Thursday, February 23, 2006

Creating a Safe Harbor

While most everyone is still focused on the proposed Dubai Ports World deal, there's real security issues relating to port operations that remain unaddressed. Namely that only one out of every 20 cargo containers is thoroughly searched. While it's a focused search, with the volume of cargo going through ports today, that is a pretty big problem. And it doesn't address all the cargo that could conceivably come across the border without entering one of the seaports.

There are 346 ports in the US, and the Dubai Ports World deal affects only the smallest fraction. That simple fact doesn't mean the deal should or should not go through, only that Americans should hope that the due diligence on this deal was thorough. Since we've got a lot of people talking about port security at the moment, how about doing something constructive and dealing with the problems of security at the borders and ports. The fact that the talk is largely bipartisan should make finding common ground to improve national security at our borders and ports a whole lot easier than it was just a short time ago.

Meanwhile, the PANY/NJ is suing to block the Dubai Ports World deal.
Anthony Coscia, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said the agency would file a lawsuit later today or tomorrow in New Jersey state Superior Court in Essex County.

"We as owners of that facility should be made comfortable that whoever operates it is capable of it," Coscia said.

Coscia wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff asking for details about how the federal government determined it was safe to allow Dubai Ports World, a state-run firm out of the United Arab Emirates, to buy a British company now doing business at the terminal.

The agency said it is not filing suit because of specific concerns about the Dubai company, but based on concerns that the government's secret vetting process was not thorough enough.
Fair enough. They own the port and want to have their say on the deal. The Administration continues to say that they've studied the issue thoroughly and that they've addressed security concerns in their review. That remains to be seen.

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