23 February 2006

More fun with port insecurity

They "re-elected" George W. Bush in 2004 because Bush managed to convince them that he could keep them safe from "the evil-doers".

Then he turns around and defends the hiring of a company based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to manage our port security. Another fox guarding the American henhouse -- except this fox has known ties to al-Qaeda and 9/11 (which would present an easy opportunity for terrorists to infiltrate the operation).

Bush is so adamant about allowing al-Qaeda's pals to guard our ports that he is threatening to veto any efforts to stop the deal from going through. Gotta wonder what's really behind it all, especially considering that Bush is under strong bipartisan pressure on this issue. But rather than pay serious credence to his critics, Bush responds with another "bring 'em on".

But don't worry. George will keep us safe. After all, he's wiretapping peace activists.

From yesterday's Washington Post:
President Bush yesterday strongly defended an Arab company's attempt to take over the operation of seaports in Baltimore and five other cities, threatening a veto if Congress tries to kill a deal his administration has blessed.

Facing a sharp bipartisan backlash, Bush took the unusual step of summoning reporters to the front of Air Force One to condemn efforts to block a firm from the United Arab Emirates from purchasing the rights to manage ports that include those in New York and New Orleans.

The Bush administration recently approved the sale of a London-based company that currently manages the ports to state-run Dubai Ports World. The deal has raised alarms on Capitol Hill and with the Republican governors of Maryland and New York. Critics note that the United Arab Emirates has been a home base for terrorists.

The federal government has approval rights over business transactions with national security implications. In this case, Dubai Ports World would handle shipping arrivals, departures, unloading at the docks and many security-related functions. The federal government would oversee those security operations.

"I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a [British] company," Bush told reporters.

He said the transaction was thoroughly scrutinized by administration officials, who concluded that it poses no threat to national security. He praised the United Arab Emirates as a close ally against terrorism and warned of sending the wrong message to the world by condemning a business just because it is Arab-owned.

But many Republicans and Democrats who represent the seaport regions remain deeply skeptical of a UAE-owned company playing such a central role at some of the most sensitive entry points in the country. They noted that some of the hijackers involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks used the United Arab Emirates as an operational and financial hub.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) called on Bush to delay the takeover and reevaluate the security risk. Frist threatened to introduce legislation to delay the takeover if Bush does not act quickly.

Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) called Bush politically tone-deaf. "Of all the bills to veto, if he lays down this gauntlet, he'll probably have 350 members of the House ready to accept that challenge," Foley said.

Bush welcomed the fight. "They ought to look at the facts and understand the consequences of what they're going to do," Bush said. "But if they pass a law, I'll deal with it, with a veto."
[Read more.]

By the way, this is not any kind of phobia regarding Arabs. It's about the old adage that you are the company you keep. And when the company you keep (and finance) is al-Qaeda, you can't expect a warm welcome when you're hired to guard us against your friends.

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