The Daily Kos and Roger L. Simon are in Agreement!

Friday, February 17, 2006
The world is coming to an end. Five days ago, Roger L. Simon said “I'm with Chuck on this one.”:

“I've criticized New York Senator Charles Schumer frequently on this blog, but I support his criticism of the Bush Administration for awarding an operations contract for New York City ports to a company from the United Arab Emirates.”

http://www.rogerlsimon.com/mt-archives/2006/02/im_with_chuck_o.php

This morning Georgia10 on the Daily Kos blog expressed her displeasure that the “Bush Administration Sells Port Security To Highest Foreign Bidder.”:

“So Gonzales, Rice, Rumsfeld, Snow, and an other Bush administration officials conducted a security review and decided--unanimously--that the sale did not post a national security threat.  How thorough was their investigation? They did not conduct background checks on senior managers of the company, nor did they ask how the company screens its own employees. You know, just in case a terrorist wants to infiltrate the company that now has unprecedented and unfettered access to our ports.”

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/2/17/104325/112

I personally have mixed emotions regarding this issue. Nonetheless, isn’t it far more important than Dick Cheney’s unfortunate experience in rural Texas? Shouldn’t we get back to discussing matters of real significance? My gut instinct is that we have little to worry about if a Saudi company manages this seaport. Am I naive? What do you think?

37 comments:

Eric Blair said...
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Seneca the Younger said...

Yes.

markg8 said...
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Eric Blair said...

What I meant to say was:

I think most of the outrage is along the lines of "How DARE these furiners own property in this country!"

Anybody remember the Japanese supposedly buying up all that property in the 1980's? And gee, that turned out great for them, didn't it?

My first question: is the port actually making any money?

My second question: just how much will the owning company really have to do with the day to day operation and oversite of the port? Especially in light of the fact that the port has to still obey all the usual laws and regulations and has Coast Guard and other police agencies constantly snooping around for one reason or another. I guess this company will have something to do with the day to day operations, but hey, maybe they're good at it.

I'm not that put out by this, but others simply will look at Arab companies as simply not to be trusted. I wonder how 'multinational' these companies have actually become. And as this is an UAE company, not Saudi as I originally thought, I'm even less put out about it.

Schumer is honked because he thinks the unions are going to get the shaft (he may be right). The Kossak is doing the 'scary furiner' thing, and probably has no idea how ports are run anyway, since it seems to assume that lots of Arab stevedores are going to suddenly show up for work.

David Thomson said...

Why not worry about a French or Swedish company which might unwittingly employ a number of Islamic nihilists? Can’t we demand the Saudi company has nothing to do with the day to day operations pertaining to security? Why won’t this be sufficient to satisfy our legitimate concerns? Also, do we really want to humiliate those Saudis who are truly friendly towards the United States? Should they all be treated as possible enemies? Where should the line be drawn?

Knucklehead said...

So what is up with this deal? Hmmm...

UAE company poised to oversee 6 U.S. ports; administration not blocking deal.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A company in the United Arab Emirates is poised to take over significant operations at six American ports as part of a corporate sale, leaving a country with ties to the Sept. 11 hijackers with influence over a maritime industry considered vulnerable to terrorism.

Can anyone update me about the ties the UAE had to 9/11/01 hijackers? I don't recall this.

The U.S. administration considers the UAE an important ally in the fight against terrorism since the suicide hijackings and is not objecting to Dubai Ports World's purchase of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co.

This is happening because of the sale of a large port managment company from British owners to Dubai owners. Perhaps a potential for trouble, perhaps not.

What is the mechanism for any administration to block such a sale or register its disapproval?

The $6.8 billion US sale is expected to be approved Monday. The British company is the fourth largest ports company in the world and its sale would affect commercial U.S. port operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.

DP World said it won approval from a secretive U.S. government panel that considers security risks of foreign companies buying or investing in American industry.

The U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States "thoroughly reviewed the potential transaction and concluded they had no objection," the company said in a statement to The Associated Press.


What on earth is the CFIUS. Oh, it belongs to the US Treasury Dept.

EXON-FLORIO PROVISION

Introduction. The United States has traditionally welcomed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and provided foreign investors fair, equitable and nondiscriminatory treatment with few limited exceptions designed to protect national security. The Exon-Florio provision is implemented within the context of this open investment policy. The intent of Exon-Florio is not to discourage FDI generally, but to provide a mechanism to review and, if the President finds necessary, to restrict FDI that threatens the national security.

The Exon-Florio provision is implemented by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States ("CFIUS"), an inter-agency committee chaired by the Secretary of Treasury. CFIUS seeks to serve U.S. investment policy through thorough reviews that protect national security while maintaining the credibility of our open investment policy and preserving the confidence of foreign investors here and of U.S. investors abroad that they will not be subject to retaliatory discrimination.

The Statute. Section 5021 of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 amended Section 721 of the Defense Production Act of 1950 to provide authority to the President to suspend or prohibit any foreign acquisition, merger or takeover of a U.S. corporation that is determined to threaten the national security of the United States. The President can exercise this authority under section 721 (also known as the "Exon-Florio provision") to block a foreign acquisition of a U.S. corporation only if he finds:

(1) there is credible evidence that the foreign entity exercising control might take action that threatens national security, and

(2) the provisions of law, other than the International Emergency Economic Powers Act do not provide adequate and appropriate authority to protect the national security.


None of which, of course, tells me whether or not it should or should not have been blocked.

The article linked to above contains various claims and counter claims but is pretty standard fare.

The only other article I spotted on this is the same AP report. Not much to go on other than hoping that the CFIUS knows its business.

markg8 said...
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terrye said...

mark:

Take a hint. There was a time when I was willing to allow you to post here if you were respectful. You abused that and now I make it a point to zap you whenever I see you.

I just do not trust you.

David Thomson said...

“What on earth is the CFIUS. Oh, it belongs to the US Treasury Dept.”

The MSM has unjustifiably focussed our attention almost exclusively on the Cheney hunting accident. This is outrageous. They simply do not have their priorities straight. There are more important things to worry about then destroying the Bush administration.

I do not want to risk embittering our Arab allies. Is it really necessary to exclude them from lucrative contracts? Why can’t the security issues be resolved? I’m not getting it. This initially seems to be much ado about very little. What am I missing? Am I being childishly immature and merely desire to always be in disagreement with the Daily Kos crowd and Senator Senator Chuck Schumer?

terrye said...

Back to the subject at hand.

I saw Rep. King on Fox and he was saying there is a law that allows people like this to bid on these projects and he thinks that after 9/11 the law should be changed.

It reminds me of the debate here in Indiana concerning Daniel's decision to let a Australian/Spanish consortium get a 75 year lease on a toll road in northern Indiana.

But of course, these people are not Australians, they are Arabs. Maybe. In today's world who knows who really owns what?

And as for the unions, I have to admit that I have wondered in the past about organized crime and the ports. Those folks are not exactly picky about who they do business with.

I honestly do not know if this is a bad deal or not...and what if anything does the Port Authority have to do with the decision?

terrye said...

David:

I agree. We have bases all over the Arab world. Think about it.

flenser said...

The obsessive focus on the role of the WH in this matter is puzzling. The parties with primary responsibility are the states of New York and New Jersey, who manage these ports via the Port Authority. If they are convinced that this is the best way to go, then perhaps the complaints and outrage ought to be directed at them.

I swear, the way things are going we may as well just scrap all state and local government. Everybody wants the Feds to run the entire show.

Knucklehead said...

This isn't a case of an UAE company bidding on a contract and winning it. The contract was held already by a British company. The UAE company is buying the British company and, thereby, the contract.

The administration probably has no way to actually prevent the sale of a British company to a UAE company but, I suppose, they could find some way to make the contract null and void should the sale happen.

Considering we have bases in the UAE at Al Dhafra and Fujairah, we might want to figure out if there is a way to satisfy ourselves that security is not threatened rather than voiding contracts.

If one bothers to visit those sites I linked one might note the rather interesting strategic location (see map at bottom of second link).

Knucklehead said...

Flenser,

That is an interesting angle. Does anybody know how the letting of such port managment contracts is accomplished? I didn't dig deep enough to discover whether the "six ports" are those controlled by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (click into "Facilities and Services).

Do the feds actually have jurisdiction over these port management contracts or are they let by the individual port authorities.

Does the Administration actually have any authority to block this sale or void the contract?

markg8 said...
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markg8 said...
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Knucklehead said...

Apparently I botched the CFIUS link.

Heroic Dreamer said...

Not knowing anything about ports, I don't know if it's a bad deal or not; on the face of it, it looks risky. Certainly more important to discuss this for days on end than Cheney's hunting accident. Maybe if the blogs and the politicians mention it enough someone with some indepth knowledge about ports can put their 2 cents in, and an educated concensus can be reached on whether it matters or not.

I'm not holding my breath for the MSM to do any investigative reporting on such an important issue, though.

Rick Ballard said...

Knuck,

Perhaps some examination of what is actually involved in this contract might be in order. It seems as if there is some concept that a foreign owner could avoid or minimuze security. It's been my experience (Port of Oakland) that the steamship company "keeps" the container until Customs releases it (and the steamship company is paid in full). The steamship company pays the port for unloading the container and dropping it in the holding yard - the port never has "possession" of a container in any physical sense - let alone legal sense.

Knucklehead said...

Rick,

That's another useful topic we probably will never hear the MSM take up.

What, exactly, are the major Ts & Cs of this port management stuff? What does it mean to "manage a port"? They certaintly don't do the customs work. Do they control the harbor pilots? Do they actually schedule what comes and goes when? Or do they simply track what comes and goes when and make sure things get billed and accounted for?

I sure don't know. It certainly seems plausible to me that whoever manages the port, whatever that is, would be in a better position to take advantage of things for nefarious purposes than would the average bear. Of course that would be true of most of the workers and such also.

We surely should have some idea that we can trust (but verify) whatever company holds the contract. Declaring that this is not possible with a UAE company seems a stretch. What I don't know is if it is easier to have this sort of trust in a British company than a UAE company.

I haven't heard anything more substantive so far than the "we don't want no swarthy foreign companies from ME countries running our ports!" Well, maybe. We have their airplanes flying into our airports and their tankers into our terminals.

I might be willing to join the outrage about this if someone could show me what there is to be outraged about other than the three letters, U, A, and E.

I'm still very curious regarding the "controlling legal authority" here. It is not apparent to me what power the POTUS has to stop the sale of one foreign company to another foreign company. There's probably wholly owned US companies involved, but the press (and the screamers) aren't informing anybody about anything so far.

terrye said...

Well so far the issue seems to be framed in terms of sovereignty which is all well and good but if some of our allies in the ME respond in kind we could be in even more trouble.

I heard Neal Cavuto ask if "We want to give control of our ports over to people who were involved in 9/11" and I thought...whoa hold the phone. So that is how the people who are against the deal are framing it.

And flenser has a point here, the locals should have some say in this.

Meanwhile we have military bases all over the ME and buy oil from them on a daily basis.

I dunno, but I think that some calm reflection should replace the screaming and yelling from certain quarters.

Knucklehead said...

Terrye,

Kinda the "folks who brought you Pearl Harbor" argument. I have a friend who won't buy an American car 'cause he doesn't want to spend a lot of money and doesn't think the US low end is very good. He won't buy a Japanese car 'cause they're the folks who "brought us Pearl Harbor". So he buys Korean cars.

Not a Cavuto watcher (too early in the day) but I would expect more from him than to label this NYC port thing as "handing over control of our ports to people involved in 9/11."

BTW, here's from Wikepedia:

The nineteen conspiring hijackers who carried out the attack were affiliated with al-Qaeda, a well-organized Islamic terrorist group led by Osama bin Laden, a former Saudi national whose citizenship was revoked in 1994[1]. Fifteen of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, two were from the United Arab Emirates, and one each came from Egypt and Lebanon.

From the Chicago Sun-Times one year after report:

Although 15 of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, federal prosecutors have alleged in court documents that it was Mohamed Atta of Egypt, Ziad Jarrah of Lebanon and Marwan Al-Shehhi of the United Arab Emirates who "formed and maintained an al-Qaida terrorist cell in Germany" in the late 1990s.

While tracking down the nationalities of the hijackers I couldn't help noticing how many tinfoil hat conspiracy theories there are out there. Amazing. They spring up faster than Popular Mechanics and this guy can track them.

BTW2, while looking for the PM debunk article I ran across a site that treats the conspiracy theories as facta and "debunks" the rebuttals. I didn't spent long looking at it but there's a guy who really should consider paying more attention to keeping up with his meds.

terrye said...

knucklehead:

Down that road lies madness, stay away from those sites.

I don't know what is best. It is not as if I am an authority on port security, but it seems that the idea is that the ports are part of the border and so "WE" should be "doing" all that stuff.

One guy on Cavuto made that point that if we checked every crate coming in the country world trade would gring to a halt.

It would seem however, that if someone wanted to do damage, they could probably bribe someone. I hate to say that but you know just because they look like us does not mean they can be trusted. Just look at all the AlQaida in Europe.

I suppose they could nationalize the ports and just make all the folks working them federal employees. I wonder how the Unions would feel about that?

But back to this, I understand the Treasury Dept ok'd letting them keep the contract. The truth is legally they may not have much choice. My guess is that is the law that Rep. King was saying we should change.

If Bush has the authority to intervene he might do it, but someon has to get the job...will they make it illegal for any company from the ME to bid? What if they move their headquarters to London?

MeaninglessHotAir said...

One guy on Cavuto made that point that if we checked every crate coming in the country world trade would gring to a halt.

Just wait until a single dangerous package that kills a bunch of people gets through, and that is exactly what they will do.

I suppose they could nationalize the ports and just make all the folks working them federal employees.

They'll do that too. Just wait.

terrye said...

MHA:

Just wait? For what exactly?

I really do not think it is possible to check every crate and I don't know that such a thing as a bomb getting through will even happen. So I guess we will all have to wait.

Or we could just build a big old wall around the US, lay land mines at the Canadian and Mexican borders and deport every foreigner in the US.

Kind of like North Korea with money.

terrye said...

I bet the Bush administration is forced to stop the deal, politics an all. It is just interesting that these same Democrats [like Shumer] had nothing to say when Gore was in SA complaining that we were not kinder and gentler to our Arab friends.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

Or we could just build a big old wall around the US, lay land mines at the Canadian and Mexican borders and deport every foreigner in the US.

Kind of like North Korea with money.


Now you're talking!

Buddy Larsen said...

Wall us off? I'm starting to wonder what the hell's so wrong with that idea. Can we deport the native-born leftists, too? We're gonna need lots and lots of wall-builders, bring back the WPA!

Buddy Larsen said...

WPA, oops.

David Thomson said...

“I haven't heard anything more substantive so far than the "we don't want no swarthy foreign companies from ME countries running our ports!"

But isn’t Chuck Schumer and his fellow Democratic lefties politically correct and disinclined to bash Arabs? No, they are more than willing to do just about anything to filth on the Bush administration. This is goal number one and nothing else is to be taken into consideration.

If we exclude the Arabs---we must also exclude any foreign entity, period. We cannot afford to be perceived as Arab bashers to our Muslim allies throughout the world.

markg8 said...
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Buddy Larsen said...

"We'll take all the blue staters and minorities you don't want and you can have all the red staters."

What, the minorities don't get to choose? How very union of you, Mark.

markg8 said...
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Peter UK said...

Seems like a good deal Buddy,by the time your armour starts to roll, all the Markg8s will be in Canada

markg8 said...
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markg8 said...
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Peter UK said...

Markg8,There wouldn't be a war, your side won't fight remember,probably better to round you up and put you to work in the Alaskan oilfields