updated 2/26/2004 1:12:48 PM ET 2004-02-26T18:12:48

Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser known for his hawkish views on Iraq, has resigned his membership on the Defense Policy Board, which counsels the secretary of defense on policy issues.

In his resignation letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld dated Feb. 18 and released Thursday, Perle said he quit because he did not want his controversial views “to be attributed to you or the president at any time, and especially not during a presidential campaign.”

“This is particularly true now since I have just published a book that calls for far-reaching reform of government departments responsible for combating terrorism,” he wrote. “Many of the ideas in that book are controversial and I wish to be free to argue for them without those views or my arguments getting caught up in the campaign.”

During the Reagan administration Perle was an assistant secretary of defense.

Perle said he served on the policy board for 17 years and regretted that its role is widely misunderstood by the public. That has led people who read about or hear his views on national security issues to associate those views with the Pentagon or the Bush administration, he said.

“The fact that the Defense Policy Board is not a decision-making body but is simply a forum enabling the secretary of defense to hear a variety of opinions and observations (often opposed to one another) is simply not understood by the general public,” he wrote.

Perle came under scrutiny last year for his business contacts while chairman of the policy board. He resigned his chairmanship during the controversy in March, but he remained a member of the board.

Last November the Pentagon’s inspector general concluded that Perle had violated no ethics laws by representing companies that had major dealings with the Pentagon while he was the board’s chairman.

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