Senator Flanagan Seeks Additional Probe Of Port Security Deal

John J. Flanagan

March 07, 2006

Senator John J. Flanagan (2nd Senate District) was joined by the entire majority in the New York State Senate in calling for greater investigation into the Dubai Ports World take over of the region’s ports. Senator Flanagan voted to call on the New York Congressional Delegation to urge President George W. Bush to order a thorough investigation of the deal to protect the residents of New York.

According to federal law, the sale of critical infrastructure to a company controlled by a foreign power may be reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States for up to 45 days. The committee is chaired by the Federal Department of Treasury and includes the Departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security and the Attorney General. This committee is charged with determining if the sale of port operations could affect national security and if it should move forward.

"The committee should take the entire time they are allotted and work to ensure the safety of New York residents. This is not a simple issue that can be rashly decided. This is a deal that could potentially lead to a dangerous outcome for our state and our country and it must be deliberated and examined," stated Senator Flanagan.

Senator Flanagan previously sent correspondence to the Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff requesting a more deliberative investigation. Please click here to read the text of that letter.

"On 9/11, our state was the prime target of the terror attacks on our country and our state remains one of the prime targets for terrorists today. This deal involves our ports and our citizens and we must be assured that our voice is fully heard," stated Senator Flanagan. "This deal should be properly examined, as we have been promised it will be, and it should be rejected if there is even the smallest doubt."

The call to investigate the potential deal was coupled with Senator Flanagan’s support of a new package of legislation that would address security gaps that currently exist at the port that make the metropolitan area vulnerable to terrorist attack.

The legislation was recommended by the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor as vital to further safeguarding the port waterfront area. The Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor (WCNYH) was established in August of 1953. Under statutory mandate, the mission of the Commission is to investigate, deter, combat, and remedy criminal activity and influence in the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The legislation proposed has already been passed into law in New Jersey, but cannot go into effect at the port until the state of New York also acts.

The new protections for the ports would include:

- Expanding the Waterfront Commission’s ability to revoke or deny a license or registration to port workers associated with terrorism, racketeering or other organized crime groups;

- Strengthening the Commission’s ability to revoke or deny a license or registration of port workers who are associated with illegal drug activity, and

- Allowing the Waterfront Commission to obtain disclosure from witnesses outside of the Commission’s jurisdiction of New York and New Jersey. The Commission has conducted numerous investigations in which out-of-state witnesses have refused to appear. This bill will give the Commission great subpoena power.

As a member of the Senate’s Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee, Senator Flanagan recently unveiled a report that exposed insufficient security at the Port of New York. The report, After the Storm…New York’s State of Readiness, was based on a hearing conducted by the committee last spring.