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Old 04-02-2003, 09:06 AM   #1
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Default Rumsfield Defense Policy Board conflict of Interest?

Congressman John Conyers, Jr.
Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary


Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense

Conyers Letter to Rumsfeld:
Requesting Financial Disclosure from Defense Policy Board

April 1, 2003

Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I am writing to request copies of the financial disclosure forms submitted by the members of the Defense Policy Board as well as the minutes of all past Board meetings.

As the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over conflict of interest rules, I have a strong interest in insuring that our laws are being complied with, particularly those which touch on the integrity of our ethical requirements at a time of war. I therefore believe it is critical that this material be provided to help us assess the degree to which members of the Defense Policy Board face real or perceived conflicts of interest which would impede their ability to advise the Defense Department.

I believe such disclosure would be in the best interests of both the Department and the members of the Defense Policy Board. Richard Perle himself just wrote in yesterday's Wall Street Journal that "the first rule is full disclosure of financial interests of the adviser .... the second rule is ... If the discussions or advice of the board should involve matters that have a direct and predictable effect on an adviser's financial interests, he is recused from taking part." The problem is that currently, only your ethics officer receives the disclosure forms, so only he or she is in a position to assess whether the rules and safeguards being laid down by Mr. Perle are being followed. Increased scrutiny and review of these filings would no doubt lead to greater public trust and confidence in your Defense Policy Board.

The alternative is to face a continuing and damaging disclosure of the potential business conflicts of the Board Members. Just yesterday, my own investigation revealed that Perle is on the board of directors for Onset Technology. Onset is the world's leading provider of message conversion technology. The company's customers include Bechtel - a government contractor widely considered the leading candidate for rebuilding the Iraqi infrastructure and Raytheon Company which is a provider of defense electronics including the patriot and tomahawk missiles. I also found out that Perle holds a directorship in DigitalNet, a Virginia-based communications company with Army and Defense Department contracts.

To the extent you are concerned about public disclosure of this material, I would be willing to develop a procedure whereby it is reviewed in confidence. As a matter of fact, several members of my staff have obtained a security clearance.

I would appreciate your office responding to this letter at your earliest convenience. Please respond through the House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff, B-351-C Rayburn House Office Building, Attn: Perry Apelbaum/Ted Kalo, tel. 202-225-6504, fax 202-225-7680.


Rep. John Conyers, Jr.

Ranking Member

cc: Hon. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.,
Chairman, House Judiciary Committee

Powell A. Moore,
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs

Last edited by Aackman; 04-02-2003 at 02:52 PM.
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