- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2006

Dubai Ports World agreed to become the first foreign company required to participate in two voluntary security programs as part of its deal to operate in six U.S. ports, according to a binding Jan. 6 agreement released yesterday by the Department of Homeland Security.

The previously confidential document also commits the United Arab Emirates-owned company to assist federal, state and local authorities in ensuring security, to gather information about any Dubai Ports World (DPW) employees working in the U.S., and to screen or otherwise investigate those employees.

Homeland Security said yesterday that no other company has been required to participate in the following programs:

• The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program, which requires businesses to assess their supply chain and provide specific information about their trucks, drivers, cargo, suppliers and routes with regard to port business.

• The Container Security Initiative (CSI) program, which uses intelligence and automated information to identify and target high-risk containers. It pre-screens containers identified as high risk at the ports of departure, uses detection technology to screen high-risk containers on their arrival, and requires tamper-evident containers.

The pact, first reported by the Associated Press, would allow the department to provide all records of foreign efforts to control operations in any of its U.S. facilities. The pact was made with the Treasury Department’s 12-member Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which on Feb. 13 approved DPW’s bid to operate in U.S. ports.

A bipartisan group of Capitol Hill legislators has vowed to block the deal, citing security concerns over a Middle Eastern company’s operation of U.S. terminals. Two of the September 11 hijackers were from the United Arab Emirates. Dubai, one of the emirates, has served as an operations and financial center for al Qaeda terrorists.

Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, whose office approved the deal, and the White House have said that all national security issues were addressed in approving the sale, and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told reporters this week that the deal included security safeguards.

DPW’s pending $6.8 billion purchase of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. (P&O;), which operates port terminals in New York, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami, Philadelphia and Newark, N.J., is due to close Thursday.

DPW has agreed to maintain P&O;’s existing security policies and procedures, including security personnel, and operate the ports under the current U.S. management structure, if possible.

Existing U.S. security requirements mandate that DPW file port security plans with the U.S. Coast Guard under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002; submit advance cargo manifests for shipments bound for the U.S.; turn over the names of passengers on ships arriving in the six ports; and authorize search authority by Homeland Security agents.

The department called the documents “a legally binding agreement,” but added that if it is breached, Homeland Security has full authority to conduct detailed inspections of all containers or other cargo handled by DPW to protect national security.

It also said the agreement gives CFIUS the authority to reopen its review of the transaction and that Homeland Security has the right to seek “all available remedies under contract law.”

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