George Bush finally coined a term that makes sense: (emphasis mine)
"I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British (sic) company. I'm trying to conduct foreign policy now by saying to people of the world, we'll treat you fairly. And after careful scrutiny, we believe this deal is a legitimate deal that will not jeopardize the security of the country, and at the same time, send that signal that we're willing to treat people fairly."
Now this is a modifier I can really get behind.
While I'm on the subject, I better state my position: I agree with Kevin Drum (here, here and here, and again here); there's really not much here to get excited about except the lovely sight of Republicans going after each other. The Brits are scratching their heads on this one, wondering why we object to the same ferry company that transports thousands of Great British every day across the Channel and the Irish Sea.
I know, I know, it's George BUSH, and we must suspect and vehemently oppose everything he does. Even when he doesn't understand quite why he's doing it, or even in fact know he's doing it.
But I'm not ready to sign in at the Bill Frist/Tom DeLay Camp Xenophobia either.
As one of Kevin's readers pointed out:
So, as a preface, this stuff used to be my job. I did logistics for companies that had product manufactured in Asia that was imported to the US by ocean container and then shipped by train to the Midwest. I'm also working on a post-grad certificate in this.
Port operations means scheduling ships, loading and unloading, operating cranes, providing fuel, and otherwise handling product (mostly containers, these days). Most of the containers are sealed before they're put on a ship, and Customs (not port operations) inspects about 5% of them. Those containers are then put on trains which may belong to foreign corporations, are offloaded in privately owned rail yards (in the city where I live, our choices are the Burlington Northern or the Canadian Pacific) and often picked up by immigrant truck drivers to be delivered to their ultimate consignee.
Although the culture of a port operator would affect efficiency, it would still be very difficult for the company to have a serious effect on national security.
I do think there's a big problem with port security, but making a big deal about who controls the port operations when only 5% of the containers that come through them are inspected seems like a case of guarding the barn door when the barn has no walls.