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Political dealing on behalf of Manhattan developers puts US security at risk

Yesterday, the U.S. Congress released contents of the omnibus spending bill, parts of which will impair national security and pervert the fabric of America.  No, this is not a dissertation concerning the Syrian Refugee Crisis. In fact, this is far worse with greater long term consequences.   As part of congressional negotiations, it was agreed that the EB-5 Immigrant Investment Program (“EB-5”) will be continued “as is” through September 30, 2016.  This kick-the-can approach has drastic national security consequences.

The EB-5 program allows companies to raise capital from wealthy foreigners seeking a permanent-residency visa, also known as a green card.  In 2013, Sen. Charles “Chuck” Grassley (R-Iowa) was the first to properly identify national security risks associated with EB-5 via his letter to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement expressing grave concerns about the program.  Grassley was especially concerned about a prior memo from the agency that outlined how the EB-5 program “may be abused by Iranian operatives to infiltrate the United States.”  Nonetheless, in 2013, even the great senator from Iowa could not predict today’s real global threat associated with EB-5.

Norman Oder wrote in his article published yesterday on the PBS Newshour blog,

 . . . the two most recent rounds of EB-5 funding for Atlantic Yards, since renamed Pacific Park Brooklyn, were launched on behalf not just of initial developer Forest City Ratner, but its new 70 percent partner in a joint venture, the Greenland Group.

Greenland is owned and controlled by the government of Shanghai. The resulting scenario sounds like something out of the satirical publication The Onion, “a Chinese government profits by marketing U.S. green cards to Chinese immigrant investors.”

Despite the financial risks and unpatriotic tone of Chinese government sponsored companies being the primary beneficiaries of the U.S. sponsored EB-5 program, the more perilous exposure is in the form of Chinese cyber terrorism.   The Chinese involved deals consist of enormous real estate development projects that create high trafficked public places in areas such as lower Manhattan.

These projects consist of multifamily condominiums, hotels, retail, sports arenas, and infrastructure projects which are ripe for information gathering.  In 2014, the Federal Bureau of Intelligence warned that a group of highly skilled Chinese government hackers was in the midst of a long-running campaign to steal valuable data from U.S. companies and government agencies.  As the principal developer of such projects, these Chinese companies are privy to the architectural plans, construction specifications, and the site’s communication infrastructure such as phone and internet networks which allows for these Chinese state sponsored principles to act as gate keepers of information circulating among its premises.  Thus, American private and public sector workers carrying sensitive information such as matters of national security and/or technology plans would be easy targets.  

Grassley, along with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), recently sponsored a bill that would reform the program greatly diminishing fraud and national security risks.  The large EB-5 trade organization, IIUSA, and the More American Job Alliance (“MAJA”) supported these badly needed reforms. However, a small group of wealthy Manhattan developers opposed these reforms as it would require restructuring of their deals in affluent lower Manhattan neighborhoods.   Hence, during congressional negotiations over this year’s spending bill, leadership from both parties ignored the aforementioned risks and proposed a clean extension as part of the horse trading to appease this small contingency.  Handing over the whole program to a small group of Manhattan developers and their Chinese state sponsored cohorts as perilous implications.

18 U.S. Code Sec. 2381 defines treason as:

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

Therefore, if it is later found that that these Chinese sponsored developments result in cyber terroristic activities, then it is the opinion of this practitioner that all their American cohorts should be tried for treason by affording them a platform to perpetrate our homeland.   

The great patriot, Alexander Hamilton, once proclaimed, “Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.” 

Armstrong is general counsel for the More American Jobs Alliance (“MAJA”).

Tags Patrick Leahy

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