|

Do We Really Want The Fox Guarding The Henhouse?

George W. Bush, has approved the sale of a company operating our ports to a company owned by Dubai Ports World. To refresh your geographical memory, Dubai is in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the Persian Gulf. Dubai Ports World is a not a privately owned corporation. It is a state-owned company which means we will be essentially turning over the operation of our ports to a foreign government.

Some other interesting facts about this (according to Bush) friendly ally:
~ Some of the people associated with 9-11 were born in Dubai.
~ Most of the people associated with 9-11 gained entrance to the US through Dubai.
~ Most of the financing for the terrorists came through banks in Dubai.
~ The planning for 9-11 took place in Dubai.
~ Osama bin Laden was treated at the US hospital in Dubai and was visited by the CIA station chief in Dubai two months prior to 9-11.
~ A Dubai company was used by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear program to supply shipments of smuggled Pakistani nuclear components to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Obviously, not all the people in Dubai support terrorism, but are you willing to bet that we have won the hearts and minds of all the people there, who may be hired by their company to be involved in the management our ports? Those ports, by the way, include Miami, New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New Orleans. This isn't the old Groucho Marx Show, "You Bet Your Life". We're talking about really gambling with your life. This is not racial profiling as some Republicans are calling Democratic opposition. Dubai is a country with a proven history of questionable activities that directly affect the security of the United States.

Perhaps Mr. Bush is reverting to his role as governor of Texas, promoting financial growth for his state. A Texas based company, the venture capital firm, Prodea would help finance sub-orbital vehicles being designed and built by the Russian aerospace firm Myasishchev Design Bureau for the Arlington, VA based firm, Space Adventures. Space Adventures plans to build a $265 million dollar space port in the UAE. The UAE government has already spent $30 million on the space port project. Could this be a quid pro quo? For those who aren't students of Latin, the vernacular is, "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours." Would the motto, "What's good for Texas is good for the national security of the United States" give you a feeling of confidence in your safety? And why is the Port of Houston oddly missing from the deal?

Our ports have long been thought to be vulnerable to a terror attack since only 5% of shipping containers are inspected. Do we want a foreign government, with inconsistent attitudes toward terrorist activity in this climate of anti-American attitudes, having the blueprints to our ports and knowledge of the security measures we have in place? Should the security of our ports be further compromised by entrusting their management to a foreign power with proven past ties to terrorist activity?

Democrats don't think so. Two Democratic Senators, Hillary Clinton of New York and Robert Menendez of New Jersey plan to offer a measure to ban companies owned or controlled by foreign governments from acquiring U.S. port operations. Why is this a good idea? A friend today is no guarantee that it will be a friend tomorrow. Bush has defended his decision to approve the sale and refuses to reconsider. In fact, he has appointed senior executive and Chief Operating Officer of the Dubai company, David Sanborn, to be the U. S. Maritime Administrator running the entire U.S. port system. If the Clinton-Menendez bill passes in Congress, would George Bush veto it? True to his history of opposing any measure to check his unilateral claimed power, he has defiantly vowed he would. It would be his first veto in five years. He wasn't moved by a Menendez statement which said, "We wouldn't turn the border patrol or the customs service over to a foreign government, and we can't afford to turn our ports over to one either." To their credit, even some members of Bush's own party are backing away from him and this deal.

While Bush administration officials are telling us that our safety won't be compromised, remember that many of these same officials handled the safety of the citizens of our own Gulf area during Katrina, and we all know how well that worked out.

Maritime Law requires that port operators must be given a couple of days advance notice of any large troop movements. Is this the way to support our troops, by giving a foreign government advance notice of our troop transports into the Middle East? Do they still mistakenly believe that our troops will be greeted with flowers as liberators and want to arrange a red carpet welcoming committee? Why not just publish it directly in Al Jazeera and eliminate the middleman?

After years of fear-mongering by this administration and color coded terror warnings, Mr. Bush, who ran on a platform in 2004 of being the only one who can keep us safe, is now telling us that our security won't be compromised. He also wasn't even told of this deal until it was reported by the news agencies as a done deal. If his own administration doesn't trust him to be involved in the secret decision-making process, why should we? The U.S. Coast Guard has issued a report claiming the Dubai Ports World investigation contains "intelligence gaps" that make the overall threat assessment impossible. The Dubai Ports deal was approved by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CIFUS). Is this another example of corporate interests being placed above the interests of the American people? That's been the hallmark of this administration.

What are the Bush family ties to Dubai? The Carlyle Group, the private equity firm which has been profiting handsomely from its political connections, has employed both the president and his father, as well as former members of his father's administration. It has its sole Middle East office in Dubai and has attracted large sums of money from the UAE government for its foreign investments. Dubya's brother Neil, the former Silverado Springs Savings and Loan director, whose bailout cost the American taxpayer billions of dollars, is a familiar face in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in his pursuit of investment and government contracts in the oil rich Emirates. Hmmm. Yeah, scratch a little higher and to the right.

This time, the Bush administration is getting a fight. Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine of New Jersey is suing the federal government for violating the 10th amendment, which says that the states control everything not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. The U.S. District Court Judge is issuing a preliminary injunction blocking the deal unless he is satisfied with Washington's answers to why the government did not carry out a full investigation into the change of ownership of the container terminal at Port Newark. Corzine has sent letters to the governors in the other states involved inviting them to join him in the lawsuit that, "will seek to enjoin this sale of vital assets to a foreign nation without our states having had the opportunity to determine the extent of the threat to the safety of our citizens."

Perhaps Mr. Bush is relying on wiretapping everyone to thwart an attack on our ports, but I sure wouldn't want to bet my life on it. Maybe we should send him a back-scratcher so he can scratch his own back. It may even be tax deductible as a donation to the Department of Homeland Security. We can all imagine what would happen to the hens being guarded by a fox. While, the fox may turn out to be tame, friendly and a vegetarian, shouldn't it at least be investigated thoroughly?

2-27-06