Hiring the Fox to Guard the Henhouse
Vol: 53 Issue: 18 Saturday, February 18, 2006
Imagine you know a guy that just hates you for no reason you can understand. He attacks you all the time verbally, and physically whenever he thinks he can get away with it.
He has a big family that thinks he’s just great, doesn’t like you either, but, while just as abusive verbally, none of them have actually taken a swing at you yet. So, what do you do?
Well, if you are the federal government, here’s one solution. Hire the guy’s family to protect you from him.
It seems that people responsible for securing America’s ports, (six of them, at least) aren’t American. They’re British. That was the first surprise, given the circumstances.
Of all America’s potential vulnerabilities, shipping is its biggest Achilles’ Heel. Aircraft passengers are carefully screened, as are those entering the country at border crossings from Mexico or Canada.
Every person entering the country legally goes through some kind of individual scrutiny before admission. But 99.4% of shipping containers enter the country without inspection of any kind.
A person trying to enter the US by car with a joint in his glove compartment has a better chance of getting caught than a guy who sends himself a nuclear weapon in a shipping container.
So, particularly since the attacks on September 11, why in the world is US port security entrusted to the British? Aren’t there any Americans that can be entrusted with the task?
We aren’t talking about the port of Beaufort, North Carolina (although that would be serious enough). The British are in charge of security at New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Miami, Baltimore and New Orleans.
And, since the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. is privately-owned, what if its British owners decided to sell it to a less reliable US ally, say, the United Arab Emirates?
Which is precisely what happened. The UAE’s state-owned Dubai Port World bought Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation — and security for America’s six largest ports is now safely in Islamic hands.
The same UAE that served as an operational and financial base for the hijackers who carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks against New York and Washington.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States reviewed the transaction and did not object. The committee, run by the Treasury Department, also includes officials from the departments of Defense, Justice, Commerce, State and Homeland Security.
“And the bottom line finding was that there was no national security basis on which to block the sale going forward,” explained State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
Eighty-seven percent of the shipping along US trade routes takes place under foreign flags.
“Thousands of foreign-controlled ships manned by many tens of thousands of foreign personnel visit our many ports and navigable waterways — many of which are registered under “flags of convenience” with owners, operators, and multinational crews that have no national relationship to the country where the ship is registered,” stated Captain Dan Fuller, U.S. Merchant Marine Shipmaster and respected maritime consultant.
“More American ships carrying a larger proportion of our foreign trade give the U.S. greater control over our trade, as well as significantly increased security for our ports, waterways, and adjacent communities.”
No one within the US administration has answered the burning question of why it is ok with handing port security over to a hotbed of Islamic radicalism.
It doesn’t much matter whether the Dubai Port World is friendly to the United States or not. It is a safe bet that an Arabic company would be easier for an Islamic radical to infiltrate than an American company, or even a British one.
Dubai Port World wouldn’t even have to be complicit. And if there were a terrorist attack through America’s port system, what would we do then? Blow up the UAE? Take over our own security? Give them another chance to get it right? Has anybody considered these possibilities?