Synopses & Reviews
To the outside observer, the Carlyle Groupone of the largest private equity firms in the worldmay seem like just another company trying to maneuver its way through the complex world of finance and investing. But there is more to this organization than meets the eye. With $14 billion under management, an employee roster that reads like a whos who from the worlds of business and politics, and hundreds of defense, aerospace, telecom, and healthcare companies in its portfolio, the Carlyle Group operates within a powerful and profitable world known as the iron trianglea place where industry, government, and the military converge.
But, for the Carlyle Group, doing business at the murky intersection of Washington politics, national security, and private capital has come at a price. According to some, the Carlyle Group is a company that epitomizes corporate cronyism, conflicts of interest, and war profiteeringand they may be right.
In The Iron Triangle: Inside the Secret World of the Carlyle Group, award-winning business journalist Dan Briody closely examines the dealings of this group and explores the high-powered individuals who make up a company which is enigmatically self-described as "a vast interlocking global network." Youll go inside the Carlyle Group and watch how deals are made and governments swayed to accept the Carlyle way. And youll learn how questions abound when youre playing for keeps.
Witness how the Carlyle Group:
- Profited from the September 11th terrorist attacks and continues to profit from the ongoing war on terrorism
- Pried open the wallets of Saudi Arabia and South Korea through the whirlwind business trips of former President George Bush
- Liquidated holdings from the estranged family of Osama bin Laden only after news reports revealed the companys association with the family
- Went into overdrive to save the outdated Crusader howitzer which was being built by United Defensea Carlyle company
- Was born through the Great Eskimo Tax Scama tax loophole used by cofounders Stephen Norris and David Rubenstein that has since been sewn up
- Found what would become their identitydefense contractingwith the help of former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci
Full of clandestine meetings, quid pro quo deals, bitter ironies, and petty jealousies, The Iron Triangle is a penetrating investigation that will lead you into a world that few could ever imagine.
“…strongly recommended to anyone who enjoys a good conspiracy theory.” (The Spectator
A TRUSTED adviser to the Pentagon stands to make $725,000 for advising a company seeking a deal that the government opposes on national security grounds. When the country is at war, no less.
This very recent tale, of Richard N. Perle, who was chairman of the Defense Policy Board, a voluntary citizens advisory body, but thought nothing wrong of his arrangement, shows that few topics could be more timely than the web of government, business and military interests that lobbyists and bureaucrats call the iron triangle.
Now a first-time author, Dan Briody, has come along with "The Iron Triangle: Inside the Secret World of the Carlyle Group" (Wiley, $24.95), which aspires to tell the ultimate tale of private interests trampling on public trust. Carlyle is the Washington buyout firm that has made the most of its unusual political connections to complete some rarified deals. As the author warns in his preface, "the scandal here is not what's illegal but what's legal."
The firm and the world in which it operates have been the subjects of previous profiles, most memorably a 1993 article by Michael Lewis in The New Republic. He called Carlyle the "neat solut ion f or people who don't have a lot to sell besides their access, but who don't want to appear to be selling their access." Mr. Briody himself wrote about the firm in December 2001 in Red Herring magazine.
And therein lies the problem. The book is one-stop shopping for anyone who wants a laundry list of accusations against Carlyle since its inception in 1987. But in the year or so that the author was researching and writing the book, he did not unearth enough hard proof of self-dealing to sustain 210 pages. It feels padded, even without the 50 pages of addenda.
Clearly, with a Bush back in the White House, Mr. Briody and his publisher must have been expecting that Carlyle's connections to the Bush family would sell the book. But even if Carlyle's deals eventually enrich the current president and his father, the former president, that does not mean that their every action was for that reason.
Readers might also ask if it is surprising that a firm like Carlyle, which has long made its living in the military industry, would be making big money now that the country is obsessed with security. A book of this ambition ought to be able to weed out apparent conflicts of interest from actual ones and coincidences from conspiracies.
The chapters in which the author comes closest to finding conflicts involve instances in which public officials awarded contracts, gave favorable treatment or turned over public money to Carlyle before leaving office. Then, in a blink, they turn up working for the firm or companies associated with it.
Certainly, permissive laws that rely on former politicians' own sense of shame about capitalizing on connections have helped buoy Carlyle's fortunes. As of June 2002, the firm had $13.5 billion "under management," as they say on Wall Street.
What makes Carlyle so utterly different is its pedigree. It was started by Stephen L. Norris, a former tax whiz for Marriott, and David M. Rubenstein, a onetime aide to President Jimmy Carter. What brought them together initially was a tax break that let Eskimos sell their business losses to outsiders for cash. The two teamed up to broker those tax breaks, earning $10 million in fees and costing the government $1 billion in taxes from profitable companies.
In September 1988, Carlyle started hiring a string of other Washington insiders, starting with Frederic V. Malek, a former aide to President Richard M. Nixon who also had undeniable connections to the Bush family, Saudi royals and others worth knowing, the author writes.
The all-star cast grew to include Frank C. Carlucci, a former defense secretary and former deputy director of the C.I.A., and John Major, the former British prime minister.
It even hired a former oil man to serve on the board of one of its companies. That director, George W. Bush, is now president.
CARLYLE'S purchase of a company called Vinnell in 1992 confirms the author's worst suspicions. He argues that it illustrates the perils of the iron triangle "in one neat utterly secretive package." Vinnell trained foreign armies, and the book quotes an unidentified former board member as saying the company was a front for the C.I.A. But much of the intrigue that is recounted here happened before Carlyle bought the company. It sold the unit to TRW in 1997.
Certainly, the stakes grew when James A. Baker III joined Carlyle in 1993. Here was a man — chief of staff for two presidents, Mr. Reagan and the elder Mr. Bush, as well as a former Treasury secretary and a former secretary of state — who could provide influence globally the way Mr. Carlucci, with his 32 corporate board seats, had done at home.
One of Mr. Briody's more fascinating revelations is at the end of the book, and one only wishes he had made more of it. He argues that because state pension funds plow money into Carlyle, bigwigs inside the Beltway aren't the only people who stand to become rich. That also explains, perhaps, why the public does not have much incentive to shut the crony capitalists down. (The New York Times, Sunday, April 13, 2003)
"...Undoubtedly, the story of the Carlyle Group is fascinating...a book worth reading..." (Professional Investor, June 2003)
"...useful reading for anybody interested in American politics today..." (Economist, 28 June 2003)
"...conspiracy theorists will love this investigation in to the Carlyle Group..." (EN Magazine, July 2003)
"The Carlyle Group is a distressing example of the way Washington, DC works. The Iron Triangle gives you an insiders perspective on this creature of the Beltway."
Thomas Fitton, President, Judicial Watch, Inc.
from The Iron Triangle:
Dwight D. Eisenhower, upon leaving the office of president in 1961, warned future generations against the dangers of a "military-industrial complex," and the "grave implications" of the "conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry." The wisdom of these comments has clearly been lost in the forty years since Ike left office. And the first step towards turning things around is understanding how we got here. No single company can illustrate that progression better than the Carlyle Group, a business founded on a tax scheme in 1987 that has grown up to be what its own marketing literature once called "a vast interlocking global network." The company does business at the confluence of the war on terrorism and corporate responsibility. It is a world that few of us can even imagine, full of clandestine meetings, quid pro quo deals, bitter ironies, and petty jealousies. And the cast of characters includes some of the most famous and powerful men in the world. This is todays America. This is the Carlyle Group.
This penetrating investigation of the Carlyle Group connects the dots inside the increasingly sophisticated labyrinth of government, military, and corporate greed. Journalist Briody tells the world who is really behind the curtain when it comes to the government and how they are getting away with it.
This title tells the story of a company at the nexus of big business, government and defence that epitomizes corporate cronyism. Journalist Dan Briody tells the world who is really behind the curtain when it comes to the US government and how they are getting away with it.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 186-199) and index.
DAN BRIODY is an award-winning business journalist who has written for Forbes, Wired, Red Herring, and the Industry Standard. Briody is credited with breaking the story on the Carlyle Group. Since Red Herring published his article "Carlyles Way," Briody has appeared on numerous radio and television programs to discuss the Carlyle Group and has become a primary source for other journalists covering this story.
Dan Briody (New York, NY) is an award-winning business journalist whose Red Herring article Carlyle's Way broke the story on the inner workings of the Carlyle Group. Briody has appeared on numerous radio and television programs covering the Carlyle Group and has become a primary source for other journalists covering this story. Briody's articles have appeared in Forbes, Red Herring, and the Industry Standard.
A penetrating look at the company at the nexus of big business, government, and defense
The Carlyle Group is one of the largest private equity firms in the world with over $13 billion in funds. Carlyle's investments include everything from defense contractors to telecommunications and aerospace companies. But there is more to this company than meets the eye. Carlyle's executives include heavyweights from the worlds of business and politics, such as former secretary of defense and CIA deputy director Frank Carlucci, former secretary of state James Baker III, former President George Bush, former UK Prime Minister John Major, and former chairman of the SEC Arthur Levitt. Osama Bin Laden's estranged family was personally invested in the group until recently. In The Iron Triangle, journalist Dan Briody examines a company at the nexus of big business, government, and defense that, according to some sources, epitomizes corporate cronyism, conflicts of interest, and war profiteering. This fascinating examination leads readers into a w orld that few can imagine-full of clandestine meetings, quid pro quo deals, bitter ironies, and pettyjealousies. And the cast of characters includes some of the most powerful men in the world. Strap in, because this ride could get a little bumpy.
Dan Briody (New York, NY) is an award-winning business journalist whose Red Herring article "Carlyle's Way" broke the story on the inner workings of the Carlyle Group. Briody has appeared on numerous radio and television programs covering the Carlyle Group and has become a primary source for other journalists covering this story. Briody's articles have appeared in Forbes, Red Herring, and the Industry Standard.
Table of Contents
Cast of Characters.
Prologue—Meet the Carlyle Group.
1. The Politician, the Businessman, and the Unlucky Eskimos.
3. Mr. Clean
4. Carlucci's Connections.
5. Getting Defensive.
6. An Arabian White Knight.
7. Vinnell's Executive Mercenaries.
8. Out of the Shadows.
9. Breaking the Bank.
10. Buying Bush.
11. Family Business.
12. Big Guns.
Appendix A. Company Capsules.
Appendix B. Carlyle Correspondences.