Ex-Homeland Security official urges Congress to kill security deal

| 4/4/2006

Former Homeland Security Inspector General Clark Kent Ervin told Congress it would be wise to stop a deal that would give a Hong Kong-based company control over the inspection of cargo heading into the U.S. through the Bahamas.

The National Journal reported that Ervin, speaking on a Congressional panel to debate maritime security on Monday, April 3, said the deal is a threat to national security because the company – Hutchison Whampoa – has close ties to China, “a potentially hostile government.”

Ervin, who is now head of the Aspen Institute’s homeland security program, told the panel that this new deal hasn’t received enough public attention compared to the response earlier this year to the deal that would have given a Dubai company control over key operations at 21 U.S. ports.

The National Journal reported that, thus far, the Hong Kong deal has only drawn fire from a few Democrats and newspaper editorials, but not from Republicans.

However, the National Nuclear Security Administration, which is finalizing the contract, said it had to give it to Hutchison because that company is the only terminal operator in the Bahamas.