March 2, 2006 | WebMemo on Department of Homeland Security
The Administration's Case
From the start, U.S. officials have contended that they faithfully followed the process created by Congress to ensure that national security issues are addressed when foreign companies invest in the United States. In short, the officials argue that they performed the due diligence that Congress required of them. They have also explained that the UAE holding company, Dubai Ports World, is not buying U.S. ports or the right to oversee port security, but merely ownership of a company that operates some port facilities. This ownership provides Dubai Ports World no unique access or opportunities to make mischief because security requirements at the port would be the same for any company, foreign-owned or not. These points are true, but they ignore a broader truth. Concern about port security is reasonable. America's ports are vulnerable. Americans want to know why that is and what can be done to make U.S. ports safer.
The Administration has a number of programs already underway to secure U.S. ports. They will not make ports 100 percent secure. Ports are designed to move masses of things quickly, and that is a large part of what makes seaborne transport a bargain. Trying to turn a port into Fort Knox is a bad strategy that would undermine maritime trade. The best way to make a port safe is to keep bad things and bad people out of the port to begin with. That requires three initiatives:
James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow for National Security and Homeland Security in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation.