Joe Conason's Journal

Days after neocon hawk Richard Perle is cleared in one scandal, his name pops up in another. Plus: CIA wants probe into leaked Iraq memo.

Published November 18, 2003 4:49PM (EST)

Perle of great price
Only days after the Pentagon inspector general cleared Richard Perle of accusations that he abused his former seat on the Defense Policy Board, the neoconservative eminence pops up again in the Hollinger scandal. Under intense pressure from investors, the conservative media conglomerate that owns the Daily Telegraph and the Jerusalem Post has commenced an internal investigation that led today to the resignation of chief executive Conrad Black. Black and his associates are accused of self-dealing and taking unauthorized payments of more than $32 million.

Perle sits on the Hollinger board along with Henry Kissinger and other Republican heavies. He is only mentioned glancingly in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal coverage of this matter, but the Financial Times offers a tantalizing glimpse of Perle's curious role in Hollinger here. The investigation of Black's alleged misconduct, according to the FT, has expanded to examine his corporate protégé as well:

"One transaction that caught the attention of some Hollinger investors was a $2.5 million investment earlier this year in Trireme Partners, a venture-capital company in which Mr. Perle, an independent director, is a managing partner.

"Mr. Perle has also played a prominent role in the late 1990's and early 2000 in directing investments in other companies through Hollinger Digital, Hollinger's investment arm.

"Under review is a $14 million 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 is a member of the U.S. Defense Policy Board, as was Mr. Perle.

"The $14 million investment contributed to a fund used by Hillman Capital to acquire -- with another private equity group -- more than 70 percent of Cambridge Display Technology, a U.K.-based technology group that holds a patent in light-emitting polymers, in 1999."

If the name Trireme looks familiar, that's because the same company was featured in Seymour Hersh's New Yorker probe of Perle last March -- the story that led to the Pentagon investigation.

Feith-based investigation
Today's Washington Post says that the CIA has requested an investigation of the leak of Douglas Feith's memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Iraq and al-Qaida. CIA officials will ask the Justice Department to find out who gave the 16-page, highly classified document to the Weekly Standard, which published excerpts last week.

Walter Pincus also reports that "the leaders of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Vice Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), are considering making their own request for a Justice investigation."

Speaking of that memo, I'd like to correct my sexist gaffe in yesterday's story on that subject, in which I referred disparagingly to the gossipy habits of "teenage girls." Sorry.
[9 a.m. PST, Nov. 18, 2003]

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