Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fowler Chosen to Lead Defense Policy Board; Her Committee Will Advise Rumsfeld

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fowler Chosen to Lead Defense Policy Board; Her Committee Will Advise Rumsfeld

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton, Times-Union staff writer

Tillie Fowler, who represented Jacksonville in Congress for eight years, is the new chairwoman of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee that advises Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on strategic planning issues.

Fowler, who was already a member of the board, assumes the leadership position formerly held by Richard Perle, an outspoken hawk on military matters who has been one of the leading exponents of the war in Iraq. Perle resigned at the end of March amid controversy over some of his business dealings but remains a member of the board.

With another wave of military base closings scheduled for 2005, the appointment could give Fowler extra influence on that issue.

"Tillie has been a strong advocate for our military, as well as a leading voice for the people of Jacksonville," said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat.

U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, who replaced Fowler as representative from Florida's 4th Congressional District after she chose not to run in 2000, hailed the appointment as a demonstration of the influence and expertise Fowler acquired while serving on the House Armed Services Committee.

"This speaks awfully highly of her," said Crenshaw, who, like Fowler, is a Republican. "I think Tillie has a great background for this as a former member of the Armed Services Committee."

Crenshaw called Rumsfeld "a strong secretary of defense" who is "the kind of guy who is willing to listen to the advice of others."

But a couple of Pentagon watchers questioned whether Fowler will wield the same kind of influence as Perle.

Ed Peck, a retired ambassador who is president of Foreign Services International, a consulting firm that works with governments, businesses and educational institutions across the world, said, "I don't think Mr. Rumsfeld, who is a force of nature, takes a lot of advice."

Peck, who is a consultant on the Middle East for NBC and MSNBC, added, "I think Richard Perle had influence because he is Richard Perle, not because he was chairman of the Defense Policy Board."

John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, said the Defense Policy Board "was a heck of a lot more important under Richard Perle than it will be under Tillie Fowler."

GlobalSecurity.org is a military think tank focused on innovative approaches to the emerging security challenges of the new millennium.

Perle, a former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, sent a letter of resignation to Rumsfeld in late March, in which he denied any wrongdoing but said he was stepping down as chairman of the Defense Policy Board in order to defuse controversy surrounding some of his business dealings.

PERLE'S TIES

He had been offered $750,000 to help Global Crossing, a telecommunications firm involved in bankruptcy proceedings, get government permission to sell to Asian investors. …

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