Gulftainer Scandal Connects Obama, the Clintons and the Media
By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media
In a recent column, I challenged the notion that the Obama administration has been scandal free. This has been the assertion, most recently, of Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, in a softball interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. The media have covered for the multiple scandals that have occurred right under their noses, and this is nothing less than willful blindness. It has applied to the Obama administration, the Clinton Foundation and recent presidential campaign, as well as going back to the Clinton administration. One largely overlooked scandal that ties together the Clintons, Barack Obama and the media’s willful blindness is the Gulftainer scandal.
This clear case of malfeasance comes at the expense of national security and American safety. As we reported in 2015, a United Arab Emirates subsidiary company, Gulftainer USA, was granted a lease “at the vital national security hub of Port Canaveral, Florida.” Now a recent Occasional Paper from the Center for Security Policy (CSP) shows that Gulftainer’s parent company, The Crescent Group, is connected to Iraq’s illicit nuclear program, and may have benefited from associations with the Obamas and Clintons. CSP has done an excellent job connecting these very disturbing dots.
Hamid Jafar is the founder and chairman of the Crescent group of companies, according to the Crescent Petroleum website. However, as Alan Jones and Mary Fanning write for the CSP, Hamid Jafar “is the brother and the business partner of Dr. Jafar Dhia Jafar—the Baghdad-born nuclear physicist who masterminded Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons program.”
In other words, the company has links to terror. Jones and Fanning write that David Kay, a “U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991–1992” who returned to Iraq after 2003, says that Dr. Jafar told him, “You can bomb our buildings. You can destroy our technology. But you cannot take it [nuclear technology] out of our heads. We now have the capability.”
Dr. Jafar is currently CEO of Crescent’s URUK Engineering & Contracting subsidiary, although his brother claimed for years that he had “no business relationship” with Dr. Jafar, according to Jones and Fanning.
These are the business ties of a company in charge of shipping containers out of a port with close proximity to an Air Force base, a submarine base, and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Yet despite the risks, the mainstream media continue to look the other way on the Gulftainer scandal.
The most recent news article on Gulftainer that I found is from October 2016, and as a local news article it largely discusses the business potential in the port, and notes that Gulftainer USA is “looking at growth opportunities in the northeastern United States and the Oakland, California, area.”
Will this terror-tied shipping company soon be coming to a port near you?
Jones and Fanning also reveal that Obama has ties to this port deal through his college friends.
Abraaj Capital, through The Abraaj Group, is one of Crescent Enterprises’ “private equity holdings,” report Jones and Fanning. “Wahid Hamid, who attended Occidental College in Los Angeles as a wealthy Pakistani foreign student, was one of Barack Obama’s college roommates, and became one of Obama’s lifelong friends, is a Partner at The Abraaj Group,” they write. “Abraaj’s Senior Partner Wahid Hamid of Pakistan, Mohammed Hasan Chandoo of Pakistan, and Vinai Thummalapally of India were all college roommates of Barack Obama, were all 2008 campaign bundlers for Barack Obama (each bringing in $100,000 to $200,000), and all attended Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson’s 1992 wedding.”
Thummalapally attended the 2015 grand opening of Gulftainer’s terminal at Port Canaveral, they write.
The Clintons have also benefited from their relationship with the UAE company and its leaders. Crescent Group executive Majid Jafar, Dr. Jafar’s nephew, co-chairs the “Business Backs Education” campaign with Bill Clinton. “The campaign is funded by the Varkey GEMS Foundation that paid Bill Clinton $5.6 million to serve as ‘Honorary Chairman’ and that helped raise $70 billion in commitments for the Clinton Global Initiative,” write Jones and Fanning. Abraaj Capital held a 25 percent stake in GEMS Education while Bill Clinton received money from that entity, they write.
We have already detailed the conflicts of interest that the Clintons faced while Bill Clinton was earning $16 million from Laureate Education as its Honorary Chancellor. We wrote that Secretary Clinton’s State Department made sure that over $55 million in “American taxpayer dollars flowed out of Hillary Clinton’s State Department to a non-profit run by Laureate CEO Douglas Becker.” Gulftainer is just another example of the potential for corrupt pay for play that has saturated the Clintons’ many dealings.
It turns out that, according to Jones and Fanning, even the man who oversaw the secret negotiations to bring Gulftainer to Port Canaveral is connected to the Clintons. “One of [Port Canaveral CEO John E.] Walsh’s Watersmark business partners is Miguel Lausell, a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign who contributed $1 million to the Clinton Library and is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative,” write Jones and Fanning. “Walsh’s other Watersmark business partners include representatives of the Saudi and UAE royal families and of the UAE government.”
The Gulftainer USA deal was signed in 2014, the same year that the UAE was a first-time donor to the Clinton Foundation.
Gulftainer USA’s presence at Port Canaveral, Florida, remains a threat to the military assets and other national security targets within and near to that port. Yet, “Secretary [Jack] Lew bypassed the mandated Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) ‘National Security Threat Analysis,’ which should have been overseen by Director James R. Clapper,” write Jones and Fanning. “The National Security Threat Analysis is supposed to be ordered by and delivered to the Treasury Secretary, who is also the designated chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).”
“Did the Clintons’ contacts help to seal the deal?” we asked about this contract in 2015. “Given the Clintons’ scandal-filled history the media might want to at least look into this one.”
Gulftainer was granted its lease without a national security review because it was not purchasing part of the port. Instead, it was leasing it—for 35 years. But it is clear that in this case the Obama administration looked the other way on a potential national security nightmare.
That the media refuse to cover this ongoing Obama and Clinton scandal is a profound dereliction of their journalistic duty to investigate issues of America’s national interest, and an additional blatant attempt to shield President Obama from criticism. The media have an obligation to cover ongoing threats to our national security, no matter who is responsible for them.
Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.