Saudi Arabia hired PR giant Burson-Marsteller on September 14 according to O'Dwyer's PR Daily. B-M will place ads and provide "issues counseling and crisis management" the Saudi government. Craig Veith, chairman of B-M's media practice in Washington, D.C., said B-M has placed ads for the Saudis in The New York Times expressing support for the U.S. in its time of crisis.
The Wall Street Journal reports, "Since Sept. 11, U.S. officials have scrambled to persuade local editors and broadcasters across South Asia and the Middle East to carry stories intended to soothe anti-American passions and win tolerance for military action. They include features on the importance of Muslims in American life and hard news reports on evidence linking Mr. bin Laden to the attacks." The PR effort also includes "deploying forces to mount psychological operations, or 'psy-ops,' inside Afghanistan.
Ahmed Rashid is the Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review and The Daily Telegraph of London. His book, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, was written before the terrorist attacks of September 11.
Corporate interests and their proxies are looking to exploit the September 11 tragedy to advance a self-serving agenda that has nothing to do with national security and everything to do with corporate profits and dangerous ideologies. Fast track and the Free Trade Area of the Americas. A corporate tax cut. Oil drilling in Alaska. Star Wars. These are some of the preposterous "solutions" and responses to the terror attack offered by corporate mouthpieces.
As the world focuses on efforts to stop terrorism, some governments are cynically taking advantage of this struggle to justify or intensify their own crackdowns on political opponents or religious groups. Human Rights Watch has begun to compile reports on government statements or actions which use the anti-terrorism campaign as a cover for their own human rights violations.
In the discussion about Osama bin Laden, a key point is often omitted: that Mr. bin Laden began his career as a US ally. Indeed, he has followed in the tradition of Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein -- unsavory leaders who began as America's "friends," and later became archenemies. Moreover, from 1994 to 1996, the US encouraged Pakistani aid to the Taliban, which seemed the best bet for protecting Western interests in the region. In backing the mujahideen, US officials knew the risks.
In the round-the-clock U.S. media coverage of the September 11 attacks, one might assume that all angles of the story are being reported. That, however, is not so according to Salon writer Eric Boehlert, who interviewed a number of Islamic and Middle East experts about the media. The good news is that initial coverage after the attacks is generally more informed about the Middle East and Islam than Gulf War coverage of 10 years ago.
As the United States embarks on a campaign against international terrorism abroad, it is important that we carefully consider what such a conflict could mean for our freedoms here at home. Wars often give rise to conditions of secrecy and suppression of dissent that are antithetical to democracy.
PR trade publication O'Dwyer's PR interviewed PR practioners about what they see the profession contributing in the aftermath of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. O'Dwyer's reports, "The greatest service PR pros can provide in support of the country is to ensure that the consumer continues to buy, says Maureen Lippe, CEO of Lippe Taylor Marketing PR." However, pitches should try to have a "sensitive and mindful" tone and avoid frivolity.
Washington Post staff writer Howard Kurtz writes, "As the administration gears up for what President Bush has described as a new kind of war, many journalists are growing concerned that they will have less information and less access to U.S. troops than ever before. Even the use of deliberate disinformation cannot be ruled out." He continues by quoting President Bush. "Let me condition the press this way: Any sources and methods of intelligence will remain guarded in secret," Bush said.