Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Monday, February 27, 2006

A sensible look at Portgate

By Aussiegirl

Today's Washington Times has a very sensible editorial on the ports deal, and why there should be congressional review of such transactions.

A deal on the ports-Editorials/Op-Ed-The Washington Times, America's Newspaper

A deal over ports is being hatched in Washington. The question is whether the deal and the uproar of the past week will persuade President Bush to make immediate and necessary maritime-security upgrades. Grandstanding there has been, but the concerns about this deal are justified. Proponents do themselves no favor, for starters, by suggesting that concerns about port security are motivated by racism. This is the cheapest of cheap shots.

[...] President Bush should explain why this deal is a step forward for port security, not a step backward, nor a deal that preserves the status quo. That's the standard his critics, ourselves included, will hold him to. Concern over current porous port-security arrangements, and then the injection into the mix of an Arab company that could be infiltrated (or in a reasonable if unlikely hypothetical scenario even willfully cooperate in terrorism) is what prompted the firestorm.

[...] We take assertions that the UAE is a reliable American ally with justifiable caution. Steven Emerson, a distinguished analyst, notes that as recently as last year Hamas couriers were dispatched to the West Bank or Gaza with UAE cash.
Much could be done to allay the justifiable fears if overall cargo and port security were improved. Questions should be asked about the oversight process, in which deals are approved with less than unanimous approval. In the event that the sale stands there must be safeguards to ensure that an Arab firm from an Arab country previously aligned with the Taliban in Afghanistan does not compromise port security -- and the security of the United States.


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