The Bush administration on Thursday rebuffed criticism about potential security risks of a $6.8 billion sale that gives a company in the United Arab Emirates control over significant operations at six major American ports.
Lawmakers asked the White House to reconsider its earlier approval of the deal.
The sale to state-owned Dubai Ports World was "rigorously reviewed" by a U.S. committee that considers security threats when foreign companies seek to buy or invest in American industry, National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones said.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, run by the Treasury Department, reviewed an assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies. The committee's 12 members agreed unanimously the sale did not present any problems, the department said.
"We wanted to look at this one quite closely because it relates to ports," Stewart Baker, an assistant secretary in the Homeland Security Department, told The Associated Press. "It is important to focus on this partner as opposed to just what part of the world they come from. We came to the conclusion that the transaction should not be halted."
The unusual defense of the secretive committee, which reviews hundreds of such deals each year, came in response to criticism about the purchase of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co.Hint: You're only a threat if you're radical and penniless. With the notable exception of wealthy oil heir Osama bin Laden, who we'll be apprehending any day now.
Thanks to Mil Apodos, better known in Amsterdam as El Guapo Loco, for this inflammatory bit of info.
UPDATE: Think Progress has some UAE fun facts. And by fun, I mean troubling. For example: The UAE has been a key transfer point for illegal shipments of nuclear components to Iran, North Korea and Lybia. After 9/11, the Treasury Department reported that the UAE was not cooperating in efforts to track down Osama Bin Laden’s bank accounts.