Frank Carlucci is a long-standing Republican Party insider whose track record includes serving as defense secretary under President Ronald Reagan, as deputy director of the CIA, and as a diplomat and Foreign Service officer during various administrations dating back to the 1950s. In addition, Carlucci has served as a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy and supported the work of the Project for the New American Century—a neoconservative pressure group that played a role in promoting the invasion and occupation of Iraq—signing numerous open letters released by the group that were aimed at pressuring public officials. More recently, Carlucci served as an adviser to the 2012 presidential campaign of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
Carlucci's career also includes working as a corporate executive, most notably as the chairman (1993-2002) of the high-profile investment firm the Carlyle Group, which is sometimes referred to as the "ex-presidents' club" because of the large number of high-powered former government officials who have worked for the firm, including former President George H. W. Bush, former British Prime Minister John Major, and former Secretary of State James Baker.
Carlucci announced his support for the Romney campaign in April 2012, at the same time as former George W. Bush administration official Stephen Hadley. In a statement, Carlucci praised Romney, claiming, "Governor Romney understands that America's future security depends on restoring our economy and maintaining a military and diplomatic posture that advances both American interests and American values. Indeed, in the tradition of Ronald Reagan, Governor Romney grasps the deep interconnection between the two. I had the honor of serving President Reagan and I know something about his extraordinary leadership abilities. Mitt Romney has similar extraordinary qualities as a leader."
As a Romney surrogate, Carlucci sometimes served as a campaign attack dog. In late April 2012, for instance, after the Obama campaign released a TV ad called "One Chance"—which implied that based on his public statements, Romney would not have made the decision to kill Osama bin Laden—Carlucci and fellow Romney surrogate John Lehman said in a campaign press release, "We are saddened to see the President of the United States politicize that event even reducing it to a campaign slogan. This is unbecoming of the Commander-in-Chief and it diminishes the credit that should rightfully go to our men and women fighting in the field."
Commenting on the campaign's coordinated response to the Obama commercial, NBC's David Gregory said during an interview with Romney adviser Ed Gillespie, "It's interesting, though, if you compare it to the president you worked for, President Bush, and some of the same sort of tactics that were used in a lot of people's eyes. … Using images from the World Trade Center. A lot of people see that as the very same thing. Is it not? Focusing on leadership moments of a president?"
Carlucci occasionally contributes op-eds to national newspapers commenting on U.S. foreign affairs. In a November 2011 op-ed for the right-wing Washington Times, Carlucci and co-authors Lee H. Hamilton and Tom Ridge argued that congressional proposals to cut back funding for the State Department and U.S. international development programs were short-sighted and risked damaging U.S. clout abroad. "For more than a decade, the international affairs budget had growing bipartisan support. However, Congress is now considering the steepest cuts to the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development since the end of the Cold War, despite the fact that diplomacy and development programs make up about 1 percent of the federal budget. At a time of trillion-dollar deficits, all parts of the federal budget merit scrutiny, and the international affairs account is no exception. But to slash needed investments in America's leadership around the world will be more costly to our country. Congress and all of those seeking our country's highest office should recognize that strategic reality and commit themselves to sustaining America's civilian instruments of national power and influence. In doing so, they will protect our country's security and prosperity and help build a better, safer world."
Carlyle Track Record
Carlucci was hired by the Carlyle Group in 1989, shortly after Reagan's second term ended. He was initially brought on as vice chairman, becoming chairman in 1993. His tenure at Carlyle was notable in part for the firm's increasing investments in defense an aerospace industries. According to the Washington Post, "Carlyle began to find its groove after the partners recruited Carlucci as vice chairman in 1989 (later, he became chairman) to raise the firm's profile and help spot investment opportunities. Carlyle started buying and selling defense and aerospace contractors, including Magnavox, an electronics manufacturer (profit: $270 million); BDM, an information services firm (profit: $310 million); and Howmet, a jet engine parts manufacturer (profit: $680 million)."
The Guardian reported in 2001, "When Carlucci arrived there [at Carlyle] in 1989, he brought with him a phalanx of former subordinates from the CIA and the Pentagon, and an awareness of the scale of business a company like Carlyle could do in the corridors and steak-houses of Washington. In a decade and a half, the firm has been able to realize a 34% rate of return on its investments, and now claims to be the largest private equity firm in the world. Success brought more investors, including the international financier George Soros and, in 1995, the wealthy Saudi Bin Laden family, who insist they long ago severed all links with their notorious relative. The first president Bush is understood to have visited the Bin Ladens in Saudi Arabia twice on the firm's behalf."
In the early 1960s, Carlucci was working as a diplomat in the Democratic Republic of the Congo when he allegedly became involved in a conspiracy that led to the assassination of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. In 2002, Carlucci's lawyers successfully pressured the distributor of the HBO film Lumumba to delete any references to their client. A scene that was cut from the movie depicted Carlucci and his boss, Ambassador Clare Timberlake, in a meeting with Congolese officials who were plotting Lumumba's murder. Carlucci contends that he and Timberlake had no knowledge whatsoever of the plot, telling Pacific News, "There's no substantiation to that charge in any of the reviews done on Lumumba's death by the United Nations or the recent Belgian book or Maddie Kalb's book. ... If you go through the Kalb book [which was based on declassified U.S. cables], you'll find no references to me."
However, there seem to be several problems with Carlucci's contention, starting with the fact that the Kalb book does in fact mention Carlucci. Pacific News quotes the book: "Whenever Timberlake, accompanied by his French-speaking second secretary, Frank Carlucci, went to see Kasavubu ... to try to persuade him that Lumumba was an extremely dangerous man, Kasavubu ... would say nothing. ... As Timberlake noted in a gloomy cable to Washington, 'I confess I have not yet learned the secret of spurring Kasavubu to action.'"
Pacific also cites a letter from Ludo de Witte, author of the "recent Belgian book" The Assassination of Lumumba, to Raoul Peck, the filmmaker who made the HBO film: "From mid-August (when Eisenhower gave indirectly the green light for the assassination of Lumumba) till mid-October, there was a de facto collaboration and exchange of information between all important personnel in the U.S. Embassy (that is Timberlake, Carlucci and [Lawrence] Devlin included), including on efforts to get rid of Lumumba."
In a 2005 interview undertaken by academic Phillip Zelikow as part of the Ronald Reagan Oral History project, Carlucci claimed that the HBO film's portrayal of him was libelous and repeated his contention that he did not have any knowledge of the assassination. He said: "I didn't become aware of that until after I'd read the Church Committee hearings. I did not know that anybody had even talked to Devlin about that. None of us had any foreknowledge. You'd have to ask Devlin. He tells me he had no foreknowledge of the plan to ship Lumumba to the Katanga. The film portrayal of the meeting regarding Lumumba is gratuitous, inaccurate, contentious, and libelous. It never happened. Other than that, it's a great movie. The very idea that, first of all, Kasavubu would invite a young Embassy official to attend a cabinet meeting, and secondly, to vote on Lumumba's certain death, is absurd. The idea that a 30-year-old second secretary of the Embassy would be empowered to pass on a sanction, in effect killing a Prime Minister of a country, is absurd. The meeting never took place. It was a cheap shot. I guess it was done to sell the film. Why they singled me out, I can only guess. Maybe they picked me because it's harder for a public figure to sue."
Carlucci's official Defense Department biography reads in part: "Frank C. Carlucci, who had served as Caspar Weinberger's deputy secretary between 1981 and 1983, succeeded him as secretary of defense. Carlucci was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on 18 October 1930. After graduation from Princeton University in 1952, he served two years as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. In 1956 after study at the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration and a short stint in private business, Carlucci joined the Department of State as a foreign service officer.
"His State Department assignments took him to South Africa, the Congo, Zanzibar, and Brazil between 1957 and 1969. He left the State Department in 1969 to join the Office of Economic Opportunity as assistant director, and moved up to director late in 1970. He then became associate director and deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (1971-72) and under secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (1972-74). At both places he worked under Caspar Weinberger.
"In 1975 Carlucci returned to the State Department to serve as ambassador to Portugal until 1978, when he went to the Central Intelligence Agency as deputy director, staying until January 1981. The next month he joined Weinberger at the Department of Defense as deputy secretary. Strongly supported by Weinberger, Carlucci was selected for the post even though some of President Reagan's advisers opposed him because he had served in the Carter administration. As deputy secretary he worked closely with Weinberger, assuming responsibility for the day-to-day management of the Pentagon and overseeing the defense budget and procurement. He created the Defense Resources Board and proposed the 'Carlucci initiatives' to bring more stability and order into the defense procurement process.
"Carlucci left the Pentagon in January 1983 to become president and later chairman and chief executive officer of Sears World Trade, Inc., in Washington. He stayed with Sears until 1986, when he moved to the White House as assistant to the president for national security affairs. In 1985-86, while still with Sears, he served on the President's Blue Ribbon Commission on Defense Management, chaired by David Packard. Carlucci worked particularly on the issues of long-range planning and the budgeting and programming process.
"Given his extensive experience in national security affairs, Carlucci was a natural choice to succeed Weinberger; he took office on 23 November 1987."