Richard Perle

Richard Perle

:"This is about the conservative official and lobbyist; for the liberal author, see Rick Perlstein."Infobox US Cabinet official

name= Richard N. Perle
| image_width=
order=Chairman of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee
president=George W. Bush
order2=United States Assistant Secretary of Defense
president2=Ronald Reagan
birth_date=birth date and age|1941|9|16
birth_place=New York City
spouse=Leslie Joan Barr
profession=Political scientist
religion= Jewish

Richard N. Perle (born 16 September 1941 in New York City) is an American political advisor and lobbyist who worked for the Reagan administration as an assistant Secretary of Defense and worked 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.

He is a member of several neoconservative think-tanks, such as Project for the New American Century (PNAC), the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), Center for Security Policy (CSP), the Hudson Institute, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) Board of Advisors, and (as a resident fellow) the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. He is also a Patron of the Henry Jackson Society. Perle has written extensively on a number of issues; his cited research interests including defense, national security, and the Middle East. Aside from these engagements, Perle is the former co-chairman and director of Hollinger, Inc., a partner of Trireme Partners and a non-executive director of Autonomy.

Education and early career

Perle was born in New York to a Jewish family. His family moved to California, and Perle attended Hollywood High School in Los Angeles (his classmates included actor Mike Farrell and singer Ricky Nelson) and later, the University of Southern California, earning a B.A. in International Politics in 1964. As an undergraduate he studied in Copenhagen at Denmark's International Study Program. He also studied at the London School of Economics and obtained a M.A. in political science from Princeton University in 1967.

Office of Senator Henry Jackson

From 1969 to 1980, Perle worked as a staffer for Democratic Senator Henry M. Jackson of Washington. As a staffer, Perle drafted the Jackson-Vanik amendment to the 1972 International Grain Agreement (IGA), or "Russian Wheat Deal" negotiated by Richard Nixon and the Soviet Union which made for the first time by law a trade agreement contingent upon the fundamental human right of Soviet Jews to emigrate. [] He was considered as an extremely knowledgeable and influential person in the Senate debates on arms control. By his own admission, Perle acquired the reputation of an influential figure who preferred to work in the background, a reputation that has followed him through the years in both the public and private sectors. At some point (usually said to be during his time in the Reagan Administration) Perle acquired the nickname "The Prince of Darkness", which has been used both as a slur by his critics and as a joke by supporters. ("Time", 23 March 1987, "Farewell Dark Prince") However, he has been quoted saying that; "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...." ("The New York Times", 4 December 1977, "Jackson Aide Stirs Criticism in Arms Debate", Richard L. Madden)

Opposition to nuclear arms reduction

Perle was considered a hardliner in arms reduction negotiations with the Soviet Union and has stated that his 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 1970s "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. Perle is widely credited for spearheading opposition to the treaty, which was never ratified by the Senate.

War with Iraq

Pre-2003 invasion

Like many in the neoconservative movement, Perle had long been an advocate of regime change in Iraq. He was a signatory of the 26 January 1998 [ PNAC Letter] sent to US President Bill Clinton that called for the military overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime. He also linked Saddam to Osama Bin Laden just a few days after 9/11, proclaiming in an interview on CNN on Sept 16, 2001: "Even if we cannot prove to the standards that we enjoy in our own civil society that they were involved, we do know, for example, that Saddam Hussein has ties to Osama Bin Laden..." [ [ CNN archives, Sept. 16, 2001.] Go to the 1 minute 10 second mark to hear Richard Perle make the Osama-Saddam connection 5 days after 9/11.]

Perle argued that what he referred to as terrorist Abu Nidal's "sanctuary" in Saddam Hussein's Iraq was justification for the U.S. military invasion of Iraq. Perle states this in the recent PBS documentary series "America At A Crossroads", and refers to President Bush's 9/11 speech in which Bush stated: "We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them."

Perle came into further prominence due to his role in backing the 2003 invasion, and continues to support the military presence there.

In an interview for "Saddam's Ultimate Solution", the 11 July 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."

The US-led coalition defeated the Iraqi military within less than a month of the invasion [2003 Iraq war timeline] and the Coalition Provisional Authority disbanded the military and removed Ba'ath party members from authority positions, essentially dissolving the government, as well. Critical government positions were appointed by the CPA [Post-invasion Iraq, 2003–present] .

In the leadup to the war, Perle also complained that Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) 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. The defectors and the head of the INC, Ahmed Chalabi were discredited not only by the CIA, but by the State Department at the time that Perle was supporting them. Later, the US military raided INC offices and stopped funding to the organization. [Iraqi National Congress]

Perle advocated invading Iraq with only 40,000 troops, and complained about the calls by then Gen. Eric Shinseki to use 660,000 troops. He preferred a strategy similar to that used in the Afghan war, in which the U.S. would insert SOF (Special Operations Forces), along with some two divisions, to assist native Kurdish and Shi'ite rebels, much as the United States had done with the Northern Alliance against the Taliban. cite news |title= The Prince of Darkness Explains Iraq |url= |publisher= AlterNet | first= David |last= Corn |date= May 10, 2002] Nevertheless, in an interview he gave "Vanity Fair" that was excerpted in an article appearing in the 4 November 2006 "Los Angeles Times", he denied having a role in the planning of the war. He is reported to have told "Vanity Fair", "I'm getting damn tired of being described as an architect of the war. This is not congruent with his signing of the PNAC letter in 1998. I was in favor of bringing down Saddam. Nobody said, 'Go design the campaign to do that.' I had no responsibility for that." The same "Los Angeles Times" article reports that Perle now believes that his advocacy of the Iraq war was wrong.

Perle was the subject of extensive study in the April 2007 PBS miniseries America at a Crossroads, in which he made a retrospective defense of the Bush administration's decisions concerning the invasion of Iraq.

In April 2007, Perle was featured on VPRO's "Tegenlicht" miniseries [ The Israel Lobby] . Perle denied that the Israel Lobby particularly AIPAC was involved in the case to go to war with Iraq. However, he did suggest that AIPAC is heavily influential in United States elections. Further hinting at if any sponsored legislation is challenged in the US Congress the likelihood of re-election is minimal.

Iraq policy regret and Bush criticism

In a "Vanity Fair" article that was first published online in November 2006, Perle expressed regret of his support of the invasion and faulted the "dysfunction" in the Bush administration for the troubled occupation. "I think now I probably would have said, 'Let's consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists'. The decisions did not get made that should have been. They didn't get made in a timely fashion, and the differences were argued out endlessly. At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible." cite news |title= Neo Culpa |url= |publisher= Vanity Fair | first= David |last= Rose |date= 3 November 2006] cite news |title= Former hawks now say they wouldn't back Iraq war |url= |publisher= Reuters |date= November 4, 2006] cite news |title= Neocons turn on Bush for incompetence over Iraq war |url=,,1939471,00.html |publisher= The Guardian | first= Julian |last= Borger |date= November 4, 2006]

On Iraq Study Group proposals

In a December 2006 interview with "Die Zeit", Perle strongly criticized the Iraq Study Group proposals, saying: "I have never seen such a foolish report. ... A report that begins with false premises ends with nothing." cite news |title= Perle: US needed 'Iraqi De Gaulle' for invasion |url= |publisher= Gulf News, reprinted at | |date= 14 December 2006]

Other views on foreign policy

On the United Nations

Perle is a frequent critic of the United Nations, stating that it is an embodiment of "... the liberal conceit of safety through international law administered by international institutions...." cite news |title= Thank God for the death of the UN |url=,2763,918812,00.html |publisher= The Guardian | first= Richard |last= Perle |date= March 21, 2003] He has also attacked the United Nations Security Council veto power as a flawed concept, arguing that the only time the U.N. utilized force during the Cold War was when "...the Soviets were not in the chamber to veto it".

Furthermore, shortly after the invasion of Iraq Perle stated that; "in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing" cite news |title= War critics astonished as US hawk admits invasion was illegal |url=,2763,1089158,00.html |publisher= The Guardian | author= Oliver Burkeman and Julian Borger |date= 3 November 2003] . He also argued that there was "no practical mechanism consistent with the rules of the UN for dealing with Saddam Hussein". At the time, these comments provoked controversy among critics of the war, who argued that they contradicted the U.S.'s official stance on the legality of the invasion.

On Israel

Perle chaired a study group that included Douglas Feith and David Wurmser that produced a strategy paper for the incoming Likud Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "". The paper's main recommendations revolved around steering Israel away from Socialist principles, making efforts to become more self-reliant, "nurturing alternatives to Arafat's exclusive grip on Palestinian society", and working more closely with countries such as Jordan and Turkey. It also stated the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq should be a key objective for the Israeli state, advocated armed incursions into Lebanon, and suggested Arab states should be challenged as undemocratic.Perle has on occasion been accused of being an Israeli agent of influence. It has been reported that, while he was working for Jackson, "An FBI summary of a 1970 wiretap recorded Perle discussing classified information with someone at the Israeli embassy," writes Paul Findley (They Dare To Speak Out, Chicago, Ill, Lawrence Hill Books 1989)."He came under fire in 1983 when newspapers reported he received substantial payments to represent the interests of an Israeli weapons company. Perle denied conflict of interest, insisting that, although he received payment for these services after he had assumed his position in the Defense Department, he was between government jobs when he worked for the Israeli firm." Perle's view on Israel might be influenced by the fact that he has a sister living there.

On defense

Perle advocates pre-emptive strikes, such as in Iraq, as an extension of America's right to self defense. For example, Perle has expressed support for a theoretical first strike on North Korean and Iranian nuclear facilities. [cite news|title=A strong warning to Syria - Perle, a Pentagon adviser, sees more preemption in future|url=|publisher=International Herald Tribune|author=Barry James|date=April 12, 2003]

Disputed role in Bush Administration

Conservative commentator David Brooks has said that, in his opinion, Perle's influence in the Bush administration is exaggerated. In a 2004 "New York Times" article, Brooks wrote that; "There have been hundreds of references ... to Richard Perle's insidious power over administration policy, but I've been told by senior administration officials that he has had no significant meetings with Bush or Cheney since they assumed office. If he's shaping their decisions, he must be microwaving his ideas into their fillings". 'The Neocon Cabal and Other Fantasies', 2004 New York Times Co.

Business interests and controversies

Bribery Accusations and Alleged Conflicts of Interest

From 1981 to 1987, Perle was Assistant Secretary of Defense for international security policy in the Reagan administration. In a New York Times article Perle was criticized for recommending 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. Perle was never indicted for anything related to the incident. ("New York Times", 17 April 1983, "Aide Urged Pentagon to Consider Weapons Made by Former Client", Jeff Gerth. See also "New York Times", 21 April 1983, "On buying weapons and influence", Editorial.).

In March 2004, another New York Times article reported that, while chairman of the Defense Policy Board, Perle had contracted with the troubled telecommunications giant Global Crossing to help overcome opposition from the FBI and the Pentagon to the sale of its assets to Hong-Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa. Since the military employed the company's fiber optics network for communications, the brass argued that sale to a foreign-owned, especially Chinese, corporation would compromise national security. Perle was to be paid $125,000 to promote the deal, with an extra $600,000 contingent fee on its approval. [cite web|url= |title=Democrat Seeks Inquiry on Bankrupt Firm's Adviser|publisher=New York Times, March 25, 2003|accessdate=2007-04-17] This controversy led to accusations of bribery, and Perle resigned as chairman on March 27, 2003, though he remained on the board. [cite web|url= |title=Top Pentagon adviser resigns under fire |, March 28, 2003|accessdate=2007-04-17]

Perle is also known to have demanded payment for press interviewscite news |title= Payments for Perle |url= |publisher= The Nation | first= Ari |last= Berman |date= August 18, 2003] while he was the chairman of the Defense Policy Board, a practice that has raised accusations of not only ethical, but legal impropriety. [ [ Section 5 CFR 2635.807] Code of Federal Regulations, Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch]

Unresolved Legal Issues

Perle has served as a Director of Hollinger International since June 1994. 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 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, Perle publicly acknowledged he had been served a 'Wells notice' [cite web|url= |title=Hollinger Director Warned|publisher=New York Times, March 24, 2005|accessdate=2006-11-06] , a formal warning that the S.E.C.'s enforcement staff had found sufficient evidence of wrongdoing to bring a civil lawsuit.

On 28 March 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 Bill Clinton, Former Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and Global Crossing. Fact|date=May 2007 He has also been accused of spying for the Israeli government [cquote|An FBI summary of a 1970 wiretap recorded Perle discussing classified information with someone at the Israeli embassy. He came under fire in 1983 when newspapers reported he received substantial payments to represent the interests of an Israeli weapons company. Perle denied conflict of interest, insisting that, although he received payment for these services after he had assumed his position in the Defense Department, he was between government jobs when he worked for the Israeli firm.
Paul Findley "They Dare To Speak Out", p. 160. Cited on []
] .

eymour Hersh and 'Lunch with the Chairman'

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, journalist 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 he claimed stood to profit from the war in Iraq.

That same day, Perle was being interviewed on the issue of Iraq by CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Shortly before the interview ended, Blitzer quoted "Lunch with the Chairman" and asked for Perle's response. Perle dismissed the premise of the article and argued that it lacked "any consistent theme". Added Perle; "Sy Hersh is the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist, frankly." cite news |title=CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, Showdown: Iraq (transcript) |url= |publisher= CNN |date= March 9, 2003] .

On March 11, Perle told the "New York Sun" as regards Hersh's article that "I intend to launch legal action in the United Kingdom. I’m talking to Queen’s Counsel right now", [cite web|url=|title=SUING OVER NEW YORKER ARTICLE, |publisher=ADAM DAIFALLAH, Staff Reporter of the Sun, The New York Sun, March 12, 2003, Section:National; Page:2 |accessdate=2006-11-06] . He claimed it was easier to win libel cases in England, and that therefore made this a better location. In the end, Perle did not file any legal case. Instead, on March 27, 2003, he resigned as chairman of the Defense Policy Board, although he still remained a member of the board. Fact|date=August 2007

Iraq oil deal

In July 2008, "The Wall Street Journal" reported that Perle had made plans to invest in oil interests in Iraq, in collaboration with Iraqi Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq. [ "The Wall Street Journal", July 29, 2008] ]


Perle is author of many articles and three books:
*"" (with David Frum, 2003) ISBN 1-4000-6194-6
*"Hard Line" (1992) (ISBN 0-394-56552-5)
*"Reshaping Western Security" (ed.) (1991) (ISBN 0-8447-3790-9)

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

In 2007, Perle appeared in the documentary "The Case for War:In Defense of Freedom" presenting his view of the challenges facing the U.S. post 9/11. It was broadcast by PBS in their series America at a Crossroads which generated considerable controversy. [cite news
url =
title = PBS Buys a Lot of Arguments for $20 Million
publisher = New York Times
date = 2007-04-01


External links

* [ Richard Perle interview about SDI] for the WGBH series, [ War and Peace in the Nuclear Age]
* [,filter./scholar.asp AEI - Richard Perle] profile as Resident Fellow of the American Enterprise Institute
* [ Judicial Watch] legal complaint March 28, 2003
* [ "An End to Evil" by David Frum and Richard Perle", Gary Kamiya], book review, January 30, 2004
* [ "Richard Perle's Conflict"] editorial/op-ed in The New York Times March 24, 2003

*Debates, interviews and statements
** [ "We had the very best of intentions"] Richard Perle in The Guardian May 30, 2007
** [,2763,918812,00.html "Thank God for the Death of the UN"] Richard Perle in The Guardian March 21, 2003
** [ "Lunch with the Chairman"] Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker March 17, 2003
** [ "Saddam's Ultimate Solution"] transcript of interview with Richard Perle from PBS "Wide Angle" July 11, 2002
** [ Famous Ohio State University Debate] - Noam Chomsky vs. Richard Perle, 1988 MP3

** [ Hollinger International's management profiles] of current executive officers and directors
** [ "Report Details 'Kleptocracy' at Newspaper Firm"] Frank Ahrens in The Washington Post September 1, 2004 about Hollinger
** [ SEC - Breeden Report] "Report of Investigation by the Special Committee of the Board of Directors of Hollinger International Inc" August 30, 2004

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