HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
DUNCAN HUNTER – CHAIRMAN
For Immediate Release: April 12, 2006 Contact: Josh Holly (202) 225-2539
Why Critical Infrastructure Must Remain in American Hands
By: U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
We’re in an age that unites terrorism and technology. So, we must critically examine ’s vulnerabilities, especially those in our infrastructure—such as in our ports and power plants—where disasters would paralyze commerce or imperil populations.
Unfortunately there’s no perfect protection against attack. Therefore, vigilance is paramount—especially regarding who controls our nation’s critical infrastructure. Which is why I introduced the National Defense Critical Infrastructure Protection Act to ensure that critical national security assets remain in the hands of reliable, American-controlled companies.
Among its provisions, the proposed legislation requires that the Secretary of Defense, consulting with the Secretary of Homeland Security, maintain a list of assets so vital that their incapacity or destruction would cripple our ability to maintain national security, economic security or public safety. Further, American citizens must manage and control sensitive or classified aspects of the national defense critical infrastructure. Appropriate authorities must also search 100 percent of inbound cargo—and oversight responsibility must be elevated to port and border-control leadership.
Ensuring American control of key assets isn’t new. For example, businesses that perform classified work for the Department of Defense must have an American CEO and outside directors who are citizens, and who cannot be removed except with DoD’s permission—as safeguards. In domestic airlines, citizens must comprise top management. And existing regulations lessen risks posed by foreign investment in telecommunications sectors. Indeed, there are many examples of foreign investments in corporations that leave management intact. Despite what critics say about the economic impact of such measures, has long been foreign investment’s favorite destination—perhaps because we take measures to ensure a safe, stable society.
Our future security rests on this tradition: national security, not simple economic opportunity, comes first. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States apparently forgot this when it okayed a deal to shift terminal operations in major ports to government-controlled Dubai Ports World—and overlooked facts like these: In 2003—over U.S. protests—customs officials in the United Arab Emirates (of which Dubai is a member) allowed Dubai to transship 66 high-speed electrical switches, which can be used to detonate nuclear weapons. Dubai also rejected requests to inspect containers holding the switches.
Dubai ’s track record somehow passed muster with CFIUS. As such, CFIUS let the President down. Accordingly, the legislation mandates written notification to the Administration of mergers, acquisitions, or takeovers that may be subject to CFIUS review or investigation.
The drive to globalization shouldn’t dupe us into letting down our guard regarding critical American assets and infrastructure. If that makes me a protectionist, as critics say—I’ll say it again: is worth protecting.