Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Outsourcing Port Security to the UAE

I posted information yesterday about the United Arab Emirates being poised to take over significant commercial U.S. port operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia with the Bush administration's blessings. I'm surprised there hasn't been more discussion about this on the internet, but I think this story will pick up steam in the days ahead.

Glenn Reynolds said the plan didn't sound like much of a Homeland Security triumph to him, and this morning the Washington Times ran an editorial questioning the wisdom behind this move.
Some of the country's busiest ports -- New York, New Jersey, Baltimore and three others -- are about to become the property of the United Arab Emirates. Do we really want our major ports in the hands of an Arab country where al Qaeda recruits, travels and wires money?

The U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment, a Treasury Department-dominated group which reviews foreign investments, allows such purchases. The committee approved a $6.8 billion transaction between the ports' current British owners and Dubai Ports World, a government-owned United Arab Emirates firm. The United Arab Emirates was home to Marwan al-Shehhi, a September 11 hijacker; the country is a transit point for al Qaeda, including several other September 11 hijackers; al Qaeda's financing activities have involved the UAE; al Qaeda finds sympathizers there with ease, as it does in other Arab countries.

The Bush administration calls the United Arab Emirates an ally in the war on terror. But the UAE plays the same game Saudi Arabia does of quelching terrorists at home and turning a blind eye everywhere else.

It would be easy to caricature this sale: The purchase doesn't entail young Arab firebrands replacing longshoremen, nor would it displace American ownership. The storied British firm that currently owns them, the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co., probably isn't much better equipped against terrorist infiltration than Dubai Ports World. But then, the poor state of port security is precisely the point.

We should be improving port security in an age of terrorism, not outsourcing decisions to the highest bidder. The ports are thought to be the country's weakest homeland-security link, with good reason. Only a fraction of the nation's maritime cargoes are inspected.

This deal appears to be all about money. Dubai Ports World is "a business and its money is the same color as everyone else's, only it's got more of it," one banker told the Baltimore Sun. Where does the money come from? As a private company, Dubai Ports World's claim of 20 percent annual growth since 2001 is all but unverifiable, and its inner workings opaque. For all we know, Dubai Ports World is an undeclared arm of a foreign government.

The root question is this: Why should the United States have to gamble its port security on whether a subsidiary of the government of the United Arab Emirates happens to remain an antiterrorism ally?

The Committee on Foreign Investment is the wrong place for this decision to be made; it appears to be little more than a rubber stamp.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, New York Democrat, among others, is asking tough questions about this deal. For once, we agree with him: President Bush should overrule the committee to reject this deal. If that doesn't happen, Congress should take action. The country's ports should not be owned by foreign governments; much less governments whose territories are favored by al Qaeda.

The Washington Times is right - this sale appears to be all about money - and The Cunning Realist points to the connections:
As a sidenote, the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) meets in secret and is headed by Treasury Secretary John Snow. In 2004, DP World purchased part of the American company CSX for over $1 billion. Before he became Treasury Secretary, John Snow was Chairman and CEO of CSX.

We need to be asking some serious questions simply because those who attacked us on 9/11 and the money that supported them passed through the UAE, and the hijacker who piloted American Airlines flight 175 into the south tower of the World Trade Center was a UAE citizen.

And, as the Cunning Realist, said, "What would you have said if, on September 12, 2001, I told you that five years later Bin Laden would still be free, nuclear terrorism would be a top concern, and a panel of political appointees would approve the takeover of our port operations by a UAE company?"


Libby said...

Jeeeez, I had no idea. I totally missed this one. Unbelievable. Good catch.

Jenn of the Jungle said...

Hi Kathy, this is "Maltov Cocktail" Jenn here. Thanks for praying for me. That's aweful nice of you.

No, I don't hate all moslems, just an overwhelming vast majority. You know, the ones that hold up signs that say things like, "Europe you will have to pay, your 9/11 is on it's way."

I left room for those that are not true moslems, and don't wish me dead.

Mr.Needham/Midwestern "Progressive"is a very angry, disturbed man. I'd be happy to forward a mountain of e-mails, sick posts, and evil responses from him, but I won't waste my time.

He has some personal vendetta for me, and a couple of others, and it seems he'll never stop. I'd forgotten him and discovered he'd linked to my site on several occasions, it's actually quite disturbing.

Just thought I'd clear that up for you.

Yes, I do harbor a lot of hate towards certain groups of people, mainly those who want me dead, and it's nice, though I am not religeous, to know someone cares enough to pray for me. Thanks.

You seem like a genuinely nice person. Pleae have a lovely day.

Kathy said...

Jenn, thanks for stopping by. I would never wish you dead - or anyone for that matter. I don't agree with your hatred of most Moslems, but I don't hate you for having that opinion.

We obviously have different ideological backgrounds, but I personally don't think our country - or the world - will ever be peaceful as long as we continue to hate people.

Hate is a strong word and invokes strong feelings, but think about this from a different angle. If a person is angry at you and you remain calm, focused and gentle, nine times out of ten the other person will calm down. Hate is the same way. If a person hates you and you return that hate by acting in a hateful manner, the whole situation escalates and gets out of hand. I think we need to act loving towards those who hate us and win them over with kindness.

Anyway, that's my opinion. The world is definitely a difficult place and that's the way I handle it.

I will keep you in my prayers though - and I mean that.

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