Thursday, December 07, 2006

How stupid is stupid?

Remember the Dubai ports deal? Do you remember how the Bush administration didn't think that outsourcing our security to a company owned by the government of Dubai was a bad thing? This despite the fact that the government of Dubai was one of only three in the world to have recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan (a move too radical even for Iran, Iraq or Syria), or that the 9/11 commission had pointed out that in February 1999 (six months after the African embassy bombings) the emir of Dubai had entertained bin Laden as a cherished guest at his hunting camp in Afghanistan.

Well, because most people have more common sense than the Bush administration (or those 'must wear blinders' conservatives who parrot every word in a White House press release), the Dubai ports deal never became reality. One would hope that the White House learned something from that and wouldn't repeat the mistake.

One would hope that, but one would be wrong. Today, it was announced that Dubai Ports World, the same firm that was eventually determined to be unacceptable for purposes of screening cargo coming into the U.S., will now be screening cargo coming in for nuclear material.

Yes, you read that right.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Dubai Ports World, the Arab-owned company which set off a furor with its purchase of six U.S. port operations earlier this year, has been cleared to join a federal pilot program to test the methods used to screen U.S.-bound cargo for radiation.

The Security Freight Initiative involves the use of existing technology -- including streaming video and nuclear-detection devices -- at foreign ports, according to details announced Thursday by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

The United States, however, "will not outsource our security," Chertoff said, adding that all decisions about whether cargo is allowed to continue to the United States "will be made 100 percent by U.S. officials."

And we are supposed to feel better because our guys will make the call on whether to let the cargo go? The whole concern is founded on whether Dubai's chumminess with bin Laden might allow some of bin Laden's people to infiltrate the system. Of course if an item fails an inspection it won't go, but then the goal of terrorists isn't to cause failed inspections. It's to figure a way out to sneak something past the inspectors. And if you are the inspector, well what else do I have to say?

Of course, it might not even be that any bin Laden sympathizers who are working for DPW would have to do slip anything past the inspection themselves. All they would have to do is learn enough about how the system works to figure out how to beat it.

I know that the Bush administration has trouble changing course. But even when they've already been forced to acknowlege the problem before, they still don't change their basic thinking.

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