If You Lie Down With Dogs…

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    Don’t play friendly with the bad guys

    It doesn’t require a deep look to know that Khamis Gadhafi, son Muammar Gadhafi, is going to be involved in controversy, so what would drive a U.S. company to bring him on as a high-level intern? Greed perhaps, or just foolishness? Here’s the story, from a Yahoo article by Zachary Roth:

    The internship, which lasted a month, was sponsored by AECOM, a Los Angeles-based global engineering and design company that has been working with the Libyan regime to modernize the country’s infrastructure. Khadis made stops in San Francisco, Colorado, Houston, Washington, and New York City, meeting with high-tech companies (including Google, Apple, and Intel), universities, and defense contractors like Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin. While in the Big Apple, Khamis even took in the Broadway show “Mamma Mia.”

    News of Khamis’s internship, which was approved by the State Department, was first reported by ABC News.

    Since coming home, Khamis appears to have played a key role in helping his father’s regime in its violent campaign to quell the uprising. He has led the elite 32nd Reinforced Brigade, known at the Khamis Brigade, which reportedly has been involved in brutally suppressing rebel forces.

    The old saying, “if you lie down with dogs, you end up with fleas” is still around for a reason. AECOM took Khamis on what was essentially a paid vacation throughout the US, in a move that looks very much like an exchange for contracts in Libya. While of course AECOM has issued the standard press release mea culpa, this half-hearted crisis management effort will do little towards repairing its reputation.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. , an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training.]