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CNN Paula Zahn Now - Transcript

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CNN Paula Zahn Now - Transcript

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COLLINS: Well, Dana Bash, we know you will be watching it from Washington for us.

Dana, thank you.

BASH: Thank you.

COLLINS: A lot of Republicans and Democrats in Congress want to stop this deal.

So, let's turn to the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. And that is Republican Peter King of New York.

Representative King, administration officials have shared details of this sale with you -- of course, it is classified information -- that has assured them all is safe.

What convinces you, though, that the deal is still not a very good one U.S. security?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: First of all, Heidi, as you were discussing, UAE, the United Arab Emirates, at best, has a very checkered record, when it comes to fighting terrorism.

And there is nothing in there, despite what Secretary Chertoff says -- I have heard the conditions that have been imposed. And they are not enough to protect us, unless we know for certain that this company is free of terrorism, that it has no risks at all. And there is no way we can know that, because there was no thorough investigation whatsoever.

The fact is, this was a cursory investigation. It was conducted in a matter of a few days. It was treated as any other business transaction. There was -- and all they looked for, as far as the background of this company, was, did the intelligence community have anything on record, anything on file against them?

There was no investigation. There was no analysis. There was no vetting. If you or I were appointed to even a sub-Cabinet post in the administration, we would be subjected to much more investigation that this company, in a $7 billion deal, got.

COLLINS: Well, DPW will not be the owners of the port, though, nor will they be solely in charge of security.

The Department of Homeland Security and local authorities have primary oversight on that. And foreign companies have actually been running ports for years. Is this really about the fact that it is an Arab-owned company?

KING: It's not that it is an Arab-owned company. The fact is that it is a country which has a very strong al Qaeda presence. Prior to September 11, the United Arab Emirates was one of only three nations in the entire world which recognized the Taliban as a legitimate government in Afghanistan. As you heard, two of the hijackers were of UAE ancestry.

There has been terrorist financing going through the country. I know, from people in the aviation industry, that there were ticket agencies in Dubai, where the hijackers bought large numbers of tickets.

COLLINS: Right.

KING: They were laundered through there.

So, this any -- this is not any Arab country. It's not just a foreign country. It is a country with a strong al Qaeda presence. And there is no assurance we have that that presence will not be part of the company.

COLLINS: All right.

Well, before we let you go, let's talk, for a moment, about overall port security. We still screen only a small portion of the cargo that comes through each day. How safe should we be feeling at this point?

KING: Well, they are safer than at 9/11.

You know, they say that only 5 percent is actually tested. But a good number of the cargo -- a very high percentage of the cargo is actually screened overseas, and it' monitored.

So, it -- listen, we have a long way to go. But it is far better than some of the critics say.

COLLINS: Some progress there, then.

Representative Peter King, thank you.

In just a moment...

KING: Thank you, Heidi.

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http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0602/20/pzn.01.html

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