The Bush administration is going on about how the government of Dubai will only be running operations at the six ports in question, not be responsible for security.
This leads to several logical questions, however, even if we take what the administration is saying at face value:
1. They will have employees. How can we be sure that no terrorists have infiltrated the shipping company? After all, the 9/11 hijackers were mostly just students with no criminal record until they were 'called upon' to carry out their mission.
2. If there are terrorists who are working for the shipping company, wouldn't it be easy enough for them to learn (as most employees working at any job anywhere do) the loopholes in the system and use those to smuggle in anything from nuclear weapons to more terrorists?
3. We still only inspect 2% of containers coming into U.S. ports. No process is completely random, and terrorists working in the port could probably figure out how we pick containers to inspect, and adjust their plans accordingly.
4. They point out that other foreign companies are running our ports. Why? Our ports should be a matter of vital national security. Funny how at least some conservatives made a big stink about the decision by the Panamanian government to give a Chinese company the contract to run the canal, but they want to defend the Bush administration's right to do the same on what is actually the mainland (proper) territory of the United States. Seems hypocritical to criticize Panama (a foreign country) for doing it and then claiming the right to do it here.
5. Right now, Dubai is a 'stable monarchy.' As we move towards a more unstable world, this becomes more of an oxymoron. Most monarchies in the Middle East are hated by the majority of their citizens, and the likelihood that a nation like Dubai could either be 1) overthrown by an Islamic revolution or 2) experience a less violent, Lebanese shift towards Democracy, is a real one. The second scenario could actually present more of a problem for us if it happens, since in the first case we could easily nullify the contract, but that would be much more difficult politically to do if they formed a Democracy and then elected someone we didn't get along with (think of an arab version of Hugo Chavez controlling what went in and out of our port, and on what schedule.)
6. And what if Dubai has a problem with some nation, and orders their people to refuse to dock ships from that nation. Do we risk getting drawn into some regional conflict that we may not otherwise have any interest in?
And oh, yeah: I assumed that the administration was playing this straight (which would be a first for them.) But if they are, why are they pushing so hard against allowing the GOP Congress to study this?