This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from Feb. 24, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
JIM ANGLE, GUEST HOST: Many, many questions about the deal that would put a company from the United Arab Emirates in charge of some port operations at six locations in the U.S. The company, by the way, is DP World.
What would it actually do at American ports? How much role would it have in security? Dozens of questions have been raised in the debate over this issue; here to answer some of them is senior vice president at DP World, Michael Moore.
Mr. Moore, thanks for joining us.
MICHAEL MOORE, DP WORLD SENIOR VP: Thanks for the offer, Jim.
ANGLE: Let me ask you first. This has been nothing short of hysteria in Washington, and perhaps around the country. Are you surprised by the reaction?
MOORE: We were surprised, but we think we have a great story to tell. And we appreciate the ability to tell it on your show.
ANGLE: Now, let me ask you about what you would actually — what you’ve offered to do here. In the midst of all this controversy, the company has offered to slow things down a bit, at least slow down its move to take over operations from the company it bought them from, P&O, to slow down its takeover here in the U.S.
What is it that you’re offering to do?
MOORE: We’ve made a unilateral offer called a hold separate agreement, which is a relatively common approach in situations like this. It allows us to close the deal in the U.K. on time; we certainly don’t want to harm the shareholders at P&O that voted almost unanimously in favor of our offer.
It then give us the ability to have a separate timeline in the United States so we can hear the concerns of people and address any, you know, legitimate grievances.
ANGLE: So DP World is buying P&O come what may? That’s a done deal.
ANGLE: You’re taking over the operations in the U.S. out of its worldwide holdings...
ANGLE: ... is now in a bit of limbo?
MOORE: Yes. What we’re going to do is we’re going to give time for the debate to go on and for us to understand, you know, what the legitimate concerns are. You know, we’re a friend, and we want to be perceived as a friend. And friends listen. That’s what we’re trying to do.
ANGLE: Now, some members of Congress are saying they have got to have 45 days to further investigate this, to look further into it. There was a 90-day investigation by the government. It may be that everything’s been said, but apparently it hasn’t been said to everybody.
ANGLE: Is the company willing to hold off for 45 days?
MOORE: Exactly. It depends — we don’t have a length of time that we’re in favor of, but what we would like to say — we’d like it to be as short as possible. You know, we have a business to run.
ANGLE: Now, one reason for this controversy is obviously because DP World is headquartered in the Middle East, or at least it’s owned by people in the United Arab Emirates.
ANGLE: And there have been all sorts of things that have been raised in this thing. One from one lawmaker was that there would be hundreds of people coming to the U.S. from the Middle East, and even with the best efforts of the United Arab Emirates to sort them out, there might be some Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda-sympathizers who would manage to slip in there.
How many people from the Middle East are likely to come to the U.S. to work in your operations? And what are the means by which you check to find out who they really are?
MOORE: Well, clearly, that’s not the intentions to have hundreds of people come from the Middle East. One of the planks in the acquisition of P&O was to acquire their very senior, very experienced senior management team. We said that at the very beginning.
So we don’t intend to make any changes in management in the United States. The same highly qualified individuals that have been running it successfully for years will continue to do so.
ANGLE: So the same guys who are in charge now under P&O will be in charge under DP World. It’s just that the ownership will be different?
ANGLE: Now, explain to us — there’s a lot of confusion about this. Explain to us what it is that P&O and now DP World actually do? People have talked about, oh, they’re going to — they’ll have access to security plans, they’ll be running the ports. Tell us what it is that you do in a port?
MOORE: Sure. We have a couple of different functions we perform. One is as the terminal operator, which means we’ve leased the facility from the port. The port authorities in the United States still maintain their legitimate interest in maintaining security.
As the president suggested, you know, we’re not taking over security from U.S. Customs, from the Coast Guard, from the Department of Homeland Security; we’re simply going to be one of the operators in a port. There are stevedoring arrangements that we have, where we provide labor, but that labor has already checked out. So, you know, there’s really no change to the process in the United States.
ANGLE: These are stevedores and longshoremen who work on the docks, who work for whatever company happens to be there?
MOORE: Correct, yes.
ANGLE: So you basically load and unload cargo?
ANGLE: But there is — you have no role in security. Are you privy to security arrangements at the port?
MOORE: Yes, we would be, because we’d have to honor all of the regulations that are in place, like we do today. You know, in Dubai, for example, we actually have both U.S. Customs at our facility and the U.S. Navy.
ANGLE: You know, I want to ask you about that. That’s the Container Security Initiative. And the theory is it’s better to figure out what’s headed to the U.S. before it pulls into the port, not just before it’s unloaded. About 15 seconds left. Tell me what that does, as quickly as you can.
MOORE: The CSI, the Container Security Initiative, extends the reach of the United States overseas. We were one of the first ports in the world to accept that. Additionally, we were one of the first ports to join the Megaport Project, which allows for radioactive scanning in our facility.
ANGLE: Michael Moore, thanks very much.
Watch "Special Report With Brit Hume" weeknights at 6 p.m. EST.
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