Monday, February 20, 2006

Dubai and Port (In)Security

Senator Schumer and others berated the Bush administration recently over doing nothing about the takeover, by a Dubai based company, of another company which was in charge of security at NY harbor. Essentially, following the corporate chain, you have an Arab Muslim run corporation, located in the Middle East, responsible for security at one of the nation's busiest harbors.

We all know politicans pass the buck whenever they get a chance, so Congress blaming the White House and vice versa shouldn't surprise us. But what is the real concern? Is it really that the worker's paychecks will come from a different bank? Or is it something else?

Assuming security procedures at the ports are open, that anyone who wanted them could get them by asking the local dockworkers, what's the problem? In the event of a national emergency, the US Government would just nationalize harbor security. The Dubai based company would be kicked out, and we'd be back where we are today. Shiploads of Muslims from the Middle East won't be flown in to replace the unionized harbor worker.

But its unlikely that all security measures are public. Surely DHS, CIA, and the FBI have connections with port security. Certain intellegience methods might be known to managers at the port, game-theoretic scenarios, theoretical modelling, disaster control, all closely guarded secrets which are (presumably) available to those in the upper echelon of management.

Therein lies the problem. Its not, as Senator Schumer publicly stated, the fact that a Dubai based company would scan incoming shipments. Rather, that a Muslim Arab company, from the Middle East, will be privy to disaster control and other sensitive procedures. Upper management and directors, who might have terrorist sympathies, are more liable to pass on this information. Indeed, its not the UAE government, rather, its where they're located. I'm sure that's Schumer's concern too, he just can't say it because of political correctness.

I doubt they'd get the press being received now if the company was Arab-American. Americans, as a whole, don't judge American Muslims as dangerous (though they may give them more scrutiny). Had the 9/11 hijackers been American, had American Muslims been involved in suicide bombings on a weekly or monthly basis in America, a Muslim company would have been given more scrutiny. Even then it wouldn't be that bad. Instead, violence by American Muslims is the exception, not the norm.

Essentially, the concern is that the ultimate controller of port security in NY Harbor (and others), resides in a place where anti-American sentiment is the norm. Where a few years ago, 19 of their brothers hijacked 4 planes and slaughtered thousands and chanting "Death to America" is learned with a baby's milk. That they are now closer to sensitive procedures and information. How sensitive is that information?

That's the real concern.