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David Sirota Headshot

Still Say There's No Security Risk From the UAE Deal?

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Yesterday, I noted that the corporate punditocracy was unifying in an adamant denial that the UAE port security endangers U.S. national security. Some are even calling those who have raised security concerns "borderline racists" - a disgustingly insulting and dishonest charge, considering the UAE has very recent ties to Osama bin Laden, terrorist financing and some of the 9/11 hijackers. Raising security concerns about a country like that controlling our ports isn't "borderline racist" or extreme - it's entirely rational, as long as you are willing to put America's national security interests above Big Business's profit motive, as most Americans outside the Beltway want (but most insulated pundits do not).

But now, in a major story, we see that it's not just writers like me who have pointed out these security concerns - it's also the U.S. Coast Guard which previously told the Bush administration that it had serious national security concerns about this deal. As Republican Sen. Susan Collins (ME) said to administration officials today:

"I'm trying to reconcile your assurance today that there were no security concerns that were not addressed with the Coast Guard's report that there were many intelligence gaps that precluded an overall threat assessment."

The Bush administration tried to dodge Collins inquiry - and in the process publicly embarrassed itself. That's not surprising - it's now impossible for this supposedly "tough on terrorism" administration to hide its national security hypocrisy and negligence in pursuit of its Big Money donors' agenda.

But if you don't believe the Coast Guard, how about Joseph King, who headed the customs agency's anti-terrorism efforts under the Treasury Department and the new Department of Homeland Security? Here's what the Washington Post reported today about him:

"[King] said a company the size of Dubai Ports World would be able to get hundreds of visas to relocate managers and other employees to the United States. Using appeals to Muslim solidarity or threats of violence, al-Qaeda operatives could force low-level managers to provide some of those visas to al-Qaeda sympathizers, said King, who for years tracked similar efforts by organized crime to infiltrate ports in New York and New Jersey. Those sympathizers could obtain legitimate driver's licenses, work permits and mortgages that could then be used by terrorist operatives. Dubai Ports World could also offer a simple conduit for wire transfers to terrorist operatives in the Middle East. Large wire transfers from individuals would quickly attract federal scrutiny, but such transfers, buried in the dozens of wire transfers a day from Dubai Ports World's operations in the United States to the Middle East would go undetected, King said."

Make no mistake about it - expect no apologies or corrections from the corporate punditocracy even in light of these explosive new revelations. The pundits have built up such a track record of out-of-touch dishonest shilling for corporate interests that they will likely try to come up with an even more convulted rationale to prioritize the corporate profit motive over the need to protect America's national security.