Garrett Writes President, Requesting Status of Transfer of American Ports by Dubai-Owned Company
Washington, Sep 26 - Yesterday, Congressman Scott Garrett sent a letter to the President, requesting the status of the sale of port operations at Port Newark and five other American ports by Dubai-owned Dubai Ports World. While public concern had been quieted with DP World's offer to voluntarily transfer these ports to American companies in March, the transfer remains incomplete. Garrett wrote the President yesterday to follow up and see who is monitoring the transfer and how the ports are being run since the promise of a transfer.
In February of this year, Garrett called on the Bush Administration to suspend the acquisition of Port Newark and the five other American ports by a UAE-owned company, and drafted legislation to fix the Federal review process that permitted approval of the transfer of operations. Garrett's legislation would halt sales to foreign companies until questions of national security have been adequately answered.
On September 6, Congressman Garret toured Newark Seaport with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to assess current procedures and technologies used to detect and prevent threats, and earlier this year, Garrett supported $1.2 billion in additional funds for port security.
Congressman Garrett's letter is as follows:
"Dear Mr. President:
In February, I wrote you to ask that you halt the sale of port operations at Port Newark and five other American ports to Dubai-owned Dubai Ports World. I had similarly written to then-Treasury Secretary John Snow, in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). While I have not received a response to either of those letters, I was pleased to see that DP World volunteered to "transfer fully" its operations at these American ports to an American company.
Now, seven months later, no such transfer has been accomplished. In fact, news reports indicated that it wasn't until mid-July that DP World even sent a description of its port operations in Newark, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Miami, New Orleans, and New York to potential bidders - about three months after DP World made the announcement that ended the political firestorm caused by the Dubai ownership in the first place.
My questions to you are these: How are port operations now being run and how is port security being accomplished? Is DP World in control of operations at those six ports while it awaits a U.S. bid and eventual transfer to a U.S. company? Who in the Federal government is responsible for monitoring these port operations to ensure that the concerns that led to the announced full transfer do not become realized? And, who in the Federal government is responsible for monitoring the proposed transfer?
I recently had the opportunity to tour Port Newark and visit with many of the Customs and Border Protection agents who direct port security there. These are outstanding law enforcement officials who are doing yeoman's work with the best in current technology. They deserve the full support of their government to accomplish their mission. Public and Congressional concerns were quieted because of the announced transfer of port operations to a U.S. company. It would be a real travesty if once attention was turned to other items of national interest the transfer was shelved or dragged out, leaving the agents working day-to-day at these ports to shoulder the burden of keeping those ports secure and efficient.
I appreciate your attention to this matter, Mr. President. If you have any thoughts or concerns regarding this issue, please have your staff contact my Chief of Staff, Michelle Presson, at 202-225-4465."