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Doolittle introduces ports act

The Union staff

House Republican Conference Secretary John Doolittle introduced legislation Tuesday that would prohibit other countries from providing security at our nation’s ports by requiring that all port security operations be conducted by United States’ citizens who have undergone thorough background checks.

The Americans Securing American Ports Act of 2006 would also require that U.S. citizens have majority control of any company hired to conduct security operations at an American port.

The current head of security operations for Dubai Ports World, the company at the center of the controversy because of its proposal to take over management of six U.S. ports, lives in the United Arab Emirates and is not a U.S. citizen.

Doolittle, who opposes the Dubai ports deal and has co-sponsored legislation requiring a 45-day congressional review of the sale, said that having Americans guard American ports is critical to our homeland security.

“Our ports will remain vulnerable so long as we continue to allow other countries, many with questionable records, to conduct their own security assessments on American soil,” Doolittle said. “The Sept. 11 terror attacks remind us that we must stay on the offensive and eliminate possible security breeches and concerns before they materialize.

“We must ensure that those guarding our points of entry have America’s best interest at heart. That is why securing America’s ports should be the responsibility of Americans, not foreign governments or foreign companies.

“We cannot sacrifice port security because of lucrative economics or global pressure. In today’s world, America’s ports must be thoroughly assessed, fiercely guarded and as secure as possible.”

Under the Americans Securing American Ports Act (HR 4833):

• Security operations at U.S. ports must be performed by a U.S. citizen.

• A company can only protect U.S. ports if U.S. citizens own or control at least 51 percent of the securities of that company.

• A thorough background check must be successfully conducted on each individual performing security operations at U.S. ports.

This legislation gives the secretary of homeland security the authority to enforce these mandates.

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