Wednesday, March 8

NJ Senator Lautenberg - "Dubai Hysteria" Victim

"Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced a bill (S. 2367) to provide a cause of action for United States port operators with respect to the potential change of ownership of a terminal operator to a foreign entity, and for other purposes. (3/3/06)." - Holland & Knight

TEXT Version

What is a "Cause of Action"?

A specific legal claim -- such as for negligence, breach of contract or medical malpractice -- for which a plaintiff seeks compensation. Each cause of action is divided into discrete elements, all of which must be proved to present a winning case. - Nolo

From the Bill:

The owner of a United States port may file an action seeking relief, including nullification of any contractual obligation with any terminal operator within the port, in any appropriate United States district court if a merger, acquisition, or takeover transaction would result in a change in the ownership of the terminal operator, and the new owner would be a foreign controlled entity. Such relief may be granted upon a showing by the owner of the port of a demonstrated increase in the security risk to the port or the port community as a result of such change in ownership.

So far there is no evidence that this port deal will in any way increase a security risk to the US. There is a total lack of any cases of security violations dealing with this Terminal operator. This bill will have untold negative consequences for all terminal operators in the US, many of which are already foreign entities. Looks like the biggest cause of action would be the current terminal operators against the US Government for putting unrealistic restrictions on their ability to sell their business interests.

If Congress truly believes that the Port Operator's cooperation is needed to smuggle weapons into the US, then they are sadly mistaken. Apparently they have not heard of ABC News experiment to import nuclear material into the US. They managed to do so without it being detected, twice.

The ship carrying the container was tied up at the Staten Island dock in New York, where the Customs Service says it has a state-of-the-art system in place to detect even a small, low-level amount of radioactive material.

"We're doing whatever it takes to screen the high-risk containers," said customs inspector Kevin McCabe, the chief of the contraband enforcement team, who did not know about the test when he demonstrated the screening measures to ABCNEWS.

During an interview in August, he gave ABCNEWS the same demonstration he said he had given to President Bush when he visited the port. McCabe displayed the small radiation pager used by inspectors, which he said could detect even a shielded, low-level radiation shipment — like depleted uranium.

And while the shipping container holding ABCNEWS' suitcase was selected by customs for this kind of screening, it sailed right through the inspection and left the port without ever being opened by customs inspectors. And a few days after its arrival in the United States, the container was on the back of a truck headed for New York City.

Clearly the gatekeeper is Customs, not the port operator. I seem to remember that one of these tests traveled on a P&O ship, but I cannot find any reference to that on the net. No matter, they all handle cargo the same way.

I suspect that Senator Lautenberg has been to the ports in his state. I hope that next time he goes with his eyes open. Perhaps he can spare a second to think about how all the drivers with criminal records should be handled.

Customs Fails to Detect Depleted Uranium - ABC News
The ABC News Nuclear Smuggling Experiment: The Sequel - NRDC

Current Maritime Developments - Holland & Knight LLP
Senator Lautenberg - Homepage

Good Job DHS - Macsmind

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