This War Brought to You by the Rendon Group

(Asia Times/ Ian Urbina - "Word got around the department that I was a good Arabic translator who did a great Saddam imitation," recalls the Harvard grad student. "Eventually, someone phoned me, asking if I wanted to help change the course of Iraq policy." So twice a week, for $3,000 a month, the Iraqi student says he took a taxi from his campus apartment to a Boston-area recording studio rented by the Rendon Group, a D.C.-based public relations firm with close ties to the U.S. government. His job: translate and dub spoofed Saddam Hussein speeches and tongue-in-cheek newscasts for broadcast throughout Iraq. "We did skits where Saddam would get mixed up in his own lies, or where [Saddam's son] Qusay would stumble over his own delusions of grandeur." The Saddam impersonator says he left Rendon not long ago out of frustration with what he calls the lack of expertise and oversight in the project. "No one in-house spoke a word of Arabic," he says. The scripts were often ill conceived. "Who in Iraq is going to think it's funny to poke fun at Saddam's mustache when the vast majority of Iraqi men themselves have mustaches?" Some of the announcers hired for the radio broadcasts, he says, were Egyptians and Jordanians, whose Arabic accents couldn't be understood by Iraqis.

2002-12-06 00:00:00

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