Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Dubai Ports Intl Deal On . . .

Dubai Ports Intl still hasn't sold off its American terminals' interests and has asked Congress for a six-week extension, past the elections in November.
Six months after Dubai Ports World promised Congress it would sell off its interests in American terminals to an American company, it's failed to complete the sale.

Now it's asking Congress for a six week extension.

DP World's purchase of six American port operations, including Baltimore, caused a political firestorm in March, when the White House approved the deal.

The delay is kicking up controversy again. Baltimore Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Martin O'Malley accuses Republicans of off-shoring American security. Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich says O'Malley is misrepresenting the issue in hopes of making political hay.
No misrepresentation about it, Bob. This is Bush's style - stall, never give any ground, and wear all opposition down.

The UAE, Dubai Ports Intl, Bush and the GOP are waiting for the elections to be over and then they will revive the deal. They will claim that the Port Security Improvement Act eliminates any concerns that Americans may have about nations from the Middle East being in charge of U.S. ports. It won't, but that hasn't stopped the Republican machine: They have already begun generating noise, seeding op-ed columns in news groups and papers all over the country. Here's one:
Set your mind back a few months and you might remember the controversy that erupted overnight concerning America's ports being controlled by Middle Eastern interests. There was fear that such a move would undermine the security of America's major ocean ports. And this fear was rightly founded. Our seaports are the most vulnerable and open places to smuggle in goods and even people! What's not to say that someday a nuclear weapon will be packed carefully into one of thousands of containers that move through our ports every day and then explode in the center of downtown Anywhere, USA. And while Dubai Ports World is selling its interests to an American-based holder, there was still no visible effort to guarantee our security.

That is, until now...

That little piece of propaganda continues with one lie after another. Such as:
In fact, the new legislation requires that 100 percent of containers passing through U.S. ports must be checked for radiation.
Talk about misrepresentation.

The new legislation DOES NOT require 100% of containers passing through U.S. ports be checked for radiation. The legislation requires the installation of radiation detectors at 22 of the largest ports by the end of next year. But like all legislation that Bush signs, it's meant to be ignored. And when you do the math, it's obvious that this bill won't be any different:

In the last five years since September 11, 2001, only $900 million has gone to securing all U.S. ports. When the Port Security Improvement Act goes into effect, there's only $400 million allocated this year to be spent on all of the ports, collectively. A scanner capable of detecting nuclear and other weapons costs an estimated $500,000. That's one scanner. It would cost $300 million for equipping a small port. Just with scanners! Scanners are only one component in securing a port.

Competing interests for the funds in this bill are the hiring of more customs agents, background checks and licensing of port workers. The Port of Houston Authority alone will be working to try to secure more than 100 more customs agents, but they'll be vying with other ports for money - they've estimated that 125-150 additional agents are needed to properly staff the port and Houston's biggest airport.

The cost of hiring 150 new customs agents? $22.8 million.

Overall, more than 1,200 new U.S. Customs agents nationwide have been identified as necessary to work the nation's ports and the plan is to hire them over the next several years. Decisions about where the agents will be assigned are expected to be made in mid-2007.

But there's more to securing port facilities than customs agents and scanning devices; there's fencing, access control systems and cameras.

But simple math isn't going to stop the forces who want the Dubai Ports deal.

Over at The Hill, a lobbyist for foreign investors works another angle in an op-ed. When they're not lying, they're threatening.

Five years later, hundreds of billions of dollars later and we're no safer. It is the Republicans' fault.

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Anonymous said...

MAEVEN: Your ignorance on the basics of maritime security as well as the specifics of the issue you expound on -- and the posting of a blatantly racist cartoon as visceral evidence of your blinkered approach -- do not belong anywhere near purported progressive thought or opinion. It is knee-jerk conspiracy theorists like you that give liberalism a bad name. Grow up.

Maeven said...

Please do enlighten me on the basics of maritime security and the specifics of my position that you take exception to.