National Public Radio (NPR) and the US State Department today inaugurated a fundraising program to bolster support for Iraqi reconstruction. The program, similar to pledge drives that NPR has used for years to raise money for its own operating expenses, sees requests for contributions inserted into various government briefings and presentations.
Today's press conference by Burton Haliday, Deputy Undersecretary of State for Directing Government Funds to Political Contributors was interrupted by a request for donations, which are referred to as "pitches" by people familiar with this form of fundraising, featuring Mara Liasson of NPR and Secretary of State Colin Powell. A transcript of the session follows:
ML: This is Mara Liasson, and I'm here today with Secretary Powell to remind you that Iraqi Reconstruction depends on you. Only you can be the "U" in Ur.
CP: I think it's important to remind our listeners that Ur is a city in Iraq.
ML: Yes that's true. And speaking of Ur, the State Department is offering some special gifts to anyone who contributes during this pledge break, isn't that right?
CP: Yes, for contributors during this break only, we're offering the Ziggurat of King Umammu of Ur to any country pledging $500 million dollars or more. You can see pictures of the Ziggurat on our website http://www.state.gov/spoilsofwar.
ML: But what about contributors who may have given up Ziggurats?
CP: Well, Mara, anyone pledging over the base amount of $10 million dollars will be entered in a lottery to win a no-bid 47 million dollar contract to supply plastic drinking straws to the Iraqi people. These straws will be of major importance if and when we are able to provide clean water to Iraq.
ML: And if that's not enough, any money you give during this pledge break will go twice as far, thanks to a matching challenge grant from the people of Japan. And we just want to thank Prime Minister Koizumi and his cabinet for his generous support in providing this challenge grant.
CP: Remember, it's not enough just to join a coalition of the willing on paper. Unilateral invasion and occupation of a hostile country is expensive. That's why we come to you once a year and ask you to give. Only a fraction of the people who watch the war in Iraq ever make a contribution. Other countries support their foreign wars through taxation but here in the US we go directly to you, the countries of the world, and ask you to share in the burden of providing quality warfare.
ML: In just a few seconds we'll be going back to the briefing. In the meantime, won't you take a few minutes out of your busy day to support Iraq Reconstruction? And thanks.