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Disclaimer: The author of this site maintained the campaign weblog of John Kline's opponent in the 2006 election, which made Congressman Kline a bit testy.

As with all blogs, review the facts carefully and draw your own conclusions.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Kline Speaks! (About the DPW Sale)

Four days ago, I wrote about John Kline's lack of responsiveness, and openly speculated how long it would be before I learned his position on Bush's NSA surveillance and the sale of port operations at six (later revealed to be 21) U.S. ports.

Today, I got an answer to my second question, though it was not addressed to me personally, and it was typically terse (Kline appears to save his long speeches steeped in rhetoric for the House floor). In the February 25 issue of ThisWeek Eagan, we read:

I am very skeptical about the wisdom of letting a company from UAE run our ports. This seems like a bad idea to me. I will work against it unless the administration can convince me otherwise. The burden is on the administration to convince us that this is a wise thing to do.


I like Kline's position for two reasons. First, he is showing independence from the president. Second, he is showing a healthy, reasoned skepticism about the wisdom of the deal without reflexively demanding that it be blocked under all circumstances.

I agree that skepticism is warranted, but since the experts all seem to agree that the sale poses no real security danger, I find myself in the unusual position of believing that George Bush's position on this issue is the correct one.

The thing I don't like about Kline's response is that he makes the same mistake that politicians in both parties and most of the media seem to be making when discussing U.S. ports: that Bush and the Republican-led Congress have been so negligent in acting to secure our ports that it hardly matters whether they're run by Dubai Ports World or George Bush himself:

Only 4 percent or 5 percent of those containers are inspected. There is virtually no standard for how containers are sealed, or for certifying the identities of thousands of drivers who enter and leave the ports to pick them up. If a nuclear weapon is put inside a container ---— the real fear here ---— "it will probably happen when some truck driver is paid off to take a long lunch, before he even gets near a terminal," said Mr. Flynn, the ports security expert.


For more than four years, Democrats (and a few Republicans) have been working to focus attention and funding on what is probably our greatest vulnerability to terrorist attack: our commercial ports. Unfortunately the majority of Republicans --- including John Kline --- have consistently voted down those proposals (although House Republicans have not been nearly so obstructionist as those in the Senate). Kline voted to kill an amendment which would have added $250 million to port security grants, and against another that would have added $400 million. The second amendment also would have required DHS to developer cargo container inspection standards and integration of container inspection equipment and data.

Sadly, it appears that Republicans like George Bush and John Kline are more concerned with the appearance that they're doing something about national security than they are in actually taking action to make our nation secure.

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