Control of US ports: Bush selling out on US security?


by Ivan Seeking
Tags: bush, control, ports, security, selling
loseyourname
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#55
Feb19-06, 11:14 PM
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Quote Quote by edward
Please don't pull the race card here. This isn't about race and you know it.
We are currently fighting a war on terrorism againts Islam, not a race.
Thousnds of Americans were killed on 9/11 and thousands more have been killed since then. Hint: they were not killed by Catholics or Hindus.
Whether it's race or religion, you can't refuse to hire someone or sell to them because of it. That's not fair; it's just guilt by association when you have no evidence or reason to believe, other than innuendo, that this company has ever been or ever will be involved in terrorist plots or any other effort to hurt US security. Just saying that Al Qaeda once used other companies that were based in the same country to transfer money and that citizens of that country were involved in attacks is not enough. US citizens and companies have been involved in activities that threatened US national security before; that doesn't mean all US companies should now be barred from acquiring any operations that represent potential targets.

I'd just like to see some reason that we should be concerned about this company, rather than simply grouping them in with the entire UAE or all Muslims (are the owners of the company even religious fundamentalists?) and saying they're guilty for no reason other than because of belonging to the same nation or religion.
Moonbear
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Feb19-06, 11:36 PM
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Quote Quote by TheStatutoryApe
I could be wrong but it looks like it should fall under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Shutting down the port operations would easily be a national economic emergency and most likely declared an act of economic sabotage especially coming from a company owned by a foreign state.
One way or another there seems to be protection and it looks pretty much like the exact sort of thing Cyrus described if the IEEPA applies.
The only thing I wasn't sure about is since the act talks about property in a foreign country, would it apply to our own ports?
Moonbear
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Feb19-06, 11:39 PM
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Quote Quote by loseyourname
I'd just like to see some reason that we should be concerned about this company, rather than simply grouping them in with the entire UAE or all Muslims (are the owners of the company even religious fundamentalists?) and saying they're guilty for no reason other than because of belonging to the same nation or religion.
One of the earlier articles cited says that this company is state-owned, which is the reason given why the Miami company is fighting it, because it puts them in business with the UAE government.
edward
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Feb19-06, 11:47 PM
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The UAE was very much aware of terrorist funding and activities in their country previous to and after 911. We had warned them in 1999 to put a stop to it. They didn't. The information is on pages 40-43 of the 9/11 commission report depending on your version of adobe reader.
Shortcut to: http://www.9-11commission.gov/staff_..._Monograph.pdf
edward
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Feb19-06, 11:55 PM
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Quote Quote by loseyourname
Whether it's race or religion, you can't refuse to hire someone or sell to them because of it. That's not fair; it's just guilt by association when you have no evidence or reason to believe, other than innuendo, that this company has ever been or ever will be involved in terrorist plots or any other effort to hurt US security. Just saying that Al Qaeda once used other companies that were based in the same country to transfer money and that citizens of that country were involved in attacks is not enough.
The world isn't fair. And I didn't just say that they were guilty by association. They were just plain guilty. The UAE knew what was going on in their country and failed to do anything about it even though we had warned them in 1999.

US citizens and companies have been involved in activities that threatened US national security before; that doesn't mean all US companies should now be barred from acquiring any operations that represent potential targets.
You are putting oranges and apples in the same box again.

I'd just like to see some reason that we should be concerned about this company, rather than simply grouping them in with the entire UAE or all Muslims (are the owners of the company even religious fundamentalists?) and saying they're guilty for no reason other than because of belonging to the same nation or religion.
It is a state owned company and their religion is fundamentalist Islam. What do you need, dead bodies? we already have them.
Cyrus
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Feb20-06, 12:16 AM
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It is a state owned company and their religion is fundamentalist Islam. What do you need, dead bodies? we already have them.
Edward, it saddens me to hear you say this. I thought you would have a better judgement than that. Do you think the head of the Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, and the President of the United States would call the UAE their 'good friends' and approve of this bid if they though the UAE was in any way a " state owned company and their religion is fundamentalist Islam."
TheStatutoryApe
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#61
Feb20-06, 12:29 AM
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Quote Quote by Moonbear
The only thing I wasn't sure about is since the act talks about property in a foreign country, would it apply to our own ports?
The part where it mentions "in whole or substantial part outside the United States" I am assuming would cover an entity in the US working on behalf of a foreign government. I don't think that they are refering to property in a foreign country though since the president has no authority to freeze assets or confiscate property in another country. Something like that would require diplomatic excersizes to convince the country where the property is held and/or clandestine CIA operations. I'm pretty sure it's refering to property and assets located in the US.
edward
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Feb20-06, 01:12 AM
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Quote Quote by cyrusabdollahi
Edward, it saddens me to hear you say this. I thought you would have a better judgement than that. Do you think the head of the Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, and the President of the United States would call the UAE their 'good friends' and approve of this bid if they though the UAE was in any way a " state owned company and their religion is fundamentalist Islam."
Cyrus, sorry I saddend you. My judgement relies heavily on a liftime of experience.

I would really like to know what the presidents motivations are. Perhaps if he would just tell us it might clear up a lot of doubts that people are having. Chertoff and Condi Rice will say what the administration tells them to say.

Somewhere behind all of this move to be buddies with the UAE, someone has some very questionable alterior motives.

When I say state owned company I mean that DB Ports, the company in question, is an entirely owned entity of the UAE government. As of five years ago the UAE was not at all helpful according to the 9/11 Comission Report. They are not a democracy and the are very much Islamic. And every Islamic country has a fundamentalist faction.

If this is about: oil, the petro dollar, giving the UAE a place to invest their money, and having an area in the middle east to stockpile weapons, why can't we just call a spade a spade and dispense with all of the secretive garbage.
SOS2008
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Feb20-06, 01:14 AM
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We are concerned about lack of control of strategic areas, such as the Middle East and oil resources we are dependent upon. We are concerned about outsourcing and/or importing to meet our country's needs (or at least we should be). We are concerned about foreign ownership of U.S. assets. We are concerned about national security, which includes insuring basic necessities for the American people. If we as Americans aren't capable of operating our own ports, we should be asking why not? The same goes with everything in the business sector if for no other reason than keeping revenue, jobs, etc. here. There must be something in it for BushCo.
russ_watters
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#64
Feb20-06, 08:09 AM
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Quote Quote by edward
He who operates controlls the security.
No. That is not correct. Primary responsibility for security is in the hands of the US Coast Guard and DHS. And that includes oversight of the physical security of the facility itself - not just the water. [edit-clarify] The company operating the port may hire the rent-a-cops, but their security plan is still overseen by the coast guard and DHS.

http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/mp/mtsa.shtml

But lets keep our eye on the ball here: What is the primary issue with port security? The primary issue with port security is not the physical security of the port facilities, but the inspection/clearance of the ships and cargo that come into the ports. Responsibility for that is in the hands of the Coast Guard and DHS (the customs part was taken over by DHS).
http://www.senate.gov/~govt-aff/032003ohanlon.htm
The Coast Guard is highly relevant to the topic at hand because it is responsible for verifying the origin and characteristics of ships coming into the United States, and it has the job of stopping ships that do not belong here. The second asks how much larger traditional customs inspections resources (now part of DHS’s directorate of border and transportation security, as you well know) should be. They must now screen cargo coming into the United States well enough to deter dangerous shipments, and failing that to detect the presence of nuclear materials, surface-to-air antiaircraft weapons, substantial quantities of chemical weapons, and other potential terrorist weapons.
crazycalhoun
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Feb20-06, 08:16 AM
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Quote Quote by SOS2008
We are concerned about lack of control of strategic areas, such as the Middle East and oil resources we are dependent upon. We are concerned about outsourcing and/or importing to meet our country's needs (or at least we should be). We are concerned about foreign ownership of U.S. assets. We are concerned about national security, which includes insuring basic necessities for the American people. If we as Americans aren't capable of operating our own ports, we should be asking why not? The same goes with everything in the business sector if for no other reason than keeping revenue, jobs, etc. here. There must be something in it for BushCo.
The short and long of it...a port is not an embassy.
Moonbear
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#66
Feb20-06, 10:50 AM
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Quote Quote by edward
If this is about: oil, the petro dollar, giving the UAE a place to invest their money, and having an area in the middle east to stockpile weapons, why can't we just call a spade a spade and dispense with all of the secretive garbage.
There are some obvious types of reasons that come to mind, but I can't understand why none of them could be voiced outright instead of being done secretly, such as financial incentive to the UAE to stay allied with the U.S., a reduction of the cost of oil to the US (unless Bush's oil buddies were planning on keeping that information to themselves and still charging the consumer just as much), some sort of agreement so the US can maintain operations at their military bases in the UAE, or maybe even just a showing of good will/forgiveness to push diplomatic relations with the UAE forward rather than risk them deteriorating.

One semi-legitimate reason I can think of to have kept it secret and only "let it leak" late in the game, is if they really didn't have any intention of allowing this, but went through all the motions to keep the UAE happy, then let it leak out knowing it would cause an uproar, then when private companies sued to block it and Congress rushed to pass laws to change the rules, oops, sorry, I guess we tried our best, but just can't finalize that deal. But, geez, that would be awfully transparent as a diplomatic tactic.

This could be a very nice example of real politics hard at work, if only we knew more of the details. Afterall, national security is not just about who is running the ports, but ensuring we have fuel for our vehicles, and trying to appease governments in unstable areas to keep as many of them as allies as possible, and keeping them happy enough to continue permitting the US to operate military bases in their countries.
crazycalhoun
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#67
Feb20-06, 11:00 AM
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Quote Quote by Moonbear
There are some obvious types of reasons that come to mind, but I can't understand why none of them could be voiced outright instead of being done secretly...
Probably because it wasn't done secretly.
russ_watters
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#68
Feb20-06, 11:21 AM
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Quote Quote by Moonbear
Russ, this is what I'm struggling to understand, and would appreciate if you could elaborate here. What exactly does "operation" of the ports entail? I know they don't own them, but operation gives them some control over something...
In addition to what Art said about loading and unloading cargo, physical site security (they hire the rent-a-cops that work the gate), I would assume that also means they own or lease the land itself and the buildings. Also, there is maintenance, fuel, provisions, tugboat service to assist in docking, etc. It isn't fundamentally different from the way some railroads are privately owned (except, of course, that even the private railroads have considerable government involvement since they are unprofitable on their own).

Also of note, the harbor pilots (local navigation experts, required by law to be used when entering or leaving port) are also private contractors, though they are separate from the port operations.

Regarding the secrecy thing: the Bush Admin has a culture of secrecy. I doubt there is any specific reason for most of the things they do in secret - it just the way they do business.
russ_watters
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#69
Feb20-06, 11:35 AM
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Quote Quote by SOS2008
We are concerned about lack of control of strategic areas, such as the Middle East and oil resources we are dependent upon. We are concerned about outsourcing and/or importing to meet our country's needs (or at least we should be). We are concerned about foreign ownership of U.S. assets. We are concerned about national security, which includes insuring basic necessities for the American people. If we as Americans aren't capable of operating our own ports, we should be asking why not? The same goes with everything in the business sector if for no other reason than keeping revenue, jobs, etc. here. There must be something in it for BushCo.
All of that is fine, but it doesn't have anything at all to do with the OP. General port/shipping security is certainly an important issue, but this discussion is about the sale of a British corporation that currently runs our ports to a company based in the UAE. Unless you actually think the company is going to be infiltrated by terrorists because it is an Arabic company or will lower their security standards (despite all the government oversight), the net effect of this change on our security should be zero.
russ_watters
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#70
Feb20-06, 11:44 AM
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Quote Quote by cyrusabdollahi
Explain where you need that money to get it operating again? You already have US workers working there. They are already trained to do their jobs. The structure is already there, and you have the old British company that is familiar with the running of operations to take over if they had to sell it back. Yeah, the people that lost the bids to the UAE would buy it within the hour, not overnight, your right my bad.
I rather suspect that when the sale goes through, the only immediate change will be the sign on the street in front of the port operaitons office. They will probably reorganize the management later (just like with any corporate sale), but very little will change immediatly about the day-to-day operations and certainly there will be no disruption.
edward
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Feb20-06, 11:46 AM
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[QUOTE=Edward] He who controls the ports contols security.

Quote Quote by russ_watters
No. That is not correct. Primary responsibility for security is in the hands of the US Coast Guard. And that includes oversight of the physical security of the facility itself - not just the water.
You are correct Russ. I change that to: He who controls the ports has the opportuntity and means to do just about anything conceivable.

I would love for the Coast Guard to have the funding it needs to do it's job. It does not. The larger container ships now carry over 5,000 individual containers. That is a lot to be inspected, and we currently can only cover about 6% of the total. I think that it is customs who do the actual inspections in conjunction with the Coast Guard who provides an armed presence if necessary.

But since it is physically impossible to inspect every container we must fall back on those who control and manage the loading of each container, and the handling of all containers to insure security. DB ports also owns a number of facilities in Asia which load and ship containers to America. As I said before this leaves them in control of both ends of the shipments, and I have a problem with that.
http://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonvi...1/daily19.html


A House of Cards

Ostensibly, the flurry of U.S. government initiatives since 9/11 suggests substantial progress is being made in securing the global trade and transportation system. Unfortunately, all this activity should not be confused with real capability. For one thing, the approach has been piecemeal, with each agency pursuing its signature program with little regard for other initiatives. There are also vast disparities in the resources that the agencies have been allocated, ranging from an $800 million budget for the Department of Energy’s Megaport initiative to no additional funding for the Coast Guard to support its congressionally mandated compliance to the ISPS Code. Even more problematic are some of the questionable assumptions about the nature of the terrorist threat that underpin these programs.
http://www.feer.com/articles1/2006/0601/free/p005.html
russ_watters
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#72
Feb20-06, 11:58 AM
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Quote Quote by edward
You are correct Russ. I change that to: He who controls the ports has the opportuntity and means to do just about anything conceivable.
Huh? "Anything conceivable" is an awfully vague hypothetical.
I would love for the Coast Guard to have the funding it needs to do it's job. It does not.
True or not, that doesn't have anything to do with the issue we're talking about. That isn't something that is changing with the sale of this British company. Except....
But since it is physically impossible to inspect every container we must fall back on those who control and manage the loading of each container, and the handling of all containers to insure security. DB ports also owns a number of facilities in Asia which load and ship containers to America. As I said before this leaves them in control of both ends of the shipments, and I have a problem with that.
http://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonvi...1/daily19.html
Could you be more specific: are you saying (even hypothetically) that they could be incompetent or in league with the terrorists? How is that different from any other company? Are we back to the they-are-Islamic-so-they-must-be-terrorists thing that loseyourname pointed out? I'm sorry, but as gung-ho for national security as I am (and I am - I still support the Iraq war), I will not make that connection. If we allow ourselves to do that, we become what the terrorists are saying we are: enemies of Islam itself.


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