Glenn Reynolds is right …

… someone is spreading disinformation about the Dubai Ports World deal. The puzzling thing is that Glenn is helping.

there is an “organized disinformation campaign” in progress around the Dubai Ports World deal. The interesting question is why Glenn is helping that disinformation campaign along by linking to one of its perpetrators, Jim Geraghty of National Review Online.

The main piece of disinformation being peddled is that port operators don’t have any security responsibilities, so there’s no real risk to worry about.

Maybe it’s true that the government of the UAE, the government of Dubai, and the management of Dubai Ports World are all completely reliable allies in the war on terror, despite the friendly face the ruling family of Dubai showed not only to the Taliban but to Osama bin Laden right through 9/11. I’m not sure how anyone would know, but it’s at least logically possible.

But what’s certainly not true is that, if the deal goes through, Dubai Ports World won’t have significant security responsibilities. Port operators make and carry out security plans. It’s right there in the legislation.

Yes, port operators are supervised and regulated. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t do the actual work.

No regulatory system is perfect in controlling the behavior of the entities it regulates. So the character of the folks running the regulated operations makes a difference. (That’s why the casino commissions in Nevada and New Jersey work so hard at keeping the Mafia out of that highly regulated industry.)

Again, it’s possible that the security implications of the deal were thoroughly understood before it was approved. But the claim that the deal has no security implications is just false on its face.

Admittedly, I was fooled at first, but it wasn’t hard to get un-fooled if you looked at the problem with an open mind.

On the other hand, it isn’t hard to let yourself be fooled, despite initial skepticism, if that’s what you really want. “Whoever wishes to deceive,” said Machiavelli, “will find another who wishes to be deceived.” Looks as if Karl Rove and Grover Norquist have found Glenn Reynolds.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

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