Deceiving the Deceivers

June 25, 2007 at 9:33 pm | Posted in American politics, corruption, secret combinations | Leave a comment

Ken Silverstein of Harper’s Magazine had some interesting questions on his mind. Basically, how does a foreign entity sell itself to the world of Washington and America?

Harper’s Magazine’s Washington Editor Ken Silverstein has spent years watching Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firms advocate in Congress on behalf of corrupt, dictatorial foreign regimes. He wondered: Exactly what sorts of promises do these firms make to foreign governments? What kind of scrutiny, if any, do they apply to potential clients? How do they orchestrate support for their clients? And how much of their work is visible to Congress and the public, and hence subject to oversight?

For answers, Silverstein went undercover as “Kenneth Case,” a consultant for “The Maldon Group,” a mysterious (and fictitious) London-based firm that claimed to have a financial stake in improving the public image of neo-Stalinist Turkmenistan.

The two men successfully deceived the deceivers, the men behind the power-brokers, the men (and women) who pulled the levers of both governmental officials and influential journalists. The article is a must read. Note their efforts to direct the talking points in the media, for a better portrayal of some, well, pretty nasty people. Take this for example, the dictator of Equatorial Guinea.

“We know you’re talking to other firms,” Hartley said pointedly. “You’re going to have a hard time matching . . . [the] types of successes” his firm had racked up. For example, thanks to Cassidy’s aggressive media strategy and trips it had organized to Equatorial Guinea for congressional staffers, things were now looking up for the government there. The proof: three years ago, Hartley said, Parade Magazine had ranked Obiang as “the world’s sixth worst dictator,” grimacing as he stated that last word. “He’s still not a great guy,” he went on, “but he’s not in the top ten anymore, and we can take some credit for helping them figure out how to work down that list. Is he going to win the U.N. humanitarian award next year? No, he’s not, but we’re making progress.”

Digby has more quotes from the article well worth the read.

Tell me if you are not yet sick of the corruption of our nation…

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