Friday, February 24, 2006

Malkin on the ports and CFIUS

Michelle Malkin argues that the CFIUS process is a "rubber stamp" and complains about the fact that financing for the Dubai Ports World acquisition of P&O was underwritten by Barclay's and Dubai Islamic Bank, which were "both cited as probable conduits for bin Laden money."

This latter point, at least with regard to Barclay's, is about as meaningful as claiming that Verizon Wireless is linked to terrorism because a terrorist used a Verizon Wireless phone, and arguing on that basis that Verizon should not be allowed to conduct business in the United States. Barclay's is a global banking and investment company headquartered in London's Docklands, operating the fourth largest bank in the UK.

On the former point, the CFIUS investigation I am most familiar with involved a fairly extensive review, the rejection of one potential acquirer (the application was withdrawn and resubmitted without that acquirer, so doesn't count as a CFIUS rejection), and the implementation of significant and ongoing security restrictions and review prior to approval. It wasn't a rubber stamp, though it did seem clear that most of the government agencies involved were pretty clueless about the technical details (with the exception of the representatives from the NSA and some from the DOD, who were very sharp), and the government ended up outsourcing most of the ongoing oversight of the deal to a D.C.-area private contractor after the acquisition was completed.

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