|February 22, 2006|
Port Security, Rove, and Bush's Pre-911 Attitude
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
According to the Sept. 11 commission, (commonly recognized as the definitive investigation into the 2001 attacks), the United Arab Emirates served as a conduit for funds, logistical hub and transit point for al Qaeda operatives involved in the plot.
It revealed that two of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Emirati nationals: Fayez Banihammad and Marwan al-Shehhi. According to the Sept. 11 commission, at least nine of the 19 hijackers passed through Dubai on their way to the United States and received assistance from al Qaeda operatives based in the emirate.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has said Dubai, a member of the United Arab Emirates, was the headquarters of the nuclear black market run by disgraced Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan. The Khan network supplied centrifuge technology to countries including Libya and North Korea.
While Bush will be issuing talking points to assure us that America's security wouldn't be any different whether a terrorist-supporting country or a British firm managed the ports, others will disagree. For starters, Former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge disagrees, stating: "I think the anxiety and the concern (over the Dubai deal) that has been expressed by congressmen and senators and elsewhere is legitimate."
In a rare move, Sen. Charles Schumer (D) reached across the aisle to join with Committee on Homeland Security's Chairman Peter T. King (R), both of New York, to introduce emergency legislation Tuesday to "suspend the handover" of certain port operations. "Approving this contract in the dark of night and ignoring all of the many questions asked about this takeover is an affront to anybody who cares about our nation's security," Senator Schumer said.
These contract companies are in charge of day to day operations of loading and unloading at terminals. That means, at the very least, their agents have physical access to the terminal, and will be able to observe, record, and possibly take advantage of weak points in our Homeland Security.
On August 5, 2002, JayEtta Z. Hecker, US the Director over Physical Infrastructure Issues for the General Accounting Office gave testimony before Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs, and International House Committee on Government Reform
The following is an exerpt from her statement:
"More than 95% of our foreign trade (and 100% of our foreign oil on which we are heavily dependent) arrives by ship. In 2001, approximately 5,400 ships carrying multinational crews and cargoes from around the globe made more than 60,000 US port calls each year. More than 6 million containers (suitable for truck-trailers) enter the country annually. Particularly with "just-in-time" deliveries with goods, the expeditious flow of commerce through these ports is so essential that the Coast Guard Commandant stated after September 11, "even slowing the flow long enough to inspect either all or a statistically significant random selection of imports would be economically intolerable."
Of course that was in 2002. Since that time there has been some improvement. It is estimated by the Department of Homeland Security that 4 to 5 percent of all containers coming into U.S. ports are physically inspected. Upwards of an additional 5% are x-ray monitored for illegal aliens. The Bush Administration assures us that 100% of the manifests are now automatically reviewed by software. Now I don't know if that means they're simply doing spell-checks or word-checking for declarations of aluminum tubes and yellow-cake. One thing I know is that the Coast Guard complaint that they not only have been short-shrifted by the 2007 Budget by around $5.6 BILLION, the Coast Guard's oversight of port security duty has been "folded into" OTHER programs meaning they're trying to cover even MORE without adequate funding.
On top of that, Homeland Security is dangerously under funded in the area of putting U.S. Customs Agents overseas to adequately cover the packing of cargo at port of origin.
But why did the Council for Foreign Investment in the U.S. fast-track it in 25 days when they normally would have taken 30?
And why does the press insist on reporting only 6 ports in this deal when there is actually 8?
That's right, British Shipping newspaper Lloyd's List reported yesterday (Feb. 20) that 2 more ports are up for grabs in the deal which are actually major U.S. MILITARY shipping ports, apparently granting Dubai agents access to MILITARY SHIPPING MANIFESTS.
Their contract with the United States Surface Deployment and Distribution Command would provide stevedoring [loading and unloading] of military equipment at the Texan ports of Beaumont and Corpus Christi through 2010.
According to the journal Army Logistician "Almost 40 percent of the Army cargo deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom flows through these two ports."
Thus, the sale would give a country that has been "a key transfer point for illegal shipments of nuclear components to Iran, North Korea and Lybia" direct control over substantial quantities U.S. military equipment.
Yet it appears to me that these contracts were fast tracked and rubber-stamped.
Today, in his daily White House Press softball session GeeDubya's Press Secretary Scott McClellan indicated that the President didn't know about the deal until AFTER he read it in the newspaper. Regarding port security, he assured us that the Department of Homeland Security was "doing a great job". Brownie -er -I mean Scotty, of course, never mentioned that the $708 million allotted for maritime security over the past four years amounted to only one-fifth of what the port authorities had identified as needed to properly secure the ports. At least according to that the president of the American Association of Port Authorities.
I guess that'll come out in hearings AFTER the disaster.
Of course the softball press never asked McClellan why our "Wartime President" immediately threatened to use his first veto after 5 years in office to protect Dubai's prosperity over America's security.
And they have the gall to charge that DEMOCRATS have a pre-911 view of the world.
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
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