Pentagon executive Richard N. Perle confirmed yesterday that he had been kicked off the Defense Resources Board for not attending its meetings, but said he felt "no sense of loss."
As Perle was saying that to the International Herald Tribune, which reached him at his vacation home in France, the Pentagon's information office was alerting its bureaucracy that a statement was in the works denying an article in The Washington Post on Thursday. The article said that Perle had been removed from the top policy-making board by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Thayer.
The report about a denial, in turn, led to speculation that Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger had overruled Thayer and restored Perle to the DRB, a group of Pentagon civilian and military leaders who thresh out such issues as who should get how much of the defense budget.
But the Pentagon eventually settled for issuing a "no comment" on the Post article, on the grounds that it was an internal matter.
Perle, however, made several comments to the Tribune about the DRB and its lack of relevance to his responsibilities as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy.
"I work on those things I'm responsible for," he declared, contending that "the DRB is essentially a procurement board, not a policy board. Its meetings are not necessary for those of us who deal with East-West meetings, arms control and other policy issues."
He added that the DRB handles disputes between the military services that amount to "1 percent or 2 percent of the military budget, the rest being decided before items get to that forum. Meetings are dominated by the agencies principally involved, and 97 percent of the discussion takes place between their representatives."
Perle said he "didn't go voluntarily" from the DRB. But he said it was not accurate to portray him as leaving a top policy board where he should play a role.
Such a description of the DRB "does not reflect an understanding of how the process works," he said.
Some of Perle's Pentagon associates said he found most DRB meetings boring and a waste of time.
Others argued that the DRB offered opportunities for him to champion NATO concerns among top U.S. defense leaders.
A former Senate associate said Perle "can't be expected to go to all those damn meetings over there."