One if by Land, Two If by Air?

     Rather than a modern-day Paul Revere, Lou Dobbs sounded more like a black helicopter conspiracy theorist as he warned viewers of his March 7 program about the British owning American airports. But weeks earlier, the CNN anchor seemed to accept a private British company lease of six American port terminals as preferable to a lease from any Middle Eastern country.

     President Bush has put forth a challenge tonight that I simply can't ignore, the Harvard business alumnus thundered on his February 22 program, referring to the presidents question about why the Dubai-based company was held by its critics to a different standard on port maintenance than the British one already maintaining U.S. ports.

     Well, first of all, Mr. President, to equate any country to your principal partner in the coalition ignores that special relationship this country's enjoyed with the United Kingdom for decades and decades, argued Dobbs. The Harvard alumnus then added that the company presently running terminals at six U.S. seaports, is a British privately owned company while Dubai Ports World is a UAE government-controlled and owned company. You see the difference, of course.

     But on his March 7 program, Dobbs cited national security as a concern with British company BAA, which manages the facilities at Indianapolis International Airport. According to the companys Web site, BAA was privatized in 1986 by act of Parliament, and a year later became a publicly traded company in the United Kingdom.

     Dobbs also misled viewers, ominously warning them in his introduction for Christine Romanss March 7 report that foreign companies are looking to buy up as much of this country as they possibly can.

     In point of fact, while BAA has managed the Indianapolis airport since 1995, the state-chartered Indianapolis Airport Authority (IAA) is responsible for owning, developing and operating Indianapolis International Airport, according to the airport Web site.

     In addition to the BAA lease of the Indianapolis airport, reporter Christine Romans informed viewers that the eight-mile long Chicago Skyway belongs to an Australian-Spanish consortium under a 99-year lease and that the same company, Skyway Concession, LLC, plans to pay Indiana $4 billion to control 157 miles of the Indiana toll road.

     Implying that foreign contractors could impede national defense, Romans saw Ikes interstates becoming the Queens highway. It appears inevitable there will be foreign control of swaths of the interstate highway system, conceived by President Eisenhower to move our military from coast to coast, Romans warned Dobbs.

     Following Romanss story, Dobbs denounced critics who chalk up his fear that in the time of war our airlines would not be available, the aircraft would not be available to move troops, to his being anti-Arab, racist or xenophobic.

     Dobbs is none of those things. He is certainly patriotic with a decidedly protectionist economic viewpoint. But Dobbs is also a journalist, not a tinfoil-hat wearing, black helicopter-conspiracy believing pundit. This isnt about national security, its about politics and Dobbs knows it.

     Or he should.