The Usual Suspects Pt 1: Richard Perle, Prince of Darkness
This is the first installment of a series of articles in which I will introduce you to the cast of characters that pull all the strings behind the neocon movement, The Usual Suspects. This group has had a long and sordid history of criminal activity and have shown a propensity for sacrificing U.S. national security for their own agendas.
Today, I will introduce you to a rather infamous figure many of you probably already know. Richard Perle, The Prince of Darkness.
Perle served as an assistant Secretary of Defense for the Reagan administration and on the Defense Policy Board Adisory Committee from 1987 to 2004. He was Chairman of the Board from 2001 to 2003 under the Bush Administration.
Perle is a member of the Project for the New American Century, (PNAC), the Hudson Institute and is a resident fellow on the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He is also a disciple of the Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). You will be hearing those organizations quite often in this series, but let me point out now that Nitze, who founded the SAIS in 1944, was a former investment banker for a company that floated loans for the Third Reich. It was Nitze who wrote NSC Memorandum 68 which was the policy basis for the Cold War and led to the establishment of our never ending war economy. This document asserted, for the first time in U.S. history, a U.S. claim on any economic and social resources anywhere in the world.
Perle earned his nickname "The Prince of Darkness" for his radical ideas including the use of nuclear weapons. He is considered a hardliner and believes in military intervention in the domestic conflicts of foreign nations. Perle is on the public record advocating pre-emptive strikes against North Korea, Syria, Iran amongst other countries.
From 1969 to 1980, Perle was a staffer for Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson. Less than a year after joining the staff, Perle was involved in the leaking of a CIA report on Soviet treaty violations. CIA analyst David Sullivan was author of the report and leaked it to Perle who in turn leaked it to the public. Sullivan quit before he could be fired and was subsequently hired by Henry Jackson, who only reprimanded Perle despite the CIA Director STansfield Turner's insistence that he be fired. The security leaks won't end there.
One could say he was "initiated" into the Usual Suspects in October 1970 when FBI wiretaps recorded him disclosing classified information to Israeli officials at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. The information had been passed to him by NSC staff member Hal Sonnenfeldt, who himself was being wiretapped and had been repeatedly investigated by the FBI for suspected security leaks involving Israel.
In the late 70's, Perle, with his mentor Albert Wohlstetter, began promoting Turkey as a key US and Israeli strategic ally. When Islamic terrorists destablized that nation, a military coup established a pro-US regime. It was later found that the terrorism that had destabilized Turkey was carried out by the Turkish military in conjunction with the CIA and NATO. This is but one instance in which Perle was involved in western support for islamic militancy.
In 1980, Perle left his position as a Senate aide to become a consultant with the Abington Corporation. His first clients were Israeli arms dealers who wanted to sell the US weapons produced by Soltam Ltd., an Israeli company. Soltam agrees to pay Abington $10,000 a month for a period of one year. Despite Perle's resignation as a Senate aide, he inexplicably remained on the Senate rolls as a nonsalaried employee until May 31, 1981. During this period, Perle retained his Senate security clearance. William F. Hildebrand later tells the New York Times that Perle's arrangement with the Senate was not normal.
In 1983, it is Richard Perle who recommends that Michael Ledeen be hired at the Department of Defense as a consultant on terrorism. Michael Ledeen, aka Kayser Soze, will be the subject of another installment of The Usual Suspects. Ledeen was considered by the CIA to be an agent of Israel.
It was during his stint as Assistant Secretary of Defense under Reagan that he was accused of corrupt dealings with Israel after he had recommended the purchase of an armaments system from Tamares, Ltd. who had paid him $50,000 in consulting fees just a year earlier.
Controversy surrounded Perles confirmation hearings for Assistant Secretary of Defense when he indicated he would like Stephen Bryen for deputy assistant. Bryen was previously investigated by the FBI for passing classified documents to an Israeli embassy offical in 1978. Once again, spying for Israel becomes a security concern due to Richard Perle.
Two decades later, Larry Franklin will be discovered to be the conduit between the Office of Special Plans, a secret Pentagon cell and two Israeli espionage agents. Richard Perle and many of The Usual Suspects operated out of the OSP in the buildup to the Iraq war.
In 1984, Perle urged the CIA to promote a propaganda program to get Soviet soldiers to defect to the mujaheddin in Afghanistan. The CIA officers describe him as the craziest of the many extreme right-wingers they'd ever dealt with.
By 1986, Perle had completed negotiations on the Defense and Economic Cooperation Agreement with Turkey. This put Turkey as the third largest recipient of US military aid after Israel and Egypt. Then he establishes a high-level US-Turkish consultation group co-chaired by the Pentagon and Turkish general staff. Perle is the American co-chair for this group. It is at this time that Richard Clarke is assigned by the State Department to "keep an eye on" Perle when he takes a trip to Turkey.
In 1987, Richard Perle resigned as Assistant Secretary of Defense under allegations he'd leaked classified information.
In 1989 Perle negotiated with Turkey an $800,000 contract for his own company, International Advisors Inc. (IAI), which he started with Douglas Feith. He received $48,000 annually. IAI is registered as Turkey's foreign agent with the Justice Department. In all, IAI receives $3.8 million dollars from Turkey over the next 6 years.
In 1995 Perle, along with Douglas Feith, illegaly act as advisors to the government of Bosnia during the Dayton peace talks without registering with the Department of Justice, as required by law. Perle goes on to serve as military advisor to Bosnia. Within months, Perle is lobbying to get Turkey to arm and train Bosnian muslims, which he claims is of vital interest to the United States.
It is soon after this that it becomes apparent to Interpol that the KLA has taken over heroin trafficking from Turkish criminal elements and that the KLA is also receiving protection from the US. Intercepted messages speak of the desire to drown the western infidels in drugs. Interpol realizes that Turkish-Albanian drug smuggling and political activities are deeply intertwined and that Osama bin Ladin is involved.
Perle was a signatory on the PNAC letter sent to President Clinton in 1998 calling for him to use military force against the Serbs. They urge Clinton to support the KLA.
This letter also calls for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime. This letter claimed that diplomatic efforts had been a failure and military force was required to depose the Iraqi dictator. It was spearheaded by Ahmed Chalabi. The signatures read off like a roll call of all The Usual Suspects: Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, Richard Armitage, Duane "Dewey" Clarridge, Frank Carlucci and others. These names will continue to crop up in interested places, such as the Niger Uranium forgeries, as this series continues.
He also chaired a study group that included other members of The Usual Suspects, such as Douglas Feith and David Wurmser, that created the strategy paper for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm. which recommended, among other things:
1: Armed incursions into Lebanon.
2: Strikes against Syria and Iran
3: The removal of Saddam Hussein from power
4: A move by Isreal away from liberalism and towards laissez faire capitalism. ie, Corporate Fascism.
5: Establishing a policy of pre-emptive strikes.
So far, three of those five recommendations have come to pass.
It was after receiving this paper that Netanyahu became a strong proponent of using American military force to drive Saddam out of Iraq. When Clinton refused, both Netanyahu and Blair were said to be furious.
On 9-11 the Sharon government instantly declared that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the attacks and called for massive retaliation against Baghdad. Within two weeks, The Usual Suspects were making a feverish pitch to invade Iraq. Richard Perle was immediately brought into the inner sanctum.
It was Richard Perle, who during a July 10th, 2002 Defense Policy Board meeting, demanded the purging of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of all opponents of the Iraq war, and called for a U.S. military occupation and takeover of the Saudi oil fields and a total break with the House of Saud-just as his July 1996 IASPS "Clean Break" study had proposed.
Perle, along with fellow SAIS disciple Paul Wolfowitz, argued for over 19 hours the week after 9-11 for a war against Iraq, the removal of Saddam Hussein and most importantly the seizure of Iraqi oil, just as soon as the war in Afghanistan could be wrapped up.
It was Perle's contention that we needed only 40,000 troops to invade Iraq. He was critical of Gen. Shinseki's idea to use 250,000 troops. Perle went so far as to tell David Corn of the Nation that:
Forget the 250,000 figure, Perle said: "The Army guys don't know anything. They said we needed 500,000 troops in 1991 [for the Gulf War]. Did we need that many to win? No."
What's the Perle Plan? I asked.
"Forty thousand troops." he said.
To take Baghdad? Nah, he replied. To take control of the north and the south, particularly the north, where the oil fields are.
However, in a recent issue of the L.A. Times he is quoted as saying
I'm getting damn tired of being described as an architect of the war. I was in favor of bringing down Saddam. Nobody said, 'Go design the campaign to do that.' I had no responsibility for that.
The L.A.Times also quotes him as saying:
I think if I had been Delphic, and had seen where we are today, and people had said 'Should we go into Iraq?' I think now I probably would have said, 'No, let's consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists . . .'
It is interesting to note that in that same David Corn interview, he is quoted as saying this about Scott Ritter:
I said, President Bush was obligated to present a solid case to the American public, and so far Bush and his crew have only asserted that Saddam poses a threat. They have not proven that Saddam's supposed pursuit of weapons of mass destruction has made him a clear and present danger to the United States.
Perle moved closer and said, "Trust me."
Sorry, I answered, I don't think we should head to war merely on the say-so of a few government officials. Besides, I added politely, why trust you? Why not trust Scott Ritter?
Ritter, Perle huffed, is "unstable."
Low blow, I said.
Perle claimed he does not call everyone with whom he disagrees "unstable." But, he said, this was an appropriate term for a fellow who had changed his position 180 degrees.
Unstable may well be an appropriate term to describe Richard Perle.
In 2003, The Guardian reported Richard Perle as admitting the invasion of Iraq was illegal.
Mr Perle told an audience in London: "I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing."
Mr Perle, a key member of the defence policy board, which advises the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said that "international law ... would have required us to leave Saddam Hussein alone", and this would have been morally unacceptable.
Perle is also an advocate of Total Information Awareness technology.
His new spin on the Iraq fiasco is that it was a good plan but was executed poorly. This meme seems to be gaining ground amongst The Usual Suspects as a means to hang the failure of the Iraq war on the shoulders of Rumsfeld.
When asked if there would be a Democratic Party candidate he'd support for President, Perle named Joe Lieberman and Gov. Mark Warner, both strong DLC supporters.
Corruption seems to follow him wherever he goes:
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 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (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. However, in 2005 Mr Perle publically acknowledged he had been served a 'Wells notice', a formal warning that the S.E.C.'s enforcement staff had found sufficient evidence of wrongdoing to bring a civil lawsuit.
Perle once had close business ties with Conrad Black of Hollinger International Inc. which owns over 400 newspapers worldwide. Perle was the top executive of Hollinger Digital Inc. the media management and investment arm of Hollinger International. Now the two men have accused each other of swindling Hollinger International. The Breeden Report describes Perle thusly:
As a faithless fiduciary, Perle should be required to disgorge all compensation received from the company
Hollinger is demanding $22.9 million in reparations.
When he finally stepped down from the chairmanship of the Defense Policy Board in 2003, it was amid allegations of a conflict of interest. He had become an advisor for the telecommunications company Global Crossing, which wanted help cutting through resistance to its proposed sale to a foreign firm with ties to China. Perle was paid $750,000 and promised another $600,000 if the sale was approved. The moment he stepped down, Global Crossing announced their ties with Perle had been severed.
Prior to that, Perle had been an advisor to Loral Space and Communications, which had faced accusations of transferring rocket technology to China.