The bad news is that the United States, with only 4 percent of global petroleum reserves, uses fully 25 percent of the world’s petroleum each year.
That imbalance translates into approximately $250,000 per minute that U.S. consumers are sending overseas to buy foreign oil, $360 million per day, $131 billion a year — money that’s flowing in large part to the type of countries that a smart person wouldn’t trust to run our ports.
Former CIA director James Woolsey points to the clear danger: “Two-thirds of the world’s oil reserves are in the Persian Gulf and as time goes on, the world is going to rely more on the Gulf, rather than less, and you can’t bet on this part of the world making a smooth, easy path that will allow all of us to happily continue to drive our SUVs and use that part of the world as our filling station.”
Worse, you can’t bet that the billions of dollars we’re sending to that part of the world for oil imports won’t be used to develop an arsenal that will threaten much more than our SUVs.
All told, we’re sending approximately $30 billion a year to Persian Gulf countries for oil purchases, including nearly $20 billion to Saudi Arabia, the home of 15 of the 19 al-Qaeda-trained terrorists who hijacked the four American jetliners on Sept. 11.
An additional key player in the international oil market, controlling nearly 10 percent of the world’s proven reserves, is the United Arab Emirates, the departure point during the spring and summer of 2001 of 13 of the 19 hijackers in the Sept. 11 attack.
“Since the September 11 attacks, the FBI has said the money for the strikes was transferred to the hijackers primarily through the UAE’s (United Arab Emirates) banking system, and much of the operational planning for the attacks took place inside the UAE,” reports the Associated Press. “After the attacks, U.S. Treasury Department officials complained about a lack of cooperation by the UAE and other Arab countries in trying to track Osama bin Laden’s bank accounts.”
Marwan al-Shehhi, born in the United Arab Emirates, the son of a Muslim cleric, was the suicide pilot who crashed United Flight 175 into the second World Trade Center tower. With Mohamed Atta, he applied in July 2000 to take piloting lessons at Huffman Aviation in Venice, Florida, saying he wanted to be a commercial pilot in the United Arab Emirates.
Fifteen months before Mohamed Atta and al-Shehhi enrolled at Huffman Aviation, the CIA was told by German intelligence officials of al-Shehhi’s contacts with al-Qaeda. “In March 1999, German intelligence officials gave the Central Intelligence Agency the first name and telephone number of Marwan al-Shehhi and asked the Americans to track him,” reported James Risen and Eric Lichtblau in the New York Times in 2004. “The name and phone number in the United Arab Emirates had been obtained by the Germans by monitoring the telephone of Mohamed Heidar Zammar, an Islamic militant in Hamburg who was closely linked to the important al-Qaeda plotters who ultimately mastermined the September 11 attacks, German officials said.”
Six months to the day after Marwan al-Shehhi and Mohamed Atta crashed the planes into the World Trade Center, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) notified Huffman Aviation that the two previously-enrolled men had been approved for a change in their visa status, allowing them to enroll in the school’s $27,300 professional pilot program that ran from September 2000 until September 2001.
Former INS District Director Tom Fischer said the visa letters represented “a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing.”
Similarly, regarding hands that are out of sync, senior German intelligence officials report that they got no response from the United States regarding the March 1999 information they passed to the CIA about Marwan al-Shehhi until after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Bottom line, the United Arab Emirates didn’t spot the terrorism launched from its own territory against the United States, the CIA didn’t get its guy even after being handed his name and phone number, the INS didn’t get it right even after the World Trade Center had been blown to smithereens, and now the White House has appointed a senior executive of the UAE-controlled Dubai Ports World, David Sanborn, to be the new administrator of the Maritime Administration of the Transportation Department.