Saturday, February 25, 2006

Port, Port, Port, Terrorism, Port, Allah, Port...SHUT UP!

"Ports deal defended on Hill; UAE firm says it will wait," Washington Times:

"The reaction in the United States has occurred in no other country in the world," said Ted Bilkey [does that sound like an Arab name?], chief operating officer of Dubai Ports World (DPW). "We need to understand the concerns of the people in the U.S. who are worried about this transaction and make sure that they are addressed to the benefit of all parties. Security is everybody's business."

..."The track record of this administration on homeland security -- its inadequate funding, its bureaucratic dysfunction at the Department of Homeland Security, as evidenced most tragically in [Hurricane] Katrina ... does not create an atmosphere of confidence when looking at this particular matter," said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat. [She's right, though she's wrong to think this has anything to do with it]

..."The Dubai deal outsources our ports to the state-owned entity of a foreign government," he said. "This deal turns back on the free-market principles that have guided this nation into economic prosperity." [It's been a long time since American ports were run by American companies, listen to the NPR stories]

...DPW's pending $6.8 billion purchase of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., which operates port terminals in New York, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami, Philadelphia and Newark, N.J., is due to close Thursday. [the most overlooked part of this issue is that fact that the company doesn't RUN the PORTS, it RENTS TERMINALS in the ports]

"Fight Over Ports Clouds Efforts to Open Middle East Markets" LA Times:
Unless America takes steps to address the growing tensions between open economic borders and national security, trade experts predict that there will be more of these conflicts, given the emergence of new players from the Middle East and China and the growing internationalization of the U.S. economy. And that could be dangerous for a country that needs roughly $4 billion a day in foreign capital to cover its budget and trade deficits.

...Foreigners already control a large share of the U.S. port business, including seven of the eight container terminals at the Port of Los Angeles.

"There is nothing inherently dangerous about doing business with Arab countries, any more than with Chinese and Brazilian countries," said Moore, with USC's Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events. "We cannot allow our reactions to extremists to dictate our business choices."

...U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman warned Wednesday that "canceling this port deal would be contrary" to the U.S. belief that fighting terrorism means promoting policies that create "opportunities for people to improve their lives and the lives of their families."
[is this the Twilight Zone? We agree with almost everything the Bush Administration is saying!]
"Ports Debate Reawakens Foreign Investment Jitters" Washington Post:

"The implication of failing to approve this would be to tell the world that investments in the United States from certain parts of the world aren't welcome," Treasury Secretary John W. Snow told reporters yesterday. His words echoed those of President Bush, who noted Tuesday that the terminals in question are currently operated by a British firm and that the UAE has been Washington's partner in the war on terror. "It would send a terrible signal to friends and allies not to let this transaction go through," the president said.

The potential for diplomatic damage concerns some foreign-policy heavyweights, notably Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), who said in an interview that "if the United Arab Emirates feels they're not being treated fairly, it could result in their pulling back some of the support they've given us," which includes allowing U.S. naval vessels to dock in the country's ports.

...Todd M. Malan, president of the Organization for International Investment, agreed, calling the reaction to the ports takeover "an anomaly of Congress's view about foreign investment in the United States." Malan, whose group represents the U.S. subsidiaries of foreign multinationals, observed that Toshiba Corp. of Japan is on the verge of buying Westinghouse Electric Co., a builder of nuclear power plants -- "and there hasn't been a peep about that."

...Officials involved in the review countered that the Homeland Security Department took the lead on the review of the ports takeover because of its expertise and jurisdiction. The officials said in a briefing that the department's security experts had a positive view of Dubai Ports World because the company participates in a U.S. program to screen containers before they are put on U.S.-bound ships. Moreover, they knew that at terminals managed by the firm, vital security functions would continue to be performed by Customs and Border Protection employees and the Coast Guard and that longshoremen's unions would continue to supply other security personnel.

But asked whether the panel could have handled the issue better, Stewart A. Baker, the assistant secretary for policy at the Homeland Security Department, said: "Obviously, given all the firestorm on this one, I would think that we probably could have."

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