It turns out that former Majority Leader and Presidential candidate Bob Dole was hired last year as a legal consultant by Dubai Ports World to shepherd the deal through, courtesy of Alston & Bird.
Wife Sen. Elizabeth Dole says that she is "deeply concerned" about operations at six U.S. ports being controlled by Dubai Ports World (owned, in case you somehow hadn’t heard, by the United Arab Emirates – AUE). Congrats on her "independence" – I guess.
I have several concerns and questions about this whole situation, so I thought I’d weigh in.
I object to any port operations run by non-Americans. This is a national security issue.
The deal would allow Dubai Ports World to operate ports in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia. They have been operated by a British company until now – why has no-one objected to that? With that in mind, some of the objections now seem to be to be shadowed by a tinge of racism. That said, and I think it should be acknowledged that it is a possible factor…
Almost 40 percent of the Army cargo deployed in support of military operations in Iraq flows through two of the ports in question. Why isn’t this a matter for military logistics or Homeland Security? Has this always been a private concern? If so, why? If not, how long has it been this way and why are non-Americans in charge at our ports? If this isn’t illegal, it should be.
I thought our policy was to limit dealings with nations that support terrorism. This is actually a state-owned company. They may be allies in some ways, but they do have troubling involvement with international terrorism, including:
– The UAE was one of three countries in the world to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.
– The UAE has been a key transfer point for illegal shipments of nuclear components to Iran, North Korea and Lybia.
– According to the FBI, money was transferred to the 9/11 hijackers through the UAE banking system.
– After 9/11, the Treasury Department reported that the UAE was not cooperating in efforts to track down Osama Bin Laden’s bank accounts.
Former CIA director Tenet told the 9/11 commission that the United States did not target Bin Laden at a camp in Afghanistan in February 1999 because he was meeting with the UAE royal family. What exactly are our ties here? Is there any connection to the royal family of Saudi Arabia that we’ve been protecting for so long?
It seems very suspicious to me that there are two White House ties on this. One is Treasury Secretary John Snow. The Treasury Department runs the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S (the federal panel that signed off on the $6.8 billion sale of an English company to government-owned Dubai Ports World – giving it control of Manhattan’s cruise ship terminal and Newark’s container port)and he was also chairman of the CSX railroad company that sold its own international port operations to DP World for $1.15 billion in 2004, the year after Snow left to join Bush’s cabinet. The other is David Sanborn, who runs DP World’s European and Latin American operations and was tapped by Bush last month to head the U.S. Maritime Administration. Conflict of interest, crony capitalism, anyone?
Of course, there is standard documentation of Presidential hypocrisy, this one from February 2004:
Part of doing our duty in the war on terror is to protect the homeland. That’s part of our solemn responsibility. And we are taking unprecedented steps to protect the homeland. In the 2005 budget, as the Secretary mentioned, we proposed increases in homeland security spending. And some of those increases are measures to protect our seaports. And that’s why I’ve come to this vital seaport, to remind people — to remind the American people, as they pay attention to the debates in the halls of Congress, that we have a solemn duty to protect our homeland, including the seaports of America.
Bush admits he had no knowledge of the deal before his administration approved it, but he has also threatened to veto any legislation from Congress to overturn the sale. Why didn’t he know? Why would he veto? What’s at stake here?
In a press briefing on the 21st Donald Rumsfeld also claimed ignorance of the deal, but as Secretary of Defense, he is a member of the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States – who unanimously approved the sale on February 13. Huh?
Of course one must ask – how is Cheney involved in this? Here’s one connection – Halliburton has used an offshore subsidiary incorporated in the Cayman Islands (where the company has no oil and gas construction or engineering operations) to trade with Iran. Halliburton Products and Services, a Cayman islands firm headquartered in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, made over $39 million in 2003 (a $10 million increase from 2002) by selling oil-field services to customers in Iran. Offshore money laundering, trade with Iran, avoidance of America’s laws, presumably the usual Cayman Islands tax evasion… Is this just one clue to a much bigger picture? See also "All Roads Lead to Cheney" at Rense for information on a company called Prime Projects International Trading LLC (PPI). By the way, why is Halliburton still working for the US after ripping us off? Why was it awarded multiple no-bid contracts in the first place?
On CNN’s Late Edition (Feb. 19), Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff appeared, only to assert a right to government secrecy.
The discussions are classified. I can’t get into the specifics here…
Why is it ok for Chertoff to refuse to talk about any of this? How can it be "classified"? What information exactly could be entrusted to a foreign government but not shared with the American people?
So my larger question is – who gains from this deal? What is the back story? How could this be classified? It seems to me that this bears a fractal resemblence to numerous other situations this administration has been involved with – The Carlisle Group, Enron, etc.
Homeland Unsecured has a detailed report about how the Bush Administration’s ties to industry and hostility to regulation leave our country vulnerable by failing to secure the most vulnerable, high-impact targets in our country. The report is based on an analysis of five key areas – chemical plants, nuclear plants, hazardous material transport, ports and water systems. citizens who still manage to think that Bush is "strong on security" still haven’t gotten an accurate picture. His comfty appearance as a swaggering little-boy cowboy-wanna-be doesn’t have anything to do with the realities of his policies and priorities.
Some of the Repubicans, every watchful of re-election, are starting to listen to some of their constituents on these topics. What they won’t do for the right reasons, they might do for the wrong ones. I’m not sure how to feel about that exactly, but I do welcome any signs that there might be any no-saying to this increasingly fascistic, heartless war-for-profit administration.
As with many situations involving the Bush administration, we may never know the whole story.