Thursday, August 17, 2006

Border Security Tidbits

News is one of those things that has to be followed, to be understood. What is reported one day may be reversed later - or may not be as reported in the first place. Here are a couple stories that illustrate the point.

How serious is the United States government at securing the border with Mexico? Hey, thousands of National Guard troops have been assigned to duty there. To what effect?

A new role for the undermanned Border Patrol
By Jerry Seper - THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The [Border Patrol] agents, who refer to the assignment as "the nanny patrol," said most of the Guard troops are not allowed to carry loaded weapons, despite a significant increase in border violence directed at Border Patrol agents and other law-enforcement personnel over the past year. ...

Of course, the story is a mixed bag of hit job against the administration (President Bush in particular) and the lax border security that has persisted for years, and noting of improved detection of attempts at illegal border crossing.

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Here is another story, unrelated to the border with Mexico, but implicating border security in the form of shipping and dock control. Remember the brou-ha-ha relating to Dubai Ports World? It's not over, not just yet.

Dubai Ports seeking U.S. bids
By Jeffrey Sparshott - THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Dubai Ports World is moving ahead with a plan to spin off its recently acquired U.S. operations, with preliminary bids from suitors due tomorrow.

DP World officials promised to sell P&O Ports North America Inc. to an American buyer by September after Congress protested the takeover of U.S. port terminal operations by the state-owned company from the Middle East.

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Five to eight firms participating in final round of bidding
By Meredith Cohn - Sun reporter
Originally published October 7, 2006

It has been six months since a Dubai company said it would sell its stake in U.S. ports to appease lawmakers in Washington, but Dubai Ports World says it may need another month or more to identify a buyer.

In a recent letter to members of Congress, a company official said it had five to eight firms participating in a second, and final, round of bidding for contracts in Baltimore, New York and close to two dozen other ports. That round is getting under way. ...

Charlie Papavizas, a partner at the Washington law firm Winston & Strawn LLP who specializes in the maritime industry, represented a client who was interested until recently in buying the Dubai company's U.S. operations. He said the client, whom he declined to identify, thought the offers would not bring top dollar. That could pose another problem because the Dubai company has said it would not sell the portfolio at a loss.

The asking price of the U.S. operations has not been made public, but the company has said they are valued at about 10 percent of the total P&O portfolio, or about $680 million. Papavizas said the eventual buyer could be a newly created U.S. entity set up by multiple firms or even a foreign firm. It's not clear if that would be acceptable to the company or to lawmakers.

"It'll all be in eye of the beholder, the American people and Congress," he said. "They'll want to know if Dubai Ports World followed through and sold the assets to an American company."

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