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Carlyle's shadowy world

Deep underground in a secured bunker in western Pennsylvania, employees of a Carlyle Group portfolio company perform background checks on government and airlines employees, as well as on thousands of private-sector job applicants.

The former Office of Federal Investigations, known as the US Investigations Services since it was bought by the Carlyle Group upon privatization, is just one of the many controversial companies in its portfolio that Dan Briody examines in his latest book, The Iron Triangle - Inside the Secret World of the Carlyle Group.

The Carlyle Group offers rich ground and Briody sifts through its involvement with mercenaries, its habitual employment of former heads of state and ex-employees of the CIA, and the group's close connections with the present Bush administration. He provides a clear account of how George Bush senior (an adviser to the group) helped reverse US foreign policy towards Korea in a way that helped benefit Carlyle's business there.

The fact that former US presidents are entitled to receive CIA briefings and that Bush senior, a former director of the CIA, regularly gets what CIA insiders call "the president's daddy's daily briefing" also does little to distance the group from perceptions of possible impropriety.

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