And so did the Pentagon, Homeland Security and the Coast Guard, but they were overruled by proven traitor Karl Rove.
At least three security agencies raised objections to a takeover by a United Arab Emirates state-owned company of the operations of six major U.S. ports.
Congressional sources said the Defense Department, Homeland Security Department and Coast Guard expressed objections during the review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States of the state-owned Dubai Ports World, which bought the British-owned Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. P&O has managed port operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Miami, Philadelphia and New Orleans.
“All of the rules were bent on this one,” a congressional source said. “We had a major security review managed by political appointees.”
But most of the objections were not recorded in the proceedings of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the sources said. They said the objections remained off the record for “technical reasons.” Later, the heads of some of the agencies denied that their representatives raised concerns.
But the sources said Pentagon representatives voiced concern and objections to the deal in what was termed an unofficial manner. In some cases, the sources said, the Pentagon agreed not to place the objections in the CFIUS record.
“Dubai can’t be trusted with our critical infrastructure,” said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, who usually echoes the Pentagon’s position. “UAE officials have been instrumental in the trans-shipment of nuclear materials and weapons of mass destruction components.”
At one point, Homeland Security voted against the DP World application, the sources said. But they said the department’s representative, Stewart Baker, agreed to change his vote after DP World pledged to honor additional undetermined security measures.
In contrast, the Coast Guard raised the prospect that DP World could not be trusted with running U.S. ports. An unclassified assessment by the Coast Guard in late 2005 said insufficient information was known about DP World and its links to al Qaeda sympathizers.
Still, the objections by the Coast Guard and other agencies did not delay the review of DP World by the CFIUS. The sources said that under political pressure, the committee did not follow its usual rule of ordering a 45-day review reserved for a foreign takeover.
“I am more convinced than ever that the process was truly flawed,” said Ms. Collins, Maine Republican. “I can only conclude that there was a rush to judgment, that there wasn’t the kind of painstaking, thorough analysis that needed to be done, despite serious questions being raised and despite the involvement of a wide variety of agencies.”
The sources said investigators have already determined that DP World would take orders from the Dubai government. They said the UAE firm has cooperated with Dubai’s boycott of Israel, which is a violation of U.S. law.
Congress plans to examine several aspects of the proposed deal. One was whether DP World or its sponsors in the Dubai emirate were linked to al Qaeda or other terrorist groups. Another was the source of the financing for the $6.8 billion DP World takeover of P&O.
Investigators also intend to examine the role of David Sanborn, who was appointed administrator of the Maritime Administration of the Transportation Department. Mr. Sanborn, termed a leading campaigner for President Bush, was a former senior DP World executive appointed to his government position on Jan. 17, the same day the CFIUS approved the takeover of U.S. ports by the Dubai firm.
“Sanborn does leg work for [White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl] Rove,” a congressional source said. “We believe he was the key to the unqualified White House backing for the takeover deal.”
The Senate Commerce Committee plans to summon Mr. Sanborn to discuss his role in the DP World deal. At least two senators have pledged to block Mr. Sanborn’s nomination unless he cooperates with investigators.
Another target of the congressional investigation could be Treasury Secretary John Snow. Mr. Snow, who oversees CFIUS, was the former head of CSX, which sold its port operations to DP World in 2004.
At the same time, the Senate Armed Services Committee plans to order an evaluation by the U.S. intelligence community of the United Arab Emirates. The Bush administration, warning of a backlash from the UAE, has opposed such an evaluation.