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Privatizing US Ports

Snow Job

by DAVID STOCKER

Yet again, as we stare uncomprehending into the abysmal state of world affairs, we ask "Why must we now learn about Dubai?"

We are told by the Bush Administration that this deal was checked out thoroughly and that it would be wrong to discredit an Arab buyer, Dubai Ports World (DPW). Thus, we are exhorted by the same government that has brought us jihad in a half dozen Arab lands to believe that if we disapprove of this multibillion dollar contract, we are being unfair to the good Arab folks. Whenever the words "multibillion dollar deal" and "the Bush Administration" occur in the same paragraph, good folks everywhere should pay close attention.

By all reports, Dubai, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is a rowdy seaport. Liken it to the picture of Casablanca in the famous movie of the same name. There is little regulation and no taxes!!! The usual suspects include, drug traffickers, arms dealers, smugglers, people wanting to move illegal goods globally without taxation, while blurring the lines of accountability. From say nuclear weapons, to restricted technology, to human cargo, lets just say, the biggest players in the world go here, not Vegas. According to Webster, an "emirate" is the jurisdiction of a direct descendant of Mohammed. This is an Arabian land run by chieftains, perhaps more bound by wealth than by Islamic fealty. DPW, is state owned, meaning it is the playground of the governing chieftains. Newsweek (March 14, 2005, Fareed Zakaria) characterized U.A.E. as among the most repressive governments in the Middle East and at the opposite end of the human rights scale to Israel (as long as you’re not Palestinian). This is all in contrast to the spin the Bush people now want to create about U.A.E.

The gatekeeper to the seaport deal is John Snow, Secretary of the US Treasury, who replaced Paul O’Neill. Remember, O’Neill was fired because he refused to give in to pressure from the Bush people to support the invasion of Iraq.

Until he was tapped to serve our government, John Snow was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CSX Corporation, "where he successfully guided the transportation company though a period of tremendous change."

CSX is the massive railroad monopoly that controls almost all cargo movements across America from the seaports. Snow’s knowledge of international industry "stems from his tenure as Chairman of the Business Roundtable, the foremost business policy group comprised of 250 chief executive officers of the nation’s largest companies." This group advises the Administration on business policy.

Prior to answering the call to serve in government, CSX Corporation under Snow, paid no federal income tax at all, "supplementing its over $1 billion in pretax profits over the four year period with $164 million in tax rebate checks from the federal government. During the same period, CSX joined the list of 100 top political campaign contributing corporations,(70% to Republicans) gave Snow $36 million in salary, bonuses, stock and options, and forgave a $24 million loan so he would not lose money along with other shareholders as the company’s stock price declined."

Not trumpeted on the government’s website is the fact that Snow is now the head of a little known government committee that privately approves foreign business transactions. When CSX, was bought out one year ago this week by Dubai Ports World for $1.4 billion, Snow cashed in on his stock options. DPW, the very same U.A.E. state owned company that is now with help from Snow, closing the loop for packages moving from the slums of Dubai to your own home.

My point is this, with a nuclear bomb the size of a laptop we are already unsafe. If somebody wanted that to happen, it would. The extreme efforts and enormous expense to protect our homeland have proven utterly ineffective. This DPW deal under a microscope is yet another example of the theft of our government by a small cadre of wealthy people with a very narrow agenda. It is an effort by Bush to pay back his Arab handlers while he still can. This should put the light to their faux democracy-mongering throughout the world. It should lay open the huge homeland security budget as largely a sham and history’s greatest boon to cronyism, with the sole intent of distracting Americans from seeing that the policies and actions of our own government are the greatest danger to the safety of the people of the world today.

The Sultans of spin in the White House and the Emirates of Arabia should read the words of Mohammed. "Be charitable. Allah tolerates trade, but loveth not usury. Guard against the time when you shall be brought before your sins. Be saved from avarice."

For many reasons and on many levels, Bush’s February 24 statement to the national press, rings true. "This deal would not go forward if we were concerned about the safety of America." They are not.

DAVID STOCKER, is a writer, musician and teacher in the Midwest. He is part of a musical tribe called OneDrum and can be reached at www.onedrum.net.