Campaign 2010

Feb 22, 2006

Republican Pre-9/11 Mindset Wrong for Port Security

DCCC Press

Feb 22, 2006

Republican Pre-9/11 Mindset Wrong for Port Security

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, with more information coming out about the Bush administration's decision to allow the sale of control over our nation's ports to a company from the United Arab Emirates, the more it becomes clear that this is just the latest worrisome wrong-headed priority from Republicans. There is no greater priority for American families than our national security and the pre-9/11 mindset that Republicans in Congress and the Bush administration are operating under has put our ports and our nation at unnecessary risk. President Bush allowed the sale of a British company to the United Arab Emirates – one of three countries in the world (along with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) that recognizes the terrorist-run Taliban as the true government of Afghanistan.

"To paraphrase Karl Rove, Democrats and Republicans have fundamentally different views on national security. For example, Republicans think we should outsource national security to a state used by 9/11 hijackers as an operational and financial base, Democrats think we should not," said Bill Burton, communications director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "Democrats have a post-9/11 worldview and many Republicans have a pre-9/11 worldview. Democrats think it is wrong to trust a state that recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, Republicans think it's right. That doesn't make them unpatriotic but it does make them wrong -- deeply and profoundly and consistently wrong."

Republicans in Congress – Voting to Put Our Ports at Risk:

Republicans Voted to Kill An Amendment to Add $250 Million for Port Security Grants. Republicans voted to kill a Democratic amendment that would add $2.5 billion for homeland security, including $250 million for port security grants, $800 million for first responder grants, and $150 million for research to develop capabilities against chemical weapons. [HR 1559, Vote #104, 4/3/03]

Republicans in Congress Voted Against Increased Port Security. In 2005, Republicans voted against an alternative Homeland Security Authorization proposal that would commit $41 billion to securing the nation from terrorist threats - $6.9 billion more than the President's budget. The proposal called for an additional $400 million in funding for port security, including $13 million to double the number of new overseas port inspectors provided for in the President's budget. The proposal addressed the holes in securing the nation's ports by requiring DHS to develop container security standards, integrate container security pilot projects, and examine ways to integrate container inspection equipment and data. Currently DHS, has three very similar container security pilot projects that are not coordinated in any fashion, resulting in wasted money and redundant efforts. Finally, the plan required DHS to conduct a study of the risk factors associated with the port of Miami and ports in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, including the U.S. Virgin Islands. The alternative plan failed, 196-230. [HR 1817, Roll Call #187, 5/18/05; Committee on Homeland Security Minority Office,]

Who's Running the Ports?

A little background information on the new operators: the United Arab Emirates:

  • The UAE was one of three countries in the world to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are the other two.
  • The UAE has been a key transfer point for illegal shipments of nuclear components to Iran, North Korea and Libya.
  • According to the FBI, money was transferred to the 9/11 hijackers through the UAE banking system.
  • After 9/11, the Treasury Department reported that the UAE was not cooperating in efforts to track down Osama Bin Laden's bank accounts.

    Why Port Security Matters
  • U.S. seaports handle over 95% of our nation's foreign trade worth over $1 trillion a year.
  • A weapon of mass destruction detonated in a container at a seaport could cause tremendous numbers of casualties, and an estimated economic loss ranging from $58 billion to $1 trillion. The 9/11 Commission report concluded that terrorist have the "opportunity to do harm as great or greater in maritime and surface transportation" than the 9/11 attacks.
  • The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that ports will have to spend $5.4 billion over 10 years to maintain a basic level of security.