Tuesday, February 21, 2006

`Portgate' continues..the latest on the controversy over the Dubai Ports deal

I continue to follow this story with absolutely jaw-dropping disbelief that this would even be considered, in an era of Islamic terrorism and attacks on our nation. And especially by an administration that prides itself as strong on national security.

The Bush Administration continues to draw heavy fire on the proposed deal permitting a United Arab Emirates company to take over six major U.S. seaports..as well it should.
J O S H U A P U N D I T: Should the Arabs control American ports?

This ill-advised proposal is facing bi-partisan criticism in Congress. The latest prominent Republican to weigh in is Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist(r-TN).

He called Tuesday for the Bush administration to stop the deal.

"The decision to finalize this deal should be put on hold until the administration conducts a more extensive review of this matter," said Frist. "If the administration cannot delay this process, I plan on introducing legislation to ensure that the deal is placed on hold until this decision gets a more thorough review."

Frist spoke as other lawmakers, including Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said they would offer emergency legislation next week to block the deal ahead of a planned March 2 takeover.

Two Republican governors, New York's George Pataki and Maryland's Robert Ehrlich, likewise expressed outrage over the proposed Arab takeover.

Both governors indicated they may try to cancel lease arrangements at ports in their states because of the DP World takeover.

"Ensuring the security of New York's port operations is paramount and I am very concerned with the purchase of Peninsular & Oriental Steam by Dubai Ports World," Pataki said in a statement. "I have directed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to explore all legal options that may be available to them."

Ehrlich, concerned about security at the Port of Baltimore, said Monday he was "very troubled" that Maryland officials got no advance notice before the Bush administration approved the Arab company's takeover of the operations at the six ports.

"We needed to know before this was a done deal, given the state of where we are concerning security," Ehrlich told reporters in the State House rotunda in Annapolis.

Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina said on Fox News Sunday that the administration approval was "unbelievably tone deaf politically," and at least one Senate oversight hearing was planned for later this month.

The administration is claiming that the security aspects of this have been `handled', and Nicholas Chertoff, head of Homeland Security even voiced the facile sentiment that `all of the same employees would remain in place, nothing is changing.' What nobody asked him, and what he did not address is what guarantee exists that things won't change in the future? Even more to the point, if this goes through, the US will have a foreign entity with the knowledge of all of Homeland Securities' criteria for port security...and knowledge of the loopholes and blind areas in the system.

As I wrote onsite previously, you might remember that some of the 9/11 hijackers used the UAE as an operational and financial base. And that the UAE was an important transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuclear components sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya by a Pakistani scientist, Dr. Aly Khan.

The Bush Administration needs to cancel this deal on America's ports....now.

Keep contacting your congressmen!

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