Saturday, February 25, 2006

UPDATE ON UPI STORY--UAE terminal takeover extends to 21 ports

When I first wrote my blog post about the UPI story where the United Arab Emirates would take over 21 American ports, rather than six American ports as the mainstream media is now reporting, I missed this one little-known detail buried within the story. Here is that one little-known detail:

Port facility operators have a major security responsibility, and one that could be exploited by terrorists if they infiltrate the company, said Joe Muldoon III. Muldoon is an attorney representing Eller & Co., a port facility operator in Florida partnered with M&O in Miami. Eller opposes the Dubai takeover for security reasons.

"The Coast Guard oversees security, and they have the authority to inspect containers if they want and they can look at manifests, but they are really dependent on facility operators to carry out security issues," Muldoon said.

The Marine Transportation Security Act of 2002 requires vessels and port facilities to conduct vulnerability assessments and develop security plans including passenger, vehicle and baggage screening procedures; security patrols; establishing restricted areas; personnel identification procedures; access control measures; and/or installation of surveillance equipment.

Under the same law, port facility operators may have access to Coast Guard security incident response plans -- that is, they would know how the Coast Guard plans to counter and respond to terrorist attacks.

This is a shocker! DP World would have access to security plans on how the Coast Guard would respond to terrorist attacks! This is incredibly potent information--especially if it gets into the hands of al Qaida operatives, possibly through the UAE government, that controls DP World. What this means is that al Qaida could use the Coast Guard's own security plans to seek out and exploit weaknesses in those plans during their next terror attacks.

The Bush administration is selling out America's Homeland Security for the sake of corporate profit and cronyism.

I guess this is another update on an update. DP World would have access to Coast Guard security plans regarding Coast Guard responses to terror attacks. I'd like to point out this little fact from a previous post, regarding the secret agreement between the White House and DP World. This is from the Yahoo News story referenced from the post:

In approving the purchase, the administration chose not to require Dubai Ports to keep copies of its business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to orders by American courts. It also did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate requests by the government.

Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales in other industries.

Dubai Ports agreed to give up records on demand about "foreign operational direction" of its business at the U.S. ports, according to the documents. Those records broadly include details about the design, maintenance or operation of ports and equipment. It also pledged to continue participating in programs to stop smuggling and detect illegal shipments of nuclear materials.

So if DP World would not have its business records in a corporate office on U.S. soil, then where would the Coast Guard security plans for U.S. ports that DP World would operate be kept? Would the security plans be kept at DP World's corporate offices in UAE? Would the American public feel safe, knowing that Coast Guard security plans be stored at DP offices in the United Arab Emirates--where they could be accessed by al Qaida operatives? In fact, such security plans wouldn't need to be held in the UAE--if such security plans are in computer files, they could be transferred from DP World computers in the U.S. mainland, to DP World computers in the UAE, then downloaded to a CD, laptops, or even jump drives.

Do you still feel secure?


GeeKineer said...

WOW it just keeps getting better. So it's not 6 ports it's 21 (though any number greater than 0 is significant), and they do have security responsibilty. This President will succeed in sending this country sliding into 3rd world obscurity with bad national security policy, bad fiscal policy, a war based on a personal agenda and lies, his own personal lack of ability, and an unprecedented level of cronyism.

Eric A Hopp said...

Geekineer: I just can't believe it myself. At first, I was thinking that Portgate was a PR screw-up on the Bush administration. I figured they didn't want to allow any type of open debate in Congress, or the American public, over this sale of American port operations to DP World. But as more details regarding the sale have surfaced, even I'm starting to realize what a terrible deal this is for the country. The Bush administration has no regard for the safety, security, or the economic well-being for this country--their sole interest is to sell out the U.S. to the highest bidder. It is cronyism in the worst possible manner.

And we still have two more years to go in the administration.