Dubai is shorthand for the takeover last March of six major U.S. ports and 16 smaller ones by a United Arab Emirates company named Dubai Ports World (DPW). DPW acquired rights to operate the ports when it purchased the British company, P & O Navigation, Inc.
The deal caused such a furor that some members of Congress - mostly Peter King (R-NY) actually intervened to stop the deal. The backlash was significantly embarrassing enough that DPW announced they would sell the contract for the American port operations to an American company. Everybody breathed a sigh of relief, life in the United States went back to normal and the whole nasty episode was quickly forgotten.
Fortunately however, America’s only real mainstream news source, CNN’s Lou Dobbs didn’t forget about it. On Monday, June 19, 2006, CNN correspondent Bill Tucker reported the status of the Dubai deal. That status is best described by the following exchange between Lou Dobbs and Bill Tucker:
DOBBS: So at this point, now it's just about four months since this agreement was reached, Congress has backed away from its language. Dubai Ports World has not acted. CFIUS, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, has said that it reserves the right to make Dubai Ports World do what it said it would do publicly. So you're not suggesting, are you, Mr. Tucker, in your reporting here, well, let me rephrase that. Is it a reasonable inference that the American public, the American citizens are being gamed again by this administration and this Congress?
TUCKER: I think it's a reasonable inference that they should be paying attention to what's going or not going on in Washington.
How did it happen that a foreign country through a front company is buying access to American infrastructure that has national security implications? There is a long and a short answer to that question. The short answer is that during the Reagan Administration, radical and corrosive policies were implemented to begin the process of dismantling the government and selling off the assets. The longer and more complex answer is in how they managed to do it.
During Reagan’s administration the concept of ‘public-private partnerships’ was first introduced under the heading of privatization. Once the mandate for dismantling the U.S. government and turning power over to the private sector was in place, it was the beginning of the end of the United States as a nation and a leader in the world. Under corporate governance, the U.S. has become a predator nation with a carefully cultivated public image of benevolence and private agenda of ‘anything goes as long as the money keeps coming in to the corporate coffers’.
There were a whole series of legislative and regulatory changes that were implemented under the Reagan-Bush-Clinton Administrations that will be included in Part II of this story. In the meantime, you can ponder this one by President George H.W. Bush:
Executive Order 12803 - Order to Privatize Infrastructure.
These are the three key definitions in the order. This is how it came to be that we have foreign countries masquerading as businesses operating our critical infrastructure like the 6 major ports in the Dubai deal.
(a) ³Privatization² means the disposition or transfer of an infrastructure asset, such as by sale or by long-term lease, from a State or local government to a private party.
(b) ³Infrastructure asset² means any asset financed in whole or in part by the Federal Government and needed for the functioning of the economy. Examples of such assets include, but are not limited to: roads, tunnels, bridges, electricity supply facilities, mass transit, rail transportation, airports, ports, waterways, water supply facilities, recycling and wastewater treatment facilities, solid waste disposal facilities, housing, schools, prisons, and hospitals.
(e) ³State and local governments² means the government of any State of the United States, the District of Columbia, any commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States, and any county, municipality, city, town, township, local public authority, school district, special district, intrastate district, regional or interstate governmental entity, council of governments, and any agency or instrumentality of a local government, and any federally recognized Indian Tribe.
And just in case you have any doubts about the validity of Executive Order 12803, consider the following: