Skip to comments.UAE terminal takeover extends to 21 ports
Posted on 02/24/2006 4:56:54 AM PST by indcons
WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- A United Arab Emirates government-owned company is poised to take over port terminal operations in 21 American ports, far more than the six widely reported.
The Bush administration has approved the takeover of British-owned Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. to DP World, a deal set to go forward March 2 unless Congress intervenes.
P&O is the parent company of P&O Ports North America, which leases terminals for the import and export and loading and unloading and security of cargo in 21 ports, 11 on the East Coast, ranging from Portland, Maine to Miami, Florida, and 10 on the Gulf Coast, from Gulfport, Miss., to Corpus Christi, Texas, according to the company's Web site.
President George W. Bush on Tuesday threatened to veto any legislation designed to stall the handover.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. said after the briefing she expects swift, bi-partisan approval for a bill to require a national security review before it is allowed to go forward.
At issue is a 1992 amendment to a law that requires a 45-day review if the foreign takeover of a U.S. company "could affect national security." Many members of Congress see that review as mandatory in this case.
But Bush administration officials said Thursday that review is only triggered if a Cabinet official expresses a national security concern during an interagency review of a proposed takeover.
"We have a difference of opinion on the interpretation of your amendment," said Treasury Department Deputy Secretary Robert Kimmitt.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, comprised of officials from 12 government departments and agencies, including the National Security Council and the Department of Homeland Security, approved the deal unanimously on January 17.
"The structure of the deal led us to believe there were no national security concerns," said Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Michael P. Jackson.
The same day, the White House appointed a DP World executive, David C. Sanborn, to be the administrator for the Maritime Administration of the Department of Transportation. Sanborn had been serving as director of operations for Europe and Latin America at DP World.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R- Va., said he will request from both the U.S. attorney general and the Senate committee's legal counsel a finding on the administration's interpretation of the 1992 amendment.
Adding to the controversy is the fact Congress was not notified of the deal. Kimmitt said Congress is periodically updated on completed CFIUS decisions, but is proscribed from initiating contact with Congress about pending deals. It may respond to congressional inquiries on those cases only.
Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley stated in a letter to Bush on Feb. 21 that he specifically requested to be kept abreast of foreign investments that may have national security implications. He made the request in the wake of a controversial Chinese proposal to purchase an oil company last year.
"Obviously, my request fell on deaf ears. I am disappointed that I was neither briefed nor informed of this sale prior to its approval. Instead, I read about it in the media," he wrote.
According to Kimmitt, the deal was reported on in major newspapers as early as last October. But it did not get critical attention in the press until the Associated Press broke the story Feb. 11 and the Center for Security Policy, a right-leaning organization, wrote about it Feb. 13. CSP posited the sale as the Treasury Department putting commerce interests above national security.
Kimmitt said because the 2005 Chinese proposal had caused such an uproar before it ever got to CFIUS, the lack of reaction to the Dubai deal when it was reported on last fall suggested it would not be controversial enough to require special notification of Congress.
Central to the debate is the fact that the United Arab Emirates, while a key ally of the United States in the Middle East, has had troubling ties to terrorist networks, according to the Sept. 11 Commission report. It was one of the few countries in the world that recognized the al-Qaida-friendly Taliban government in Afghanistan; al-Qaida funneled millions of dollars through the U.A.E. financial sector; and A.Q. Khan, the notorious Pakistani nuclear technology smuggler, used warehouses near the Dubai port as a key transit point for many of his shipments.
Since the terrorist attacks, it has cut ties with the Taliban, frozen just over $1 million in alleged terrorist funding, and given the United States key military basing and over-flight rights. At any given time, there are 77,000 U.S. service members on leave in the United Arab Emirates, according to the Pentagon.
Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England warned that the uproar about the United Arab Emirates involvement in U.S. ports could risk alienating the very countries in the Middle East the United States is trying to court as allies in the war on terrorism.
"It's very important we strengthen bonds ... especially with friends and allies in the Arab world. It's important that we treat friends and allies equally around the world without discrimination," he said.
The security of port terminal operations is a key concern. More than 7 million cargo containers come through 361 American ports annually, half of the containers through New York-New Jersey, Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif. Only a small percentage are physically searched and just 37 percent currently screened for radiation, an indication of an attempt to smuggle in nuclear material that could be used for a "dirty bomb."
After the September 11 terrorist attacks, the government began a new program that required documentation on all cargo 24 hours before it was loaded on a ship in a foreign port bound for the United States. A "risk analysis" is conducted on every shipment, including a review of the ship's history, the cargo's history and contents and other factors. Each ship must also provide the U.S. government 96 hours notice of its arrival in an American port, along with a crew manifest.
None of the nine administration officials assembled for the briefing could immediately say how many of the more than 3,000 port terminals are currently under foreign control.
Port facility operators have a major security responsibility, and one that could be exploited by terrorists if they infiltrate the company, said Joe Muldoon III. Muldoon is an attorney representing Eller & Co., a port facility operator in Florida partnered with M&O in Miami. Eller opposes the Dubai takeover for security reasons.
"The Coast Guard oversees security, and they have the authority to inspect containers if they want and they can look at manifests, but they are really dependent on facility operators to carry out security issues," Muldoon said.
The Marine Transportation Security Act of 2002 requires vessels and port facilities to conduct vulnerability assessments and develop security plans including passenger, vehicle and baggage screening procedures; security patrols; establishing restricted areas; personnel identification procedures; access control measures; and/or installation of surveillance equipment.
Under the same law, port facility operators may have access to Coast Guard security incident response plans -- that is, they would know how the Coast Guard plans to counter and respond to terrorist attacks.
"The concern is that the UAE may be our friend now ... but who's to say that couldn't change, or they couldn't be infiltrated. Iran was our big buddy," said Muldoon.
In a January report, the Council on Foreign Relations pointed out the vulnerability of the shipping security system to terrorist exploitation.
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. customs agency requires shippers to follow supply chain security practices. Provided there are no apparent deviations from those practices or intelligence warnings, the shipment is judged low risk and is therefore unlikely to be inspected.
CFR suggests a terrorist event is likely to be a one-time operation on a trusted carrier "precisely because they can count on these shipments entering the U.S. with negligible or no inspection."
"All a terrorist organization needs to do is find a single weak link within a 'trusted' shipper's complex supply chain, such as a poorly paid truck driver taking a container from a remote factory to a port. They can then gain access to the container in one of the half-dozen ways well known to experienced smugglers," CFR wrote.
And Walmart is working with them!!!!!
The UAE has only been our "ally" since 9/11. That isn't long enough to prove trustworthiness. If 20 years from now they are still showing themselves to be friendly, THEN we might turn our port management over to them. Now is too soon and too reckless.
Yeah letting US troops trian there and have US ships refurbished and replenished there is not "trustworty", but I guess to you ignorance is bliss.
BTW, I'll take Gen. Tommy Franks opinion over yours.
I was wondering when you would land up to post your inane remarks. BTW, have you ever followed the UAE connection to terrorism?
Guess what? You are in a minority on FR....the same minority that supported the doomed Harriet Miers nomination till the very end.
How does that amendment apply when a US Company wasn't taken over? It was a British Company
Trustworthy enough to use them as our most critical port link to support our troops fighting the war.
And guess what your opinion is different than Tommy Franks and Oliver North.
I guess if there is poll saying that a majority says they should jump off a bridge who will be the first to jump.
Yes, comparing your insight to that of General Franks and Colonel North is so inane...LOL!
Are you going to be intellectually honest and discuss the terrorist antecedents of the UAE? Or is everything unnecessary because the administration's chief spokesmen have decided otherwise?
Tommy Franks and Oliver North:Dream Ticket '08
Sorry grammatical error in my above.
I guess if there is poll saying that a majority says they should jump off a bridge
whoyou will be the first to jump.
Say what you want, Dane. Having seen your personal attacks and one-sided posts on other threads, I hardly care for your opinion.
YOu know, the people arguing against this would do much better if they informed themselves and stopped spouting blatant falsehoods
Someone has already pointed out that the article itself is in error as it uses the argument that the sale of a US COMPANY to a foriegn power triggers the 45 day review -- this is a sale of a FORIEGN COMPANY --P&O -- to another FORIEGN COMPANY. Additionally, it has been fully reviewed and vetted by DOJ, DHS, Customs, DoD, etc etc etc .... Anyone who watched the hearing and watched Hillary! and company get bitchslapped by the testifiers would know that. BUt, what the heck let's just follow the Dems off the cliff of Xenophobia and wreck relations with one of the few Arab Countries that is a staunch Ally.
Now on to your comment --- P&O OPERATES TERMINALS in these ports. THAT IS ALL THEY DO. They load and unload ships --- THE STATE MANAGES THE PORT. DHA and the COAST GUARD provide security for the port. P&O is just one of dozens of CUSTOMERS at each port. As a matter of fact..P&O facilities are less than 10% of the facilities at EVERY PORT in which they operate.
The Dems have used this to Split the Rep party, WEAKEN relations with a vital interest in the Gulf, and try to pose as being strong on National Security.
And the ignorant xenophobes on our side have fallen for it hook line and sinker.
So this review is only triggered "if a Cabinet official expresses a national security concern during an interagency review of a proposed takeover." Why are the people's representatives not included in such a review, while these matters are voted on by the "yes" men appointed by the President? This stinking deal certainly opens a lot of questionable processes that need changing. After all, when Chuck Grassley specifically requests that he be notified about these sweetheart deals with foreign governments and he is ignored, government "of the people, by the people and for the people" has obviously perished in the USA. It's high time the people start agitating for a bigger role than voting for their masters at election time and paying the bills for the things their masters decide they want.
Those evil MOOSLIMS at DPO have VOLUNTARILY offered to DELAY the purchase of P&O so that Congress can hold hearings and CFIUS can conduct the 45 day review that HILLARY! was screeching about.
NOw I wonder what evil and nefarious plan they have up their sleeves. THere is no way thoise horrible evil bloodthirsty savage terrorists would willfully submit to a full vetting of their company and the purchase. I bet they have a plant that will sabotage the hearings and brainwash every single Congressman, Senator and Official..yeah that's the ticket!!!!
Give the kooks sufficient rope and enjoy the show?
Oh, also -how is the LEGAL and PRIVATE sale of a FORIEGN owned Company --P&O to another Foriegn owned company a "sweetheart" deal???
Well the headline just keeps pumping the controversy, "takeover".
I agree with you....could have been phrased more accurately by the author.
And of course the 9/11 report was soooo reliable based on such commission members as Jamie Gorelick and R. Benvitiste!
I'll take ANYone's opinion over yours.
This is such stupid hysteria. Here in Philadelphia, where they are allegedly being "given our port", they are actually going to manage a single warehouse and wharf at Tioga Marine Terminal used mostly to import fruit from South Africa and Chile.
What seems to be missing from all the discussion on this issue is that there are no American companies who have the capital to invest in this type of thing anymore.
We have been living off the wealth generated by our fathers and grandfathers generation for at least 20 years, (just moving it around) IMHO, and have given it all away to foreign governments. Now we are at their mercy.
"I was wondering when you would land up to post your inane remarks. BTW, have you ever followed the UAE connection to terrorism?
Guess what? You are in a minority on FR....the same minority that supported the doomed Harriet Miers nomination till the very end."
Funny, I think I remember something about how many Saudis were involved in 9/11(15 I believe) and we buy our oil from them. Not sure if I want a country who actively sponsors terrorism and hatred for Israel as one of our primary suppliers of energy. Then again, knowing this I saw what the reaction from our Senators to opening ANWR was like.
As for Miers, IMHO I believe that nominating Miers solidified the right and that is why Alito is on the bench. For four years Rove was an evil genius. I still believe he is.
OOO OOO OOO Lemme try, the argument goes :
AH HAH!! See, Fruit is IRRADIATED, meaning the evil Mooslims can hide Dirty Bomb parts in the fruit containers and thier enablers at DPO will let the shipments pass right through because they are in on the deal, and if a radiation detector goes off they will just turn it off and ignore because they are in charge of the ports now, and the destruction of Philadelphia will be ON YOUR HANDS!!!!
Damn, I may have to switch sides, I am sogooooooooooooooooood at this I just convinced myself.
"What seems to be missing from all the discussion on this issue is that there are no American companies who have the capital to invest in this type of thing anymore. "
Schumer wanted Halliburton to run the ports.
Does Tommy Franks know for certain WHY the UAE is letting US ships be refurbished and replenished there? Maybe it's to trick us like we were fooled re the USS Cole. By the way, since when has an Arab ever been "trustworty"? Lying is part of their culture. (Oops is that racist?) Remember we used to think Iran was one of our best allies.
Yes, General Franks does have a little bit of first hand knowledge and experience with the issue.
I just came back from 15 months in Iraq and two things I came away with; the resolve that I saw in the Kurdish people to establish a democratic capitalist country and the commitment by the crazed fanatics in the Muslim religion to see to the demise of our way of life.
The port deal maybe completely on the up and up but these people will use whatever means they can find to bring down our nation.....and are willing to patiently wait until the right opportunity comes along to fulfill that desire (ten years between the two New York bombings ). There is no doubt in my mind that they are coming and the fewest opportunities we give them the better off we will be.
And we should give them no more opportunity then we give them in providing the same services to our U.S. Naval vessels currently.
As I recall, John Gibson pressed Schumer into saying that he would rather see Halliburton running the ports than DP. It was at the very end of an interview and Gibson set up the scenario, which Schumer reluctantly agreed to. Not quite as stunning, but still of interest.
Yes, they would have to spend many years proving to me they are allies. Maybe if they would rush to the defense of Israel just once or a dozen times.
This was another inept deal by the Bush administration, no matter what is claimed now. They had a great chance to show off domestic conern by handling Katrina better, at least in the aftermath. But the botches keep piling up: Harriet Myers, Katrina aftermath, the port deal, no border security.
If we had some border security there might be some trust in the administration, but years after 9/11, we still see nothing. As Dennis Miller said, "I know Mexicans are coming across the border and need jobs, but at least sign the ^%$@* guestbook on the way in." He got a huge round of applause.
Hillary could win crucial states on the border issue alone.
I just discovered they sometimes also import timber products and big rolls of paper at Tioga Marine too.
Those dirty Muslims are probably going to eat the fruit, make a huge fire, and roll the paper across the city like a giant toilet papering of a tree!
Hide the women and children!
UAE is one of the most progressive Arab countries in the world -- and a very beautiful place BTW -- Women are free to walk around in GASP PANTS!!!! They are allowed to take part in athletics, they are allowed to go to school, attend college, and OMG VOTE!!!! Christian Churches are allowed (albeit one cannot "minister" outside of the church)!!!
Yes, we have heard all the arguments, UAE recognized the Taliban, UAE people may have met with Bin Laden --- ALL PRE 9/11. Once AQ hit us, UAE immediately severed relation with the Taliban and started working with the coalition to bring down the Taliban and Saddam. They gave us vital intel, and were also a coalition partner in Desert Storm.
They allow us to base Naval, Army and Air Force personnel in thier country. We sell them arms all the time, including Apache helicopter and F-16's (Do you think we would willingly arm our enemy).
They also control the Straits of Hormuz. NOW I ask you this, is operation of a HANDFUL of warehouses worth destroying an international relationship with one of the most important strategic partners in the WOT????
You mean those that actually look at the facts instead of getting every talking point from Faux News? I can honestly say I can count on one hand the number of times I have supported administration policy, as nothing it's done has been conservative. But on this issue I have no problem with Bush's decision
Which is retarded, because Halliburton is not an overseas shipping line, so why would they need wharfs and warehouses?
Heck, we have a popular shopping mall in the area that is 90% owned by the UAE. Nobody seems to care about that. Does the general public know that the CITGO stations in their neighborhood are owned by a foreign country (Venezuela/Chavez)?
The only problem I now have is that those defending the takeover deal have made some good points about the UAE but they are also neglecting to tell the whole story. For instance, I heard Rush say on the radio that, in regards to the UAE and their relationship with the U.S., the UAE even donated $100 million dollars to the Katrina relief fund. Terrific! That's a good sign, right?
But wait.... Rush forgot to mention that the donation was made just a few short weeks ago. It doesn't take Ben Matlock to figure this "donation" out.
What is with this trend we are seeing here in Free Republic?
There are a few who think that if a person doesn't agree 100% with the Administration, that person is accused of being unpatriotic, is stupid, is a troll, is a cry-baby, blah, blah, blah.
This is a dangerous trend, in my opinion. It is not conducive to intelligent debate.
Debate is a very useful tool; one which must be present in a free society.
Yeah, I know. Terrorists won't target the ports.
I can ask the same question about the Longshoreman that will actually be doing the loading and unloading. Thanks to thier union they have that power over us at every single terminal at every single port.
You do realize that outside of management in the home office in Dubai, that every single employee at the actual ports will be an American right? You do know that DPO COO is an american don't you? You also know that out of thier entire Board of Directors, exactly ONE person is from the UAE (albeit he is the CEO), every other board member is American, British, Dutch or Indian.
This is an international company, it is not a bunch of Arabs that will be suddenly running around our Ports. DPO runs Terminals at ports all over the world. They have not been tied to one single terrorist network or incident in thier entire exsistance.
The UAE even allows us to Station DHS and Customs agents AT THEIR HOME PORTS to inspect cargo and manifests. They did this voluntarily after a story a couple years ago that UAE ports might have been a transit point for scientific equipment going to Libya I think.
Until Bill Clinton got in power, ocean and fresh water ports were considered sensitive and protected for NATIONAL security. Since Bill Clinton and the "free traitin'" globalists of the the Bush administrations have been "reinventing our government" we have lost our ability to protect our vital interests to the international corporations favored by the globalists.
The COO is an American? Where do you think his allegiance lies?
Thank the Lord there was no FR when Reagan was in office!
You have FReepmail