Monday, February 20, 2006

What is the real story behind the UAE/port transaction?

The knee-jerk reaction, mine included, is that this is just a horrible idea. The problem is this seems to be a story that starts with the conclusion and steamrolls backward. Michelle Malkin has opened the topic up for comments and provides many links to statements coming down strongly against the purchase of "Peninsular and Oriental Steam", a British company that currently runs the major operations at these ports, by "Dubai Ports World". Most of our cargo containers are inspected at the shipping end now anyway and it isn't like these operations were under any more American control before this deal than they will be after.

One of the biggest challenges to getting the full story is the secrecy of the panel that approved this transaction, but the panel isn't just a bunch of business men looking for a cheap way to handle shipments. CFIUS is a fairly serious group, at least as far as Government groups are. DHS, FBI, and the Coast Guard all apparently were involved in this decision. So I would like to know why this really is a bad thing. We have told the Muslim world that we want to have them join us in a global economy and we've told them that we want to help bring democracy and freedom to their lands. If we reject, out of hand, allowing the UAE to invest in American business simply because they are a Muslim country, how are we supposed to convince them of our sincerity? Granted, it might have been better to start with a few franchise businesses.

**Update 2/20** Strange bedfellows

**Updates 2/21** This New York Times article seems to show that this story is being presented as something very different than what it really is. Go figure, politicians playing politics.

People involved in the approval process said that, like all acquisitions of domestic businesses by foreign-owned companies, the Dubai Ports World acquisition was reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, representing 12 federal agencies.

Officials of Dubai Ports World's North American subsidiary, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the political delicacy of the situation, said the critics' fears were misdirected because the Coast Guard and the United States customs authorities, not the terminal operators, are responsible for checking incoming cargo, passengers and crews as well as for planning and maintaining port security.

This is a little more troubling.
The Bush administration got support Monday from former President Carter, a Democrat and frequent critic of the administration.

"My presumption is, and my belief is, that the president and his secretary of state and the Defense Department and others have adequately cleared the Dubai government organization to manage these ports," Carter told CNN. "I don't think there's any particular threat to our security."

Add Jimmy and me to Michelle's strange bedfellows list.

Expose the left has a post here also wondering where the details are. Maybe someone will provide some reason that this isn't a rush to judgment over there.

President Bush issues veto threat over blocking the ports deal. The President better get some non stop explanations going if he thinks he will be able to make that stick. According to Rush it's too late.

Another entry in the strange bedfellows category, Kos and LGF. Although, it seems that the LGF comment section is starting to sound more like my position.

Fred Frey says this is a non-issue and takes you on a tour of the management team. I was a little taken aback to see that Michael Moore is a Senior VP, however.

**Updates 2/22**

The Wall Street Journal follows some of the motives behind the concern. As well as one of the most glaring problems politicians are bringing to us with their rhetoric.
As for the Democrats, we suppose this is a two-fer: They have a rare opportunity to get to the right of the GOP on national security, and they can play to their union, anti-foreign investment base as well. At a news conference in front of New York harbor, Senator Chuck Schumer said allowing the Arab company to manage ports "is a homeland security accident waiting to happen." Hillary Clinton is also along for this political ride.
So the same Democrats who lecture that the war on terror is really a battle for "hearts and minds" now apparently favor bald discrimination against even friendly Arabs investing in the U.S.? Guantanamo must be closed because it's terrible PR, wiretapping al Qaeda in the U.S. is illegal, and the U.S. needs to withdraw from Iraq, but these Democratic superhawks simply will not allow Arabs to be put in charge of American longshoremen. That's all sure to play well on al Jazeera.

Washington Post Port Security Humbug

The LA Times calls this a "bipartisan hissy fit."
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. It is a contractor that coordinates logistics. And most important, it's not in charge of security. Port operators work with U.S. security officials (port police, the Coast Guard, the Department of Homeland Security) in charge of preventing terrorism.

Ann Coulter might be called undecided. Well that probably isn't the best description, read it yourself.

**Updates 2/23**

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit has come around and also links to several other opinions on this.

The UAE has opened the door for the White House to allow Congress more time to make fools of themselves.

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