February 23, 2006
On the first point, I defer to James Glassman at TCS Daily (formerly TechCentralStation) and his well-expressed support for the deal:
Yes, two of the 9/11 hijackers were citizens of the UAE, but, then again, as Ivan Eland of the Independent Institute notes, Richard Reid, the attempted "shoe bomber," was a British citizen, and Jose Padilla, among others, is an American citizen (as was Timothy McVeigh). The UAE has been a staunch ally in the war on terror, training security forces in Iraq and helping to cut off the flow of money to al Qaeda.To Glassman's point, DP Ports operates 29 other ports worldwide. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that if they had an interest in getting a nuclear bomb or other such device into this country, they wouldn't need to make this investment of over $6 Billion to do it. They could simply send something in a shipping container from a foreign port that they already operate.
Isn't this precisely what the United States preaches? Don't we want places like Dubai to fight terror and to grow, to invest, to buy, to trade, to adopt Western commercial practices, to expose themselves to the rest of the world and thus become tolerant and moderate?
Instead, congressional leaders are trying to kill the deal, which is set to go into effect next week. Why? "Outsourcing the operations of our largest ports to a country with a dubious record on terrorism is a homeland security and commerce accident waiting to happen," says Schumer.
This is rank racist nonsense. Schumer knows very well that responsibility for port security in the United States lies not with DP World or any other operator, but instead with the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs. "Nothing changes with respect to security under the contract," said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "The Coast Guard is in charge of security, not the corporation."
Using Schumeresque logic, the U.S. should ban flights into the U.S. by airlines from Arab countries, and we should certainly bar any cargo from being loaded in Arab ports and bound for the U.S. ("If you are worried about a bomb in a box going off in New York, you need to worry about who loads the container overseas rather than the terminal operator who unloads it in the U.S.," says someone who actually knows something about port security, Theodore Price of Optimization Alternatives, a Texas company that provides terminal-operating software.) In fact, one would suppose that Dubai, with billions at stake, would be more careful -- not less -- about assisting in anti-terror activities at U.S. ports if it is actually operating them.
Yes, the President and his staff should have anticipated the gut reaction to this deal - which has been public knowledge since last November - but this reaction derives its intensity from a lack of understanding of this complex situation.
As to my second conclusion, I don't know how this will affect Republicans in an election year but I do know that it won't effect the President one iota. Note to the punditry: Bush isn't running for anything and he cares more about doing the right things to protect this nation in a time of war while it's under his watch than some political "fallout". And most people understand that. So if Dems want to make this an issue to beat the President over the head with, let them.
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