Monday, February 27, 2006

We don't have 535 "Sec'ys of State"

Playing politics with ports not fair
By Raymond J. Keating, Newsday

The Founding Fathers gave the president, not Congress, the constitutional lead on foreign affairs. The squabble over seaport operations provides another reminder of the founders' wisdom.

Imagine 535 grandstanding, pandering members of Congress also acting as 535 secretaries of state, maneuvering to score political points for the next election. The president, of course, is a politician as well, but the responsibilities of that office tend to have a sobering effect. Too many in Congress exhibit too little political sobriety.

Bravo Mr. Keating. And right on. Congressional behavior on the ports deal sheds light on the members disregard for their political actions and their ensuing negative results on foreign policy.

What's absolutely mindblowing about all this is that Congress wrote the statutes for reviewing/investigating deals between companies that affect national security, and then put the CFIUS committee in place to carry out the statutes' will.

And this the committee did... for 90 days... coming to a conclusion. A conclusion that Congressional members tied closely to unions do not like. So now they are playing the word parsing game... i.e. Peter King insisting CFIUS did not conduct an "investigation". In actual wording of the statutes, this is correct as the review process is meant to reveal any concerns that warrant an additional investigation.

However King's presentation is a deliberate misrepresentation, implying the 90 days review didn't exist. We the public don't care if you call it a review or an investigation. We just want to know if the merger details were looked at thoroughly. And I, for one, am getting tired of being played like an idiot who doesn't read by these power hungry game players.

As a prominent spokesman for the anti's, Peter King also continually regurgitates pre-911 history of the UAE as foundation for the security concern. And Schumer? His public presentation of concerns is all about an Arab state owned company, and whether or not they can be "trusted". Topping it all off, he also deliberately misrepresents the process he himself helped to put in place.

Schumer declared: "Approving this contract in the dark of the night and ignoring all of the many questions asked about this takeover is an affront to anybody who cares about our nation's security."

We'll bypass the absurd suggestion that the CFIUS process and those involved don't care about national security. It was, in fact, the primary concern and the reason for a 90 day review by CFIUS addressing the Congressman's very same concerns.

But the in the dark of night BS?? Horse manure. Considering this was
reported via Reuters syndicates in American media back in Nov of 2005, I would say that anyone with the ability to read, and in full knowledge that P&O held contracts with US ports for management, had ample heads up to the upcoming merger. And if Port Authority officials, along with their district reperesentatives, feel they were uninformed, then I would have to question their very competency. How could they NOT know that P&O was a ports operator under their very noses, and that these assets would be affected by a publicly announced sale?

In reality, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States did the appropriate national security review, which included 12 federal agencies and intelligence and counterterrorism experts. Commercial port operators are not in charge of security. That job is for the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and other federal agencies. Despite congressional cries, this deal, as many industry experts have noted, will have no effect on port security.

For good measure, the United Arab Emirates has turned out to be an ally post-9/11, working with the United States in cracking down on terrorist funding schemes, on shipping security issues and in supporting our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Gen. Peter Pace, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, said last week: "The military-to-military relationship with the United Arab Emirates is superb. They've got airfields that they allow us to use, and their airspace, their logistics support. They've got a world-class air-to-air training facility that they let us use and cooperate with them in the training of our pilots. In everything that we have asked and work with them on, they have proven to be very, very solid partners."

It also should be noted that the UAE offers hope for greater economic freedom in the Middle East. The "2006 Index of Economic Freedom," published by the conservative Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, evaluates nations on issues such as trade, governmental burdens, property rights and finance, and the UAE ranked a respectable 65th out of 157 nations, rated as "mostly free."

You betcha. CFIUS did their job. The UAE isn't a terrorist group. And while we shouldn't drop our vigilance, there is no legal reason why this merger should be denied based on the findings.

What we have here is a bunch of yahoos - all, as Keatings says, posturing as if they were Sec'y of State. Politicos who want to take this merger and play it for their own political ambitions in a mid-term election year. How it plays out on the int'l relations field apparently isn't of concern to them as long as their objective to regain power is achieved.

Did it ever occur to Congress that America's presentation to the world is based on their actions? That what they consider "the ugly American" is based on how our elected officials conduct themselves and policy? And they wonder why America isn't "loved" world wide.... Considering that this "ugly American" perception has been for decades, I find it hard to blame the revolving door of Presidents. But Congress? The majority of members have been there for a lifetime of terms. Revealing, don't you think?

Sometimes I do believe the world must think it amazing we are as powerful as we are with such bozos at the helm. Just goes to show how the actual citizens of the US truly make this country great... despite our elected officials.


Frederic A. Moritz said...

An impressive range of material.

The question remains whether this outfit is vulnerable to infiltration --- and how reliable it would be over time....These are questions which need to be asked of all these outfits.

Of course everyone is playing politics. It's the name of the game.


MataHarley said...

I agree, Frederic. Whether an outfit is vunerable is something to be considered. But the question is, is DP World more at risk for infiltration than other companies strictly because they are Arab?

On this, I would argue that it is less likely a target for terrorist infiltration.

The int'l community has far more recourse against a State that aids terrorism than it would against a private company. And in this, I am far more comfortable with DP World being state-owned. They will be under close scrutiny, and have been since 911, since it would be an obvious assumption that they would attract jihadist to their payroll.

But fact is jihadists and sympathizers are everywhere...especially prevalent in the UK. Infiltration would be as easy for any port company, regardless of their ownership base. In fact, probably a better move NOT to infiltrate an Arab owned company since that would be the first place we'd all look, don't you think?

Long run, even infiltration does not make them privvy, nor part of our ultimate national security checks for incoming cargo. And the point of origin risk changes not one whit.

And thank you so much for an appreciation of my research materials.

Frederic A. Moritz said...

You make good points. All needs be explored in the light of day, for the hard reality is that in wartime Americans are little prone to trust Arabs in critical close proximity spots, ie letting in a possible Trojan horse. Just as Arab passengers on a plane must be checked to reassure the fearful, so it must be at ports, even if it seems racial. In wartime ethnic profiling is a fact of life.

Irrational. Perhaps......but anyone who wishes to bring Arabs in so close will have to walk the extra mile to show no Trojan horse grazes happily in cargo containers.