view from mars

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

port security: cronyism at its most horrific


Today Bush inexplicably said:
"After careful review by our government, I believe the [Dubai Ports World] transaction ought to go forward,"
And threatened Congressional obstruction with a veto -- the first exercise of his veto power of his entire presidency.

Kitty-killer Frist said:
"If the administration cannot delay the process, I plan on introducing legislation to ensure that the deal is placed on hold until this decision gets a more thorough review,"
What could possibly be behind this spat between the good (read: evil sociopathic) doctor from Tennessee and Dear Leader?

Oh, it's so juicy.

It turns out that DPW has been involved in some interesting business activity in the past four years.

Let's start with a press release from DPW itself, from back in December 2004:
Dubai Ports International (“DPI”), one of the world’s leading port operators, announces that it has signed a definitive agreement with CSX Corporation (NYSE: CSX) to acquire the international terminal business conducted by CSX World Terminals (“the Company”) and other related interests for a cash consideration of US$1.15 billion, subject to customary adjustments.
[snip]
Michael Ward, Chairman, CSX Corporation:
”On behalf of CSX, I am delighted to join the announcement of the agreement to sell CSX World Terminals to Dubai Ports International. We have been highly impressed with the quality of DPI’s management and believe it will do an excellent job with this important portfolio of assets and terrific team. We look forward to working with DPI through what we expect will be a brief transition to closing.”
DPI became DPW after a reorganization last September.

Ok, so what right? Check this out, from uber-investment-firm The Carlyle Group from February 2003:
CSX Corporation (NYSE: CSX) and The Carlyle Group, a global private equity firm, announced today that they have completed the conveyance of CSX Lines, LLC, from CSX to a venture formed with The Carlyle Group. CSX received $300 million, consisting of $240 million in cash and $60 million of securities issued by the venture.
As part of the transaction announced December 17, 2002, former CSX Lines President and CEO Charles G. (Chuck) Raymond and his management team will lead the Charlotte, N.C.-based ocean carrier, now named Horizon Lines, LLC. Raymond will also chair the board of directors of the company.
Michael J. Ward, CSX chairman and chief executive officer, said, "This is an excellent transaction for CSX, its employees and shareholders. The completion of this conveyance allows us to further concentrate the company’s efforts on our core-rail business while strengthening the balance sheet. At the same time, we are pleased to have a continuing interest in this well-managed company and expect it will continue to produce solid financial results."
Carlyle Managing Director Greg Ledford said, "CSX Lines, which will be renamed Horizon Lines, is an excellent addition to Carlyle’s transportation portfolio. We look forward to working with Chuck Raymond and his team to grow the company and provide superior service to our customers."
Okay let's keep going. There's this from the Guardian back in 2001:
The offices of the Carlyle Group are on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC, midway between the White House and the Capitol building, and within a stone's throw of the headquarters of the FBI and numerous government departments. The address reflects Carlyle's position at the very centre of the Washington establishment, but amid the frenetic politicking that has occupied the higher reaches of that world in recent weeks, few have paid it much attention. Elsewhere, few have even heard of it.
This is exactly the way Carlyle likes it. For 14 years now, with almost no publicity, the company has been signing up an impressive list of former politicians - including the first President Bush and his secretary of state, James Baker; John Major; one-time World Bank treasurer Afsaneh Masheyekhi and several south-east Asian powerbrokers - and using their contacts and influence to promote the group. Among the companies Carlyle owns are those which make equipment, vehicles and munitions for the US military, and its celebrity employees have long served an ingenious dual purpose, helping encourage investments from the very wealthy while also smoothing the path for Carlyle's defence firms.
[snip]
But what sets Carlyle apart is the way it has exploited its political contacts. When Carlucci arrived there in 1989, he brought with him a phalanx of former subordinates from the CIA and the Pentagon, and an awareness of the scale of business a company like Carlyle could do in the corridors and steak-houses of Washington. In a decade and a half, the firm has been able to realise a 34% rate of return on its investments, and now claims to be the largest private equity firm in the world. Success brought more investors, including the international financier George Soros and, in 1995, the wealthy Saudi Binladin family, who insist they long ago severed all links with their notorious relative. The first president Bush is understood to have visited the Binladins in Saudi Arabia twice on the firm's behalf.
That's like just the surface of the bigwigs behind this firm.

Get this, it turns out that our current Secretary of the Treasury, John Snow, used to be CEO of CSX, but right before it was sold to Carlyle.

Enter Dave Sanborn. RawStory has more from a press release from none other than DPW:
Global ports operator DP World today welcomed news that one of its senior executives, Dave Sanborn, has been nominated by US President George W. Bush to serve as Maritime Administrator a key transportation appointment reporting directly to Norman Mineta the Secretary of Transportation and Cabinet Member.
The White House has issued a statement from Washington DC announcing the nomination. The confirmation process will begin in February.
Mr Sanborn currently holds the position of Director of Operations for Europe and Latin America for the Dubai-based company.
Down the rabbit hole we go. Let's step back with this New York Times article from March 5, 2001:
"Carlyle is as deeply wired into the current administration as they can possibly be," said Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit public interest group based in Washington. "George Bush is getting money from private interests that have business before the government, while his son is president. And, in a really peculiar way, George W. Bush could, some day, benefit financially from his own administration's decisions, through his father's investments. The average American doesn't know that and, to me, that's a jaw-dropper."

Indeed.

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