Peculiar Luster, This Perle


As convicted financiopath Conrad Black fights to keep his manor, this is the perfect time to thank him for inspiring one of the greatest pieces of investigative journalism on corporate America.

But the Hollinger Report is not just about business. Searing, embarrassing details on the behavior of such Hollinger International directors as Richard Perle give insight into the delusions and pretensions of those who led us into the Iraq debacle, like Perle, and those who are profiting from the war, like ex-journalist (and Judy Miller pal) Richard Burt.

Former CIA director George Tenet has pretty much established himself as a monumental liar about the war and his role in it, but one part of his 60 Minutes back-pedaling, book-peddling interview rings true: Perle’s role in the warmongering. Here’s what Tenet had to say about that, according to CBS:

The truth of Iraq begins, according to Tenet, the day after the attack of Sept. 11, when he ran into Pentagon advisor Richard Perle at the White House.

“He said to me, ‘Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday, they bear responsibility.’ It’s September the 12th. I’ve got the manifest with me that tell me al Qaeda did this. Nothing in my head that says there is any Iraqi involvement in this in any way shape or form and I remember thinking to myself, as I’m about to go brief the president, ‘What the hell is he talking about?’ ” Tenet remembers.

In the public sector, Perle has blood on his hands. In the business world, Perle’s performance as a Hollinger director was a remarkable study in greed. The report is typically blunt about it:

Perle repeatedly breached his fiduciary duties as a member of the Executive Committee of the Board. . . . By putting his own interests above those of Hollinger’s shareholders, Perle has violated his duties of good faith and loyalty. As a faithless fiduciary, Perle should be required to disgorge all compensation he received from the Company.

That the Hollinger Chronicles, which has a section titled “Corporate Kleptocracy,” was produced by corporate America itself makes it even more remarkable. Read the 524-page PDF here, an annotated version courtesy of the Committee of Concerned Shareholders.

Prepared under the direction of former SEC commissioner Richard Breeden, the Hollinger report makes for great beach reading, as Slate‘s Daniel Gross noted in September 2004.

It’s the best story about sharks since Jaws, and it’s just about as scary.