Richard Perle Libel Watch, Week 34.

Richard Perle Libel Watch, Week 34.

Richard Perle Libel Watch, Week 34.

Media criticism.
Nov. 14 2003 11:19 AM

Richard Perle Libel Watch, Week 34

The neocon plays great offense. How's his defense?

Richard Perle
Perle: Not merely offensive

Eight months ago, foreign policy hawk Richard N. Perle vowed to sue investigative reporter Seymour M. Hersh for libel over Hersh's New Yorker feature, "Lunch With the Chairman." Perle described the story as "all lies, from beginning to end," in the March 12 New York Sun. Perle, a leading neoconservative thinker and member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, told the Sun Hersh had libeled him by falsely implying that was using his Pentagon position for personal financial gain.

But instead of filing a lawsuit in a good ol' American court, litigation sissy Perle announced his intention to outsource his legal action by suing Hersh in England, where the libel laws favor plaintiffs over defendants (relative to U.S. courts). Scenting the cheap aroma of a bully's bluff, I double-dared Perle to sue Hersh, predicting that his threatened suit was so completely without merit not even one of those licentious English courts would hear it. Subsequent installments of the Perle Libel Watch hectored Perle for failing to file his suit and chronicled his other potential conflicts of interest as reported in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and elsewhere. One member of Congress called for a Hill investigation of Perle because of the regularity with which his business interests collide with his official duties.

With just 18 weeks to file before the statute of limitations expires on his libel claim, one would expect Perle and his lawyers would be cracking. But today, instead of playing legal offense, Perle's counselors might be regrouping in a defensive formation. Yesterday's (Nov. 12) Financial Times reports that Hollinger International, which publishes the Chicago Sun-Times and London's Daily Telegraph, among other publications, is "examining investments made by Richard Perle, the former senior US defence adviser who is a Hollinger director, on behalf of the company."

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According to the FT's Stephanie Kirchgaessner, the Perle probe is part of a larger internal inquiry led by former SEC Chairman Richard Breeden into "so-called 'related-party transactions,' or deals in which members of Hollinger's board or Hollinger executives benefited from deals the publisher agreed with other companies." Under investigation are "nearly $300m in management fees to Conrad Black, chief executive and chairman, and his deputies."

The studied transactions include a $2.5 million investment in Trireme Partners, the venture capital company co-managed by Perle that Hersh scrutinized so heavily in The New Yorker feature. Kirchgaessner continues: "Also under review is a $14m investment the company made under Mr Perle's direction through Hillman Capital, a venture capital group controlled by Gerald Hillman—who has since become a partner at Trireme and, like Mr Perle, is a member of the US Defense Policy Board." Perle and Hillman had no comment.

Somewhere, Sy Hersh was sipping Scotch with his socks off, enjoying life.

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Many thanks to reader Craig Hooper who spotted the Financial Times story. Send your Perle tips to pressbox@hotmail.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)