Saturday, February 25, 2006

Breakin' the law

Homeland Security Objected to Ports Deal:
The Homeland Security Department objected at first to a United Arab Emirates company's taking over significant operations at six U.S. ports. It was the lone protest among members of the government committee [CFIUS] that eventually approved the deal without dissent.
The CFIUS did not order a 45 day investigation because they claimed no one raised security concerns. But they did.

I don't know if this deal is good news or bad. It's increasingly clear that the Administration and Congress don't know either, because concerns were not dismissed based on evidence, but on the basis of political pressure.

My concern is not with the UAE per se. My concern is that the leadership of that country, the same people who control the company and would have access to Coast Guard security planning, were among only three national governments to recognize the Taliban and were personal hunting friends of Osama bin Laden and Taliban leaders. If there are appropriate safeguards, that's fine. But without the legally required investigation, we can't know what safeguards are appropriate.

If Congress passes laws tightening rules on port ownership and improving port security, the President has no excuse not to sign it.

We don't want this DHS dissent to join the CIA and FBI's pre-9/11 warnings, the NWS warnings before Katrina, and the State Department's warnings about civil war in Iraq as prescient warnings ignored because they were inconvenient.

In entirely unrelated news, BoingBoing is currently being censored by the UAE government. Xeni writes:

They're pretty good at controlling internet ports. As a reminder, they appear destined to control America's physical ports as well.
And former Republican Governor and 9/11 Commission chair Kean is sour on the port sale to the UAE:
"It shouldn't have happened, it never should have happened," Kean said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

The quicker the Bush administration can get out of the deal, the better, he said. "There's no question that two of the 9/11 hijackers came from there and money was laundered through there," Kean said.
The CIA doesn't want you to worry:

A former senior CIA official recalled that, although money transfers from Dubai were used by the Sept. 11 hijackers, Dubai's security services "were one of the best in the UAE to work with" after the attacks.
Not necessarily the very best in the United Arab Emirates, but up there. Probably in the top ten.

New Jersey's Rush Holt is trying to get access to the analysis that the CIA did of the deal to see how serious the research was and what the basis was for not having a formal investigation. It's a simple enough question, and Holt is to be congratulated for doing his job. Congress is there to check the executive and to offer oversight.

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