On March 25, 2005, U.S. President George W. Bush, former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, and former Mexican President Vicente Fox authorized the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), now under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Most Americans have little to no knowledge of this seemingly innocuous sounding unofficial treaty and therefore believe there is little reason to be alarmed.
However, what could be misinterpreted as legislation which has been scrutinized, and has gone through the proper channels of government could not be farther from the truth, in that the U.S. Congress has had no direct disclosure of nor has taken part in its execution.
Legally, a treaty would require a two-thirds majority of the U.S. Senate to concur for its ratification as determined by the U.S. Constitution. Cleverly, however, since the SPP is not a treaty, the President was able to avoid such a required procedure by using the power of the Executive Branch. And in August 2006, President Bush additionally crafted a Signing Statement to passed legislation declaring it Constitutional for his administration to withhold information from or deny authority required from the U.S. Congress on the SPP and its negotiations.
With the recent swell and frequency of free trade agreements being passed in the U.S. Congress in the past few years alone, seemingly rushed through without genuine debate or challenge, it would be easy for the public to assume that the SPP was authorized by Congress and thinking matters pertaining to it were in the best interest of the American people. And sadly, many U.S. free trade agreements do not directly better the workers of the countries involved, but are solely reserved for big business profiting from cheap labor, and foreign lobbyists and bureaucrats enriching themselves.
But the SPP is cleverly disguised as a boon for all three North American countries and its citizens, yet has lacked input or oversight from federal, state, or municipal legislators nationwide. The goals of the SPP agenda largely include a call for transparency and unprecedented cooperation with respect to all three governments' commerce and trade. The endeavor is to join forces in uniting as one competitive body in the global marketplace and to function as the North American Union (NAU), which at the same time whittles away at each country's sovereignty, its national security and its laws.
The facilitation of the SPP will stem from the use of the U.S. interstate highway system providing the roads for inter-continental and interstate commerce. For that to happen will require retro-fitting of existing interstates as well as building new roads, including gas and power lines, including light rail, from the interior of Mexico, through the central corridor of the U.S. and on into Canada.
Both the proposed NAU and NAFTA Superhighway are offshoots of the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed in 1992 by then President Bill Clinton. At the time it was sold to the American people and the Mexican government as a win-win for both peoples and would re-balance the flow of trade back to Mexico in order for Mexican workers to earn a living wage. But that never transpired and instead backfired, resulting in the onslaught of nearly 20 million illegal aliens since, illegally crossing the U.S. southern border, supposedly looking for decent paying jobs.
But to fully understand the evolution of the call for the need of a NAFTA Superhighway it is important to at least understand the recent history behind it. The introduction of free trade policy has morphed into a priority of the U.S. government today, even putting national security at risk in order to fulfill its agenda. It was the Reagan Administration's vision of free trade, a direct response to Japan's explosive growth and expansion in both the automobile and electronics industries in the U.S., which began to shift the balance of trade and the lopsided result we now have today with most of our trading partners.
And fifteen years since the passage of NAFTA has not only enabled the U.S. to globalize arguably beyond proportions in all areas of commerce, industry and trade, but it has helped to foster public-private partnerships, a benign term used to mask what are essentially foreign-direct investments. And foreign-direct investment has grown precipitously since 1988 when former President George H.W. Bush signed the Exon-Florio Amendment to the Defense Production Act of 1950.
It was also in 1988 when then President George H.W. Bush, through Exon-Florio delegated his power to approve or disapprove such foreign acquisitions to the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Investments in the U.S. (CFIUS), relieving the President of the responsibility in determining national security threats in foreign-direct acquisitions. Unfortunately, the definition of national security in a post-911 world remains too narrow to address protection of critical infrastructure, a scarce defense supply, or preservation of technological standards, among many other risks, unquestioned back in 1988.
The Exon-Florio Amendment authorizes the President to "suspend or prohibit foreign acquisitions, mergers, or takeovers of U.S. companies if a foreign controlling interest might take action that threatens national security." And the term "foreign control" remains ambiguous and decidedly so. The ramifications of the Exon-Florio Amendment reared its head when in February 2006 CFIUS, an arm of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, became widely recognized for its authorization of the Dubai Ports World to operate multiple East Coast port operations including the Port Authority of New York, and the ports of Baltimore and Miami.
The balancing act of national security and foreign-direct acquisitions has relegated national security concerns to that of an afterthought, as the Department of the Treasury's prime priority is expanding commerce in the global marketplace. Complaints about the secluded CFIUS process, however, predate the Dubai Ports World alarm bells of 2006. For it was in October 2005 when Senator Richard Shelby, (R) Alabama, called for hearings on the inclusion of Congressional oversight of CFIUS approvals. And it was prior to 2006 when Senator James Inhofe, (R) Oklahoma, lobbied for Congress to be able to reject CFIUS approvals.
As it stands, most every foreign acquisition sails through the approval process. Unless there is a 45-day investigation process after the required 30-day review by CFIUS, the President's approval is not required and thereby never reaches the Congress for any interaction or input. Between 1988 and 2005 only two foreign acquisitions were unapproved out of 1,555 reviews. Both were withdrawn and eligible for later re-instatement.
Many foreign entities seek out a "pre-screening" with CFIUS' member agencies, comprised of 12 departments of the U.S. government, if national security concerns are anticipated in order to mitigate the chances of non-approval and triggering the 45-day investigation.
The disparate interests of free trade and the protection of critical infrastructure, and in particular the U.S. highway system as well as public utilities, has given way to high-powered U.S. law firms and professional lobbyist organizations that lay the groundwork for foreign conglomerates to land foreign-acquisition contracts with cash-starved states amenable to foreign-direct investment.
Such is the case with the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC), the brainchild of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) in concert with the SPP. It is a multi-billion dollar web of highway building, toll road maintenance, gas pipelines, public utilities and railroad contracts as complex and as multi-layered as the U.S. interstate highway system itself. A flurry of over 20 foreign acquisitions of interstate highway projects and toll road maintenance contracts have been approved since 2003 with many more nationwide working their way through state legislatures, such as that of the New Jersey Turnpike which Governor Jon Corzine believes is ripe for foreign funding.
But the TTC is the biggest and most massive highway building project of them all and for the first time will rely upon a foreign entity to not only maintain toll roads but to have a stake in building, controlling operations and tolls and expanding new roads and critical infrastructure. Additionally, eminent domain law will come into play in order to reconcile the taking of property and farmland for road expansion to accommodate pipelines and railroad tracks.
And much like the SPP planning, which took place behind closed doors, the TTC collaboration began in 2002 in Texas Governor Richard Perry's chambers, where state legislators and taxpayers were deliberately cut out of negotiations and the bidding process. Negotiations began with the Spanish engineering transportation construction firm, Cintra Concesiones de Infrastructures de Transporte, S.A., a subsidiary of the Grupo Ferrovial, which specializes in toll roads and car parks and considered a leading developer of private-sector infrastructure throughout Europe.
At the center of negotiations for multiple legs of the Superhighway Corridor throughout Texas, is none other than Rudolph Giuliani's law firm which landed the Comprehensive Development Agreement for a widening of Interstate-35, now referred to as the TTC-35, in addition to the Master Development Plans for State Highways 121 and 130 among other legs of the TTC. All negotiations for Cintra were and are presently handled by the law firm, Bracewell & Giuliani, LLP, of which Republican Presidential candidate, Rudolph Giuliani, has been a senior executive partner since March 2005. His law firm is the exclusive legal counsel for Cintra. Bracewell & Giuliani is comprised of 400 attorneys, based in Houston, TX with offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., London and Kazakhstan.
Cintra joined with San Antonio, TX-based Zachry Construction Corp. to help land the contracts, in which Zachry owns a 20% interest. The Cintra-Zachry proposal for TTC-35 includes a private investment of up to $6 billion in upfront payments for the complete construction, design and operation of a 316-mile toll road between Dallas and San Antonio, giving Cintra the right to set tolls and keep toll road profits for a period of 50 years, as it will for each road it has contracted.
The NAFTA Superhighway and its corridors will run from Southwestern Mexico through Laredo, Austin and Dallas, TX, into Kansas City, KA, serving as an inland customs port. The corridor will split in Kansas with one leg going to Winnipeg, Canada through Omaha, NE. The other leg goes to Toronto, Canada through Des Moines, IA, Chicago, IL and Detroit, MI.
As many as 10 lanes, one-mile wide will incorporate double rails and pipelines. The second corridor is planned from Brownsville to Houston, TX through Arkansas, Memphis, TN and into Norfolk, VA. While the principal use for these corridors is to speed Asian goods into the Central and Eastern U.S., it will require 145 acres of land per mile or 540,000 total acres of land. And in Texas, the state may utilize its own discretion in using eminent domain law in order to reach its goal.
Had gasoline tax revenues been properly allocated and solely reserved for highway projects over the years, neither Texas nor numerous other states would be as desperate for funds as they claim they now are, as many highway funds have been found to have been raided for other state projects and public funding.
The citizens of Texas only as recently as February 2007 began to attend state legislative hearings where many state lawmakers themselves were beginning to become familiar with the Cintra contracts. Several have called for a moratorium on at least the TTC-35 project, envisioned as a high-speed highway, until they can evaluate issues such as eminent domain, cost benefit analysis, environmental impact and homeland security ramifications.
Most interesting to the whole story is not only has Mr. Giuliani's involvement in the NAFTA Superhighway not ever having been publicly addressed, but how a foreign company is awarded the building of a mass highway system, versus maintaining it, for the first time in U.S. history, and negotiated by the law firm of the top Republican candidate running for President of the United States. And truly disturbing is how such will not only have national and homeland security and sovereignty implications but how it is deliberately being kept away from the Halls of Congress.
Giuliani fancies himself as an expert on homeland security issues and a law enforcer. And he has amassed quite the portfolio since 2002, earning $20 million in that year alone, by selling himself as such. He owns Giuliani Partners, Giuliani Safety & Security and Giuliani Capital Advisors. In March 2007 he sold Giuliani Capital Advisors, a former Ernst & Young finance company he purchased in 2002, to Macquerie Infrastructure Consortium. Not coincidentally, it is a partner of Cintra's in its shared operations of toll roads in both Indiana and Chicago, IL.
Bracewell & Giuliani represents some of the biggest multi-national oil, utility infrastructure and financial corporations both in the U.S. and abroad. With that have come the connections that Giuliani has been able to tap into for campaign donors, essential for his presidential bid, not only in Texas but nationwide, as he has become the consummate globalist. But more troubling than potential conflicts of interest as a public servant is his lack of compunction to secure U.S. borders and then planting himself squarely in the middle of one of the most controversial and historic highway system projects since the 1956 National Federal-Aid Highway Act.
Particularly unnerving, given Giuliani's personal experience on 9-11, is his defense of open borders at any cost while condoning the NAFTA Superhighway Corridor and by extension the North American Union, without the purview or consent of the U.S. Congress or the will of the American people.
We should have seen it coming when Giuliani enacted Special Order 40 in 1994, during his tenure as Mayor of New York City, in ordering law enforcement officers to no longer check the legal status of suspects caught violating the law. We should have seen it coming when Rudolph Giuliani single-handedly decided that illegal aliens were not lawbreakers and also quit upholding the law. And unfortunately we now do see it coming. But sadly, he may now actually be handed the opportunity to no longer defend and abide by the U.S. Constitution of the United States of America.
Diane M. Grassi is a freelance columnist, reporting and writing commentary on current events of the day that provide honest and often politically-incorrect assessments. From U.S. public policy to Major League Baseball, she is an eclectic thinker, and demanding of her readers to reflect on their own thinking patterns from an alternative perspective. Whether you agree with her or not, Diane M. Grassi will have you coming back to note her opinions, and if at best she wakes you up, then her goal will have been accomplished.
Ms. Grassi is featured with the online publications: New Media Journal.us, Veteran's Today, Mich News.com, Opinions Editorials, the Conservative Voice, the Hawaii Reporter, Liberty Watch Magazine, as well as many others. She also writes regular columns on Major League Baseball where she is a featured online columnist with The Diamond Angle Baseball Ezine and Sports-Central.org.