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Thursday, Mar 23, 2006, 8:54 pm

sheer genius: how Bush will make the Dubai ports deal look like a wise move

By Brian Zick
Well, y'know, like, by comparison to something likely to get the American public riled so much more. Such as jobbing out cargo inspection for nuclear materials, to a foreign company that U.S. military intelligence once identified as a potential weapons smuggling risk, and whose US business the Bush administration itself previously blocked for reasons of national security concern.

Ted Bridis and John Solomon report for AP: U.S. Hiring Hong Kong Co. to Scan Cargo

WASHINGTON - In the aftermath of the Dubai ports dispute, the Bush administration is hiring a Hong Kong conglomerate to help detect nuclear materials inside cargo passing through the Bahamas to the United States and elsewhere.

The administration acknowledges the no-bid contract with Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. represents the first time a foreign company will be involved in running a sophisticated U.S. radiation detector at an overseas port without American customs agents present.
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While President Bush recently reassured Congress that foreigners would not manage security at U.S. ports, the Hutchison deal in the Bahamas illustrates how the administration is relying on foreign companies at overseas ports to safeguard cargo headed to the United States.
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Three years ago, the Bush administration effectively blocked a Hutchison subsidiary from buying part of a bankrupt U.S. telecommunications company, Global Crossing Ltd., on national security grounds.

And a U.S. military intelligence report, once marked "secret," cited Hutchison in 1999 as a potential risk for smuggling arms and other prohibited materials into the United States from the Bahamas.

Hutchison's port operations in the Bahamas and Panama "could provide a conduit for illegal shipments of technology or prohibited items from the West to the PRC (People's Republic of China), or facilitate the movement of arms and other prohibited items into the Americas," the now-declassified assessment said.
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