What kind of "homeland security" is this?

President Bush has decided (on his own, or with very bad advice) to put a company from the United Arab Emirates in charge of security at the largest U.S. ports.  In this age of perpetual war and terror threat levels, anyone with any common sense would, as vending machines often say, MAKE ANOTHER SELECTION.

This idea has been so universally and forcefully denounced, there is no shortage of commentary about it, and this page has grown rather rapidly.  Republicans oppose the idea because the any company based in the Middle East should be automatically excluded from the selection process, at least while we are engaged in a war over there.  Democrats oppose the plan because the Dubai-based company is not friendly to labor unions.

Surprisingly, there are dissenting opinions worth posting, including that of Tony Snow, and they are shown at the bottom of the page.

(And I said that before Tony Snow was even considered for the job of White House press secretary.)

Chertoff was unaware of the ports deal until after OK.  Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was not aware a Dubai-owned company was seeking to operate terminals in six U.S. ports and that his agency was leading the review until after the deal's approval, an administration official said yesterday [2/23/2006].

Bush Learned of Port Deal From the Press, McClellan Says.  White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said Wednesday [2/22/2006] that President Bush learned from the news media about the sale of a London-based company controlling ports in the United States to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates.

[Really?  He was certainly quick to defend the idea, even if it wasn't his.]

Bush Signs Renewal of Patriot Act.  A day before parts of the USA Patriot Act were to expire, President Bush signed into law a renewal that will allow the government to keep using terror-fighting tools passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The Editor says...
On one hand, the President claims that the Patriot Act is vital to combatting terrorism in this country, because terrorists are constantly plotting to kill us all.  And he makes this argument without mentioning that all the terrorists so far have been Muslims.  But then he approves and promotes this deal with the UAE, an exclusively Muslim country.  What is he thinking?

Bush's Port Jihad:  It's shaping up to be a major political battle:  Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and House Majority Leader John Boehner have all lined up against President Bush's plan to turn over operation of six major American ports to a company based in the United Arab Emirates.

Dubai undertow:  When Islam in its heyday conquered infidel lands, it set in motion a massive transfer of wealth, enacting punitive taxation to transfer money from nonbelievers to Muslims — or from the productive part of the economy to the nonproductive.

Welcoming Terror to U.S. Ports.  The President threatens to veto any legislation to block the deal and challenges lawmakers to "step up and explain why a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard" than the British company that ran the ports before.

Ports storm worries Bush.  President Bush yesterday [3/10/2006] said the demise of the ports deal was a bad signal to send to moderate nations in the Middle East that the United States needs in the war on terrorism.

Why America Must Manage its Seaports:  I must set a side an earlier decision to stay out of the political debate over the wisdom of a national security issue affecting our posture in the war on terrorism.  I join the debate to protest what I fear is a dangerous pattern of government decision making on security now affecting both our seaports and our airports which would have security decisions made on bases other than what is best from a security point of view.

The Bush Isle of Thanatos.  The final throes of Bush's journey toward self-destruction may have found expression with the apparent sale of operational rights to six of our nation's largest ports to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates.  Approved by the Bush administration against all reason, the $6.8 billion sale includes the ports of New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.

The other problem at the port:  With all the recent talk about security vulnerabilities at the nation's ports, one subject goes virtually unmentioned.  The men who actually control many of the nation's docks, especially on the Eastern seaboard, are in the hip pocket of the Mafia and have been for decades.

Mafia's Role in Ports Also Raises Concerns.  Justice Department lawyers warned eight months ago that a nefarious element had infiltrated important East Coast ports, but they weren't talking about terrorists or Arab shipping companies.  They were talking about the mafia.

Port Fear:  Longshoremen union members will continue to handle packages at America's ports, no matter who owns the facilities.  Oddly, none of these same members of Congress have called for inspecting the disturbing history of these unions.  At least three aspects of Longshoremen history suggest that these union members at our ports might pose a risk to national security.  They have been associated with organized crime, specifically the Mafia.  They have a history of anti-American radical politics and have committed acts of violence.

The Editor says...
Okay, but do we have to deal with both the Mulsims and the Mafia?  Let's keep at least one of them out.  Personally, I think the Mafia is less of a threat than Islam.

The Real Vulnerability at our Ports:  After the huge public outcry, the Department of Homeland Security carefully investigated New Jersey and New York ports and according to ABC News, found "stunning gaps in security".  The most striking is that the identities of more than five hundred of the nine thousand truckers checked were unknown.  Nearly six percent had false drivers' licenses!  How many more escaped detection?  Over four thousand of these truckers had criminal records; crimes included cargo theft, drug dealing, arson, assault and homicide.  One trucker was found to be a member of one of the most violent gangs in the U.S., MS 13.

'That needs to change'.  To those who are looking for a standard for U.S. decision-making, here it is:  the ports are U.S. property and we're fully entitled to make any decision we believe is in the best interest of the United States of America.  No law requires us to treat all countries the same.

Any port in the terrorist storm.  There have been some dumb decisions since the United States was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, including the "welcoming" of radical Muslim groups, mosques and schools that seek by their preaching and teaching to influence U.S. foreign policy and undermine the nation.  But the decision to sell port operations in New York, Newark-Port Elizabeth, Baltimore, Miami, Philadelphia and New Orleans to a company owned by the UAE may be the dumbest of all.

Any storm in a port.  Port security is an oxymoron.  Everyone knows that the government isn't doing enough to check cargo containers.  Security at the ports was bad before Dubai acquired P&O, and it will be bad if Bush-bashers somehow manage to keep Dubai out.  When the Bush administration reminds critics the federal government will remain in charge of port security, that's not exactly reassuring.

U.S. Businesses in U.A.E. to Invite 'Oprah' to Dubai.  A group representing U.S. companies in the United Arab Emirates said it will invite "The Oprah Winfrey Show" among other talk shows to the Gulf to alter American public opinion which helped block Dubai's takeover of five U.S. ports.

[Is it safe to say the "Oprah" show is a fountain of political propaganda?]

Senate hopefuls unleash on port deal.  With public opinion polls showing that support for President Bush is low and that opposition to the port deals is high, GOP hopefuls are lining up against the Bush administration's approval of the deal.

Bill Clinton, Foreign Agent.  Late Friday [3/3/2006], Department of Justice lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel were attempting to determine if former President Bill Clinton had registered as an "Agent of a Foreign Principal."  Federal statute requires that anyone — even a former President — doing political or public affairs work on behalf of a foreign country, agency or official must register with the Department, and essentially update his status every six months.  It was not clear the Clinton had done so.

Britain vs. UAE:  It's a no-brainer.  President Bush has asked anyone opposed to the operational sale of a half-dozen American ports to a United Arab Emirates company "to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company."  Um, well, one overwhelming reason is that it was spawn of the Middle East, not Great Britain, that hijacked four American passenger planes on September 11, 2001.

Harbour exit:  This has raised the obvious question of whether we want our ports, through which a nuclear bomb could come, handled by a country two of whose nationals flew into the South Tower on 9/11 and which has a history of laundering money and nuclear secrets from bad guys to worse guys.

They are all profilers now  Make no mistake.  I stand with critics on both sides of the aisle who want to stop the secretive deal transferring operations of our ports to the UAE — a Middle Eastern government with a spotty record of fighting terrorist plots and terrorist financing.

Dubai Duplicity:  Anytime Democrats begin posturing as the enemies of terrorism, as in the political storm over the Dubai ports deal, Americans should look for a rat.  Democrats are the defenders of the "rights" of al-Qaeda terrorists locked away at Guantanamo.

Panic in Davos World.  Middle America did indeed react viscerally to news that — after having been endlessly harangued by Washington that they will spend their lives in the shadow of Islamic terrorism — Arabs from some place they've never heard of would be running our ports.  Their reaction was perfectly normal:  "How dumb can these guys be?"

Bush Shrugs Off Objections to Port Deal.  Brushing aside objections from Republicans and Democrats alike, President Bush endorsed the takeover of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports by a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates.  He pledged to veto any bill Congress might approve to block the agreement.

The Editor blurts out...
[He hasn't vetoed anything in his first five years in office, and he's going to start with this?]

So, 3 Muslims walk into a port …  The Bush administration's obstinate refusal to profile Middle Easterners has been the one massive gaping hole in national security since the 9-11 attacks — attacks that received indirect support from the United Arab Emirates. … Isn't it enough that we're already patronizing the savages over the cartoons?  Do we have to let them operate our ports, too?

Mr. President, are you nuts?  That giant sucking sound you hear is one really big mob of congressional Republicans evacuating their side of the aisle en masse and galloping over to agree with their left-coast colleagues as fast as they possibly can that the summary selloff of U.S. port operations to Dubai is your basic bad idea.

Bush Says Dubai Port Deal Should Proceed, Threatens Veto.  President George W. Bush said a Dubai company's bid to manage six major U.S. ports should go forward, threatening to veto legislation that blocks the transaction because of security concerns.

Dubya Jeopardy:  There stood President Bush yesterday, vowing to veto legislation that would prevent a company owned by the United Arab Emirates from taking operational control of six of the nation's ports — including New York and New Jersey.  Arrayed against him:  Elected officials of both parties, including solid blocks in Congress, officials from states potentially put at risk by the deal — and Mayor Bloomberg.  On Bush's side:  Jimmy Carter, all by his deservedly lonesome self.

The Dubai Deal Is Dumb.  President Bush assures the American people that the UAE is our ally in the war on terrorism.  However, he fails to mention that at least two of the 9/11 hijackers were from there.  He also doesn't mention the fact that the UAE was one of only three countries in the entire world to formally recognize the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

Borders policy and "Portgate".  Actually, to call it a disconnect is a major understatement.  It's more like a gargantuan gap in an otherwise fully coherent policy.  If [President Bush's] driving ambition is to make America safer from our terrorist enemies, why does he risk sabotaging that objective by making us more vulnerable right at home?

Ports in a storm.  So loud and bipartisan were the objections, even the White House was forced to spring into defense mode with two unusual moves.  First, Mr. Bush made it clear he would, for the first time, pick up his veto pen to block any legislation that would delay the deal.  Second, the president — in another ultra-rare move — invited reporters into the conference room on Air Force One to address the growing outcry.

Just because you're Islamophobic doesn't mean you're wrong.  The UAE is now being lauded as helpful in that global fight, but its history relative to terrorism is problematic.  The emirates joined Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in recognizing the Taliban as the official government of Afghanistan.  The UAE also was a transfer point for shipments of nuclear components to Iran, North Korea and Libya.  Given that history, it's hard to pretend that there's no reason whatsoever for concerns about Dubai Ports, a government-owned company, managing U.S. ports.

DPW to sell off all its US ports.  The six major US ports involved include New York Dubai Ports World (DPW) has confirmed it intends to sell all its US port operations to an American buyer within four to six months.

Friends in Dubai angry as entry into America is halted.  A narrow channel of water divides Dubai's container port from a naval quay used by American battleships as a rest station on the way to the Gulf.  Swimming in it is a bad idea — it is patrolled by US launches and by scuba divers on the lookout for underwater terrorists.

The latest:
Clinton aides had hand in Dubai deal.  In the spring, when Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was denouncing the Dubai Ports World deal, a consulting firm run by her top advisers was quietly lobbying for a Dubai takeover of two U.S. defense plants, Newsday has learned.

On the other hand ...

Port of Gall:  The tempest over DP World was unnecessary.  This particular deal seems to have rubbed people the wrong way, and it wasn't handled by the Bush administration as well as it should have been.  But the deal wouldn't have affected homeland security in any way.

Dubai, and good luck.  In retrospect, America went collectively insane over the possibility a company owned by Dubai's government would operate several of our ports.  Rarely has reason been so routed by pure emotion.  Dubai is a Westernizing state that long ago left the eighth century and accepts the modern world of globalized commerce and finance.

Just Nine Out of 300 Terminals Involved in Dubai Deal.  News reports [in mid-February 2006] have repeatedly claimed that a Dubai company was taking control of six major U.S. ports as part of a deal approved by the Bush administration.  But according to one port security expert, Dubai Ports World will run just a tiny fraction of the terminals at the U.S. ports involved if the deal goes through.

The essence of surrender:  The most furious critics of the transaction seem blithely uninterested in facts.  It doesn't matter that DPW operates worldwide.  It doesn't matter that the port in Dubai services more U.S. Naval vessels than any port outside the United States, or that Dubai Ports World handles some of that business.

Dubai is not typical Arabia.  While the United Arab Emirates is an Islamic nation, it neither looks nor feels like the Arab world most of us know. … In fact, since getting here, I have struggled to summarize this place.  The best I can come up with is this:  You've never seen so many construction cranes in your life!  Between 20 percent and 40 percent of all cranes in the world are reportedly fastened to skyscrapers sprouting above the flourishing financial powerhouse of Dubai.

Dubai's building frenzy lays the foundation for global power.  Dubai is racing to become the Middle East's business and leisure hub — a Switzerland of the Gulf — to secure its future when its oil reserves run out in about 10 years.

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Related stories:

Bush approves Dubai takeover of defense plants.  President George W. Bush approved Dubai's $1.24 billion takeover of Doncasters, a British engineering company with U.S. plants that supply the Pentagon, the White House said on Friday [4/28/2006].

Foreign Control of U.S. Interstates Encouraged by Feds.  The deal which started a flurry of more than 18 proposed foreign financed interstate highway projects across the nation over the past year in amounts of over $25 billion was in Chicago, IL in December 2004.  Chicago Mayor Richard Daley proposed an agreement to lease the Chicago Skyway for $1.83 billion dollars to Cintra-Macquarie Consortium, a Spanish-Australian conglomerate, doing business as State Mobility Partners in the U.S.  The deal, finalized in January 2005, gave Cintra-Maquarie a 99-year lease for which it is responsible for the maintenance and structural quality of the 8-mile elevated structure.

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Updated July 2, 2006.

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