Skip to comments.White House Defends Port Sale to Arab Co.
Posted on 02/16/2006 1:40:18 PM PST by Stellar Dendrite
The Bush administration on Thursday rebuffed criticism about potential security risks of a $6.8 billion sale that gives a company in the United Arab Emirates control over significant operations at six major American ports.
Lawmakers asked the White House to reconsider its earlier approval of the deal.
The sale to state-owned Dubai Ports World was "rigorously reviewed" by a U.S. committee that considers security threats when foreign companies seek to buy or invest in American industry, National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones said.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, run by the Treasury Department, reviewed an assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies. The committee's 12 members agreed unanimously the sale did not present any problems, the department said.
"We wanted to look at this one quite closely because it relates to ports," Stewart Baker, an assistant secretary in the Homeland Security Department, told The Associated Press. "It is important to focus on this partner as opposed to just what part of the world they come from. We came to the conclusion that the transaction should not be halted."
The unusual defense of the secretive committee, which reviews hundreds of such deals each year, came in response to criticism about the purchase of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co.
The world's fourth-largest ports company runs commercial operations at shipping terminals in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.
Four senators and three House members asked the administration Thursday to reconsider its approval. The lawmakers contended the UAE is not consistent in its support of U.S. terrorism-fighting efforts.
"The potential threat to our country is not imagined, it is real," Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., said in a House speech.
The Homeland Security Department said it was legally impossible under the committee's rules to reconsider its approval without evidence DP World gave false information or withheld vital details from U.S. officials. The 30-day window for the committee to voice objections has ended.
DP World said it had received all regulatory approvals.
"We intend to maintain and, where appropriate, enhance current security arrangements," the company said in a statement. "It is very much business as usual for the P&O terminals" in the United States.
In Dubai, the UAE's foreign minister described his country as an important U.S. ally but declined to respond directly to the concerns expressed in Washington.
"We have worked very closely with the United States on a number of issues relating to the combat of terrorism, prior to and post Sept. 11," Sheik Abdullah Bin Zayed al-Nahyan told The Associated Press.
U.S. lawmakers said the UAE was an important transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuclear components sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya by a Pakistani scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan. They also said the UAE was one of only three countries to recognize the now-toppled Taliban as Afghanistan's legitimate government.
The State Department describes the UAE as a vital partner in the fight against terrorism. Dubai's own ports have participated since last year in U.S. efforts to detect illegal shipments of nuclear materials.
Rep. Vito Fossella, R-N.Y., urged congressional hearings on the deal.
"At a time when America is leading the world in the war on terrorism and spending billions of dollars to secure our homeland, we cannot cede control of strategic assets to foreign nations with spotty records on terrorism," Fossella said.
Critics also have cited the UAE's history as an operational and financial base for the hijackers who carried out the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"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," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. "The administration needs to take another look at this deal."
Separately, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said Thursday it will conduct its own review of the deal and urged the government to defend its decision.
In a letter to the Treasury Department, Port Authority chairman Anthony Coscia said the independent review by his agency was necessary "to protect its interests."
The lawmakers pressing the White House to reconsider included Sens. Schumer, Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Reps. Foley, Fossella and Chris Shays, R-Conn.
Uh-oh. I still don't like this.
Damn that Tom Coburn!!! What a RINO /s
I agree. There are no US firms that were interested in the gig?
Thanks Starwise....this whole thing just makes me VERY nervous...
It is just the 1st step in Chucky Schumer and his Democrat Senate insane clown posse pushing for "Let's put the Govt in charge of the ports". It has the added benefit of allowing Chucky to posture as being "tough on security issues" while actually doing NOTHING serious. The Dems want this so they can swell union membership and there DNC campaign contributions like they did after 9-11 with the Air Line Baggage Screeners. IT is PURE total BS.
I behind Bush all the way but he is WRONG on this!
Like clockwork, I tell ya
I heard Peter King (R-NY) who is staunchly against this interviewed yesterday....he said not a single American company put in a bid for this...
Is there another way to stop this?
This piece doesn't even deserve reading.
In a POST 9/11 world, no way should a foreign entity be an owner of such a sensitive facility.
Why doesn't the US sell them some nuclear plants and water treatment faciilites.
The US can also farm out the border patrol to them and the Mexicans.
Since Feb 12, 2006"
Welcome to Free Republic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I take back "strain of violent islam infesting their
country.", and replace it with "strain of violent islam infesting their
"Nice to meet you Mr. Manson...would you like to come in for dinner?"
I'm so confused...... I find myself agreeing with Schumer and Lautenberg.
My late father's favorite saying, "This world isn't fit to live in, but there is no place else to go."
So if the feds are still in charge of port security, and this pack of Moose-limbs is going to just "run" the port operations, is there any reason the mob shouldn't be allowed to operate the printing presses at the Treasury Department? I mean after all, the mint is still guarded by federal officers, what harm could come of it? ;)
I behind Bush all the way but he is WRONG on this!
From reading just two of your posts today, I need to ask:
Are you the King of the Bushbots?
I like your father's saying. A lot.
We have foreign registered ships coming into the US every day and no one has voiced concerns. Foreign nationals routinely work on US installations overseas. Before I stick my neck out on this, I would want to know what port facilities are affected, the size of the facilities, where they are located and the arrangements for monitoring and inspection.
This is bs. No good will come from this.
Anytime Schumer, Lautenberg and RINOs are opposed to something, I am suspicious.
If you are concerned about this, do you avoid shopping at WalMart? After all, everyone knows that every dollar spent at Wally World funds the build up of the People's Liberation Army.
Additionally, the "Moose-limbs" are all getting checked out in driving semi's all over our highways.
I had no problem with this deal until I read that this "company" is a Dubai government entity. We should not be permitting any such deals with government companyies.
"The committee's 12 members agreed unanimously the sale did not present any problems,'
I wonder how much that cost the Arabs per committee person?
OMG, I agree with my senator chuck......this is a red letter day.
And Bush's last vestiges of conservatism go right out the window...
I guess you would rather state an opinion before you had any information.
"The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, run by the Treasury Department, reviewed an assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies. The committee's 12 members agreed unanimously the sale did not present any problems, the department said."
Obviously this secret committee on foreign investment in the US is made up of arab muslims. Since no red blooded freedom lovin American in his right mind could possibly conceive this sale as not a potential threat to our national security at a time when we are at war with some arab muslims.
beam me up scotty
Even on immigration? How about government spending? The expanded size of government? Do you agree with the continued shrinking of our military personnal?
lol I guess Dane has the day off...
"I wonder how much that cost the Arabs per committee person?"
Dang just when I figured the committe must be made up of arabs you come along with this multi million dollar bribe scheme. yessiree that'll git er done.
JMO, the screeching ones on this thtread are either textbook knee jerkers or chuckie schumer sycophants.
"Does this pose a national security risk? I think that's pushing the envelope," said Stephen E. Flynn, who studies maritime security at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "It's not impossible to imagine one could develop an internal conspiracy, but I'd have to assign it a very low probability."
Changing management over the U.S. ports "doesn't offer al-Qaida any opportunities it doesn't have now," said James Lewis, who worked with the U.S. committee at the State and Commerce departments. "It's in Dubai's interest to make sure this runs well. There is strong economic incentive to be sure these worries never materialize."
Flynn and others said even under foreign control, U.S. ports will continue to be run by unionized American employees. "You're not going have a bunch of UAE citizens working the docks," Flynn said. "They're longshoremen, vested in high-paying jobs. Most of them are Archie Bunker-kind of Americans."
Peninsular and Oriental and DP World set approval by the U.S. security committee as a condition for the sale. In regulatory papers, the companies said either the committee must agree not to formally investigate the purchase or Bush must not move to block the sale for national security purposes.
Doesn't matter if the Feds run the Port Security or not. I have to disagree with you on this.
NO Foreign country should be running OUR ports in ANY capacity.