In an op-ed piece that appeared a couple of weeks ago in the Baltimore Sunone of the six key ports being turned over to the United Arab Emirates company, Dubai Ports World Internationalthe author wrote: "Potentially lost in this uproar is a clear understanding of what a stevedoring firm such as P&O does...They aren't in charge of port security..." The folks at the Baltimore Sun should probably talk to the folks at the Dubai Ports World who were cleared by the Bush Administration to buy Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company, since they believe it does. And they should also probably raise that point with the editorial folks at Trade Arabia who reported, a day before the Sun op-ed piece, that "...[a] deal for a state-owned Dubai company to manage major US ports includes security safeguards [Michael Chertoff] Homeland security chief said."
The Baltimore Sun knows that the US Coast Guard now theoretically boards every ship coming into an American port. But the Coast Guard does not open any crates in the holds of those ships. Homeland Security is responsible for that task. Only about 10% of the crates shipped into the United States are now inspected. A year ago, only 5% were opened. If the crews of those ships are given liberty while docked in an American port, they theoretically had to "clear customs" before going ashore. The long and the short of it isas the Sun knowsport security now falls under the purview of nation's largest bureaucracyHomeland Security. FEMAthe nation's first responder in any disasterwas part of Homeland Security since before Katrina. In the first natural disaster since being absorbed into Homeland Security, FEMA could not function adequately because it lacked the means to rip through the layers of the bureaucracy to reach the decision-makers in Homeland Security where decisions concerning FEMA protocol were being made. Directives that were not carved in stone could not be carried out because no mid-tier FEMA official had the authority to take unauthorized actionand anything not carved in stone in a bureaucracy like the federal government is unauthorized. (That's why 500 unused mobile homes remain mired in the Alabama muck as FEMA evicted hundreds of homeless families from hotels in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas for not finding semi-permanent housingalthough 500 of them had been promised one of those mobile homes). After Katrina, the knowledge that Homeland Security was responsible for checking containers would have been reassuring only to the enemies of the United States. The acronym for Homeland Security should have been SNAFU.
The simple reality is, as every longshoreman knows, millions of dollars of contraband moves quickly and easily through America's ports every yearmost of it under the watchful eyes of the US Customs officials, the DEA, FBI and now Homeland Security. Most of the contraband that is actually seized was not found by the federal police agencies but by civilian port security people who inadvertently stumble across itcounterfeit good, drugs and many times, even human chattel that is being smuggled into the country in the cargo holds of the foreign shipsmany of which were boarded by the Coast Guard before those ships entered our ports. If a new "civilian security" entityone with, say, malevolent intent towards this nationassumed control over the civilian security eyes on the piers, the written manifests and the actual cargo holds of the ships, and the scheduling of when longshoremen unload the cargoes that arrive in our ports will be determined by that new management. Since the longshoremen's unions that control the offloading of cargoes from the ships in these ports is racked with mob influence, a new port boss with malevolent design might find a willing conspirator in the unions if they believed the only cargo the longshoremen were turning a blind eye to was counterfeit Disney movies, Gucci bags, or the latest teen fad.
When word leaked that the Executive Branch Committee on Foreign Investments (controlled by the Treasury Department and greatly influenced by the National Security Agency) approved the sale of the British ports-management company, Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company to Dubai Ports World International, the American people greeted the news with shock and anger. The port sale deal became a bipartisan uproar with Democrats and Republicans alike equally upset at what they believed was the stupidity of the White House. They began to wonder just who's docking the Ship of Stateat what port, for what reason.
The reason? I'll tell you that in a minute. What port? A port in the storm of ethnic mistrustand, with good reason. While the United Arab Emirates has been a relatively reliable partner with the Bush Administration in the War on Terrorism since September 11, 2001, it is hard to forget that the UAE and its two most prominent kingdomsAbu Dhabi and Dubaiwere key financial centers for al Qaeda prior to that date. All of the emirs of the UAE backed Osama bin Laden.
During the Clinton years, the CIA tracked bin Laden to a hunting expedition in the Saudi desert put together by the UAE emirs. Clinton denied the CIA's request to take him out because one of bin Laden's hunting partners was an UAE emir. Clinton couldn't risk an international incident with the Arab worldeven to kill bin Laden. Throughout the Clinton years the UAE remained the mercantile banking center for al Qaeda. And, all that time, the Clinton Administration knew it. Two of the 19 WTC skyjackers were from Dubai. Eleven of them used Dubai passports to get into the United States for their date with destiny. It was not until post-September 11 that Dubai and Abu Dhabi became America's best friend in the Mideast. They're now cashing in on that newfound friendship. Why? Because on September 12, 2001, UAE Crown Prince Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan realized the Emirates was going to be on the wrong side in the fray that was about to start between the most powerful nation in the world and a few thousand terrorists. America was going to avenge the 3,000 Americans and about two thousand foreigners who died in the World Trade Center a day earlier.
The Crown Prince suspected that George W. Bush was not cut from the same cloth as Bill Clinton. Clinton was all talk. Bush, it seemed, was going to put wings on his wordsand bombs would fall from the skies over the desert lairs of al Qaeda and the Taliban. The Emirates needed to change sides before the bombs began to fall..
When the CIA found bin Laden in a terrorist training camp in the Afghan desert south of Kandahar in 1999, Clinton would not let them take the terrorist leader out because near bin Laden's camp was an UAE hunting camp where several visiting emirs had been ferried in by airplane from the UAE to meet with bin Laden. Frustrated, a Clinton official complained to a low level UAE official that their presence kept them from taking out bin Laden. Within two days, bin Laden's camp was completely deserted. The terrorist disappeared into the mountains and the al Qaeda fighters scattered all over the countryside.
Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, the "father" of Pakistan's nuclear programwho stole the plans to build a nuclear bomb from the Netherlandsused those plans to develop Pakistan's nuclear bomb. With the help of a Dubai mercantile bank, Khan was able to sell nuclear technology to North Korea, Libya, and Iran. About half of the quarter million dollars used by the 9-11 skyjackers to finalize their nefarious plans was wired to the terrorists from Dubai banks.
In 2002, UAE authorities arrested Abd al-Rahim al-Nashirithe mastermind of the Cole bombingand turned him over to the US government. In 2004 the UAE seized Qari Saifullah Akhtar, a Pakistani terrorist who trained thousands of al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan. They gave Akhtar to the FBI as well. Is the UAE a friend? The 9-11 Commission described the UAE as "...both a valued counterterrorism ally of the United States and a persistent counterterrorism problem." And, this is the universal problem with the Arab worldthe two faces of Islam. Or rather, the two faces of the radical Islamist. The Wahabbi Islamic is trained from birth to master the diplomacy of welcoming his enemy into his tent for dinner, break bread with him in peace, provide him safe haven through the nightand then kill him the morning.
As he threatened to veto any attempt by Congress to kill the port deal, President George W. Bush was shocked to discover that a majority of the American people67% at last countlogically opposed turning control of any of our ports over to an Arab nation, or for that matter, any foreign powereven one that our government viewed as a close ally in the War on Terrorism. The reason is obvious to most Americans even if it eludes the president. The Islamic entity that is waging war against the United States are not the secular heads of the Arab nations who are politically aligned with America and are more interested in money than theology. Rather, our enemies within those nations are Islamic radicals who are protected by extremist Wahabbi clerics whom the leaders of those Arab nations fearand fund.
When the port deal story broke, even the New York Times and Los Angeles Times and most of the liberals on Capitol Hill were opposed to the notion of surrendering the "management" of our ports to the UAE. Although they have reverted to Clinton-era political correctness which values diversity more than national security, they initially saw the stupidity in turning our ports over to an ethnic group that has pledged to destroy us. Most radio and talk show personalities were likewise opposed to the notion since, clearly, placing the fox in charge of the hen house is not exactly the best way to protect the chickens. While the Bush Administration insisted that those in charge of the ports controlled by Dubai World International would be properly vetted before assuming their role as the "keeper of the keys" of six seaports in the United States, it is important to remember that it was going to be the UAE, not the American FBI, CIA, DIA, NSA, US Coast Guard or Homeland Security, that did that vetting. That means the UAE was going to tell the US government that they "...checked out the help and, take our word for it, they're okay." That changed in the last few days as partisan foes on Capitol Hill changed the rules, demanding a review of all security procedures to make certain the vetting is done by Americans, not Muslims.
Bush discovered he was facing his third Republican revolt. The first was over his attempt to place closet liberal Harriet Miers on the Supreme Court. The second was over his reluctance to seal our borders because the Treasury needs new adult taxpayers to keep the Federal Reserve from going belly-up. Now we are told that Bush hirelingsnot only without telling the President but also without telling the key department heads who would have to agree before the $6.8 billion deal could proceeddid the deal without the approval of any of their higher ups. It's impossible to believe that, in an administration that does not tolerate "lone ranger types," that aides for the Secretary of State and Secretaries of Defense, Treasury and Commerce put the deal together without either the advise or approval of the president.
When the port deal was first revealed by the media, Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoffwhose fingerprintslike Treasury Secretary John Snow and Secretary of State Condoleeza Ricewere all over it, first said that the Commission on Foreign Investments thoroughly vetted the deal. Then the Homeland Security czar said he was unaware that a Dubai-owned company was seeking control of the British company Peninsular & Oriental until after the deal was approved.
Snow, who heads the Commission and is the final authority outside of the White House on whether deals pass muster, pretty much claimed the same thing. So, initially, did Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. However Snow, who was the former CEO of CSX was leading that company when America's rail giant was purchased by Dubai Ports World. Since he had a relationship of trust with Crown Prince Shaikh Mohammad, Snow was the honest broker Rice needed to talkone-on-onewith the Crown Prince. In the modern Muslim world, the anti-female emirs will grudgingly sign a treaty brokered by a female American Secretary of State only because the treaty must be signed by a male president and ratified by a male-dominated US Senate before it becomes official. However, in the shady Muslim world of backroom deals that always take place in isolated areas in the cool desert night where nothing is ever written down and a man's word is his bond, an emir will not make bond by shaking hands with a woman sincein the Muslim worlda woman's word has no bond because a woman is still an inferior citizen whose word is not legally binding on a man. Snow and Rumsfeld were the backroom brokers Rice needed to close Bush's deal with the UAE.
Rice told the media she believes the deal "...serves the interests of the United States." It does only if the president says it does. The Commission on Foreign Investments does not make decisionsit makes recommendations to the President. And, it is the President of the United States who makes the final decision.
For that reason its hard to believe that President Bush was not aware that the transfer of the management of the operations at six major US ports from a privately-owned British company to a UAE state-owned company was about to take place. And based on the anti-Muslim sentiment of the American people since Sept., 2001, Bush's advisors should have been able to predict the potential firestorm and political backlash that was going to result when the deal for an Arab company to take over the stevedore activities at the shipping terminals of the ports of Baltimore, Miami, New Jersey, New Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia became public. Tragically, they didn't. Now they are forced to deal with backlash from our allies in the Muslim world. And, while the Republicans are now moving closer to Bush's position, the Democrats are drifting farther awaycloser to the majority of the American people who see no sense in this deal. Bush may be losing his core appeal to his constituents. He doesn't get it. It's not about the economy, its about security, stupid. I guess Forrest Gump was right: stupid is as stupid does.
The White House position that the President first learned that his agency heads approved the Dubai-owned company's bid to purchase the privately owned Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company without his knowledge or consent, from newspaper reports, is actually more frightening that the contemplation that the Bush Administration misjudged where his constituents stood on this issue. Or that Bushin making a deal with the devilinadvertently not only provided terrorists with the means to surreptitiously enter the country, but that he also gave them the means to get a suitcase nuke (which is actually about the size of three standard footlockers) or a dirty bomb into the country without being detected. White House spokesman Scott McClellan distanced the president by stating the decision to approve the ports deal was made by the 12-member Committee on Foreign Investments because none of the president's agency heads raised concerns about the Dubai deal. Yes, stupid is as stupid does. You can't shoot the messenger if he refuses to deliver the message.
It appears that the major blunder made by Bush's senior advisors was that when they were trying to calculate the consequences of this deal, they appear to have used the ramifications of Clinton's handover of the Port of Long Beach to the People's Republic of China as the yardstick by which they measured the potential falloutand wrongly concluded that the Dubai deal would be met with only token "election year" resistance that would quickly evaporate since the UAE was now a fully-vested partner in the war on terrorism. Where is Karl Rove when you need him? Or did Rove miss this one?
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations [CAIR] is convinced that the furor is the result of anti-Muslim bias in the United States, and has nothing to do with security. Hooper believes that the American people believe Muslims are less trustworthy than other people. The Arabs are calling it Islamophobia. The liberals who believe there is such a thing as homophobia will buy the spiel, but those who know Christians don't "fear" homosexuals (they simply abhor the unnatural practice) will know it's wisdom, not fear, to mistrust the martyrdom-inclined Islamist who dines with you tonight and dies with you tomorrow.
"The American people," Hooper said, "are saying 'Don't sell our ports to the Arabs.' Well, that's not what's happening at all. The government is still screening the cargo, the Coast Guard is still protecting the port, the union longshoremen are still loading and unloading the cargo. I believe the majority of the employees of the company are British and American. The COO is American." Today. But once the deal is done and ownership of Peninsular & Oriental changes hands, internally, the companyand its key officers in the United Stateswill change.
What was the deal? The UAE wanted to buy Peninsular & Oriental not only to get the container and storage business it had with six ports in the United States, but those controlled by P&O around the world. While Dubai Ports World is a relatively new storage and container company, it already had interests worldwide. The owners of Dubai Ports World had something Bush neededthe UAE royal family had access to the ears of all the crown heads on the Arabian Peninsula. Bush needed those ears and the influence the voices of the UAE emirs had with the Arab sheiks.
It now appears that Secretary of State Rice, Bush's former National Security Director asked Crown Prince Shaikh Mohammad for at least two things. First, Bush needed accurate intel about several suspected al Qaeda leaders being held at Gitmo, as well as several that were still at large in Iraq, Afghanistan and points unknown. Second, Bush needed a friendly Muslim voice selling the need for Arab unity against Iran's nuclear aspirationsand someone willing to pump whatever oil Iran withholds from the world market if the UN places sanctions on the Persians. Even before the brokered deal hit the press in the United States the Crown Prince was building support for an anti-Iranian coalition in the Mideast. "The presence of nuclear capabilities in the Middle East region in harmful," the Crown Prince said in a meeting with French President Jacque Chirac at the Elysee Palace in February 11. "We are against Iran acquiring that capability. The presence of such power in the region is not useful. Any nuclear program will pose a threat to the Gulf region." A Chirac spokesman said that Chirac briefed Shaikh Mohammad on efforts by France, Germany and Britain regarding Iran with Chirac saying that each nation agreed that it would not fare well for the regionor the worldif Iran became a member of the nuclear club. It's unclear if the American people appreciate what the UAE emirs have done for the United States, but al Qaeda does. They have issued a fatwah on all of the crown heads of the Emirates.
At the same time, the UAE's Interior Minister, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed al-Nahayanalso a member of the royal familyvoiced fears in London that "...[t]he danger poised by Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor is that it is unpredictable. Protection [for the region] is practically impossible. All kinds of [leakage] detection...from a distance would not help to protect against any kind of leakage from this reactor due to the high-speed movement of the radiation." Earlier, the UAE's Foreign Minister, Abdullah Rashid al-Nuaimi demanded guarantees and protection from the Iranian nuclear plant since, he said, "...we are in a region very close to the nuclear reactor in Bushehr We have no guarantees or protection against any leakage which is on the Persian Gulf Coast." The Foreign Minister was speaking at the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council Summit which concluded with a call for a nuclear-free region.
The Iranian nuclear facility at Bushehr, Iran was built jointly by Russia and Iran. The original plans called for a German-built reactor back in the 1970s when the construction began. The new reactor will be built to Russian specs even though the original reactor's exterior appearance will remain essentially the same. The Bushehr facility contains two reactors. One is in the advanced stage of completion. Work on the other stopped years ago and there appears to be no immediate plans to complete it. It's important to note that Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty even though it failed to ratify two additional protocols initiated by the International Atomic Energy Agency which were designed to prevent states that do not have nuclear weapons from covertly developing them. Iran insists that it did not ratify the protocols, and will not, because they have been denied civilian nuclear technology for Bushehr
The head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, reported on Sunday, Feb. 26 that Iran had agreed to establish a joint uranium enrichment project with Russia in order to prevent an international confrontation with the United States over Iran's nuclear ambition. The deal heads off possible sanctions from the UN Security Council during its March 6 meeting with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Now, the March 6 meeting will deal with the Iranian-Russian nuclear enrichment program. The deal is still not firm. The Iranians are seeking one major concession from the United Statesthat Bush will not attack Iran. If the deal goes through, Iran will cede control of a key element in the nuclear fuel cycle that would prevent it from secretly producing weapons-grade uranium.
The tentative agreement between Iran and Russia was backed by the United States and the European Union. When the IAEA voted earlier this month to report Iran to the Security Council for punitive sanctions, Iran resumed small-scale uranium enrichment after the vote. Russia, which has defended Iran before the UN and even though it was forced to report Iran, has refused to endorse sanctions against its Mideast ally. Russia demanded that Iran resume its enrichment moratorium, which they did.
The question that should be in everyone's mind is: was that the secret deal that got Dubai Ports World International the go-ahead to take over the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company? Was that what prompted the President to suggest that if Congress knew all the details they would not be questioning the decision to allow an Arab company take over the container and storage business in America's busiest ports? And what happens if Congress enacts veto-proof legislation that overrides the joint decision of the Committee on Foreign Investments and the White Housewhich had to sign off on the deal for it to happen? Clearly, the UAE can't take back their political "down payment" on the $6.8 billion deal if Congress kills the ports deal with a veto-proof piece of legislation.
The UAE port deal follows the attempt by the Chinese oil giant, CNOOC, to buy Unocala transaction vehemently opposed by just about every American citizen when the offer was made. The CNOOC offer was refused by the Committee on Foreign Investments. Chevron, which was the initial bidder, ultimately bought UNOCAL
When the Clinton Administration closed the Long Beach Naval Station in 1993, it cost the city of Long Beach 17,500 military and civilian jobs. Monetarily, it cost the Long Beach, California $52.5 million in retail sales and played a major role in tanking the economy of California. In 1995, the Secretary of the Navy, John Dalton, turned the $65 million property over to the cityfree of chargeafter the Port of Long Beach notified the White House it had entered into an agreement to lease the property to the China Ocean Shipping Co. [COSCO]. Clintonwho took illegal campaign contributions from the Chinese in 1992 and again 1994 and 1996was so eager to push the deal through that he personally met with Long Beach officials twice. With Clinton's backing, the deal sailed through without the mandatory national security investigation by the Committee on Foreign Investments. The People's Republic of China secured a SIGINT (signals intelligence) listening post in the United States that would allow the Chinese military to eavesdrop on voice and data transmissions of American defense contractors.
COSCO also smuggled Russian AK-47s into the United States. The automatic weaponswhich gun ban advocates like Sarah Brady and TV talk show host and comic Rosie O'Donnell suggested were being sold to rightwing wackos by licensed gun dealerswere actually being sold by agents of the Chinese government to criminal elements in Oakland, California who, in turn, sold the automatic weapons to street gangs throughout California.
In 1992 COSCO was fined $400 thousand for bribing port officials to avoid tariffs on imports into the United States. As they are now threatening to do with the UAE, Congress swiftly enacted legislation that forbade any taxpayer money to be used by any State, county or community to enter into or renew a contract with any company owned, or partially owned, by the People's Republic of China or the People's Liberation Army. The legislation successfully blocked the Port of Long Beach from selling the former Navy base to the Chinese. But, in an end run around the legislation, the City of Long Beach moved American lease tenets from existing property adjoining the base onto the newly renovated Naval base, and then made a deal with the Chinese to assume the newly vacated buildings just outside the former base that were not covered by the ban. As this was going on, Dalton assured Congress that COSCO did not pose a threat to the United States.
The Bush-UAE deal threatens the national security as much as the Long Beach COSCO lease. The American people have no idea how many illegal aliens from America's deadliest enemy have entered this country through an open door, in the dead of night, provided to China by the Clinton Administration and the greedy city fathers of Long Beach, California. Civilian intelligence and security experts, like scores of intelligence and security officials employed by the federal government know, when you are fighting a theological war with an enemy who is determined to destroy you by any means possibleeven if it means killing themselves in the processthe nation is at risk. Because it is, it does not make sense to hire the fox to guard the henhouse.
At the present time companies from China, Denmark, Japan, Singapore and South Korea operate terminals at 36 ports in the United States. They include the following list of nations and the cities in which they manage the ports. Not included in that list are two inland ports: Duluth, MN and Chicago, IL which are managed by Ceres Terminals, a Japanese company. So, when legislators start screaming about foreign governments or foreign companies managing our ports, five nations have controlled the terminals in 36 port cities in the United States for years.
Perhaps we really can't blame the President of the United States for wanting to gain a much needed quid pro quo from the United Arab Emirates in exchange for approving their buyout of P&Oand taking over P&O's contracts with the ports of Baltimore, Miami, New Jersey, New Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia. After all, stupid is as stupid does. It isn't like Bush carved out a new niche on the stupid nook. Bill Clinton gave China the keys to the henhouse as well. But, that doesn't make either dealor thirty-seven other dealsokay. We're either going to protect all of the ports of entry into our country and keep our enemieseven those posing as our friendson the outside, or we're going to end up fighting our next door neighbors or some guy down the street when the War on Terrorism moves out of the battle scarred Mideast and erupts in your neighborhood, or at a Mall on the other of town, the State or the country.
Bush just doesn't get itwhether we are talking about sealing our porous northern and southern borders from the infiltration of terrorists into the United States from Mexico or Canada or talking about eliminating foreign entitiesnot just the United Arab Emiratesfrom controlling our ports. ChinaAmerica's most dangerous enemycontrols the movement of contraband in 12 of our ports. The United States government knows that China is using Long Beach as a listening post to intercept the transmission of data from defense contractors in California. What are they listening to in New York, Baltimore (the Washington, DC metro area), abd Norfolk? How many illegal automatic weapons are coming into the 36 ports under the control of foreign entities?
Let's face it, America will not be secure until Americans secure all of our borders and all of our ports of entry. We can't let our political enemies, under the guise of political correctness, assume the role of keeper of the keys to the gateway of America. To do so is stupid. Since September 11, 2001, this nation can no