Friday, February 24, 2006

The Ongoing Port Controversy

Like me, David Limbaugh has been scratching his head over the disconnect between the President's strong terror policies and lack of interest in securing our borders. Limbaugh feels this disconnect is one reason the President's base is so suspicious about the deal for the United Arab Emirates to run our ports:

"I submit that if the president had previously convinced his base that his immigration policy augmented, instead of undermined, his campaign against the enemy, he would be experiencing far less fallout over the ports issue."

David does a good job setting forth the pros and cons of the ports deal. As the week has gone on, I've come to think that one of the other "disconnects" between the President's anti-terrorism policies and the homefront is that our port security is already considered to be fairly weak, with inadequate inspections of cargo containers, etc. Will the UAE having access to our port security weaken us further?

Earlier this week Hugh Hewitt, who has been blogging up a storm on this issue, took at look at the Internet job ads for Dubai World Ports. He sees a great opportunity for someone to take a job working with the company and do an "inside job" which could damage our nation. He agrees this could happen with any company running the ports, but feels the chances would be greatly increased under Dubai Ports.

Rush Limbaugh has come out strongly in defense of the President this week, but despite my admiration for both the President and Rush, I remain unconvinced that having our ports run by the UAE is right for our national security. Some pundits, such as Charles Krauthammer, have made good cases for the need to reward those nations who are cooperating with us, or at least we need to be careful not to damage the relations we have established. However, nagging issues remain. First, agreeing to the deal because of concern about damaging relations puts us dangerously close to operating out of a position of fear, rather than strength; we need to be thoughtful about our alliances, but our number one concern needs to be our homeland security. We don't necessarily want allies who could be easily offended acting as gatekeepers to our country.

And along with uncertainty about the UAE having access to all our port security information, there is the little matter that the UAE has anti-Israel policies.

One thing that I find discouraging is that some analysts I respect, such as Larry Kudlow and Morton Kondracke, charge that those with concerns over the deal -- which is now almost universally acknowledged to have been hastily put together, without the input of top administration officials -- are "Islamophobic." I find that kind of name-calling distasteful in the extreme.

Further, arguments by writers such as Kudlow that "No one has proven that the security-vetting process of the executive branch is flawed" put the shoe on the wrong foot. American citizens have the right to have a clear case presented to them about why this deal is not a security issue, rather than being forced to prove there was something wrong in order to have a valid point.

Frankly, I think there was something wrong with a vetting process in which the President learned who would be controlling our ports from a newspaper.


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