Sunday, March 19, 2006

Ports - the story that won't, and shouldn't go away

Port decision won't put U.S. in a safe harbor
By Mark Steyn, Chicago Sun-Times

Reading Steyn's column today accomplished something that heretofore hasn't been possible.... it's the first analysis on this issue that put a real grin on my face. I have a true appreciation of acerbic humor, combined with sane analysis. And Steyn has done both.

Consider the quandry... or "quagmire", to use the liberals' favorite word.

  • Congress and the media both spoke out before knowing anything about the CFIUS review, the maritime industry, what port ops do, who does national security, and the UAE's relationship in the WOT post 911.
  • They demand the US assets are sold to an American company, yet there are none with capacity to take over all the assets
  • They demanded a 45 day review, then decided... ta hell with it. They don't want the UAE in there under any circumstances. Obviously facts don't play in... only politics and emotions.

  • In the days following UAE's acquiescence to Congressional hysteria, there was a lot of back slapping and self-congratulations going on. But we've not reached the last chapter in the ports story yet.

    And in the meantime, clever writers who love to exercise their sarcasm are having a field day with the "what ya gonna do now, bubba" postion in which Congress has placed the US.

    Congress' demand that DPW sell its U.S. operations to someone even if there's no someone to sell them to is almost a parody of the Democrats' (and naysaying Republicans') approach to national security: Goddammit, we may not know what we're for but we sure as hell know what we're against.

    Exactly. Congress throws out ultimatums and stamps their feet. Never mind that port security would be unaffected with DP World anymore than it would with, say, Eller ITO and P&O. Afterall, there's that embarrassing little episode that no one wants to mention back in 2004 - when the Port of Miami port officials and law enforcement had issued illegal port access IDs.

    Steyn takes it further... in his own inimitable way... wiping the floor with Debbie Wasserman Schultz's mop of hair.

    "It appears," huffed Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), "that the divestiture announcement from DPW last week may have been nothing more than a diversion designed to deflect attention away from this outsourcing of American port security. Congressional action blocking this deal is the only true assurance we have that this deal is dead."

    You go, girl! Tote that barge, lift that bale, git a little drunk an' you land in Congress! Why doesn't the House of Representatives buy the port operations with the money earmarked for prescription drugs for seniors or Hurricane Katrina "relief"? I don't expect a busy woman like Schultz to run the new company herself -- though she could certainly put in a couple of shifts at the Port of Miami each weekend -- but how about that INS official who mailed Mohammed Atta his visa six months to the day after he died in an unusual flying accident in Lower Manhattan? How about leaving the ports to those State Department chaps who approved the 9/11 killers' laughably incomplete paperwork ("Address in the United States: HOTEL, AMERICA")? Or how about those officials at FAA headquarters who on the morning of 9/11 found it all a little too much and just walked out of the room?

    After all, all those guys are still working for the U.S. government. By golly, if we're gonna have security breaches at American ports, let's make sure they're all-American security breaches! If I were Dubai Ports World, I'd sell the U.S. operations to Cosco, the Chinese Commies who run port operations in California, just for the fun of watching congressional heads explode. Or does Washington's new fun xenophobia stop at the (Pacific) water's edge?

    Priceless. Read it. We can all use a laugh today.