Penn's Pakistan Project

Mark PennUntil March 2008, the major public relations firm Burson-Marsteller counted among its clients the Pakistan People's Party, as the Center for Media and Democracy previously reported. Burson-Marsteller promised to influence U.S. policy and public opinion, via contacts with "100 American political journalists and business elites," by favorable "white papers" by academics and op/ed columns in newspapers. The firm also pledged to "promote credible 'third-party' supporters of Pakistan," including "former U.S. government officials," "think tank experts" and influential Pakistani-Americans. The Pakistan lobbying contract, which also involved the polling firm Penn, Schoen & Berland, specifically mentioned New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria as outreach targets. Luckily for Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton -- whose former campaign strategist, Mark Penn, heads Burson-Marsteller and Penn, Schoen -- the firms' work for Pakistan ended "well before [November's] terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India." Otherwise the Penn-Pakistan connection could have been used by "opposition researchers dredging up tough questions" for Clinton's confirmation hearing.