Monday, February 20, 2006

U.S. Port Takeover By Arab Company Not A Bright Idea

I was off line for a few days and out of the loop for what is going on in the world. Saturday night I got to hear a talk radio show and the subject was the U.S. Ports security contract being transferred to an Arab company, that is, Dubai Ports World of the United Arab Emirates.


The talkshow took a few callers and not one thought it a good idea.

P&O (Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation) currently has the port security contract and DP (Dubai Ports World) wishes to buy P&O. P&O currently runs commercial operations in the ports of New York, New Jersey, New Orleans, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Miami.

Fox News Reports - quote -

WASHINGTON - Executives at Dubai Ports World are intensifying a public relations effort this week as lawmakers ratchet up protests against the Bush administration over allowing the United Arab Emirates-owned firm to run six U.S. ports.

The government in Dubai will lobby port officials along the East Coast, and its chief operating officer - American shipping executive Edward H. Bilkey - is expected to travel to Washington this week for meetings on Capitol Hill and elsewhere.

Michael Seymour, president of the North American arm of Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation (P&O) - the company DP World wishes to buy in order to run the six ports said in a statement that the London-based P&O "is itself a foreign-owned terminal operator that has long worked with U.S. government officials in charge of security at the ports to meet all U.S. government standards, as do other foreign companies that currently operate ports in the United States."

"We are confident that the DP World purchase will ensure that our operations continue to meet all relevant standards in the U.S. through ongoing collaboration between the port operators and American, British, Australian and port security officials throughout the world," Seymour said.

Lawmakers are upset that P&O, which runs 100 ports in 19 countries, is being purchased by DP World with the approval of the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a 12-member panel chaired by Treasury Secretary John Snow and comprised of members of the departments of State, Defense, Justice, Commerce and Homeland Security. Some lawmakers are considering legislation to stop foreign-owned companies from running U.S. ports.
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San Jose Mercury News reports - quote -

U.S. terms for approving an Arab company's takeover of operations at six major American ports are insufficient to guard against terrorist infiltration, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said Sunday.

"I'm aware of the conditions and they relate entirely to how the company carries out its procedures, but it doesn't go to who they hire, or how they hire people," Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., told The Associated Press.

"They're better than nothing, but to me they don't address the underlying conditions, which is how are they going to guard against things like infiltration by al-Qaida or someone else, how are they going to guard against corruption?" King said.

King spoke in response to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's comments Sunday about conditions of the sale. King said he learned about the government's terms for approving the sale from meetings with senior Bush administration officials.

Chertoff defended the security review of Dubai Ports World of the United Arab Emirates, the company given permission to take over the port operations. Chertoff said the government typically builds in "certain conditions or requirements that the company has to agree to make sure we address the national security concerns." But Chertoff declined to discuss specifics saying that information is classified.
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prying1 sez:

Given the current state of the Arab world I would suggest against this deal. We should pull the contract from P&O and have a U.S. company doing the security at our ports whether the deal goes through or not. Our ports are the weakest link in homeland security. Allowing any Arab country to run security on our shores is stupid. Until they clean up their act and get a long track record of stabilization I would not trust any Arab nation to guard a Taco Bell much less our nations ports.

The continuation of the Cartoon Kerfuffle shows me and the world that the Muslum and Islamic nations are unstable.

Update - GOP governors threaten to block port deal -

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