Royally Kranked

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Various things to consider with the Ports Deal, some directly related, some indirectly related, but all undercut even further Dear Leader W's blind backing of the British to UAE deal

As was covered here before the President can waive ANY requirement regarding US ports, including those that specifically prohibit any ships but US ones from transporting goods-we know this because he did this very thing right after Katrina hit

Now, let's take a look at W's rationale regarding security as it relates to the Ports deal


Q Mr. President, since you're the final arbiter of the Dubai Ports deal, are you still inclined to approve it? And do you stand by your veto threat?

PRESIDENT BUSH: My position hasn't changed to my message to the Congress. And I appreciate the fact that the companies concerned have asked the Congress for a review of all the security implications.

Let me just make something clear to the American people. If there was any doubt in my mind, or people in my administration's mind that our ports would be less secure and the American people endangered, this deal wouldn't go forward. And I can understand people's consternation because the first thing they heard was that a foreign company would be in charge of our port security, when, in fact, the Coast Guard and Customs are in charge of our port security. Our duty is to protect America, and we will protect America.

On the other hand, this company is buying a British company that manages the ports. And by the way, there are a lot of foreign companies managing U.S. ports. And so my question to the members of Congress as they review this matter is, one, please look at the facts. And two, what kind of signal does it send throughout the world if it's okay for a British company to manage the ports, but not a company that has been secure -- been cleared for security purposes from the Arab world? So I look forward to a good, consistent review.

Fair enough, let's start with THIS subject, a suppressed Dept Homeland Security report that I blogged about in October

As we find out, all that Bubble-Boy-Bush-Blather about just trusting him on National Security was undercut DELIBERATELY regarding a DHS report that was supposed to be delivered to the top politicians in both the House & Senate

That report charged that lax immigration standards in the Northern Marianas Islands-a US Commonwealth-could lead to an attack upon visiting US naval interests during a Port of Call

The report, dated May 6, 2002, was prepared by Robert Meissner, then a regional security specialist for the Justice Department, at the request of Frederick Black, who at the time was the acting United States attorney for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Meissner had jurisdiction over security issues for the commonwealth.


The Justice Department report on the Marianas said the islands, which rely on tourism and are home to military facilities and visiting U.S. Navy vessels, ``offer a target-rich environment for terrorist activity.''

Under a 1976 covenant between the commonwealth and the U.S., immigration laws don't apply to the Marianas ``except in the manner and to the extent made applicable to them by the Congress.''

The DHS Report was suppressed

Lawmakers of both parties said they never saw the recommendations. ``I never saw such a report,'' said Representative Henry Hyde, an Illinois Republican and the former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Representatives Harold Rogers, a Kentucky Republican and chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security, and Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, a Democratic member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said they wanted to look at who controls immigration to the Marianas.

Well, here's the first of three kickers, who squawked loud enough to get the report killed-Hint-Money was the only motive for this guy

Representative George Miller, a California Democrat, said he believes Abramoff was involved in quashing the Mariana Islands' report.

``There's substantial evidence to indicate he was the one,'' said Miller, who for years has introduced legislation to strengthen the Marianas' immigration and labor laws. ``Clearly, Mr. Abramoff had full run inside the Beltway.''

Yes, THAT Jack Abramoff-at the time of the report, he was lobbying on behalf of the sweatshop factory owners on the Northern Marianas islands, and tightening up immigration standards stood to take money directly out of Abramoff's pockets

The second twist is that we know who tipped off Abramoff to this report and where that exchange occurred

In an Oct, 1, 2001, e-mail to the Marianas government, Abramoff said he was alerted to the pending immigration report by the Justice Department chief of staff, whom he hosted in his luxury box at a Washington Redskins football game. He said he would pass on to the government any information he received from the official. At the time, David Ayres was chief of staff.

It gets worse, Abramoff seethed hostility to DoJ personnel as they were investigating the lax standards in the NM islands

In the e-mail, Abramoff warned that some ``bad guys'' in Justice had been saying the commonwealth ``if not taken over, will be a major entry point for terrorists. This, of course, is patently ridiculous and we have been working to counter this.''

Abramoff then said he'd take the issue up with the DoJ Secretary, and Abramoff had another connection besides that guaranteed the meeting would go forward

Abramoff said he would meet with then-Attorney General John Ashcroft. One of Abramoff's associates was Kevin Ring, who joined the firm after serving as counsel to a Judiciary subcommittee that Ashcroft chaired when he served in the U.S. Senate.

``We'll hope the higher ups will take some time to squash this on their own,'' Abramoff wrote.

I don't know if the meeting took place or not, but I do know that someone powerful enough to do the following Prosecutorial shuffle apparently put loyalty to Abramoff and his deep pockets ABOVE the security of the US itself, and this action is so incomprehensible-from an Administration that claims it's main concern is to keep the US public as safe as possible-that there's absolutely NO way to spin it logically or positively in the context of strengthening National Security

Remember, Dear Leader is promising that there's absolutely no need to have any worries over security at the US ports if the UAE-owned DP World runs the US ports, keep that in mind when reading this

The agency (DoJ) reassigned the two officials who produced a 34-page report that contained the proposal, and House members of both parties who oversee the Homeland Security and Justice departments said they were never told about it. The 2002 report, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News, warns that continued local control over the Marianas' borders will ``seriously jeopardize the national security'' of the U.S.


Both men were subsequently transferred to lesser positions. Black is now an assistant U.S. attorney in the Marianas, and Meissner was reassigned from his job reviewing security for the commonwealth and 10 other U.S. attorney's offices and now works in the U.S. attorney's office in northern Virginia. Black and Meissner declined to comment.

It just doesn't get much more blatantly hypocritical than the above when it comes to ANY claims of National Security being the Prime Directive for this President or his Administration, this

A report was prepared for the DHS, Abramoff gets tipped off about it from the DoJ, complains and not only gets the Congressionally mandated report suppressed, but also gets DoJ to reassign the two authors-and the fact that Black had opened an investigation into Jack Abramoff only 24 hours before being demoted-with his successor announced at the same time no less-had absolutely NOTHING to do with this undercutting of National Security

Okay, lets move on, and this time, we'll take a look at how the Administration's rhetoric about National Security as it's be all, end all, once again falls far short of what's been delivered in terms of beefing up financial-tracking intelligence analysts, people whose job it is to trace questionable funds & funding to their true source, money laundering especially figures in here

Especially ironic, is that there's so much apparent hostility between the State Dept & Treasury Dept, one of the Depts involved in clearing the Ports deal

(NOTE:This is an exact, word for word copy of the NYTimes article-which now resides behind a subscription-only archive-I know because I saved a copy of it before it happened)

The charges below were provided by a GAO report, which functions as an investigative agency of Congress

U.S. Lacks Plan to Curb Terror Funds, Agency Says

More than four years after the Sept. 11 attacks, "the U.S. government lacks an integrated strategy" to train foreign countries and provide them with technical assistance to shore up their financial and law enforcement systems against terrorist financing, according to the report prepared by the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress.

The findings expand on earlier concerns raised by that agency and others in the past few years about the government's ability to cut off money to terrorists. The report is to be released Wednesday, and an advance copy was provided to The New York Times.

Here it is, about 4 ½ years after the Sept 11 attacks, and the govt hasn't come up with protocols to share with other countries regarding what to look for when it comes to money laundering and financial tracking

And let's not forget about bureaucratic infighting either

The government has identified 26 "priority" countries that it considered particularly vulnerable to exploitation by terrorist financiers, who may take advantage of lax financial controls and loosely regulated or nonexistent laws to launder money in support of terrorist attacks, officials said.

But officials at the State and Treasury Departments cannot even agree on who is supposed to be in charge of the effort to shore up defenses in vulnerable countries, the accountability office report concluded.

In at least one case, the State Department refused to allow a Treasury official to enter an unidentified foreign country last year to help with strategies to fight terrorist financing because of turf battles, investigators found. Because the country had recently been upgraded to a priority, State Department officials wanted to do their own assessment first before allowing the Treasury Department to conduct its work, causing a delay of several months.


In another problem area, private contractors used by the Treasury Department and other agencies have been allowed to draft proposed laws in foreign countries for curbing terrorist financing, even though Justice Department officials voiced strong concerns that contractors should not be allowed to play such an active role in the legislative process.

So, another case where private economic interests are allowed greater leeway than the actual cause of National Security, and part of keeping the ports secure is by tracing the funding of terrorist groups all around the world-that's the context here

The administration has made cutting off money to terrorists one of the main prongs in its attack against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. It has seized tens of millions of dollars in American accounts and assets linked to terrorist groups, prodded other countries to do the same, and is now developing a program to gain access to and track potentially hundreds of millions of international bank transfers into the United States.


The State Department said in the report that it has begun technical assistance and training to 20 of the 26 priority countries. The list is classified, and the countries were not disclosed. Officials say that letting terrorists know which countries are considered vulnerable would prompt them to move more money there and that publicizing such assessments would discourage cooperation from the countries on the list.

Considering all the rigamarole over the Ports deal, it's imperative to know if the UAE is on this list or not, and if so, then how does the President plan to improve the situation in a meaningful way?

The next headline must be considered with regards to this deal, and guess what, it doesn't imply a lot of confidence in the President's rhetoric about National Security being his main mission

Government misses dozens of security deadlines since Sept. 11

The Bush administration has missed dozens of deadlines set by Congress after the Sept. 11 attacks for developing ways to protect airplanes, ships and railways from attacks.

A plan to defend ships and ports from attack is six months overdue. Rules to protect air cargo from infiltration are two months late. A study on the cost of giving anti-terrorism training to federal law enforcement officers who fly commercially was supposed to be done more than three years ago.

Actually, that plan to defend ships & ports is now 11 months overdue-Does this indicate an Administration truly obsessed with National Security, is it possible that the Ports are now so secured & safe that they don't need any more defending?

And look what else there is to consider with the President's claim about National Security as it relates to Port Security

A law signed by President Bush on Nov. 25, 2002, set a July 1, 2004, deadline for ships and ports to tighten security amid fears that nuclear weapons might be smuggled in a cargo container.

The Coast Guard largely accomplished the undertaking. But much still remains undone: A report on how a grant program for shippers and ports would work is more than a year late; a report on cargo container security is eight months overdue; a national security plan for marine transportation is well past its April 1 due date.

Bump all those months up by 5, as this article appeared at the end of October 2005

With all that missing strategy, with no plans in place, can we really be sure the Administration will be as vigilant in policing DP World as it's shown not to be when policing itself?

And the last one, the BIG GUN so to speak, the one that has an absolute direct bearing on the President's boasts about the UAE being a good ally in the fight against terrorism

Unfortunately, there's one big problem no one's apparently aware of here

MI5 unmasks covert arms programmes

The determination of countries across the Middle East and Asia to develop nuclear arsenals and other weapons of mass destruction is laid bare by a secret British intelligence document which has been seen by the Guardian.

More than 360 private companies, university departments and government organisations in eight countries, including the Pakistan high commission in London, are identified as having procured goods or technology for use in weapons programmes.

Now, here's your direct UAE concern here, and one the President should have to explain where it fits in his confidence level in the Ports deal and the UAE running the US ports

The length of the list, compiled by MI5, suggests that the arms trade supermarket is bigger than has so far been publicly realised. MI5 warns against exports to organisations in Iran, Pakistan, India, Israel, Syria and Egypt and to beware of front companies in the United Arab Emirates, which appears to be a hub for the trade.


The MI5 document, entitled Companies and Organisations of Proliferation Concern, has been compiled in an attempt to prevent British companies inadvertently exporting sensitive goods or expertise to organisations covertly involved in WMD programmes. Despite the large number of bodies identified, the document says the list is not exhaustive.

It states: "It is not suggested that the companies and organisations on the list have committed an offence under UK legislation. However, in addition to conducting non-proliferation related business, they have procured goods and/or technology for weapons of mass destruction programmes."

Is it the President's contention that the British information is correct or not? And if it IS correct, then how, logically, can the President state that there's no problems with the UAE running the US ports?

And then, the very last point to make here, this is something the President needs to explain in terms of inspiring confidence in either the way the UAE would run the ports, or the President's capacity for logical decision making

The document also highlights concerns that companies in Malta and Cyprus could have been used as fronts for WMD programmes. The United Arab Emirates is named as "the most important" of the countries where front companies may have been used, and 24 private firms there are identified as having acquired WMD technology for Iran, Pakistan and India.

Think about that paragraph

Can we REALLY trust the President's judgement regarding National Security and legitimate oversight of how the UAE would run the US Ports they'll be in charge of?

The President should have to answer all these points to the public's satisfaction before this deal goes through, and any silence should be acknowledged for what it is, putting money over National Security concerns


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