I'd never heard of Safia Taleb al-Suhail, an Iraqi woman who George W. Bush praised during his February 2005 State of the Union address until I was sent an email link to an article in The Independent, a major UK newspaper. The article referred to her expressing concern about the impact of draft Iraqi constitution on women.
"When we came back from exile, we thought we were going to improve rights and the position of women. But look what has happened: we have lost all the gains we made over the past 30 years. It's a big disappointment. Human rights should not be linked to Islamic sharia law at all. They should be listed separately in the constitution," she complained to Andrew Buncombe of The Independent.
As it was early morning and I had a lot of e-mails to get through, there was no time to dig any further myself. So I posted it to the talk page of a regular SourceWatch contributor, Artificial Intelligence (AI). Within two days AI has compiled an article reviewing Safia Taleb al-Suhail's background, her role in Iraqi politics and a listing of links to online articles by and about her over the last three years. Hugh Manatee found a photo that could be added in too. It is a small illustration of how a wiki-based project like SourceWatch facilitates collaborative research and writing.
Some of the topics that contributors have worked on in the last week include:
- Artificial Intelligence has been working away at an extensive series of Hurricane Katrina related articles - including George W. Bush: Hurricane Katrina: Public Relations, George W. Bush: Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Katrina: Environmental Pollution & Contamination and Hurricane Katrina: FEMA;
- User Mememe has helped tidy up some of the links within pages while Maynard has started an article on the corporate sponsored America's Heartland series slated to appear on PBS while another new contributor has added some references to profiles on U.K-based groups including the Science Media Centre, Sense about Science, the Scientific Alliance and the PR company Lexington Communications. Amongst other additions, user Hugh Manatee added in a reference to Move America Forward being one of the groups behind opposition to Cindy Sheehan's protest against the war in Iraq.
- The Center's Diane Farsetta has started a series of profiles on a range of conservative non-profit groups that the U.S. Department of Education funded for PR purposes, as reported by the Department's Office of Inspector General. The groups include the National Council of Negro Women, Greater Educational Opportunities Foundation, Black Alliance for Educational Options, Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options, the Oquirrh Institute, the National Council on Teacher Quality and the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options. Diane has also been busy updating the page on the National Endowment for Democracy, a government-funded agency that supports political activities in selected overseas countries;
- I've made a start on some new articles including the Australian government's decision to revoke the visa of non-violence trainer and activist Scott Parkin, added to the article on Kenneth M. Duberstein from The Duberstein Group who talked with the Washington Post about his work as 'sherpa' to help steer White House nominees through the Congressional approval process and started a profile on the Exclusive Brethren who have been outed as being behind a smear campaign ahead of the New Zealand election. I've also created very basic articles on Americans for Border and Economic Security, an organization being created by Ed Gillespie from Quinn, Gillespie & Associates, started an article on TV Watch, the American Beverage Association, and am working on an article on the Los Angeles Times experiment with its Wikitorial.
Of course, all of these articles can benefit from further editing and refinement. Can you help? Documenting and uncovering public relations campaigns is an ongoing research project. If you'd like to participate, become a SourceWatch volunteer contributor and help add to or edit these and other articles. It's free to sign up, and we'd love to have you join us.