Harboring the Enemy

I have been a bit cut off the past few days – I’ve been out of town, and have lost my Internet connection at home. I’ve missed the papers for a couple of days as well. So I am rather poorly informed as regards a story that seems to be all over the place – the impending takeover of major U.S. port facilities by a corporation based in the United Arab Emirates.

On the face of it the idea seems utterly absurd. You can almost imagine the headline in the Onion: Homeland Security Chief Recommends Outsourcing U.S. Seaport Management to United Arab Emirates – but this is, apparently, no joke.

I heard a clip yesterday of Michael Chertoff defending the proposal in vague terms, saying that there was no reason to worry, because “the FBI was involved”, and “procedures” had been followed, but I have yet to see any explanation even of what, exactly, the duties and responsibilities of the new managers will be, let alone how we are to keep an eye on their procedures, hiring, subcontractors, and so forth.

One of the little worries that nag at me from time to time, working as I do within a few hundred yards of New York Harbor, is the difficulty of securing our ports against the entry of malevolent agents and their weapons. It is a plain fact that we have implacable enemies, sworn to our destruction, and that a great many of them are of Middle Eastern extraction. Leaving aside the antecedent question of why on Earth we should even consider assigning management of U.S. ports to any foreign corporation, how is it that handing them over to a company based in the Persian Gulf is not seen by all as mind-bogglingly, even treasonously foolish?

In short, the whole thing just seems so totally preposterous – so startlingly, unimaginably stupid – that I have to think I am missing something here. Can anyone explain?

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