March 10, 2003

Perle and Hersh, Continued Here

Perle and Hersh, Continued

Here is a link to the Seymour Hersh piece that raised Perle's ire on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer yesterday. Surprisingly, he actually was interviewed for part of this story by Hersh. Looks like Adnan Khasoggi and Prince Bandar decided to have a few jabs at him--but the bottom line is that Perle did nothing illegal. The other key Hersh points include that Perle, a prominent anti-Saudi voice in the Beltway, is being a hypocrite as he attempts to get money from Saudi investors while lashing out at the Saudis or castigating overly Arabist former Foggy Bottom types. Here is a key passage from the somewhat lengthy article:

"When I asked Perle whether the Saudi businessmen at the lunch were being considered as possible investors in Trireme, he replied, “I don’t want Saudis as such, but the fund is open to any investor, and our European partners said that, through investment banks, they had had Saudis as investors.” Both Perle and Hillman stated categorically that there were currently no Saudi investments.

Khashoggi professes to be amused by the activities of Perle and Hillman as members of the policy board. 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.” He commented, “You Americans blind yourself with your high integrity and your democratic morality against peddling influence, but they were peddling influence.”

Relying on Khashoggi to make an innuendo that Perle would be pro-war in Iraq so as to make a profit because of an enhanced terror threat at home? I don't know about you, but this seems to be quite a stretch from Sy Hersh? And, like his source for this quote, a bit low, no? Oh, and we need to be at war to have a need for homeland security spending? Kinda like we were at war on September 10th 2001, right?

There is also this interesting quote from Prince Bandar (Saudi Ambassador to D.C.): “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.”

Hmmmm. But are sophisticated Saudi businessmen really gullible enough to think that Richard Perle can make momentous policy decisions regarding Saudi Arabia in his capacity as an outside advisor to the Pentagon? I think not. I do think that Hersh dislikes Richard Perle and did a decent job of embarassing him--but he didn't inflict any mortal wounds in the pages of the New Yorker.

In fact, it's Perle who did the most damage to himself, on Blitzer's show. Intimating that a journalist is akin to a terrorist shows either: a) that the neo-cons have an alarming tendency to see terrorists where McCarthy saw Communists, that is, everywhere or b) that Perle stays up late worried that Ashcroft needs to crack the whip harder on the press.

Posted by Gregory at March 10, 2003 07:27 PM
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