Saturday, February 25, 2006

NYT: Ports political disaster: How Schumer started the snowball rolling

Scramble to Back Port Deal: Making of Political Disaster - New York Times: "The ordeal, tamped down somewhat by the announcement late Thursday that the company would not take control of the ports immediately, has offered a case study in crisis management.

'They couldn't have botched this any worse if they had tried,' said Rich Masters, a managing director at Qorvis, a business that has worked on crisis communications for Arab countries. 'They should have met with members of Congress three or four weeks ago and said: 'This is a good deal. We've vetted the security on this, and we absolutely should move forward,' and should have gotten them all on their side before it became this huge deal.'

Lawyers and lobbyists at Alston & Bird, the big law firm based in Atlanta, put together the commercial deal for Dubai Ports, quietly helping win approval from the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States of the $6.8 billion acquisition of the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company, the British company that has contracts to manage several United States ports.

No one, it appears, mapped a strategy to break the news to Congress that the country where two Sept. 11 attackers were born would be running ports here, an obvious thicket, even if it posed no real security risk."


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