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Friday, February 17, 2006

President Supports Outsourcing of Port Management to Muslims

Well, Friends,

At least the story is out, and like the djinn, it will be hard to put back in the bottle. This was the news that was being ignored while, as Thomas Sowell so aptly put it, the press was focussed on "the shot heard 'round the Beltway." Good grief, those people in Washington are so incredibly PROVINCIAL

Gee, I mean, wasn't Birdshotgate a more important story than handing over the ports of the U.S. to Muslims?

I was gravely disappointed when Tony Snow defended the President's choice; he said we should "trust" the President. Right, like we should trust his decision about failing to secure the borders and all that.

I'm not at all surprised that this incredibly awful decision was made in secret. They never would have gotten to first base with it if it had been available for a good Q & A session.

At the bottom of the article, there is a list of members of both House and Senate who support a deeper look into this matter. Let's all encourage them, as well as our own, to do so.

With a hat tip to Always On Watch:

White House Defends Port Sale to Arab Co.
Feb 16 3:48 PM US/Eastern

By TED BRIDIS and DEVLIN BARRETTAssociated Press Writers


The Bush administration on Thursday rebuffed criticism about potential security risks of a $6.8 billion sale that gives a company in the United Arab Emirates control over significant operations at six major American ports.

Lawmakers asked the White House to reconsider its earlier approval of the deal.
The sale to state-owned Dubai Ports World was "rigorously reviewed" by a U.S. committee that considers security threats when foreign companies seek to buy or invest in American industry, National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones said.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, run by the Treasury Department, reviewed an assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies. The committee's 12 members agreed unanimously the sale did not present any problems, the department said. "We wanted to look at this one quite closely because it relates to ports," Stewart Baker, an assistant secretary in the Homeland Security Department, told The Associated Press. "It is important to focus on this partner as opposed to just what part of the world they come from. We came to the conclusion that the transaction should not be halted."

The unusual defense of the secretive committee, which reviews hundreds of such deals each year, came in response to criticism about the purchase of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. The world's fourth-largest ports company runs commercial operations at shipping terminals in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.
Four senators and three House members asked the administration Thursday to reconsider its approval. The lawmakers contended the UAE is not consistent in its support of U.S. terrorism-fighting efforts. "The potential threat to our country is not imagined, it is real," Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., said in a House speech.

The Homeland Security Department said it was legally impossible under the committee's rules to reconsider its approval without evidence DP World gave false information or withheld vital details from U.S. officials. The 30-day window for the committee to voice objections has ended.
DP World said it had received all regulatory approvals.

"We intend to maintain and, where appropriate, enhance current security arrangements," the company said in a statement. "It is very much business as usual for the P&O terminals" in the United States.

In Dubai, the UAE's foreign minister described his country as an important U.S. ally but declined to respond directly to the concerns expressed in Washington. "We have worked very closely with the United States on a number of issues relating to the combat of terrorism, prior to and post Sept. 11," Sheik Abdullah Bin Zayed al-Nahyan told The Associated Press.

U.S. lawmakers said the UAE was an important transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuclear components sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya by a Pakistani scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan. They also said the UAE was one of only three countries to recognize the now-toppled Taliban as Afghanistan's legitimate government.

The State Department describes the UAE as a vital partner in the fight against terrorism. Dubai's own ports have participated since last year in U.S. efforts to detect illegal shipments of nuclear materials.

Rep. Vito Fossella, R-N.Y., urged congressional hearings on the deal. "At a time when America is leading the world in the war on terrorism and spending billions of dollars to secure our homeland, we cannot cede control of strategic assets to foreign nations with spotty records on terrorism," Fossella said.

Critics also have cited the UAE's history as an operational and financial base for the hijackers who carried out the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. "Outsourcing the operations of our largest ports to a country with a dubious record on terrorism is a homeland security and commerce accident waiting to happen," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. "The administration needs to take another look at this deal."

Separately, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said Thursday it will conduct its own review of the deal and urged the government to defend its decision. In a letter to the Treasury Department, Port Authority chairman Anthony Coscia said the independent review by his agency was necessary "to protect its interests."

The lawmakers pressing the White House to reconsider included Sens. Schumer, Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Reps. Foley, Fossella and Chris Shays, R-Conn.


  • At Sat Feb 18, 05:08:00 AM PST, Blogger Always On Watch said…

    I've seen a lot of coverage on FNC. Will the rest of the media pick up on this story, now that Hillary is objecting to UAE?

  • At Sat Feb 18, 05:09:00 AM PST, Blogger Always On Watch said…

    Just now I heard on FNC: "You can't ban every country that has a history of ties to terrorism."

    The hell we can't!

  • At Sat Feb 18, 07:24:00 PM PST, Blogger Always On Watch said…

    Update from Global Security Newswire, February 16, 2006:

    U.S. Watches Dubai Banks for Proliferation Ties

    WASHINGTON — U.S. Treasury Department representatives are monitoring the possibility that money flowing through banks in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, could be supporting WMD proliferation by countries such as Iran, a Treasury official told a House of Representatives subcommittee today (see GSN, Feb. 13).

    The director of the agency’s Foreign Assets Control Office, Robert Werner, expressed continued concern in the wake of Dubai-based activities of the Dutch bank ABN Amro that in December 2005 led the United States to fine the bank $80 million for improper transactions with Libyan and Iranian clients. The case involved U.S.-prohibited wire transfers for Iranian and Libyan clients by the bank's Dubai employees.

    “I'm very concerned by the type of activities that the ABN Amro case demonstrated,” Werner told the Financial Services Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. “We intend to look at other situations that maybe may involve other international banks involved in that kind of conduct.”

    Asked by subcommittee Chairwoman Sue Kelly (R-N.Y.) whether he was concerned ABN Amro had “laundered” WMD-related Iranian transactions through Dubai, Werner said officials from his office recently met in the United Arab Emirates with officials of that country to discuss WMD proliferation.

    He said the office, which administers U.S. sanctions against entities of national-security concern, would continue to monitor Dubai as a possible hub for circumvention of WMD-related sanctions.

    “The possible use of UAE-incorporated companies by Iranian agencies or citizens is of great concern to us,” he said.

    Despite Kelly's suggestion that Treasury might designate Dubai as a “jurisdiction of primary money-laundering concern,” Werner expressed confidence in his UAE interlocutors.

    “They are anxious to engage in a dialogue with us,” he said. “My feeling is that they're striving to work with OFAC.”

    Replied the chairwoman, “Perhaps a bit of cynicism on the part of Treasury in dealing with these people might be in order.”

    U.S. President George W. Bush issued an executive order in June 2005 on blocking transfers of U.S. assets to entities of proliferation concern. Eighteen suspect companies have been listed so far under the order, including six in Iran and 11 in North Korea. Among other activities, Werner's office conducts investigations that provide evidence for listings of suspect entities under the order.

  • At Tue Mar 07, 06:56:00 PM PST, Blogger Tom said…

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