This port deal is not a national security issue. It is an issue of this administration having a continuing problem with understanding how these things will play in the public’s mind and not taking steps to set the stage so these things don’t come as a shock and are presented in their worst possible light.
Let’s try that again.
The Administration has no demonstrated capacity to brief allies on its activities so when a public announcement is made they have friends ready to explain to the public, either through or in spite of, the news media, what is really going on.
When the National Security Agency’s intercept program became public, it was immediately called “domestic eavesdropping” or “domestic spying.”
That went on for two weeks before the White House finally had the President refer to it as “terrorist surveillance.”
As H.R. Haldeman was reported to have written atop memos he thought lacking: T-L-Squared.
Too little. Too late.
I have been watching this port thing develop over the past 72 hours and a common theme among Members of Congress is: We can’t have foreign companies operate US ports.
Robert Menendez (D-NJ), according to the Liberal website Democratic Underground said, “We wouldn't turn the border patrol or the customs service over to a foreign government, and we can't afford to turn our ports over to one either.”
This is the key to the problem. None of these goofballs knew that the ports of New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Miami, and New Orleans were ALREADY run by a foreign-owned company.
The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, a British outfit, has the contract to operate these ports. P & O (as it is known to those of us well-schooled in the port-operations game) is being sold to another company – Dubai Ports World (DP World) which will take over P & O’s existing contracts.
All right, so this deal, which has been known to the financial community since November, gets approved by one of those alphabet commissions which happens to involve SIX Cabinet Departments including Treasury, State, Homeland Security, Commerce, and Justice; which they did.
But the Administration didn’t think it was necessary to lay the groundwork for the announcement the other day that the sale of one foreign company to another foreign company had been approved.