February 22, 2006


Port hysteria (LA Times, February 22, 2006)

WHEN MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TAKE homeland security seriously, it's a welcome development. Unfortunately, Tuesday's bipartisan hissy fit over the Bush administration's approval of a Dubai company's $6.8-billion deal to manage six important U.S. ports is neither serious nor welcome.

At first glance, Dubai Ports World's acquisition of the British-owned Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. looks troubling: Do we really want a company from the United Arab Emirates, one of the only countries that recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, acting as the maritime gatekeeper for New York, Miami, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Baltimore and Newark, N.J.?

After all, ports could be appealing and vulnerable targets for terrorists, handling about 2 billion tons of freight each year, only 5% of which receives close inspection. The remaining containers are vetted through an informal process that emphasizes faith in "trusted shippers."

The problem is that blocking the Dubai deal wouldn't do a thing to change any of that. It only provides members of Congress an opportunity to talk tough and pander to the terrorism-rattled xenophobe in us all.

Dubai Ports World, like the foreign companies that already run the majority of key U.S. ports — including 80% of the terminals in Los Angeles — does not own the points of entry.

Port Security Humbug (Washington Post, February 22, 2006)
[B]ritain, as events of the last year have illustrated, is no less likely to harbor radical Islamic terrorists than Dubai.

None of the U.S. politicians huffing and puffing seem to be aware that this deal was long in the making, that it had been reported on extensively in the financial press, and that it went through normal security clearance procedures, including approval from a foreign investment committee that contains officials from the departments of Treasury, Commerce, State and Homeland Security, among other agencies. Even more disturbing is the apparent difficulty of members of Congress in distinguishing among Arab countries. We'd like to remind them, as they've apparently forgotten, that the United Arab Emirates is a U.S. ally that has cooperated extensively with U.S. security operations in the war on terrorism, that supplied troops to the U.S.-led coalition during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and that sends humanitarian aid to Iraq. U.S. troops move freely in and out of Dubai on their way to Iraq now.

Finally, we're wondering if perhaps American politicians are having trouble understanding some of the most basic goals of contemporary U.S. foreign policy. A goal of "democracy promotion" in the Middle East, after all, is to encourage Arab countries to become economically and politically integrated with the rest of the world. What better way to do so than by encouraging Arab companies to invest in the United States? Clearly, Congress doesn't understand that basic principle, since its members prefer instead to spread prejudice and misinformation.

Joe Lieberman: Don't Trash Dubai Deal (NewsMax, 2/22/06)
"Dubai and the United Arab Emirates are allies of ours in the war on terrorism," the Connecticut Democrat said, in little noticed comments three days ago on ABC's "This Week."

"So I don't think we want to just because it's a Dubai company, even owned by the government, we want to exclude them from doing business here," he added.

Lieberman reminded: "The more you look at it, the fact is that a lot of terminals in America are already owned not ports, terminals owned by foreign companies." [...]

[L]ieberman insisted that the Dubai deal did nothing to increase the vulnerabilities of an already under-protected U.S. ports system.

"The truth is I worry more about the failure to invest enough in port security in America through the Homeland Security Department to detect dangerous items, WMD, coming in here than I worry right now about this, this sale," he told "This Week."

In Defense Of Dubai (Dick Meyer, Feb. 22, 2006, CBS)
A nefarious multinational corporation secretly controlled by a hostile Arab government has engineered a covert takeover of six major U.S. ports. America is at risk of losing control of its borders and compromising national security in an entirely preventable way.


Never have I seen a bogus story explode so fast and so far. I thought I was a connoisseur of demagoguery and cheap shots, but the Dubai Ports World saga proves me a piker. With a stunning kinship of cravenness, politicians of all flavors risk trampling each other as they rush to the cameras and microphones to condemn the handover of massive U.S. strategic assets to an Islamic, Arab terrorist-loving enemy.

The only problem -- and I admit it's only a teeny-weeny problem -- is that 90 percent of that story is false.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 22, 2006 12:49 PM

Dick Meyer of CBS News has an excellent piece: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/02/22/opinion/meyer/main1335531.shtml

Posted by: pj at February 22, 2006 1:13 PM

Yesterday conservative bloggers and pundits were saying "well if Jimmy Carter/CAIR/other support the deal then it must be bad". Having the MSM like the LA Times and WAPO support the deal will further enforce that mindset.

Posted by: AWW at February 22, 2006 1:49 PM


Except that Harold Meyerson, Mo Dowd, and the rest of the insane Left is on their side:


Posted by: oj at February 22, 2006 2:00 PM

So I think that we could all agree that this is yet another fruitless issue of debate that wastes the breath of Democrats and Republicans like while the real issues get little attention?

Posted by: Thierry at February 22, 2006 2:32 PM

We can't trust Them to have anything to do with our ports which is why we don't want you spying on Them.


Posted by: John Resnick at February 22, 2006 2:32 PM

Thierry: No, this is actually a pretty important issue for the administration to win.

Posted by: David Cohen at February 22, 2006 2:34 PM

What issues could be more important than privatization, free trade, and diversifying Arab economies?

Posted by: oj at February 22, 2006 2:35 PM

Homeland security, which is why this issue is the real deal.

Posted by: David Cohen at February 22, 2006 2:53 PM

Nothing but Bush Derangment Syndrome.

It has nothing to do with port security. It's all about abortion, school vouchers and homosexuality.

Posted by: Lou Gots at February 22, 2006 4:11 PM

and gun-grabbing

Posted by: oj at February 22, 2006 4:16 PM