Editor's Note: Richard Perle, whose nickname in Washington has been "The Prince of Darkness" since the Reagan era, is also one of the chief proponents of hyperextended American militarism around the world. His is one of the names on a very short list of true reasons why we are at war in Iraq right now. - wrpBy Stephen Labaton
The New York Times
Monday 24 March 2003
A senior House Democrat asked the Defense Department today to investigate the business dealings of Richard N. Perle, the head of an influential Pentagon advisory board who is also an adviser to Global Crossing, the large telecommunications company that is seeking to overcome Pentagon objections to its proposed sale to Asian investors.
"I am aware of several potential conflicts that warrant your immediate review," Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said in a letter to the Pentagon's inspector general. He is urging a broad examination of Mr. Perle's business dealings.
An aide to a prominent Democratic member of the Senate said that the lawmaker was considering making a similar request.
Pentagon officials declined to comment about the request.
Mr. Perle was appointed by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in 2001 to head the Defense Advisory Board, an influential group of unpaid advisers to the administration. By law, Mr. Rumsfeld is ultimately responsible for deciding whether the Pentagon should grant permission to Global Crossing to complete its sale.
Asked about the letter from Mr. Conyers, Mr. Perle said: "I'm not surprised that Congressman Conyers would propose this." He would not elaborate. Asked whether the criticism of his work for the company might make it difficult for him to perform his assignment, he replied, "You'll have to ask them."
Becky Yeamans, a spokeswoman for Global Crossing, declined to comment about the letter from Mr. Conyers. She said the company had nothing to add to a statement that it issued last week explaining why it retained Mr. Perle.
When Maj. Ted Wadsworth, a Pentagon spokesman, was asked today whether Mr. Rumsfeld was troubled by Mr. Perle's business relationships, he declined to respond directly or give Mr. Perle a solid endorsement.
Instead, after consulting with more senior officials, he spoke generally about the importance of the Defense Policy Board, saying: "Given the ongoing conflict in Iraq, I am sure you can imagine how busy our senior leadership is as they carry out their duties. What I can say is that the Defense Policy Board is a valued resource to Secretary Rumsfeld and other senior defense officials."
Mr. Perle said last week that he had violated no ethics rules by being retained by Global Crossing. He said he would not be lobbying anyone at the Defense Department but would only advise the company about how to structure itself so that it could satisfy the administration's concerns.
Global Crossing is trying to overcome opposition from the Pentagon and the F.B.I. over its proposal to emerge from bankruptcy by being sold to a group led by Hutchison Whampoa, the conglomerate controlled by the Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing.
Mr. Perle has been a strong and early supporter of the war with Iraq and is considered one of the more influential advisers to the administration, which is filled with many of his friends and former colleagues from the Reagan administration, in which he served as an assistant defense secretary. Some Democrats pointed out today that he was now working to complete the sale of the company to Hutchison Whampoa, noting that during the Clinton administration, prominent Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott sharply criticized the company for its ties to the Chinese leadership.
Global Crossing withdrew its proposal to be sold last month to rewrite and resubmit it in the face of opposition from the Pentagon and the F.B.I. They have raised objections to the deal based on national security and law enforcement grounds because it would be under the ownership of a Chinese company. Global Crossing's worldwide communications network is used by the United States government.
For his work for Global Crossing, Mr. Perle's fee, outlined in papers that the company is preparing to file in as part of a bankruptcy proceeding, is $725,000, including a unusual contingent payment of $600,000 if the company succeeds in obtaining approval to complete the deal.
Mr. Conyers asked the Pentagon's inspector general to examine Mr. Perle's contract with Global Crossing and his work for a small software developer, Autonomy, a data-mining company that has said its clients include the Defense and Homeland Security Departments. He also asked the inspector general, Joseph E. Schmitz, to examine Mr. Perle's work for Trireme Partners, a venture capital firm that invests in companies related to national security.
In an article about Mr. Perle and Trireme earlier this month in The New Yorker, Seymour Hersh described a January lunch between Mr. Perle and Adnan Kashoggi, the Saudi-born arms dealer. In response to the article, Mr. Perle has threatened to sue The New Yorker in a British court for libel.
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