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Friday, February 24, 2006 

The UAE's company agrees to delay the port deal

Michelle Malkin finds that the UAE has agreed to delay the US seaport deal.

Before this can be fully solved, however, there is still much more that requires discussion. For example, as Michelle points out here, it seems that some people are changing their positions because, all of a sudden, defenders of the sale are trying to present "proof" that the deal is safe. Michelle makes some good points on why it would be strongly advised not to be fooled by this:
Lesson One of Portgate: Scream "Islamophobia/xenophobia" often enough, and people will start to back down.

Lesson Two of Portgate: Mislead and mischaracterize your critics often enough, and people will start to back down.
She also posts excerpts from a fact sheet from the White House, featuring two key talking points by defenders of the port ops deal, first received at Power Line:
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Is Always In Charge Of The Nation’s Port Security, Not The Private Company That Operates Facilities Within The Ports. Nothing will change with this transaction. DHS, along with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and other Federal agencies, sets the standards for port security and ensures that all port facility owners and operators comply with these standards.

The Transaction Is Not About Port Security Or Even Port Ownership, But Only About Operations In Port. DP World will not manage port security, nor will it own any ports. DP World would take on the functions now performed by the British firm P&O – basically the off- and on-loading of cargo. Employees will still have to be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. No private company currently manages any U.S. port. Rather, private companies such as P&O and DP World simply manage and operate individual terminals within ports.
But, as Michelle's pointed out before:
The issue is not whether day-to-day, on-the-ground conditions at the ports would change. They presumably wouldn't. The issues are whether we should grant the demonstrably unreliable UAE access to sensitive information and management plans about our key U.S ports, which are plenty insecure enough without adding new risks, and whether the decision process was thorough and free from conflicts of interest.
Absolutely correct. But not just that, there's also some more very biting points to make. For example:
  • The UAE could appoint people who're more in line with their own policies or schemes, who could even figure out how to outsmart the US security authorities, and, armed with any security info the US would provide them with, could use it to outwit the US authorities.
  • Not only that, there's also the possibility that some of the people employed by the UAE at these ports, out of fear of losing their jobs, could back down from showing any muscle in conducting inspections and stuff like that, and might not even contact the authorities to check what they might have or could end up overlooking.
  • The UAE and Dubai define themselves as Muslim states. Therefore, they practice religious discrimination against non-Muslims, particularly Jews, who are regularly vilified in the UAE press, but also against the non-Muslims who've been brought in to work there from Asia. Wouldn't bringing in a company owned by an anti-Jewish government be a slap in the face to American Jews, a sign that it's okay to discriminate against and vilify Jews?
  • This brings us to the problem of foreign workers in Dubai and the other UAE emirates. How are foreign workers treated there? What are their working conditions? Are they paid fairly or are they punished by withholding pay, or cheated? Further, there are reports of slavery going on there, including boy camel jockeys from Asia (via Rory Shock), who are underfed, in order to keep them light for the camel races. Does the United States want a Dubai government-owned company to have control over American workers, in view of the working conditions in Dubai?
I also have to take issue with some whom I fear are knee-jerk Bush supporters, such as JunkYardBlog, who's attacked Debbie Schlussel over something that she herself admitted there's no real proof of just now, but is still understandably concerned about: the Dubai connections of Neil Bush, brother of Dubya. As Debbie says here:
The approval of Dubai-owned DP World to run the ports has brought out a lot of security issues that should have been raised at least 4.5 years ago, after 9/11. But there are a lot of issues associated with this that HAVEN'T come to light.

First, there's the President's refusal to re-examine the deal, despite the fact that he admittedly didn't know about it until the public furor. What you don't know is about the President's brother, Neil Bush, and his ties to Dubai.

I'm not saying the President's brother had anything to do with this absurd deal. He probably did not. But we don't know for sure, and even the appearance of impropriety is unacceptable in the War on Terror.
Good point. Also, to bring one up of my own, here's an interesting question: if the House of Saud, as well as the UAE, are supporting and funding terrorism, here's a good question: should democratic countries be doing business with them? Maybe we need their oil and we can't interfere in their internal doings, because they're sovereign states. But, do we have to let them bring their ways of doing things into democratic countries, which is a possible - or even likely - outcome of this deal?

But while the argument that Neil Bush may be getting paid dough from these jerks simply because he's the president's brother may be exaggerated or redundant, Byron Preston really flubs when he says on his own blog:
I’m not a fan of the deal (though I’m less hostile to it than I was a day or two ago). But I’m even less of a fan of smearing people who have no demonstrable connection to the issue at hand. And Neil Bush has no demonstrable connection to that deal.

If it turns out that he does, that should be explored. But I don’t see anything in Debbie’s post that demonstrates that connection.
Not neccasarily, Byron, so I'm gonna have to dissent here, I'm afraid. The Bush family's had huge ties in the past to the oil biz in Saudi Arabia, and it could be that this is what's keeping Dubya from being able to make a convincing break with them. Also, who exactly are you to tell anyone that "Neil Bush has no demonstrable connection to that deal"? Do you know him personally?

What's more, the message Preston is sending here is: Bush can do no wrong, is totally %100 percent innocent of any wrongdoing, and that nobody, not even a right-wing/conservative, should be criticizing him. Which is very naive and not a positive way of thinking either. Let's be clear: we don't know any of these people personally, so while we cannot judge firsthand, we cannot be blind to them either.

And not only that, Debbie's got another very good point to make over here as well. For example, as she wrote once on PoliticalUSA:
Al-Maktoum, Defense Minister of the United Arab Emirates, is also Crown Prince of Dubai-an Arab Muslim country that strongly supported and recognized Afghanistan's Taliban, one of only three countries to do so. According to "From the Desert to the Derby," by Jason Levin, 10 of the 19 September 11th hijackers carried documents and identification from Dubai, a country which also has no laws against money-laundering. Why? Maybe, because money to fund September 11th's terrorism was laundered to ringleader Mohammed Atta, directly from Dubai's banks.

Like most Arab leaders, Al-Maktoum gives only lip service to condemning terrorism, while his country sponsors, aids, and abets it. On September 11th, he was spending billions on high-priced yearlings at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky. After claiming, "We are 100% against it and 100% with America to get those people to justice," he was busy spending millions, again, on September 12th-spending $6.1 million on two horses. As for the money from September 11th traced back to Dubai, Al-Maktoum will only say, "It's been taken care of." Whatever that means--ie., nothing.
As Debbie says earlier in the same topic:
While everyone is justifiably outraged by America's relinquishment of six major ports to a Dubaian company, Dubai Ports (also, called DP World), the real outrage should be this:

Where was the outrage in the last 4.5 years? Why has our country continued to maintain great relations with the governments of Dubai and its larger federation of emirates, the United Arab Emirates? Since we've never disciplined or even scolded either Dubai or the larger UAE, they have been free to operate as usual.

And we've never treated or recognized both as anything but allies. It's hard to let this fester for years, and then one day say to a party we pretend is our friend: hey, you are our enemy and always have been. That should have been what we were saying ever since 9/11 . . . and probably well before that date.
And she's right. If countries like these are supporting terrorism, whether behind closed doors or out in the open, and even going around indoctrinating their residential subjects into being bigots, why should we be doing any kind of business with them? Isn't that why all ties were broken off with nazi Germany when they unleashed their plague of fascism during WW2?

With all due respect to people like Byron Preston, I am shocked that they are missing one of the most important points: that if countries like the UAE are supporting and financing terrorism and anti-Western bigotry, exactly what the nazis were doing during the WW2 era, why should we have to do any business with them? By doing so, all we're doing is giving the impression that we legitimize their positions, including the Saudis' persecution of non-Muslims within their own country.

This is exactly why in the next few years, relations with countries like the House of Saud and the UAE may have to be severed until the problems with Islamofascism can be solved. And I should hope that even the respectable Mr. Preston, whom I do have respect for, even if I disagree with what I feel may be a knee-jerk position on his part, realizes that countries that deal in totalitarianism do not make good allies or business partners. That is exactly, and should be, the leading reason why plenty of people find the port deal unacceptable. Regardless of whether or not the ports will be safe, if the UAE is going to engage in terrorist funding, then that's why we cannot do business with them, and certainly not if it's a government-owned company that'd be taking charge of the seaports. Maybe we need oil from them and to do business with them, but it would be insane to let them control a vital part of the industrial infrastructure.

How those important facts seem to elude Preston is beyond me.

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Hey ... I just found this ... by checking for links ... very thoughful interesting post on this issue ... how bout the new news ...

Thanks. I also posted about the UAE's abandoning the deal a short time ago too.

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