The port thing

I’m not quite sure why this has turned into such a major issue. I’m always a bit leery of giving foreign interests control of anything in the US, but the reaction the plan to turn the operations of some port terminals over to the United Arab Emirates has been stunning, to say the least.

The wackiest sort has been the “this is like giving the Mexican government control over the US-Mexico border”. It’s nothing of the sort, of course, and though security concerns are at the heart of my skepticism, it’s not like I’m afraid that UAE officials are going to be the only thing standing between our streets and the rest of the world.

The Coast Guard, Port Authority, local police, and US Customs aren’t going to just evaporate if this deal goes through. I’d say we should be have heightened awareness, maybe, but US law is still the law of the land. The UAE isn’t going to “manage ports”, it’s going to manage terminals in ports.

So many (including many in the GOP) are trying so hard to portray this as a “GW is selling America down the river” story. While I’m no big fan of the plan, I think critics are overstating the case and the threat by a very large margin. I just don’t see this as big news either way, other than the threat of a veto by the President to overturn legislation that would make the plan illegal. This seems to be an odd thing to suddenly go to the mats over.

I wish he would really go to the mats over the Mexican border issue. But I’m not sure which side he’d come down on in that one…

Here are some links to additional reading on this:

And Yehudit at Winds of Change notes this: “You don’t want to play poker with George Bush”. By and large, I agree with most of the points.


  1. Yeah, I’d like to see his first presidential veto go against a bipartisan bill to make it illegal for the UAE to take charge of a bunch of US ports. I heard Rush ranting about how this was going to happen and it’s a good thing for the economy. The last time I checked the Constitution vetos could be overturned, and when both your own party and the opposition party are against you, that’s a pretty stupid place to take a stand. He was compairing it to the Clinton’s selling the UAE F-16’s. When an F-16 hits you, you know where it came from. I guess he couldn’t figure that one out. Normally I like what Rush has to say, but wake up and smell the coffee. This is the Harriet Meyers White House, not the Karl Rove White House. W has surrounded himself with too many butt kissers, and not enough of the one’s who got him there.

  2. As long the US government is in charge of port security and has both a blank check and complete freedom of movement to exercise its authority, I don’t care who runs the tedious day-to-day operations of these eight particular ports. As it stands now, the Coast Guard is still the principal agency for physical port security, and Customs and Border Protection is in charge of cargo security. While security definitely needs to improve, changing the private management of a given port will have no effect either way. Now, if security did fall to the purview of the company in charge, I would be completely against this. I wouldn’t even want a British company running security in American seaports.

  3. Two simple points to make in support of the deal. A) UAE would not want to attack their own economic interests. This includes the port infrastructure or the markets those ports serve. B) Assume an attack does come through those ports as a result of their owning the terminals. It would be that much easier for the US to positively identify their involvement, and thus justify the elimination of their sandbox off the map. I doubt they are that stupid. I view the port deal as potential insurance AGAINST an attack.

  4. I think I’ll just start handing out keys to my house. I’ll make them promise not to kill my family first. I mean, what the hell, we’ve got police, and if they did kill them, I could always try to track them down later. I’ll get to that just as soon as I become an abject idiot.

  5. Xenophobes. I can’t believe you all fell for this. The media is just grasping for crap to make a big deal about. Fueling the idiot-engines on both sides of the aisle. Just looking at the rhetoric on both sides makes you think 3rd graders were bickering. Any free-thinking individual can look at this and see that its a non-issue. The government will still run the security. Americans will still unload the cargo. The only thing that will change is the logo and the men making money at the top. Its buisiness.

  6. Bush has based his entire Presidency around the main issue of The War on Terror. Not the economy, not even the appointment of Justices to the SCOTUS. Everything else has taken second place to the War. As it should. He’s racked up a track record no one thought possible. No attacks since 9-11-01. How many here could have imagined that? Not me. Given that, it’s unimaginable that he would take the stand he has without a firm conviction that having the UAE fulfilling the contract would endanger the United States.

  7. I goofed big time. That last paragraph is supposed to read ‘Given that, it’s unimaginable that he would take the stand he has without a firm conviction that having the UAE fulfilling the contract would NOT endanger the United States.

  8. from what I have heard, all the UAE has done is to provide the seed capital from which the company in question was formed. It’s otherwise hands-off.

  9. Yes, this should be a real motivator for our troops. After all, we are willing to sell the keys to the front door to the highest bidder while they fight for our safety overseas. That makes a lot of sense. We’ve got two really good options today. One party is willing to sell out to the highest bidder and the other compares our troops to Nazis to get back in power so they can get their fair share of that money. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m an American first, and a Republican second. No amount of party drum beating or name calling is going to convince me otherwise. We should not give up control of our ports or our borders to ANY other country. None of them! If that makes me a xenophobe, then so be it. I might have been born at night, but it sure as hell wasn’t last night.

  10. Then your rejecting the very values and ideals this country was founded on. Denying foreign nations the ability to do buisiness in America is wrong. Denying allies is worse. Tell me? Will the UAE be in charge of security at these ports? Will they import citizens of the UAE to offload cargo? Will terrorists bombs flow through these ports with ease?? I mean, cmon!

  11. So we should take bush’s word for it that this deal has been properly veted for national security concerns even though the decepticons have shown time and again that the only people they appoint are cronies, sychophants, toadies and yes men? Color me unconvinced.

  12. I’m not suggesting we ‘take Bush’s word’. That implies a mindless ‘he can do no wrong, so I’ll follow him’ attitude. I am suggesting that we take a very hard look at his track record on the issues surronding the War on Terror. Focus on the words ‘very hard look’. After reflecting on his batting record, decide if he has earned our respect in his judgement of War on Terror matters. This issue is just the last of a list of unpopular stands he has taken during that war. Staying the course in Iraq is another. I will go further out on a limb here and predict that within 3 years we will be ever so grateful that he has taken this stand. Our military will be in the forefront of the cheering squad.

  13. A couple of nuggets into the miz. – If you want to make the argument that port security is being neglected and standards need to be set up, along with proper staffing levels and corridination. I’ll join your club in a heart beat. – If you want to make the arguement that leasing out the terminals in various ports to the Dubi company is a national security issue… please flirmly but gently smack yourself in the forehead until you either A) see the light or B) look into the issue and at least be able to make an arguement based on substance and not an argument based on race/religion. – Arabs/ Muslims, represent about 1.5 billion people and there are a good number of american muslims or of arab descent. Just as we view if unfair that other countries brand americans as ‘insert evil phrase here’, if unfair to characterize arabs/ muslims as such. For example – What if American companies were banned from the truck rental business in other countries becasue Timothy McVeigh blew up a Rider Truck? Simply put, it has been common business practice, that terminals have been leased/ operated by foriegn firms for years. Just as we lease/own/operate terminals in other countries.

  14. The way I see it: unless you’re going to say that this Dubi company is going to actively aid terrrorists in entering these ports, it’s a none issue. One company will be just as easy for the terrorists to infiltrate as another. And from what I understand they’re going to be hiring Americans to do the actual work.

  15. One reason for the rise of Rome: Rome saw advantage in peace and cooperation, and in 493 Rome joined an alliance with its Latin neighbors as an equal. The alliance treaty held that business contracts between people from different states within the alliance were to be bound by law. One reason for the fall of Rome: An underestimated factor may have been that they made too many stupid mistakes. Take Hadrians Wall, built in England at the time of Emperor Hadrian. A prudent government, concerned with the defense of the wall, would have installed a moat around the outside. But what did the Romans do? They built moats on both sides of the wall, at a cost, it is said, of a million days’ labor. The world is big place – we cannot wall ourselves in or wall the outside world our. Only be engaging the world and treating others as equals can our security be assured. This is not to say that we should allow everyone in, but it is to to say that you should not prejudge based on your fears.