Judd at Think Progress brings us more information on the United Arab Emirates' security situation. A 2002 letter from al Qaeda to UAE officials claimed that the emirates had been "infiltrated" by the terrorist organization.
The official U.S. government translation is available on the West Point Military Academy's web site. Some key passages:
We have come to know definitely that the Emirate country is committing acts of injustice against the striving youth of the Emirates and others who sympathize with us in order to appease the Americans’ wishes which include: spying, persecution, and detainments. The United Emirates authorities have recently
detained a number of Mujahideen and handed them over to suppressive organizations in their country in addition to having a number of them still in its custody…
… You are well aware that we have infiltrated your security, censorship, and monetary agencies along with other agencies that should not be mentioned. Therefore, we warn of the continuation of practicing such policies, which do not serve your interests and will only cost you many problems that will place you in an embarrassing state before your citizens…
…our policies are not to operate in your homeland and/or tamper with your security because we are occupied with others which we consider are enemies of this nation. If you compel us to do so, we are prepared to postpone our program for a short period and allocate some time for you.
Judd also points us to a February 27th Associated Press report by Liz Sidoti that the Coast Guard warned of intelligence gaps in the Dubai Ports World deal.
Citing broad gaps in U.S. intelligence, the Coast Guard raised concerns weeks ago that it could not determine whether a United Arab Emirates-based company seeking a stake in some U.S. port operations might support terrorist operations.
A half page, unclassified Coast Guard intelligence assessment read:
There are many intelligence gaps, concerning the potential for DPW or P&O assets to support terrorist operations, that precludes an overall threat assessment [of the potential merger]…
…The breadth of the intelligence gaps also infer potential unknown threats against a large number of potential vulnerabilities.
In testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Stewart Baker, an assistant secretary in the Homeland Security Department, said that the Coast Guard's concerns had been resolved. Clay Lowery, Treasury Department assistant secretary for international affairs, said that "There were no national security concerns that were not addressed."
When Associated Press contacted the Coast Guard to confirm these statements, the Coast Guard replied that "it did not have serious reservations about the ports deal."
This sounds familiar. If word comes down from the Coast Guard's bosses at Treasury and Homeland Security that the Coast Guard has no "serious reservations," then by golly it darn well doesn't.
A fight is underway in Congress over whether to pass legislation that would give the legislature power to block the ports deal. This would involve a congressional investigation, which would politically embarrass the White House.
The White House is arguing that Congressional action is unnecessary because the administration has ordered a second review of the deal it has already approved. The 45-day investigation will be conducted by the multi-agency Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, which is managed by the Treasury Department. Many officials who approved the deal during the first review process will participate in the 45-day investigation, including Treasury Secretary John Snow. Snow is a former chairman of CSX, the rail company that sold its port operations to Dubai Ports World for $1.15 billion in 2004, the year after Snow left CSX to take the Treasury post.
AP's Sidoti also reports that the administration's efforts at avoiding outside control and oversight of the ports deal aren't just focused on Congress. The Justice Department says that Mr. Bush's decision to conduct a second review makes a New Jersey federal lawsuit aimed at blocking Dubai Ports World from taking over the Port Newark container terminal irrelevant.
This has become the standard administration strategy: block and stall any interference from the courts or the legislature, investigate itself, find nothing wrong, and go ahead with whatever it was going to do in the first place. In this instance, it will be to put critical American ports in the hands of a company controlled by a government that we have serious reason to believe has been infiltrated by al Qaeda.
As a postscript, this from a CNN report posted yesterday:
Rep. Peter King of New York, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said officials from the Homeland Security and Treasury departments told him weeks ago that their 30-day review of the deal did not look into the question of links between DP World and al Qaeda.
King said the officials told him after he asked about investigation into possible terrorist ties: "Congressman, you don't understand, we don't conduct a thorough investigation. We just ask the intel director if there is anything on file, and he said no."
The intel director had nothing on file regarding security concerns about the UAE?
Gives you a real warm and fuzzy about our Homeland Security, doesn't it?