Some of those defending the Dubai Ports World deal have suggested it would be “discriminatory” to permit one foreign country to run U.S. ports, but not another.
Of course this is true.
And, as I have pointed out, this kind of discrimination could also be called “good judgment.”
It is highly unlikely, for instance, that the White House would approve a contract for an Iranian company to run our ports (though, I fear the kind of common sense required for such a decision is indeed in short supply in Washington).
Obviously, I think that kind of discrimination is a good thing.
But I would like to suggest today another kind of discrimination with regard to the operations of our most sensitive entry point into this country. I think we should discriminate against all foreign control of U.S. ports.
On this score, I agree with Robert Pfriender, the president of Allied International Development, Ltd., the company that offered the U.S. government a real, viable plan for port security – maybe the only real, viable plan for port security.
“Apparently, the collective wisdom of the American public is more accurate in its assessment that the country needs much better port security immediately and that it is absolutely absurd for the White House to provide an opportunity to any foreign-owned entity to participate in any capacity with the operation of a vital national security asset like our seaports,” Pfriender observes.
If you believe this is an outrageous requirement, consider this: China doesn’t permit any other country to operate its ports. Russia doesn’t allow any other country to operate its ports. Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow any other country to operate its ports. The United Arab Emirates, the country that owns Dubai Ports World, does not allow any other country to operate its ports. France does not allow any other country to operate its ports. Germany doesn’t allow it.
In fact, Pfriender can’t find any other significant country in the world that permits this.
We need to stop thinking about our port operations as an equal-opportunity social program and start thinking about them as a matter of the utmost national security.
Let’s remember what we are trying to prevent.
It’s something far graver than another Sept. 11. It is the killing of millions of Americans and the destruction of our economy and way of life. Those are the stakes when you consider the determined efforts of terrorists to bring a nuclear weapon into the United States.
Furthermore, consider this: Our current port security policy involves some sporadic inspections of cargo containers – somewhere between 2 percent and 4 percent of the millions that enter the United States every week.
But, let’s think about what would happen if one of those inspections actually discovered a nuclear weapon in a cargo container. What would the Coast Guard and Customs officials do about it?
You can’t send it back. It’s already here. It’s already in New York or Baltimore or Los Angeles. It may have a self-detonating switch on it. It may have a live suicide bomber inside the cargo container who will set it off. It may be set to detonate with the use of a GPS fuse.
So even the feeble inspections, unlikely as they are to find the real threat, don’t offer any way to stop the damage should they actually work.
What’s the solution?
“We need to implement an immediate crash program of building the offshore container inspection ports and require that each and every box is physically inspected before it ever reaches within 10 miles of our shores,” says Pfriender. That’s what his company has been promoting for the last four years. “Our government cannot get this wrong, not even once. The stakes are just too high, the tragic results would be absolutely irreversible and unprecedented in human history.”
Pfriender says our current port security policy is akin to NORAD conducting inspections of incoming ICBMs after they explode.
“Each and every container that arrives on our shores must be assumed to be carrying a nuclear warhead until we have irrefutable proof that it does in fact not,” says Pfriender. “And until that proof (which must be physically verified, not by a virtual guessing game of “risk management” or statistical analysis such as [occurs under current policy]), it must never be allowed near our shore.”
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