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MSNBC The Abrams Report - Transcript

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MSNBC The Abrams Report - Transcript

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

ABRAMS: All right. Representative, what am I getting wrong here?

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN ®, FLORIDA: Well I think that it is quite a big difference between a British company that is now the ones in charge, a company, a private company, and that being a British company, than a state run operation, which is what we're talking about. Dubai World Port, this is an organization that is completely controlled and operated by a foreign government.

And you're right. We should have this debate. Whether we want any of our sensitive infrastructure having to do with transportation owned by a foreign entity...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: Explain to me how this is different, for example, than Singapore or China being in charge of ports in California.

ROS-LEHTINEN: Well, I—and we were able to stop one of the transactions that the Chinese did want to buy an operation...

ABRAMS: But they're still running a port, aren't they, in Long Beach...

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... one of the ports in California. And post 9/11, this—the United States has changed radically. And the deals that went on in the past are not...

ABRAMS: I understand.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: OK...

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... they're not going to go on in the future...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: Right.

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... so we are under attack...

ABRAMS: That's your position...

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... by...

ABRAMS: But I just want to get—I want to make sure we have your position straight. Your position is this was a mistake and your position is probably that some of the others were a mistake and that we should now review many of the agreements that we have.

ROS-LEHTINEN: We should—absolutely.

ABRAMS: OK. Fine. Fine.

ROS-LEHTINEN: Absolutely. Post 9/11...

(CROSSTALK)

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... this is a brand new world. We were under attack.

And we've got to look at...

ABRAMS: All right...

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... every transaction carefully.

ABRAMS: That's at least an intellectually consistent...

ROS-LEHTINEN: And I don't know that United Arab Emirates...

ABRAMS: Fine.

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... are to be trusted.

ABRAMS: Fine. That's an intellectually consistent position and I accept that. All right. But Randall Larson, you've told me before that the bottom line is that this is just not a threat because your position is they're not even dealing with security?

RANDALL LARSON, INST. FOR HOMELAND SECURITY: Dan, you know people are entitled to their own opinion. But they're not entitled to their own facts. They are not in control of the ports. They operate the terminals. Let me give you another example. Less than 30 miles from where I'm seated, Saudi Air has a cargo terminal at Dulles Airport. Cargo planes come in here every day from Saudi airlines and it's a terminal operation.

They—all they do is they off-load and they on-load the airplanes. They're not in charge of security at Dulles Airport. We have that at international airports all around the United States and it's no different than these seaports. They're not in charge of the port, just the terminal.

ABRAMS: All right. Representative, what about that?

ROS-LEHTINEN: Well in the specific part, in my area, the port of Miami, what will happen is one part of the terminal will be operated by Dubai World Port and what happens is that even though the decision has to be unanimous, they only have 50 percent of the shares of that terminal. That means that they have veto power.

So no, they're not going to be hiring people. They're not going to be screening people. They're not in charge of security. We will still have all of that customs officials there. But they will have veto power over what happens in that terminal in the port of Miami.

And that makes my constituents very nervous. And all we're saying is let's take a second look. That's why Peter King, the head of Homeland Security...

ABRAMS: Right.

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... Committee, and Denny Hastert are saying let's take a second look...

ABRAMS: Some are saying more than that though...

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... we want to review this...

ABRAMS: Wait.

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... to make sure...

ABRAMS: Some are saying more than let's just take a second look. Some are simply saying the United Arab Emirates shouldn't be running our ports, period.

ROS-LEHTINEN: Well, first of all, they aren't running the ports. And that's—and I agree with the panel member...

ABRAMS: Mr. Larson, yes.

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... that we exaggerate a little bit. But in the specific cases of where they are going to have veto power, about the operations...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: I got to tell you...

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... that is open for debate.

ABRAMS: ... do you really—come on. We wouldn't be having a national debate over veto power...

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... have to be unanimous decision...

ABRAMS: Wait. Wait. We wouldn't be having a national...

ROS-LEHTINEN: Well it would have to be a unanimous decision...

ABRAMS: Wait. Wait. But the reason that...

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... and they have 50 percent of the shares.

ABRAMS: ... the American public is getting freaked out is not because they're going to have veto power over the decision over who run the cranes. The reason...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: ... the American people are getting very concerned is because there are a lot of politicians out there making it sound like our safety and security are at risk because the United Arab Emirates is going to be running our ports.

LARSON: And it's just not true.

ROS-LEHTINEN: I'm not saying that.

LARSON: It's not true, Dan.

ROS-LEHTINEN: I'm saying that what is being changed now in my district, that the port of Miami, not one part of it now is owned 50 percent by any foreign country. For the first time in the port of Miami, a foreign country will control 50 percent...

ABRAMS: But you just said a minute ago that you're OK with England.

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... veto power...

ABRAMS: You said you're OK a minute ago with England.

ROS-LEHTINEN: That is a private company. This is a government. And I think that you need to make the distinction and be intellectually honest yourself, to say that a company and a government are quite different entities.

ABRAMS: There is no...

LARSON: Dan...

ROS-LEHTINEN: We're talking about a state-run...

ABRAMS: Go ahead, Mr. Larson.

LARSON: Does the congresswoman have any problem at Miami International Airport? Foreign airlines that are owned by foreign countries have terminals in those airports. There's no difference.

ROS-LEHTINEN: We have—this is an international city. We have lots of flights internationally coming in and out of Miami. That's quite different than having a foreign government having control over...

ABRAMS: No, but his position is...

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... decisions that are going to be made.

ABRAMS: Wait. His position is...

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... this is veto power...

ABRAMS: ... that these foreign governments—wait. Wait...

ROS-LEHTINEN: I don't understand why you don't see that distinction.

ABRAMS: I'll explain it to you.

ROS-LEHTINEN: We have...

ABRAMS: Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. You asked for an explanation. I'll give it to you, at least what he's saying. What he's saying is these foreign government who's run their airlines in a lot of these foreign countries, their airlines are run by the government. They run...

ROS-LEHTINEN: Dan, nobody is saying...

ABRAMS: Am I wrong, Mr. Larson?

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: Isn't that what you're saying?

LARSON: You're absolutely right. Let stick to the facts...

ROS-LEHTINEN: Absolutely, but that does not mean...

LARSON: And there's no difference between the air operations and the sea operations...

ROS-LEHTINEN: Are you telling me that in Miami International Airport, there is a foreign government that has a veto power over decisions that are going to be made at the airport? That's absolutely not true. I mean you're stretching...

LARSON: And they don't have veto power in your port either.

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... the argument so much just to make your debate. It is just not true.

ABRAMS: But see...

ROS-LEHTINEN: It is far more than just landing rights in an airport.

ABRAMS: But Mr. Larson, what about that? I mean look, are you now the

same way you claim that others are overstating it. Are you understating it

by making that comparison?

LARSON: No.

ABRAMS: Explain to me why.

LARSON: And I just want (UNINTELLIGIBLE) facts. Two nights ago I was on with you, Dan, and Peter King, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee said midlevel bureaucrats approved this. It was 12 deputy secretaries. The deputy secretary of defense and energy and the state and the deputy attorney general and it was a unanimous vote that this is not a security risk.

ROS-LEHTINEN: Well that's fine. I mean if we want to say...

ABRAMS: Yes.

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... trust the government. They made the right decision. I believe in congressional oversight.

ABRAMS: All right. Well...

ROS-LEHTINEN: I believe that a deal this important...

ABRAMS: And I don't think Mr. Larson has any problem with that...

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... affecting six major ports needs hearings.

ABRAMS: All right.

ROS-LEHTINEN: How about a few hearings...

ABRAMS: All right.

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... like Alice in Wonderland?

ABRAMS: Let's just be...

ROS-LEHTINEN: The verdict first...

ABRAMS: ... that's fine.

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... and then maybe a little trial.

ABRAMS: Let's just be careful not to misstate the issue. And I'm afraid that a lot of people—I'm not saying you are because I think you've been very clear about your position. There are a lot of people out there who are misstating the issue and claiming that the United Arab Emirates is going to be running security and is going to be dealing...

ROS-LEHTINEN: I agree. That's not true...

ABRAMS: ... with all the issues of security at the ports in the United States, and Mr. Larson was very vocal a couple nights ago. He's being vocal again. and I know you're not saying that, but I just want to make it clear to my viewers when they're evaluating...

ROS-LEHTINEN: No. All I'm asking is congressional oversight.

ABRAMS: ... this issue. All right. We shall see.

ROS-LEHTINEN: And I congratulate Peter King...

ABRAMS: All right.

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... and Speaker Hastert for saying...

ABRAMS: All right. All right...

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... we need to review this...

ABRAMS: All right. Congressional oversight again.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: That's not the issue that's getting America up in an uproar. It's not the issue of congressional oversight. It is the idea of safety and security...

LARSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) debate the facts, Dan.

ABRAMS: I know. Let's debate. Representative and Randall Larson, thank you so much for coming on the program.

LARSON: Thank you.

ABRAMS: Appreciate it.

LARSON: You bet you.

ROS-LEHTINEN: Thank you.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11520315/

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