In his hippie youth as a Merry Prankster, Stewart Brand bounced around San Francisco in Ken Kesey’s day-glo bus, dousing people with LSD-laced Kool-Aid at the legendary Acid Tests. Those were strange days, but his latest trip is also bizarre. Brand and his Long Now Foundation are bringing to San Francisco John Rendon, the elusive head of the Rendon Group, one of the CIA’s favorite PR firms.
John Rendon is the self-described “information warrior” who, under contract with the CIA, named and nurtured the infamous Iraqi National Congress. INC leader Ahmed Chalabi was a Rendon protégé embraced by the Project for a New American Century and other advocates of war with Iraq. Rendon and Chalabi probably did as much as anyone to deceive the US into war. John Rendon usually stays in the shadows, but he’ll be riding high with Stewart Brand this Friday, July 14, 7:00 PM at San Francisco’s Herbst Theater.
Sheldon Rampton and I described some of the Rendon Group’s activities in our 2003 book, Weapons of Mass Deception, and we go into further detail in our new book, The Best War Ever, which will be published in September. The Iraqi National Congress was the source for much of the false and deceptive propaganda on Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction, which they planted in the press with help from Judith Miller of the New York Times and other obliging journalists. Ahmed Chalabi has subsequently fallen out of official favor with the US, but he is currently serving in the Iraqi government and is very friendly with Iran, a real bummer for his patrons in the Bush Administration.
Stewart Brand is a serious guy these days, and his endorsement of John Rendon as a guru in the “global war on terror” is for real. Brand finds Rendon “exceptionally informed, astute, and engaged. … It should be a hell of a talk.” Brand says Rendon wants the US “to deepen its thinking and activities against terror” and Rendon’s talk is titled “Long-term Policy to Make the War on Terror Short.”
Some small bit of public enlightenment could occur at Rendon’s appearance if he is thoroughly grilled by critics in the audience about his lucrative career as an information warrior before he slips back into the shadows. But Rendon is first and foremost a PR guy, and dodging questions and spinning an audience are his stock in trade.
His San Francisco gig looks like a set-up for more hallucinations, delusions and self-deceptions. Merry Prankster meets Mis-Information Warrior; what a long, strange trip it’s been in the never-ending, secretive, dirty, spy-infested, mis-named and mis-handled war on terror.