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Comments by YACCS
Thursday, February 23, 2006

What if you're wrong?

So teaching them to fly was a mistake?

Ports Redux
by Soj [Subscribe]
Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 03:17:23 AM PDT

My goodness, this whole issue about the ports has really metastasized. It is blowing up the blogosphere and traditional media both.

Since everyone and their brother has already discussed it in extensive detail, I should probably leave this alone. But I know people read what I wrote and are curious how I would respond to all these new facts and reports coming out.

First let's get rid of the dead weight or irrelevant or wrong "facts":

* Dubai Ports World (DPW) will be controlling our ports! - Wrong. That was and always will be the job of the (American) Department of Homeland Security, not just at the ports DPW would operate but at ALL ports nationwide.

* DPW is buying our ports! - No, they are just the port/terminal managers. The ownership remains in the hands of the American government.

* Bush is handing over our critical infrastructure to DPW! - No, being the manager of a port doesn't make you in charge of "critical infrastructure". The people in charge of the ports have ALWAYS been and will always be American law enforcement

* DPW will bring in a bunch of foreigners to take American jobs! - No, the majority of work at ports is conducted by American unionized longshoremen. This will not change if DPW is given the contract.

* I saw a picture of Bush holding hands with the Dubai royal family! - No, actually most of the photos I've seen on the blogosphere in connection with this story were of the Saudi royal family and Bush.

* Two of the 9/11 hijackers were from the UAE! - Yes and even assuming that's accurate, so what? Show me the ties between the Dubai royal family and the 2 UAE hijackers and then I'll get concerned.

Ok so those are the silly or irrelevant issues. Let's get down to the meatier issues:

Bush secretly nominated UAE executive before the ports deal - Here's a link to the basic elements of this story. It's true that Bush nominated a DPW executive to the position of Maritime Administrator, a top post inside the Department of Transportation. The man he nominated is Dave Sanborn.

He is an American citizen and has been one all his life. He is the director of DPW's operations in Europe and Latin America so he clearly has plenty of experience in the field (unlike many other of Bush's appointees). Sanborn graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, was a former exec at a host of other (non-Arab/UAE) shipping companies and served in the Naval Reserve. And his nomination wasn't "secret" but done in the normal, public way. I haven't seen a scintilla of evidence that this guy is unfit for the job and in fact seems to be extremely qualified for it.

Another Dubai company (owned by the Dubai royal family) is also the third largest stockholder in Daimler-Chrysler. Various other Dubai corporations also own several Holiday Inn hotel and parts of the Royal Bank of Scotland, not to mention the Helmsley Building on New York's Park Avenue. And on and on, the point being that some Dubai corporations are quite wealthy and they own a lot of property and other companies (either in part or outright).

So either Dubai companies are allowed to do business in the United States or not but there is no difference between them operating a port in Baltimore and having a stake in building cars in South Carolina because neither of those transactions involves controlling American security. Dubai Ports World manages ports across the globe including in places like Romania, Germany and Australia. None of those countries wants to increase their vulnerability to terrorists and/or Al-Qaeda and they have not had any problem with Dubai Ports World whatsoever.

Do I think that Dubai, its royal family and Dubai Ports World are some kind of angelic creation capable of doing no wrong? Absolutely not. But I've yet to see one iota of proof that having Dubai Ports World manage terminals around the world has caused any harm whatsoever to those countries' security. If you want to use their previous actions/associations against them to prevent them from doing any business in the USA, then just stand up and say so but don't make out like the management of some ports is somehow radically different than owning a major share of Daimler-Chrysler.

Now it's time for a post-script:

* In my last diary there was the appearance that I was saying that anyone who disagreed with the sale was doing so for racist or bigoted reasons. I apologize that this came across that way. I saw many xenophobic and bigoted statements coming from some who opposed the sale but by no means is this true for everyone who opposes the sale. I have great respect and admiration for many fellow members of this website who opposed and still oppose this sale.

* Some people jumped on me saying this is a golden opportunity to knock Bush down, especially since both the Republican leadership and the wingnut blogs are also opposed to the sale. That's fine and true and I don't disagree with that. I am not a political analyst and I'll leave that to others. What I write is based solely on my own opinions and research and definitely is not related to what's the "hot button" to push in politics.

What if you're wrong?

You can argue this bullshit all day long, call it xenophobia, but the fact is that the UAE DID participate in 9/11 and two of their citizens help kill nearly 4,000 Americans. And the money did come from there.

All it takes is access to the plans to the harbor. No more. Just because a bunch of Americans want to hire themselves out to the UAE goverment doesn't make them trustworthy. Their bosses have a right to access information on the ports, right?

It only takes one time for them to not be trustworthy. No one thought teaching Saudis to fly, but not land 747's, was a problem. Until it was.

I don't care what Dubai Ports World did in Germany or Australia. Anyone attack Australia or Germany?

There's a certain sort of thickheadedness here. Of course port operators are going to defend their potential future bosses. But no one else is.

I can't even begin to explain the difference between buiding cars and managing a port. If you think they are the same, well, they're not. One point is that Dubai owns stock in Daimler-Chrysler, they don't run the factories. Here, they would run the port.

This is about security, not only port security, but the management of the ports and their connection to the Dubai royal family and what kind of control they can exert in the US. You can say it's not a big deal, but then, when it is, it will be too late, won't it.

It's like there are people binhg willfully stupid, Kevin Drum, for interest, who want to chalk this up as another business deal, while this is scaring the shit out of New Yorkers because it isn't just another business deal if the harbor blows up, is it?

posted by Steve @ 9:27:00 AM

9:27:00 AM

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