LOBIONDO INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO ENSURE INDIVIDUALS IN CHARGE OF PORT TERMINAL SECURITY ARE U.S. CITIZENS
Congressman's Bill a Direct Response to United Arabs Emirates' Significant Stock Acquisition of Six Major U.S. Port Terminals
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A staunch advocate for greater federal resources to secure the nation's ports, House Coast Guard & Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) will introduce legislation that would seek to amend the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA) to require the nation's facility security officers (FSO) for terminals at every U.S. port be a legal U.S. citizen. Current law only dictates that a FSO be present for every port terminal, but there is no citizenship requirement, thus allowing foreign companies who are or become partners in domestic terminal operations to install their own non-U.S. personnel.
"I am introducing legislation that would ensure foreign persons, whose interests may run counter to our nation's homeland security, are not permitted to be in charge of terminal security at U.S. ports," said Chairman LoBiondo. "As the 9/11 Commission rightly pointed out: the most important failure was one of imagination.' I do not find it unimaginable that those seeking to bring terrorism to our shores would do so through our ports. Current law dictates that security of our airlines resides in the hands of U.S. citizens - I believe the same precautions must be taken for our ports, which are equally critical to our nation's economy and homeland security."
At this time, the United Arabs Emirates' government-sponsored Dubai Ports World - which received approval earlier this week from the Committee on Foreign Investment, comprised of officials from the U.S. Departments of Treasury, State, Defense, Commerce, and Homeland Security - is set to acquire at least 50 percent of the stock holdings of terminals at six major ports along the East Coast, including one at Philadelphia. However, significant concerns over the nation's port security continue to be raised by the public and members of Congress, including LoBiondo.
"It is my hope that this critical legislation can be quickly moved through Congress and reaches the President's desk prior to the possibility of Dubai Ports World achieving ownership interest in these port terminals. We cannot be lax about our nation's security, nor fail to recognize that our ports are realistic targets of terrorists," concluded LoBiondo.