If the United States is supposedly engaged in a war against terrorism, then why would it allow a country that served as a operational and financial base for the 9/11 hijackers to run these seaports?
Why would it allow a nation that was a key transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuclear components to Iran, North Korea and Libya by a Pakistani scientist, and was one of only three countries in the world to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, control commercial operations in the port of New York/New Jersey as well as the ports of Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia?
These questions are being asked in the wake of last week's announcement that Dubai Ports World, a state-owned business from the United Arab Emirates, took over the port operations of the British-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. for $6.8 billion.
Given the UAE's history as a country with a history of ties to international terrorism, it shouldn't be allowed to control port operations in major American cities, including the port in the shadow of where the World Trade Center used to be.
But that doesn't concern President Bush, who apparently is more concerned about taking care of his friends than in fighting terrorism.
According to the New York Daily News, Treasury Secretary John Snow, whose agency heads the federal panel that signed off on the sale, was chairman of the CSX rail firm that sold its own international port operations to DP World for $1.15 billion in 2004, the year after Snow left for President Bush's cabinet. And David Sanborn, who runs DP World's European and Latin American operations, was picked by Bush last month to head the U.S. Maritime Administration.
The Bush administration and DP World both claim the deal was done properly and that security would not be jeopardized. According to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the sale was reviewed by the Homeland Security, Treasury and Commerce departments, as well as the FBI and the Pentagon. At the same time, Chertoff has refused to discuss the reasoning that allowed approval of the sale.
Given the Department of Homeland Security's less than stellar response to Hurricane Katrina, the American people have a right to know why we should not be concerned that a country with a documented history of aiding our enemies will be allowed to operate ports in this country.
This is especially important when one considers that only 5 percent of the cargo containers entering U.S. ports are inspected. Port security remains a vulnerable and underfunded part of the anti-terrorism effort, and the Bush administration has done little to improve the situation.
If President Bush is truly concerned about national security, he would not allow this deal to go forward. Since we know he isn't, it's time for Congress to step in and block this deal.