Wednesday, November 09, 2005


So I didn't realize until I saw this Free Republic thread that the regional Kurdish government has thrown in its lot with American right-wing rabble-rousers.

The thread begins:

Look at the email I just received from Move America Forward... (and please watch the ads!)

Move America Forward? Here's a little background on that group: Its co-chairman is Howard Kaloogian, a former California assemblyman. Kaloogian fought to keep CBS's TV movie about the Reagans off the air and helped lead the recall campaign against Gray Davis. He used MAF to demand that movie theaters not show Fahrenheit 9/11. More recently, he's organized a right-wing talk-radio "Truth Tour" of Iraq (in conjunction with the Department of Defense), a counter-Cindy Sheehan bus tour, and various ad campaigns -- including one titled "U.N. Out of U.S."

Now, back to the Free Republic thread for the text of the MAF e-mail:

Starting Wednesday, a major national television ad campaign will begin that features Iraqi Kurds thanking the United States for liberating them from Saddam Hussein.

This is the message that has not been reported by the old-line media: the people of Iraq are happy that Saddam is gone and they want to say "Thank You" to America....

Please - go watch these ads. The first one, "Thank You America" is the ad you will be seeing beginning on the Fox News Channel (running nationwide). And make sure you show this to everyone you know. Each time I've seen this ad I've been nearly brought to tears, seeing these people survive the murderous regime of Saddam Hussein and showing such warm and sincere appreciation for the United States....

The e-mail directs you to a Web site -- You can watch the ads and read the scripts there -- and also go to a link for the Kurdistan Development Corporation, "an initiative established jointly by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and international business to promote, facilitate and establish business and investment opportunities in the Kurdistan region in Iraq."

So why is the e-mail coming from Move America Forward?

Because this group of wingnuts, UN-bashers, and liberal-bashers is the Kurds' PR firm.

Bill Berkowitz explains:

The so-called "war on terrorism" has been good to Russo Marsh & Rogers (RM&R), the Sacramento, California-based conservative lobbying and public relations firm. These days, it has a lot on its plate, including the recently completed "Truth Tour," and a new contract with the Kurdistan Regional Government.

The "Truth Tour" -- a seven-day carefully calibrated trip to Iraq by a group of conservative talk-show hosts -- was intended to spread the "good" news about what is happening on the ground. The tour was organized by Move America Forward (MAF), an organization that, according to the Washington Post, owes much of its existence to the good offices of Russo Marsh & Rogers.

... Joe Wierzbicki, an account executive at Russo Marsh & Rogers, laughingly denied that there was ever any attempt to be secretive about the firm's association with Move America Forward: "There is nothing secret about our relationship with Move America Forward. From the very beginning, it has been Howard [Kaloogian] and Melanie [Morgan's] project and Sal Russo -- a close friend of theirs -- helped set it in motion."

Wierzbicki allowed that Russo Marsh & Rogers has done "all of the [group's] public relations stuff, press releases, and radio and television ads that have been aired to date." He added that Move America Forward "also uses Douglas Lorenz, the webmaster at RM&R as their webmaster." In addition, Wierzbicki pointed out, "RM&R doesn't charge Move America Forward any consulting fees and doesn't receive any retainer from the organization." ...

"Our job" with the Kurds, said Wierzbicki, "is to do a public relations campaign that will essentially thank the American people for supporting the war in Iraq. We will also encourage Americans to visit and invest in the Kurdish region." ...

How amusing -- one of the key groups in our little experiment in democratization is hanging out with this crowd.

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