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Friday, February 27

WHY DID RICHARD PERLE RESIGN HIS DEFENSE POST TWICE? 

Richard Perle has resigned from his seat on the Defense Policy Board, a Pentagon advisory panel for the last time.

Perle is one of the neo-conservatives who insisted President Clinton invade Iraq in the '90s. In 2001, he got his wish.

The following was posted to my suspended blog at frankonion.blogspot.com on July 9, 2003.


On March 28th, 2003, Richard Perle, a leading advocate of the war in Iraq, resigned as chairman of the Pentagon Defense Policy Board. The advisory board (created in 1985 during the Reagan era) included a number of directors of major companies that advise the President on the country's strategic defense policies. Some of the current members of the Defense Policy Board include Ray Lee Hunt, Director of Halliburton and a Dallas oil producer with interests in the Middle East and Latin America, Ret. Marine General John J. Sheehan, Senior VP, Bechtel International, and Ret. Admiral David E. Jeremiah, Director, Wackenhut Corp., as well as an advisory board member of defense contractors Texas Instruments, ManTech Intl., and Northrop Grumman.

The 'official story' from the Pentagon was that Mr. Perle had resigned because of a controversy over his dealings with telecom company Global Crossing Ltd. Perle said in a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that he was stepping down at the height of the Iraq war because he "would not wish to cause even a moment's distraction from that challenge." What a patriot!

The news wires ran the above story even though there was absolutely nothing about it that should have been cause for Perle's resignation. Of course, Mr. Perle still gets to hang out in Washington.

The Scottish newspaper The Glasgow Herald reported Perle had become involved in a controversy after an article in the New Yorker said he had lunch in January with Mr. Adnan Khashoggi, billionaire Saudi broker. Harb Saleh Zuhair, the industrialist, was interested at the time in investing in a venture capital firm, Trireme Partners, of which Mr. Perle is a managing partner. According to the story, "Nothing ever came of the lunch in Marseilles and no investment was made, but the New Yorker story suggested Mr. Perle, a longtime critic of the Saudi regime, was inappropriately mixing business and politics."

The Associated Press also mentioned the Khashoggi connection and noted that Perle called the New Yorker story ["Why Was Richard Perle Meeting With Adnan Khashoggi?", March 17, 2003, New Yorker Magazine] preposterous and "monstrous."

During the Reagan Administration, Khashoggi was one of the middlemen between Oliver North, in the White House, and the Iranians. The Iran-Contra scandal almost landed the Saudi-born businessman in jail. President George Herbert Walker Bush later pardoned Khashoggi for any wrong-doing in the Iran-Contra affair.

The New Yorker article, written by Seymour Hersh, appeared March 17, on the day of the President's televised announcement that evening on his decision to go to war in Iraq. The article described Perle's Trireme company as "dealing in technology, goods, and services that are of value to homeland security and defense." Trireme had sent a two-page letter to Adnan Khashoggi arguing that the fear of terrorism "would increase the demand for such products in Europe and in countries like Saudi Arabia and Singapore", the article reported.

Mr. Perle was furious and threatened to sue Mr. Hersh. Even before the news hit the stands, Perle launched his counterattack Sunday on CNN's "Late Edition," declaring that Hersh is "the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist."

Perle must have known that his days as Chairman of the Defense Policy Board were now numbered.

Several days after Perle's resignation, on March 31, the New York Times reported Khashoggi as expressing caution on investment in Iraq, "There is so much hunger to go to Iraq," he said. "But are the Americans really going to take over Baghdad and get rid of Saddam? Or is Saddam going to drive them crazy? Even the Americans don't know!"


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