Is civil war about to break out among the neo-conservatives who have championed the imperial trajectory of the Bush administration's foreign policy?
It's still too early to tell, but analysts are raising eyebrows over news that Richard Perle, the single most powerful hawk outside the administration, has been retained by Global Crossing to help ensure that Hutchison Whampoa, widely regarded by his fellow hawks as a front for China's People's Liberation Army, can buy a majority share in the bankrupt telecommunications company.
It's the latest in a series of revelations of Perle's business dealings that, at the very least, make clear why he decided against taking an official position in the administration of President George W Bush. It seems that Perle, for all his hawkishness, wants to get rich in ways that government service may not permit.
Those business dealings, which include interests in companies selling advanced computer eavesdropping systems and other "homeland security"-related systems to foreign intelligence and security agencies, have raised ethical questions about whether he is using his unpaid position as chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board (DPB) for personal gain. While the latest disclosure about his relationship with Global Crossing also raises ethical issues, the fact that China is involved - Beijing being considered by most neo-cons the power most likely to challenge US regional dominance in Asia - makes the case even more remarkable.
According to a notice submitted by Global Crossing, Perle would be paid US$726,000 by the company, including $600,000 if the sale goes through. Whether it will remains unclear, however. Both the Defense Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have raised some "national security" problems with the deal because it would put Global Crossing's global fiber-optics network, which is used by the Pentagon itself, under Hutchison Whampoa's control.
What is particularly remarkable - not to say mind-boggling - is that one of Perle's closest neo-conservatives proteges, soulmates and veteran collaborators, Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy (CSP), has been screaming about the dangers posed by the Hong Kong-based company to US national security ever since Panama awarded it a 25-year renewable contract to lease and operate the ports at both ends of the Panama Canal Zone in 1997.
Invasion architect in hot water over conflicts of another kind
A senior US Democrat has called for an investigation of Richard Perle, an architect of the war on Iraq, for possible conflicts of interest in his roles as corporate adviser and Pentagon consultant.