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Prince of darkness

Richard Perle, Chairman of the Defense Policy Board, resigned today. The proximate cause is the $725,000 he was gonna be paid for lobbying on behalf of Global Crossing. However, the real meat of the story is this article, which outlines the ways in which Perle’s venture capital company benefits from the War on Terror.

It’s a chicken and an egg question; if Perle really believes that the War on Terror is the right thing to do and he would advocate it no matter what his finances, then there’s nothing morally flawed in his venture capital activities. The problem is that you can’t tell which came first from the outside. That’s why, in these situations, you simply avoid the entire problem and refrain from any investments which could possibly be perceived as a conflict of interest. Pleading innocence doesn’t absolve you; divesting does.

As it happens, Perle agreed to give up the cash he’d have gotten from Global Crossing. It’s a distraction. He didn’t say a thing about his venture capital activities, which are where the real money is.

Note also that he apparently doesn’t have too high an opinion of the value of his advice. He decided that when it comes down to a choice between helping America and making money, the cold hard cash wins. Bush will just have to do without his counsel.

At least in public.

3 Comments

  1. I can’t find a good cite for this, but it seems as though he’s going to remain on the board, just resigning as chair.

  2. Yeah, the Perle resignation appears to have been (ahem) a real Trent Lott moment. Which is what happens when someone resigns a prestigious position due to a scandal, but doesn’t give up any actual money or influence.

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