New Ruler of the Information Superhighway
Global Crossing, Enron's evil twin, is
about to be "rescued" by a Chinese billionaire with
ties to the People's Liberation Army.
Why not? He already controls the Panama Canal. Will it
threaten national security to have a Chinese company controlling
the fiber-optic network our defense department uses to
communicate and store data?
That's something we should be asking.
1999, several Republicans on Capitol Hill were worried about the
fact that the Panama Canal had fallen into the hands of the
Chinese. After almost 100 years of US control of this vital port for moving goods and troops around the world, the
time had come to withdraw our troops and give the canal back to
Panama. By that time, Panama had already leased the ports
at both ends of the canal to a Hong Kong company owned by
Chinese billionaire Li Ka-shing in a deal many considered to be
By that time, too, control of Hong Kong was returned from the
British government to the People's Republic of China, making the
Li Ka-shing's company a Chinese company.
It made Trent Lott and a few
others nervous, as it had in 1997 when Hutchison-Whampoa, Li Ka-shing's
company, originally sought to control the ports. That year
Lott wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense William Cohen
saying, "U.S. naval ships will be at the mercy of
Chinese-controlled pilots and could even be denied passage
through the Panama Canal by Hutchinson, an arm of the People's
Liberation Army." Moreover, "the Chinese Communist
Party will gain an intelligence information advantage...."
||Lott and Congressman Dana
Rohrabacher (R-CA) fought vocally against the lease of
the ports, but Li Ka-shing had one important thing going
for him, a lobbyist named Nancy Dorn from Texas.
This seasoned foreign agent had been a Defense
Department official under Ronald Reagan and was
Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil) under George
Bush, Sr. Her responsibilities included matters associated
with the Panama Canal Commission With Li's bankroll and
Nancy's experience, she easily convinced Congress that
Hutchison-Whampoa would be no threat to commerce or
national security and the company secured a 25-year
Nancy Dorn now holds the job of Deputy
Director of the Office of Management and Budget,
appointed by President Bush in December and confirmed in
February. Her job responsibilities are "the
preparation, management and administration of the
||Which brings us to Global
world's most extensive fiber-optic network."
Although Global Crossing's bankruptcy received less
attention, it mirrored the Enron Saga in every way,
right down to the document shredding.
|In July of
last year the company was awarded a $400 million defense
contract to provide "advanced wide area network
Internet service to the Defense Research and Engineering
Network [DREN], which links more than 6,000 scientists
and engineers at defense laboratories, test centers,
universities and industry sites."
The contract was suddenly
pulled away in August, amid security concerns and rumors of influence peddling
during the Clinton administration. Global
Crossing, a larger campaign contributor than Enron,
donated more to Democrats than to Republicans.
After playing golf with President Clinton, Global
Crossing founder Gary Winnick donated a million dollars
to the Clinton Presidential Library. Democratic
National Committee chairman Terry McCauliffe turned a
$100,000 investment in Global Crossing into $18 million.
allegations are under investigation, Congressional
investigators have been ordered not to comment on the
case. Surprisingly, in October DREN quietly announced that
it was reopening
bidding, and that Global Crossing is
still in the running. According to a Washington
Post report in February, things are looking pretty good
for the bankrupted telecommunications giant.
Li Ka-shing, with 79% control of the
company, will get a bargain with plenty of important work lined up to get Global
Crossing back on its feet.