• Told You So: WaPo Puff Piece on Haiti Reconstruction Deflated by Truth

    October 3, 2012

    Tags: , , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Embassy/State

    The default media plan at State is to follow anything negative in the press with a planted puff piece. Rather than tackle the facts in a negative story (seeking to refute them with other information, or to make corrections), State’s modus is to seek ink that just says everything is actually wonderful, without mentioning the offending original articles.

    That P.R. 101 (online university) shit lasts only as long as it takes the truth to ooze out. In the case of Haiti reconstruction, about six weeks.

    Following a scathing Associated Press investigation into the failure of State to reconstruct Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake (Less than 12 percent of the reconstruction money sent to Haiti after the earthquake has gone toward energy, shelter, ports or other infrastructure. At least a third, $329 million, went to projects that were awarded before the 2010 catastrophe and had little to do with the recovery), State first tried an “Op-Ed” by the ambassador blithely mumbling that all was well. That was back in late July.

    It took almost a month more, but State did finally select its author for the real puff piece, in this case some hack named David Brown at the hometown Washington Post (slogan: still dining out on that Watergate thing). Brown’s work at the Post has been mostly on health issues, mainly HIV/AIDS, with the odd bit about Warren Buffet’s prostrate (not good) and Dick Cheney’s artificial heart (“doing exceedingly well”). As such, he was obviously the perfect guy to write authoritatively on how wonderful reconstruction is in Haiti.

    On August 20, with a follow up a week later, this blog called the Post out as hacks, who were fed a puff piece and gleefully took it all down. There was never any response to my inquiries to the Post’s ombudsman.

    So a BIG surprise after all that happy talk when USAID’s own Inspector General released a report which says the largest U.S. contractor working to stabilize Haiti is “not on track” to complete its assignments on schedule, has a weak monitoring system and is not adequately involving community members. It seems that Washington D.C.-based Chemonics (also a big player in the wonderful Afghan reconstruction fiasco) won a $53 million, 18-month contract from USAID in 2011 to help Haiti strengthen its economy and public institutions. USAID’s Office of Inspector General released a report Monday that found Chemonics had a series of slips, including using arbitrary ways of evaluating its work, failing to hire local workers, and going ahead with potentially damaging environmental projects before they were approved.

    Here’s one secret to State’s success with contractors from that report: Chemonics is also responsible for setting up its own system of evaluation.

    Again, breaking news, most of those criticisms mirrored the earlier ones State denied and the WaPo over-looked.

    How do you know when USAID and State are lying to you? Their lips move. Will Congress please stop giving money to these people? It will be a mercy killing at this point.

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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...


      “Will Congress please stop giving money to these people? It will be a mercy killing at this point.”

      I used to think a State of confusion was the root of the rot. Apparently, it’s contagious:

      10/3/12 1:23 PM | Comment Link

    • jim hruska said...


      Cleveland Ohio needs 5Bil$ and 22 years projected to destroy 8000 vacant houses.
      Why don’t we rebuild Cleveland first since it’s in line somewhere behind Kabul and Baghdad and Haiti.
      Where does all this money to nation build outside the US come from?
      jim hruska

      10/3/12 2:54 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...


      Money? You need money? I’ll suggest asking in Mandarin.

      The Chinese government happily holds $1.15 trillion in U.S. Treasuries, and is the number-one investor among foreign governments. This amounts to over 20 percent of the U.S. debt held overseas and more than seven percent of the United States’ total debt load.


      10/3/12 3:25 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Ambassador Stevens could have used some of that wasted money for reinforced doors and some real guards. Instead, it was apparently spent on plasma TVs so “intel analysts” could watch the consulate burning on CNN.

      10/3/12 4:34 PM | Comment Link

    • Lafcadio said...


      The main takeaway here is that most of our mainstream press is not a free press, but a negotiated press. The State Department/Foreign Service constituency has enough juice to put in puff pieces, make really unflattering stories slightly more palatable to their tastes, and, on occasion, kill some stores outright.

      Caveat emptor, as far as what you read.

      10/4/12 12:32 AM | Comment Link

    • » Nine Circles of Hell!: Sunday Morning Edition! / This Is Hell! said...


      […] Peter van Buren, “Told You So: WaPo Puff Piece on Haiti Reconstruction Deflated by Truth” […]

      10/9/12 5:25 PM | Comment Link

    • kozolec said...


      it would be nice if you stop your Congres to finance them….
      NED support to NGO’s in Bosnia between 2005-2011

      07/22/13 7:31 AM | Comment Link

    • kozolec said...


      … what the reasons are if we know that USAID donored 1,5 billions dollars to Bosnia through different US NGO organizations such NED, IRI, NDI, CIPE….to promote democracy? They buy everyone!
      They analizing every part of bosnian political, social, and economic picture, and they still trying to involve US multinational companies in many USAID “democratization projects” such Chemonics Int.

      07/22/13 7:43 AM | Comment Link

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