You’ve seen the various Sensible Liberals arguing that any opposition to the ports deal is just uninformed and/or xenophobic, that it’s really No Big Deal, that we need to consider both sides of the issue, blah blah blah. (In many cases, these are the same sensible voices who sensibly pointed out that we must sensibly consider the sensible case for war in Iraq a few years back–but that’s another rant.) Now, obviously I know essentially nothing about the operation of ports in America, and not too much more about the UAE. But I do know that the UAE was one of a small handful of countries that recognized the Taliban as a legitimate government. I know that the UAE was considered a financial safe harbor by al Qaeda. I know that members of the UAE royal family used to hang out in the desert with their buddy Osama bin Laden. This morning, I learned that the UAE boycotts Israel, and that dealing with countries that boycott Israel is apparently against US law.
The UAE may be a progressive state by regional standards. The people of the UAE may be the finest you’d ever hope to know. But the government of the UAE clearly plays both ends against the middle, and that’s the point here.
And via Kos, here’s a terrorism expert with solid, real-world reasons to be wary of this deal:
Joseph King, who headed the customs agency’s anti-terrorism efforts under the Treasury Department and the new Department of Homeland Security, said national security fears are well grounded.
He said a company the size of Dubai Ports World would be able to get hundreds of visas to relocate managers and other employees to the United States. Using appeals to Muslim solidarity or threats of violence, al-Qaeda operatives could force low-level managers to provide some of those visas to al-Qaeda sympathizers, said King, who for years tracked similar efforts by organized crime to infiltrate ports in New York and New Jersey. Those sympathizers could obtain legitimate driver’s licenses, work permits and mortgages that could then be used by terrorist operatives.
Dubai Ports World could also offer a simple conduit for wire transfers to terrorist operatives in the Middle East. Large wire transfers from individuals would quickly attract federal scrutiny, but such transfers, buried in the dozens of wire transfers a day from Dubai Ports World’s operations in the United States to the Middle East would go undetected, King said.