Thursday, February 23, 2006

Much Ado Over Nothing?

Oh the trials and tribulations of the embattled Bush Administration; if it is not one thing its another; in this case the rising and rather rancorous debate over Dubai Ports World’s assumption of the terminal operations in six American ports. With visions of terrorists dancing in their wee little heads, Congressman and women took to the airwaves in strenuous opposition. I say it all much ado over nothing.

This all began when Dubai Ports World a state-owned company based United Arab Emirates (UAE) bought London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., which current runs the terminals in the American ports in question. Peninsular and Oriental runs commercial operations at ports in Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans and Miami.

The initial reports had had internationally helmed Dubai Ports World taking over the ports in their entire, or at least gave the impression that that would transpire. Predictably the Democrats accused the Administration of compromising America’s port security. And the Republicans not wanting to be left scratching their legacies on an issue of National Security quickly and amazingly, piled on, in (very) rare bi-cameral, bi-partisan unison, bashing Bush and threatening to pass legislation to stop the deal.

Bush quickly countered that he would, gasp, veto such a bill. And later, yesterday, we all learned that Bush knew nothing about the bill until he learned about it in the news; boy that inspires confidence in his leadership, and stewardship of our government.

But the real story of the port operations is a lot less dramatic then they would have use believe; in other words my fellow Americans we are bring duped and manipulated again.

Here is the 411 on the ports: All American ports (foreign ports as well) are divided into terminals (a pier where ships tie up and off-load and or load cargo), with each terminal then being leased to a company or set of companies to manage on a daily basis. Security is still managed by the U.S. Customs Enforcement Agency, and the U.S. Coast Guard, and the employees on the docks are overwhelmingly American.

For example, the Port of New York and New Jersey, which is jointly owned and run by the two states under the guise of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The port has six terminals, which the Port Authority leases out. Two of the terminals are leased to American companies, and the rest are leased to foreign run companies. Dubai Ports World, which runs terminals in other countries, would lease one terminal in partnership with a Danish firm which is already in place. Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. currently holds the lease. In addition Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. also holds leases to terminals in six other east coast ports.

According to a report from National Public Radio (NPR), roughly 40% of the terminals on the eastern seaboard of the United States are managed by foreign companies, while 90% of the terminals on the West coast are leased to foreign companies, including a large percentage to Communist China.

So as you can see, Dubai Ports World would hardly be “running” the ports; they would in fact be running the operations of a terminal, or terminals within the port. Much ado about nothing? You decide. It would appear to me as though Congress and the majority of the American media are getting the story wrong. For the politicians the doom-and-gloom spin is probably 70% spin and 30% ignorance. As far as the media is concerned (NPR and PBS are the exceptions), there is no excuse for the gross misinformation and resulting hysteria.

1 comment:

Wulf said...

Just an FYI, the Economist is saying the same thing. It's amazing how we can get this nation so worked up over nothing.