GOP Governors Oppose Dubai Firm Running U.S. Ports
Two moderate Republican governors, New York’s George Pataki and Maryland’s Bob Ehrlich, are threatening to revoke the leases to run ports in their states now that the company that operates them has been sold by their former British owners to a firm from Dubai.
Two Republican governors are threatening legal action to block an Arab company from taking over operations in major U.S. ports and some GOP lawmakers say the deal should be closely examined. In the uneasy climate after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Bush administration decision to allow the transaction is threatening to develop a major political headache for the White House.
New York Gov. George Pataki and Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich on Monday voiced doubts about the acquisition of a British company that has been running six U.S. ports by Dubai Ports World, a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates. The British company, Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., runs major commercial operations at ports in Baltimore, Miami, New Jersey, New Orleans, New York and Philadelphia.
Both governors indicated they may try to cancel lease arrangements at ports in their states because of the DP World takeover. “Ensuring the security of New York’s port operations is paramount and I am very concerned with the purchase of Peninsular & Oriental Steam by Dubai Ports World,” Pataki said in a news release. “I have directed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to explore all legal options that may be available to them.” Ehrlich, concerned about security at the Port of Baltimore, said Monday he was “very troubled” that Maryland officials got no advance notice before the Bush administration approved the Arab company’s takeover of the operations at the six ports. “We needed to know before this was a done deal, given the state of where we are concerning security,” Ehrlich told reporters in the State House rotunda in Annapolis.
Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey said Monday that he and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., will introduce legislation prohibiting the sale of port operations to foreign governments.
The Bush administration got support Monday from former President Carter, a Democrat and frequent critic of the administration. “My presumption is, and my belief is, that the president and his secretary of state and the Defense Department and others have adequately cleared the Dubai government organization to manage these ports,” Carter told CNN. “I don’t think there’s any particular threat to our security.”
That the Bush administration is allied with Jimmy Carter against Hillary Clinton and much of the conservative punditocracy is remarkable odd, indeed.
It may well be that there are sufficient checks in place that having a foreign owned country, even one from the part of the world from which our enemies hail, is not a problematic. Still, Lindsey Graham is right: This is quite tone deaf on the part of the administration.
Michelle Malkin has had a number of posts on this subject over the last couple of days.