Let's get this one straight: The Bush administration, which if nothing else is the leading screamer in the war on terror, wants to let the United Arab Emirates operate the port in the shadow of the World Trade Center, if that shadow still existed.
This is the same administration that wants to tighten security on Americans here -- and everywhere along the Canadian border -- by ordering use of passports or special $50 IDs to go play bingo or eat Chinese food in Ft. Erie? Talk about extremes.
Approving this move is a bad idea. While the UAE is a progressive Arab nation and a U.S. ally, two of the 9/1 1 hijackers were UAE citizens and money for the plot sifted through the nation's elite banking system, the Arab world's Switzerland. Does the administration expect the nationally owned company won't employ its countrymen in key positions at the six ports it would operate? Would it not be easy for terrorists to infiltrate these operations in New York, across the harbor in New Jersey, and in Philadelphia, Miami, Baltimore and New Orleans?
A bipartisan uproar in Congress appropriately demanded hearings aimed at stopping this $6.8 billion soul-selling. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Robert Menendez of New Jersey introduced a bill last week to block foreign control of American ports. Republican New York Reps. Peter King, head of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Thomas M. Reynolds of Clarence, as well as Gov. George E. Pataki, also object.
"Ports are the front lines of the war on terrorism," Menendez said. "We wouldn't turn the Border Patrol or the Customs Service over to a foreign government." Added Sen. Charles E. Schumer: "The chances for infiltration are just too great."
The whole transaction reeks of the same administration values that gave energy companies direct access to the vice president and its energy policies; it's the same that gave multi-national corporations like Halliburton, Brown & Root and Bechtel a leg up on contracts to rebuild Iraq and New Orleans.
Potentially handing his enemies the keys to the house is no way for President Bush to protect American citizens. Let the Emirates operate ports elsewhere.