. ]

Nine days after Iraq initiated the Gulf War, the Kuwaiti government contracted Hill & Knowlton to represent Citizens for a Free Kuwait.

The January 1991 issue of O'Dwyer's FARA Report indicates that the Bush Administration was closely tied to the Kuwaiti plan to manipulate and sway U.S. public opinion toward sending troops into the Gulf.

That issue of O'Dwyer's, published before the fighting began, reported that "Craig L. Fuller, chief of staff to Bush when he was vice president, has been on the Kuwaiti account at Hill & Knowlton since the first day. He and (Bob) Dilenschneider at one point made a trip to Saudi Arabia, observing the production of some 20 videotapes. ..."

Before this November's election, trusting voters might want the White House press pool to query Craig Fuller's role and relationship to George W. Bush regarding meetings and/or communications with his father, President Bush, concerning the funding of the foreign public relations campaign against Iraq, since Fuller and George W. had served President Bush 41 as key confidants.

USA Today reported on Sept. 8, 1998, that "George W. Bush was an advisor to (his father) President George H.W. Bush from 1987 to 1992." Given that fact, it seems only natural that at some point, voters will want to know if this Congress [ and the next one ] will also allow foreign entities to secretly infuse cash into the United States to achieve certain military ends -- as apparently happened during the first Bush Administration.



Prior to U.S. Gulf War hostilities, according to Arthur E. Rowse in his May 1991 piece in The Progressive, "Flacking for the Emir," the Rendon Group received a retainer of $100,000 per month for media work, and Neill & Co. received $50,000 per month for lobbying Congress.

Congress listened to the foreign cash-remunerated lobbyists, voted for war, then unashamedly kissed the boys and girls goodbye as they went off to Iraq's hot sands to face Saddam but also an undiscovered "disease" called Gulf War Syndrome.

As for Hill & Knowlton, according to O'Dwyer, H&K vice-chairman Frank Mankiewicz, former press secretary and advisor to Robert F. Kennedy and George McGovern, arranged hundreds of meetings, briefings, calls, and mailings directed toward the editors of daily newspapers and other media outlets.

O'Dwyer was so awed by the rapid and expansive work of H&K on behalf of Citizens for a Free Kuwait, he noted in his January 1991 FARA Report that:

"Hill & Knowlton ... has assumed a role in world affairs unprecedented for a PR firm. H&K has employed a stunning variety of opinion-forming devices and techniques to help keep U.S. opinion on the side of the Kuwaitis. ... The techniques range from full-scale press conferences showing torture and other abuses by the Iraqis to the distribution of tens of thousands of 'Free Kuwait' T-shirts and bumper stickers at college campuses across the U.S." [ All paid for with foreign cash from the Middle East ]

Rowse also reported that U.S. Department of Justice documents show that fully 119 H&K executives in 12 offices across the U.S. were overseeing the Kuwait PR effort in the U.S., and the firm's report to the Justice Department listed activities which included arranging media interviews for visiting Kuwaitis and observances such as National Free Kuwait Day, National Prayer Day For Kuwait and National Student Information Day.

Also listed were public rallies organized by H&K along with releasing hostage letters to the media, distributing news releases and information kits, contacting politicians at all levels and even producing a nightly radio show in Arabic from Saudi Arabia.

Hill & Knowlton produced dozens of "video news releases" at a cost of well over half a million dollars which resulted in tens of millions of dollars worth of free air time as TV news directors broadcasted the videos, while rarely (if ever) noting the Kuwaiti public relations firm as the source of the footage.

As Martin A. Lee and Norman Solomon note in their book, "Unreliable Sources: A Guide to Detecting Bias in New Media," U.S. citizens assumed they were watching American-reported journalism -- not the efforts of Bush administration advisors and Kuwaiti-hired American PR firms.

John R. MacArthur's book, "Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War," even reported that a secret Pentagon memo outlined a plan to constrain and control journalists. But Congress has never sought the memo.

A massive babysitting operation ensured that no truly independent or uncensored reporting reached back to the U.S. public. "News media representatives will be escorted at all times," the memo stated. "Repeat, at all times."

After the Gulf War ended, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) produced an Emmy award-winning TV documentary concerning Kuwait's use of cash to promote military action entitled, "To Sell a War."

Amazingly, the CBC show featured an interview with H&K-contracted pollster, Wirthlin Group executive Dee Alsop, who stated right on camera that Wirthlin's job was "to identify the messages that really resonate emotionally with the American people."

Will the son employ the same techniques as the father?

Both Arthur Rowse and Jack O'Dwyer reported in May and October of 1991 in previously cited articles immediately following the war, that Sam Zakhem, a former U.S. ambassador to the oil-rich gulf state of Bahrain, funneled another $7.7 million in advertising and lobbying dollars through two front groups: Coalition for Americans at Risk (a former front group for the contras in Nicaragua) and Freedom Task Force.

Curiously, congressional legislators who should have known, never questioned why the White House allowed foreign cash to help persuade American citizens to be willing to send their offspring to war in the Middle East.

The two also reported that Coalition for Americans at Risk prepared and placed TV and newspaper ads, and had 50 speakers available for pro-war rallies and publicity events; however, neither related the source of the foreign money laundered through the two organizations. The American people fell for it -- hook, line, and sinker.



During the time period surrounding the Gulf War, George W. Bush had dual roles as presidential advisor and also oil executive/director of Harken Energy Corporation, where it was reported in the company's proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commision and various news sources that he was Harken's second largest non-institutional shareholder.

[ President Bush's GOP "Team 100" contributors, political acquaintances, and friends also maintained substantial positions in Harken -- not to mention a Saudi sheikh recently sued by 9/11 victim families whose whose personal U.S. representative served with George W. on the Harken Board. ] [ Bin Laden's Brother-in-Law Had Close Ties To Bush -- read the story:

George W. Bush's dual-role is important because Harken had acquired potentially lucrative drilling rights to offshore oil and gas reserves in Bahrain -- a small Arab island emirate off the coast of Saudi Arabia and about 200 miles southeast of Kuwait -- just seven months prior to the Iraqi invasion.

And while George W.'s advisory role regarding his father may not have had anything to do with the $20 million spent by Kuwait and sources connected to Bahrain with whom both George W. and presidential contributors had a business relationship, Americans who care about the fate of their sons and daughters may not want foreign governments and purse strings to influence the U.S. population regarding war decisions about to be made this Fall.

The facts indicate that millions of dollars were spent by foreign interests during the Bush administration to influence U.S. participation in the Gulf War; moreover, presidential advisor George W. Bush and contributor-friends of both Bushes had substantial Harken Energy stock holdings during this time period.

[ A side note: The American people may also want to know more about the large contracts awarded to U.S. firms to extinguish Kuwaiti oil well fires and for oil field reconstruction -- and who benefited financially. ]

However, in the final analysis, Congress will be looking at the polling numbers of U.S. citizens, especially those of military age and their parents, before they take a final vote.

But hiring PR firms with foreign cash? Shelling out millions to inflame patriotic passions while high-level and presidential-family financial interests are on the line? Is this any way to run a war? Will Americans let it happen again?


Supplementary research was contributed by Robin Smith. Portions of this piece previously appeared in a 12-28-99 story by Tom Flocco.


Copyright (c) 2002 by Thomas Flocco.

* - Tom Flocco is an independent investigative
journalist who has written for,,,,,, and

* - - The Uncensored National Weekly Newspaper Published On Capitol Hill. 1433 Pennsylvania Avenue SE. Washington D.C.20003. Order Line: 1-888-699-6397 for print subscriptions and more investigative stories.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Forgetting Citizenship: Australia Suspends Flights From India

As India is being devastated by COVID-19 cases that have now passed a daily rate of 400,000, affluent and callous Australia has taken the decision to suspend all flights coming into the country till mid-month. The decision was reached by the Morrison ... More>>

Digitl: UK Spy Chief: “The West Has To Go It Alone On Tech"

“Cybersecurity is an increasingly strategic issue that needs a whole-nation approach. The rules are changing in ways not always controlled by government. More>>

The Conversation: From Five Eyes To Six? Japan’s Push To Join The West’s Intelligence Alliance

Craig Mark , Kyoritsu Women's University As tensions with China continue to grow, Japan is making moves to join the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance. This week, Japan’s ambassador to Australia, Shingo Yamagami, told The Sydney Morning ... More>>

The Conversation: Without The Right Financial Strategies, NZ’s Climate Change Efforts Will Remain Unfinished Business

When it comes to climate change, money talks. Climate finance is critical for enabling a low-emissions transition. This involves investment and expenditure — public, private, domestic and transnational — that demonstrably contributes to climate ... More>>

Dr Terrence Loomis: Does Petroleum Industry Spying Really Matter?

Opinion: Nicky Hager’s latest revelations about security firm Thompson and Clark’s ‘spying’ on climate activists and environmental organisations on behalf of the oil and gas industry and big GHG emitters makes entertaining reading. But it does ... More>>

Mixed Sight: New Zealand, The Five Eyes And China

The Five Eyes arrangement between the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand has always resembled a segregated, clandestine club. Focused on the sharing of intelligence between countries of supposedly like mind, it has shown that ... More>>