Strong Reaction To Arab-U.S. Port Deal

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Politicians representing some of the east coast's largest ports are sounding the alarm. They believe the Bush administration's decision to allow an Arab company to operate US ports isn't just wrong, it's dangerous.

"I am calling upon President Bush to reverse the outrageous, the reckless and the irresponsible decision to turn over American ports to foreign governments," says Martin O'Malley, the Democrat mayor of Baltimore.

"I think the people of the United States want their ports to be operated by people who will insure its security and they want it operated, you know, in American hands," adds Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey.

Larry Martines, a local terrorism and security expert couldn't agree more: "From a political standpoint, I don't know if it's the best thing. From a terrorism or security standpoint, it doesn't change the dimension much since our ports are all very vulnerable right now."

The six ports to soon come under the operational control of "Dubai Ports World" are Baltimore, New York, New Jersey, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.

Port security will still be the job of the Coast Guard and US Customs.

The Bush administration says the transaction underwent a rigorous review.

"We make sure there are assurances in place in general. Sufficient to satisfy us that the deal is appropriate from a national security standpoint," says Michael Chertoff, the Secretary of Homeland Security.

The Bush administration says the company poses no threat, and calls the united arab emirates a leading partner in the fight against terrorism.

"I think the UAE has demonstrated its friendship to the US. So if you had to pick an Arab region or Arab country, I think the UAE would be one of the safer bets. Maybe not the best bets, just a safer bet in my opinion," adds Martines.

But still, people and politicians have voiced their concerns over the country's alleged ties to Al Qaeda and the terrorist attacks of 9-11.

"Two of the terrorists came from the United Arab Emirates and the money that was laundered that paid for the events was laundered through United Arab Emirates banks," says Senator Charles Schume, a Democrat from New York.

A Miami company has since filed suit challenging the deal. At least one Senate oversight hearing is planned for later this month.