Media largely ignored Rep. King's allegation that Bush admin. skipped terrorism investigation during initial ports deal review

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

Most major print and broadcast media outlets offered no coverage of House Homeland Security Committee chairman Peter King's March 1 claim that there was "no investigation into terrorism whatsoever" during the Bush administration's initial review of the proposed deal that would allow Dubai Ports World (DPW) to assume control of terminal operations at six major U.S. ports.

Most major print and broadcast media outlets offered no coverage of House Homeland Security Committee chairman Peter King's (R-NY) March 1 claim that there was "no investigation into terrorism whatsoever" during the Bush administration's initial review of the proposed deal that would allow Dubai Ports World (DPW) -- a company owned by the government of Dubai, a United Arab Emirates member state -- to assume control of terminal operations at six major U.S. ports.

The DPW ports deal was initially reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), an interagency group that oversees foreign acquisition of U.S. assets. The duration of the initial CFIUS review has been disputed. On March 1, King was interviewed by CNN congressional correspondent Ed Henry, and excerpts of that interview were first aired on the 4 p.m. ET edition of CNN's The Situation Room, and were replayed on CNN throughout the evening. From King's CNN interview:

KING [video clip]: I'm saying there was no investigation, there was no real investigation conducted during that 30-day period. I'm hoping there will be a real one during this 45 days, but when I hear the administration say they're going to use the 45 days to educate the Congress and let us know exactly what happened, they should be educating themselves.

They should be doing the investigation they should have done during the first 30 days, when there should have been an automatic 45- day investigation. I can't emphasize enough, there's been no investigation into terrorism whatsoever on this contract.

As Media Matters for America has noted, a 1993 amendment to the Exon-Florio provision -- the law that established CFIUS -- requires an additional 45-day investigation if "the acquirer is controlled by or acting on behalf of a foreign government" and the acquisition "could result in control of a person engaged in interstate commerce in the U.S. that could affect the national security of the U.S."

Fox News reported on comments King made that were similar to those he made on CNN.

From the March 1 edition of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson:

MAJOR GARRETT (correspondent): Hello, and good afternoon, John. The top House Republican on the Homeland Security Committee told Fox this afternoon that the Bush administration's first review of the ports deal was, in his words, "slipshod, dealing with dollars and cents, not national security."

KING [video clip]: This was primarily business, primarily commercial, with very, very little, if not any, emphasis on terrorism.

From the March 1 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:

GARRETT: Other Republicans described the administration's initial investigation of the ports deal as reckless.

KING [video clip]: The intelligence community's investigation of this was severely limited and restricted, and did not in any way involve questions regarding terrorism.

The March 2 edition of the Los Angeles Times reprinted a March 2 Baltimore Sun article that quoted King from his CNN interview saying there was "no investigation into terrorism whatsoever." The March 2 editions of The Washington Post, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal did not cover King's comments. The March 2 New York Times did not report King's allegation, despite identifying him as "a leading critic of the deal" and quoting him commenting on claims by Al Qaeda that the group's operatives had infiltrated Dubai's government. The Associated Press, Reuters, MSNBC, ABC News, CBS News, and NBC News also ignored King's comments.

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