"The Torturers' Lobby"
exerpted from the book
Toxic Sludge Is Good For You:
Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry
by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton
Many of the big spenders on Washington lobbying and PR are
governments with severe human rights abuses including Taiwan,
South Korea, Pakistan, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. In 1992, the Washington
based Center for Public Integrity published a study titled "The
Torturers' Lobby," showing that Washington lawyers and lobbyists,
many of whom served as top political advisors to Presidents Reagan,
Bush and Clinton, were raking in more than $30 million a year
by helping repressive governments improve their images. PR giant
Hill & Knowlton topped the list, with $14 million in receipts
from countries with documented records of abuse, torture and imprisonment,
including Kuwait, Indonesia, Israel, China, Egypt and Peru. China,
of course, uses strict media censorship and political prisons
to control its population. In 1989 it carried out the infamous
massacre of hundreds of pro-democracy students in Tiananmen Square.
Other examples cited by
"The Torturers' Lobby" included:
1) Turkey, which got $800 million in US aid despite being
charged by the State Department with widespread human rights abuses,
spread $3.8 million around to capitol influence-peddlers, including
$1.2 million to Hill & Knowlton.
2) Guatemala, whose genocide against its indigenous population
is described in the autobiography of Nobel prize-winner Rigoberta
Menchu, laid out $650,000 for Washington lobbying. During 1991-92,
while hundreds of Guatemalans were executed for political reasons,
fees totaling $220,000 went to the Washington firm of Patton,
Boggs & Blow, whose partners included Democratic National
Committee Chairman Ron Brown (President Clinton's Commerce Secretary).
3) Nigeria's military government spent $2.6 million from 1991-92,
over $1 million of which went to Burson-Marsteller subsidiary
Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, one of the top five firms
in the "torturers' lobby." In addition to Nigeria, the
firm collected another $1.2 million in fees from the Republic
of Kenya and Angola's UNITA rebels.
In some cases, "The Torturers' Lobby" showed that
countries were spending a large part of their foreign aid from
the United States to subsidize Washington lobbyists. Nigeria's
$2.6 million in lobbying fees, for example, represented nearly
a third of its $8.3 million in US aid. "The system stinks,"
said Makau Mutua, director of Harvard Law School's Human Rights
Project. "It's morally objectionable, all this influence-peddling.
There's no doubt several of these countries couldn't afford these
lobbyists without the help of the American tax payers."