At today’s White House press briefing, Scott McClellan sought to assure the American public that the UAE’s ties to terrorism had been addressed prior to the ports deal:
This was a transaction that was closely scrutinized by national security experts who are involved in these decisions and by our intelligence community. The intelligence community provided an assessment. The Department of Homeland Security also worked to make sure any national security concerns were addressed, by entering into an agreement with the company and requiring some additional security assurances before it moved forward. But this was a consensus of all the relevant departments and agencies — there are some 12 altogether — that are part of that Committee on Foreign Investment.
But Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) today released an unclassified version of a document showing that the U.S. Coast Guard — located in the Department of Homeland Security — “cautioned the Bush administration that it was unable to determine whether a United Arab Emirates-owned company might support terrorist operations.” From the document:
There are many intelligence gaps, concerning the potential for DPW or P&O assets to support terrorist operations, that precludes an overall threat assessment of the potential merger. … The breadth of the intelligence gaps also infer potential unknown threats against a large number of potential vulnerabilities.
The Bush administration’s defense of the deal continues to unravel.
UPDATE: Here is the Coast Guard memo.
CNN: Now when this report — part of the report was released, Chairwoman Susan Collins said she was very concerned about what it showed. Take a listen.
COLLINS: On the face of it, these unclassified questions and the use of the word “intelligence gaps” that proclude an overall threat assessment of the potential merger and that it involves “potential unknown threats against a large number of potential vulnerabilities.” That language is very troubling to me.