Security agency objected to ports deal

first_img “Security is everybody’s business,” senior vice president Michael Moore told The Associated Press. “We’re going to have a very open mind to legitimate concerns. But anything we can do, any way to improve security, should apply to everybody equally.” The administration approved the ports deal on Jan. 17 after DP World agreed during secret negotiations to cooperate with law enforcement investigations in the future and make other concessions. Some lawmakers have challenged the adequacy of a classified intelligence assessment crucial to assuring the administration that the deal was proper. The report was assembled during four weeks in November by analysts working for the director of national intelligence. The report concluded that U.S. spy agencies were “unable to locate any derogatory information on the company,” according to a person familiar with the document. This person spoke only on condition of anonymity because the report was classified. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and others have complained that the intelligence report focused only on information the agencies collected about DP World and did not examine reported links between UAE government officials and al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden before the 9-11 attacks. The uproar over DP World has exposed how the government routinely approves deals involving national security without the input of senior administration officials or Congress. President Bush, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and even Treasury Secretary John Snow, who oversees the government committee that approved the deal, all say they did not know about the purchase until after it was finalized. The work was done mostly by assistant secretaries. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said discussions among some congressional leaders centered on that issue. “It’s my understanding that they are trying to build support for a deal involving a new 45-day investigation,” he said. King, R-N.Y., said he would need to see all the details of a compromise before deciding if it met all of his concerns, or met the demands of the legislation he planned to offer. Despite persistent criticism from Republicans and Democrats, the president has defended his administration’s approval of the ports deal and threatened to veto any measures in Congress that would block it. Republican House and Senate leaders are to meet Tuesday to discuss how to proceed. The company declined Saturday to discuss any potential compromise that may be in the works. A DP World executive said the company would agree to tougher security restrictions to win congressional support only if the same restrictions applied to all U.S. port operators. The company earlier had struck a more conciliatory stance, saying it would do whatever Bush asked to salvage the agreement. WASHINGTON – The Homeland Security Department objected at first to a United Arab Emirates company’s taking over significant operations at six U.S. ports. It was the lone protest among members of the government committee that eventually approved the deal without dissent. The department’s early objections were settled later in the government’s review of the $6.8 billion deal after Dubai-owned DP World agreed to a series of security restrictions. On Saturday, congressional leaders, the company and Bush administration officials appeared to move closer to a compromise intended to derail plans by Republicans and Democrats for legislation next week that would force a new investigation of security issues relating to the deal. Discussions under way Saturday were to continue through the weekend. Under one proposal being discussed, DP World would seek new approval of the deal from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, given the company’s surprise decision Thursday to indefinitely postpone its takeover of U.S. port operations. Other proposals included a new, intensive 45-day review of the deal by the government – something the White House had refused to consider as recently as Friday. last_img read more

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