Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Follow up on Bush’s Ports Plan

Clark Kent Ervin, former inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, has an op-ed piece in the NY Times addressing concerns about the takeover of American ports by a UAE-owned company. It’s not exactly comforting:

While the United Arab Emirates is deemed by the Bush administration to be an ally in the war on terrorism, we should all have deep concerns about its links to terrorists. Two of the 9/11 hijackers were citizens of the emirates, and some of the money for the attacks came from there. It was one of only three countries in the world that recognized the Taliban regime. And Dubai was an important transshipment point for the smuggling network of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani scientist who supplied Libya, Iran and North Korea with equipment for making nuclear weapons.

Most terrorism experts agree that the likeliest way for a weapon of mass destruction to be smuggled into our country would be through a port. After all, some 95 percent of all goods from abroad arrive in the United States by sea, and yet only about 6 percent of incoming cargo containers are inspected for security threats.

It is true that at the ports run by the Dubai company, Customs officers would continue to do any inspection of cargo containers and the Coast Guard would remain “in charge” of port security. But, again, very few cargo inspections are conducted. And the Coast Guard merely sets standards that ports are to follow and reviews their security plans. Meeting those standards each day is the job of the port operators: they are responsible for hiring security officers, guarding the cargo and overseeing its unloading.

Contrary to those who claim that criticism of this plan is motivated solely by anti-Arab animus, the fact is that there are entirely legitimate reasons to be concerned about whether it’s a good idea.


  1. #1 Will
    February 27, 2006

    I think the Administration in the end will figure out a way to shove the deal through. My only hope is that it will hurt them severely in the National Security opinion polls and simultaneously bring much more attention to our terribly defended ports.

  2. #2 wildlifer
    February 27, 2006

    Bill Maher, on Friday night’s Real Time had a good suggestion.
    The jist: He suggested that if Bush was okay with out-sourcing port security to an Arab country, he should be fine if we out-sourced his security detail to an Arab country.

  3. #3 David C. Brayton
    February 27, 2006

    A few questions that might inform this issue: How many other ports are operated by foreign countries? What are the inspection rates when driving over, say, the Ambassador bridge (from Canada)? How easy is it to ship stuff across the Canadian border in, say, North Dakota? Planes from all over the Arab world are landing in American airports every day. What kinds of searches are being performed of the planes, people and cargo?

    The port deal may or may not be a big deal. A little bit of research from the MSM would be useful. It would certainly help place things in perspective.

  4. #4 countlurkula
    February 28, 2006

    The news reports said that the Bush administration failed to go through normal procedure to ensure national security before approving the deal with the UAL-controlled country. But I have it on good authority that they searched the company thoroughly and found that nobody in the company was wearing any anti-Bush tee shirts. Furthermore, it was ascertained that no place in the company was harboring any pacifist nuns. This was deemed sufficient precaution against terrorist activity.

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