Administration won’t reconsider ports deal, adviser says; Sept. 11 commission head says ‘never should have happened’ |

Administration won’t reconsider ports deal, adviser says; Sept. 11 commission head says ‘never should have happened’

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration said Friday it won’t reconsider its approval for a United Arab Emirates company to take over significant operations at six U.S. ports. The former head of the Sept. 11 commission said the deal “never should have happened.”Opponents, including the agency that runs New York and New Jersey ports, took their case to court, while the company, Dubai Ports World, stepped up efforts to change the minds of congressional critics.The president’s national security adviser said the White House would keep trying to persuade lawmakers – there’s more time since the company offered to delay its takeover – but the administration wouldn’t reconsider its approval.”There are questions raised in the Congress, and what this delay allows is for those questions to be addressed on the Hill,” Stephen Hadley said. “There’s nothing to reopen.”Thomas Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey who led the bipartisan probe of the Sept. 11 attacks, said the deal was a big mistake because of past connections between the 2001 hijackers and the UAE.”It shouldn’t have happened, it never should have happened,” Kean said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.The quicker the Bush administration can get out of the deal, the better, he said. “There’s no question that two of the 9/11 hijackers came from there and money was laundered through there,” Kean said.Kean acknowledged the UAE is now being helpful by allowing the United States to dock ships in its country’s waters, and helping the U.S. with intelligence.”From our point of view, we don’t want foreigners controlling our ports,” Kean said. “From their point of view, this is a legitimate company that had a legitimate bid and won, and here are all these congressmen saying all these things about not wanting this company. It looks to them like it’s anti-Arab.””I think this deal is going to be killed,” Kean said. “The question is how much damage is this going to do to us before it’s killed.”Kean’s comments threatened to overshadow moves by the company and the White House to appease critics by delaying the takeover.”Governor Kean knows as much as anyone how risky it is to deal with the United Arab Emirates,” said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and a leading opponent.”This just proves that no real investigation was ever conducted, and it’s unfortunate that he and the other 9/11 commissioners were not contacted before the government approved this.”The former head of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit joined in the criticism.”The fact that you are putting a company in place that could already be infiltrated by al-Qaida is a silly thing to do,” said Mike Scheuer, who headed the CIA unit until 1999.The U.S. operations generating the protests represent about 10 percent of a global $6.8 billion acquisition by the state-run company.Republicans and Democrats in Congress have denounced the Bush administration for approving the deal through a secretive review process designed to protect national security in big corporate mergers.Lawmakers led by King and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., plan to introduce legislation next week that would put the deal on hold while the government conducts further investigation.Hoping to forestall such legislation, Dould postponeits acion indfiongress moretime t look t the dal.ush Pres Secetaynestandin of th facs and thesafguards pace tht they wil be ore comfrtablewith te tn forard. So a slight delaywould b helful in thaa Fridayevn as it amitted isandling te deciion-mking proc tere wa a ailure, we ailed torecogize tere mc reation,’ Trasury SecretaryJohn S”Ton y’stop spoesman, sad this ouldnot necessariy invole cigmembers of a dcisionis reache.Sen. ete Doend uch o the crticism as an anti-Ara bias.agaist terrrists,emo haveforgoten that … Suh alarm,ve hyseria, arm our eforts to hestcoalitio possile agaist wordwideteroriaid.ousethe will ill suppot immdiate lgisa th sale.Rep. TomasReynold, R-N.., a memberof aid h is ‘beginnng to et wat I want, s”Lobyiss for DubaiPortswent toCaptoo bief saffer. Lawmkers said thecompany’ dive tep but not ‘I think te onus til dit, tojusify howthis i cosinaionalsecurityaidRep. Vto Fossell, R-NY.In NewJersey thea of rea port sued to try t block Te Port Athorityof Neerse argud in curt ppers that ubai Prts Wold wa violting it etting onsen for its endig acqisitio of ialsosuing over he sale,urged othe goernors t j Governos of Mayland New Yok and Pee xprb Buh hs aid hetrustshis brothe the pesidetty ssues.–Assocated Pres writer Ka Ted Brdis, Liz Sidti and evlin Barett inWashig

Support Local Journalism