19 November 2003
Today’s quiz: What connects Richard Perle to Douglas Feith, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, ELF Oil, Lord Black, Iraq, Israel, Iran, Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon, Bush Snr and Bush Jnr, Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, China, Adnan Kashoggi, Saudi Arabia, Global Crossings, Boeing, Halliburton, and the DoD?
Answer: Money, filthy lucre, loot, cash, dosh, greenbacks, call it what you will, the so-called leaders of the ‘free world’ are hooked on its possession and will do anything to get their grubby hands on it. All else is window dressing for the ‘masses’. What connects the money together? Hollinger International.
Richard “Conflicts of Interest” Perle
He’s been at it quite a long time, and it’s the way policy and money interact and overlap that is crucial to understanding the connections. And Perle is well connected to people like William Safire at the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, William Kristal’s right-wing rag, all anxious to peddle Perle’s poisonous view of the world.
Perles of ‘wisdom’
Perle on the Iraqi ‘opposition’
“The Iraqi opposition is kind of like an MRE (meals ready to eat, a freeze-dried army field ration) The ingredients are there and you just have to add water, in this case US Support.” – US News and World Report
Perle on the UN
“[The UN is] the intellectual wreckage of the liberal conceit of safety through international law administered by international institutions”
“”Saddam Hussein “will go quickly, but not alone: in a parting irony he will take the United Nations down with him.”” – The Spectator
“”Perle stunned members of the British Parliament when he told them that even a “clean bill of health” from UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix would not stop a US attack on Iraq: “Evidence from one witness on Saddam Hussein’s weapons program will be enough to trigger a fresh military onslaught””
Perle on the role of the UN Security Council
“”[It is dangerously wrong] to hand any decisions over to “the likes of Syria, Cameroon, Angola, Russia, China and France”.
Perle on Europe
“[Europeans have] inadequate military capabilities … [and that] the inability to use force morphs easily into an abhorrence of the use of force.”
Perle on journalist Seymour Hersh
“[T]he closest thing American journalism ha[s] to a terrorist.”
You can run but you can’t hide
During the days of Watergate and later the Iran-contra affair, if you wanted to know what was really going on, the mantra was, follow the money. Well it should come as no surprise that nothing has changed.
It’s amazing the way things all come together. Serendipity, synchronicity or whatever, things have a way of working their way out into the light of day no matter what the suspects do to cover their tracks. Unravelling the conundrum is the problem and I suppose it’s all the connections that lead some people to make links that either don’t exist or if they do, to draw incorrect inferences from them. The principle of Occam’s Razor should be our guiding light, that it’s normally the simplest of reasons that determines events.
And lo and behold, in line with the above, a series of events ‘conspired’ to emerge into the light of day simultananeously. All have one thing in common, Hollinger International and Richard Perle and directly or indirectly, the ‘war on terror’. And although for some the ‘war on terror’ might be about the ‘grand strategies’ of the imperialists, for those directly involved, sooner or later it comes down to money and getting hold of it, lots of it. For if nothing else, if it’s worth doing it’s worth doing for lots of cash.
So what started as an investigation into Richard Perle’s conflicts of interest, the other on Lord Black and illegal payments to executives worth over $200 million and another on bribes and kickbacks that ELF Oil made worth over £200 million, revealed a network of financial and political connections that extends around the planet, picking up a bunch of sleazebags on the way, the way dog poo sticks to your shoe.
Luckily for me, there is no shortage of people willing to run up gigantic phone bills to track down some of the connections and to whom I owe an enormous debt of gratitude. What I have attempted to do here is to put some of the pieces of the jigsaw together in order to present the ‘bigger picture’. And although it is by no means complete, I hope it communicates the nature of the beast, that when you strip away all the camouflage and the bullshit, you see these people for what they really are. As ever, my objective is to prick the balloon and deflate the illusion. That the power-meisters are actually no more than grubby little men, born at the right time in the right place, ruthless in the pursuit of money and power, with no regard for people and willing to sacrifice the lives of millions if necessary without blinking an eyelid.
One of the major problems facing anyone attempting to put the pieces together is establishing the connections without imposing one’s preconceived notions about the reasons. I suppose it’s why I have an instinctual suspicion of conspiracies, because it implies a pre-conceived ‘plan’ when the reality is that class interests in and of themselves draw people together to form alliances based on common objectives and interests. That these interests are reinforced, often over successive generations through inheritance and networks is what we commonly call history.
During the Carter administration Perle was part of the “Committee on the Present Danger” — which believed that the US was about to be overrun by the Soviet Union and the committee advocated huge military budgets and was totally opposed to any and all arms treaties with the Soviets.
It’s a widely held view that Perle was in the pay of Mossad when it was reported that he was employed by an Israeli arms company to sell weapons. Later the rumour surfaced again following the release of an FBI wiretap into an investigation of Perle’s ties to the Jonathan Jay Pollard spy case, purportedly of Perle in conversation with an employee at the Israeli embassy passing on US classified information.
Then in the 1980s with yet another conflict of interest with accusations that he was involved in representing an Israeli weapons company in the sale of weapons, an accusation he denied, saying he was “between jobs” when working for the company.
“[W]hen Assistant Secretary of Defense…[i]n 1983, he was the subject of a New York Times investigation into an allegation that he recommended that the Army buy weapons from an Israeli company from whose owners he had, two years earlier, accepted a fifty-thousand-dollar fee.”
Then there was Perle’s involvement with the then Prime Minister of Israel Netanyahu and a report authored by Perle and his sidekick, Douglas Feith (who is now Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy). The report, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” that Perle gave to Netanyahu ‘reappeared’ pretty well word for word as Netanyahu’s speech before Congress.
And for fifteen years Perle represented the interests of the Turkish government, successfully getting a bill in Congress killed that would have condemned the genocide committed against the Armenians by the Turks.
And then there’s Perle’s financial connections to Hollinger International where he’s Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors and where he also serves on the remuneration committee and is also a member of the International Advisory Board of Hollinger Inc, but more on Hollinger below.
This week, Lord Black (or Conrad Black) who owns 73% of Hollinger International has been forced to step down as head of the transnational media conglomerate Hollinger International that owns over 400 media outlets including London’s right-wing Daily and Sunday Telegraph and the Spectator, Israel’s Jerusalem Post, and the Chicago Sun Times, over $200 million in ‘bonuses’ handed out to directors over a seven-year period, that by rights belonged to the investors.
And in yet another conflict of interest, Perle’s involvement as a director of the British software company Autonomy surfaced. Autonomy supplies the DoD, the Dept of Homeland Security, Britain’s GCHQ and MI6 with tools that enable the ‘bugging’ of computer communications.
Perle is also director of yet another company that has major contracts with the US army and the DoD, DigitalNet.
Finally there’s Perle’s connection to Global Crossings, the bankrupt telecommunications company. Perle was hired by the Hong Kong-based company Hutchison Whampoa Ltd where he has a fat consulting deal, purportedly worth $750,000, to ‘smooth the way’ for its purchase. Global Crossings handles a lot of US military communications and Hutchison Whampoa is closely linked to the Chinese government and their military.
People on Perle
“Retired Rear Adm. Thomas Brooks, who served on the [Defense] policy board during the Clinton administration, said Perle’s actions were “certainly questionable.” “It sounds like he’s squeezing every nickel out of the Defense Policy Board”
Perle and the princes of Saudi Arabia
Perle’s connection to Adnan Khashoggi, the notorious billionaire Saudi arms dealer, oil man and go-between in the Iran-Contra scandal are also worth mentioning.
“At the peak of his deal-making activities, in the nineteen-seventies, the Saudi-born businessman Adnan Khashoggi brokered billions of dollars in arms and aircraft sales for the Saudi royal family, earning hundreds of millions in commissions and fees. Though never convicted of wrongdoing, he was repeatedly involved in disputes with federal prosecutors and with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and in recent years he has been in litigation in Thailand and Los Angeles, among other places, concerning allegations of stock manipulation and fraud. During the Reagan Administration, Khashoggi was one of the middlemen between Oliver North, in the White House, and the mullahs in Iran in what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal. Khashoggi subsequently claimed that he lost ten million dollars that he had put up to obtain embargoed weapons for Iran which were to be bartered (with Presidential approval) for American hostages. The scandals of those times seemed to feed off each other: a congressional investigation revealed that Khashoggi had borrowed much of the money for the weapons from the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (B.C.C.I.), whose collapse, in 1991, defrauded thousands of depositors and led to years of inquiry and litigation.”
But it’s Perle’s connection to Kashoggi and Saudi Arabia that bear looking at given Perle’s publicly stated hatred of Saudi Arabia and his desire to nevertheless sell them millions of dollars of arms . Moreover, it’s Perle’s use of his position on the Defense Policy Board that is important. In November 2002 Perle’s Trireme company sent a letter to Kashoggi touting for business, arguing that the ‘threat of terrorism’ would increase the need for its products in countries like Saudi Arabia. The letter stated that:
“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”
Clearly the intention of the letter was attract further investment from Kashoggi and his Saudi connections. According to an article by Seymour Hersh, when one other member of the DPB was informed of Perle’s connection to Trireme said:
“”Oh, get out of here. He’s the chairman! If you had a story about me setting up a company for homeland security, and I’ve put people on the board with whom I’m doing that business, I’d be had”—a reference to Gerald Hillman, who had almost no senior policy or military experience in government before being offered a post on the policy board. “Seems to me this is at the edge of or off the ethical charts. I think it would stink to high heaven.””
Yet in spite of Perle’s opinions on Saudi Arabia, it didn’t stop him from doing business with a government that he had accused of being a “major source of the problem we face with terrorism”.
And Perle’s hostility to the Saudi government did not stop him from meeting with potential Saudi investors for Trireme and Kashoggi was the “intermediary” between Trireme and Harb Zuhair, Iraqi-born Saudi businessman. Eventually, Trireme official Christopher Harriman (who sent the pitch letter) and DPB member Gerald Hillman met with Kashoggi and Zuhair in Paris to discuss investment opportunities.
But Zuhair was also interested in avoiding war with Iraq and he told Harriman and Hillman that raising $100 million would be “easy” if war could be avoided. Harriman and Hillman told them that Perle was the “hook” due to his position on the DPB and a meeting was setup with Perle, Kashoggi, Zuhair, Hillman and Harriman in Marseilles on January 3 2002. Perle denies that investment in Trireme came up at the lunch, that his interest was “politics” but that’s not how Zuhair tells it. Zuhair and Kashoggi claim that there were two issues, the first was to try and avoid war with Iraq and the second and more important issue, Zuhair claimed that he had 10 Saudi businessmen who would each invest $10 million in Trireme.
“It was normal for us to see Perle,” Khashoggi told Seymour Hersh. “We in the Middle East are accustomed to politicians who use their offices for whatever business they want. I organized the lunch for the purpose of Harb Zuhair to put his language to Perle. Perle politely listened, and the lunch was over.”
“As Khashoggi saw it, Trireme’s business potential depended on a war in Iraq taking place. “If there is no war,” he told me, “why is there a need for security? If there is a war, of course, billions of dollars will have to be spent.” [Kashoggi] commented, “You Americans blind yourself with your high integrity and your democratic morality against peddling influence, but they were peddling influence.” – Seymour Hersh
Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who served as the Saudi Ambassador to the United States for twenty years, reinforced this view when he told Hersh:
“There is a split personality to Perle,” Bandar said. “Here he is, on the one hand, trying to make a hundred-million-dollar deal, and, on the other hand, there were elements of the appearance of blackmail—‘If we get in business, he’ll back off on Saudi Arabia’—as I have been informed by participants in the meeting.”
As for Perle’s meeting with Khashoggi and Zuhair, and the assertion that its purpose was to discuss politics, Bandar said, “There has to be deniability, and a cover story—a possible peace initiative in Iraq—is needed. I believe the Iraqi events are irrelevant. A business meeting took place.” – Seymour Hersh
Typically, Perle, whilst pushing for the invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein was also looking to make a buck and using his unique position to further both objectives. Zuhair like Perle was also quite happy to play both sides against the middle, having brokered arms deals for Saddam Hussein in the 1980s even though Hussein murdered two of Zuhair’s brothers.
On the policy side, Mr. Perle has served as Resident Fellow of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research since 1987 and during the Clinton years Perle was part of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (GAINS) and the Center for Security Policy (CSP).
“These two groups unremittingly crusaded for war — war with anyone, war with practically everyone. Michael Ledeen, a JINSA member and firebrand of the establishment ultra-right, called their quest “total war” — not simply against Iraq but also against Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian.”
“”One former high-level intelligence official spoke with awe of Perle’s ability to “radically change government policy” even though he is a private citizen. “It’s an impressive achievement that an outsider can have so much influence, and has even been given an institutional base for his influence.””
Perle and the Policy Board
Last week, Perle was cleared on a technicality by the US Department of Defense’s Inspector General of conflicts of interest over his relationship to two corporations and his position on the influential Pentagon Defense Advisory Board.
“Perle has a broad range of business interests. He serves on the board of several defense contractors and is a lead player in Trireme Partners, a venture capital fund seeking investments in the defense and homeland security industries. In July 2001, Perle became chairman of the 30-member Defense Policy Board, which meets regularly with Rumsfeld. The board’s meetings are classified and members are allowed access to top-secret intelligence reports.
“On Feb. 27, 2003, two speakers — Henry D. Sokolski of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and Michael Pillsbury, a Pentagon advisor under [Douglas] Feith — gave presentations to the Defense Policy Board on the risks and prospects of U.S. conflict with North Korea. The same day, the Defense Intelligence Agency, which works for the Pentagon, also briefed the board on North Korea and Iraq among other subjects, according to several people in attendance. Three weeks later, Perle participated in a Goldman Sachs conference call in which he advised investors on opportunities tied to the war in Iraq. Perle’s talk was called “Implications of an Imminent War: Iraq Now. North Korea Next?”
Perle, Trireme and Hollinger International
Trireme is owned by none other than Hollinger International.
“In November 2001, the investment fund was incorporated in Delaware under the name of Trireme Partners. Trireme declines to reveal its investors. Correspondence obtained by the Los Angeles Times shows that in late March, Hollinger International Inc. — a company owned by media magnate Conrad Black and where Perle is a director — invested $2.5 million in the fund earlier this year. The New Yorker magazine first reported on Perle’s involvement with Trireme while he was serving as chairman of the Defense Policy Board. Its story, written by Seymour Hersh, revealed that Perle had met with Adnan Khashoggi, a controversial Saudi arms dealer, and Harb Saleh Zuhair, a Saudi businessman, and sought investments in the fund from them.”
Mind you, before we start throwing bricks at Perle’s dubious deals with defense contractors and his position on the Defense Policy Board a “report by the Center for Public Integrity identified at least eight other members of the Board [out of 30] who have ties to major defense contractors.”
Further digging revealed this:
“Hollinger International is examining investments that were made by Richard Perle, a director on the publisher’s board and prominent defense advisor, on behalf of the company.
“The investigation is part of a wider internal probe at the publisher of the Daily Telegraph and Chicago Sun-Times into some of the company’s corporate governance practices, including the payment of nearly $300m in management fees to Conrad Black, chief executive and chairman, and his deputies.
“That probe, which is being lead by former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Richard Breeden, is wide-ranging and involves close scrutiny of so-called “related-party transactions”, or deals in which members of Hollinger’s board or executives personally benefited from deals the publisher agreed with other companies.
“One transaction that caught the attention of some Hollinger investors was a $2.5m investment earlier this year in Trireme Partners, a venture capital company in which Mr Perle, an independent director, is a managing partner.
“Mr Perle has also played a prominent role in the late 1990’s and early 2000 in directing investments in other companies through Hollinger Digital, Hollinger’s investment arm.
“Under review is a $14m investment the company made under Mr Perle’s direction through Hillman Capital, a venture capital group controlled by Gerald Hillman – who has since become a partner at Trireme and is [also] a member of the Defense Policy Board, as is Mr Perle.
“The $14m investment contributed to a fund used by Hillman Capital to acquire – with another private equity group – more than 70 per cent of Cambridge Display Technology, a UK-based technology group that holds a patent in light-emitting polymers, in 1999.
“Early investors in CDT included Lord Young, a former business adviser of Baroness Thatcher’s.
“Mr Perle has been criticised in the past over perceived conflicts of interest in his business dealings.
“Mr Perle resigned as chairman of the Defense Policy Board earlier this year after he was criticised for having a $750,000 contract with Global Crossing, the bankrupt telecoms group. Global Crossing was at the time seeking to overcome Defense Department objections on its sale to Hutchison Whampoa, a Chinese-controlled company.”
The New York Times also covered the story but essentially gutted it by focusing on the fact that Perle was found ‘not guilty’ (by virtue of a technicality). Headed “Report Finds No Violations at Pentagon by Adviser”:
“The inspector general’s conclusions were in a heavily excised report dated Nov. 10 that was released on Friday by Representative John Conyers of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, who requested the inquiry after reports about Mr. Perle’s business dealings. Those reports led Mr. Perle to step down last March as chairman of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee.
“We have completed our inquiry regarding the conduct of Mr. Perle and did not substantiate allegations of misconduct,” Joseph E. Schmirtz, the inspector general, wrote in a letter to Mr. Conyers that accompanied the report.
“The report confirmed many of the underlying facts of the news reports and found that Mr. Perle’s business dealings did not violate the ethics rules. It conclud
ed that Mr. Perle “arguably represented” two companies in matters “pending in the department or agency of the government in which such employee is serving” and therefore in possible violation of two federal laws.
“But the report said that because Mr. Perle was classified as a “special government employee” the two provisions would be violated only if he served in government for more than 60 days during the year. His job entailed only about eight days of service annually, according to the report. While he led the board, Mr. Perle advised the American satellite maker, Loral Space and Communications, as it faced government accusations that it improperly transferred rocket technology to China. He contacted the senior official at the State Department considering the Loral matter. Mr. Perle has said he contacted the official, an assistant secretary, Lincoln P. Bloomfield Jr., to inquire about the status of license requests by Loral to deliver the satellites that had been made for China.
“In another case, Mr. Perle was retained by the telecommunications company Global Crossing to help the company overcome resistance by the Defense Department to its proposed sale to a joint venture of Hutchison Whampoa, controlled by the Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, and Singapore Technologies Telemedia, a phone company controlled by the government of Singapore.
“In that case, Mr. Perle and his lawyers had prepared to file an affidavit in the Global Crossing bankruptcy proceeding that said he was uniquely qualified to advise the company on the matter because of his job as head of the Defense Policy Board. But after a reporter raised questions about whether he was using his job at the policy board for the benefit of a client, Mr. Perle and his lawyers revised the affidavit.
“The inspector general’s report said that “on its face, the affidavit would appear to violate D.O.D. ethics regulations that prohibit the use of official position for personal gain.” “However, testimony from multiple witnesses corroborated Mr. Perle’s assertion that he objected to the language at issue and signed a second version of the affidavit only after being incorrectly assured that the language referring to his D.P.B.A.C. position had been removed,” the report said. “Accordingly, we considered his act, while careless, an unintentional oversight.”
Perle and the ELF Oil, General Mediterranean Holdings connection
The British government’s involvement with a certain Mr Nadhmi Auchi, fined £1.4 million last week over his involvement in the Elf (the French oil giant) oil scandal and a big buddy of the Blah government and who is involved in a massive telecoms deals in occupied Iraq via his investment in Orascom. Former Foreign Officer Minister Keith Blaz was a director of one of Auchi’s companies, General Mediterranean Holdings. Last month the Coalition Provisional Authority awarded a contract to a consortium led by Auchi to build the mobile phone network in Iraq. But it gets murkier. The oil-for-food programme administered by the UN used BNP Paribas Bank and it was Auchi’s General Mediterranean Holdings that was a major investor in the bank. Moreover, Auchi’s GMH also owns half a dozen GM chemical and pharmaceutical companies in the UK involved in murky dealing with Keith Vaz, the disgraced New Labour flack and corrupt former Internal Revenue Service employee.
“SIX DRUGS firms were raided last week in a massive fraud inquiry. They are accused of running a price-fixing scam. The firms are accused of overpricing medicines, such as penicillin-based antibiotics and warfarin, between 1996 and 2000.
“The six have received around £500 million of public money from the NHS. One of the companies under investigation is Regent-GM Laboratories. It has some interesting figures on its board of directors. The chairman is former Tory health minister Gerry Malone. Also sitting on the board of directors is Baroness Falkender. She was once the private secretary to Labour prime minister Harold Wilson. Regent-GM also has links to New Labour.
“The company is owned by super-rich Nadhmi Auchi of General Mediterranean Holdings. Auchi is friendly with disgraced Labour MP Keith Vaz, who sat on the board of another one of Auchi’s companies.
“General Mediterranean Holdings celebrated its 20th birthday party in 1999 with a bash at the Park Lane Hilton Hotel. There a member of the government, Lord Sainsbury, presented Auchi with a painting-on behalf of Tony Blair.”
Of course all the media coverage of the Hollinger ripoff has not once mentioned either the Perle or the Auchi connection, or indeed the Trireme/Hollinger connection or to the Blah government via General Mediterranean Holdings and its ownership of the above-named drugs companies. What is clear is the venal nature of all the players named in the events outlined above, where money and politics are completely interchangeable whether on the US, Saudi, Israeli, British or Iraqi sides. What it does illustrate is that all the talk of democracy and human rights is nothing more than that, talk.