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Richard Perle

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Richard Perle
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Richard Perle

Richard Norman Perle (born September 16, 1941 in New York City), of Jewish-American background, is an American political advisor who served the Reagan administration as an assistant Secretary of Defense and served on the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee from 1987 to 2004. He was Chairman of the Board from 2001 to 2003 under the Bush Administration.

Perle was a strong advocate of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and predicted that Saddam Hussein's forces could be defeated in no more than months.

He is a member of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and was one of the signers of the January 26 1998 PNAC Letter (http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqclintonletter.htm) sent to President William Jefferson Clinton. Perle has spent considerable time in Israel and is considered a supporter of the conservative Likud party.

On more than one occassion Perle has behaved in a allegedly unethical manner to his own financial gain. His behavior in both the public and private spheres has been investigated and the board of Hollinger International singled him out in a report citing diversion of profits from shareholders to executives.

Contents

Education and early career

Perle was raised in Los Angeles and attended the University of Southern California, earning a B.A. in English in 1964. He also studied at the London School of Economics and obtained a M.A. in political science from Princeton University in 1967.

From 1969 to 1980, he worked as a staffer for Democratic Senator Henry M. Jackson of Washington. Perle was considered as an extremely knowledgeable and influential person in the Senate debates on arms control. As a Jackson staffer, he quickly acquired the reputation of a dark and influential figure, a reputation that has followed him through the years in both the public and private sectors. "I really resent being depicted as some sort of dark mystic or some demonic power....All I can do is sit down and talk to someone.", he is quoted as saying. (New York Times, December 4, 1977, Jackson Aide Stirs Criticism in Arms Debate, Richard L. Madden). One of his nicknames is "the Prince of Darkness".

Perle was considered a hardliner in arms reduction negotiations with the Soviet Union. Robert Burns of the Associated Press writes, "Perle was so strongly opposed to nuclear arms control agreements with the former Soviet Union during his days in the Reagan administration that he became known as 'the Prince of Darkness.'" [1] (http://www.ummahnews.com/viewarticle.php?sid=1428)Perle contends that his views and opposition to arms control under the Carter administration had to do with his view that the US was giving up too much at the negotiation table and not receiving nearly enough concessions from the Soviets. Perle called the arms talks under negotiation in the late 1970's "the rawest deal of the century".

Perle's objection to the arms talks between the Carter administration and the Soviet Union revolved primarily around Carter's agreement to halt all cruise missile development in exchange for what hawks saw as few Soviet concessions. The Soviets had a wide lead in cruise missile development in the late 1970s and most naval experts saw this advantage as being capable of crippling the US Navy in the event of a conflict between the two superpowers. Perle is widely credited for spearheading opposition to the treaty, which was never ratified by the Senate.

From 1981 to 1987, Perle was Assistant Secretary of Defense for international security policy in the Reagan administration. Perle was widely criticized after it was reported that he had recommended that the Army purchase an armaments system from an Israeli company that a year earlier had paid him $50,000 in consulting fees. Perle acknowledged receiving the payment the same month he joined the Reagan administration, but said the payment was for work done before joining the government and that he had informed the Army of this prior consulting work.(New York Times, April 17 1983, Aide Urged Pentagon to Consider Weapons Made by Former Client, Jeff Gerth. See also New York Times, April 21 1983, On buying weapons and influence, Editorial.)

Current activities

Perle is currently a resident fellow at the conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. His cited research interests include defense, national security and the Middle East.

Perle's many business interests have been a source of controversy during and after his tenure in government. Among other engagements, he is co-chairman and director of Hollinger, Inc., a partner of Trireme, and a director of the Jerusalem Post (which is owned by Hollinger).

In July 2001 George W. Bush appointed Perle chairman of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee, which advises the Department of Defense. On March 9 2003, Seymour Hersh published an article in The New Yorker titled Lunch with the Chairman, accusing Perle of a conflict of interest, claiming Perle stood to profit financially by influencing government policy. Hersh's article alleged that Perle had business dealings with Saudi investors and linked him to the intelligence-related computer firm Trireme Partners LLP, which stood to profit from the war in Iraq.

The same day the New Yorker article was published, Perle, in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, responded that "Hersh is the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist, frankly." [2] (http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0303/09/le.00.html). Perle later threatened to bring a libel suit against Hersh for the allegations raised in his article but failed to do so. On March 27, 2003, Richard Perle resigned as chairman of the Defense Policy Board, though he still remained a member of the board.

The Department of Defense's inspector general commenced an investigation into Perle's business interests at the behest of several members of Congress, who inquired whether Perle violated federal conflict-of-interest provisions by improperly mixing his government duties with his business interests. The inspector general ruled that federal conflict of interest rules didn't apply to Perle because the provisions don't apply unless an employee works 60 days in a year, and Perle only worked eight days total in a three year time span for Trireme Partners LLP.

On March 28, 2003, Judicial Watch filed a complaint to the Office of Government Ethics, the Office of the Defense Department Inspector General, the Office of the Homeland Security Inspector General, United States Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller in the matter of Former Defense Policy Board Chairman Richard N. Perle, Former President William Jefferson Clinton, Former Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and Global Crossing.

Perle has served as a Director of Hollinger International since June 1994 and is the only outside director on the executive committee. He is also Co-Chairman of Hollinger Digital Inc. and a Director of Jerusalem Post, both of which are subsidiaries of the Company. He has served as a director of GeoBiotics. On August 31, 2004, a special committee of the Board of Directors investigating the alleged misconduct of the controlling shareholders of Hollinger International submitted the 512-page Breeden Report to the SEC. In the report, Perle is singled out as having breached his fiduciary responsibilities as a company director by authorizing several controversial transactions which diverted the company's net profit from the shareholders to the accounts of various executives. Perle received over $3 million in bonuses on top of his salary, bringing the total to $5.4 million, and the investigating committee called for him to return the money. Top Hollinger executives dismissed the report and have filed a defamation lawsuit against the head of the investigating committee, former SEC chairman Richard C. Breeden.

War with Iraq

Perle is said to be the person behind the US policy on Iraq (see also: U.S. plan to invade Iraq). He believed that Saddam Hussein's control of the government was weak, and that an invasion of Iraq would remove Saddam from power within weeks.

In an interview for "Saddam's Ultimate Solution", the July 11, 2002 episode of the PBS series Wide Angle, he said:

Saddam is much weaker than we think he is. He's weaker militarily. We know he's got about a third of what he had in 1991. But it's a house of cards. He rules by fear because he knows there is no underlying support. Support for Saddam, including within his military organization, will collapse at the first whiff of gunpowder. Now, it isn't going to be over in 24 hours, but it isn't going to be months either.

In the leadup to the war, Perle also complained that C.I.A. officials were so hostile to defectors brought out of Iraq by the Iraqi National Congress that they refused to interview them and even tried to discredit them. "But ultimately, the flow of information was so vital and so overwhelming that they could no longer ignore it", he is quoted as saying. One such defector was Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, who claimed that chemical and biological weapons laboratories were hidden beneath hospitals and inside presidential palaces.(New York Times, January 24, 2003. Judith Miller)

Perle advocated invading Iraq with only 40,000 troops, and complained about the calls by then Gen. Eric Shinseki to use 250,000 troops. [3] (http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=13098)

Perle continued to hold an optimistic assessment for the short-term future of Iraq, even after major terrorist attacks such as the one on August 19, 2003 which destroyed the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad and killed twenty-two people. For instance on September 22, 2003 at a luncheon gathering at the American Enterprise Institute, he stated

"And a year from now, I'll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush. There is no doubt that, with the exception of a very small number of people close to a vicious regime, the people of Iraq have been liberated and they understand that they've been liberated. And it is getting easier every day for Iraqis to express that sense of liberation." [4] (http://www.aei.org/events/contentID.20031003144313426/default.asp)

When discussing his new book "Battle Ready" co-authored with retired general Anthony Zinni, author Tom Clancy stated that he almost came to blows with Perle. According to Clancy:

"He was saying how (Secretary of State) Colin Powell was being a wuss because he was overly concerned with the lives of the troops," Clancy said. "And I said, 'Look ..., he's supposed to think that way!' And Perle didn't agree with me on that. People like that worry me." (Dubuque Telegraph Herald, June 13, 2004. Associated Press)

On November 19, 2003, he stated that "international law stood in the way of doing the right thing" in Iraq [5] (http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1089158,00.html)

Other

Perle advocates first-strike bombing of North Korean nuclear facilities. [6] (http://www.iht.com/articles/93022.html) He has also at times advocated preemptive attacks on Syria, Iran, Libya, and a number of other countries.

He is known to have a negative opinion of the United Nations and of multilateralism, and supports maintaining the military superpower status of the United States.

Perle has long been a target of criticism from the left, who view him as being a key force pushing US foreign policy in a militaristic direction. He has long been a target of criticism from the right, who believe him to be pro-Israel and pro-Likud to (their view) the detriment of the United States.

Perle chaired a study group that included Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, and others, that produced a strategy paper for the incoming Likud Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm" [7] (http://www.irmep.org/Policy_Briefs/3_27_2003_Clean_Break_or_Dirty_War.html), declared that "removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq" was an "important Israeli strategic objective in its own right as a means of foiling Syria's regional ambitions."

Perle married Leslie Joan Barr on July 31, 1977, and has a son, Jonathan, by her. He owns a vacation home in Provence in France where he spends much of his time. When in the U.S., he resides primarily in the Washington suburb of Chevy Chase, with his family.

Works

Perle is co-founder of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a spin-off from the American Enterprise Institute.

Perle is author of many articles and three books:

In 1992 he produced the PBS feature The Gulf Crisis: The Road to War.

External links

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