Six major U.S. ports to be run by Mideastern company

| Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A company owned by the United Arab Emirates has control of six U.S. ports after acquiring the previous operator – the British Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co.

The deal gives Dubai Ports World control over the ports of New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Miami, Baltimore and New Orleans.

The $6.8 billion acquisition has drawn criticism from politicians and the media because the country has been linked to the September 11 terrorist attacks. The New York Post reported that the country’s banking system provided most of the funding for the attacks and that most of the operational planning took place within its borders.

However, Dubai, one of the seven emirates in UAE and home to the company in question, has since gotten a new leader and the White House now considers the UAE an ally in the war against terror.

And the deal was approved by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment, an arm of the U.S. Treasury Department.

In spite of this, at least one senator sees the deal as a major security threat.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, said Monday, Feb. 13, that the move opens the door to potential terrorist attacks on U.S. ports, according to The Post.

“Since 9/11, my motto has been to be careful, and this raises a whole lot of red flags,” he said.

Schumer said there are some big questions that have to be answered about Dubai Ports World, and he’s petitioning the government to do just that.

“How do we know they won’t be infiltrated?” he said. “Do they do background checks? What would stop them? I’m asking the Department of Homeland Security to do a thorough evaluation of this new company and the chances it could be infiltrated.”

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