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Dubai Port Deal: "Big Deal or Much Ado About Nothing?"

Reported by Janie - February 22, 2006

Former CIA operative Wayne Simmons appeared on Dayside yesterday, along side Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R - FL) to discuss the Dubai Port deal, while the banner underneath read "Big Deal or Much Ado About Nothing?" During the segment, Simmons attempted to assuage the fears of faithful Fox viewers, while ignoring the reasons Americans are so concerned about this deal.

Co-host Juliet Huddy opened the segment with, "Congressman Peter King has been out talking about this, he's the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. He says the Dubai Ports World, this company, want approval without a lot of vetting. There seems to be some controversy over this, this company would take over, but they haven't been vetted the way they should be and Congress didn't get a chance to look at this, what are your thoughts on this?"

Comment: Not a great start, since the concerns the American people have are not only over vetting, but the security of our ports. As has been reported by many of my fellow Newshounds, there are a vast number of reasons this deal should raise red flags.

The UAE:

- was one of three countries in the world to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan
- has been a key transfer point for illegal shipments of nuclear components to Iran, North Korea and Lybia.
- according to the FBI, transferred money through their banking system to the 9/11 hijackers
- was not, according to the Treasury Department, cooperating in efforts to track down Osama Bin Laden’s bank accounts
(Hat tip to ThinkProgress for the initial investigative work!)

As for other aspects of the deal:

- The deal has not gone through the proper 45 day vetting process, required by law (which is what Huddy is referring to)
- The British company which is being bought out, P&O, recently renewed a deal with "the United States Surface Deployment and Distribution Command to provide stevedoring [loading and unloading] of military equipment at the Texan ports of Beaumont and Corpus Christi through 2010. Almost 40 percent of the Army cargo deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom flows through these two ports.” With DP World gaining control of P&O who inked this deal, DP World would be in charge of monitoring the loading and unloading of America's military equipment.
- The person tapped by Bush to run the Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration, David Sanborn, was a senior executive at DP World.

Simmons responded, "If that is the case, than clearly Congress needs to take a good look at that. I don't know that that's the case, what I can tell you is this, the process by which any foreign country can put a state-owned company forward to do business in the United States is supposed to be very, very extensive. If that's not the case now, then as I said, we need to take a look at it, but certainly the security measures that are in place, at our ports as we speak, are not going to change. And I might add another thing. This word being bandied around, meaning to control our ports is absolutely not true. That is not the case.

Comment: Well, that's reassuring, considering only about 5% of all cargo containers entering the United States are screened.

Co-host Mike Jerrick continued the interview asking, "They're going to run the day-to-day operations, who's in charge of security, Department of Homeland Security?"

WS: "Well, no, no, no. It's not even that. That's not even completely the case. For example, The Waterfront Commission in New York, where Congressman King is, is one of the best secured ports in the United States. For example, the PL Ports, which is the subsidiary of the company, the parent, the UAE parent is under such stringent guidelines, that any one that owns more than 5% of that company has to undergo a background check."

Comment: Did ANYONE understand that bit of gibberish? Simmons appears to be attempting to explain something that he doesn't have the slightest idea about.

After that jumble of nonsense, Huddy decided to bring Ros-Lehtinen into the discussion by repeating her original question to Simmons.

IRL: "Well, we are very concerned. It is not just the port in Miami, it's also New York, Newark, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and as we know only 5% of the cargo is now being screened. 95% is not; however, I so agree with your panelist. This has been misconstrued and twisted around so that it gives the appearance because it's short hand talk about what is going on here. This is a financial transaction where DP World will actually be, in the case of the port of Miami, will have 50% of the financial interest of a small operation in the port of Miami."

Comment: Let's be clear, because it was not made completely clear through the remainder of the interview to the Dayside audience, this is JUST Miami they're talking about here. Miami's port is set up differently, with an American company owning 50% of the port.

She continued, "The reason that we're so concerned about it, is not because they're going to hire employees, they're not. Not because they're going to screen employees, they're not. They're not going to make the management decisions, because they're going to be 50% of the shareholders, and any decisions made about operations within their part of the port will have to be unanimously adopted, but the reason that this raises flags and whistles rolling is because of the secrecy involved in the committee, CFIUS (Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States). And what CFIUS does, it's made up of a committee of 12 or 13 departments of the US Government, Department of Treasury, Commerce, Homeland Security, Secretary of State, and they all go in there, but there's not enough transparency. We don't know what questions have been asked, so what Congress wants is to say to the President, hold off. March 2nd is the sale date, let's give it a little more time and tell us in the Congress what kind of deliberations have gone into this process."

Comment: Ros-Lehtinen is correct, we do need to know more about the CFIUS process, especially considering Secretary of Treasury John Snow who sits on CFIUS has previous business dealings with DP World.

Simmons concluded the segment by stating, "This is not a foreign nation coming into control our ports, that's not going to happen."

Comment: And Simmons had no proof to back that statement up. The segment was a wash because it did nothing to address the real concerns that Americans face with this deal. Once again, no Democrats were invited to partake in the segment (nor were any mentioned), allowing this issue to continue to look like purely a Republican issue and giving the viewer the idea once again, that Democrats are weak on National Security.

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