Governor Kristi Noem ordered the state Friday to stop doing business with “evil foreign governments“.
“It is critical that we protect South Dakotans from evil foreign governments,” said Governor Noem. “This order ensures that these countries cannot leverage telecommunications or state contract procurements to gain access to crucial state infrastructure and data” [Office of the Governor, press release, 2023.01.20].
Executive Order 2023-02 only uses the word “evil” once, in its fourth Whereas clause. The other Whereases warn that China has bought land near Grand Forks Air Force Base; that Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea have waged cyber-attacks on American assets; and that China is trying to “ransack” Western intellectual property. The order thus declares every business and organization in China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia “prohibited entities” with whom the state of South Dakota may do no business. The order also throws Cuba and Venezuela on the no-buy list, even though it doesn’t mention any specific evil those nations have conducted.
EO 2023-02 explicitly prohibits the purchase of information and communication technologies “created, owned, or controlled by a Prohibited Entity, or by any other means made unsafe for South Dakota’s cybersecurity by any connection to a Prohibited Entity.” Hmmm… Apple has a lot of connections to Chinese companies; I guess the state can’t buy any more iPhones or Macbooks. Given Chinese manufacturers’ efforts to put their components in more tech products, the state of South Dakota may have freeze all procurement and review the sources of every component in every phone, computer, and automobile to ensure that not one “evil” component sneaks into anything the state buys.
This ban on business with companies from six “evil” nations is not limited to tech firms. Section 2 of EO 2023-02 bans any contract with any prohibited entity. I don’t see any state contracts with Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods, but if we’re really going to get into the spirit of this order and prevent the evil Chinese from gaining any advantage from their incursion into American agriculture, then the state needs call Aramark and tell them to make sure they aren’t buying any Smithfield wieners or bologna to feed our prisoners.
Noem’s order does not apply, of course, to private businesses, like all the trust companies on Phillips Avenue, who are welcome to continue helping Russian oligarchs and other global evildoers hide their money in dark South Dakota vaults and do more damage to the integrity of the Republic than the Chinese making bacon at Smithfield.