How The Ports Deal Compromises US Security

The owner of company can’t avoid gaining intimate knowledge of its business. So it’s a really bad idea to allow a foreign state whose citizens hate the US to buy a business that offers a route for terrorists to import WMD into the US.

Here’s my experience as a Brit managing US companies on behalf of Brit holding companies.

The management of a US business purchased by foreigners often tries to keep the new owners at arms length, for reasons of turf protection and national pride. In such cases, the purchasing company starts being happy with that – provided the US company makes its numbers.

Unfortunately, a company that’s for sale often has problems – why sell a successful enterprise? And one that survives the purchaser’s due diligence may have well-hidden problems.

When these problems erupt, the credibility of the the local management takes a dive, and the new owner has to become actively involved. Often there are fierce turf battles between the troubleshooters from head office, and the local US management, but unless the latter can fix their problems, they’re doomed – either replaced or disempowered.

So now the owning company has – of necessity – to put their trusted people in to fix the problems, and to be effective these folks have to learn every detail of the business.

So how does the proposed acquisition of the management company that runs 6 US ports stack up in this world?

The UAE is a dictatorship that currently provides valuable support to the US:

…it has the best deep-water port and the most modern airfields and air training facilities in the Gulf region, and it lets our military make extensive use of them.

The support of the non-elected leaders doesn’t mirror the views of their populace (my ellipsis), hat tip LGF:

Zogby International pollsters asked a representative sampling of citizens of the UAE if their overall impression of the U.S. was favorable or unfavorable in 2002, after 9/11 had demonstrated our vulnerability to the world. Only 11 percent responded that their impression was favorable; 87 percent responded that it was unfavorable.

…in 2005, after we had demonstrated our military might, and our willingness to use it, in Afghanistan and Iraq…only 73 percent (of UAE citizens said they) hate us now.

Compare that with a 2005 poll in Afghanistan, where
World Public Opinion.Org found that 81 percent of the people view us favorably, or India, where the Pew Global Attitudes Survey found that 71 percent do, and it’s clear that it’s a misperception to see the UAE as a friendly country.

So UAE a management team might well include individuals that hate the US. If they cloak this successfully, they’ll become intimately acquainted with the operation of the ports, learning the minutiae of import and export procedures and the delays and costs of security screening.

Right now, a terrorist group that wants to import WMD – anthrax or a primitive nuke – has to rely on the Internet. Post-acquisition however, just one terror-supporter on the UAE management team can give them all they need to defeat US port security.

This proposed deal is a significant threat to US security and and Congress should stop it.

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