Mokhiber: Richard N. Perle is the chairman of the Defense Policy Board and a leading public advocate for war on Iraq. In the New Yorker magazine this week, Seymour Hersh reports that Perle is also managing partner in a venture capital company, Trireme Partners, that is positioned to profit from a war with Iraq. The federal Code of Conduct, which governs Perle in this matter, prohibits conflicts of interest. Henry Kissinger resigned from the 911 commission because of similar business conflicts. When asked on Sunday by Wolf Blitzer about the New Yorker article, Perle called Hersh "the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist." Two questions. Given Perle's conflict of interest, and given the widespread public belief that this war is being driven by corporate interests -- war for oil, war for defense contracts, war for construction contracts -- does the President believe
Fleischer: Whose informed judgement is that?
Mokhiber: Widespread public belief.
Mokhiber: Yes, widespread.
Fleischer: Widespread, or just that chair?
Mokhiber: No, widespread. Does the President believe that Richard Perle should resign from the Defense Policy Board? And the second question, do you agree with Richard Perle that Hersh is "the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist."
Fleischer: Russell, there is absolutely no basis to your own individual and personal statement about what may lead to war. If anything leads to it is the fact that Saddam Hussein has refused to disarm. And I think you do an injustice to people, no matter what their background, if you believe that people believe that Saddam Hussein should be disarmed for any reason that suggests personal profit.
Mokhiber: What about the question Ari? Should he resign - and is he a terrorist?
Fleischer: Russell, you have made your speech.
Mokhiber: You didn't answer the question.
Fleischer: You have made your speech.