Wednesday, February 22, 2006

UAE Ports Deal is No Threat

VOA News - US Security Chief Says UAE Ports Deal is No Threat

This just in, foreign ships dock in American ports! On one level, the Bush administration is the victim of straight-up hysteria over the sale of some U.S. port functions to a state-run United Arab Emirates company. But it is also political tone-deafness of the first order not to anticipate that hysteria would bubble up given the current seal-the-borders climate.

On the issue of port security, yes there are legitimate anti-terrorism concerns. But port ownership does not guarantee good or bad security. In fact, the assumption that international airline traffic was somehow more dangerous than domestic flights was a big hole in pre-9/11 airline security. Not even national directives in Washington can guarantee good security procedures at the local level, at each individual port or airport.

Finally, there is the question of money. If the UAE relationship can provide the kind of deep pockets needed to finance security upgrades, then overall port security might be better off. Until that can be demonstrated, however, the howling will continue, particularly from a Congress in full mid-term election mode.

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