Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 22, 2006

Dangerous to allow Dubai firm at ports

It's sickening to contemplate that operations at the port of Baltimore may fall into the hands of the United Arab Emirates ("Terms of ports deal are faulted," Feb. 20). What a mockery this makes of homeland security and our war on terror.

The UAE borders on Saudi Arabia, the country from which most of the 9/11 terrorists came.

Even though this modern and progressive nation may pose little threat at the moment, lethal organizations with knowledge of that country's language and customs could infiltrate Dubai Ports World and Baltimore's maritime infrastructure.

It's gratifying that Mayor Martin O'Malley, Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes and Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski have expressed concerns about this deal.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's paltry defense of the port deal, laced as it was with silences about "classified" issues, is cause for alarm (and his eventual dismissal).

America's war on terror already demands a high price of blood and treasure. It also necessitates infringements of our freedom and privacy.

The idea of allowing Dubai Ports World business rights at coastal locations should horrify every American.

Rosalind Ellis

Baltimore

Giving our enemies access to our ports

The Bush administration's decision to allow the takeover of six American shipping port facilities by an Arab company leaves one gasping for breath ("Terms of ports deal are faulted," Feb. 20).

What could it have been thinking in permitting some the country's most vulnerable facilities to be controlled by an element we are fighting a war against?

John D. Venables

Towson

Arab firm no threat to security of port

I am writing to express my disappointment with many of our leaders, who seem to have taken the position that a corporation's management of our ports will be inherently dangerous simply because that corporation is owned by an Arab country ("Sale of port company worries lawmakers," Feb. 17).

We make a great show in this country to distinguish between the few violent, extremist Muslims and the vast majority of the followers of Islam who are not terrorists. But these words ring hollow in practice.

As long as adequate security measures are maintained at the ports - and as long as the Department of Homeland Security does its job and remains vigilant in its oversight -- why does it matter where the corporation managing them is headquartered?

Should an otherwise qualified corporation be penalized because terrorists have come from the country in which it has its headquarters?

Our leaders need to reconsider allowing policy to be shaped by prejudice.

Jagan Raju

Dundalk

Ruckus over ports much ado over little

The ruckus being raised regarding the "acquisition" by Dubai Ports World (DPW) of six U.S. ports, including port operations in Baltimore, is completely off base ("Terms of ports deal are faulted," Feb. 20).

As Helen Delich Bentley noted in her letter "Port Administration runs region's port" (Feb. 18) and F. Brooks Royster III, the director of the Maryland Port Administration, also has noted ("Sale of port company worries lawmakers," Feb. 17), the only thing DPW is doing is contracting for services with local stevedoring companies and for other port services. It is not acquiring anything.

It must be understood that ships from every country in the world call here at the port of Baltimore. Ships of all flags and some under "flags of convenience," which hide their true owners, are constant visitors to our port.

But the U.S. Customs Service has, with the help of international traders and service operators, developed security measures that seem to have worked since Sept. 11, 2001.

The current brouhaha is nothing more than a platform for politicians to vent spleen.

M. Sigmund Shapiro

Baltimore

The writer is the chairman of a customs brokerage firm.

Why not safeguard all wildlife refuges?

In The Sun's article "Lines drawn over refuge-protection bill" (Feb. 15), Martin Madden, chairman of the Critical Areas Commission, stated that state Sen. James Brochin's bill to protect the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge might have the unintended consequences of protecting other national wildlife refuges in Maryland.

I find it very troubling that a man who heads the commission to protect the bay's tributaries thus seems to be opposed to protecting the waterways that feed wildlife refuges in Maryland.

If that doesn't sound like a friend to developers speaking, I don't know what would.

In a perfect world, Mr. Madden would be supporting this bill and saying it was about time that someone started looking out for our refuges and their waterways.

But I guess if he did that he wouldn't be Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s kind of man.

Lisa Mayo

Germantown

Raising wage floor will hurt the poor

An increase in the minimum wage will hurt the working poor more than it will help them ("Increase in minimum wage begins," Feb 17).

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