Thursday, March 09, 2006
Ports Terminal Deal Folds
Here was the deal - Dubai Ports World was to have managed 2 of 14 cargo terminals in Baltimore; in Houston 3 of 12; 1 of 3 terminals in Miami; 1 terminal out of 4 in Newark; 2 of 5 terminals in New Orleans; only 1 terminal of the 5 terminals in Philadelphia; and 1 cruise terminal in each New York City and Boston.
DP World was to manage terminal services only in a total of 6 ports and no more than 30% of the existing terminals in any one of the ports. It was also to help run the stevedoring operations in the named ports and several other ports. The actual cargo handlers would have still been the International Longshoremen's Association, the 65,000-member union operating from Florida to Maine. This was an offer we couldn't refuse.
In a New York indictment handed down in July 2005 by the US Justice Dept, the ILA has been accused of being a "vehicle for organized crime" on the waterfront. The union stands accused of corruption, embezzling, and extortion while the union executives are accused of being associated with the Gambino and Genovese crime families collectively known as the Mafia, La Cosa Nostra, or simply, the Mob.
Of course, the ILA has denied any shenanigans and said that any mob connections is a myth because, as everyone knows, the Mob doesn't exist. James McNamara, a Union spokesman, said, "Nobody in America cares more about port security than the longshoremen" and any suggestion that the ILA is a security risk is "ludicrous."
A news release from the ILA on Feb 21, the ILA advised the Bush Administration to look very carefully at DP World "to avoid even the impression of unnecessary risks." ILA lawyer Howard Goldstein said, "The union has done a lot, and has lobbied hard, to improve port security...These allegations, even if true, don't jeopardize port security."
The port deal critics claimed Arab ownership made infiltration by nefarious elements possible. Security experts say the gangsters have already made the docks a lucrative environment for drug smugglers, cargo thieves, and other ne'er-do-wells. A former special agent for the U.S. Customs Service, Joseph King, said that even without the direct help of American mobsters, terrorists could still use gangland networks to their advantage.
Or even supplant the American mobsters and take over the entire crime operation themselves cutting off a very profitable income stream for the Mob. The Mob uses the monies gained in port operations to pay off police and politicians who then vote "NO" on deals made with Arab port operations companies. A possible turf dispute between competing criminal enterprises? Possibly, but we will never know because an investigation will never be carried out.
Every election cycle, the ILA pays out millions of dollars in PAC (political action committee) money to political office candidates. Over $7 million went to various politicians the top recipients in the last few elections being: Sens. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ, Robert Menendez, D-NJ, Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-NY, all represent states with important ports. "Some of these same senators," writes Linda Chavez in Jewish World Review, "are among the chief critics of the Dubai port deal, but they are noticeably silent when it comes to mob influence in the union that actually controls who works on these ports."
Today, all of Washington, DC is breathing a collective sigh of relief at Dubai's decision to back out of the deal letting both the White House and Capital Hill off the hook. However, the UAE has left open the possibility of reprisals. Nothing specific has been said by the Emir or his governmental representatives. But, The Hill reports that the Emirates Group Airlines is deciding this year to buy the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner or the European Airbus A350. Last year, Dubai became Boeing's biggest client when they purchased 47 Boeing 777 aircraft worth $9.7 billion. During the next four years, the sheikdom may buy upwards of 50 wide-body Boeing and Airbus planes. Also purchased have been Apache attack helicopters made by Boeing, and the company is in talks to sell its AWACS planes to the Emirates. We will find out what the fall-out may be next week when US and Emirate trade representatives meet in the fourth round of free-trade talks.
The US Navy sees Dubai as a critical logistics center that also provides needed R&R for troops fighting in the Middle East. The US Navy, in the past year, has tied up to Dubai docks 590 supply ships, 56 warships, and approximately 77,000 military personnel have used leave time in the very popular Emirates.
We have all lost on this deal, and because this is so, perhaps no one will be harmed. Business may yet continue unabated. America is still safe from the thieving hands of scoundrel sheiks in the theiving hands of scoundrel mafiosi. The devil you know vs. the devil you don't know.
The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.