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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Breaking Some Myths

There's been a lot of rumor, inuendo, and very false information about Dubai Ports World's take over of P&O North America, a British owned US chartered corporation, that currently operates in 7 US ports.

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.

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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.

Trackback at Mudville Gazette.


Blogger Steven Tucker said...

DP World has offered to delay the US end of the transaction, while Congress finishes bloviating over the issue.

It doesn't matter. This has become a political issue - a way for democrats to appear strong on defense. I think it makes them look like a bunch of xenophobes. I think it makes them look petty and weak. I am so pissed off at both parties at this point, I just don't know what to do. Even the libertarians are complaining about this. People have become utterly hysterical. They need medicine. The whole world needs to take its collective medication!

8:18 AM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Gotta agree with you on that Steven. Hillary trying to explain why it wasn't just "an Arab" thing yesterday at the Senate hearings was a riot.

8:41 AM  
Blogger Gun-Toting Liberal said...

Sir, I appreciate the link; it will be reciprocated. Even though we disagree on this one, I will tell you I admire your post on the subject... very well thought out and reasoned. Thanks again :-)

Blog ON...

11:42 AM  
Blogger asacan said...

The only reason that the libs don't like this is because of the unions...the Longshoreman's Association in particular, a member of the AFL-CIO. As most people know, that in states with forced "Collective Bargaining" laws (28 of them?), the unions contributing a large portion of membership dues to Democratic state and federal campaigns, much more money than the UAE has ever given them.

Of course, since that AFL-CIO has paid for "enhanced representation", then the Democrats are duty-bound to fight this. Of course, they want to use National Security, a topic that most Democrats have no knowledge of, as a ruse, even though they damn well know that the UAE is not a threat to national security, or they wouldn't have approved the Clinton administration selling them sixty-some warplanes in the late nineties.

Follow the money trail, and then you'll see the rage. I don't know anyone that has been to the UAE (particularly Dubai) that doesn't support this.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Thanks for that ports update. Didn't know before what to think of it.


5:17 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Ascan, While I understand some of the AFL=CIO connection, why are so many GOP folks against it. It's not like they are controlled by the unions.

GTL, agreeing to disagree is one of the great things people can do. We can't all be alike, and we shouldn't always agree. It's what keeps life fun.

Michael, Glad I could give you some more insight and information.

6:26 PM  
Blogger asacan said...

CP, that's an easy one! They don't want to look weak on "national security" while the Dems look strong on it on whis one single issue.

Rush Limbaugh was quoting a new Rasmusson poll that said the clear majority of Americans are against the ports deal, yet an overwhelming majority of them are entirely ignorant of the facts. Such as most of them think the port management is currently being done by an American company. On and on, the public is ignorant about the truthes about this business deal, and the media (as usual) is feeding the hype and misinformation.

I hate to say it, but perception goes a long way, and every once in a while the MSM and Dems will eventually get a hit. I mean, they've tried with Abrahmoff (with so-so results), they've tried with the wire taps, and that's only the last few months. Most of their hits are short-lived, but last just long enough to create the perception of the Bush administration as being constantly up to no good. Well, they seem to smack this one out of the ballpark, and unfortunately the 'Pubs are gonna have to chase this one down, at least in the short term.

In a speech in Miami today, Senator Clinton has already started backing off, now saying that it was a flawed process by the administration, not that DPW is a threat to security. What a change of heart. Maybe her husband finally called her and told her about the planes he allowed to be sold to the UAE. Perhaps he pointed out the $100 million that the UAE gave the U.S. in humanitarian aid after Katrina, maybe it was just her taking the time to learn the truth rather than just flap off at the mouth like she so often does. The sad part is that after so many false starts (or real scandals that suddenly get buried by the Dems because they're involved, too) that the 'Pubs are always acting on the defensive and allowing the Dems to lead the Congress while they're in the minority.

Maybe, just maybe, the Republicans don't deserve to be in the majority in Congress. Or (for our sake), maybe it's just this set of Republicans.

8:21 PM  
Blogger asacan said...

I hope you didn't abandon this discussion, because I was thinking about another point on this issue. I do have one proposal for DPW. I recall during one of my (many) visits to Dubai, that someone had told me that all of the foreign businesses in the UAE had to have a native that had 50% stake in the company, usually "silent partners", for the company to operate there.

My proposal is that we have the same law in place, only if I am named as the "silent partner" so they can do business in the United States. Wouldn't it be nice to make them play by their own rules?!

2:22 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Actually, the operations in the US will be run by the current board of P&O North America, with only a few changes.

I know at least 4 of DPW's board members are Americans, including a retired Admiral from the US.

2:24 PM  
Blogger The Triumvirate said...

Great post, cleared up a lot about the port deal for me. I had suspected that is wasn't as big a disaster as Hillary and Company made it out to be, but this really helped clarify.
-The Quartermaster

7:40 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Glad I could help you out Quartermaster.

7:48 PM  
Blogger Specter said...

I think this is simple. The fact is that our illustrious Congressional leaders, and the MSM, ran to get published (or photo-op'd, or name in the news, etc.) before they studied the issue. When it came out that we were selling "ports" everybody did a double take. Rather than ask questions, they simply formed an immediate opinion and went to their keyboards or microphones. Once they made statements, they looked stupid going back on them so they stuck to their guns. It is too bad that so many people don't take the time to study and find out the necessary information. Kinda like voting for President based on what you see in TV ads....

10:53 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Specter, Outstanding observation! Now that guys like Frist have calmed down on it, they are making sense, but being accused of bowing to White House pressure on the issue.

8:44 AM  

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