CBS anchor Bob Schieffer reported on deals in which Dubai Ports World (DPW) would assume control of terminal operations six U.S. ports and in which "another Arab company" plans "to buy plants in the United States that make parts for planes and tanks." However, in both instances, Schieffer failed to mention that the companies involved are owned by the government of Dubai, a member state of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) -- a legal distinction that is central to whether each deal should be subject to an additional 45-day review for national security concerns.
During the March 2 broadcast of CBS Evening News, anchor Bob Schieffer reported on the deal in which Dubai Ports World (DPW) would take over the British company, Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. (P&O), and assume control of terminal operations at six U.S. ports as well as a separate deal in which "another Arab company" plans "to buy plants in the United States that make parts for planes and tanks." However, in both instances, Schieffer failed to mention that the companies involved are owned by the government of Dubai, a member state of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) -- a legal distinction that is central to whether the deals should be subject to an additional 45-day review for national security concerns. The administration initially resisted conducting the 45-day review in the DPW deal but finally acquiesced to an investigation of the transaction.
Schieffer failed to mention that DPW and Dubai International Capital, the other "Arab company" he referred to, are both owned by the government of Dubai. The Washington Post has reported that Dubai International Capital is seeking to purchase a British firm that "has operations in nine U.S. locations and manufactures precision parts for defense contractors."
As Media Matters for America has documented (here, here, and here), numerous media outlets, in reporting on the ports deal, have failed to mention that DPW is owned by the Dubai government, instead choosing to describe it as an "Arab company" or a "Dubai-based company." In simply describing DPW as a company based in an Arab country, these media outlets have obscured the source of the bipartisan controversy over the takeover. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, as well as other critics, have argued that, in approving the deal, the administration flouted a federal law governing the transfer of American assets to foreign, government-owned companies. Enacted in 1988, the Exon-Florio provision established the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), the interagency panel that oversees all foreign acquisitions of American assets. As amended by Congress as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1993, the law requires an additional 45-day review if "the acquirer is controlled by or acting on behalf of a foreign government" and the acquisition "could result in control of a person engaged in interstate commerce in the U.S. that could affect the national security of the U.S."
From the March 2 broadcast of CBS Evening News:
SCHIEFFER: Well, the deal is about to go through for an Arab company to buy the British company that operates major U.S. ports. A Bush administration official says tonight it is expected to happen by Monday. Under pressure from Congress, the Arab company has agreed to hold off actually running the ports while the U.S. government does a security review. It turns out the government will also be reviewing plans by another Arab company to buy plants in the United States that make parts for planes and tanks.