CNN's Blitzer awarded Dubai Ports World "first-rate" endorsement on security


Reporting from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), CNN's Wolf Blitzer declared that there is "no doubt" that security is "very tight" at UAE ports managed by Dubai Ports World, the government-owned company that could assume control of terminal operations at six U.S. ports.

During the March 7 edition of CNN's American Morning, Situation Room host Wolf Blitzer, reporting from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), said there is "no doubt" that security is "very tight" at ports managed by Dubai Ports World (DPW), the company owned by the government of Dubai, a UAE member state, that could assume control of terminal operations at six U.S. ports from British company Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. (P&O). American Morning offered viewers no explanation for Blitzer's conclusions about the company's operations in the UAE, though host Miles O'Brien noted that Blitzer received an "exclusive tour" of the company's port operations there. Prompted by O'Brien, Blitzer maintained that DPW operates its UAE terminals on a "first-rate basis" and that the relevant question surrounding the Bush administration's push for the P&O deal's completion, despite widespread bipartisan objection, was whether the company "would be able to do a similarly excellent job in the States."

From the March 7 edition of CNN's American Morning:

O'BRIEN: There is a deal in the works that could salvage that ports management deal that has Washington and much of the nation in an uproar. One idea: Use an American subcontractor to take over running the six U.S. ports in question. Either way, however it goes down, the U.S. government will handle security at those ports. CNN's Wolf Blitzer is taking a close look at the United Arab Emirates-owned company, and while in Dubai -- something you can only see here on CNN -- he got an exclusive tour of the port there and has a sense of how they handle security there. He joins us now on the videophone. Wolf, is -- they take security very seriously, and that's an important point, even though the U.S. would still be responsible for security here.

BLITZER: Well, certainly here in Dubai, Miles, they take security very seriously because this whole area, the United Arab Emirates and especially Dubai, they're based on this assumption that there will be strong security, that port traffic will be -- not only be secure but will be robust because this economy depends on trade here, and it certainly depends on having no problems whatsoever in the harbors. There are two major ports in Dubai, and so, as a result, they worry about security all the time. Now, there's no doubt that Dubai Ports World operates these ports here in the United Arab Emirates on a first-rate basis, there's no doubt that security is very tight. Does that mean that they would be able to do a similarly excellent job in the United States, in New York, in New Jersey, Philadelphia, Miami, Baltimore, New Orleans -- these six major ports that they would operate? And furthermore, does that mean that they would be able to control security the way they do it in this part of the world? They argue that as far as operating the ports, loading and unloading the containers for the ships, they have the experience, the wherewithal to get the job done in a first-rate basis. They also argue as far as the security in the United States is concerned, that would remain largely in the hands of the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard, customs, the various port authorities, and it wouldn't necessarily be their responsibility. Having said that, though, Miles, you can't help but notice that given the very robust, the very important role that they play in offloading and loading these ships, they could play a significant role in security, whether they acknowledge it or not, because there are certainly opportunities for bad guys to infiltrate, to get in, and to do horrible things, so no matter how much they wouldn't be playing the major role in security, and they wouldn't, they would still have an influence in shaping security at these six major ports. That's why this 45-day national security investigation in the United States is now so important.

Wolf Blitzer
American Morning
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