THE BLOG

Oil-Funded Influence, Al-Arabiya, and Our Port Security

02/22/2006 06:41 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

"A country that plays by the rules ", a reason given by President Bush to justify his decision to veto any attempt by Congress to stay the transfer of control of major American port facilities to the 'Dubai Ports World' (DP World) an entity owned by the government of Dubai.

"Incitement to Murder" was the explanation given by the Iraqi Administration to temporarily ban the Al-Arabiya Television Network. The State Department has called Al-Arabiya's coverage of news events in Iraq "irresponsible in the extreme". Secretary Rumsfeld has called Al-Arabiya "hostile to American interests". Over time Al-Arabiya has begun to clean up its act somewhat, but this cat has clearly shown its stripes.

The country that "plays by the rules" is the country that is the seat of and has extended hospitality and support to the Al-Arabiya Television Network. And now this "playing by the rules" country, through its subsidiary, wants to run our ports. To permit a slightly stretched analogy, it would be like turning over our port facilities to the Pakistani Intelligence Services, purportedly our friends but understood to be rife with admirers of Osama Bin Laden. I think you will understand what I mean.

Given Dubai's support of Al-Arabyia it would appear like sheer madness to entrust them with probably the most sensitive and vulnerable aspect of our port security, namely the loading, shipping, discharging and terminaling of containers and container traffic. P.and O.'s (the company to be taken over) reach extends far beyond its facilities in U.S. ports where they range from New York to New Orleans. Their control extends to many of the major shipping ports outside the U.S. so that Dubai would have defacto control not only what is received at our ports but what is loaded out at port of shipment.

Stewart Baker of Homeland Security put it bluntly (unlike his boss Michael Chertoff who has been off the ranch peddling the deal to the public). "In a sense this is a new layer of control, this being the first ever sale involving U.S. port operators to a state owned company". Has anyone determined what these new layers of control would entail, at what and whose cost and at what diversion of resources and focus from other priorities at this time of risk.

According to Chertoff the Administration wants this deal to happen in order "to support a robust world trading system". Too often with our government that translates to supporting the vested interests of oil money in whatever form it presents itself. Dubai spreads its riches and reach to "K" Street and beyond. Sadly, our security too often plays a secondary role. Secretary Condoleezza Rice just recently complained about President Chavez of Venezuela's oil funded influence in Latin America. She didn't have to go that far afield.