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UAE Takeover of American Ports Just Fine - More Foreign Investment in Airlines Just Fine - John Snow's Connection to UAE? Never Covered!

Reported by Marie Therese - February 20, 2006

On Saturday, 2-18-06, FOX News' Cashin' In panel members Jonathan Koenig (CapitalistPig.com), Adam Lashinsky (Fortune Magazine) and Dagen McDowell (FOX News Senior Business Analyst) argued in favor of the Bush administration's decision to permit the United Arab Emirates to operate six American ports. The only dissenting voice was that of Wayne Rogers (Wayne Rogers & Co.), who made the argument that foreign governments, especially those from states that have ties to terrorism, should not be in charge of managing American ports.

Transcript with commentary in italics.

KOENIG: And we're not at war with them and, of course, the sale should be permitted ... I mean, this country is build on the principle of free trade and we want people to invest in this country. Mutually beneficial, voluntary trade is the basis of what makes this country work. It's illegal to support terrorism. If they're giving the schematics to some Al Qaeda members, yeah, we should go after them. But if they want to run a port in America, more power to 'em.

ROGERS: Jonathan, I don't know what rock you've been living under. For God's sake, I mean, these people, they, they - giving them the entry to be able to - unless this is a CIA operation, by the way ....

KOENIG: But, Wayne, what people? You say "giving these people" you mean - what? Giving any Arab who wants to buy an American asset? I mean, where does it stop? It's discriminatory!

ROGERS (loudly): I'm saying at the ports is where it stops!!! You're giving them entry into a major place into the United States. Listen, we have a law in this country that does not allow foreign corporations to buy more than 25% of any media other than the newspapers.

KOENIG: Well, that should be abolished, too!

ROGERS (angry): Wait! Wait! You know why - you know why that law is there? To prevent this kind of thing! So that people who are enemies of the United States do not gain control of those things that are sensitive to our national security!!

KEENAN: And we have a similar law governing airline. Foreign companies cannot buy US airlines!!

McDOWELL (loudly): BUT, BUT a committee by the government, the Committee on Foreign Investment, did look at this transaction and there are members from Justice, Defense, Homeland Security on this committee, Wayne, they did not put the kibosh on it so it's not like the government didn't have a say-so in this deal getting done.

What McDowell conveniently forgot to tell FOX viewers was a nice little morsel about Treasury Secretary John Snow's prior existing relationship with Dubai Ports International, the UAE company that all this fuss is about. As reported by The Cunning Realist, a conservative blog:

"As a sidenote, the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) meets in secret and is headed by Treasury Secretary John Snow. In 2004, DP World purchased part of the American company CSX for over $1 billion. Before he became Treasury Secretary, John Snow was Chairman and CEO of CSX." (February 12, 2006)

The Cunning Realist describes him/herself as"[a] lifelong conservative with a strong independent streak" who is an executive in the financial industry with a B.A., and an M.B.A. in International Business from Columbia University.

LASHINSKY: Terry, I think this ganging up on Wayne thing is ...

ROGERS (interrupting): Excuse, excuse me, Dagen, that makes all of those people dumb!!

LASHINSKY: Hold on, Wayne! This thing is very straight forward. As a matter of fact I think that the law preventing foreign - foreigners - from owning US airlines or portions of US airlines is wrong. Look, Wayne, this is very simple! If you want this to be a government function, make it a government function. Run the ports. If you want a company to run the ports, then let a company run the ports. And if you're gonna let a company run the ports, then you can't, you can't call these people our enemies because they're Arabs. They're not! (Rogers turns his head away with a disgusted look then looks back, exasperated.)

KOENIG: Exactly right.

LASHINSKY: So. Change the law. Make it a U.S. government function to run these ports. (McDowell giggles off camera) Until then, you can't say who can and can't own them!

KEENAN: Yet, yet, Jon ....

ROGERS: Well, why not???! It's a question of national security!!! That's why you can say that!! It's a question of national security!!

LASHINSKY: If it's a question of national security, then nationalize them!

McDOWELL: And, Wayne, to Jonathan's point ...

ROGERS (shouting): OK. Fine. Then nationalize it!! But don't let 12 morons who work for the government get up there and make the decision about it. By the way if this is a CIA operation, you certainly can't trust them 'cause they didn't ever find weapons of mass destruction, so who the hell knows about that!! I'm saying you can't allow the government in this stupidity to make a decision like this without the overseeing of Congress and somebody else!!!

McDOWELL (upset, loudly): First, not every person who works in government is a moron and secondly, Jonathan to your point, it's just good business to make sure that this port is secure. That's what this company is going to do. If it's not secure that's not in their best business interest! That's the free market!! Right?

KOENIG: And, I agree with you. I mean, there's two rights here. There's the right of a company to purchase an American asset. A lawful company, Wayne. I'm not talking about selling it to, you know, Mohammed Whatever's brother who is, you know., living on ...

KEENAN: But, Jonathan, the ports are the weakest link in our national security system. It's documented. Why not just let American companies run these ports?

KOENIG: Because, Terry, I don't think an American company is inherently, you know, more or less safe for the ports than a company based anywhere in the Middle East.

McDOWELL: And guess what? We're gonna have ...

KOENIG: If it's terrorists running the ports, we've got a problem here. But it's lawful companies that want to make a buck. That's what this country is about.

McDOWELL (loudly, lapses into a thick Southern accent): And guess what? Jonathan, we're gonna have those good old unionized dock workers still workin' on the docks for this company!!

KEENAN: OK. That'll keep us safe. Thanks, everybody.


Several members of Congress, mostly Democrats, but a few Republicans as well, have indicated that they have reservations about this situation.

According to the February 19th edition of The New York Times:

Dubai Ports World, a state-owned company, is completing its $6.8 billion purchase of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, which operates commercial operations at shipping terminals in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.

The homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, reiterated the Bush administration's defense of the arrangement, saying today that such transactions were closely examined by a committee that includes several federal departments or agencies, including his own, the Treasury Department and the F.B.I. He noted, too, that Dubai is considered an American ally in fighting terrorism.

"We put safeguards in place and assurances in place that make everybody comfortable," Mr. Chertoff told ABC News. But he declined to say what safeguards were being implemented, saying that the matter was classified.

A range of Democrats criticized the port takeover in stinging terms, implying that it showed poor judgment by an administration that has made national security its top priority. They said security at American ports — where only 5 percent of incoming cargo is inspected — is one of the country's biggest vulnerabilities.

Among those Democrats are Sen. Charles Schumer (NY), Sen. Hillary Clinton (NY), Sen. Barbara Boxer (CA), Sen. Richard Menendez (NJ) and Rep. Jane Harman (CA). Several Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC) and Rep. Curt Weldon (PA) have also voiced concerns with the possible UAE takeover.

Here is contact information in the event that you wish to make your opinions known in Washington:

Treasury Secretary John Snow
(No online contact form)
(202) 622-2000
Fax: (202) 622-6415

Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff
Online contact form: http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/contactus
Citizen Line:
Operator Number: 202-282-8000
Comment Line: 202-282-8495

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Online contact form: http://schumer.senate.gov/SchumerWebsite/contact/webform.cfm
(202) 224-6542

Senator Hillary Clinton (NY)
Online contact form: http://clinton.senate.gov/contact/webform.cfm?subj=issue
(202) 224-4451

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Online Contact for: http://lgraham.senate.gov/index.cfm?mode=contactform
(202) 224-5972 phone

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
No online form available.
DC Phone: 202-224-4744
DC Fax: 202-228-2197

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Online contact from: http://boxer.senate.gov/contact/webform.cfm
(202) 224-3553

Representative Jane Harman (D-CA)
Online contact form: http://www.house.gov/harman/emailJane.html
Phone: (202) 225 8220
Fax: (202) 226 7290

Representative Curt Weldon (R-PA)
E-mail: CurtPa07@Mail.House.Gov
Phone: (202) 225-2011
Fax: (202) 225-8137

SPECIAL NOTE: Several typographical errors and Rep. Weldon's E-mail corrected on February 20, 2006 at 7:20 PM EST

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