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Blackwater PR firm aided Chalabi; Works to polish AT&T's image
Muriel Kane
Published: Tuesday October 23, 2007

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The firm that "coached" Blackwater CEO Eric Prince for a Congressional hearing previously represented Iraq intelligence launderer Ahmed Chalabi and is now working with AT&T to repair their image in the wake of their involvement in President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program.

The communications firm BKSH, a subsidiary of public relations giant Burson-Marsteller, is run by a man with extremely close ties to the Bush Administration.

The founder and current head of BKSH is Charlie Black, whose ties with the Bush family go back to 1972, when he and Karl Rove were jockeying for control of the College Republicans in a campaign so dirty that George H.W. Bush, then head of the Republican National Committee, had to step in and sort matters out. Black then worked for Ronald Reagan's and George H.W. Bush's presidential campaigns from 1976 to 1992. He served as an adviser to George W. Bush's campaigns in 2000 and 2004 and is often quoted in news stories as an unofficial White House spokesman.

BKSH was representing Iraq exile Ahmed Chalabi as early as 1999 and continued doing so until the invasion of Iraq. An international con-man found guilty in absentia in Jordan for bank scams, Chalabi is most widely known for being one of the key pre-Iraq war intelligence propagandists who supplied skewed information to support the Pentagon's ultra-secretive Office of Special Plans and the now-discredited pre-war reporting of Judith Miller for the New York Times. During 2004, Francis Brooke of the Rendon Group, which had represented Chalabi since the early 90's, was working on contract in Baghdad for BKSH. Then in the summer and fall of 2005, Lincoln Group, which had been tasked by the Pentagon with providing pro-US stories to Iraqi media, was subcontracting the work to BKSH, as the same time as BKSH was registered to represent the government of Iraq as its US lobbyist.

Because of Black's personal ties to the Bush administration, it seems reasonable to wonder whether his lobbying assignments might be selected as much to help his friends there as his nominal clients.

Black is currently working with AT&T in its lobbying campaign to be given retroactive immunity against lawsuits for having assisted the administration in its warrantless wiretapping program.

Larisa Alexandrovna contributed reporting for this article.


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