Tuesday, February 21, 2006
By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer -- Tuesday, 1 hour, 33 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Two Republican governors are threatening legal action to block an Arab company from taking over operations in major U.S. ports and some GOP lawmakers say the deal should be closely examined.
Sen. Robert Menendez, left, D-N.J., speaks at a news conference on Monday, Feb. 20, 2006., at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in Newark, N.J., shown in aerial views at rear. Menendez discussed the takeover of operations at major U.S. ports, including the port of New York and New Jersey, by Dubai Ports World, a company owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates.Dubai Ports World bought London-based Peninsular and Oriental last week, which runs major commercial operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia. (AP Photo/ Jose F. Moreno)
In the uneasy climate after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Bush administration decision to allow the transaction is threatening to develop a major political headache for the White House.
Republican New York Gov. George Pataki and Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich on Monday voiced doubts about the acquisition of a British company that has been running six U.S. ports by Dubai Ports World, a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates.
The British company, Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., runs major commercial operations at ports in Baltimore, Miami, New Jersey, New Orleans, New York and Philadelphia.
Both governors indicated they may try to cancel lease arrangements at ports in their states because of the DP World takeover.
"Ensuring the security of New York's port operations is paramount and I am very concerned with the purchase of Peninsular & Oriental Steam by Dubai Ports World," Pataki said in a news release. "I have directed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to explore all legal options that may be available to them."
Ehrlich, concerned about security at the Port of Baltimore, said Monday he was "very troubled" that Maryland officials got no advance notice before the Bush administration approved the Arab company's takeover of the operations at the six ports.
"We needed to know before this was a done deal, given the state of where we are concerning security," Ehrlich told reporters in the State House rotunda in Annapolis.
The arrangement brought protests from both political parties in Congress and a lawsuit in Florida from a company affected by the takeover.
Public fears that the nation's ports are not properly protected, combined with the news of an Arab country's takeover of six major ports, proved a combustible mix.
Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina said on Fox News Sunday that the administration approval was "unbelievably tone deaf politically." GOP Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia said on ABC's "This Week," "It's a tough one to explain, but we're in a global economy. ... I think we need to take a very close look at it."
Democratic Sen. Menendez, pictured above, said Monday that he and Sen., D-N.Y., will introduce legislation prohibiting the sale of port operations to foreign governments.Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
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