NBC's Gregory uncritically reported White House claim of Dubai company's "extra security concessions"

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

NBC's David Gregory reported that the Bush administration "extracted extra security concessions from Dubai Ports World [DPW] as a condition for the $7 billion contract" through which the company would assume control of six major U.S. seaports. Gregory did not mention that these "extra security concessions" appear to be little more than pledges to comply with U.S. law, nor did he report that the administration exempted DPW from other obligations typically required by the United States.

On the February 23 broadcast of NBC's Nightly News, NBC chief White House correspondent David Gregory reported that the Bush administration "extracted extra security concessions from Dubai Ports World [DPW] as a condition for the $7 billion contract" through which the company -- which is owned by the government of Dubai, a member state of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) -- would assume control of six major U.S. seaports. Gregory did not mention, however, that these "extra security concessions" appear to be little more than pledges to comply with U.S. law, nor did he report that the administration exempted DPW from other obligations typically required by the United States.

From the February 23 edition of NBC's Nightly News:

GREGORY: Still, the administration extracted extra security concessions from Dubai Ports World as a condition for the $7 billion contract. As for security risks at the ports, one former Bush administration official notes the UAE is among the world's largest seaports to allow the inspection of cargo prior to leaving its ports.

Gregory was referring to a secret deal between the United States and DPW outlining conditions by which the company would assume control of the six U.S. ports. As the Associated Press reported on February 23, the administration "secretly required" DPW "to cooperate with future U.S. investigations." The AP also reported that the administration "chose not to impose other restrictions" that are typically enforced, such as requiring DPW to keep copies of its business records on U.S. territory. According to the AP:

The administration did not require Dubai Ports to keep copies of business records on US soil, where they would be subject to court orders. It also did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate US government requests. Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to US approvals of foreign sales in other industries.

[...]

Under the deal, the government asked Dubai Ports to operate American seaports with existing US managers ''to the extent possible."

It promised to take ''all reasonable steps" to assist the Homeland Security Department.

The administration required Dubai Ports to designate an executive to handle requests from the US government, but it did not specify this person's citizenship.

As The New York Times reported on February 24, the secret "assurances" the administration drew from DPW (as detailed in the AP report) were centered primarily on compliance with U.S. laws:

In the Jan. 6 letter to the department, the company agreed to operate the terminals ''to the extent possible with the current U.S. management structure'' and to maintain existing security policies. But most of its assurances centered on compliance with existing United States law.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy
Network/Outlet
NBC
Person
David Gregory
Show/Publication
NBC Nightly News
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