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Tilting at Windmills

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February 22, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

PORTGATE....So what's up with this Dubai port deal, anyway? I hate to say it, but I can't help but think that Bush may be right about the whole thing. Just for the record:

  • This isn't a matter of outsourcing a government operation to a private company. P&O has been operating ports in the United States (and the rest of the world) for a long time, and they do it under contract with the port authorities, not the federal government. What's more, there are plenty of port operators in the United States besides P&O that are foreign owned too.

  • P&O doesn't "own" the ports, they just manage one or more terminals at each of their ports and try to make money by attracting shipping companies to their terminals.

  • P&O was on the auction block no matter what. If Dubai Ports hadn't purchased them, PSA International of Singapore would have acquired them instead.

  • Port workers would mostly (all?) be American union members regardless of who owns the management company. Security will continue to be provided by the Coast Guard and U.S. Customs.

Politically, this whole thing is astoundingly tone deaf, especially since Bush did it without consulting anyone in Congress. Substantively, though, I'm not quite sure I get the fuss. Would we really be any safer if P&O were acquired by a Singaporean company? Frankly, the real scandal is that we're not already handling port security as if every port management company in the U.S. had a member of al-Qaeda on its board of directors.

Am I missing something? Substantively, that is, not politically.

Kevin Drum 1:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (298)

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Comments

Right on.

"Bush did it, therefore it's bad" shows no more thoughtfulness than "Trust our leader for he is good."

It's just something that's easy to spin into a racist political issue, but there's no meat behind it.

Posted by: Eric on February 22, 2006 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

Nope, not missing anything. Just xenophobic hysteria and grandstanding on the part of our political effetes/elites and their media whore pals I too am surpised that for once, Bush makes sense.

Posted by: tom f on February 22, 2006 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

Apparently there is some connection between Dubai, Al Qaeda and the financing of 9/11. Go figure. I mean why would that worry people?

Posted by: reef the dog on February 22, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

Sounds about right to me, although everything I know comes from Lounsbury. My only quibble is that I don't think it's correct to look at this as something "Bush" "did"; it's an agreement between two foreign companies which affects the US and was duly vetted by the Treasury Department officials who do this kind of thing. The White House had nothing to do with it.

Posted by: teofilo on February 22, 2006 at 1:44 AM | PERMALINK

It's politics - what was all the "Substantive/factual" fuss over the Swift Boat Vetrans for Truth?

Posted by: ChicagoFilmmaker on February 22, 2006 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

It would give Rove too much credit to say this was a manufactured issue.

But it is a stellar way for the Republicans in Congress to establish their independence from the Bush administration. Plus how seriously they take security.

My guess is that even if they didn't create the issue, they will capitalize on it as such. With Bush's numbers in the tank, they need to distance themselves prior to midterms.


Posted by: tinfoil on February 22, 2006 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

Bush did it, therefore it's bad" shows no more thoughtfulness than "Trust our leader for he is good."

In absence of substantive information on what criteria were used to give this contract, one can only go on past history. As a result it immediately becomes more logical to assume that it is "bad" because Bush did it.

Simple probability, statistics and estimation theory.

Posted by: lib on February 22, 2006 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

Lib: You've got a fair point there....

Reef: I dunno. The al-Qaeda financing stuff doesn't seem to amount to much. But I'm certainly open to hearing more about it.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on February 22, 2006 at 1:50 AM | PERMALINK

In the 90s the Chinese Cosco company tried to gain control of some abandoned shipyard at Long Beach and the Republicans absolutely plotzed.

Posted by: cld on February 22, 2006 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

I'll be interested to hear what the usual trolls on this blog have to say about this. I think it confuses them.

Posted by: Burt on February 22, 2006 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

The Brits think the Americans are overreacting. We get on P&O ferries to go to France and Ireland; if they're going to be infiltrated by terrorists we're in serious trouble here too.

Posted by: KathyF on February 22, 2006 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

Well the 9/11 commission report says UAE has "finanacial and operational ties" to Al Qaeda and the successful 9/11 plot. The UAE government owns the company, right? Not to mention Dubai is confirmed as an access point for nuclear weapons materials sent to north Korea and pakistan among others.

Do you seriously not see why this is a BIG deal? Bush has based his presidency on protecting us from terrorists yada yada.

Posted by: reef the dog on February 22, 2006 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

If Dubai Ports hadn't purchased them, PSA International of Singapore would have acquired them instead.
-Kevin Drum

Yeah, and Singapore sent troops to Iraq!
Way more reliable!

Note that PSA is probably already helping with your military supply chain in Singapore. Its pretty reliable.

I actually got to walk on the deck of a carrier pre-9-11. A seaman complained about being bored, lots of nintendo and cards.

Posted by: McA on February 22, 2006 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

Apparently there is some connection between Dubai, Al Qaeda and the financing of 9/11.

If so, then how come we never invaded Dubai? If we suspect them of financing Al Qaeda, then is it enough to just keep them from running our ports?

And what should we do to the country that provided pilot training to the 9/11 hijackers?

Posted by: JS on February 22, 2006 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

Substantively? Who cares. He who lives by paranoid xenophobia dies by paranoid xenophobia. I see no need to protect the Bush Clique from the wrath of its own base -- built on hatred that it has spent years fanning with its attempts to blur the line between al-Qaeda and Arabs and Muslims more generally as part of the sales effort on Iraq (how many Bush supporters have you heard say Iraq was necessary because "they" attacked us on 9/11? What do you think "they" means?)

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 2:03 AM | PERMALINK

i think it has to do with fear of a brown planet, mostly.

also, many kevin's points are valid. however, i'm more content just to sit back and lazily watch this curling match play out.

Posted by: nova silverpill on February 22, 2006 at 2:06 AM | PERMALINK

If so, then how come we never invaded Dubai?

The same reason we never invaded Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, who had (and have, for Pakistan and al-Qaeda, particularly) even bigger connections to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Because, except for Afghanistan because they felt they couldn't get away with not doing it, we don't invade people because they actually had anything to do with 9/11, we invade them because their on the Leninist Neoconservative Hitlist. Starting with Iraq.

It was selected as a target before 9/11, and it was attacked for reasons that had nothing to do with supporting al-Qaeda. Pakistan had close ties to al-Qaeda, has nuclear weapons, was shopping nuclear technology to every two-bit dictator on the planet, and is now a major US non-NATO ally.

None of the overt justifications for US war under Bush are substantively true.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 2:06 AM | PERMALINK

I think it is a big deal, but not necessarily for the reasons being bandied about on talk radio. At one level this is a replay of the early 1970s when the Japanese were buying up Rockefeller Center etc. We run these huge trade deficits and then wonder at the predictable result. I will probably be writing about this later in the week.

Posted by: Bob G on February 22, 2006 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

"Am I missing something? Substantively, that is, not politically."

Yes, you're missing the fact that the substance doesn't matter. Politically this is a knife that Bush has obligingly placed in our hands, and we'd be fools not to use it (cue the Democratic leadership....). Bush has spent the past five years "catapulting the propaganda" that Arabs are filthy terrorists who all want to destroy America, and now he wants to place our ports in their hands? Let him try explaining the substance to his rabid base -- why should we do the work for him? Why on earth are you trying to find an excuse for him?

Posted by: Stefan on February 22, 2006 at 2:08 AM | PERMALINK

And what should we do to the country that provided pilot training to the 9/11 hijackers?

Posted by: JS on February 22, 2006 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

Ran it into debt, and caused it to lose control of its borders so far. But you've always done that.

Maybe you Liberals can count re-electing Bush as retaliation against yourselves since you hate him so much.

-------------------

Kevin, if you want a solid argument.

I would presume the process used to clear the sale before the tender would have taken into account subsequent sale to a different foreign owner, and been rigged to be safe regardless of the actual owner of the company.

The nature of the actual people doing the work would be more significant than ownership.

Heck, if you don't like it, give it to Singapore. Or failing that, give it to Haliburton. Cheney needs a new shotgun, yeehah!

Posted by: McA on February 22, 2006 at 2:08 AM | PERMALINK

Three chears for Drum. He's right, whereas most liberals have shown themselves to be hypocritical (what happened to "no racial profiling"?) and to not understand the issue at all (UAE isn't staffing ports with a bunch of terrorist operatives, they'll be American union members). Opposing the UAE purchase makes liberals look both dumb and unprincipled, which is funny since that's how they view everyone else.

And in the end, this will be a winning issue for Republicans. Don't think for second Rove didn't have a media strategy planned for this move. McCain has lined up behind Bush, and the MSM will fall in behind McCain. And they'll love how it makes Dems look like hypocrites.

Posted by: Tom on February 22, 2006 at 2:11 AM | PERMALINK

The substance of it is kind of immaterial. As a 20 second sound bite, it looks bad. And it feeds off of the xenophobia Rove et al have worked so hard to nurture.

Remember that the GOP has done everything they could to drag down the level of political discourse, using oversimplified phrasing and appeals to ignorance, fear and suspicion of anyone who can be defined as "other," particularly if they are from the middle east.

Time for them to reap what they've sown.

Anyway, I'm far from convinced there aren't real security issues here.

Posted by: jimBOB on February 22, 2006 at 2:12 AM | PERMALINK
Politically this is a knife that Bush has obligingly placed in our hands, and we'd be fools not to use it (cue the Democratic leadership....).

We'd be fools to use it, but we'd bigger fools to stand between the elements of Bush's base that are using it and Bush himself.

There's no reason for Democrats to get much involved in this, beyond supporting, perhaps, investigation into the process, etc. Let the wingnut base denouce Bush -- its about the only support he has left.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

Port security is the real issue. Dubai Ports is the race card / congressional independence issue that Republican politicians have decided to capitalize on. Democratic politicians are using it to posture about port security. It's not all bad if it leads to a greater public awareness of real security issues.

It wouldn't surprise me if this turns into an orchestrated dance. Republican politicians don't want the administration to give in too easily. They want to get in a few "movie punches" first.

BTW, it's a cop out to say security is in the hands of the coast guard and customs. At best they inspect 5% of freight. The practices of private companies here and abroad matter.

Posted by: ranaaurora on February 22, 2006 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK
Three chears for Drum. He's right, whereas most liberals have shown themselves to be hypocritical (what happened to "no racial profiling"?) and to not understand the issue at all (UAE isn't staffing ports with a bunch of terrorist operatives, they'll be American union members).

And American union members can't also be terrorist operatives, and corporate headquarters policies have no effect whatsoever on how work gets done, right?

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK

One distinction is that the British company is a private firm, while Dubai Ports is state-owned. Another is that much of our armaments/munitions to go overseas is shipped through ports Dubai/UAE would be managing; what if they suddenly took a dislike to another Bush invasion? Could they just refuse to let the stuff out? (Not to say that might always be a bad idea; let your imagination go. What if Tony Blair had refused to go along with Iraq?)

Posted by: Linkmeister on February 22, 2006 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK

McCain has lined up behind Bush, and the MSM will fall in behind McCain. And they'll love how it makes Dems look like hypocrites.

Posted by: Tom on February 22, 2006 at 2:11 AM | PERMALINK

If this sucks, imagine how you'll feel when Cheney resigns to give him the nomination.

When you run attack ads, they'll say "He's so moderate, he got offered the vice-presidency by Kerry! that's how far left the angry Democrats have got...."

Then he'll take power and use his former POW status to deflect all accusation of brutal torture.....

Rove planned all of this years ago. The Bush - McCain rivalry was all faked. You have no choice but to migrate too Canada...oops, too late.


Posted by: McA on February 22, 2006 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK
nother is that much of our armaments/munitions to go overseas is shipped through ports Dubai/UAE would be managing; what if they suddenly took a dislike to another Bush invasion? Could they just refuse to let the stuff out?

They could, though that would be over-the-top -- or they could engineer a crisis with labor which conveniently cripples the ports. Or they could instituted "cost saving" policy changes that negatively impact efficiency in selected areas.

The latter could even, if cleverly planned, be pulled off by a small clique without being official policy.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK

And American union members can't also be
terrorist operatives

The point is that practices won't be essentially different than they are now. If this is a big security issue, where was the big Dem proposal to take the ports out of union hands and into some TSA-like organization? Oh wait...there would never be one because union members are favored citizens to the Democrats. The Dems are both hypocritical and spineless. Maybe you can say they don't represent you, in which you case feel free to point out all the work you've personally done to secure the ports.

Posted by: Tom on February 22, 2006 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you're right - the politics is the worst of the stink. But smell is caused by something, and the culprit here is the administration.

In the 'post 911 reality' we are beaten with daily, terrorism is the world's great evil. It's presence allows pre-emptive war, rendition, torture, executive privalege, wiretapping, datamining and watchlists. We are told this struggle has changed our lives and requires the reduction of our liberties.

If all this is true, then even the whiff of the percieved impropriety from a deal like this should have laughed it out of the board room.

Instead, Bush warns that congessional blockage of this deal is where he may use that first veto.

This single decision directly exposes the hypocracy of those that push our fear button incessantly.

This is important.

Posted by: canucklehead on February 22, 2006 at 2:22 AM | PERMALINK

Buzz kill, Kevin! Couldn't you have like, kept quiet and focused on the politics. Man, we are fighting for our country here, attempting to take it back from the plutocrats. Don't douse the red hot poker. Shove it up their bums, for chrissakes.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 22, 2006 at 2:23 AM | PERMALINK

I think it is a big deal, but not necessarily for the reasons being bandied about on talk radio.

Depends on the talk radio. Rush, for one, seems a bit puzzled as to what all the fuss is about.

I suspect from the hard-over administration defense on this that there is some underlying diplomatic factor behind it. Some reason we need to be particularly nice to the UAE right now. Any speculation?

This blogger makes a good point:

On the other hand, I think Bush has a point when he says we aren't doing ourselves (or anybody else) any favors by taking a "no Arabs need apply" position on doing business. That's a bad way to make friends--and enemies. Whether or not you buy the line 'we are not at war with Islam,' we are not at war with every Arab on the planet. We really are trying to win people over in that part of the world. Throwing what appears to be a normal business transaction back in the faces of a decent ally is not going to help our cause.

I agree that whoever manages the ports, we need to push security harder than we have been.

Incidentally, those who are going to play the "race card" on this issue, on either side, are idiots.

Posted by: tbrosz on February 22, 2006 at 2:23 AM | PERMALINK

The problem isn't that the company is foreign, it's that it's owned by a foreign government that was one of three in the world to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, and served as banker to Al Qaeda. There's substance to this.

Posted by: Eric on February 22, 2006 at 2:25 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks cmdicely for the substantive answer, though the question was tongue-in-cheek, as the next one should have made clear. I'll have to work on my sarcasm.

Posted by: JS on February 22, 2006 at 2:26 AM | PERMALINK

BTW, teofilo makes a good point earlier. This isn't exactly something Bush "did." What he is doing is trying to prevent the Congress from squashing a private transaction for what some in Congress see as a legitimate security issue.

I would not be averse to seeing it debated if the usual suspects on both sides of the aisle could somehow avoid making it into another partisan dog-and-pony show.

Posted by: tbrosz on February 22, 2006 at 2:27 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, I was just going to do some posts as Fake McA, but somebody beat me to it.

Hint to Fake McA: you have to write less grammatically to be believable.

Posted by: brooksfoe on February 22, 2006 at 2:28 AM | PERMALINK

Look at it this way. Next time something happens. Your lawyers have assets to freeze and use to pay off the lawsuits.

You have to look at details more carefully to assess this.

Does the deal allow them to change management?
Some deals can restrict that.

Other thing to look at is the restrictions on use of foreign labour?

By the way, if you are all anti-Arab nowadays, why do you let Democrats buy political advice from Mr. Zogby. He's of Arab descent y'know.

Are Chinese descent, nuclear scientists the only people you pick on? At last check, they already had the bomb.

Posted by: McA on February 22, 2006 at 2:29 AM | PERMALINK

The problem isn't that the company is foreign,
it's that it's owned by a foreign government
that was one of three in the world to
recognize the Taliban as the legitimate
government of
Afghanistan, and served as banker to Al Qaeda.
There's substance to this.

Oh please. You'd be bent out of shape over any predominantly Muslim country operating ports. Don't try and say it's cause it's the UAE in particular.

And think about the situation. You really think UAE will help terrorists to infiltrate the US? It's probably even less likely under them than it would be under the Brits.

Posted by: Tom on February 22, 2006 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

LOL! Mercury 7, is that you?

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 22, 2006 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

If this is a big security issue, where was the big Dem proposal to take the ports out of union hands and into some TSA-like organization?

What the hell do unions have to do with anything? Shut up.

Posted by: brooksfoe on February 22, 2006 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

Are Chinese descent, nuclear scientists the only people you pick on?

No, you freak; they're the people the Republicans pick on. That was a GOP-led scandal.

Posted by: brooksfoe on February 22, 2006 at 2:35 AM | PERMALINK

What the hell do unions have to do with anything? Shut up.

Posted by: brooksfoe on February 22, 2006 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

Unions are actually Arab owned. Really. Lets ban them.

:)

Posted by: McA on February 22, 2006 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

..Depends on the talk radio. Rush, for one, seems a bit puzzled as to what all the fuss is about.

So finally the secret is revealed. Flanders gets his talking points from Mr. Oxycontin.

Posted by: lib on February 22, 2006 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

"Man, we are fighting for our country here, attempting to take it back from the plutocrats."

Well, some of us are, but Kevin's gunning to be known and accepted in the more genteel society of national journalism.

Such as it is....

even Rey Suarez moved up into the corporate shill class... what a bummer that was!

Posted by: Joey Giraud on February 22, 2006 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

What the hell do unions have to do with
anything? Shut up

Nice O'Reilly impression. This is like a bizarro-blog where liberal posters decry the opportunity for swarthy foreigners to run a business and use Fox news style debating tactics.

As for unions, most of material at ports is handled by unionized workers, while little is inspected by cutoms agents. Changing that work to some government-run security agency would put a bunch of union members out of work.

Posted by: Tom on February 22, 2006 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

Cultists see nothing wrong with this.

I assume that their reaction would be ths same if President Hillary Clinton handed over the conduct and oversight of the National Health Service to the Government of India.

Posted by: nut on February 22, 2006 at 2:44 AM | PERMALINK

Here's the compromise solution. Move the work to a domestic company like Haliburton to satisfy the Dem objections, and ban unions to get support from the Republicans!

McCain's next bipartisan compromise!

Posted by: McA on February 22, 2006 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK

It wouldn't be a big deal if it were a British company ... BUT DPW IS OWNED BY UAE! Kevin, I normally side with your moderation, but don't go all Lieberman on us!

Posted by: Jason P. on February 22, 2006 at 2:48 AM | PERMALINK

Recall that CNOOC's bid for Unocal was also seen as a national security issue, though 27% of its proven oil reserves and 73% of its gas reserves were in Asia. How did a Chinese oil company threaten national security but a port operator is being portrayed as a non-security issue. Also recall that Lenovo's take-over of IBM went ahead as did TCL's bid for RCA and same with the Haier Group's bid for Maytag.

The unique security threat that a UAE purchase would create would be in the mid to upper management ranks creating personnel turnover upon the sale of the company and UAE executives with Islamist sympathies or family in the ME susceptable to influence being used to advance the operation of some terrorist plot or to provide in-depth intelligence on port operations. None of this would necessarily reflect on the ownership level but it would certainly be a concern at the management level and such a concern wouldn't be as immediate if the management personnel were being drawn from Singapore, for instance.

That's all that I can come up with on a cursory examination.

Posted by: TangoMan on February 22, 2006 at 2:48 AM | PERMALINK

brooksfoe: What the hell do unions have to do with anything?

From the Bitburg thread, today's op/ed in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the UAE and U.S. seaports written by Georgia conservative Bob Barr concludes: [Emphasis added]: "If these guys were serious about improving the integrity of and security at U.S. ports, a little housecleaning by a company not beholden to the unions and the status quo might be just what the doctor ordered." Maybe an R-counter-strategery perking up. Corruption and unions and all that. Union workers usually favor Dems, right?

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 22, 2006 at 2:49 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah! Sell it to Singapore. But give 'em a good price.

But ban the unions. They've paid for political advice from Mr. Zogby, Arab American international man of mystery!!!!! :o

Posted by: McA on February 22, 2006 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK
The point is that practices won't be essentially different than they are now.

How do you know what practices will be?

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 3:00 AM | PERMALINK

but I can't help but think that Bush may be right about the whole thing

Exactly so. The opponents will eventually be revelaed to be mostly motivated by unthinking anti-Arabism, anti-Islamism, or parochial political/commercial interests. Bush will come out looking better than his critics, and the Republicans and Democrats alike looking thoughtless and hysterical.

Posted by: republicrat on February 22, 2006 at 3:02 AM | PERMALINK
Instead, Bush warns that congessional blockage of this deal is where he may use that first veto.

Bush says everything is where he may use his first veto, and but, even when Congress gives him essentially what he threatened to veto, doesn't follow through.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 3:02 AM | PERMALINK

Why should any of our ports be run by foreign controlled companies? I dont get it. This blog is one of the homes of big stick security dems and you want to bend over and go all soft for this free-enterprise-over-security schtick!! Lieberman, Lieberman, where for art thou Lieberman?

One of the problems for me and my wife is that we didn't know any ports were being run foreign owned companies. That by itself is a shock. Now you're telling us it's a benign fact that one of those companies is actually owned by UAE, a wacko coalition of Wahabi royalists?

What losers. Equating unions with terrrorists. Hankering for the 60 hour work week and the 10 year-old workforce with charity health care. Oh yeah - the good old days.

Posted by: ChetBob on February 22, 2006 at 3:10 AM | PERMALINK

substance, kevin, you want SUBSTANCE?

that's easy.

this whole dustup uncovers the previously un-dealt-with larger question..

WHY ARE OUR PORTS OWNED BY OTHER GOVERNMENTS?

what's UP with this crap? how long has it been going on? how does this benefit our country in any way?

and why is bush the (failed) oil tycoon (remember, condoleeza had a TANKER NAMED AFTER HER) handing the ports over to a bunch of OIL TYCOONS?

DON'T get me started on this crap. it has NOTHING to do with anti-arab racism.

it's the OIL, stupid. ("stupid" joke alert; no personal insult intended...)

-neal in long beach

Posted by: mr. neal on February 22, 2006 at 3:12 AM | PERMALINK

"Substantively, that is, not politically."

Boy, that's a telling sentence, isn't it?

I don't care if I'm peddling arrant bullshit - as long as it dupes the rubes and gets my side a few more votes, I'll run with it.

Disgraceful.

Posted by: am on February 22, 2006 at 3:25 AM | PERMALINK

If objections to the port deal are grounded in a
"Bush did it, therefore it's bad" mentality then why are leading Republicans like Frist and Hastert doing
the unthinkable...joining forces with Democrats to scuttle the proposal? Indeed, the entire fabric of the Republican party appears to be unraveling over this matter. How come? Why has this controversy accomplished what no other has: the mangling of Republican solidarity?

Posted by: Figaro on February 22, 2006 at 3:29 AM | PERMALINK

1. Corporate ownership of critical infrastructure seems to me to be a bad idea in general. For example roads, bridges, and etc.

2. Foreign corporate ownership of that infrastructure seems to me to be a worse idea, specifically when it comes to accountability, accessibility, transparency, and etc.

3. Ownership by foreign state-owned corporations seems to be even worse (for example the recent CNOOC attempt to buy Unocal).

4. Ownership by foreign, state-owned corporations controlled by a government with deep ties to Wahabbist Saudi Arabia, that qualifies as a pretty insane oligarchy (I've been there, and it is weird), that recognized the Taliban, that at the least turned a blind eye to Al Qaeda financing operations, logistics, and personnel operations in their country...and may have deeper ties to either that organization or its sponsors (back to the Wahabbist issue)...seems spectacularly stupid.

It seems to me that for a bunch of chest beating, centrist "liberal hawks" to now side with President Bush on an issue that is tailor made for you centrist Hawks to bash BOTH the GOP and the liberal left with...is kinda funny.

Makes me think that you talk a lot about opposing Bush, but you really don't know WHY you oppose him, you can't seem to articulate any of the reasons, logic, rational basis, or historical reasons WHY Bush's policies are so insanely stupid...and so on.

Pathetic, really.

Posted by: RedDan on February 22, 2006 at 3:34 AM | PERMALINK

On the other hand, if them A-rabs is running the Port of Elizabeth, NJ, maybe they's less likely to nuke it?

Dang. Maybe we shoulda done sold the World Trade Center to tha A-rabs.

Posted by: brooksfoe on February 22, 2006 at 3:58 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin:

Look. This is another of your attempts to play a role of contrarian wizardry. Grasp the wand and pronounce the politics as nothing more than pixie dust. All we have to do is quiet our emotions and the enlightenment will be seen in it's clearest form.

What has happened Kevin is the American electorate has now been informed that our ports are for sale to the highest bidder. They now see that money, (not our security, not our common interest,not the war on terror) is what drives the Bush Adminstration's decisions. That is not a question of ethnic race card flipping... it is central to the concerns of most Americans. Bush failed to take that into consideration.

He should be held accountable for it. The Republicans in office are livid at Bush's political tone deafness. He is a lame duck, however those who are looking at getting reelected have the most to lose for Bush's stupid stance on this issue.

Posted by: Poncho & Lefty on February 22, 2006 at 4:12 AM | PERMALINK

Why the hell do you care about substance, in this case Kevin, when it is such a winner politically, but refuse to focus on substance in the Franklin/AIPAC case, in favor of political pragmatism?

I don't get it.

Posted by: Jimm on February 22, 2006 at 4:32 AM | PERMALINK

I'd feel sorry for Bush on this one had he done anything to improve port security over the past five years.

Posted by: Ronn Zealot on February 22, 2006 at 4:34 AM | PERMALINK

What I don't understand is why UAE/arab state owned companies are suddenly a problem now.

I mean, lots of people are scared of a UAE company running the commercial side of some ports. What on earth do they think of Emirates (the UAE state airline) flying 747s in and out of New York and Washington? What about Saudi airlines?

If muslim port companies are a risk of terrorist infiltration then why aren't muslim airlines a risk for a second WTC type attack? Why aren't we banning muslim oil tankers/container ships from our waters in case terrorists get into the companies and turn the ships into colossal floating bombs?

There's definitely something strange going on here.

Posted by: Tim on February 22, 2006 at 4:36 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, thanks for getting it!

Now, back to Rummy and his continual shadiness...

Posted by: everything between on February 22, 2006 at 4:43 AM | PERMALINK

You said it yourself Kevin Drum. We've already got fucked up port security.

This is just what opened our eyes. I sure didn't know that China or other countries managed terminals on our coasts. I would have objected to that out of hand. Who handles airline security? The federal government. Why shouldn't they handle port security as well? Just because Bush is there now doesn't mean that competent administration wouldn't be able to make it work. We just didn't KNOW because no one told us.

Thats the substance. Don't be dense.

Posted by: MNPundit on February 22, 2006 at 4:53 AM | PERMALINK

"Facing objections from both parties, 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 buying rights to manage ports from New York to New Orleans." -
http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2006/02/22/bush_stands_by_shipping_pact_with_emirates_firm/

Rovolio! Convoke the serf-heralds, forthwith! Ah, there they be. It has been made known to Us that Several amongst our Subjects do question the Propitiety of our Gift of the Ports to our Favorittes, the Emirs of Araby. Most foul Calumny! Is not the Word of your Sovereign reassurance enough? By what immoderate Conceit do you magnify your Station, that you would seek to Chastize the Crown? What boots it you, 'pon whom our Favor falls? Was it to you that Heaven the sword of freedom did bequeath? Now get the hell back to economy class where you belong, peons.

Posted by: brooksfoe on February 22, 2006 at 4:53 AM | PERMALINK

Tim: Your analogy is misleading. Using the airport and running the airport are two separate issues.

Posted by: Poncho & Lefty on February 22, 2006 at 5:00 AM | PERMALINK

Here's what's wrong, per The Cunning Realist:

http://tinyurl.com/o3asv

And, what the hell, I'm gonna give y'all the punchline:

"But here's what really stinks. The deal for the port takeover was cleared by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). This group meets in secret and is headed by Treasury Secretary John Snow. As I noted in a previous post, DP World purchased part of the U.S. company CSX for over $1 billion in 2004. Before he became Treasury Secretary, John Snow was Chairman and CEO of CSX. While he had left CSX by the time that deal closed, there is no way Snow should have presided over secret deliberations about any DP World transaction---much less one that involves national security. It's beyond belief that he did not recuse himself from this transaction given the sensitivity of the issues involved."

Again, the whole post:

http://tinyurl.com/o3asv

(And if you don't know TCR's blog, you should give it a look.)

Posted by: Jones on February 22, 2006 at 5:14 AM | PERMALINK

"Tuesday was an apocalyptic day in Iraq. I am not normally exactly sanguine about the situation there. But the atmospherics are very, very bad..."

That's Juan Cole. Here's the whole post:

http://tinyurl.com/p92n5

Posted by: Jones on February 22, 2006 at 5:35 AM | PERMALINK

Poncho and Lefty: It's not an analogy with using the airport. If UAE companies are a threat in terms of getting goods/terrorists through a port then they are a threat in terms of getting terrorists into a legitimate pilot seat on an Emirates aircraft. Or putting a few tonnes of explosives onto a container ship/tanker.

Who is to say that Al Qaeda aren't trying to recruit current Emirates pilots to take a short detour on their return flight out of NYC? Why is that different from trying to recruit middle managers at Dubai World Ports? Or getting their own guys into the company and working their way into crucial positions.

MN Pundit: port security will still be handled by US Customs and Border Patrol (part of Homeland Security), just as it is at the airport. To use the airport analogy - these are the guys staffing the check-in desk and the offices, not the metal detector or the computers that tell the check-in staff who can and cannot fly.

Posted by: Tim on February 22, 2006 at 5:36 AM | PERMALINK

what is wrong with you kevin...are you living in a time warp? name one thing of substance that has mattered one iota the past 5 years? its been traitor karls' magic kingdom of all politics, all the time to the extent that truth no longer exists, only image.

Posted by: pluege on February 22, 2006 at 5:41 AM | PERMALINK

Am I missing something? Substantively, that is, not politically.

Kevin Drum

Substance doesn't matter, moron. Have you learned no lessons in the last 6 years?

Posted by: Econo Buzz on February 22, 2006 at 5:41 AM | PERMALINK

They were frothing at Little Green Fuckballs against the UAE port deal. Whew!

Yesterday evening, CNN's Lou Dobbs, who regularly beats the drum against exporting American jobs and outsourcing, hosted two geopolitical wonks -- Frank Gaffney and Gordon Chang.

Gaffney, prez for the Center for Security Policy and author of "War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World," wrote about the UAE deal a few days ago on Townhall.com calling it, A Harriet Miers moment. Chang is author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World."

From the CNN transcript:

DOBBS: Well let's not be oblique about it. But the fact is that two terrorist from 9/11 originated from the United Arab Emirates. Funding for the terrorists originated, much of it, from the United Arab Emirates. It -- the United Arab Emirates was a focal point in the transfer of nuclear technology from Pakistan to Iran and North Korea. I mean, that much, it's incontrovertible.
GAFFNEY: Yes, and when you think that this company will have the opportunity to in place personnel, it will have oversight of the cargo coming into these ports -- and by the way it's eight ports now including two that they will be operation for the United States Army.
And then you have the fact that they will be read in on the security plans for these facilities. It's just mind-boggling, as has been said. I think the best that you can say is it's sort of an attractive nuisance, like a swimming pool without a fence around it. You're inviting terrorists to take advantage of these opportunities at our great expense, I'm afraid.
DOBBS: Gordon, an attractive nuisance. I see it as frankly an outrage against the national interest of the United States and I won't sugar coat that at all. How do you see it?
CHANG: Well absolutely the same way. I mean, when we look at what's going on, especially after 9/11, we just don't have any more excuses for saying, "This might not happen."
You know, we talk about nuclear terrorism, most people think about a nuclear bomb in a container. There are 50,000 containers that come into this country every day, most of them through the ports. I mean, why do you need a ballistic missile when you can put a bomb in a box, which sits on top of a deck, which sails right into the United States?
DOBBS: Frank Gaffney, I know that you want to find the best in this. But can you see any reason on earth: political, geopolitical, in terms of the national interest, national security. Is there any reason in the world for this deal to go forward?
GAFFNEY: I don't see any. Lou, I think we have enough of a problem. Any Homeland Security expert can tell you, we have enough of a problem with securing the ports today. Making it worse is simply irresponsible. I hope the president will find a way to back away from this. He was set up by his inner agency process. It shouldn't happen again.
DOBBS: He was set up by the inner agency process that one might stipulate to that, gentlemen. But the fact is, the president tonight, after that process, said he will veto. It would be -- should he do it, the first veto in five years of office -- veto legislation to stop this deal.
What possibly could be the investment on the part of this president in a deal in which the leadership of both houses of Congress and our elected officials on both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans say, it's utter madness?
GAFFNEY: It won't happen, Lou. This is a case I think where his veto will be overridden. And there's no point in the president expending the political capital to do that. More to the point, he doesn't need to be giving his critics, his opponents, the political cover of being able to say, "They're better on national security than he is." This is a loser all the way around, most especially for the national security.
DOBBS: Well, on this issue, it doesn't seem to me, and I'm going to give you the last quick word if I may, Gordon. It doesn't seem to me anyone can be possibly worse than this administration on this issue.
CHANG: Well certainly not. I mean, the ports are just absolutely critical.

[Transcript]


Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 22, 2006 at 6:17 AM | PERMALINK

The Boy Emperor Clown Criminal is being WAY to stubborn about this deal, even with a lot of Congressional Republican opposition. Smells like Bushie family money may be at stake here. Wouldn't surprise me that Poppy Bush has business interests in Dubai.
.

Posted by: VJ on February 22, 2006 at 6:22 AM | PERMALINK

DUBAI PORTS WORLD IS OWNED BY THE GOVT OF UAE. P&O IS NOT OWNED BY THE BRITISH GOVT. BIG DIFFERENCE. Sorry for the caps but this is fucking obvious.

Posted by: phooey on February 22, 2006 at 6:27 AM | PERMALINK

About the "UAE funded and hosted al Qaeda" ideas.

al Qaeda transferred money through many banks in may countries (such as the US and Germany - and the UAE). Before 9/11 there were lax banking rules and oversight here. Now there isn't. Now, to open a bank account or deposit any money you have to swear that the money is of legit origin, and show some sort of proof.

Secondly, after 9/11 the UAE cleaned house of any and all fundie imams, and shut down all the radical mosques. They now watch the mosques like hawks (taping all the sermons, and so on.) Secret police hang out in markets, malls, coffee shops and schools (including the one I work in), keeping an ear to the ground for radical talk and actions. Trust me, this country is at much greater risk than the US from al Qaeda, and they have done much more to protect themselves (and, by extension, the rest of the world).

The notion that any member of the business and political elite in Dubai or Abu Dhabi will suddenly become an al Qaeda stooge makes as much sense as saying that Rick santorum will cross the floor and sit for the Dems. It's absurd on its face. This is not Saudi Arabia. In fact, the local tribes kicked out the wahhabis in the 1850s and rebuffed an attempted Saudi annexation in 1955.

The local government was not actively complicit in the money transfers or planning, in the same way the Helmut Kohl was not complicit in the "Hamburg Cell" and Jeb Bush wasn't complicit in the flight training. This is a relatively free country in terms of personal movement and entry/exit, (like the US, and unlike Saudi, we do not need internal passports or permission to leave, and tourist visas are easy to come by) and al Qaeda took advantage of that. al Qaeda used the UAE as a physical and financial transit point, the same way they used many other countries. There was and is no connection between the UAE government and al Qaeda.

BTW, the UAE has peace-keeping forces in Afghanistan. The UAE buys military hardware and donates it to the new Iraqi army. The UAE brings Iraqi brigades down here for training, on their own dime. The UAE hosts US U-2 spyplanes that spy on Iran and Pakistan from very close by. Jebel Ali Port in Dubai is the most visited foreign port in the world for the US Navy. Avast proportion of the upper management of this country (including business, health, education and military) is run by US/Canada/UK expats, and many US institutions have massive presences here. The UAE is about as hostile to the US as Canada is.

Posted by: bart889 on February 22, 2006 at 6:32 AM | PERMALINK

Why might Bush threaten to veto (his first BTW) any bill that would stop this deal? Oh, maybe this ...

Posted by: mikey on February 22, 2006 at 6:41 AM | PERMALINK

SOLD!

To the highest bidder!

It's the Republican Way!

Posted by: t-t-t-trolls r us on February 22, 2006 at 6:47 AM | PERMALINK

On the question of Arab ownership/management, I think Bush is right, but the whole issue of his neglect of port security issues has been opened up. This is going to play very badly in the Muslim world.

Posted by: bob h on February 22, 2006 at 6:53 AM | PERMALINK

A couple of somewhat disconnected comments.

Terminal 4 at JFK airport in New York is owned and managed by a Dutch firm--the same company that runs Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. The Port Authority police, TSA, customs, and the INS are in charge of security.

I'm not sure that the concerns about the U.A.E. deal are necessarily racist. Xenophobic maybe. Imagine how many on the right would respond if a French state-owned company had bought the ports contract. Or a Russian state-owned company.

I think the public perception is that our airports are now relatively secure. But there has been much discussion about how porous our port security is. My sense is that the Coast Guard can barely keep up with drug smuggling, much less dangerous cargo. Allowing port management to belong to any foreign company, especially an Arab one, is politically problematic regardless of the reliability of the company.

Posted by: Brian Rose on February 22, 2006 at 6:58 AM | PERMALINK

The answer to your question is yes, we would be safer if the ports were operated out of Singapore instead of the United Arab Emirates.

"Tone deaf?"

Go look in a mirror, Kevin.

Posted by: Garuda on February 22, 2006 at 6:59 AM | PERMALINK

> Substantively, that is, not politically.

Since September 12th, 2001 Scott McClellen has answered every question asked of him and his master with "unlike the traitorious liberals who have forgotten 9/11, this administration understands the need for strong security".

Now we have a situation involving security, and Kevin wants to know what the "substantative" issues are? And give the Bush Administration the benefit of the doubt? When was the last time the W Administration engaged a substantative issue? Kevin?

I start to think that you and Whittman really would sell the Radicals not only the rope, but the crossbeams and nails to build the gallows they will hang you on.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on February 22, 2006 at 7:06 AM | PERMALINK

A far more apt comparison would be to Jimmy Carter giving the Panama Canal back to the Panamanians, who have wasted no time handing it over to the Chinese.

Subsequent to Panama's approval in the referendum of October 23rd 1977, in early 1978 President Carter sent the treaties to the Senate for its advice and consent. Thus began one of the most controversial debates in the upper chamber of the US Congress, eliciting strong reactions from conservative sectors which, in the immediate aftermath of Vietnam, saw treaty approval as the equivalent to giving away US property to the enemies of the United States. These were met by inspired argumentation focusing on notions of fairness deeply imbedded in the tradition of the US founding.

So, in effect, Bush has forever linked himself to President Carter--who, of course, backs the deal. President Bush...President Carter...same dude if you ask me. They even have the same haircut. Perhaps President Bush has a significant decency deficit where President Carter is a bit dithering and ineffective. Both seem to think that it is perfectly okay to give away the farm in an effort to appease dictators and thugs.

And were he alive today, Ronald Reagan wouldn't recognize either one of them as legitimately defending American interests or the American way.

There's no race card to be played here--this is bad policy. Too many reasonable people from both sides of the spectrum think handing the management of six US ports of entry to a company that may or may not have the best interests of the US at heart is not a good idea.

Uh...especially in an election year.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 7:28 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, I would suggest you are missing something. Here is background info about the family that will be involved with US port security. And make no mistake about they will be involved with port security. It will impossible not to.

http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/entity.jsp?id=1521846767-531

Posted by: jonst on February 22, 2006 at 7:38 AM | PERMALINK

There is a world of difference between a foreign-owned company controlling our ports, and a foreign government-owned company controlling them. That is what makes this such a disastrously bad idea, with or without the war on terror.

The deal includes ports that are responsible for 40% of our military cargo. Is that something we want a foreign nation, one from the most unstable area of the world no less, to play a role in?

Posted by: Alex Whalen on February 22, 2006 at 7:44 AM | PERMALINK

I think the main concern is that while P&O is just a normal corporation incorporated in Britain, Dubai Ports World is actualy run by the UAE government - its not a private corporation. And since the UAE government supports terrorism, DPW supports terrorism. I think the only substantive problem is that now that DPW owns the port facilities, they could fire all the americans and replace them with terrorists. Sort of far fetched though.

Kevin, I generally agree with what you said - this story will die soon. Good luck with Jeopardy!


Posted by: mowaca on February 22, 2006 at 7:45 AM | PERMALINK

If this really is no big thing, then having a more transparent review in Congress shouldn't be a big thing, either. So why all the pissing and moaning from Bush? If it's a good deal, it's a good deal, and it will stand up to public scrutiny.

Posted by: TBA on February 22, 2006 at 7:57 AM | PERMALINK

Follow the money. I suspect that the big time lobbyists who worked in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations, who have cashed in enormously in connecting Saudi oil money with western corporations, are raking in the dough somehow on this deal. Without going to the trouble of actually documenting this suspicion, these same people figured heavily in bringing GWB to the presidency.

One very ironic point to be made is that we don't want them managing our ports but we'll buy the shit out of their oil that is financing deals like this.

Just another little diversion on the road to global collapse.

Posted by: lou on February 22, 2006 at 8:01 AM | PERMALINK

I agree. It's a controversy so that right wingers can distance themselves from Bush for the 06 elections.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on February 22, 2006 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

The deal includes ports that are responsible for 40% of our military cargo. Is that something we want a foreign nation, one from the most unstable area of the world no less, to play a role in?

This is a very good point, Alex, and it speaks to the issue of how this administration handles military affairs, planning and logistics.

What with the war in Iraq--which today took a giant step forward towards all-out civil war today with the bombing of the holy shrine--and other considerations, the lack of planning has left our military vulnerable to having to use more and more civilian facilities for movement and these same facilities are less and less secure. Where is the outrage from the Pentagon over this deal? Oh, that's right--more silence. Well, can't blame them for wanting to have a career.

This administration handles military logistics like they handle a hot potato--they shriek like a terrified idiot and throw it out the window. They simply cannot be trusted to defend America.

And that is the bottom line--they will sell out their own country for a dollar and they cannot be trusted to defend America. What has greased the wheels to make this deal happen? Money from lobbying groups and interest groups. I don't care if it is a Republican or a Democrat who has taken money from these people, it's wrong either way and it should be condemned as an affront to decency and common sense.

And that really is the next 'meme' you'll start to see in the next few days--BOTH parties will get hush money from the lobbying group that backs this port deal to try to grease the skids and send the deal flying through Congress.

People with common sense have to throw sand in the grease and stop this deal.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin needs to get over his inclination to bend over backwards to make sure he's being fair to Bush.

I think port security should be a government function. If it's to be outsourced, it should be outsourced to a US firm that is well vetted.

But of all countries to put in charge of port operations, UAE would be pretty low on my list.

I can't point to specific plots, would-be terrorists, or anything else. But the chances of something going wrong seem greater when the company is owned by an Arab state that is an outpost for Muslim extremist groups and nuke-shipping to rogue states. For me, that's good enough to block the deal.

I wouldn't hire a babysitter who had the slightest whiff of a connection to kiddy porn. I wouldn't hire security for our most vulnerable and dangerous entry sites that has the slightest connection to terrorism.

What's so hard about this?

Posted by: tom on February 22, 2006 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

Is it racist/xenophobic to decry our "reliance on foreign oil"?

Posted by: Brautigan on February 22, 2006 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

here's the rub: what have we hard from those people for nearly five years? "9/11 changed everything."

okay, granted, uae ownership of a port managment co. should not be a big deal. however, since "9/11 c e" wouldn't it be a good idea to have done extra due dilligence to prepare for this and NOT fast track the approval process?

that way bushco. could reasonably say 'our friends in the emerates are with us fighting the gwot. they are important allies in the arab world, etc etc etc.'

but instead of moving the debate in a positive way, those tone deaf, reality-creating ding dongs have rushed in without thinking again.

Posted by: jag on February 22, 2006 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

"...The Brits..."

Don't you mean "the Great British?"

Posted by: Ace Franze on February 22, 2006 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

1) The ports are being sold to a GOVERNMENT, not a "company". Would you want Tony Blair or Jacques Chirac in charge of our ports? Didn't think so. And they wouldn't want Bush in charge of their ports, either -- and rightly so.

2) This government is friends with the Taliban. You remember them -- Osama's best buds?

Posted by: Phoenix Woman on February 22, 2006 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

"...The Brits..."

Don't you mean "the Great British?"

Posted by: Ace Franze on February 22, 2006 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

What Tom said at 8:08.

Posted by: Ace Franze on February 22, 2006 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK


I guess this means The Bin Laden Construction group will be invited to help "rebuild" Iraq?

Hell, maybe they could put NOLA back together again.

Posted by: r on February 22, 2006 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

NPR is basically raising the same points as Drum et al. This, of course, shows one enormous difference between 'left' and 'right' - we have a fair number of people (obviously not everyone, yes, yes) who want to sit down, try to look at things reasonably and fairly, in a manner that is to some degree reality-based (although in an attempt to steer away from unquestioning partisanship and bigotry/xenophonbia, I think they drop off the other side) and deal with issues in a substantial way.

Meanwhile, the other guys have spent the last couple of years screaming that we're filthy traitors because we didn't think going to war was a great idea.

Obviously this isn't an absolute difference. But in terms of tendencies, averages, and political power . . .


Frankly, besides the "anybody can just wander in and buy our ports?! Are you kiddin me?!" bit, this reminds me of that marvelous moment in the golden days of radio when one of the kiddy-show folks didn't realize that their mike was still live as the commercial break started, and muttered, "that'll hold the little bastards for a while." As everyone's been saying - they've stoked all this tremendous fear, but suddenly folks have gotten a look past that and seen a bunch of guys leaning back and chucking about the rubes as business as usual goes on, well, as usual. Mask-dropping, Toto-pulling-aside-the-curtain, etc., etc.,

Posted by: Dan S. on February 22, 2006 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

Check out the latest Political Comics from H.L.

Bush Ports Deal: Even Repubs Pissed Now
See it at.
The Hollywood Liberal

Posted by: Jack on February 22, 2006 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

So finally the secret is revealed. Flanders gets his talking points from Mr. Oxycontin.

Big surprise, not. Now here's a pop quiz for Tom "liberal media bias!" Brosz: Do you think Rush a) really doesn't understand what all the fuss is about or b) is attempting to defuse a politically damaging situation for the President he supports?

Amzing how that even in his "reasonable tweedy suit" guise, tbrosz' intellectual dishonesty in carrying water for the GOP peeks through.

Posted by: Gregory on February 22, 2006 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

It isn't port security. It's baggage handling. They're buying the right to hire the guys who off-load containers and stack them up. Meanwhile, US Customs and the Coast Guard will still inspect the containers.

It's a "sounds like" controversy so that Frist and Hastert can oppose the president with great sound and fury. All over nothing of consequence. It's a D.C. ritual to let the menaced partisans distinguish themselves from an unpopular president.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on February 22, 2006 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

In absence of substantive information on what criteria were used to give this contract, one can only go on past history. As a result it immediately becomes more logical to assume that it is "bad" because Bush did it.
Oddly enough, I agree with this reasoning. Only I use Jimmy Carter. Since Jimmy supports this, I can only assume it's bad for the United States. Because Jimmy's history is supporting things that are bad for the United States.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 22, 2006 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. President, shut down this sale!
-Frist

: )

Posted by: Dan S. on February 22, 2006 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

Speaking of right-wing intellectual dishonesty, I love how one of the Bush apologists' talking points on this issue has been something to the effect of "I thought liberals were against racial profiling!"

Of course, as many have correctly pointed out, the company in question is owned by the government of the UAE, which had uncomfortably close ties to the Taliban and al Qaeda.

It's truly amazing that Kevin seems so eager to give Bush the benefit of the doubt on this question. The bottom line is, whatever the substantive issue, we have once again a situation in which Team Bush subordinates US national security to gaining political/corporate advantage, and this time his base noticed it. Couple that with the increased attention tothe fact that our port security overall is still so lax -- and say-hey, let's not forget the inept response to Hurricane Katrina by the so-called Department of Homeland Security -- and we see an increasing perception that Bush simply can't be trusted with national security. Why go out of one's way to provide political cover for him?

Posted by: Gregory on February 22, 2006 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

I'm still getting over the little shock of P & O being sold. I can remember when it was the civilian version of the Royal Navy.
It's like seeing Tower Bridge being sold to Euro-Disney.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on February 22, 2006 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
Would you object if the government of North Korea bought a company that operated major ports? How about if the North Koreans owned and operated the Port of Long Beach? How close is that to your house?

North Koreans didn't fly airplanes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and the North Korean government wasn't involved in the financing of al Qaeda. So, by your reasoning, any objection to Kim Jong Il owning and operating U.S. ports would be motivated by racism.

The UAE is a non-democratic, despotic, Wahhabist regime. We would be crazy to allow an Islamist dictatorship to run our ports.

Is this anti-Muslim bigotry? Well, let's take the subset of people who don't object to foreign governments operating our ports. Of that group, I doubt that many would have any problem with the government of Malaysia running our ports.

Posted by: Holdie Lewie on February 22, 2006 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

The only concern that I have is that the ruling junta in UAE is heavily involved with the South Asian mafia, which traffics drugs, women and also from time to time hass been dablling in terrorist activities. Reportedly S. Asia's biggest mafia group "D-Company" operates out of Dubai and was one of the first pioneers of conducting urban terrorism when they bombed simultaneously across 9 locations in Bombay killing more than 1000 people. In that case as well high grade explosive "TNT" was smmuggled into India from the ports in Dubai.

Well as an outsider who ordinarily would support free enterprise I would think hard before committing to this deal.

Posted by: Kool on February 22, 2006 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

This is what I am concerned about and haven't heard properly addressed by those who are explaining this deal away. At best it seems that because DPW is owned by members of the royal family it could be funding terrorists or those who fund terrorists.

Posted by: metaphoria on February 22, 2006 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

I think this might have something to do with it. (sorry, I don't know how to do links.)

http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Bush_nominated_executive_from_Dubai_port_0221.html

From Watertiger

Posted by: Redcane on February 22, 2006 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you are missing something. This issue brings together the reflexive Republican hostility to government with hypocricy and incompetence on security. There are proper functions for government, and security is one of them. Arguing for Bush on this is precisely equal to arguing that private companies - or foreign governments - should be our airport security screeners. Bush has made "making us safe" the cornerstone of his presidency. But, like Katrina relief and essentially everything else that the Bush administration has done, when it matters everything is either done badly or done for the profit of his friends.

The US government should have absolute control of port security in the US, and foreign governments of any kind should not be running our ports. This is not xenophobia. I'd also argue that foreign corporations should not be running our ports. And I'll bet, right now, that there is some corruption underlying this as well. We are, after all, talking about the Bush administration.

Posted by: Marc on February 22, 2006 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

Bush wins hearts and minds elsewhere . . .


Nearly half of South Korean youths who will be old enough to vote in the country's next elections say Seoul should side with North Korea if the United States attacks the communist nation, according to a poll released Wednesday.

Not.

Bush: A Foreign Policy in Disarray

BTW, if, as the administration says, all Muslim nations should be held to the same standard as European nations like Great Britain, ignoring any ties to terrorism, then why is Iran being treated using different standards?

Why was Iraq treated using different standards?

Why was Afghanistan treated using different standards?

And so on, and so on, and so on . . .

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 22, 2006 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

There was probably a financial connection between terrorists and Swiss banks, we should be wary that Nestle will poison our baby formula.

Posted by: aaron on February 22, 2006 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

Substantively missing something? Yes. It was an incredibly stupid thing for him to do.

Given a choice, why would we place the management of 6 ports to an Arab nation that has had known terrorist ties? Why even go there? Why risk anything at all when it comes to port security? We are spending all this time debating whether this deal is safe or not. The very existence of the debate means that we should not be doing the deal at all.

We should not be giving our ports to any government-owned company that merits debate over whether it is safe or not. We should not be going there. Period.

Let's say you have a 7-year old daughter, and you need a babysitter badly. You are considering hiring a boy who previously has been a terribly unsafe babysitter, but who has cleaned up his act of late. Would you hire him? Would you go there?

I don't think so. Neither should we when it comes to the safety of our country.

Posted by: kimster on February 22, 2006 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

So what's up with this Dubai port deal, anyway?

Kevin, how tone-deaf are you? "The firm that handles port security is owned by the government of Dubai," doesn't sound good in any language.

What I don't understand is why Bush is picking a fight over this.

Posted by: Constantine on February 22, 2006 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

DPW may well be fine, in and of itself but it is a STATE-OWNED company with that state being the UAE. The UAE supports Islamists and terrorists. They FUND terrorists and are perhaps second only to Saudi Arabia in providing the "feet on the ground" to terror groups.

Funding for 9/11 terrorists were channeled via UAE banks. Several of the 9/11 terrorists were from the UAE. The UAE government was one of the VERY few that recognized, immediately, the Taliban as legit in Afghanistan.

The UAE is NOT our friend. Saudi Arabia is NOT our friend. IRAQ under Saddam was more our friend than either of these other countries. Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE make nice noises in support of US anti-terror efforts with their right hand while with their left hands they fund and support terrorists directly and indirectly.

Profits going through DPW WILL end up funding terrorists. It is inevitable given that it is owned by a government that supports terrorists underhandedly.

Then there's the problem with cronyism. Snow sold his CSX port contract to DPW before joining the Bushie misAdministration. Bush then nominated the DPW clown that ran European and S. American operations for the company BEFORE giving DPW the sweetheart deal. Thus, besides the UAE-supports-terror problem we have yet another cronyism problem. This deal STINKS regardless of the narrow bonafides of DPW itself. Regardless of how good an actor DPW may be, its monies, of necessity, end up funding terrorists. It also has a former exec overseeing the operation for the US government in the Bush misAdministration. Stinky stinky stinky.

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on February 22, 2006 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Here is a substantive question that may have nothing to do with port security.

John Snow, Sec. of Treas. (who vetted this deal) was President of CTX corporation before joining the administration. That is the company in question, which has since been bought by the sheiks who control Dubai. One really needs to know more about who benefits from this deal.

Can we trust that the security aspects of this have been fully considered? By Chertoff? I don't think so, not based on past performance. By the Pentagon? Rumsfeld says he only just now heard about it. Kevin may be right on the substantive side of htings, or he may be wrong. The issue is one of competence, and the people running things have not earned any.

Posted by: Ba'al on February 22, 2006 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

John McCain for President!!

Big John stood in the eye of the storm and supported Bush on this. Last week he voted FOR extending tax cuts. Over the next 18 months the Alito/Roberts will roll back partial-birth abortion, affirmative action, kelo (gov reach to condemn private property for commerical development) and the feds use of the commerce clause to interfere with state issues. All this will accrue to John support of GWB on conservative judges & justices.

Big John understands he can't get the GOP nomination without conservative support and he's successfully courting it. That's what a strong bench of challengers will do.

How does President McCain sound?

Think sbout that. 16 years of socially conservative Presidents. A minimum of 2 more Supreme Court picks and 1/3 of the lower court.

Posted by: rdw on February 22, 2006 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Frankly, the real scandal is that we're not already handling port security as if every port management company in the U.S. had a member of al-Qaeda on its board of directors.

If you really care about what I've quoted, then you understand that that care must be transformed into a political position. The entire POINT of the attack on Bush is to use the meme of the sale (outsourcing port security to the mideast) as a metaphor for the Bush stance: cronyism and profit taking over national security, coupled with utter operational incompetence and political hypocrisy.

So, what exactly do you not get about that? Sheesh, Kevin--and you call Bush politically tone deaf?


Posted by: mondo dentro on February 22, 2006 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

Tom and the other Bush supporters are the real hypocrites. Bush built his reelection campaign on fear -- fear of gay marriage and fear of foreigners. Kerry's use of the phrase "global test" was used as an example of how he would sell us out to the UN. Karl Rove's whole operation has basically been based on trying to brand Democrats as weaklings who care too much about what foreigners think and not enough about Americans. During the entire campaign, the idiotic color coded terrorist alerts were used in the most absurdly political way to boost the Bush reelection. Moreover, the whole Iraq invasion disaster was sold to the public on the grounds that Saddam was behind 9/11 and if we didn't take him out he'd have Ossamma blow up an atom bomb in Time Square. All this non-sense has been going on while the administration has completely ignored a real vulnerability, port security, because it is just too wonkish a concern, would involve actual work, might require Bush to work with Democrats, and didn't have any political pay-off. And, as usual, the whole decision is made in secret and Bush's response when he is criticized is to act like an absolute monarch. And, finally, the Republican members of Congress -- fearing that they are tied to a sinking ship -- gin up the nerve to actually question their glorious leader. And Tom's response -- it is all the fault of the Democrats. Well, what would Tom's reaction be if Vice President Al Gore shot somebody on a hunting trip and tried to blame it on the person he shot, outed a CIA operative, and, while that was happening, President Clinton put port security in the hands of a company owned by a foreign government that had financial ties to Bin Laden. It appears that the Bush Presidency, built on lies, incompetence, and secrecy, has finally jumped the Shark and everybody knows it except glorious leader and his most loyal supporters.

Posted by: RP on February 22, 2006 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

Great rdw parody at 9:28 AM.

Posted by: Gregory on February 22, 2006 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

How does President McCain sound?

About as good as rehashing how the Republican Party of South Carolina put that idea into the toilet.

Have you forgotten how effectively your kind savages its own?

McCain will never be President. Nor should he be. The man has sold his soul to a Republican God that can't protect America.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Frankly, the real scandal is that we're not already handling port security as if every port management company in the U.S. had a member of al-Qaeda on its board of directors.

That is the key point. You don't outsource security. It's a stupid thing to do. It can't be cheaper. And, if it is cheaper, then cancel a fighter plane program to make up the difference.

On tone-deaf--it's worse than that. They've done everything they can to make everybody who is prone to thinking in racist terms to believe Arabs are terrorists. They've done everything they could to equate Islam with the "enemy." They won the election by persuading ignorant people that Saddam=Osama=9/11.

But they didn't realize that this would strike a sour note with the same people who were ignorant enough to buy this line?

Posted by: JayAckroyd on February 22, 2006 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter Bush:

Terrorists are so dangerous that I need powers no President has ever had, including detentions without trial, approval of torture, warrentless domestic wiretapping, and suspension of the 4th Amendment. I must have unlimited powers to do whatever it takes to protect America.

Oh, and by the way, I sold our Ports to a country with known terrorist ties and a provable direct connection to 9/11, even more so than Iraq. If Congress objects, I will fight them with every fiber of my being even though enemies like Bill Frist and Hillary Clinton are united in opposition and the objections involve at least TWO Republican governors.

Posted by: Alderaan on February 22, 2006 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

About as good as Kerry for president.

It might not be in our constitution, but politicians should realize that if they serve in congress they are inelgible to be elected president. The best they could hope for is vice.

Posted by: aaron on February 22, 2006 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

There's no irony here--

These people use warrantless wiretaps to track the activity of al Qaeda in America while they allow a government with Taliban/al Qaeda connections to have access to six US ports of entry.

See, it's about protecting America. Huh?

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

And another thing: I'm really tired of supposedly "thoughtful" people using the word "political" like it's a pejorative.

If you really want to be thoughtful and rational, if you really want to be a system thinker, then you must understand that the "purely political" dimensions of any problem ARE substantive.

Posted by: mondo dentro on February 22, 2006 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with you, Kevin. Amazingly, even Bush "gets" the racism component here. P&O, a British company, operates the ports for years without a peep. Dubai Ports buys P&O and suddenly this is a major security risk? And if Dubai is such an unreliable ally, why did we just sell them *80* F-16s (and a variety of other aircraft such as Apache attack helicopters). If we truly can't trust Dubai, that seems like a much more realistic threat.

Posted by: twc on February 22, 2006 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Substantively, who cares?

Substantively, partial-birth abortion is nothing more than a hypothetical construct. Doesn't mean it isn't useful to the wingers. Substantively, Chappaquiddick didn't really matter much. (Ditto for Cheneyquiddick.)

But politically, Bush is dead-set on hiring Fox, Inc. (no relation) to guard the henhouse.

Posted by: scarshapedstar on February 22, 2006 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

It might not be in our constitution, but politicians should realize that if they serve in congress they are inelgible to be elected president.

Crack pipe was passed from rdw to aaron while no one was noticing? Did you both burn your lips? Hard to kiss Republican ass when the crack pipe removes all the exterior skin from the lips. And, no, blistex won't cure it--just ask rdw.

Sad to say, but when Frist and Hastert are doing a better job of defending America than Bush, it forces the trolletariat to do a triple backflip defending the indefensible from being blindsided by reality.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

We'd be fools to use it, but we'd bigger fools to stand between the elements of Bush's base that are using it and Bush himself.

Absolutely. Leave the UAE out of it. It's not like his base is even smart enough to distinguish between brown people who are Bush family business partners, brown people who are attacking us and brown people who just want to be left the hell alone.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be pushing the port security issue at the same time. "Since we're talking about ports, Mr. Bush...what have you done for national security lately?"

Posted by: shortstop on February 22, 2006 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

I realize that I am late to the party, so few will read this comment, but it is clear that the wingnut trolls do not understand what is going on here.

Kevin is right that this deal will likely have little practical effect on port security (as far as I can tell, but I would defer to someone with some actual knowledge on the issue), but politically this is a disaster for Bush, and no spinning about Rove's genius is going to change that.

The Bushies have spent a lot of time blurring the line between Arabs/muslims and Al-queda terrorists in order to justify the invasion of iraq. Now they are selling out ports to a company run by the government of UAE. The people that this pisses off is thier wingnut/racist base, not liberals. Look who is leading the charge here: Peter King, Hastert, Frist. In the blogosphere it is Malkin and Hugh Hewitt, not Kos and Atrios. This is an issue that people can understand, it is simple: You don't sell out ports to terrorist related governments. Right or wrong, that is how people are going to see it. The NSA spying scandal is complicated, this is simple. The congressional republicans we be under trmendous pressure to halt this deal, and Bush's veto threat has just dug him in deeper.

Make no mistake about it, this is an absolute disater for Bush, anyone who thinks this is some kind of Rovian ploy to help the republicans is going to be sorely disappointed.

Posted by: David P on February 22, 2006 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Meant to add: It's highly amusing that the Bushco leadership is now so far gone in its slavering greed that it no longer bothers to try to make things look good for the dumbass base.

Or do these guys think that things are going so well for them they can get away with anything? Humongous bubble effect or just a last round of brazen grasping before it all comes tumbling down?

Posted by: shortstop on February 22, 2006 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

And if Dubai is such an unreliable ally, why did we just sell them *80* F-16s (and a variety of other aircraft such as Apache attack helicopters).

Excellent point--the Republican Party simply cannot be trusted to defend America.

There's no 'race card' here--that's a strawman argument already refuted.

No one opposes al Qaeda-linked countries like this because they are 'brown' people. We kinda oppose them because they have sworn to kill Americans and have followed through on their threats to do so. But that's us--we're nutty that way.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin is right, I don't see anything wrong with this deal.

In fact, this could be the start of some really exciting things. If we can sell off port management to a company owned by a foreign nation (tell me, what do you call that? Oh yeah, socialism), then why couldn't we sell off other private firms to foreign nationals?

Everyone wants a solution to our health care problems, right? So why not sell off our health care companies to the French or Swedes? What about our oil companies? Would you rather that Exxon-Mobil continue to rake in massive profits, or would you rather see them controlled by a company that cares about poor people -- say that oil company owned by the government of Venezuela, Citgo?

I can see lots of great possibilities here. Who cares about security when there are plenty of assets out there to be nationalized.

Posted by: NYCBilly on February 22, 2006 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

"But they didn't realize that this would strike a sour note with the same people who were ignorant enough to buy this line?"

That's what happens when you feed the beast. After a while it gets too big to control easily. Whether or not we're at that point yet . . .
I'm also assuming that they've gotten used to getting to pull all sorts of stunts at no political cost. Is it finally tipping-point time? This might get interesting.

Posted by: Dan S. on February 22, 2006 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

I think NYCBilly just nailed it. Transnational socialism! Brought to you by Bush!

Posted by: scarshapedstar on February 22, 2006 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

...and if that doesn't get Stephen den Beste's head spinning, what will?

Posted by: scarshapedstar on February 22, 2006 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

As much as I think this is a victory of panic and fear over reason, how fitting would it be if panic and fear finally started working AGAINST Bush?

Posted by: sullijan on February 22, 2006 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

The issue SHOULD be that this is the gang that is saying "TRUST US" to have done all the hard work to make this a good decision...we'll do it in secret for our own purposes and then come out and sell it to you all without disclosing pertinent information when asked. It's about the WAY they operate...not racism...if anyone in this country is racist against Arabs it's those who have fallen into the rhetoric of this administration for the past five years. Isn't this the same guy who couldn't be bothered with the OSSAMA DETERMINED TO ATTACK US memo? The folks who outed a CIA operative...who have been classifying documents to cover the asses of this president's father since W first walked into the oval office...and on and on...

It's at BEST insensitive, arrogant, overreaching...just get out your BIBLE and CYA and TRUST BUSH! Not me guys...

Posted by: Dancer on February 22, 2006 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

David P: The Bushies have spent a lot of time blurring the line between Arabs/muslims and Al-queda terrorists in order to justify the invasion of iraq.

Exactly.

Now, after imposing higher standards on Muslim/Arab nations for the last three years, they say that its wrong to single out Muslim/Arab nations for exacting standards, even when those nations were directly involved with 9/11.

If Bush is so sanguine about giving the UAE, a state sponsor of terrorism, access to and at least some control over port transactions, then why doesn't he turn over presidential security to the Saudis by hiring a Saudi security firm to replace the Secret Service?

This deal exists because it financially benefits people in the GOP.

If it didn't financially benefit Bush's buddies, the security concerns would have killed it in a heart beat and it would never have seen the light of day to begin with.

Giving this level of access and substantive control over the actions taking place in these ports to a nation whose citizens attacked the US directly is a national security disaster waiting to happen.

Bush not only can't protect us, he's a positive danger to national security because he puts the financial welfare of his backers, and ultimately the GOP party apparatus, ahead of national security and our troops.

He did it with body armor, holding that hostage to tax cuts for his wealthy friends, he's done it with cutting the health benefits of veterans in order to protect his tax cuts, and he's done it here again with this port deal.

He is a shameless, shameless, shameless self-serving a-hole.

End. Of. Story.

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 22, 2006 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Jimmy Carter is as much like George Bush as he is like Al Capone.

A talking point which brings up Carter to defend Bush's idiotic "outsourcing" of national security is unusually lame, even for this bunch.

Posted by: Ace Franze on February 22, 2006 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

how fitting would it be if panic and fear finally started working AGAINST Bush?

Bedwetting trolls like rdw have nothing but panic and fear to go on.

Witness the thread from a few days ago about torture--these people still think Bush is saving them from countless 'ticking time bomb' scenarios. These people have deluded themselves into thinking the Republican Party can defend them. Hell, the GOP is so full of incompetent cronies and hacks that New Orleans serves as proof that they can't even save people from standing water.

Now they want to give the port of New Orleans to a company from a country that recognized the Taliban, served as a bagman for al Qaeda financing, and could see its own regime change instantly with a bullet.

But McCain will be President...blah blah blah. A sure sign that someone is embarrassed by their current President is when they start rhapsodizing about how fabbo their next President will be.

Can you see rdw and his moony eyes, staring lovingly at that picture of McCain taking a fist full of cash from Keating?

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

Although all racists hate the port deal, you don't have to be a racist to hate the port deal.

Liberals know from Guantanamo (and WMD intelligence and warrantless wiretapping and Iraq's rebuilding and, hell, everything else) that Bush doesn't play by the rules. So liberals don't believe this port deal has been objectively evaluated on the merits or potential dangers--they assume it is, like everything else, a shady Halliburton-style giveaway. And they're more than a little pissed about the implications this has for their safety. Also, smart people don't like the idea of a foreign state-owned company running a vital piece of American infrastructure. It's bad enough when a foreign private company does it, but states have interests of their own to protect, and America's busiest ports are a valuable thing to play politics with.

And racist conservatives think Bush is "like them" and believes all muslims are evil, so they are feeling betrayed that he'd sell out to rich muslims who, by definition, all want to kill us.

So, yeah, the right wing noise machine got this on the frontpage because it fits into their racist worldview. But people can be opposed to the same thing for different reasons.

Posted by: theorajones on February 22, 2006 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

The UAE supports Islamists and terrorists. They FUND terrorists and are perhaps second only to Saudi Arabia in providing the "feet on the ground" to terror groups.

I've seen several variations on this in this thread. First, UAE does /not/ "fund terrorists." Dubai's gold market has been used by a number of terror groups due to the ease of converting gold into cash, but that makes Dubai the Gulf analogue of Switzerland, not a state financier of al-Qaeda. Since 9/11, Dubai and the UAE have tightened their banking regulations and instituted new regulations to help crack down on Islamist funding.

Second, the UAE is a loose confederations of several emirates, which are basically quasi-independent fiefdoms. Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum is, though leader of a nondemocratic city-statelet, one of the more progressive and outward-looking figures in the Middle East: Dubai is, as far as the Gulf goes, one of the more dynamic and open societies in the area. Why do we want to punish a powerful ally in a critical region?

Finally, to be blunt, terrorism is a more critical and pressing issue for the UAE than it is for the USA -- fanatics are more likely to carry out operations in Abu Dhabi than Atlanta. Leaving aside the issue that athe Dubai buyout of P&O won't subject us to a sudden influx of Arab dockworkers, where is the logic in saying that Dubai is going to be soft on terror when they're a major regional target?

Posted by: WatchfulBabbler on February 22, 2006 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

When I first heard the vague outlines of this port deal, my thoughts were: "Hmm, should we be handing our ports over to a country that lets Al Qaeda run amok? My thoughts were not, "Oh noes, Arabs in charge of security!" This "Democrats are racist against Arabs" crap is spinning out of the RNC.

My other thoughts went something like: "Bush administration, thy name is inconsistency. Do everything they can to tie pre-invasion Iraq to Al Qaeda, but give UAE a free pass."

Posted by: Librul on February 22, 2006 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

"Would we really be any safer if P&O were acquired by a Singaporean company?"

Ah, yes.

Let me agree with everyone who would be a lot more comfortable with a contract with a Singapore company than with a state run UAE company. The reasons are obvious. The royal family was friendly with Bin Laden - and ownership does make a difference.

All the other factors are still true. But it would be nice to make sure that ownership were another reason to trust the deal.

And at this point, I don't think that trusting the administration's judgement is a rational decision. Most of the rest of the world assumes that they're nuts. It seems to be a pretty safe assumption right now.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on February 22, 2006 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with you, Kevin. Amazingly, even Bush "gets" the racism component here. P&O, a British company, operates the ports for years without a peep. Dubai Ports buys P&O and suddenly this is a major security risk?

Yes. A lot of logistics and related security information, especially regarding military logistics is very close to being classified information. From previous incidents with foreign firms and governments, you can bet your ass that the UAE intelligence services will get access to it. Then it becomes a very useful asset that can be traded with God knows who for God knows what.

I'm a lot more comfortable with a British company doing it, because the Brits have access to this information already.

If you're wondering whether I'm concerned about the Chinese running ports, the answer is yes.

Posted by: ericblair on February 22, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

UAE royals, bin Laden's saviours

March 25, 2004 12:04 IST


The Central Intelligence Agency did not target Al Qaeda chief Osama bin laden once as he had the royal family of the United Arab Emirates with him in Afghanistan, the agency's director, George Tenet, told the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States on Thursday.

Had the CIA targeted bin Laden, half the royal family would have been wiped out as well, he said.

The 10-member bipartisan commission is investigating the events leading up to the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US.

A host of Clinton and Bush administration officials have testified before the commission.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Amritage told the commission that it was impossible to send troops to Afghanistan against the Taliban and Al Qaeda without Pakistan's cooperation and building a new relationship with India.

"US sanctions against Pakistan on the nuclear and other issues complicated the matter and these had to be dismantled," Armitage said.

He also suggested if the US Congress wanted to show displeasure with any country, it should think of other methods than imposing sanctions.

Former White House counterterrorism official Richard Clarke has charged that fighting terrorism was not the top priority with the Bush administration. The top priority, he suggested, was Iraq, not Al Qaeda, a claim refuted by the White House.

Clarke alleged that the White House delayed implementing the proposals he had made for eight months and adopted them only after 9/11.

Posted by: Barbara Bush on February 22, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

"I hate to say it, but I can't help but think that Bush may be right about the whole thing."

Kevin, Joementum himself couldn't have said it any better. Or Zell Miller. Congratulations on helping further the Bu$hCo agenda.

Posted by: Doofus on February 22, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

where is the logic in saying that Dubai is going to be soft on terror when they're a major regional target

Well, logically it'd make sense for Dubai to focus the unrest of its citizens on an external source rather than an internal one, so they won't be a target. One could argue that Saudi Arabia pursues just such a policy. And, of course, the Bush Administration has made much hay out of pointing to external enemies to distract attention from its own mendacity, incompetence and corruption (color coded terror alerts, anyone?).

Posted by: Gregory on February 22, 2006 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Watchful: . . . where is the logic in saying that Dubai is going to be soft on terror when they're a major regional target?

The same logic that informed us that the PLO was a terrorist organization even though it was the target of other terrorists, such as Abu Nidal.

Being a target of terrorism doesn't mean that one is innocent of being a terrorist or aiding and abetting terrorism.

Being a gold market for terrorists is hardly the UAE's only connection to terrorism or terrorists and their "reforms" in banking are window-dressing which were designed to give Bush political cover in the US, no more.

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 22, 2006 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Am I missing something? Substantively, that is, not politically.

I was asking myself the same question during the Lewinsky saga.

No answers were tendered then, so let it roll now.

Posted by: A on February 22, 2006 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe this whole thing is Rove's attempt to change the subject from Cheney-shotgungate. If so it is a whopping success!!!!

Posted by: Big Red on February 22, 2006 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, just read Atrios today, and you'll realize how grossly ignorant and misinformed you are. It isn't just some foreign company--

Again, this is not about an "Arab company," this is a company owned and controlled by the hereditary oligarchy of the UAE, many of whom, apparently, were Bin Laden's jolly old pals.

reminding us that we didn't take out OBL when he had members of the UAE royal family visiting with him.

Posted by: haha on February 22, 2006 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Folks,

Racial profiling is selection based only on race/ethnicity where there isn't any specific evidence.

Here, there is specific evidence of connections to terrorists. Here are some examples (sorry, I'm too lazy to link):

http://thinkprogress.org/2006/02/17/ports-uae/

http://atrios.blogspot.com/2006_02_19_atrios_archive.html#114061968699778708

There's no hypocrisy in defending the civil liberties of Arab Americans and also wanting to limit the influence that a bunch of oligarchs with links to terrorists have over US port operations.

Posted by: Sean on February 22, 2006 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.

Posted by: elmo on February 22, 2006 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

btw, a prior Bush administration turned over regional security to Saddam Hussein, even though he was using WMDs on the Kurds.

The GOP precedent of arming leaders and nations who wish us and others harm and who will commit terroristic acts, in return for financial reward or partisan political opportunism at the expense of national security, has been set many many times.

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 22, 2006 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Second, the UAE is a loose confederations of several emirates, which are basically quasi-independent fiefdoms. Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum is, though leader of a nondemocratic city-statelet, one of the more progressive and outward-looking figures in the Middle East: Dubai is, as far as the Gulf goes, one of the more dynamic and open societies in the area.

Well, that settles it.

Sounds like a pretty unstable country to me. Give them the keys and hope they do a good job running things.

Let's visit the State Department website and gather a bit of info on the UAE.

First, the UAE is under Sharia law. Whoops!

Second, the State Department describes the UAE in this way:

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven independent emirates, each with its own ruler. The federal government is a constitutional republic, headed by a president and council of ministers. Islamic ideals and beliefs provide the conservative foundation of the country's customs, laws and practices.

And:

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Americans in the United Arab Emirates should exercise a high level of security awareness. The Department of State remains concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. Americans should maintain a low profile, vary routes and times for all required travel, and treat mail and packages from unfamiliar sources with caution. In addition, U.S. citizens are urged to avoid contact with any suspicious, unfamiliar objects, and to report the presence of the objects to local authorities.

Death penalty? Check.

Legislation enacted in January 1996 imposes the death sentence for convicted drug traffickers. Some drugs normally taken under a doctor's supervision in the United States, and even some over-the-counter U.S. drugs and medications, are classified as narcotics in the UAE and are illegal to possess. A doctor's prescription should be carried along with any medication that is brought into the country. A person may be subject to arrest and prosecution if possession of prescribed medicines (especially those containing codeine and similar narcotic-like ingredients) comes to the attention of local authorities.

Extra bonus information for religious wingnuts--
don't try spreading the Good News in the UAE:

While individuals are free to worship as they choose, and facilities are available for that purpose, religious proselytizing is not permitted in the UAE. Persons violating this law, even unknowingly, may be imprisoned.

So, in summation, the UAE is a country under Sharia law, Americans are warned to take extra precautions there, having the wrong kind of legally prescribed medication can get you put to death, and if you love Jesus, please don't talk about it in the UAE.

No wonder they're trotting out the race card--it's the only one left in the deck.

As Yakov Smirnoff would say, "What a Country!"

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Are you missing something?

Yes.

Your bullet points are insubstantial to the issue at hand. A port authority is still a governance structure of some kind, and it's irrelevant that 'it's not the feds.'

Second, 'somebody else woulda' hardly merits status as a substantive rebuttal to those who object. ('he other kids were jumpin off the cliff, too mom!') So please, give us the meat, not the fluff.

Anyway, they question is: Why is ANY foreign-owned company have the opportunity to manage, operate or own these critical facilities?

On national security grounds, it's a no-brainer. You just don't take that kind of risk, no matter how small, with that kind of infrastructure. UAE may be staunch allies, great guys, and are even in bed with Bush & have done deals with CSX. BUT SO WHAT.

They won't be capable stopping those moles/etc., who'd exploit that relationship (think about the "allegiance" of the rank-and-file in the Iraqi Army).

AND it's NOT an issue of whether they're Arab or not.

The same deal goes for the British. Why should the US cede any aspect of such an economic asset to foreign corporations? Uhhh...

It's an issue of economic security as well. It's a publicly-owned & run facility no matter how you slice it. A public utility; public infrastrucure.

So there's no reason American corporations or public-sector agencies shouldn't be capitalzing on the the facilities we paid for. Some things should just be off-limits. Ultimately, there's such a thing as economic treason.

Please note: the UAE entity is owned by the UAE government. It's NOT a private company.

Again, it's NOT a matter of Arabs or British or French or Vietnamese ownership or operatorship. Those facilities are ours. The point should be to eliminate all risk -- and it's UNREASONABLE to ask ports, port cities, and Americans in general to take this kind of risk when it is so obvious. And when it can so easily be avoided.

It's a failure of imagination on your part, Kevin. And it's more than foolhardy.

It underscores what a total joke "national security" really is in this country. For Kevin, it's something borne by other people.

Follow up the corruption angle. It reads well.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on February 22, 2006 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum wrote:

Am I missing something?

Yep. Here's an explanation:

"A lot of people are really upset about this. Our customers are concerned that this is a sign of diminishing competition," said Dennis J. Colgan, chief executive officer of Barthco International Inc., a Philadelphia customs broker and freight forwarder.

But 'diminished competition' is a result of a supposedly free market, and a tough sell in the current administration. Instead:

The deal would give Dubai Ports World details on the output of factories around the world and shipments on their way to U.S. destinations, Colgan said.
Risk assessment would be impossible, warned Earl P. Freilino II, the retired FBI counterterrorism expert who was Pennsylvania homeland security chief during the Ridge-Schweiker administration.
"Ports are a security risk and essential to our economy. All ports must be engaged in a constant strategy of assessing risk, which includes background checks on employees and executives... You would be dealing with a culture of silence. This makes me very uncomfortable," Freilino said.

Which still brings up the 'Islam=terrorism=Saddam=Bin Laden' meme that Dubya has been pushing since 9/11...By all accounts, the UAE appears to be one of the most progressive countries in the Middle East, but its former ties to terrorist activites do have some bearing on the situation...That's the difference between a British and a Dubai corporation managing the ports.

Actuallly, the substantive question is: If we are really serious about US security post 9/11, should any foreign company be managing US ports?

Of course, the 'country with former ties to al-Qaeda' meme plays well with the xenophobes. So expect this story to last for, oh, about a week or so before some fresh outrage or missing blonde woman replaces it.

Posted by: grape_crush on February 22, 2006 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

While I am late to comment, I think you are missing something very big here. We have a president who has broken the law in order to engage in warrantless surveillance of American citizens and although reports indicate that the effort is hopelessly ineffective, that same president justifies his actions as being absolutely necessary to keep America safe. That same president wants to ramrod through a deal with a country which supports terrorists against the United States in ways that Saddam Hussein never did that president's lies to the contrary notwithstanding because the UAE has strong financial ties to a couple of his cronies. This has nothing to do with the merits of the UAE running the ports or Bush bashing for the sake of Bush bashing, and has everything to do with the mendacity and double standards involved when money is at stake. I would gladly let UAE run our ports if we would get back our freedom from warrantless searches.

Posted by: terry on February 22, 2006 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Say what you want about security or anything else terrorist. This is about outsourcing. People are tired of seeing everything go somewhere else. This is just a small way to poke at globilization. No it won't make any difference one way or another. Just a feel good moment for us little people.

Posted by: Neo on February 22, 2006 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

I think RedDan sums up the arguments about why we should be concerned about this whole affair very well.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on February 22, 2006 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Some context, for too-smart among us.

link from Newark Star-Ledger -- Newark is one of the 6 ports.

http://www.nj.com/search/index.ssf?/base/columns-0/1140587154176640.xml?starledger?colwoo&coll=1

CNN newsman Lou Dobbs questioned the rush to sell operations of a number of large U.S. seaports to Dubai Ports World (DP World), an agency of the United Arab Emirates government.

"You'd think you might want to take another 30 days to think about it," said Dobbs. Thirty days?

In a poll taken last weekend, the American public didn't need 30 seconds to think about it. More than 90 percent said it was an insane idea.

"Our port is the third largest in the country," said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) in a phone interview Monday to discuss the legislation he and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D- N.Y.) are introducing that would block such deals. "We generate about 145 million tons of imports a year, and 54 percent of that tonnage are imports from other countries. So it's a very significant operation. And a very significant security risk.

"To give operational management over this to a foreign government, particularly one with a dubious history of concern about terrorism, makes no sense."

It was one of only three governments in the entire world to recognize the Taliban. It was a transfer point for smuggled nuclear components to Iran, Libya and North Korea."

So why, he asks, "when you have 95 percent of your cargo going uninspected, should we give this government the ability to operate ports that are a demonstrated security risk?"


a couple of U.S. senators introducing legislation that would prohibit the purchase of U.S. port operations by any foreign government,

Posted by: SombreroFallout on February 22, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Kevin on this one. Which US company has thorough knowledge of the shipping industry and would be more efficient at it than those foreign-based companies? Nil, zero.

I think if there is one person to point the blame to, it is Pres himself, for creating an atmosphere of xenophobia, i.e. any terrorist, i.e. by extension any Arabs, are bad. You reap what you sow, Mr Prez. But then again, I don't think has the mental capacity to think that far.

Posted by: eo on February 22, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK
* This isn't a matter of outsourcing a government operation to a private company. P&O has been operating ports in the United States (and the rest of the world) for a long time, and they do it under contract with the port authorities, not the federal government. What's more, there are plenty of port operators in the United States besides P&O that are foreign owned too.

Just because an impending change comes under fire doesn't mean the the status quo was sound or undiserving of criticism.

* P&O doesn't "own" the ports, they just manage one or more terminals at each of their ports and try to make money by attracting shipping companies to their terminals.

It's precisely the potential for disasterous mismanagement that troubles people.

* P&O was on the auction block no matter what. If Dubai Ports hadn't purchased them, PSA International of Singapore would have acquired them instead.

So what? We're talking about what did happen, not what would have happened.

* Port workers would mostly (all?) be American union members regardless of who owns the management company. Security will continue to be provided by the Coast Guard and U.S. Customs.

This is your first, and only, good point.

Would we really be any safer if P&O were acquired by a Singaporean company?

Who knows? The real question is, would we really be safer if P&O remained a "Great British" company?

If the answer is yes, perhaps we should block the deal. If the answer to your question is also no, then maybe we should have stopped the Singaporean deal if that had gone down.

Posted by: Boronx on February 22, 2006 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Remember the strike/lockout on the West Coast in 2002? See,i.e., http://www.thenation.com/doc/20021028/bacon for some background on the ILA on the West Coast, which is much weaker than the East Coast (where it is also hurting). Bush threatened to militarize the ports if the Union (ILA) struck, threatened Taft-Hartley, said it was a threat to Homeland security, etc.

The Union was mostly fighting SSA (Stevedoring Services of America) a huge multi-national, highly anti-union company which is a member of the West Coast multi-employer bargaining group PMA (Pacific Maritime Association).

This administration appears to have some ties to SSA. USAID awarded SSA the contract for the Ports in Iraq (didn't one of the Armstrongs work for USAID?) and they appear to be working closely with the UAE (which would be a logical hub) The UAE even has the SSA Iraq subcontract up on their BUYUSA web page (http://www.buyusa.gov/uae/en/64.html) although I don't know how old it is.

Oh, and SSA is also trying to create another large (presumbably non-union) container shipping hub in TX (through which all contracts and connections seem to flow these days) in BAyport, TX (with the POrt of Houstn Authority) and Texas City to handle the overflow from Houston (and probably divert some flow from New Orleans).

I don't know if it means anything other than probably same contacts, same contracts, but it might be worth a little research . . . .

Posted by: CC on February 22, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

First, the UAE is under Sharia law.

Five emirates allow Shari'a courts to hear certain criminal cases and impose penalties, but the courts ultimately answer to a civil supreme court. The civil system and local governments usually commute Shari'a sentences imposed on non-Muslims. Not exactly a Western democracy, to be sure. However, the emirates of Dubai and Ras al-Khaimah are not part of the federal courts system. Dubai in particular does not use Shari'a courts except for matters between Muslim parties; most work is done out of the civil and criminal Courts of First Instance.

Posted by: WatchfulBabbler on February 22, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Sez Kevin:


Port workers would mostly (all?) be American union members regardless of who owns the management company. Security will continue to be provided by the Coast Guard and U.S. Customs.


Sez the Newark Star-Ledger:
Last week, Stephen Flynn, maritime security expert for the Council on Foreign Relations, which thinks the Dubai plan is no big deal, said our ports will remain safe because "Archie Bunker-type Americans" work on the docks.

That's a little like saying we were protected on 9/11 because the airline ticket takers were U.S. citizens. The people who load and unload cargo aren't supposed to be our main line of defense -- unless the next wave of terrorists starts sending crates to Port Newark labeled "Handle Carefully. Car Inside Wired for Suicide Bomb."

Look Kevin, that argument is ludicrous.

Folks who don't see what's wrong with this are so smart they're stupid. It's foolhardy.

The free market can't provide national economic security. The free market can't provide national military security.

Would you also outsource/privatize the DHS?

Would you also outsource/privatize the military?

OH, uhh... -- that IS the problem with how Bush has prosecuted the War -- I mean the profiteering -- in Iraq.

Bankrupt, in every sense of the term, then.

Bankrupt, in every sense of the term, now.

You don't defend a "Homeland" by selling out for 30 pieces of silver. No matter who's giving you the dough.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on February 22, 2006 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Exactly Kevin.

The politicians opposing this are playing politics in the same way many accuse Bush of.
They are playing on American citizens' fear to impose their own agenda.

All this is really doing is impeding free trade and promoting protectionism. There is not a security issue here, because Peninisular and Oriental only wishes to aquire an operational ownership of the ports.

Posted by: Andrew on February 22, 2006 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK
And if Dubai is such an unreliable ally, why did we just sell them *80* F-16s (and a variety of other aircraft such as Apache attack helicopters).

I dunno. Pakistan remains connected to al-Qaeda linked groups, is a nuclear rogue and long-time proliferator that has only just notionally repudiated proliferation that it had previously denied despite the fact that everyone on the planet knew they were involved in it, and we gave sold them a bunch of F-16s and named them a major non-NATO ally.

I mean, really, your just using another example of Bush's questionable judgement to defend the current example, which doesn't really work.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Well, turns out this may also be about the Administration breaking the law, AGAIN. From today's NY Times

"The administration's review of the deal was conducted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a body that was created in 1975 to review foreign investments in the country that could affect national security. Under that review, officials from the Defense, State, Commerce and Transportation Departments, along with the National Security Council and other agencies, were charged with raising questions and passing judgment. They found no problems to warrant the next stage of review, a 45-day investigation with results reported to the president for a final decision.

However,a 1993 amendment to the law stipulates that such an investigation is mandatory when the acquiring company is controlled by or acting on behalf of a foreign government. Administration officials said they conducted additional inquires because of the ties to the United Arab Emirates, but they could not say why a 45-day investigation did not occur."

Posted by: bruce k on February 22, 2006 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you make a really bad Republican. Stop it.

Posted by: Jim J on February 22, 2006 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

The port thing is weird, of course, but what I'm trying to figure out is why the UAEs have bought Michael Jackson.

I can see it from Jackson's perspective - he digs the styles and the UAE is full of plenty of helpless poor boys to, ahem, 'help,' but what is the UAE getting out of the deal?

Posted by: Tripp on February 22, 2006 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

When Bill Clinton was prepared to allow COSCO -- a state-owned corporation from China -- to acquire a single cargo-handling facility within the port of Long Beach, Republicans led by Duncan Hunter and James Inhofe went nuts.

What an obvious payoff (to Clinton's Chinese paymasters)! What a threat to US national security! Why, if there were Chinamen in a U.S. port, they might commit acts of sabotage or espionage!

Now we're expected to sit idly by while we turn over our major ports -- including those used by the Army -- to a nation-state which, while officially friendly to the U.S., has unambiguously harbored terrorists?

Gives new meaning to "harboring terrorists."

After 9/11, Bush told "those who harbor terrorists" that we'd be "coming after them." Guess he meant coming after them for investment.

Counterfactual thought experiment: Would you be as blase if we were handing the ports over to Iran? Syria? Hamas? After all, it's not like they'd really be "in charge" or anything.

Posted by: Hemlock for Gadflies on February 22, 2006 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Five emirates allow Shari'a courts to hear certain criminal cases and impose penalties, but the courts ultimately answer to a civil supreme court. The civil system and local governments usually commute Shari'a sentences imposed on non-Muslims. Not exactly a Western democracy, to be sure. However, the emirates of Dubai and Ras al-Khaimah are not part of the federal courts system. Dubai in particular does not use Shari'a courts except for matters between Muslim parties; most work is done out of the civil and criminal Courts of First Instance.

Dude, that was the refutation of the month. Except it didn't really refute anything and scared the bejeezus out of us some more.

My point was--this is an unstable country smack dab in the midst of Islamic fundamentalism run amok and is led by people who are known to be sympathetic to the Taliban and al Qaeda.

But hey, like I said, give them extra copies of the keys to our port facilities that they can share with their friends.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Has Ann Coulter's head exploded over this?

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on February 22, 2006 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK


Kevin, if you REALLY WANT to know what you're missing, just read this column.

Ffrom the The (Bergen, NJ) Record:

Talk about a dumb idea

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

By JEFFREY PAGE

Security of our ports will be overseen by a foreign firm with close ties to the Taliban.

EVER SINCE Sept. 11, Americans have been warned about the vulnerability of our seaports. It took serious planning for Mohammed Atta and his murderous accomplices to pull off the hijackings and suicide flights on the Worst Day, we were told, but a future attack could come by sea.


The next Atta could place a nuclear device in a shipping container, load it on a freighter bound for New York or Port Newark, and detonate it even with the ship at anchorage. To prevent such a catastrophe to the 17 million people who live in the metropolitan area, the United States would have to maintain constant vigilance at its ports. That's what everybody heard.

And now everybody learns that the government has been outsourcing operational supervision of East Coast ports to foreign companies. Nothing new about outsourcing; just about everything comes from someplace else.

What is shockingly new is the revelation that East Coast port operations -- in Newark, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Miami and New Orleans -- have been handled not by the Coast Guard or the Navy, but by a British firm called Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation. Ahh, our friends the Brits. No sweat.

But Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation has been bought up by Dubai Ports World, a firm that is owned by the United Arab Emirates. UAE, about the size of Maine, sits at the Strait of Hormuz, the narrows that connect the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman. On the other side of the water is Iran.

UAE was a transit and financial point for some of the Sept. 11 hijackers. It was home to two of them. It reportedly is a shipping point for nuclear material heading for North Korea and Iran. It still recognizes the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan.

Before Sept. 11, the Taliban gave safe haven to Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida bunch.

The United States destroyed the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

The remnants of the Taliban hate America's guts.

Now, the United States Treasury Department, whose secretary is John Snow but whose ultimate boss is President Bush, has allowed a country that dealt sympathetically with the last shreds of the Taliban to have charge over running Port Newark and the Port of New York and to protect them from sabotage and terror.

What's wrong with this picture?

What wrong is that it's a picture painted by idiots.

With the grace of a Ringling Bros. clown, the Bush administration -- usually described by its more fervent supporters as a gathering of the smartest people -- has put its foot into a bucket and can't get it out.

Bush has yet to be heard from. Instead, questions about Dubai Ports World were fielded last week by government flacks and deputy assistant secretaries. Then, over the weekend, Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security, fresh off a bravura Katrina performance, said: There, there. Not to worry. All will be well.

While Chertoff soothes for the government, an extraordinary alliance is forming in Congress.

Sen. Charles Schumer, despised by Republicans for his aggressive questioning of Samuel Alito, was first to speak out against this dumb port deal and was quickly joined by Sens. Bob Menendez, Frank Lautenberg and Hillary Clinton. Who had a better right than four senators from New York and New Jersey, which suffered so grievously on Sept. 11?

Joining them were Rep. Frank LoBiondo of Mays Landing, Rep. Peter King of Long Island and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, three Republicans who have never been mistaken for liberals; Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican never mistaken for a conservative, and Sens. Joe Lieberman and Chris Dodd, Democrats from Connecticut.

In an election year when Republicans have serious concerns over their slim majorities in the House and Senate, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says closer cooperation with Congress may be necessary because "perhaps people will need better explanation and will need to understand some of the process that we have gone through."

She was talking about the "people" in Congress, not the "people" in the street. You know, those people, the ones who pay taxes, send their children to fight in Iraq and who vote on Election Day.

President Bush, the boss, remained silent as a man who accidentally shot someone on a hunting expedition.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on February 22, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

The New York Port Authority is "harboring terrorists!"

Hemlock should win an award for that turn of phrase.

What part about our "glorious leaders" are a gaggle of clowns and idiots -- doesn't Kevin understand?

Posted by: SombreroFallout on February 22, 2006 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

The level of clueless dumbfuckery about the UAE is staggering. It is not a Wahabbist county, it does not provide al Qaeda with "feet on the ground", it does not "support terrorism": radical fundie islamists are *NOT TOLERATED* in this country. There is no "discontent of its people": they are all too busy trading in their 6-month old S-Class Benzes for new CLS's.

It is also committed to full participatory democracy, as part of a process that is now beginning. This is a country that has gone from penniless bedouin camel herders 50 years ago to a first world country, in a society that has trouble with change.

It's nothing like you think, believe me.

Posted by: bartman on February 22, 2006 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

It's nothing like you think, believe me.

Poor bartman. Can't even figure out what reality looks like.

I guess we should just pack up our tents and go home--bartman says we're wrong and so we must turn a blind eye to all the empirical evidence cited here.

One question though--can you get the State Department to erase what they currently have on their website and substitute your ridiculous, foul-mouthed little rant? It would make things so much easier, thanks.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Hilarious. No one who supports the Bush move can even come up with one reason WHY this is so important, they just accuse folks of being racist and/or being reflexively anti-Bush (well, while I think that's never a bad move, it's not the only reason to hate this deal).

At least Andrew lifts up the rock and likes what he sees: All this is really doing is impeding free trade and promoting protectionism.

Now, I oppose this in part because of this neo-liberal bullshit and forced globalization (how this is playing out as a scene from Network is fucking spooky), but also from an actual, substantive level regarding security (and yes, I'd oppose Singapore too).

Read William Langwieche's The Outlaw Sea for a chilling, terrifying look at how loose regulation, lax security and just-fucking-awful environmental laws have conspired to set up a system that's guaranteed to fail.

Think for a second that if this sale goes through and there IS an attack on or through a port. God Help Us All. And the odds are, regardless of who is managing the port, this will happen.

At the very least, if there's an American company or the American government in charge, there can be at least some accountability (but granted, not much), but without that simple transparency -- as Langwieche proves, there is NO transparency on the seas -- we will enter hell.

Posted by: n.o.t.l.f. on February 22, 2006 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Ah the bitter irony of FoxNews trying to tell me I'm an Islamophobe.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on February 22, 2006 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

I find the Washington Monthly headline "All the President's Enablers" highly ironic in light of Kevin's post and many of the concurring responses here. Most of the time these days Kevin seems like he's bucking for a job at "even the liberal" New Republic. Kevin's got Joementum, and It's embarrassing.

Posted by: Cole Moore Odell on February 22, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

bartman,

I see you conveniently avoided my Michael Jackson question, hmmmmmmm? How do you answer that?

Posted by: Tripp on February 22, 2006 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Some idiot is still stuck on Carter.

Posted by: lib on February 22, 2006 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK


in case you missed this....

flashed urgent.....at 10:30 this morning:


WHITE HOUSE (AP) - The White House says President Bush didn't know about the transfer of shipping operations at six major U-S seaports to an Arab company until the deal had already been approved by his administration.


does this make it all better?

lol

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on February 22, 2006 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, what I don't understand is that you're not being reminded of 77% Abu Dhabi (largest UAE state) owned BCCI, the "Bank of Cronies and Criminals" (CIA). For god's sake, there was a big story on the scandal in, guess where?, the Washington Monthly! Sloppy memory?
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2004/0409.sirota.html

Posted by: Gray on February 22, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

"Bush in the dark." So re-assuring.

Posted by: Jose Padilla on February 22, 2006 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Missing something, you ask?

It's about the corruption. Not free trade.


From Atrios --

Breaking the Law

Bush administration didn't bother with legally mandated 45 day investigation.

Of course, laws don't actually apply anymore as the Republican congress has decided they're as irrelevant as UAE's Federal National Council. I'm sure this had nothing to do with it:


Washington - The Dubai firm that won Bush administration backing to run six U.S. ports has at least two ties to the White House.

One is Treasury Secretary John Snow, whose agency heads the federal panel that signed off on the $6.8 billion sale of an English company to government-owned Dubai Ports World - giving it control of Manhattan's cruise ship terminal and Newark's container port.

Snow was chairman of the CSX rail firm that sold its own international port operations to DP World for $1.15 billion in 2004, the year after Snow left for President Bush's cabinet.

The other connection is David Sanborn, who runs DP World's European and Latin American operations and was tapped by Bush last month to head the U.S. Maritime Administration.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on February 22, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

And if Dubai is such an unreliable ally, why did we just sell them *80* F-16s (and a variety of other aircraft such as Apache attack helicopters).

By cracky, you're right! Dubai is our wonderfulest, greatest, bestest friend in all the world and we should start sending them nuclear weapons at the first opportunity. After all, there isn't the slightest possible chance that they could fall into the hands of al-Qaeda. Right? Right?

Posted by: tam1MI on February 22, 2006 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

What's next Fertilizer plants maybe,Or how about some of our Munitions plants, oh, I know we could sell them our rocket factories.Do you see the point, the bigger thing that bothers me is Bush had no idea this was even going on.Soon the terrorists won't have to figure out how to get a bomb in this country, They will be able to make them right here.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on February 22, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

I just want to reiterate what many other posters have pointed out. It's not a matter of racism, it's a security concern even if the British were still in charge.

And UAE may or may have not cleaned up it's act. The problem is that it's one degree of separation closer to real enemies of the American people to have them running the operations at several major US ports.


Especially ones where a significant amount of our military equipment/personnel ship out of!!!


Even if no terrorist attack on US soil ever happens because of this deal. Nevertheless, the opportunity for any foreign intelligence service to be able to watch the US's military shipments is a hugh threat to our security.

This is a major threat to the security of our military operations if nothing else!

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on February 22, 2006 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp, Michael Jackson lives in Bahrain. I'm sure you think all Arabs are the same, but that is a different country. MJ did make headlines here a couple of months ago when he mistakenly wandered into a women's bathroom in the Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai.

Pale Rider: the reality of the UAE is the one I see everyday, the one of all the Emiratis I interact with every day. You'd be shocked to discover that the local kids I teach are primarily concerned with their cars, chasing girls, cheering for their soccer team and looking forward to their summer holidays in Brighton, where they drive around, chase girls and watch soccer matches. Most are about as politically engaged as your average American 18 year-old. This is a long way from being a perfect country, but whatever problems it might have, al Qaeda sympathies and radical Islamism are not amongst them. You said this is an unstable country smack dab in the midst of Islamic fundamentalism run amok and is led by people who are known to be sympathetic to the Taliban and al Qaeda.

It is not an unstable country. All seven of the Emirates have been ruled by the same families for the past century and a half. And the leaders are geneally popular. I'm sure you know nothing about bedouin tribal tradition, but that is the model that still exists. In that tradition, leaders are absolute, but they must have the confidence of the tribe. Lose public confidence, lose your power. The locals are a bit reluctant to abandon the old tribal system, because it served them well through a couple thousand years of grinding poverty. But democratic reforms are happening.

There is no Islamic fundamentalism here. Things like churches, booze, pork, bikinis and bars chock full of hookers are hardly the things one expects to find in an "Islamic Fundamentalist" state. But they're all here in abundance. This country is a bit more socially conservative than Egypt or Lebanon, but several orders of magnitude less so than Saudi, or even Oman and Kuwait.

Like I said, this country still ahs plenty of social issues to address, but al Qaeda support and radical fundamentalism aren't among them.

The burning issues here are bird flu, traffic congestion and rising rents.

You can cite all the state department reports you want, but I'd sooner trust my eyes and ears.

The leaders are not, and never were "sympathetic" to al Qaeda. As to recognizing the Taliban, well, the truth is, they were the de facto government of Afghanistan. Maybe you don't like that fact, but it was true. Maintaining that a defeated rump like the Northern Alliance was the "real government" was politial sophistry. And besides, the US treated the Taliban like the "real government", what with all the money they gave the Taliban for their poppy-eradication efforts.

Simple fact: making pro al-Qaeda statements in public in this country wil get you arrested and deported in no time flat.

I repeat: you don't know what you're talking about. But you're free toi maintain your state of blissfulness - no skin off my nose.

Posted by: bart889 on February 22, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

1. Crony capitalism;
2. Necessary security review not done;
3. President didn't know of deal;
4. Sec. of Defense didn't know of deal;
5. Company is government owned and UAE royal family parties with Bin Laden;
6. No congressional review of deal.

Looks like you picked the wrong time to go pro-Bush.

Posted by: Jose Padilla on February 22, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Jones scores a three pointer:

>And, what the hell, I'm gonna give y'all the punchline:

"But here's what really stinks. The deal for the port takeover was cleared by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). This group meets in secret and is headed by Treasury Secretary John Snow. As I noted in a previous post, DP World purchased part of the U.S. company CSX for over $1 billion in 2004. Before he became Treasury Secretary, John Snow was Chairman and CEO of CSX. While he had left CSX by the time that deal closed, there is no way Snow should have presided over secret deliberations about any DP World transaction---much less one that involves national security. It's beyond belief that he did not recuse himself from this transaction given the sensitivity of the issues involved."

Just so. Snow.

Arrgh!

Posted by: CFShep on February 22, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

McCain will never be President. Nor should he be. The man has sold his soul to a Republican God that can't protect America.

In 2000 Big John was sucking up to the MSM selling Campaign finance reform raher than tax cuts and running against a born again.

IN 2008 Big John will still be sucking up to the MSM after having passed tax cuts, fighting hard in the GWOT and spending cuts and managing the breakthrough that put Roberts and Alito on the Supreme court. Big John is back in the conservative fold.

Plus the good people of the South are shrewd. They're not just selecting the candidate they most prefer. They are selecting the candidate most certain to beat Hillary. It all polls John trounces her. He's always dominated the middle and now owns them. Once he gets conservatives he's in.

Posted by: rdw on February 22, 2006 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

I think that liberals should oppose this not because of any well defined security concerns, as there is no evidence that this contract will in any way be detrimental to security, but only for the following reasons: (i) impeachment proceedings would have already begun if this decision was made by a Hillary Clinton administration, (ii) the opposition to the contract cannot in anyway twisted by the Swift Boaters of the right as opposition to enhancement of security, (iii) this puts the right on the defensive about matters of security, supposedly their strong point, and (iv) it shows that we are serious about security, as we are anyway.

Posted by: lib on February 22, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

What would happen if they decided to shut down those six ports.Then what could we do?

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on February 22, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

You'd be shocked to discover that the local kids I teach are primarily concerned with their cars, chasing girls, cheering for their soccer team and looking forward to their summer holidays in Brighton, where they drive around, chase girls and watch soccer matches. Most are about as politically engaged as your average American 18 year-old.

You might be shocked to know that children of privilege sometimes turn out to be the most radical of religious and fundamentalist militants.

But I'm not bringing up Osama Bin Laden or John Walker Lindh...

The leaders are not, and never were "sympathetic" to al Qaeda. As to recognizing the Taliban, well, the truth is, they were the de facto government of Afghanistan.

They were one of three countries in the world to recognize the legitimacy of the Taliban.

What a fine little place you have there:

From Amnesty International:

United Arab Emirates: Death Penalty by stoning: Karteen Karikender
PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 25/01/00

UA 53/00 Death Penalty by stoning
29 February 2000

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (UAE) Karteen Karikender (f), Indonesian national
in her late twenties or early thirties

A Shari'a (Islamic) court in the Emirate of Fujairah has reportedly ordered
Karteen Karikender, a pregnant woman, to be stoned to death after she was found
guilty of adultery.

Is this kind of thing common? Do they let those self-centered kids you talk about stop their fancy cars and throw rocks?

"What a Country!"

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

This isn't about xenophobia, it's about the Bush Administration taking another unilateral, unaccountable, unlawful step to favor corporate interests over the rest of us (this time multi-national). Outsourcing infrastructure makes corporations rich. Don't you see it's a crackdown on individuals here in the name of "security" but corporations everywhere can do whatever they want for some reason. It's a big club - if you are rich, you are in. If you're not, you're out. Goverment by and for the corporations.

Posted by: MaryAnne on February 22, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

As an aside, when this deal goes through, expect DPW to unload the US port operations. They bought P&O because P&O has 135 port operations around the world in 30+ countries, but only 6 of those are in the US. DPW really wanted the Far East ports, which are the most profitable. The US ports are basically not profitable, because of the unions and regulations. The US operations are an afterthought, and will be gladly dumped. But don't expect to find a US firm to run them.

By the way, BCCI was UAE owned, but operated by a Pakistani shyster called Agha Hasan Abedi, who took the local sheikhs for a ride. Don't take my word for it-it's all here:

http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/1992_rpt/bcci/03hist.htm

In fact, in the 70s and 80s the locals were regularly taken to the cleaners by foreign carpetbaggers. They really were a bunch of rubes.

Posted by: bart889 on February 22, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK
All seven of the Emirates have been ruled by the same families for the past century and a half.

Well. That makes it all good then.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Plus the good people of the South are shrewd.

Uh, no. I've lived in the South. What's shrewd about a divorce-happy part of the country that talks a good game about 'family values' but fails to do anything about it while buying a car at 30% interest and spending rent money on lottery tickets?

I mean--there are great people in the red states, and they're just as sick of their neighbors as anyone. Don't go thinking there's some deep pool of wisdom out there in that part of the country just because a majority of the registered voters were recorded as having voted Republican.

But keep sucking on that Powerline teet, rdw. You've grown so much in the last few weeks. What was once a rabid, foolish troll has now sprouted into a backflipping, flip-flopping, can't-tell-the-difference-between-good-and-bad misinformed little Drexel Hill Dummy.

Hey--I read another book last month. Am I still an elitist?

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

But McCain will be President...blah blah blah. A sure sign that someone is embarrassed by their current President is when they start rhapsodizing about how fabbo their next President will be.

Not at all. I love the Supreme court picks as well as the tax cuts. More pleasing is the prospect of Rove's durable majority. McCain has totally reversed his fortunes. He knows he can win a general election. He needs to be able to win GOP primaries. He can't be the same guy as his was in 2000. He needs to please the conservative base. He's doing it.

Big John wins in 2008 you are so screwed. The 2010 census will give Red States another 7 to 10 electoral votes. Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman have been brilliantly recruiting black candidates for state wide races in close states and well as targeting other Democratic strengths. It's just a bonus union membership is collapsing.

Liberals will be sitting in 2009 catatonic knowing the days of even thinking about nominating liberal are over.

Posted by: rdw on February 22, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Hey--I read another book last month. Am I still an elitist?

I read 5 books. Big deal. Reading doesn't make one an elitist. Thinking it's made you smarter than everyone else makes you an elitist.

Don't change.

Posted by: rdw on February 22, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman have been brilliantly recruiting black candidates...

Yeah--and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina sent tens of thousands of blacks running into the arms of the Republican Party.

Please, rdw. Get the dosage on those meds checked. Dementia has set in early for you today...stop walking around in front of your living room picture window with your junk hanging out.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

I read 5 books.

Really? Is that what they're calling Barely Legal down at the little gas station you frequent?

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

rdw is right. Liberals will not be nominating justices to the supreme court again in our lifetime.

So the question is this: do you want to live in a nation where the rule of law is constantly ignored? Where the Constitution is just a piece a paper used by the President to wipe his ass? Where a woman loses all rights once she becomes pregnant?

If not, what the hell are you going to do about it? As long as people are content to live side by side with wingnuts they will lose their rights, their privacy, their dignity.

I say let 'em have Alabama, Mississippi and whatever other states they can maintain a majority in. Leave the few other states to the rest of us. Who cares if it is only the Northeast, upper midwest and the west coast. I don't see why we have to continue to fight over their desire to turn the whole nation into Appalachia. Let them continue to set their own houses on fire -- just leave mine alone.

Posted by: NYCBilly on February 22, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

What's funnier: rdw carrying on his own little soliloquy about McCain (something he does every time Bush's actions make him nervous) or the WH seriously announcing that the president's all hot to veto re a deal he knew nothing about?

If Ron Ziegler weren't dead, I'd swear he's crafing the official line these days.

Posted by: shortstop on February 22, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Ya, what NYCBilly said, that's the old "We're in this together" attitude, the old "Can do" attitude. Oh no, wait, that was the "Cut and run" attitude, my bad. Where have I seen that before?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on February 22, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Thank you for a breath of fresh air with a chaser of common sense.

I also think it's a little unfair to accuse President Bush of labeling all Moslems as terrorists. He has been calling Islam a "religion of peace" since 9/11 and has been quite clear that our enemies are the Islamic facists and jihadists in al Qaeda and its affiliates. Is there anyone here who disagrees with this?

Posted by: DBL on February 22, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

It's racist to say that we shouldn't let a company owned by a state that has ties to al queda operate our ports. American union guys on the docks and UAE guys in upper management, controlling the procedures, staffing, and info management. What could possibly go wrong?

You say that the CIA couldn't lob missiles at Bin Laden, because that would have killed half the UAE royal family.

Is that what we've come to? Guilt by association?

Posted by: tom on February 22, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Drexel Hill Dimwit,

This thread is NOT about the 08 election - Save your efforts for your "rdw" show on weekends - You know, Saturday and Sunday, when many of us have far more important things to enjoy than reading your Pajama Media, Tech Central and NRO reguritations.

And, now back to Kevin's regularly scheduled thread.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on February 22, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

that's the old "We're in this together" attitude, the old "Can do" attitude. Oh no, wait, that was the "Cut and run" attitude, my bad. Where have I seen that before?

Who said anything about cutting and running? Last time I checked, the South decided to 'cut and run' and try to make their own version of paradise on Earth, complete with chained up people to do all the work.

As for a 'we're in this together' and a 'can do' attitude, my goodness--did Karl Rove completely change his entire operating strategy today without anyone finding out about it?

I mean--are we really going to have good government now?

Oh, my bad.

Mr. Nut was just filling in his section of the cesspool.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

PR: that woman wasn't stoned to death. She wasn't executed. There hasn't been an execution in this country since 2002. And all the most recent executions were by firing squad. And all the people executed were convicted of murder, not adultery.

Now, how many people have been killed by your government since 2002?

Much like the US, lower courts here occassionally make wacky rulings, which, like in the US, are routinely overturned by the higher courts. And I'll repeat, much has changed since 9/11: the fundies have been hounded out of the country. The local governments are dedicated to increasing the wealth and welfare of their citizens, and they know that al Qaeda is deeply inimical to those aims.

This country has problems with labor standards, it has problems with contract enformcement, it has problems with building standards, it has problems with the Russian mob. But it doesn't have problems with radlical Islamism.

BTW, it's amusing that you claim to have better knowledge than I of people I meet every day. The government here is basically forcing every youngster into getting a college education and a job, as they're well aware of the "idle minds are the devil's plaything" axiom. They're not blind to what's happening in Saudi, which is a truly disturbing country.

Posted by: bart889 on February 22, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK
I also think it's a little unfair to accuse President Bush of labeling all Moslems as terrorists. He has been calling Islam a "religion of peace" since 9/11 and has been quite clear that our enemies are the Islamic facists and jihadists in al Qaeda and its affiliates. Is there anyone here who disagrees with this?

I disagree that "facists" is a word.

I disagree that "Islamic fascists", as you no doubt intended, is even a meaningful phrase.

I disagree that the Bush Administration has been particularly clear about who the enemy is, invoking 9/11 repeatedly as justification for th war on Iraq, a state which al-Qaeda opposed and which opposed al-Qaeda.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

bart889, even if the leadership of the UAE is honestly pro-American I don't think we can say the same about the rest of the citizenship. And I think an Al Quada operative would have a easier time infiltrating and posing as an employee (or hell, getting hired for that matter) in an Arab owned company that a non-Arab owned company.

And let me reiterate what I said above. Regardless if a terrorist attack happens because of this or not. Our military operations are now under the watchful gaze of a foreign power.

That alone is reason enough to stop this deal.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on February 22, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

A significant portion of Americans supports torture, capital punishment, does not recognize a right to privacy when it comes to sexual behavior, contraception or health care, believes that the only goal in life is the attainment of wealth, does not believe in evolution or the teaching of science, and generally hates the rest of us. So, you think you are going to change their minds?

I am not a missionary. I am realistic about the chances of this country ever returning to its fundemental ideals of freedom and liberty for all. It ain't going to happen in my life. So I am left with two choices: emigrating, or promoting a peaceful separation. Why is this crazy?

Posted by: NYCBilly on February 22, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

rdw: Reading doesn't make one an elitist.

I think you probably meant . . .

"Reading doesn't make one elite . . ."

What you actually wrote doesn't really make much sense, but that is pretty much par for your course.

BTW, not reading doesn't make one elite (or in your vernacular "elistist") or competent or better able to determine appropriate and successful public policy either, although the far Right seems to think so.

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 22, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

All seven of the Emirates have been ruled by the same families for the past century and a half.

Well. That makes it all good then.
Posted by: cmdicely

And that prior to the discovery of oil their principle means of support were slavery and piracy...and occasionally finding a pearl they could hock.

Posted by: CFShep on February 22, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Why actually bad?

- UAE royal family actually had meetings with bin Laden and recognized the Taliban. This means real sympathy and potential financial support for Wahhabist fruitcakes on the part of their controlling aristocracy.
- The UAE is a primitive theocracy/olicgarchy, much closer to "islamofascism" than Iraq.
- DP, the corporation in question, is NOT independent of the UAE government.
- DP will have access to security
- Snow/CSX/DP cronyism.

Posted by: HeavyJ on February 22, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

So I am left with two choices: emigrating, or promoting a peaceful separation. Why is this crazy? Posted by: NYCBilly on February 22, 2006 at 1:15 PM

NYCBilly, there is a third option, convince the majority of American of the truth about the neocons and stop this long slide into hell.


BWAHAHAHAHA, sorry, I couldn't keep a straight face. I know the chances that in the upcoming elections people will follow reason instead of hatred, fear, and lies is almost nil.

Boy am I feeling cynical this morning.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on February 22, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

that woman wasn't stoned to death. She wasn't executed. There hasn't been an execution in this country since 2002.

Right--I got the info on that subject from Amnesty International. Thanks to AI, and their tireless work, exposing governments like the UAE's happens every day.

And all the most recent executions were by firing squad. And all the people executed were convicted of murder, not adultery.

But you haven't refuted the fact that Sharia law is used in the UAE and, my goodness, since they were merely executed by firing squad it's now all neat, tidy and humane, isn't it?

Now, how many people have been killed by your government since 2002?

Far too many. I oppose the death penalty. Too many innocent people have been put to death in this country.

But why is it that you're hellbent on shilling for the UAE? I'm not presuming to know more than yourself nor am I saying that I have anything more than what I've posted here to go on.

Seems to me that if the State Department website, Amnesty International, and a host of other news agencies can detail the various aspects of why the UAE isn't exactly a bastion of democracy and freedom in the world, why is it wrong to argue that such a country isn't the best candidate for controlling six major US ports?

Come on--who are you really shilling for?

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

It's official. "Moslem" is how Mehlman is spelling it on the TPM.

Posted by: shortstop on February 22, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

I have to agree with Pale Rider, Bart. Who are you shilling for? And you still have addressed the issue I brought up, military security.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on February 22, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Heres an old example of what happens when a country trusts its national security to other countries:

In 1910 Belgium, worried about growing tensions in Europe, placed two orders for heavy artillery to be placed in the forts along their border with Germany. One order was placed with the Skoda gun works in the (then) Austro Hungarian Empire. The other was placed with the Krupp armaments firm in Germany. Skoda delivered its guns on time. Krupp, however, was asked by its primary customer, the German army, to hold off on delivering its guns. The German army, of course, never told Krupp that the only war plan they had required a massive invasion of Belgium. But since Krupp was a German firm and the German army was its best customer, they didnt need to get that specific.

The Krupp guns were never delivered.

In 1914 Belgiums forts on the German border were damn near useless because the heavy guns that would have blasted invaders were still in a German factory in Essen.

And THAT is why you dont put all your eggs in other countries baskets because other countries have their own interests which they pursue and those may not be the same as your own.

Posted by: Mazurka on February 22, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Wait, you're saying those rants were from the real rdw?

What Kevin is missing here is that, as with any major government initiative, the politics of the decision makes a significant difference. If General Motors wants its factories' security to be handled by a UAE-government-owned company sending kickbacks to their executives who own a stake in said company, that's an issue between GM and its shareholders-- shareholders might even decide that saving a few bucks on security by making that decision is worth it. When the US government handles its port security the same way, suddenly there are a heck of a lot of other interest groups with a stake in the matter. So the politics matter.

Posted by: Constantine on February 22, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

This says it all...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. intelligence agencies scrutinized a deal to allow a state-owned Dubai company to manage major U.S. ports and found no security concerns, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said on Wednesday.

President George W. Bush is facing heavy resistance, including a revolt from members of his Republican Party in Congress, over a deal that critics say could pose risks to security at seaports.

Bush said on Tuesday he would use his veto power to block any legislation aimed at halting the agreement with Dubai Ports World.

Defending the president's stance, McClellan said: "The counterterrorism experts looked at it. The intelligence community did assessments to make sure that there was no national security threat."

Well, doesn't that make everyone feel better?

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Why worry about whether foreigners will destroy this country when we have wingnuts, oops I mean Republicans, wanting to burn down NYC and San Francisco? I don't see the administration upset by the fact that their high profile supporters wish to destroy sections of America? (Last I heard, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh haven't been "rendered".)

So selling off assets to foreigners is no big deal to them. They aren't too crazy about the idea of New York or California being part of the union anyway.

Posted by: NYCBilly on February 22, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

So selling off assets to foreigners is no big deal to them.

The cites own the ports. They not being sold. This is a contract to manage them. It has no effect on either security or unions.

Posted by: rdw on February 22, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Globalization is a subject on which I have commented in various media several times. Now two rather new aspects, or perhaps consequences, are in the headlines. They are the purchase of port facilities by a United Arab Emirates company and the censoring actions of American companies operating in China.

In both cases, the principle that international companies must operate within the laws of each country in which they locate is being called into question. In the first case, the question is can an Arab controlled company be trusted to operate within the laws of the United States, and in the second should American companies operating in China accept censorship regulations imposed by an authoritarian government.

Apparently, the Bush administration says the answer to both these questions is yes, but there are serious objections arising in the public and other branches of government. The sad thing is that in its continuing incompetence, secrecy, and lack of anticipation the administration has not foreseen these logical developments of the globalization of free trade. In my opinion, if the concepts of globalization are accepted, the position of the administration must be accepted.

A further aspect of the port facilities purchase by a foreign company is its relation to the horrendous and increasing trade deficits the United States is experiencing. The deficit dollars flooding the world markets must find investment outlets. US treasury debt instruments are one popular investment. As long as we run huge budget deficits, we will need foreign dollar sources. Americans do not save enough to fund the deficit, and it is probably a good thing because otherwise foreign owned dollars would be even more frantically seeking investment, and dollar value would certainly plunge.

American business or profit producing assets make a popular investment for foreign dollars. No doubt oil dollars in Dubai will be the source of funds for purchase of the US port facility companies. No doubt either that oil dollars have been used for large-scale acquisition of US based companies, over and above investment in their market shares. While perhaps not as visible a potential threat to our security, they may be more dangerous in the long run.

Posted by: Robert Hawkins on February 22, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Bart, there is a great country in the M. East that would be acceptable as having a finger in running our port operations: Bahrain.

Hell, of all the M. East countries that exist, THAT is one I could tolerate. Let's see if they want to toss a company into the mix. It is certain to be better than a Sharia Law enforcing, Sheik-dictator-run, OBL-loving UAE government owned company getting US taxpayer dollars.

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on February 22, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Postalgate:

Woman who tripped on mail can sue

Clarence Thomas shows he's a result-oriented, rather than textual, judge and willing to lie about it.

Even the intellectually dishonest Scalia refused to join Thomas in his idiotic hypocrisy.

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 22, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

P&O doesn't "own" the ports

Damn right they don't. So they can't expect that the the Port of Newark (owned by the people of NJ) can just be handed over to the new boss, no matter who it is.

Posted by: stepphie on February 22, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, they do have ethics in Dubai - For example, when the richest horse races known as the World Cup Of Racing cames to Nad al Sheba on March 25th, they will not allow paramutual betting at the track - Should you want to bet the $6,000,000 feature, best get down with the books.

Of course, there is side betting - Sorta like the old days in Kansas, before paramutuals, the good ole boys would assemble with their quarter horses and make "gentleman" bets - money, horses, farms and the like.

At Nad al Sheba, the Sheikhs assemble and make "gentleman" wagers with Mercedes, Jets, businesses, nights in a harem, or a night with Raoul - now, they can include a side bet with a night with Georgie the winner; weekend hunting with Dead-Eye to the loser.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on February 22, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Bahrain. The Las Vegas of the Middle East.

Want to see hypocrites in action? Merely stand outside of a casino in Bahrain and watch the Saudis, Jordanians, Egyptians, etc fall all over themselves pawing bar girls and drunk off their asses...

All in a strictly Muslim way, of course.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

More immediately it's a question of law. Josh Marshall writes,

The NY Times reported today that the law governing this sort of deal, when "the acquiring company is controlled by or acting on behalf of a foreign government," requires a "mandatory," 45-day investigation. That was never done, and what's more, "Administration officials ... could not say why a 45-day investigation did not occur."


Republicans seem congentially incapable of actually following or understanding any law beyond the divine right of kings. They love jailing people, but following established procedure themselves is beyond them.

When something won't work out in the fabulous way they imagine, rather than figuring out how to make it work within existing law, which is usually possible given our draconian legal system, they either insist some new even more draconian law is needed, or they simply break it.

Posted by: cld on February 22, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

rdw: Reading doesn't make one an elitist.

I think you probably meant . . .

"Reading doesn't make one elite . . ."

No. It was stated correctly.

What you actually wrote doesn't really make much sense, but that is pretty much par for your course.

It makes total sense. Elitism is a sense held be someone who thinks they're smarter or superior than everyone merely because of who they are or what they do. Elitists are never real world accomplished. Jimmy Carter could read 50 books a week and he's still be a fool. Bill Clinton probably does read 50 books a week but he'll still do and say anything to be liked.

Ronald Reagan went up against virtually all of academia and proved himself far smarter. Yet even with that Reagan would never put on airs. The ivy leagers still do. They've been wrong about everything since the 20's and they're still impressed with themselves. It's a very small following.

An elitists is someone like you who upon reading a book is impressed with themsevles.

An elitist is by definition an assh*le.

BTW: How about Larry Summers? The man makes a shallow attempt to take some PC out of Harvard and what does he get?

Posted by: rdw on February 22, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

rdw: This is a contract to manage them. It has no effect on either security or unions.

So, if being allowed to manage a port is not a security concern, then being allowed to manage the Secret Service shouldn't be either.

Let's let Al Queda manage Bush's security for a while.

Just for fun!

And let's let Iran manage our nuclear waste disposal program.

Just for fun!

And let's let rdw see if he can manage his own brain.

Just for fun!

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 22, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

go read this letter to Bush.

Posted by: cleek on February 22, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Asset: an item of value owned

Christ, if a contract has no value then why would one sell it?

Of course, we are selling port assets to foreigners. I have no problem with foreign investment. But selling off port management? To a state owned firm?

The argument that we are not "selling" the ports is silly. That is not the question anyway -- it is do we want a foreign firm, owned by another country, to manage any aspect of our ports? (And do we want to have a president who doesn't know what the fuck is going on until told by one of his lackeys to remain our President?)

Posted by: NYCBilly on February 22, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't yet seen the following point made explicitly anywhere, which I find odd, because it strikes me as basic (I confess though to having read only a portion of the posts here).

Let's even suppose that the UAE company actually WOULD do a good job at port security, and could be trusted to do so.

Still, it would be a very bad thing to grant the company the contract.

One key reason to refuse to hand this contract over to a company controlled by UAE is to communicate to countries that it will DAMAGE their ability to do business with the US if they coddle terrorists.

Really, if governments like UAE don't see any downside to cozying up, even literally, to bin Laden, what IS going to convince them to treat terrorists like the monsters they are?

What message is being sent to governments across the world if we simply go ahead with this deal as if it's routine business?

Posted by: frankly0 on February 22, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

What message is being sent to governments across the world if we simply go ahead with this deal as if it's routine business?

... that Bush is a flip-flopping, two-bit, fake-ranch, no-cattle, blustering dickweed.

Posted by: cleek on February 22, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

rdw: An elitist is by definition an assh*le.

Then you must be the greatest of elitists, since you are certainly the biggest of assh*les.

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 22, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Ronald Reagan went up against virtually all of academia and proved himself far smarter.

Yeah--that was a fantastic episode of Jeopardy.

Oh, wait. Wrong thread...

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

This thread is NOT about the 08 election

The thread, and all of the threads are about politics. It's very instructive to see who stands out from the crowd. We all know what the storm is so piling on is at best gutless and almost certainly calculating. This deal has been in the works for a bit. Coming out now is pure political calculation.

Besides, running with the herd won't get you anything.

This is where Big John McCain has been stellar. He's not biting at the easy bait. He stands alone and manages to separate himself from the crowd AND the MSM.

I think it's my duty to point out what has been a series of stellar moves by John McCain to reconnect with the conservative base. You won't read about it in the MSM thys you won't read about it. There are a lot of libs out there comfortable in the notion Hillary is a safe candidate because she won't have to run against Big John McCain because Big John can't win a southern GOP primary. I'm hear to correct that notion.

A lot of libs are thinking GWBs polls are down so they can win '08. I showing them where to focus their attention so they're not as devastated as they were after the last two elections.


Posted by: rdw on February 22, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Andy Borowitz on Advocate's point:

U.S. OUTSOURCES HOMELAND SECURITY TO NORTH KOREA

Little-known Korean Firm Seems Okay, Says Chertoff

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff raised eyebrows today by announcing that the United States would outsource all of its homeland security operations to a little-known North Korean firm called Jim Kong-Il, Inc.

Coming just days after the controversial decision to allow several major U.S. ports to be run by a company based in the United Arab Emirates, the outsourcing of the nations homeland security functions to an obscure company based in an Axis of Evil country struck some in Washington as ill-timed at best.

But Mr. Chertoff vigorously defended the decision in a Washington press conference this afternoon, calling Jim Kong-Il, Inc. the right firm for the job, adding, I looked into the company and it seems okay.

When asked exactly how thoroughly he had vetted the North Korean firm, Mr. Chertoff said, Well, I mean, I havent Googled it or anything but you just have to trust me on this one.

Almost nothing is known about the North Korean company that is about to control the U.S.s entire homeland security apparatus, nor about its highly reclusive founder, the mercurial Jim Kong-Il.

In an official statement released today, Mr. Jim said that his companys first official act on behalf of the U.S. would be to collect all of the nations nuclear fuel rods.

It is of utmost importance that Americas nuclear fuel rods do not fall into the wrong hands, Mr. Jims statement read. Therefore, we will collect all of those fuel rods and ship them to North Korea immediately.

Elsewhere, Vice President Dick Cheney admitted having a beer at lunch before advocating the invasion of Iraq.

Posted by: Windhorse on February 22, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Then you must be the greatest of elitists, since you are certainly the biggest of assh*les.

One can be an assh*le without being an elitist. An elitists however, it always an assh*le.

Posted by: rdw on February 22, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

rdw: I showing them where to focus their attention so they're not as devastated as they were after the last two elections.

Such concern from such a big assh*le is really, really touching.

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 22, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Soon we will own you,You weak amerikan fools.

Posted by: Ahmadd Bacrad on February 22, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

It's about managing the port. That certainly puts a new light on it.

I wonder if there are any office or plant managers reading here who could comment on how easy it might be for them to bring in a couple of large boxes, put them in a closet for a few days, then have someone else pick them up, all with no one else being the wiser.

Posted by: cld on February 22, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Ronald Reagan went up against virtually all of academia and proved himself far smarter.

Yeah--that was a fantastic episode of Jeopardy

In the real world my friend, in the real world. That was Reagan saying communism would soon be in the dustbin of history. It was all of Academia and the Democratic party saying the opposite. This is where search engines really suck. It takes about 10 minutes to prove it. Don't you just hate that!

Posted by: rdw on February 22, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

The thread, and all of the threads are about politics.

As I tell all people who use the comments sections to blather on about their own personal hobby-horses, regardless of the top-- get your own damn blog. Are you telling us that you really wrote that 9:28 post?

Posted by: Constantine on February 22, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

May we buy a Nuke plant or two.My cousin Akmahd would like to purchase one of you airports,just one,one is all I require.

Posted by: Ahmadd Bacrad on February 22, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not shilling for anybody. I will happily point out that this country has many problems. It certainly is not a democracy (although it is moving in that direcion), and does not have a lot of what we consider to be routine freedoms in the west. I'd hate to be a gay or a dissident in this country. All I am refuting is the claims here that it is a "primitive theocracy" with rampant al Qaeda sympathies. It simply isn't. It's the most progressive country in the region. It's not the repressive fundamentalist hell-hole some claim it to be (sight unseen, I might add). All the bizarro shit you mention happens in rural backwaters, not Abu Dhabi or Dubai.

I am a rational human being who only wishes to correct mistaken and ill-informed beliefs. Naive, I know, but what the hell, I'd rather speak up and try to educate a few people.

To clear a few things up: DPW isn't controlled by the UAE Federal Goverment, it is owned by an economic development agency of the city of Dubai - it's basically an enterprise project of a city government. The city is basically "owned" by one guy, Shaikh Mohammed al Makhtoum, so DPW taking over these shipping teminals (not ports) would be a bit like a company owned by Bill Gates or George Soros taking them over. Makhtoum, known locally as "Sheikh Mo", is ardently pro-US. Him using DPW as a stealth vehicle for al Qaeda is about as likely as the Queen of England allowing the IRA to take refuge in Buckingham Palace The company is managed by westerners. The current managers at the P&O operations will remain unchanged - the only changes will be a few execs at P&O HQ (PW is keeping the P&O brand, BTW) The terminals will still be staffed by unionized American longshoremen and American managers. Security will still be the responsibility of the Coast Guard, DHS, ICE, and a handful of other US Federal and local governmental agencies. DPW will not "control the ports", they will perform commercial management of commercial activities of some terminals and some warehouses. With that same US staff, US management and US government presence.

Nobody has been able to come up with a rational case for how this endangers the US. The probability of al Qaeda infiltrating DPW at any meaningful level is beneath miniscule, especially given that all the managers are WASP white Anericans and Brits.

The people of his country are not dispossessed like the people of Saudi Arabia - the royals have done a pretty gtood job of sharing the wealth. There are n o broad-based AQ sympathies. And there are toll-free numbers the locals are encourge to use if they see or hear any such activity. The locals don't want their fnancial apple-cart upset by AQ.

Oh, and the claim that until oil the UAE subsited on piracy and slavery is not tue. The British crushed the pirate fleet of the Qawasim tribe in 1820. That was 136 years before oil was discovered. As to slavery, there was a bit of trans-shipment throught Dubai to Saudi, but not much because the Brits controlled the country until 1971 and acted to stamp out slavery whenever it popped up. Besides, very few locals could afford slaves - we're talking about people who carried their entire wealth on a couple of camels. Oman was much worse - the Sultan of Muscat conquered Zanzibar and Mogadishu so as to have a source of slaves, and the last legal slave auction in Oman took place in 1975. It was necessary there for agricultue. But outside of a few date gardens, there was no agriculture in the UAE, so no real need for slaves. The pearling industry was pretty lucrative until about 1930, but was destroyed by the great depression and Mikimoto discovering how to cultivate pearls artificially. From 1930-1960, this was one of the poorest places on the face of the earth.

Also, as I previously mentioned, the Wahabbis were driven out of here in 1850. They tried to annex some of the country (containing oil) in 1955, and were driven out by force. This is not a wahabbi state, and the relationship with Saudi is one of cautious cordiality. Most locals really don't like the Saudis, for a variety of reasons, mostly historical and cultural.

Posted by: bart889 on February 22, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, we are selling port assets to foreigners. I have no problem with foreign investment. But selling off port management? To a state owned firm?

I suppose the fact that the US some years back sold about 60 jet fighters to the UAE might be considered just as much a problem as selling port assets.

Also on the morning news, it appears that the longshoreman's union successfully fought against getting background checks on dock workers. I'm going to Google around and find out more about that, but it seems that the risk of actually having workers in the dock area that have no background checks would scare me far more than this "Dubai debacle".

Posted by: pencarrow on February 22, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Yes,

And I like this blog as it is and will continue to use it as I do.

Posted by: rdw on February 22, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

We're underestimating the cleverness of the Bush administration.

Dick Cheney is giving control of the ports to Bid Laden's hunting partners because he's trying to score a hunting trip with Bin Laden...

Posted by: Marc on February 22, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Bush Unaware of Ports Deal Before Approval

Clueless, disengaged, or lying.

Bush = incompetent and corrupt.

rdw: One can be an assh*le without being an elitist. An elitists however, it always an assh*le.

And yet you still qualify as both!

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 22, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

To say this is about 'brown people' or 'fear of a brown planet' is simply disengenuous.

It's about fear of religious fruitcakes with atom bombs.

Posted by: cld on February 22, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

By all means, do not offend the Arab world.

Just as Gary Berntsen was begging CENTCOM to send in a battalion of U.S. Rangers at Tora Bora to block passage of bin Laden and his cohorts into Pakistan, Tommy Franks, the DoD and 1600 did not want to offend the Afghanis - Wouldn't send the troops and allowed bin Laden to escape - But Shrub is tough on terror.

And somehow, Berntsen still thinks Franks is a God.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on February 22, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

And I like this blog as it is and will continue to use it as I do.

You and the Chinese spammers.

Posted by: Constantine on February 22, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

He stands alone and manages to separate himself from the crowd AND the MSM.

McCain ? he's the king of all media whores.

Posted by: cleek on February 22, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

rdw: It was all of Academia and the Democratic party saying the opposite.

So, prove this is true or else by failure to do so prove that you are the liar we know you to be.

Prove that "all" academics and "all" members of the Democratic Party said exactly the opposite of "communism will soon be in the dustbin of history" which, btw, isn't even true.

So, Reagan wasn't even right.

North Korea, China, and Cuba communist regimes prove otherwise.

Doesn't internet search just suck, rdw.

Don't you just hate it when it proves you to be a liar.

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 22, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

bart889,

Your posts are informative, and you have great info--yet, you keep scaring the hell out of me.

DPW isn't controlled by the UAE Federal Goverment, it is owned by an economic development agency of the city of Dubai - it's basically an enterprise project of a city government. The city is basically "owned" by one guy, Shaikh Mohammed al Makhtoum, so DPW taking over these shipping teminals (not ports) would be a bit like a company owned by Bill Gates or George Soros taking them over.

Aaaaaah!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK
It's about fear of religious fruitcakes with atom bombs.

No, if Bush's base was afraid of that, they would have exploded over the alliance with Pakistan. Or, for that matter, over Bush's election itself.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Selling port management is like selling baggage duties at an airport. Would you like all baggage handlers to work for a state owned company from the UAE?

Yes, security would be separate, but at an airport or a port terminal who is in the best position to allude security? The answer, I believe, is obvious.

At airports, the airlines are in charge of baggage handling and the TSA in charge of security. At ports, the management of terminals are outsourced to private firms. Except, in the case, the firm is not private, but owned by the UAE.

Since port security is already a low priority for the Bush administration, changing the ownership of some terminals from a British owned company to a UAE owned company is probably a minor issue. After all, the war on terrorism is only a political football anyway -- witness the outsourcing of the search for Osama bin Ladin at Tora Bora.

Posted by: NYCBilly on February 22, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Robert Hawkins wrote:
Apparently, the Bush administration says the answer to both these questions is yes, but there are serious objections arising ... the administration has not foreseen these logical developments of the globalization of free trade. In my opinion, if the concepts of globalization are accepted, the position of the administration must be accepted.

a) Why would we rigidly and unthinkingly accept "the concepts of globalization," just because it is an ideology, or as though it were a religion? Why would we do that?
b) If we had, it does not follow that anyone must accept "the position of the administration," which has nothing to do with free trade and everything to do with corruption and cronyism.
c) Nothing about globalization requires us to compromise national security. Nor national economic security.

A further aspect of the port facilities purchase by a foreign company is its relation to the horrendous and increasing trade deficits the United States is experiencing.

Ooooh, good point. Why not improve our position economically by limiting port operations contractors to American firms? That'd improve the ability of Americans to save, accumulate capital, invest it, and compete globally.

Nowhere is it written that globalization means foreign firms, British or otherwise, get free access to national treasure(infrastructure) and the ability to exploit it at will.

Nothing says that's a bright idea. Nothing says that's in the economic or national interest of America. And no one but the village idiot would suggest that some discredited ideology should dictate otherwise, as if it were the proverbial golden calf.

It's like you decided that "neighborliness" should extend equally to all the neighbors in the block -- so you invite the one who emigrated from the UAE in to sleep with your wife seven days a week. That the British guy two doors down is finished with her doesn't make it right. You just don't have the right to do it.

There's no rational, economic, or quantitative argument for doing this. It's foolhardy.
other guy gets to sleep with your wife.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on February 22, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

bart,

I am perfectly willing to believe you when you say that the UAE is a fine place and that they really don't have any specific interest in controlling US port facilities and are likely to dump them the first chance they get. If that is true, then they won't feel especially snubbed if we insist on a side deal to the purchase where the US ports find another buyer.

Posted by: cld on February 22, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly;

Your assertion that the UAE "cozies up" to OBL is patently false. Once, 5 years ago, some of thelocal Royals took Mullah Omar's invitation for a hunting trip to Afghanistan. That's about all we know.

Oh, and Sharia law is basically used ony in the civil court system to deal with stuff like oivorces and inheritance disputes. I know you guys all think Sharia is limited to amputations and stonings, but it isn't. And the really wacky shit isn't practised here. If I commit a crime here, I go before a criminal court staffed by judges who are not imams. There is a difference. Punishment consists of prison stays, fines and deportations. In some rural areas adulterers are sentenced to the lash.

My lfe here consists of working in a modern university teaching from western textbooks in english; hanging out watching football in sports bars and nightclubs, smoking shisha and drinking coffee in malls full of luxury goods stores (and Ikea), scuba diving, sunbathing, scarfing down ridiculously cheap 5-star hotel buffets, and buying all kinds of bootleg DVDs from the travelling DVD man (who mnakes housaecalls) for $3 apiece. And dodging death on a daily basis on the roads. If I wasn't a vegetarian, I'd be able to eat all the bacon and ham I could handle. I've never witnessed the totalitarian theocratic hellhole you all people (who have never visited here) insist exists.

Heck, if I cherry-picked stories on the internet I'm sure I could convince someone that the US was a theocracy run by Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell where homosexuals are regularly persecuted and everybody must go to church. But my personal experience was rather different. Heck, the locals here don't believe me when I tell then that there aren't gunfights on every corner of every American city every day. Believing what you see on TV will do that to you.

Posted by: bart889 on February 22, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Bush: And 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 Great British (sic) company.

Now we know where rdw gets his language skills - from his obsessive devotion to all things Bush and a viewpoint delimited by the outlines of Bush's posterior.

Now, I think I'll go feed my Great Danish some of the puppy chow he loves so much.

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 22, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely, "if Bush's base was afraid of that, they would have exploded over the alliance with Pakistan. Or, for that matter, over Bush's election itself."


The convolution and cognitive dissonance of the collective Republican mind are a source of endless fascination to me.

Posted by: cld on February 22, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

The convolution and cognitive dissonance of the collective Republican mind are a source of endless fascination to me.

Yet, there are those who feel that somehow they will suddenly see the light and decide to forsake the Republican Party.

I don't see it.

Asking a pro-torture, pro-death penalty, pro-war Republican to change strips is like expecting a pro-slavery Southerner to suddenly adopt abolition. (Oops, guess they are really just the same people, a few generations removed,)

The only way to the reconcile these opposing forces will be through bloodshed or a peaceful dissolution of the union. I know that many think we are nowhere near that situation yet -- but I believe we are. And after the November election, you may feel that way, as well.

Posted by: NYCBilly on February 22, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

NYCBilly: The only way to the reconcile these opposing forces will be through bloodshed or a peaceful dissolution of the union. I know that many think we are nowhere near that situation yet -- but I believe we are. And after the November election, you may feel that way, as well.

Don't worry too much yet.

Nothing has proven more effective against the Republican Party than merely letting them eat their own and destroy themselves.

Periodically we must go through the cleansing process, because the citizenry have short memories, but Bush's GOP will go the way of Nixon's and Reagan's, relegated to the dustbins of history, in rdw-terminology, with nary a thought but from radically mendacious historical revisionists of the fascists in the conservative camp.

The GOP will rot away from the inside out because it has nothing of substance under the surface but hate, self-loathing, bitterness, and psychopathy.

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 22, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

The hurricanes in the south have snapped a lot of people out of it and we need to move forward here before they get snapped back in again.

Posted by: cld on February 22, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Prove that "all" academics and "all" members of the Democratic Party said exactly the opposite of "communism will soon be in the dustbin of history" which, btw, isn't even true.

Do your own research

So, Reagan wasn't even right.

He nailed it. That's one reason why he's top ten

North Korea, China, and Cuba communist regimes prove otherwise.

Good choices moron. China adopted modified capitalism in 1979 and is now more capitalist than communist. North Korea and Cuba are both prison camps where they have to shoot people in the back to keep them from leaving.

Posted by: rdw on February 22, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing has proven more effective against the Republican Party than merely letting them eat their own and destroy themselves.

That explains what they have control of the WH, Congress and Courts. That explains why the to most popular candidates for President in 2008 are McCain and Guiliani.

Posted by: rdw on February 22, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

The only way to the reconcile these opposing forces will be through bloodshed or a peaceful dissolution of the union. I know that many think we are nowhere near that situation yet -- but I believe we are.

As if liberals would have the balls to fight. You're the party of soft power and nuance remember? You think Speilberg talking until he's blue in the gills will make our ears bleed?.


As far as succession the best you'll able to do is one or two states and maybe a dozen cities. If you take SF, LA, NY, Detroit, DC and Seattle you don't even have to ask. Just go.

Posted by: rdw on February 22, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Tell me, how does one go from being a pro-torture, pro-war Republican to being an anti-war, pro-human race human being? Is there a miracle drug one takes. Does one read a story in the New York Times?

I think a lot of people are asking for too much. At best, if Democrats can get an incredibly high number of people to the polls, and Republicans are upset enough to stay away, maybe the Democrats can elect someone like Bill Clinton again. But I doubt it.

More likely, the same people who are for the war in Iraq will go to the polls, realize that only one party is committed to purging gays, and pull the lever for the Republicans once again.

It won't matter that the budget is a disaster, that the national debt means that there is a defacto tax that will have to be paid by their children and the children's children, that the Constitution has been shredded, that their jobs have been sent overseas, that their phones are tapped -- they will know that their gay neighbor won't be able to adopt any kids or be legally married, and that will be enough for them.

I'm afraid people are being wildly unrealistic in their expectations.

Posted by: NYCBilly on February 22, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Um, UAE has demonstrated ties to al Qaeda and to the 11 Sept attacks?

Therefore, this (to this bleeding heart anyway) is not about racism -- that's a red herring. It's about doing business with countries who were involved in acts of terrorism against the United States. Of course, if we were going to be consistent we would have to invade Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the UAE. It has been demonstrated, thank you George, that we are not consistent. However, our lack of consistency across the board doesn't mean that it's not a royally bad idea to hand over our ports to a government-run company with ties to terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda.

Pretty simple, I think. I'm surprised at you, Kevin. I would have thought that you would be at least aware of this (primary, to my mind) aspect of the controversy.

Posted by: A on February 22, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

rdw, if you throw in Boston and Chicago it's a deal.

Posted by: NYCBilly on February 22, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

rdw: Do your own research

No.

You made the assertion, so prove it.

You can't, of course, because you are lying as usual.

It takes about 10 minutes to prove it.

You've had more than 10 minutes.

Obviously, therefore, you can't prove it.

So, of course, you are lying as usual.

See how easy the real world is, rdw!

Good choices moron. China adopted modified capitalism in 1979 and is now more capitalist than communist. North Korea and Cuba are both prison camps where they have to shoot people in the back to keep them from leaving.

Prison camps or not, the issue is not whether communism is successful in those countries, but whether it exists.

It does. Proving you are a liar. You lose.

Your opinion on China is inane.

China calls itself a communist nation.

Even the Bush administration categorizes China as a communist nation.

Indeed, no one, except apparently you and people in mental institutions (which may include you after all) believes differently.

Thus, again, you are lying.

Or the fake rdw.

Who can tell these days.

rdw is easy to mock, easy to fake.

Nevertheless, the points are false.

You think Speilberg talking until he's blue in the gills will make our ears bleed?

Why do you stoop to racist comments?

That explains what they have control of the WH, Congress and Courts.

No, election fraud, rigged courts, and preaching fear explain that.

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 22, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

It's time to bring back: "But would you buy a used car from this guy."

See how well that polls.

How about: Instead of raising taxes we're just gonna devalue the dollar 30% or so - geez - why do you idiots think our true consistuency needs so goddamned many of the things?

Posted by: CFShep on February 22, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Cliff Clavin: North Korea and Cuba are both prison camps where they have to shoot people in the back to keep them from leaving.

And this makes them not Communist...how?

Posted by: Stefan on February 22, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Cliff Clavin: China adopted modified capitalism in 1979 and is now more capitalist than communist.

Hmmm, let's see what the CIA says about that:

Government type: Communist state.

Political parties and leaders: Chinese Communist Party or CCP [HU Jintao, General Secretary of the Central Committee]; eight registered small parties controlled by CCP

http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ch.html

Posted by: Stefan on February 22, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Cliff Clavin: It was all of Academia and the Democratic party saying the opposite. This is where search engines really suck. It takes about 10 minutes to prove it. Don't you just hate that!

Like Advocate, I'm still waiting for this proof that " all of Academia [sic] and the Democratic party [sic]" were saying the opposite. C'mon, shouldn't those mighty search engines be coughing up that proof by now?

Don't you just hate that?

Posted by: Stefan on February 22, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Or do these guys think that things are going so well for them they can get away with anything? Humongous bubble effect or just a last round of brazen grasping before it all comes tumbling down?
Posted by: shortstop

b) a last round of brazen grasping before it all comes tumbling down

Posted by: CFShep on February 22, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

And this makes them not Communist...how?

Didn't say N. korea and Cuba were not communist. They're among the worst failures in the history of civilization. Of course they're communist. What ele could the be? The point Reagan made was that communism will end up in the trash bin of history. It's well on it's way to happening. The vast majority of nations who were communist then have dumped it now.

At the time an army of liberals were in agony Ronnie was so harsh. He needed to be more nuanced don't you know?

Posted by: rdw on February 22, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

Don't you just hate that?

Not really. Why not just cut to the heart of the matter. Here's a poll of 85 historians, political scientists and constitutional scholars listing the Presidents:

GREAT
1 George Washington 4.92
2 Abraham Lincoln 4.87
3 Franklin Roosevelt 4.67
NEAR GREAT
4 Thomas Jefferson 4.25
5 Theodore Roosevelt 4.22
6 Andrew Jackson 3.99
7 Harry Truman 3.95
8 Ronald Reagan 3.81
9 Dwight Eisenhower 3.71
10 James Polk 3.70
11 Woodrow Wilson

Here's a prediction: In another generation FDR drops down 2 spots, Woodrow Wilson at least 2, JFK (18) at least 2 and Jimmy Carter 2 (30).

It's also possible Jackson drops 3 spots while Harry, Ronnie and Ike move up one.

Posted by: rdw on February 22, 2006 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK
Here's a poll of 85 historians, political scientists and constitutional scholars listing the Presidents

I'm sure you could find 85 people across those disciplines to handpick to support just about any idea you wanted. So?

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

How about this, Kevin? Why on earth should we use American dollars to reward countries that helped Al Qaeda?

Okay, with oil, we have no choice. But this, we have a choice. Why should we be giving money and jobs to the royal family that was hanging out with Bin Laden and helped finance him?

It sure does say something to allies, doesn't it? You better support us on this war on terror-- except, of course, when it comes time to give out big contracts, your alliance isn't going to buy you any credit with us at all. We'd really rather our money went to those who allied with our enemies!

Yeah, that's a really good selling point. That's the way Bush does it-- that's why we're still all buddies with Saudi Arabia, but at least they got something we really need. There are other port-managing companies that aren't headquartered in Bin Laden's favorite banking town. Why don't we at least let those companies bid? You know, at least pretend we don't reward allies of terrorists with our hard-earned bucks and access to our ports?

Posted by: an on February 23, 2006 at 6:02 AM | PERMALINK

How about this, Kevin? Why on earth should we use American dollars to reward countries that helped Al Qaeda?

Okay, with oil, we have no choice. But this, we have a choice. Why should we be giving money and jobs to the royal family that was hanging out with Bin Laden and helped finance him?

It sure does say something to allies, doesn't it? You better support us on this war on terror-- except, of course, when it comes time to give out big contracts, your alliance isn't going to buy you any credit with us at all. We'd really rather our money went to those who allied with our enemies!

Yeah, that's a really good selling point. That's the way Bush does it-- that's why we're still all buddies with Saudi Arabia, but at least they got something we really need. There are other port-managing companies that aren't headquartered in Bin Laden's favorite banking town. Why don't we at least let those companies bid? You know, at least pretend we don't reward allies of terrorists with our hard-earned bucks and access to our ports?

Posted by: an on February 23, 2006 at 6:13 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure you could find 85 people across those disciplines to handpick to support just about any idea you wanted. So?

I wanted you to see life outside the bubble in the real world where the post '68 radical leftward swing of the Democratic party is seen as an abberation. More instructive than Reagan's appearance is Harry S. Truman. He's the liberals least favorite Democratic President because he's a man with a dramatially different mindset than current day liberals.

ALL of our institutions have become more conservative and are still moving rightward. How interesting that Larry Summers, a liberal, gets fired from Harvard because he's not PC enough for the faculty yet has 3 to 1 support among the student body and the support of the student newspaper.

You've got to see that as a disaster. It used to be the younger the more liberal. You've lost your seed corn. College campuses were known as hotbeds of liberal angst about just about everything. Today 99% of campus stories that make news are some faculty dickhead like Ward Churchill. Academia has moved from esteemed to laughable in a generation.

George Clooney understands the problem well. The term liberal has become associated with the Ward Churchills and Michael Moore's of the world. He just doesn't know what to do. Reaching back to the salad days of CBS and Joe McCarthy is so perfectly 2006 Democratic PR. How could he possibly think reaching back 50 years could undo the stain of Dan Rather?

Posted by: rdw on February 23, 2006 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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