Thursday, February 23, 2006


Our Congressman, Adam Putnam (R - Bartow) could almost considered much of the time a puppet for President Bush, with a percentage level in the high 90s when it comes to sharing the same views on major issues. But it seems as though he and the White House differ when it comes to the issue of allowing a state-owned company based in the United Arab Emirates take over management of terminals at six U.S. ports.

The company, Dubai Ports World, is purchasing the British-owned Peninsula and Oriental Steam Navigation Company for $6.8 billion. B&O manages terminals at the ports of New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Miami, and New Orleans. And you can also add Tampa to that list, as the Tampa Port Authority, under the objection of Hillsborough County Commissioner Ronda Storms, voted to authorize Port Director Richard Wainio to sign a contract to allow B&O/DPW to manage cargo handling at the Port of Tampa.

The deal has come up against strong criticism by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, with much of the flap over the fact that two of the 9/11 terrorists were UAE citizens, and at least part of the money used to fund the attacks were laundered through the Middle Eastern country. That said, the UAE is considered to be a strong ally in the war on terrorism. Also coming out against the deal is another congressional representative whose district covers part of Polk County: Ginny Brown-Waite (R - Brooksville), who says there is enough bipartisan support to override any presidential veto threat.
While it would be better if American ports were managed by American companies, it is unfortunately more the exception than the rule. US port terminals are also owned by companies based in Singapore, China, and other countries, and security would continue to be handled by federal, state, and local authorities and the United States Coast Guard. You gotta consider that if the UAE-based company allowed any funny business to go on at any American port, that would undoubtly hurt them when the pain is the bank account. Bad for business, you know. Such a thing would have a ripple effect through all the areas where DPW operates, and port authorities would definately have second thoughts around the world.


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