Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff yesterday said the proposed takeover of terminal operations at five U.S. ports by a Dubai company would give U.S. law enforcement a better handle on security at U.S. terminal operations, the paid-restricted Wall Street Journal reports Monday. Excerpts:
But the unprecedented access that the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies would have to monitor the United Arab Emirates shipping company's personnel and business records would "evaporate" if Congress stopped the deal from proceeding, he warned.
Mr. Chertoff has said on many occasions that he didn't consider Dubai Ports World's proposed $6.8 billion buyout of London's Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. a security threat to the U.S. However, his statements to a group of Wall Street Journal reporters marked the first time that he has said that Homeland Security had something to lose if the deal fell through.
"We are in a position now where we can and, assuming this deal goes through, we intend to have a deep look into their practices, certainly in the U.S. ports," Mr. Chertoff said.
Mr. Chertoff described the arrangement as a template for other foreign-owned port-terminal operators. "This actually gives us a better opportunity to raise the baseline of security, first with this set of terminal operators, but eventually, hopefully, unless Congress says you can't have foreign companies own or run terminal operations, we'll be able to raise the level for all them too," he said.