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Why the Port Deal Matters

I've had a discussion about this with a few people, so i thought i should put it my thoughts up here.

Generally, reasonable people seem to think that the controversy over Bush administration's decision to allow the United Arab Emirates to have control over our ports is a tempest in a teapot. Prior to this, a British company controlled the ports, and to some people this controversy smacks of racism because we'll let a European country have control but not an Arab one. Other people just think the security concerns are imagined and people are using the controversy to score cheap political points. I see it a different way.

Since September 11th, 2001, the Bush administration has told us that we needed to start taking extra precautions in order to be safe. We had to tone down any dissenting opinions. We had to give up our right to due process. We had to submit to wire tapping. We have to be harassed every time we go to the airport. We had to accept the logic that we had to invade Iraq because we couldn't risk the chance of any beligerant Arab country having weapons.

I wasn't willing to accept any of that. But a lot of people were, including the majority of pundits in the press. Now Bush is turning around and giving control of our ports to a country whose banks provided the money for the Sept 11th attacks, and whose royal family has ties with Osama bin Laden. When justifying the attacks on Afghanistan, Bush said that those who aid and abet terrorist will be treated no differently than the terrorists themselves. Today he is giving a country with closer ties to al-Qaeda than Iraq ever had access to our ports. It is mind blowing to those who naively took Bush at his word.

It's also an opportunity for those of us who have been jumping up and down for the past 5 years saying that we've been hoodwinked press the point. The mainstream Democrats have been acting 'reasonably' all along and have been pushed around and ignored. It's time to stop being reasonable and make an issue of this glaring contradiction between Bush's rhetoric and actions. Port security (an issue Democrats have been trying to push for a while now) is important, and it is an area where we really do need to be extra careful.

Millions of crates come into this country every day. The Bush Administration bypassed the routine security check that is required by law when a new company takes over control of our ports. Now they would be in the control of a country that has ties to Osama bin Laden. It doesn't make any sense, and it deserves to be focused on.

I have a problem with the deal from another point of view as well. The argument was made years ago that governments are less efficient than private corporations. It's not an argument i agree with - anyone trying to deal with a cable company or an insurance company knows that corporations are just as beaurocratic as you can get, and at least the government is technically accountable to voters. But it's a view that's generally been accepted by people so let's live with it for the sake of this posts: governments are too inefficient to control our ports, so we have to farm the work out to (foreign?) corporations. But the "corporation" that we are farming the work out to is an extension of the monarchy of the United Arab Emirates. It's not private in any way. Is the UAE's government more efficient than our own?

UPDATE: Looks like Tom Tomorrow beat me to it by 7 minutes.

By fnord12 | February 28, 2006, 10:57 AM | Liberal Outrage