Richard Perle has resigned as chairman of the Pentagon Defense Policy Board, a group of influential advisors of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. Perle has been embroiled in a controversy over accepting money from a US corporation, Global Crossing, which sought Perle’s help in obtaining Defense Department approval of the sale of the company to Asian investors. Perle would reportedly receive $725,000 for his “work,” with $600,000 contingent upon him delivering the “goods.”
Perle wrote in his resignation letter to Secretary Rumsfeld, “I have seen controversies like that before and I know that this one will inevitably distract from the urgent challenge in which you are now engaged.” Denying any wrongdoing (what’s wrong with being on the Defense Policy Board and lobbying for corporate clients?), Perle emphasized that he did “not wish to cause even a moment’s distraction” from the US war against Iraq.
Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh recently published an article in the New Yorker suggesting that Perle had been inappropriately mixing business with pleasure when he had lunch in Marseilles in January with notorious arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi and a Saudi industrialist, Harb Saleh Zuhair. Perle found the report to be “monstrous.”
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, who is allowing Perle to remain a member of the Defense Policy Board (just not its chairman), had nothing but praise for Perle. “He has been an excellent chairman,” Rumsfeld said, “and has led the Defense Policy Board during an important time in our history.” Since Perle assumed the role of chairman in July 2001, Rumsfeld’s “important time” presumably refers to US efforts to fight against terrorism and its wars against Afghanistan and Iraq.
Rumsfeld continued, “I should add that I have known Richard Perle for many years and know him to be a man of integrity and honor.”
The Wall Street Journal reported in a March 27, 2003 article that other members of the Defense Policy Board may also have financial conflicts related to their business interests and policy advice to the government. Among those named in the article were former CIA Director James Woolsey, retired Admiral David Jeremiah, and retired Air Force General Ronald Fogelman.
When Secretary Rumsfeld was asked for a comment on these potential conflicts of interest, the reporters were told that the Secretary was busy and unable to comment on the matter. In all fairness, the Secretary has been busy promoting and prosecuting the Bush administration’s preventive war against Iraq and handing out lucrative contracts to firms such as Vice President Cheney’s former firm, Halliburton, to rebuild Iraq after our missiles and bombs have destroyed it.
* David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org). He is the author of Choose Hope, Your Role in Waging Peace in the Nuclear Age (Middleway Press, 2002).