Politics as (un)usual: Now discussing the Dubai Ports World Deal

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by KnightWriter, Dec 21, 2005.

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  1. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    I'm not trying to defend any racist views here, but is it necessarily racist to be suspicious of people that come from an area where terrorism pre-dominantly comes from?
  2. BenduHopkins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2004
    star 4
    The following are a few things that should be confirmed before going through with the port deal:

    A) The UAE side of the company would have no possible way to influence any of their own company's operations, legitimately or through unforseen and shady abuses of power.

    B) There would be no descriptions of the particular weaknesses of the particular ports being sent to anyone working in the company who is not a US citizen.

    Now, these would be hard things to know beforehand. Just because the UAE has been an ally in our war on terror doesn't mean they do not also aid terrorism in a number of ways.

  3. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    No, that's a perfectly fair question.

    Basically, because Saudi Arabian-US cash and trade flows remain considerably high despite Saudi Arabia being a massive epicentre for terrorism; and because in this case we're ignoring that al-Qaeda-influenced groups don't need an Arab country to infiltrate an asset into an area.

    If this were a state like Yemen, I'd say that the deal needed scrutiny. If it were Saudi Arabia I think it'd be much quieter. The fact it's the most modern of the Gulf states, and at that it's a private company from that area, just makes me suspicious of the motives of critics.

    And no, there's nothing wrong with having legitimate security concerns; but in this case, they're not legit. You're worried (the opposition crowd), I suspect, that Arab companies will take over US ports and let terrorist nukes in. Yet, we (the "for" crowd) have shown how DPW's business reputation is without reproach, and how US Customs and Coast Guard will remain in control of security and thus how the concerns really aren't justified. That they linger, I can't understand but I suspect it's a residual belief that most Arabs support terrorism.

    If we were to list what states UPF operates stevedores etc in, would that help?

    E_S
  4. BenduHopkins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2004
    star 4
    I'm not trying to defend any racist views here, but is it necessarily racist to be suspicious of people that come from an area where terrorism pre-dominantly comes from?

    Calling people who are cautious about this deal racist is a straw man argument. Nobody is saying that we should not trade, when appropriate, with friendly Arab nations. This has nothing to do with race.

    If you want to see racism in action, look no further than the patriot act.
  5. BenduHopkins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2004
    star 4
    You're worried (the opposition crowd), I suspect, that Arab companies will take over US ports and let terrorist nukes in.

    That would be only the most exaggerated worry. I also worry that the company may have been infiltrated by Al Qaeda, or an Al Qaeda sympathizer, and that this person may recieve a clear picture of the port's weaknesses in order to get around Customs. We can't exactly screen the politics of each and every UAE member of the organization that might have access to plans and security reports.

    I don't believe that most Arabs support terrorism, but I do believe that our dealings with UAE in areas involving U.S. territory should be limited to the necessary until they prove themselves to be absolutely no friend of terrorism. We've recieved mixed messages from them regarding this. They have been good business partners for the Bush crowd, and oil tycoons, but as a result we allow them to get away with a lot of things that we would invade other countries for as a matter of self preservation.

    I don't find that the UAE/US relationship is based on respect of the values of democracy or civil rights, but rather more a business agreement. We are not in agreement with UAE on anything but business, it seems. It is a delicate balancing act. The Bush dynasty has no real barriers when it comes to business. The dollar is the bottom line. Therefore Arab businesses related to our national security favors the business aspect over the other aspects which are far more important to the average American. This deal is selfish on part of those who made it, and thinks nothing of the American people.
  6. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    I'm not saying your concerns aren't valid, Bendu; but I think you're focusing too much on the home country of DPW and not on the larger picture.

    The DPW website, for example, lists some of their countries of operation; "This acquisition gave DPI a strong presence in Asia with major operations in Hong Kong and China as well as operations in Australia, Germany, Dominican Republic and Venezuela."

    Hong Kong is a major trading and financial centre; Australia and Germany are key war-on-terror actors and Australia is a strong US ally; and Venezuela is a major oil producer though admittedly not a US ally.

    That's not to forget operations elsewhere in these regions but these are clearly key points.

    Website.

    Al-Qaeda, I'd submit, doesn't exist anymore but certainly, the idea does. Even still, terrorist groups wouldn't necessarily need another Arab group to look for weakness, which is why I'm suspect about the apparent heightened danger because DPW and al-Qaeda are both Arab ventures, they must both be security risks. I don't think that's particularly rational thinking. But still, there's nothing to stop them getting their information from P&O run terminals; and moreover, key US allies are serviced by DPW terminals and stevedores without any apparent security risk.

    I'm sorry, I just cannot see the opposition as this as much more than reactionary. It just doesn't strike me as a reasoned, measured response to the deal. Furthermore, Bendu, I do think it's unfair to point to the Bush Administration's view on foreign policy as being business-like without pointing to their predecessors who were equally as culpable of perpetuating this mentality.

    E_S
  7. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    From NYT, Feb. 26:

    But leaders of the 9/11 Commission, which investigated the 2001 terror attacks, say lawmakers' concerns [about the Dubai acquisition] are badly misdirected.

    "We?re not really debating whether the ports are secure," said Thomas H. Kean, the group's chairman. "We?re debating who should be running them. It?s the wrong question."

    The right question, in the view of Mr. Kean and his vice chairman, Lee H. Hamilton, is whether oceangoing cargo is adequately screened for bombs. They grade the effort so far a near-failure.

    Their report card asserts that the government's progress is spotty at best. It was released in December by the commission's successor, the 9/11 Public Discourse Project. The report evaluated 41 recommendations made by the commission in 2004.

    A dozen major issues, including cargo screening, received a grade of D. Five were judged flat-out failures, including slow progress on a new radio frequency for rescue workers, which is at least three years away. The lack of dedicated broadcast spectrum "is probably going to cost a lot of lives" in future emergencies, Mr. Kean said.


    That sums up this whole mess. We're now going to have the right debate about port security, but for the entirely wrong reason.
  8. BenduHopkins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2004
    star 4
    I'm not saying your concerns aren't valid, Bendu; but I think you're focusing too much on the home country of DPW and not on the larger picture.

    The DPW website, for example, lists some of their countries of operation; "This acquisition gave DPI a strong presence in Asia with major operations in Hong Kong and China as well as operations in Australia, Germany, Dominican Republic and Venezuela."

    Hong Kong is a major trading and financial centre; Australia and Germany are key war-on-terror actors and Australia is a strong US ally; and Venezuela is a major oil producer though admittedly not a US ally.

    That's not to forget operations elsewhere in these regions but these are clearly key points.


    Looking at those facts you just listed is a good thing to do. My reaction to them is not the same as yours. To simplify, I'll use the old Mother's warning "If all your friends jumped off a bridge,..."

    America as a leader should be questioning how many more industries it wants to outsource, and to whom. There is such a thing as UAE being too rich, too powerful, and too influential in the world. And as a leader, America should not have a "follow the pack" mentality. We have to retain our identity as a country who leads the way in civil rights and democracy. I feel that we have abandoned a few too many of our ideals in favor of business.

    This deal just comes at the wrong time for Americans to accept it that easily. There are a lot of things going on here that differentiate the way we should react to this from Germany or China. A few things would have to have happened to have made the deal palettable to most americans:

    - An effective overhaul of homeland security measures, including all borders.
    - Effective post 9/11 leadership showing caution in favoring certain Arab nations over others.
    - A clear favoring by our government of the needs of middle class American ideals over big business.
    - A limit to how much we'll rely on, or bolster business with Arab nations who have ties to terrorism.
    - A clear declaration of opposition to the dark side of UAE.
    - A clear beginning of the rebuilding of U.S. economy and industry.
  9. BenduHopkins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2004
    star 4
    That sums up this whole mess. We're now going to have the right debate about port security, but for the entirely wrong reason.

    Wrong reason? That was part of the reason the port deal was opposed in the first place. Everyone already knew that the borders have not been strengthened. That is why the idea of an Arab company being there is questionable. It is not a surprise that Bush has done nothing to strengthen the borders and coasts. People opposing this deal had that in mind when they spoke out.
  10. BenduHopkins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2004
    star 4
    The power of a good mascot is not to be underestimated, though. LOL

    [image=http://www.dpworld.ae/kidszone/web_parts/english/intro/intro_1.gif]http://www.dpworld.ae/kidszone/web_parts/english/intro/intro_1.gif
  11. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Bendu, what information do you have access to that you are using to base your statement of "nothing has been done to increase port security?" Could you share any of it with us?

    More importantly, what specifically do you want to be carried out? I don't mean in a "whatever Bush is doing is wrong" kind of way, but some specific actions that you don't think are being undertaken vs what can be undertaken.

    Because as was mentioned above, the response to this entire situation does seem quite reactionary, and certainly represents the reality of current US politics.

    Look at the Patriot Act, a law which is in no way sinister, and compare all of the reactionary demagogy that has been applied to it. Compare the NSA evesdropping operation with all of the hyperpole that is used to describe it. These examples do exist of course, but their reality is almost completely different than the rumors used to characterize them.

    What exactly do you think is being hindered in the ports that you don't agree with anywhere else?
  12. BenduHopkins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2004
    star 4
    Why don't you tell me one thing that HAS been done by bush to effectively strengthen homeland security in the ports?

    Look at the Patriot Act, a law which is in no way sinister, and compare all of the reactionary demagogy that has been applied to it. Compare the NSA evesdropping operation with all of the hyperpole that is used to describe it.

    "reactionary demagogy?" "hyperbole?"

    I'm afraid we're on opposite sides of the fence on those issues too, so the comparison will do me no good. Time has not put the democrats on the wrong side of history.
  13. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    MR44, within a few weeks or months, when there has been a real, thorough public airing of how little has actually been done to improve port security in the U.S., and how little is planned, it will be an approval ratings disaster for the Bush administration that will make this whole Dubai acquisition scandal by comparison look exactly like the irrelevant farce it has really been all along.
  14. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Why don't you tell me one thing that HAS been done by bush to effectively strengthen homeland security in the ports?

    Nice way to dodge the question, but I'll give you a list.

    1) integrated the law enforcement data network so that intelligence and/or immigration information is shared among all levels.

    2)realigned the Coastguard away from the military (except if needed in times of war) and linked the organization with the Border Patrol so that actions at sea also apply to points of access into the country.

    3)Linked law enforcement concerns like immigrant smuggling, human trafficking, and forced prostitution with the economic factors of criminal organizations/terrorist factions

    4)Entered into partnerships with friendly foreign ports to identify potential problems before they even reach the US.

    5)initiated a preliminary program to use military UAV's in a civilian role of monitoring large portions of the unmanned border areas.

    6)increased the laison budget with INTERPOL in order to internationally track and monitor the activities of identified actors.

    GOV PDF

    GAO STUDY

    RAND

    (warning-49 page pdf file)

    DHS

    That's a good start for sources, again, what sources are you using, and what issues to they cover?
  15. BenduHopkins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2004
    star 4
    You're using some examples that are just in the planning stages, and the rest don't specifically focus on ports. Note: I asked for examples of what has been done to effectively strengthin port security. Not what's been planned, or what's been done in general for homeland security which peripherally may or may not strengthen the port security.

    But don't let the article from the NYT bother you:
    A dozen major issues, including cargo screening, received a grade of D. Five were judged flat-out failures, including slow progress on a new radio frequency for rescue workers, which is at least three years away. The lack of dedicated broadcast spectrum "is probably going to cost a lot of lives" in future emergencies, Mr. Kean said.
  16. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Huh? which programs that I listed are still in the planning stages, besides the UAV program which I described as preliminary?

    At any rate, you still haven't answered my question. Rather than pointing out what you think is "wrong," what specifically to you want to be carried out, and how can the government undertake them?

    So far, all you've basically repeated is "Bush is bad..." "Bush is bad..." rinse, lather, repeat, but you have yet to offer one alternative, or even say what you want done in the first place.

    You complaints are particularly puzzling, since you also are so militantly against anything resembling existing government laws that address your very concerns.

    I think a big problem you may be having is that you are unable to examine the big picture. "Port security," as you put it, doesn't begin and end at the ports. It's a concept that requires input along an entire spectrum of operations. I'd suggest to you, in fact, that a reactionary response to something physically present within a port is the last option, and is almost too late.

    But I suppose under your way of thinking, preventive operations aren't worth your attention.
  17. BenduHopkins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2004
    star 4
    Did you read the NYT article? Do you ever retain anything damning about Bush?

    You complaints are particularly puzzling, since you also are so militantly against anything resembling existing government laws that address your very concerns.

    Incorrect. I'm just not willing to bypass civil liberties in doing so.
  18. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    OK..but...that...still...does...not...answer...the..question..

    What do you want the government to do, and how can it carry out your proposals?

    It's not difficult, just list what you want to happen.

  19. BenduHopkins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2004
    star 4
    Why should I? It isn't my job. Read the report.
  20. DeathStar1977 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2003
    star 4
    Even though no one really answered my questions [face_whistling] [face_mischief]...I thought I'd still contribute to this thread by providing this list from CNN that sums up the various duties of each agency/company:

    Federal agencies maintain security at the 361 ports along the U.S. coastline while private companies run operations for cargo and passengers.

    Coast Guard
    ? Responsible for national defense and maritime security
    ? Mission includes protecting the United States' 361 ports and 95,000 miles of coastline
    ? Evaluates security risks of ships entering ports, boards suspicious vessels
    ? Examines about 25 percent of ships entering U.S. ports to check safety standards
    ? Works to stem the flow of illegal drugs into the country
    ? Part of the Department for Homeland Security

    Customs and Border Protection
    ? Identifies high-risk shipments
    ? Physically examines about 7 percent of arriving cargo containers
    ? Uses radiation portal monitors to screen trucks and other vehicles for nuclear or radiological material present in items such as dirty bombs
    ? Enforces immigration rules for individuals
    ? Part of the Department of Homeland Security

    Private port operators
    ? Not involved in securing ports
    ? Run businesses that load and unload cargo
    ? Employ stevedores (people who load and unload the cargo)
    ? Manage cruise ship and passenger terminals
    ? Build port facilities

    ES

    The fact it's the most modern of the Gulf states, and at that it's a private company from that area, just makes me suspicious of the motives of critics.

    I thought that DWP is not a private company, rather is owned by the government of UAE.

    I do think it's unfair to point to the Bush Administration's view on foreign policy as being business-like without pointing to their predecessors who were equally as culpable of perpetuating this mentality.

    But everything changed on 9/11..didn't it? ;)

  21. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Exactly. Once a nuke gets just offshore, you are too late to stop it. You don't need to sneak it through Customs, just get it close enough to shore that it can do damage.

    Or, you don't even need a nuke. Enough explosives in a full supertanker could cause an oil slick that would shut down a major port for days or weeks. Again, you don't need to go through Customs, and could easily slip it past the Coast Guard (mounting the explosives on the outside of the hull below the waterline).

    Neither of those options require any access whatsoever to the actual terminals or operations of DPW. I'm sure, if we wanted to, we could come up with quite a few more possible attacks. (When my father worked as a government contractor, one of the jobs he had for a while was supporting DHS in designing preparedness drills. Sometimes over the dinner table, we'd discuss terrorism like a "red team", pretending to be terrorists and working only from non-classified information. It was quite educational.)

    If anything, the best ways to improve port security invovle providing more assistance to our allies in screening things as they leave their ports, rather than when they arrive here. Our domestic security should be a final line, not the first response.

    Kimball Kinnison
  22. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Why should I? It isn't my job? Read the report.

    Of course you don't have to, but it appears that the only things you are clinging to are your own fear and hatred.

    And fear and hate are dangerous things to cling to.
  23. BenduHopkins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2004
    star 4
    Hmm. So in this country, if you see GWB for being an ineffective president on any number of issues, then you are clinging to fear and hatred? Is that what they call being clear headed these days? I refused to answer your silly quiz because you're just playing games. You know very well what the opposition is saying about ways to improve port security right now. If you honestly haven't heard any ideas of how it could be improved, then I'd be glad to help you find them. But I'm not about to jump through hoops for you just because you disagree with me and the majority of the American population on almost every issue.
  24. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Nope, Not at all. Healthy debate and opposition are the cornerstones of the country, and this President certainly isn't, nor should he be immune to criticism.

    However, the operative word here is healthy. If a person can't formulate even a basic premise of what they are for, what is the point of their opposition? The purpose of criticism is to build and improve, not to simply tear down.

    Anyone can point out what they think is wrong, appearantly, not everyone can express what they are for.
  25. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Bendu,

    The problem is that you are complaining quite a bit about things, but you aren't willing to bring ideas to the table about how to do things better.

    You criticize Bush for relying on the opinions and ideas of his advisors, but at the same time you are basically saying that you would do the same (just with different advisors). What ideas are you really trying to add to the discussion? How much are you willing to actually do to look beyond the surface on these issues?

    I don't know about you, but I have read up quite a bit on the DPW deal, including comments from both sides. I've looked into what facts I can find and drawn my own conclusions (namely, that the entire thing has been blown way out of proportion). What's your response? You accuse me (and others) of mindlessly defending the administration.

    Here's a hint for you: you don't speak for the majority of the population, no matter how much you claim to. As much as you've accused me and others of being out of the mainstream, you are at least as far out of the mainstream on the other side.

    Right now, you are simply being lazy. You can't be bothered to bring your own ideas on how to improve things to the table, but you are more than happy to sit there and criticize others who do. If you don't like the way things are, don't just sit there and complain, suggest a better idea. That's the basis of healthy debate. Otherwise, you're just being an obstructionist.

    Kimball Kinnison
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