Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The ports 'promise-letter' that wasn't

By Aussiegirl

Oops - looks like those reassurances that convinced the Coast Guard to give its approval to the ports deal turned out to be paper thin -- one letter of bland and general statements revealing virtually nothing. Here's part of the editorial from the Washington Times:

The ports 'promise letter' that wasn't�-�Editorials/Op-Ed�-�The Washington Times, America's Newspaper

This week, Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican, released an unclassified excerpt of a Coast Guard memorandum revealing that the Coast Guard saw significant gaps in knowledge about Dubai Ports World. The company's operational and personnel matters, plus the possibility of foreign influence, were too scantily known to make a real judgment, the agency said back in December. The Coast Guard somewhat suspiciously changed its position this week. In Mrs. Collins' hearings on the matter, one key question was: Why did the Coast Guard change its mind?

According to both Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte and Assistant Homeland Security Secretary Stewart Baker, a "letter of assurance" from the United Arab Emirates firm was the reason. This letter would provide information on personnel, operations and foreign influence as the U.S. government requests it, they said -- and this was enough to satisfy the Coast Guard.
It turns out the letter in question doesn't even address the Coast Guard's concerns. It contains bland reassurances and mentions of previously disclosed participation in U.S. government security programs. Said Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican and Homeland Security Committee chairman, in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Tuesday: "[A] careful review of the 'assurances letter' reveals that DP World is not, in fact, bound to provide the U.S. government with the information it would need to close the intelligence gaps the Coast Guard identified...The language is weak... Indeed, the assurances appear to amount to little more than a restatement of what the FBI or other law enforcement agenc[ies] could gather anyway in the course of an investigation."


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