Lou Commends Rep. Carolyn Maloney For Doing Her Job
By John Gideon on 7/25/2006, 6:45pm PT  

The Treasury Department has told Lou Dobbs that they are finally looking into the sale of Sequoia Voting Systems to a company owned by Venezuelan nationals.


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A written transcript follows...

DOBBS: After months of this broadcast's reporting on a firm, an e-voting machine maker, Smartmatic, a company controlled by Venezuelan business interests, the sale was completed last year, we've been reporting, as I said, on it for months, the U.S. agency the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States is supposed to investigate these kinds of deals that put the security of our nation at risk, let alone our democracy at risk. Tonight, we can report to you that CFIUS is taking notice and conducting an investigation.

Kitty Pilgrim has the report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Sequoia Voting Machine Company likes to point out its long history as an American company. It provides voting machines in hundreds of jurisdictions across the country. But in 2005, Sequoia was sold so Smartmatic, a company controlled by Venezuelan businessmen. Even though the U.S. voting machine company was sold outright, the U.S. government did not review the sale, even though voting machines are critical to national security.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney wrote a letter to Treasury last May demanding an investigation.

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D), NEW YORK: They have started a preliminary investigation. They are looking into the ownership. They call it a pre-CFIUS review. It is very unusual for Treasury to go back and look at a company that has already been sold, but they are doing it in this case.

PILGRIM: The worry is, if a foreign-owned company had control of election equipment in the United States, it could be vulnerable to manipulation. In fact, many security experts say the way all voting machines are currently engineered, they may be vulnerable to hacking.

DAN WALLACH, RICE UNIVERSITY: The federal guidelines don't say enough about security, which means that voting systems aren't engineered to be as secure as they need to be.

PILGRIM: While the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States says its review process is secret and can't comment if there's an investigation into Smartmatic, the Treasury Department does admit interest in the deal and is in contact with the company and is taking it very seriously.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now, a lawyer for Smartmatic confirmed today they have provided the relevant information to the Treasury Department. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney also says she's proposing a bill this week that would tighten up the CFIUS review process --- Lou.

DOBBS: As you know, I think the CFIUS committee and everybody on it are basically dithering idiots, because they do absolutely nothing to protect the interests of this country. If they could assert themselves here, no one would be more shocked nor pleased than me.

But I think we have to give just extraordinary credit to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. She focused on this issue, she brought it to the attention of the public, and our hats are off to her. She's just doing a wonderful job here.

PILGRIM: She's been very vigilant. And until this came to light publicly, there was really no --- absolutely no acknowledgment that there was a problem with this.

DOBBS: It is nice to see our elected officials, when it does rarely happen, doing their job. And again, our compliments and commendation to Congresswoman Maloney.

Venezuela's leader, Hugo Chavez, has formed what he calls a strategic partnership with President Lukashenko of Belarus, Europe's last dictator, some say. Chavez and Lukashenko signed an agreement to increase military ties. Both leaders say the United States is trying to overthrow their governments.

Chavez then traveled to Russia, where he will sign, we're told, a series of contracts to buy the latest Russian fighter aircraft and helicopters, about $1 billion worth.