February 21, 2006

I’m with Hillary Clinton on This One…

Carroll Andrew Morse

…but it’s Frank Gaffney who really convinces me. A group of Senators, including Senator Clinton, and now the Republican Governors of Maryland and New York, are opposing a plan to let a state-owned enterprise of the United Arab Emirates take over operation of 6 major American shipping ports.

Mr. Gaffey, President of the Center for Security Policy and former Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration (full bio here) who has rock-solid credentials in national security matters, no interest in electoral grandstanding, nor an interest in embarrassing the President for political reasons, explains the details of how this deal came to be and why it is a bad idea...

The federal bureaucracy has made a strategic mistake that threatens to cost the president dearly. The question is not whether last week's ill-advised decision by the secretive Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (known by its acronym, CFIUS, pronounced syphius) will be undone. Rather, the question is: By whom -- and at what political cost to Mr. Bush?

In the latest of a series of approvals of questionable foreign takeovers of American interests, CFIUS has given the green light to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to acquire contracts to manage port facilities in New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Miami and New Orleans….

A case can be made it is a mistake to have foreign entities responsible for any aspect of such ports, including managing their docks, stevedore operations and terminals. After all, that duty affords abundant opportunities to insinuate personnel and/or shipping containers that can pose a threat to this country. Even though the company in question may not be directly responsible for port security, at least some of their employees have to be read in on the relevant plans, potentially compromising the latter irreparably.