Democrats move to block port deal

| 2/17/2006

The fight about whether to allow six major U.S. ports to be controlled by a company owned by the United Arab Emirates is about to be taken to the legislative level.

After being told by the White House that the deal had been reviewed thoroughly, Senators Hillary Clinton, D-NY, and Robert Menendez, D-NJ, announced that they planned to launch a bill that would ban companies owned or controlled by foreign governments from acquiring U.S. port operations.

The controversy began early in the week of Feb. 12 when it was announced that United Arab Emirates-owned Dubai Ports World had been cleared to acquire British Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co.

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

Reuters news service reported that both Menendez and Clinton voiced strong objections to the deal because of national security concerns.

The UAE is alleged to be the planning ground for the September 11 terrorist attacks and its banks are believed to have provided much of the funding. Two of the hijackers were UAE citizens, according to Reuters.

“We wouldn’t turn the border patrol or the customs service over to a foreign government, and we can’t afford to turn our ports over to one either,” Menendez said in a statement.

Though the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. approved the deal, both Republicans and Democrats have urged the Bush administration to conduct a more thorough review.