House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has disclosed that she holds stock valued at up to $15,000 in Alcatel-Lucent (formerly Alcatel SA), a company with extensive investments in Iran and Sudan nations that sponsor terrorism.
The disclosure of Pelosi's holdings comes at the same time that legislation is making its way through the California legislature barring state pension fund managers from investing in companies, like Alcatel-Lucent, that do business with "terror-friendly" nations.
According to Divestterror.org, a citizens group pushing a South Africa-style disinvestment program to discourage companies from doing business in terror countries, Alcatel-Lucent's investments in terror countries are so extensive that it is included on the organization's "dirty dozen" list of offending companies. The organization estimates that the company has invested upwards of $300 million in terror sponsoring nations during the past five years.
According to Divestterror.org, Alcatel is aiding Iran's terrorist activities by providing state controlled companies with data transmission and switching network capabilities. "These contracts have reportedly included the provision of hardware, software, technologies, and training to Iranian companies." It is also installing an undersea telecommunications cable in Iran.
Prior to his overthrow, Alcatel carried out major fiber optic products for dictator Saddam Hussein in Iraq, despite U.S. government warnings to the French company that the project could advance Iraqi military capabilities.
Alcatel is currently "involved in similar telecommunications projects ranging from upgrading networks to the installation underwater fiber optic cables" in Sudan and Libya.
Criticizing Alcatel, former House Armed Services Committee Chairman and current GOP presidential contender Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) expressed his worry over Alcatel's activities in a letter to President Bush. In it, he wrote, "I am concerned about potential transfers of technology or sensitive information to other countries with which Alcatel has business dealings, which have included Burma, China, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria."
Florida has passed, and its governor, Charlie Crist, has signed legislation to state pension funds to sell their equities in companies that do business wi th Iran, Syria, Sudan, or North Korea. Similar legislation has passed in Louisiana and is making its way through state legislatures in New York, New Jersey, Ohio and California. Missouri's state treasurer Sarah Steelman has implemented a disinvestment strategy administratively.
For the Speaker of the House to own stock in such a company is a particular outrage. She should immediately sell her stock and call on all other members of Congress who hold stock in the company to do likewise.
Only if we send a signal to these companies that their associations with Iran and other terrorist states comes at a huge price can we dissuade them from continued involvement. But if there is a massive selloff of their stock, company executives will feel the pinch in their salaries and bonuses.
Iran is in serious economic trouble. It was announced that it would have to ration gasoline this in a nation with the second largest proven oil reserves. But it can't get at its oil resources without massive foreign investment. As a result, government revenues from the energy industry have dropped from $55 billion in 2006 to a projected $44 billion in 2007. In a nation where 70 percent of the labor force is employed by the government, the costs in social instability of budget cuts militated by declining energy revenues could be formidable.
Under such pressure, Iran may well have to curb its nuclear ambitions or face the prospect of overthrow by an enraged population.
Mrs. Pelosi: Do your part!