Richard Pearle, High Priest of Rumsfeld’s Defense Policy Board

Richard Pearle, High Priest of Rumsfeld's Defense Policy Board

By Alex Constantine

Richard Perle was named chairman of Rumsfeld's DPB in July 2001. The thirty-member board met regularly with the Secretary of Defense. Minutes of all DPB sessions are classified.

Richard Perle has proven to be nothing if not ambitious. He sniffed out enormous investment opportunities in the expanding homeland security market early on. Among his many conflicts of interest, Perle is a director of the Autonomy Corporation, and holds 75,000 shares of stock. According to In These Times on March 3, 2003, Autonomy Corp. "developed a high-tech eavesdropping software that is capable of monitoring hundreds of thousands of e-mail and phone conversations at the same time. In October 2002, the Department of Homeland Security granted the company a huge contract. A few months later, Autonomy was granted $1 million in contracts from a number of government agencies, including the Secret Service and National Security Agency."

The famed March 17, 2003 New Yorker article about Perle by Seymour Hersh laid out the "Prince of Darkness" in his bleakest hues, starting with opportunism - two months after the destruction in Manhattan, it seems Perle was already managing an investment firm that specialized in war profits:

" .... Perle is [a] managing partner in a venture-capital company called Trireme Partners L.P., which was registered in November, 2001, in Delaware. Trireme’s main business, according to a two-page letter that one of its representatives sent to Khashoggi last November, is to invest in companies dealing in technology, goods, and services that are of value to homeland security and defense. The letter argued that the fear of terrorism would increase the demand for such products in Europe and in countries like Saudi Arabia and Singapore.

"The letter mentioned the firm’s government connections prominently: 'Three of Trireme’s Management Group members currently advise the U.S. Secretary of Defense by serving on the U.S. Defense Policy Board, and one of Trireme’s principals, Richard Perle, is chairman of that Board.' The two other policy-board members associated with Trireme are Henry Kissinger, the former Secretary of State (who is, in fact, only a member of Trireme’s advisory group and is not involved in its management), and Gerald Hillman, an investor and a close business associate of Perle’s who handles matters in Trireme’s New York office. The letter said that forty-five million dollars had already been raised, including twenty million dollars from Boeing; the purpose, clearly, was to attract more investors, such as Khashoggi and Zuhair.

"Perle served as a foreign-policy adviser in George W. Bush’s Presidential campaign—he had been an Assistant Secretary of  Defense under Ronald Reagan—but he chose not to take senior position in the Administration. Im mid-2001, however, he accepted an offer from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to chair the Defense Policy Board, a then obscure group that had been created by the Defense Department in 1985. Its members (there are around thirty of them) may be outside th government, but they have access to classified information and to senior policymakers, and give advice not only on strategic policy but also on such matters as weapons procurement. Mosr of the board’s proceedings are confidential."

Perle's career has intertwined repeatedly with Khashoggi's:

• Hollinger International Co-Chairman
• Trireme Partners L.P.: Managing Partner
• Global Crossings: Consultant

A year after the terror strikes in Manhattan, Perle was interviewed by PBS, and he offered rare insights into the his fascist political roots and sad state of character:

November 14, 2002

Ben Wattenberg: Well, why don’t we pick up the Perle story at that swimming pool. Whose swimming pool was it and what were you doing there?

Richard Perle: It was Albert Wohlstetter’s swimming pool in the Hollywood Hills. Albert’s daughter, Joan, was a classmate at Hollywood High School. We sat next to each other in Spanish class. She passed, I didn’t, but she invited me over for a swim and her dad was there. We got into a conversation about strategy, a subject I really didn’t know much about. Albert gave me an article to read, that was typical of Albert. Sitting there at the swimming pool I read the article which was a brilliant piece of exposition and obviously so. We started talking about it and…

Ben Wattenberg: About nuclear weapons and that kind of stuff?

Richard Perle: It was the called the “Delicate Balance of Terror.” It became quite a famous article in foreign affairs, and it was a way of looking at the strategic relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union and the product of the serious piece of research that he had done as the director of the Research Council at the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica.

Ben Wattenberg: And Albert Wohlstetter is regarded by some as sort of the grandfather of this hawkish mode of looking at things in America? Is that right?

Richard Perle: Well, it happens that a number of people who like to regard themselves as protégés of Albert’s can probably be described as hawks, but it isn’t so much that Albert was a hawk, it’s that Albertwas extraordinarily rigorous. For Albert, it was just impermissible to assume anything. You had to run down every fact, every proposition. He was a mathematical logician by training.

Ben Wattenberg: Who were some of his protégés?

Richard Perle: Well, Paul Wolfowitz was one.

Ben Wattenberg: Who’s now Deputy Defense Secretary.

Richard Perle: Yes. Paul was his student in his doctoral thesis under Albert, and Paul Kezemchek who’s now at Dartmouth. But almost everyone who got to know Albert became his student formally or informally. Bob Barkley, the editor of the Wall Street Journal was a great admirer of Albert’s and learned a lot from him. You couldn’t help but learn from Albert because he was teaching all the time. And what he taught us to do was think hard about difficult issues, and if several of us wound up hawks, we’d like to think it’s because that’s the product of thinking hard about the dilemmas that a difficult world poses, particularly for policy makers in democratic societies.

Ben Wattenberg: And then you ended up with Scoop Jackson? How did that happen? Senator Jackson, my hero, your hero, our hero, who really embodied hawkishness?

Richard Perle: In a good cause always.

Ben Wattenberg: Right.

Richard Perle: It was a complete accident although it traces back. Albert Wohlstetter phoned me one day. I was still a graduate student at Princeton doing some research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and he said, could you come to Washington for a few days and interview some people and draft a report on the current debate shaping up in the Senate over ballistic missile defense, which was a hot issue in the Nineteen
Sixty-nine debate. This was in Nineteen Sixty-nine. And he said, I’ve asked somebody else to do this too, and maybe the two of you could work together. The someone else was Paul Wolfowitz. So Paul and I came to Washington as volunteers for a few days, to interview people, and one of the people we interviewed was Scoop Jackson and it was love at first sight. I will never forget that first encounter with Scoop. Here we were a couple of graduate students, sitting on the floor in Scoop’s office in the Senate, reviewing charts and analyses of the ballistic missile defense and getting his views on the subject. ...

Ben Wattenberg: Richard, you are Chairman of the Defense Policy Board. What is that?

Richard Perle: It’s a group of volunteer civilians who advise the Secretary of Defense. It now includes a pretty illustrious list of people, Henry Kissinger, Harold Brown, Tom Foley and Newt Gingrich, two former Speakers. These are wise men with deep experience who come together half a dozen times a year for extensive briefings, discussions, meetings, and advice for the Secretary of Defense....

Ben Wattenberg: Does Secretary Rumsfeld sometimes get a little agitated that you say things that they  necessarily ready to say and it says Chairman of the Defense Policy Board and it sounds as if it’s linked?

Richard Perle: Yes. I go to great lengths to discourage people from identifying me as Chairman of the Defense Policy Board, because it does confuse people and from time to time I say something that people wish I hadn’t said. In fact, I sometimes say things that I wish I didn’t say.

Ben Wattenberg: Right. And do they put some heat on you then?

Richard Perle: Oh, there have been a couple of times when it was brought to my attention. ...

...Think Tank is made possible by generous support from the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Bernard and  Schwartz Foundation, the Lynde and Harry  Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation, the  Canadian Foundation, the Dodge Jones Foundation,  Pfizer, Inc. ......

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