February 3, 2008

Duncan Hunter Has Raised the National Security Alarm Over Mitt Romney. So Where Is the Scrutiny?

Filed under: Business Moves,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:57 am

Duncan Hunter was little more than a cipher in the 2008 race for the GOP presidential nomination.

That doesn’t change the fact that he he has served his country honorably, both in Vietnam and as a congressman since 1981.

Many observers scratched their heads when Hunter ended his presidential ambitions two weeks ago. Of all the people he might have been expected to endorse, he backed Mike Huckabee.

Why not John McCain? Why not Fred? Why not Objectively Unfit Mitt Romney?

Thompson’s easy: It was clear on January 19 when Hunter withdrew that Fred’s South Carolina showing was the end of the line.

McCain? The differences on immigration were probably too great, and McCain-Feingold didn’t help.

But it’s the reason that Mitt Romney didn’t get Duncan Hunter’s endorsement that deserves greater scrutiny (actually, it would be nice if it got ANY scrutiny).

Late last year, Hunter raised serious alarm over a business deal Mitt Romney’s “former” company, Bain Capital, wants to do that, if approved, has the potential to seriously compromise national security.

“Former” is in quotes in the previous paragraph because, though he likes to feign dissociation, Mitt Romney is still invested in many of Bain’s various entities. The New York Times reported it. When it was on his web site (attempts to locate it today were unsuccessful), the Romney campaign’s extract of the Times’s article conveniently snipped that fact. Though his time at Bain is in Romney’s bio, it doesn’t tell readers that he’s still an investor. Romney’s Personal Financial Disclosure form (PDF is accessible at link), while flawed in several ways, nevertheless confirms that Romney and his family are still heavily invested in Bain, to the tune of many millions of dollars, and perhaps tens of millions.

Here’s what Hunter objected to on November 2 (backup link here for future reference; bolds are mine):

San Diego, CA – - – Presidential candidate and current Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Duncan Hunter, today called on former Governor Mitt Romney to send a “clear statement” to the leadership of the company he founded, Bain Capital, to terminate a proposed business deal with a controversial Chinese corporation seeking to acquire U.S. defense contractor 3COM. Bain Capital is attempting to form a business arrangement with Huawei Corporation, a Chinese corporation founded by an officer of the Peoples Liberation Army of Communist China, which faces allegations of assisting Saddam Hussein in the targeting of U.S. aircraft and in helping the Taliban develop surveillance equipment.

“I am extremely concerned that Governor Romney’s company would tout a highly suspect Chinese corporation as a strategic partner,” stated Hunter. “Forming a business partnership with a corporation known to have direct ties with terrorists and dictators while, at the same time, openly seeking to acquire a major U.S. corporation that performs vital cyber security work for the Department of Defense, can only be characterized as irresponsible.”

A resolution has been introduced in Congress, H.Res. 730, which states; “The preponderance of publicly available evidence clearly suggests that as currently structured, the proposed transaction involving Huawei threatens the national security of the United States and should not be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.” A copy of this resolution is provided.

“….. while the Committee on Foreign Investment has yet to rule on the Huawei transaction, this corporation’s connection to Saddam Hussein, the Taliban and the Army of Communist China should clearly disqualify them from becoming, in the words of your former company, “a strategic partner” in acquiring a U.S. firm such as 3COM, which performs vital cyber-security work for the U.S. Department of Defense.

“This letter is a request that you immediately issue a statement of policy that this transaction should be terminated on the grounds of national security. Please let me know what you intend to do.”

Unless I’ve missed it, neither Mitt Romney nor his campaign have responded to Hunter’s concerns. Separate searches on “3com” and “Huawei” at mittromney.com come up empty.

In late September at theWeekly Standard, Irwin Stelzer expressed alarm at the prospect of the deal going through:

True, free trade is great–when dealing with other parties who are in it for the same thing–to make money. But that ain’t the name of the game these days. Now we have a company that must answer to the Chinese government picking up a piece of an American company, 3Com, that–get this–makes “intrusion prevention” technology that helps the Defense Department, among other clients, protect itself from hackers.

True, the Chinese company, Huawei Technologies, will be a minority shareholder. But it–and one must assume any Chinese government official who asks for Huawei’s cooperation–will have access to the books, financial records and any other company documents that they might find useful. Remember: The Pentagon is convinced that the Chinese Peoples’ Liberation Army hackers were the perpetrators of a massive cyber-attack on it just a few weeks ago.

….. One can only hope that Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson reads up on his Adam Smith, no protectionist he. Smith warned that when national security is at stake, free trade takes a distant second place as a national priority. The great Scot is, as usual, as relevant to our day as he was when he wrote The Wealth of Nations 230 years ago.

Stelzer did mention Bain’s involvement, but not Romney’s already-documented, still-existing investments in Bain.

Yes, I know that 3Com and Huawei have been in a joint venture for over four years. But the scope of that arrangement has only involved enterprise networking, and, from all appearances, has had nothing to do with any national security technology 3Com possesses. It may be that Huawei thought it might gain access to national defense secrets in the joint venture setup, and has been frustrated in its attempts to do so — hence the need to buy into 3Com to get around that problem.

Hunter’s press release alluded to the fact that he isn’t the only member of Congress raising national security flags:

Huawei-3Com Deal Threatens US Security: Lawmakers
October 15, 2007

Eight U.S. lawmakers called on the Bush administration on Monday to block a proposed buyout of Massachusetts-based technology group 3Com saying a Chinese company’s role in the $2.2 billion transaction “threatens the national security of the United States.”

Led by Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the House of Representatives members are backing a measure that says the 3Com deal should not be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a federal inter-agency panel that reviews international takeovers.

Coming at a time of growing tension over Chinese imports and corporate expansion, the House measure is a nonbinding resolution that would not have the force of law if passed.

But Ros-Lehtinen, the senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement: “It would be a grave error for U.S. regulators to approve a deal that permits minority ownership in 3Com by one of the least transparent companies operating in China, a firm with shadowy ties to Chinese army and intelligence services.”

If a deal like this sounds familiar, it should. Go back to the 1990s (Washington Post compilation):

The Clinton administration between 1993 and 1996 allowed numerous exports of potential ballistic-missile technology to the Chinese government despite China’s refusal, in some instances, to allow inspections to assure that the technology was only being used for civilian purposes, according to classified documents and four U.S. government officials.

Ah yes. “The good old days.” The talk-radio airwaves were filled with discussions of and diatribes about Loral, Bernie Schwarz, Hughes Aircraft, Bill Clinton, campaign contributions, and the Cox Report.

I have yet to hear, or hear of, any talk-radio luminaries who couldn’t say enough about the Clinton-China matters in the 1990s uttering one word about Huawei-3Com-Bain-Romney. People connected to Bill Clinton weren’t able to compromise national security until Slick Willie assumed office. People connected with Slick Willard are trying to get in on the game even before their guy is elected.

Imagine how much “fun” they might have if Mitt Romney gets into the Oval Office. Imagine how much less secure we might be.

His investments with Bain, and, in turn, Bain’s investments in the likes of Huawei, and in Russian and Chinese oil companies doing billions of dollars of business with Iran, should cause anyone concerned with our long-term survival to wonder whether Romney’s loyalties are really to the US, first and foremost.

So where are Rush, Laura, Sean, Glenn, Mark Levin, and all the others when we need them?

Positivity: Medical Marvel Pat Rummerfield

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:55 am

From Baltimore:

Sunday, January 27, 2008; W08

Doctors can’t explain why Pat Rummerfield is able to run marathons and race cars. Even so, there are scores of quadriplegics who long to follow in his footsteps.

He ducks into a side room where Robby Beckman is immersed in a tank of chest-high water. At the bottom of the tank is a wide rubber belt that scrolls like a treadmill. Thanks to the buoyant properties of the Hydro Track, Beckman can practice ambulating on his own. Keep those heels down. Don’t drag the toes on that right foot. It’s tough going, like wading through melted caramel.

Beckman broke his neck in an Ocean City diving accident during the summer of 2003. In an instant, he became a quadriplegic. Catapulted into a wheelchair at age 19, he was told that’s where he’d forever remain. Yet here he is on a March morning almost four years later walking in water, which for him seems almost as remarkable as dancing upon it.

Rummerfield, a senior staff member at the spinal cord center, watches Beckman struggle to keep his legs moving. To take Beckman’s mind off his aching muscles, Rummerfield asks about a ski trip Beckman recently took with a group of disabled athletes.

“Any crashes?”

“I just fell on my face a lot,” says Beckman, who sat on a monoski to whiz down the mountain. “It was awesome! Being on the edge of out-of-control.”

In a place where people move mostly in slow motion, the conversation turns to speed. “Mr. Pat, I bet there’s nothing like the adrenaline of being behind the wheel and going 200 miles an hour!” Beckman exclaims. He knows that Rummerfield has competed in a few minor NASCAR races and holds a world speed record set in 1999 on the Bonneville Salt Flats: 245.5 mph clocked in an electric car. Those accomplishments only hint at what his presence in this room means to Beckman, who, in private, calls Rummerfield “more or less the person I want to be.”

Rummerfield, 54, is himself a quadriplegic, injured in a high-speed car crash decades ago. You would never guess that without reading his medical chart. Even then, you wouldn’t know he has run marathons and completed triathlons in addition to his auto racing exploits. Along the way, Rummerfield has overcome five knee operations, broken legs and fractured ankles. He doesn’t walk with a limp, never uses a cane and is modest of both build and demeanor. In short, the most ordinary of extraordinary men.

Rummerfield often is described as the world’s most fully functioning quadriplegic, meaning he copes with severe loss of function in his arms and legs. (Paraplegics, as a rule, are affected only from the chest down.) “He’s missing two-thirds of his spinal column,” notes John McDonald, director of Kennedy Krieger’s spinal center. “If you lined up 10 people’s MRIs that look identical to Pat’s, nine would be in wheelchairs.”

By any reasonable definition, Rummerfield qualifies as a medical miracle. That poses some beguiling questions. Is he a lone Lazarus, or can his comeback be replicated on a grand scale? Contrary to conventional wisdom, are spinal cord injuries curable?

McDonald believes they are. He’s the neurologist who the late actor Christopher Reeve believed would help him conquer his paralysis. He’s a very vocal proponent of the notion that repetitive exercise — so-called activity-based therapy — can revive damaged muscles and nerve endings, can replace blown fuses that disrupt the mind-body spinal connection. “What if people have the same ability to regenerate as reptiles?” he asks.

Indeed, McDonald insists that someday as many as 75 percent of paraplegics and quadriplegics will regain the ability to walk — and that Pat Rummerfield is pointing the way toward a previously unimaginable future. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.