You have to wonder if Bush the Younger still has the phone number of Hills and Knowlton on "speed dial." Actually, they are no doubt already hard at work on the current "We need to bomb Iraq PR campaign." Anyway, here's the story of their last brilliant piece of work. It truly is impressive stuff. From a speech by John R. MacArther of Harper's (formerly of NY Times and WSJ). http://www.independent.org/tii/content/events/f_macarth.html "Again, I assume that most of you have not read my book. I will summarize what I think are the three great frauds produced by the White House with the cooperation, eager or passive depending on your point of view, of the U.S. media. First, we have the campaign to prove that Saddam Hussein was the reincarnation of Adolph Hitler rather than what he is, which is a violent Arab dictator of the sort the United States frequently likes to back. A subset of this campaign was to paint the Kuwaitis as a freedom-loving people moving inexorably toward democracy. This was done with very sophisticated maneuvering, costing a lot of money, namely with something called Citizens for a Free Kuwait (CFK), which of course implies that American citizens are rallying to the Kuwaiti cause from all over the country. Citizens for a Free Kuwait forms itself about a week after Saddam invades Kuwait and they hire Hill & Knowlton, the public relations firm, and ultimately pays it $11 million to create what was one of the most brilliantly orchestrated public relations campaigns in history. It really should go down in the record books, and I am hoping that someone will do a scholarly book on it someday. I went to visit Citizens for a Free Kuwait, or what was left of it, a few months after the Gulf War ended when I was doing research on my book. I went to see a Mr. Ibrahim, who was the titular head of CFK. The first time I realized something fishy was going on when he pulled out a stack of atrocity photographs. I went through them and thought this looks pretty awful -- people with odd pieces of metal jammed into their bodies in various places. It looked quite horrible, but the photographs were a little out of focus. I went through them a second time and I realized that they were mannequins. They had literally dressed up mannequins as torture victims! This is not to say that Saddam did not kill Kuwaitis and did not torture Kuwaitis but these fraudulent photographs became the stock and trade of the Hill & Knowlton campaign. Now, the absolute piéce de resistance of this propaganda campaign, as you may have heard, was the baby-incubator atrocity. In August, the word started coming out of Kuwait from anonymous sources who were interviewed by reporters, who, as I said, did not do the most fundamental police reporting -- like asking for last names, addresses, ages, occupations, etc., etc., -- saying that Iraqi soldiers were pulling babies out of incubators and killing them that way in Kuwaiti hospitals. Hill & Knowlton is very well connected on Capitol Hill and at the White House. The senior account people on the Kuwaiti account included Craig Fuller, Bush's former chief of staff when Bush was Vice President, and various other mucky mucks who know how to make things happen on Capitol Hill. They set up a hearing with the Congressional Human Rights caucus, chaired by Tom Lantos, the Bay Area congressman, and John Edward Porter of Illinois, in which they were going to expose Iraqi atrocities for the benefit of the caucus and the American people. Anyway, there was an incredible conflict of interest between the caucus and Hill & Knowlton, the most important aspect of which was that the Congressional Human Rights Foundation, which was a fund-raising arm of the caucus, had its offices, rent-free, in the Hill & Knowlton headquarters. The Hill & Knowlton executives were also representing as clients habitual human rights violators like Turkey, Indonesia and China. You might ask yourself why Lantos and Porter were allowing this arrangement. In any event, the star of the hearing was a young 15 year-old girl named Nayirah -- no last name, no address, no occupation -- who said that she had volunteered at Kuwaiti hospitals and had seen the babies pulled from incubators and left to die on the cold floor. Now, to this day, I cannot tell you whether or not this story, which turned out to be utterly fake, was manufactured by historically-astute public relations executives in collaboration with the Kuwaitis, who had read World War I history and had learned how successful the German atrocities against Belgian babies and nuns had been in getting public opinion on the side of the allies and getting the United States into that war. Nobody at the hearing, no reporter said, "Nayirah, that is a terrible story; I am on the verge of tears. But what did you do after you put the babies on the floor to die? Did you call for help, did you try to pick one up, what happened then?" The most fundamental and most elementary questions that a reporter is supposed to ask were not asked. Niyarah was a fantastic propaganda success. Hill & Knowlton made a brilliant little video news release out of it, which they beamed all over the world. It was on NBC Nightly News and millions and millions of people saw this. My brother saw Niyarah testify, and it brought him to tears. That was the beginning of the campaign. The campaign had begun to "get legs" as we say in the public relations and news business. Then they went to the United Nations and they did the same thing at the Security Council. There was a certain Dr. Behbehani, who you may remember testified that he was a surgeon who had personally seen the burial of 40 babies pulled from incubators. It turns out that Dr. Behbehani was a dentist, not a surgeon; and he admitted after the war that he had lied, he made the whole thing up! But again, it was grist for the public relations mill, it was terrifically successful. Every time you put this stuff on camera -- and they staged it all very, very successfully -- you make a video news release out of it and WZZZ in San Antonio can just pop it into the console and make it part of their evening news. It's got a longer life than just the day of the hearing or the day of the security counsel hearing. It gets used again and again and again as filler for tonight's roundup on Saddam-Hitler, Iraqi atrocities. I did a little math and found out that the polls showed a country pretty much divided 50-50 on sanctions versus hostilities back in December 1990 and January 1991. But when the vote was finally taken in the Senate, you may recall, it passed by five votes and in favor of war. Six Senators cited the baby-incubator atrocity as a principal reason -- sort of a final, compelling reason to vote for the resolution over their initial or instinctive reluctance to go to war. Several others who voted for the resolution said they thought Iraqi atrocities in general were a good reason to go to war. As you may know, Niyarah was not only a liar, but she was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States. That is the story I revealed in The New York Times in January of 1992 on the op-ed page. So, you have the country going to war, essentially, I believe, over human rights, not over oil, not over realpolitik, not over America's destiny to police the world, but really over human rights. This is what swung the balance. That a good part of the human rights atrocities story was fake suggests that we were mislead, conned, whatever you want to say."