- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pentagon
adviser Richard Perle came under fire on Friday for failing to disclose
financial ties to Boeing Co. <BA.N>, even while championing its bid
for a controversial $20 billion-plus defense contract.
- Perle co-wrote a guest column in The Wall Street Journal
newspaper this summer praising the plan to lease then buy 100 modified
refueling planes, a year after Boeing committed to invest up to $20 million
in Trireme Partners, a New York venture capital fund in which Perle is
- "If ever there were an argument that traditional
business practices are ill-suited for defense 'transformation', the saga
of the tanker-leasing proposal would count as People's Exhibit A,"
Perle and a colleague wrote in the Journal on Aug. 14.
- "It stinks to high heaven," said Keith Ashdown
of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington-based federal budget watchdog
group, of Perle's failure to disclose his ties to Boeing in the Wall Street
- "Mr. Perle's entitled to his own views on the tanker
deal," said Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and
- Policy Center, a government and corporate accountability
watchdog. "We just think that the public's entitled to know that he
has a relationship with Boeing when he's expressing his views."
- Perle's role adds to the ethical questions dogging the
tanker deal, placed on hold by the Pentagon this week for an audit of suspected
contracting improprieties that contributed to the resignation on Monday
of Boeing's chief executive.
- Last month, lawmakers voted to allow the lease of no
more than 20 tankers and the purchase of up to 80, rather than an approach
that would have cost $5 billion or more over time.
- As a high-profile assistant defense secretary under former
president Ronald Reagan, Perle carries a lot of weight in Washington. He
is widely credited with helping to lay the political groundwork for the
March invasion of Iraq.
- CHARGES OF INFLUENCE-PEDDLING
- Perle was overseas Friday and did not respond to requests
for comment e-mailed via colleagues.
- Perle's business interests have raised repeated questions
about what critics call improper influence-peddling. On March 27, he quit
as chairman of the Defense Policy Board, which advises the secretary of
defense, amid allegations of conflict of interest for his representation
of companies with business before the Defense Department. He remains a
- Chicago-based Boeing pledged in the middle of last year
to invest up to $20 million over eight to 10 years in Trireme Partners,
which invests in defense- and homeland security-related technologies. It
is one of 29 such investments in cutting-edge technology funds worldwide
totaling $250 million, said Anne Eisele, a Boeing spokeswoman. To date,
Boeing has invested $2 million in Trireme, she said.
- Boeing acknowledged in a recently released internal e-mail
that it ghost-wrote several opinion pieces by prominent figures in favor
of leasing tankers rather than buying them outright, as has been standard
- But a company spokesman, Doug Kennett, said of the Perle
piece: "We did not write nor did we place it," only fact-checked
it, "which is a fairly standard thing."
- The Wall Street Journal editorial-page editor who handled
the column was not available for comment but "normally, we do like
to disclose this kind of information," said Brigitte Trafford, a spokeswoman
for Dow Jones & Co Inc. <DJ.N>, publisher of the Wall Street
Journal, referring to an author's financial interests in the deal.
- Boeing said it had briefed Perle on the tanker deal in
his capacity as a resident fellow at the Washington-based American Enterprise
Institute, a private research group. President Bush, at the institute's
annual dinner in February, said it was home to "some of the finest
minds in our nation ... at work on some of the greatest challenges to our
- Copyright © 2003 Reuters Limited.