Carlyle Group opens up as tell-all hits stands

WASHINGTON: The famously secretive Carlyle Group is implementing a self-described "glasnost" policy just in time to fend off accusations put forth in a new book called The Iron Triangle: Inside the Secret World of the Carlyle Group.

WASHINGTON: The famously secretive Carlyle Group is implementing a self-described "glasnost" policy just in time to fend off accusations put forth in a new book called The Iron Triangle: Inside the Secret World of the Carlyle Group.

The DC-based private-equity firm counts such political insiders as former President George Bush, former CIA deputy director Frank Carlucci, and several Saudi royals among its staff, a lineup that has long made it a favorite subject of conspiracy theorists in Washington. The new book, written by first-time author Dan Briody, is described by The New York Times as "one-stop shopping for anyone who wants a laundry list of accusations against Carlyle since its inception in 1987."

Carlyle hired its first VP of corporate communications, former SEC spokesman Chris Ullman, shortly after September 11, 2001. "Some of bin Laden's family were investors in Carlyle, so they decided they needed to get a better control of their public persona," he said.

Since then, Ullman has worked to dispel perceptions of the group as backroom influence-peddlers by inviting media to inspect their holdings and their operation. Prior to Ullman's hiring, Carlyle was well-known for rarely returning media inquiries at all.

A new company website is set to debut this month as well. Included are bios of key staff members and a rumor-dispelling FAQ, as well as a list of the company's assets.

"Most people look at our bigwigs like Carlucci and Bush and stop there. But we have 300 professionals and 200 support staff globally, and they're the ones who make the deals," offered Ullman.

As for the new book, Ullman reported less media activity thus far than he had expected, a fact he attributes to the war in Iraq and tepid reviews of Briody's effort. Indeed, The New York Times wrote that Briody "did not unearth enough hard proof of self-dealing to sustain 210 pages. It feels padded."

Briody could not be reached for comment.

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