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A Question of Port Security

The approval of transferring US port security to a UAE company, who purchased the current European contractor, Britain's Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation, has caused a fair amount of fury over the past 48 hours. Michelle Malkin has a good roundup of the exaspiration being expressed around the web and in the media.

A few quick observations:

  • Why was a European firm ultimately responsible for American port security, especially post-9.11, in the first place?
  • How is it that there is not a worthy American organization that can be tasked with American security?
  • Why is the Department of the Treasury has the lead in making such a fundamental security decision that transcends any monetary concern?
  • Are the various local port authorities not worthy of consult regarding security matters of the ports they know intimately (let alone live near)?
  • While there is concern about special oversight of the potentially UAE-run operation, has anyone asked about the nature of oversight of the same function while outsourced to a European firm?
  • If the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. is 'an interagency panel headed by the Treasury Department that can block foreign acquisitions that threaten national security', doesn't it make sense that it is headed by a Department who is tasked with National Security with Treasury contributing rather than the other way around?

All that said, regardless of one's view on the matter at hand, the question of prior oversight seems a fair question in principle before jumping all over the UAE issue without fair and proper contrast. While the Middle Eastern issue is certainly a sensitive one, we should also remember to stop and ask the same of a firm that, at the end of the day, is/was equally non-American. And what about American-run security? Airport security did not initially fail because it was foreign-run. It has, however, proven effective and sufficiently deterrent since.

While I disagree with the decision and, more importantly, the process employed to arrive at that decision, to allow a UAE-owned outfit run American port security, the issue truly before us is not why a United Arab Emirate entity would be tasked as ultimately responsible for US Port Security.

It is, rather, a more fundamental question of why American leadership is not tasked with the ultimate responsibility of American security, ports or otherwise.

Reference

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» Just say no to the UAE from Christian Pundits
I know that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says the panel has done "due diligence" concerning the UAE's purchase of the ports, but excuse me Mr. President if I don't have much faith in Secretary Chertoff's due diligence right now. [Read More]