The Storm Over the Ports

An issue is putting Democrats and Republicans at odds with President Bush, as controversy continues to rage over the pending management takeover of six U.S. ports by a United Arab Emirates company. The White House admits it should have better informed lawmakers.

"In hindsight, when you look at this and the coverage it's received and the false impression it's left with some, we probably should have briefed members of Congress sooner,” explains Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary.

Dubai Ports World will take over port operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.

The deal has come under fire because two of the 9/11 hijackers came from UAE and used the country as a financial base.

White House officials say the security of the ports would remain firmly in the hands of the Coast Guard and U.S. Customs Service.

In Tallahassee, feelings on the deal are mixed.

"It's incomprehensible to me that we can let out such contracts to foreign governments and foreign companies. We ought to be doing it ourselves,” says Tallahassee resident Paul Vergamine.

"I think as long as it's still controlled by the Coast Guard, the safety is, it's supposedly a good deal,” adds resident Jennifer Ross.

"Have more conversation about it because that's what we think we need to do and then we can decide. We weren't supposed to rush into it,” resident Lura Wolford says.

Some members of Congress are considering plans to block the deal which President Bush says he'll veto. No U.S. companies bid to take over shipping operations.

The only other bidder is a company from Singapore.


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