Breaking Some Myths
The Senate Armed Services Committee held a two hour hearing on the matter today, and I watched it, and learned a lot of things that aren't in the press.
The first one, that many folks in Congress have been circulating is that no one knew about this until about 2 weeks ago. If that's the case, they should read BBC's investment news more often, it was reported there last November, and in Hong Kong Skyline in October last year, along with other media outlets such as the New York Times, and Baltimore Sun.
In fact the Treasury Undersecretary who was at the hearing mentioned that less press mention of the Chinese bid for Unocal caused that deal to stop, yet no one in congress, or the media raised any questions about this deal, which may be why no one seemed to notice until CFIUS approved it.
The second, that Bush caused this to happen "in the dark of the night". The truth is the process that is used to review such takeovers is done behind closed doors because of business concerns, security concerns, and a number of other reasons. That's done based not on an Executive Branch decree, but on a statute passed by Congress.
Imagine if you ran a company, were looking at a possible bid, and had to make it public early than necessary, because of congressional (or other) interference. That would have quite an impact on many business operations.
The third, that this was "rushed through". In the case of DPW and P&O they voluntarily went to the Department of Treasury, who heads CFIUS in October before the bid was made public, in order to start the ball rolling, and take care of any problems. DPW hadn't even won the bidding in fact, they were trying to be proactive in the process. There's a horrible business practice.
The next is that DPW will be "running the ports", the truth is they will be acquiring 24 of 829 terminals in the ports they will be operating in, with their leases only for those terminals, not entire port operations.
They've actually accepted dozens of additional measures be included at our insistance, including leaving the current management and employment structures in place, and extra screenings of any employees by DHS through Customs and the Coast Guard.
DPW will also not be running security and inspections. That's still handled by the Coast Guard and DHS. In fact NO port operator knows what containers will be inspected when ships arrive in the US. They are told by the CG or Customs Service that a particular container will be inspected as it's offloaded, with no notice. The inspectors in the port don't even get the list until the ship docks, so they can't leak the information.
After watching the hearing, and listening to press questions, I'm more convinced, not less that folks on both sides of the aisle are using this for political points, Carl Levin and Hillary Clinton are on top of that list after listening to them.
UPDATE: DP World has offered to delay the US end of the transaction, while Congress finishes bloviating over the issue.
Technorati Tags: Islam, United Arab Emirates, Ports, Congress, Bush, Kennedy, Levin, Warner DP World,New York Times, Senate,
The Gun Toting Liberal feels differently than I do on this issue, as does Common Folk Using Commons Sense. Atlas Shrugs has more on this, and a link to the White House letter explaining the DPW and CFIUS process. Command T.O.C also disagrees with me.
Newsweek has 3 pieces on this issue, Christopher Dickey gives a good look at Dubai, and Eleanor Clift looks at how Democrats will try to use this to make political hay, and "The Oval" column is about the GOP Bush rift on the issue.
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