Corruption part the 65489

Pretty bad when the host country complains about sweetheart deals between the U.S. and PR, even when the US pays.

Chicago Tribune news: U.S. paid for media firm Afghans didn't want
When The Rendon Group was hired to help Afghan President Hamid Karzai with media relations in early 2004, few thought it was a bad idea. Though Rendon's $1.4million bill seemed high for Afghanistan, the U.S. government was paying.

Within seven months, however, Karzai was ready to get rid of Rendon. So was Zalmay Khalilzad, then the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and now the American envoy in Iraq, according to interviews, e-mails and memos obtained by the Tribune. The complaint: too much money for not enough work.

Despite such grumbling, The Rendon Group, based in Washington, managed to secure even more U.S.-funded work with Karzai's government, this time a $3.9 million contract funded by the Pentagon, to create a media team for Afghan anti-drug programs. Jeff Raleigh, who helped oversee Rendon in Kabul for the U.S. Embassy, and others in the U.S. government said they objected because of Karzai's and Khalilzad's opposition but were overruled by Defense Department superiors in Washington.

“It was a rip-off of the U.S taxpayer,” said Raleigh, who left the U.S. Embassy in September.

Rendon departed Afghanistan in early October when its $3.9 million contract expired. But diplomatic sources said it is in line for another multimillion-dollar Afghan contract: a three-year deal to work on counternarcotics public relations.

The company's work in Afghanistan is just a sliver of the more than $56 million the Pentagon has paid Rendon since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when it became one of the leading media consultants in the Bush administration's war on terrorism. It also is doing work for the Pentagon in Iraq.

The company's fees also have been an issue. CIA staff members have complained about the group's work on other projects, such as a costly media campaign against Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul estimated that the work the company was hired to do on its second contract in Afghanistan could have been performed for about $200,000 rather than $3.9million.

Especially since

The U.S. trade deficit broke yet another record in October, as rising purchases of foreign oil, natural gas and other goods from overseas offset increased exports. The deficit widened 4.4% to $68.89 billion from a slightly revised $66 billion in September, the Commerce Department said.

Of course, 4 million is chump change, but still, I thought this was going to be the MBA Presidency? Whatever happened to fiscal responsibility? If the City of Chicago suddenly decided to spend $30,000 planting ragweed and cactus all around my neighborhood, I wouldn't think that would be a good use of resources, especially since the City is having budget problems.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on December 14, 2005 11:00 AM.

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