Rep. John Conyers, the top Democrat on the House of
Representatives Judiciary Committee (news - web sites), asked the Pentagon's
inspector general to probe Perle's work as a paid adviser to
bankrupt telecommunications company Global Crossing Ltd. and
his guidance on investment opportunities resulting from the
"I am aware of several potential conflicts that warrant
your immediate review," Conyers said on Monday in a letter to
the Defense Department's inspector general, Joseph Schmitz. The
letter was made available on Tuesday.
"Mr. Perle is considered a 'special government employee'
and is subject to government ethics prohibition -- both
regulatory and criminal -- on using public office for private
gain," Conyers' letter said.
Perle did not return a call seeking comment on Tuesday but
has said he has always followed ethics rules. A spokesman for
the Defense Department declined to comment. Standard practice
is for the inspector general to review such requests and
determine whether an investigation is warranted.
"The president is confident that all laws will be followed
by all people who are on all commissions," White House
spokesman Ari Fleischer (news - web sites) said in response to a question about
Perle at his daily news conference.
Perle chairs the Defense Policy Board, created in 2001 to
advise the Pentagon, but has no official policymaking role and
is not paid. A leading Washington hawk, he has played an
influential role in developing the Bush administration's
blueprint for ousting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites).
Critics have questioned Perle's activities when not
advising Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
GLOBAL CROSSING REVIEW
Perle signed on to help Global Crossing, a bankrupt
operator of an international fiber-optic network, win U.S.
approval to sell a 61.5 percent stake to Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.
and Singapore Technologies Telemedia Pte.
The plan has run into trouble with the Committee on Foreign
Investment in the United States. Including Rumsfeld and other
top national security officials, the panel can block mergers
and acquisitions it feels could harm to U.S. interests.
Global Crossing began talks to restructure the deal after
the committee raised concern that its network would be
controlled by a company with strong ties to China. Hutchison is
majority owned by Hong Kong's richest man, Li Ka-shing.
Perle has said he would be paid $125,000 for his advice and
another $600,000 if the government approves the deal.
An article in The New York Times cited a March 7 affidavit
in which Perle discussed his "unique perspective" on national
defense and security and said he had contacted a government
official on Global Crossing's behalf.
"The fact that Mr. Perle may be reconsidering filing the
affidavit does not alter the existence of the alleged
conflict," Conyers said, citing the newspaper article.
Conyers also asked the Pentagon to probe reports that Perle
participated in a conference call sponsored by Goldman Sachs to
discuss investment opportunities emerging from the war in Iraq
and that he received stock options from a company doing
business with the U.S. military.
"I would submit that it is a conflict of interest for a
high-ranking government official to be proffering advice on how
to profit from the war," Conyers said.
A Goldman Sachs spokesman had no immediate comment.
Conyers also pointed out that Perle sits on the board of
Autonomy Corp., which lists the U.S. Army and military as
customers, and received stock options.