February 21, 2006- The President Should Stop the Sale of Port Company to Firm Owned by Government of UAE

Washington, DC - Representative Edward Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the Committee on Homeland Security and long-time proponent of increased security safeguards both on cargo transported on airplanes in the United States and on cargo shipped to U.S. ports from overseas, made the following statement in response to news that the Bush Administration has decided to permit DP World, a port operator owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to purchase a company that currently operates at six United States ports.  The $6.8 billion purchase will result in the UAE government-owned firm performing significant security functions at the ports as a result of its activities at these ports, including ensuring there are security officers at the facility, providing for security training for all facility personnel, and ensuring that there are access controls to the facility under its control.  The sale to the UAE government-owned company has raised public concerns, particularly since two of the 9/11 hijackers were from the UAE and funding for the attacks was routed through UAE banks.

 

“President Bush should immediately stop this sale from going forward.  The Bush Administration should not put commerce above common-sense.  More scrutiny is needed of all the homeland security implications of this transaction before a decision is made.  Four years after 9/11, U.S. ports remain a weak link in our security system,” Rep. Markey said.

“Almost none of the cargo that enters our ports is ever inspected.  While the federal government is ultimately responsible for security at ports, much of the day-to-day security responsibilities, such as hiring security guards and ensuring adequate access controls and fencing are in place, are delegated to the companies that operate at the port. While oversight of these private operators is the responsibility of the Department of Security, the Bush Administration is nickel and diming our port security by proposing a budget that eliminates millions in port security grants.  This is a wrong-headed decision that only leaves our country vulnerable to a devastating attack, such as a nuclear weapon or dirty bomb being detonated in our country,” Rep. Markey said.

“The proposed deal for the United Arab Emirates to purchase a contract to run six American ports raises serious red flags about the safety and scrutiny of our ports.  President Bush needs to call off this deal and exercise his authority to protect the interests of the American public,” said Rep. Markey.

“We know that terrorists are seeking to use U.S. ports as a route to launch a devastating nuclear attack on U.S. soil -- one of the millennium bombers entered the United States through the Port of Boston in an attempt to bomb buildings on the West Coast.  Cargo containers represent a cheap, deadly method for delivering a bomb on U.S. soil – we cannot afford to be lax in our oversight of the shipping and handling of these containers.  This Administration’s scrutiny of this UAE deal is just like their treatment of tons of cargos at our door: insufficient, incomplete and incomprehensible, given the security threats we face.”


 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 21, 2006


 

CONTACT: Tara McGuiness
Mark Bayer
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