The Story of Frank Carlucci

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Fran Shor is a professor in the Interdisciplinary Studies Program at Wayne State University.

In the past few months there have been a rash of media reports on the Carlyle Group, a private equity investment group with billions of dollars of assets in the defense industry and a roster of directors and consultants which includes not only well-known Reagan and Bush appointees but also international figures like John Major, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, and Fidel Ramos, the former President of the Philippines. The Chairman of the Carlyle Group, Frank Carlucci, was not only a former Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration, but a Deputy Director of the CIA during the Carter Administration. In fact, Carlucci's career in Washington provides some insight into the intersection between foreign and domestic policy in the Cold War years. Moreover, Carlucci's particular trajectory through the government and into private industry reveals much about the meaning and influence of the military industrial complex in the past and continuing policies of the United States at home and abroad.


A critical part of Carlucci's career was spent as a foreign service officer during the 1950s and 1960s in such hot spots as the Congo and Brazil. He capped that foreign service career with a stint as Ambassador to Portugal from 1974-77, a key time in the history and development of the Portuguese revolution. Carlucci's navigation through these events helps to illuminate the nuances of U.S. Cold War policies not only in these specific countries, but throughout the world.

As the Second Secretary in the U.S. Embassy in the Congo during the time of the reign and consequent assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Carlucci was intimately involved in the U.S. efforts to overthrow the Lumumba government. In the recent cinematic reconstruction of the life and times of the Congos first elected prime minister,"Lumumba" by Haitian director, Raoul Peck, Carlucci is depicted as being part of a meeting of U.S., Belgian, and Congo officials plotting the murder of Lumumba. Claiming that this particular meeting was fabricated by the filmmaker, Carlucci did admit at a Washington premier of the film that U.S. policy towards the Lumumba government was a bit too strident. Too strident, indeed! The fact that CIA station chief Lawrence Devlin was under direct instructions from Secretary of State Dulles to seek the immediate removal of Lumumba is part of the historical record. There is even evidence to suggest that the actual hit on Lumumba came from the White House at Eisenhower's suggestion. In fact, there was an assassin hired by the U.S. government, equipped with chemical weapons from Ft. Detrick, to use against Lumumba.

When Lumumba was captured in December 1960 after fleeing from house arrest by a former supporter and later vicious dictator of the Congo, Colonel Joseph Mobutu, the CIA probably helped to arrange for Lumumba's transfer to Katanga province where Katangan and Belgian henchman murdered Lumumba and disposed of his body. Meanwhile, Carlucci was attempting to placate Lumumba supporters and draw them into a new coalition government. In the confusion that ensued, Carlucci found himself under house arrest and at odds with Clare Timberlake, the U.S. Ambassador to the Congo who ,did not favor any involvement with Lumumba supporters. Fortunately for Carlucci, Timberlake was relieved of his ambassadorial post and replaced by a Kennedy appointee whose liberal politics allowed for certain compromises with indigenous forces in Africa who might still serve the anti-communist alliance while facilitating U.S. economic interests in the region.

Although Carlucci wasn't around for the mess that followed in the wake of UN intervention and the continuing zigs and zags of U.S. policy in the Congo, he did wind up in Brazil in time for the overthrow of the Goulart government. The CIA and State Department were actively engaged in funneling money to opponents of Goulart and setting the stage for the eventual military coup in March and April of 1964. Beyond his populist policies that threatened nationalization of U.S. subsidies, Goulart was seen by Washington as soft on communism and pro-Castro, indictments enough to spell his doom and put in place right-wing military dictators who would outlaw any political or union dissent for years. As a consequence of the military coup and its entrenchment, Carlucci gained a reputation as a tough-guy with the American Defense Attaché in Brazil, Colonel Vernon Walters.


By the end of the 1960s Carlucci had returned to Washington to become part of the Nixon Administration, going from the Office of Economic Opportunity in 1969-71 to the Office of Management and Budget in 1971-72. He then was appointed Under Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare from 1972-74. Among the other key members of these departments were Caspar Weinberger, who was a Carlucci mentor, and Donald Rumsfeld, a former college buddy and wrestling mate from Princeton. Both Weinberger and Rumsfeld would later become, as would Carlucci, Secretaries of Defense.

After so many positions as an underling and gray bureaucrat, Carlucci burst onto the explosive stage of post-revolutionary Portugal as Ambassador. With the approval of CIA Deputy Director Vernon Walters and Henry Kissinger, Carlucci began immediately to ferret out potential communist sympathizers among the left-leaning young military officers who helped foment the revolutionary coup in Portugal in 1974. However, unlike Kissinger, Carlucci was willing to work with Socialist Mario Soares not out of any sympathy for Soares'S politics, but because from Carlucci's perspective, Soares was the only game in town to prevent the most militant leftists from assuming power in Portugal. Carlucci managed to convince President Ford of his approach by working directly through Rumsfeld, who at the time was White House chief of staff. Carlucci's pay-off came when Soares won the Presidency in 1976, cementing ties with NATO and instituting IMF approved austerity measures.


Such successful machinations in Portugal earned Carlucci a position as Deputy Director of the CIA in the Carter Administration from 1978-1981. When insurgent forces in Iran and Nicaragua in 1979 toppled the Shah and Somoza dictatorships, Carlucci and the CIA had little ability to control the upheavals even though there were various clandestine efforts to thwart the revolutionary forces in these countries. On the other hand, the CIA certainly played a significant role in sponsoring anti-Soviet Mujaheddin in Afghanistan, perhaps even suckering the Soviets into their disastrous campaign in Afghanistan.


Carlucci then made the transition to a procurer of new weapons as Deputy Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration under Caspar Weinberger from 1981-83. During this time, in response to wide-spread criticism of Pentagon waste and mismanagement, Carlucci developed proposals (known as the Carlucci Reforms) to rationalize the process of weapons procurement. However, Carlucci's policies did not lower costs. They did, apparently, offer new start-up companies the opportunity to attract Pentagon contracts, something that the Carlyle Group would take advantage of later on.

After a brief departure into the world of private business at Sears World Trade from 1983-86, Carlucci returned to become first an Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs in 1987. He then went on to become Secretary of Defense later that year until his resignation in 1989 when he went to work for the Carlyle Group.

As Secretary of Defense he worked closely with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and particularly the Chairman, Admiral William Crowe, Jr. (Crowe is now a chief stock-holder of the parent company of BioPort, the recently FDA-approved monopoly holder of an anthrax vaccine. The Carlyle Group also apparently has stock holdings in Crowe's company.) While overseeing some cutbacks in the DOD, particularly military bases in the U.S., Carlucci was committed to expanding certain military appropriations in the area of new technology as a way of strengthening the U.S. national security state and expanding NATO. Although willing to compromise with Congress on the Strategic Defense Initiative (encountering in the process a rebuke from Reagan), Carlucci maintained a determined stance of U.S. supremacy in nuclear arms and nuclear-war-fighting capability.


While outside of government in the 1990s, Carlucci managed to circulate on the boards of various think-tanks, e.g. the RAND Corporation, and help promulgate reports on national security and defense that urged increases in defense spending and the use of U.S. military might. He also served as a member of the George W. Bush transition team on National Security.

Certainly, Carlucci's tenure at the Carlyle Group has resulted in an expanded portfolio of defense industries. Among the defense industries that Carlyle holds is United Defense, a maker of missile launch systems for the U.S. Navy. However, Carlyle's reach under Carlucci has expanded into a variety of new technologies in defense and non-defense industries, such as global communications. For example, Carlyle is keen on cleaning up hazardous materials at military bases and nuclear waste. Buying firms not yet publicly traded that deal with such services, such as Duratek and EG&G, allows Carlyle to position these firms for government contracts and then cash in when they are publicly traded. Such influence-peddling is certainly not new to former government officials who use their ties to past and present administrations for private benefit.

Carlucci, of course, insists that he does not importune or lobby his old buddy Don Rumsfeld. Nonetheless, the money trail from Carlyle's portfolio to Rumsfeld's office at the Pentagon is pretty evident. In one major decision by Rumsfeld revealed by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, United Defense's 70-ton Crusader artillery system was saved from a potential budget cut. Surely, the proposed massive increase in spending for the Pentagon by the Bush Administration will benefit the Carlyle Group.

What has seemed most egregious to journalists and public interest groups has been Carlyle's consultants, like former President Bush, whose ties to ruling elites in Saudi Arabia (including the Bin Laden family) and South Korea have resulted in lucrative holdings and investments in these countries for Carlyle. As noted by the executive director of the Center for Public Integrity: (Former President)"George Bush is getting money from private interests that have business before the government...And, in a really peculiar way, George W. Bush could, some day, benefit financially from his own administration's decisions, through his father's investments." In fact, George W. benefited in the past from Carlyle by being put on the board of a Carlyle investment, Caterair, an airline-catering company during his Texas business career days.

Similar to the Enron situation, the Bush family and others have enriched their careers and political fortunes with their ties to the Carlyle Group. This is scandalous. Carlyle's cozy relationship with DOD insiders and other power-brokers is part of Carlucci's effective management of Carlyle. The global reach of Carlyle, while often hidden behind the veil of private investments, moreover is indicative of Carlucci's own experience with U.S. military policies.


Editor's Note A different version of the above article was posted on the website, Counterpunch.com. Below is the response the Carlyle Group addressed to Ms. Shor in response to that article. Her response follows.

I am the VP for Corporate Communications at The Carlyle Group. I just read your article in the online publication"Counterpunch" regarding Carlyle Chairman Frank Carlucci. I cc'd this to Wayne State University President Irvin Reid because he should be aware of the ideologically-driven, poorly-researched, and factually incorrect papers his employees are writing.

Some simple points:

It is unfortunate that you did not call my office to discuss any of these issues. Nor did you call Mr. Carlucci to discuss these matters or fact check your information. This is particularly disturbing considering you are an academic. Do you allow your students to make unsubstantiated and false claims?

Some examples:

1. You wrote:"The Carlyle Group also apparently has stock holdings in Crowe's company." This is false. That you say"apparently" is indicative of your low standards for your own writing. If you had called I would have told you that Carlyle owns no part of that company.

2. You wrote:"What seemed most egregious to inquiring journalists and public interest groups has been Carlyle's consultants, like former President Bush, whose ties to ruling elites in Saudi Arabia (including the Bin Laden family) and South Korea have resulted in lucrative holdings and investments in these countries for Carlyle." Now the facts: Carlyle has no investments in Saudi Arabia and only four in Korea. President Bush plays no role in the deal side at Carlyle. His exclusive role is to give occasional speeches at Carlyle events. His ties to foreign leaders play no role in Carlyle's investment activities.

3."[Carlucci's policies] did not lower costs. They did, apparently, offer start-up companies the opportunity to get involved in DoD pork, something that the Carlyle Group would take advantage of later on." First, you offer no substance to back-up these claims (what"pork" and what did Carlyle take advantage of?); second, your use of the word"apparently" demonstrates again your lack of confidence in what you contend; third, Carlyle's aerospace and defense investments are not in the start-up/venture area; they are with established companies.

4. You cite New York Time's columnist Paul Krugman regarding Carlyle's investment in United Defense. You failed to note that Congress, the Army and the Clinton administration all support/ed the Crusader missile system. Citing Mr. Krugman makes sense, though. He too is an academic whose opinions trump the facts. He doesn't bother to call Carlyle before making certain specious claims. In response to false statements he published about us, the NYT printed a letter to the editor from me correcting the record.

5. You accuse Carlyle of"influence peddling" regarding buying private companies, positioning them for government contracts, and then benefiting when they go public. But you provide no evidence or examples of influence peddling, whatever that is. Carlyle does specialize in regulated industries and we are proud of the quality work they do for the government and the fair way in which contracts are won. How you can slander us without presenting any evidence is troubling and demonstrative of your vacuousness.

These are just the parts I can authoritatively dispute. I won't waste Mr. Carlucci's time having him fact-check this whole diatribe.

Finally, the ultimate point here is that you are an academic with an agenda. One who isn't interested in balance and the truth but furthering your left-wing, anti-capitalist bias. You betray your profession, your school and most importantly your students when you write such biased trash.

Chris Ullman
VP for Corporate Communications
The Carlyle Group
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Suite 220 South
Washington, DC 20004
202 585 1443


Dear Chris Ullman:

Given how much the Carlyle Group has been in the news over the last several months, I am surprised and flattered that you have taken time out of your busy schedule to write to me and to the President of my university, Wayne State. In checking back on recent articles I have from the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle, I note that you are quoted in your capacity as spokesperson for Carlyle attempting to counter charges from others, such as Charles Lewis from the Center for Public Integrity, about influence-peddling by offices of Carlyle, such as Chairman Frank Carlucci, and consultants, such as Former President George Bush. I chose to disregard what you had to say as nothing more than company propaganda. Instead, I relied for information about Carlyle on the solid journalism found in numerous articles in the aformentioned, the New York Times, the Guardian (from England), and various sources on the internet. I regret any misstament of facts, but refuse to be intimidated over matters of interpretation.

My article was primarily an opinion piece, informed by journalistic and scholarly sources. Prior to sending the article to Counter Punch, I had e-mailed a draft to a colleague here at Wayne State who has published extensively on US foreign policy and the Washington political scene. He, however, knew nothing about Carlyle and very little about Mr. Carlucci. When I sent the article to Counter Punch, I was hoping for some feedback before publication. However, it was immediately posted on the website. Another version of the article was revised from feedback by the editor and posted on the History News Network website. Although identified as a faculty member at Wayne State University and as a member of the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, these references were for identification purposes only and, in no way, meant to suggest that I was speaking for Wayne State or MCHR.

You must, of course, realize that universities are different than corporations. The most cherished value of the university, academic freedom, is intended to protect the right of members of the university to write and speak about controversial matters and to pursue the truth no matter where it leads. I'm sure that if the corporate world had more respect for such freedom, there would be far fewer Enron scandals.

Unfortunately, Carlyle is not even a public corporation like Enron; and, therefore, there is much less available as a matter of public record. I would be happy to have access to material you would make available on the internet listing all of Carlyle's business dealings and transactions in order to gain a better understanding of your operations. As it was, I had to search out primarily journalistic pieces and other information on the internet for Carlyle. With the exception of your denial of investment in BioPort, I believe my contentions about other matters your cited, e.g. gaining investors from Saudi Arabia with the Bush and Baker connections, are positions held by advocate organizations, such as the Center for Public Integrity, and argued by numerous others, including Mr. Krugman (who you chose to slander). Obviously, I was accepting their interpretation as valid, something academics do will all kinds of source material.

As far as the source materials for Mr. Carlucci, I relied on previous scholarship where available. For the Congo, I used, among other sources, Madeline Kalb's"The Congo Cables." On Portugal, I relied on Kenneth Maxwell's 1995 monograph,"The Making of Portuguese Democracy." Mr. Carlucci is mentioned several times in both. Other information was culled from a variety of sources, including Defense Department papers. Nonetheless, there are gaps that I filled with grounded speculation, something else scholars often do. I would, however, be very interested in having a phone interview with Mr. Carlucci in order to clarify a number of items still hidden from public records. So, if you could arrange such an interview, I would be very grateful.

Although this is not my area of expertise and the articles I wrote were bound by certain journalistic constraints, I do take responsibility for what I wrote as a citizen and public intellectual. What I wrote is certainly open to criticism, but not to name-calling and ad-hominem attacks. I do not need to uphold any purported ideological interest as you allege or protect, as you must, any corporate or personal image. What I try to do as teacher, scholar, public intellectual, and citizen is to awaken minds and open paths to a more just and humane world. If, in speaking"truth to power," I offend powerful corporations and those who run them, so be it.

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