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Tilting at Windmills

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February 22, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

YET MORE ON THE DUBAI PORT FIASCO....Jim Geraghty, who now believes that the Dubai port deal is A-OK, gets today's award for the most unintentionally hilarious defense of the blogosphere's handling of the story. The problem, he says, is that we trusted the mainstream media:

Im generally a big fan of the New York Post, but the way this story [link here] arranges the facts appears to be some pretty blatant scaremongering.

Reactionary scaremongering? From the New York Post? Say it ain't so!

Elsewhere, Michael Tomasky, who makes an unsettling reference to settling "this Kevin Drum business," suggests that we look to congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York, an expert on port security, for advice on how to think about all this. As it turns out, Nadler doesn't actually have much to say about it, but he does say this:

The Bush Administration has a highly troubling record of handing contracts and lucrative positions to individuals on the basis of personal friendship not the public interest. Given the Presidents cozy relationship with the governments of oil-rich nations, I think its only natural for alarm bells to be going off. We need time for Congress to take a hard look at this proposal.

Truer words were never spoken. And given the Republican Party's five-year effort to caricature liberals as panty-waisted Osama lovers for doing nothing more than holding positions startlingly similar to Bush's on the Dubai port deal, we would need to be veritable saints not to get a frisson of pleasure from holding their feet to the fire over this. It's time for the modern GOP to get a taste of its own dog food.

Still, unlike the NSA wiretap issue, it doesn't appear (so far) that there was any actual foul play in the Dubai deal. The DPW acquisition was approved through the usual channels, Congress isn't normally involved in oversight on these things, and the Exon-Florio provision requires not that the DPW deal undergo a 45-day investigation, but that the investigation be completed within 45 days (although the actual requirements in this case are a little hazy, I admit).

At the same time, it's not exactly nonsensical to have a few qualms about a state-owned Arab company taking over operations at half a dozen big U.S. ports, and you'd think someone in the administration would have been smart enough to figure this out. As Nadler says, slowing down and having Congress take a closer look at the Dubai deal makes sense, even if my hopes for anything other than multiple hours of camera-hogging bluster are pretty minimal. Doing things in daylight is usually for the best, so let's get everything out in the open and see what happens.

UPDATE: More on the Exon-Florio provision here.

Kevin Drum 9:43 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (66)

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Kevin Drum: Still, unlike the NSA wiretap issue, it doesn't appear (so far) that there was any actual foul play in the Dubai deal.

Isn't blatant stupidity sufficient grounds for criticism?

Posted by: alex on February 22, 2006 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

"Still, unlike the NSA wiretap issue, it doesn't appear (so far) that there was any actual foul play in the Dubai deal. "

Snow, one of the Bush&Co officials who can approve the deal, and does, stands to gain millions from the deal and you say, no foul play?

Posted by: Sky-Ho on February 22, 2006 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

Am I the only one who thinks that this wouldn't be an issue if we had port security worthy of the name?

Posted by: Jim S on February 22, 2006 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

I really wish the mainstream media (or the non-mainstream media)would explain something to those like me, who know little to nothing about ports. There seems to be set of companies who specialize in the logistical management of ports -- in effect what makes a port highly functional and economically important. Just doing a little web research I discovered that pre-merger with P&O, DPW has posts in South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, Far East and Europe, but none in North America. Acquiring P&O gives it a foothold in North America (P&O currently operates the Port of Vancouver btw, so I assume DPW will take over that port as well). Incredibly smart business move. My question naturally turns to global monopoly. How many port logistics companies are there? What percentage of ports do the big ones control? What sort of strategies are in play? Do any countries manage or mandate that only national companies engage in port management? Am I a fool for asking these questions? If not, why isn't anyone else asking these questions?

Posted by: LisainVan on February 22, 2006 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

I understand that only 5% of containers are inspected.

Even assuming the UAE leadership is totally above board, tell me again how the radical son of a shiek who got his kid a job in the family business couldn't figure out how to make sure "his" special container avoided inspection?

On reflection, however, I am with Jim S. If we had proper port security nobody would care who had the contract.

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 22, 2006 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Sky-Ho; Snow's involvement stinks of self interest. I strongly feel for that fact alone, this should have further review.

May I say, Kevin, I admire your ability to make us examine our own knee jerk reactions even if it does cause some of your threads to sizzle like acid?

Posted by: carolyn13 on February 22, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

My take on the port management flareup is that there is no doubt the usual element of cronyism and corruption that we have come to expect whenever the Bush administration does anything, but there is something far more significant behind this deal; I believe that the Bushniks are making nice with Dubai/UAE because they want to use that country as a staging ground + launch pad for making war on Iran. UAE is perfectly positioned for this purpose.

My bet is that the administration approached Dubai with a request to use UAE ports and airfields and the government there said, "OK, but we want those lucrative port management deals in your country in exchange."

Posted by: islander on February 22, 2006 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

it doesn't appear (so far) that there was any actual foul play

You may have spoken a bit too soon...

http://tinyurl.com/mfg38

corrupt by habit, corrupt to the bone, born corrupt, JFC, they just have no bounds

Posted by: sister ray on February 22, 2006 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

Here is some interesting analysis of a similar deal:

You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won't have it!! Is that clear?! You think you've merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case. The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity! It is ecological balance!

You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multi-national dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, Reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels.

It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU WILL ATONE!



Posted by: Arthur Jensen on February 22, 2006 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

You can take Kevin out of Orange County, but you can't take Orange County out of Kevin.

But then again you can't take Kevin out of Orange County either.

Kevin, stop trying to be a liberal -- you're no good at it.

Posted by: NYCBilly on February 22, 2006 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

What's the background story on all these mergers in the shipping and port industry?

Posted by: toast on February 22, 2006 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

Kevein Drum: "It doesn't appear there was any actual foul play...".

Geesh. This is a transaction which was required by law to be given a 45 day review. It didn't happen. Rumsfeld and now Bush are saying they had no prior info about it.

Your conclusion is a total journalistic pre-ejaculation. Go change your underwear Kevin.

Posted by: Poncho & Lefty on February 22, 2006 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

From the link that sister ray provided at 10:06:

The administration did not require Dubai Ports to keep copies of business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to court orders. It also did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate U.S. government requests. Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales in other industries.

The concessions - described previously by the Homeland Security Department as unprecedented among maritime companies - reflect the close relationship between the United States and the United Arab Emirates.

It said Dubai Ports must retain paperwork "in the normal course of business" but did not specify a time period or require corporate records to be housed in the United States. Outside experts familiar with such agreements said such provisions are routine in other cases.

Well, it's a good thing the administration is doing everything they can to put this company outside the reach of the American legal system and law enforcement.

That way when we catch terrrorists, we'll reeeaallly have to work for it, making it more satisfying than if we just caught them easily.

No one wants to win that way.

Posted by: Windhorse on February 22, 2006 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Cheney, I guess it must be a safe investment for cash rich countries. The other companies aren't hurting, just selling out.

It'll be fun to see what happens in the next world war when countries like Dubai and China control half the world's shipping and 75% of the world's LNG tankers and oil tankers.

Posted by: toast on February 22, 2006 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

I hate to admit it, but I happened to hear Michael Savage on the drive from work, and he had the right take on this. Surprising Randi Rhodes was saying the same thing.

I agree with both of them that GWB should not get a pass on this on grounds of national security.

Posted by: lib on February 22, 2006 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK
In Saudi Arabia, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the agreement was thoroughly vetted. "We have to maintain a principle that it doesn't matter where in the world one of these purchases is coming from," Rice said Wednesday.

Right.

I just have a feeling that Cheney's not going to hire a catering company that's owned by the Syrian government to do his backyard barbecues, nor is Condoleeza Rice going to use the Republic of Iran Housecleaning Service.

So why do they think it's OK to put our homes at risk?

Posted by: Windhorse on February 22, 2006 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

In other news:

Lt. Milo Minderbinder awarded contract to attack the USAAF 256th Bomber Group base.

Posted by: alex on February 22, 2006 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

All 12 federal agencies gave unanimous approval of the deal

given that BushCo has such a long history of dissent from within, the fact that there was no dissent on this one proves that it's 100% A-O.K!

Posted by: cleek on February 22, 2006 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK
The "background", toast, is called FREE MARKET, baby! Posted by: Cheney
That free market is actually bought and paid for cronyism in this case via John Snow and the Carlyle Group

Dobbs then asked, do you wonder why President Bush is insisting on pushing this port deal through?
President Bush's family and members of the Bush administration have long-standing business connections with the United Arab Emirates, and those connections are raising new concerns and questions tonight in some quarters about why the president is defying his very own party leadership and his party in defending the Dubai port deal Dobbs said.
Christine Romans then reported:
The oil-rich United Arab Emirates is a major investor in The Carlyle Group, the private equity investment firm where President Bush's father once served as senior adviser and is a who's who of former high-level government officials. Just last year, Dubai International Capital, a government-backed buyout firm, invested in an $8 billion Carlyle fund.Another family connection, the president's brother, Neil Bush, has reportedly received funding for his educational software company from the UAE investors. A call to his company was not returned.Then there is the cabinet connection. Treasury Secretary John Snow was chairman of railroad company CSX/. After he left the company for the White House, CSX sold its international port operations to Dubai Ports World for more than a billion dollars.In Connecticut today, Snow told reporters he had no knowledge of that CSX sale. I learned of this transaction probably the same way members of the Senate did, by reading about it in the newspapers.Another administration connection, President Bush chose a Dubai Ports World executive to head the U.S. Maritime Administration. David Sanborn, the former director of Dubai Ports' European and Latin American operations, he was tapped just last month to lead the agency that oversees U.S. port operations.

Posted by: Mike on February 22, 2006 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

it's called FREE MARKET, baby!
Posted by: Cheney on February 22, 2006 at 10:17

Mr. Cheney, while a lousy shot (especially when drunk, sorry Dick), Has Hit the Nail on the Head, that is why bushco is reacting so badly to the pushback on this deal.
Security is a non-starter with bushco, but get in the way of a lucrative deal with his corporate puppeteers and we finally get to hear the V word!

And, oh yeah, a company that gets a deal like this also gets ALL information on the ports, right down to detailed blueprints of the facilities, as well as the security apparatus in place (or not, as the case may be).

Posted by: jay boilswater on February 22, 2006 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

What is to stop ObL from gaining control of this organization, and infiltrating the ports?

Posted by: dataguy on February 22, 2006 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

This news item suggests that Kevin is uncharacteristically very wrong on this issue.

Posted by: lib on February 22, 2006 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps you missed Kevin Drum pointing out (again correctly) that UAE will not be in charge of port security as that remains with U.S. Coast Guard and Customs specifically?

Right. They inspect 5% of incoming containers.

However, the company operating the port will control which ships load and unload, what stevedores will be employed in the process, and will have the ability to subvert the inspection process whenever they want, simply because the filthy money and deals that link the UAE company to this administration guarantees that there won't be any real 'oversight.'

Of course, 'oversight' is simply a joke in Washington DC right now. That is, until the bums in charge are swept out of office.

We need to return to divided government.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

Bottom lines:

1. There are things in America which should not be sold to any foreign nations. Port operations is one of them.

2. Depotic royal families who picnic with Bin Laden don't get treated the same as the British, our closest ally with a Democratic history stretching centuries.

3. Kevin shares the same ideal held by Bush: Capital should never be restrained by nationalist concerns (nor any other). Corporate rights uber alles.

Posted by: Tim B. on February 22, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney, does the melting of the Greenland Ice cap have something to do with the rapture? I'm just trying to get a time frame here. Hello? Hellow? You're not already a pile of clothes above your mothers garage are you?

Posted by: toast on February 22, 2006 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

Why would Bush threaten a Veto (his first) over the UAE ports deal?

Money, of course! Or

This is a smoke screen.

Like any good magician, there is something huge over the horizon and Bush wants to distract your attention.

He may find that the rabbit has left a big turd in his hat.

Or...

It could be a bluff alowing Republicans to look strong on security by standing up to Bush. Thus firming up reelection hopes.

Oh hell,

On with the show

Posted by: Sideline on February 22, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

I see the currently reported lack of adherence to current US law and usual requirements for state-owned foreign businesses has been mentioned, but I have a sneaking suspicion we will learn more as a bit more time passes and more information sees the light of day.

A follow the money tale, imho, and it was not supposed to be noticed.

Has a date been set for the confirmation hearing for David C. Sanborn? Sen. George Allen introduced him to the Senate on Feb. 7, per his web site, but I haven't been able to find a scheduled date.

Posted by: jawbone on February 22, 2006 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

The deal seems pretty innocuous on the surface, given that the port operators in the United States will employ US nationals and fall under DHS security oversight. However, given the Bush administration's sorry record on defending this country from terrorism, and the cronyism that is rampant, it should be thoroughly investigated. I would take the opposite tack from Schumer; I would be predisposed to accept it unless shown otherwise.

Posted by: Wombat on February 22, 2006 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

jawbone,

Two words: 'recess appointment'

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

You don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows. KD is apparently trying to be smarter than all the rest, above it all. I think the country as a whole is telling the politicians, MSM, even the Bloggers, "Guys, genuises, don't sweat it, we got this one. Even thinking about letting the UAE frontmen run our ports is varking insanity". I don't want to torture, hold-without-charge, wiretap, or otherwise demonize anyone from the UAE. But they don't get to own a piece of Plymouth Rock.

Posted by: Esoth on February 22, 2006 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

Esoth: I don't want to torture, hold-without-charge, wiretap, or otherwise demonize anyone from the UAE. But they don't get to own a piece of Plymouth Rock.

And as an extra measure of goodwill, we promise not to invade their country!

Posted by: alex on February 22, 2006 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

Calling this no big deal is existentially stupid. Port security is a very big deal. The most likely way for a nuclear weapon to be delivered to U.S. soil isn't an ICBM, it's a shipping container.

Our ports are no more secure than they were before 911 thanks to the Bush administration's pre-911 mentality. They need to be secured now. Foreign management can only make this task more difficult, and management by a firm owned by Middle East nation that has ties to international terrorists can make it impossible.

Get real. There are people out there who are out to get us. Why make it easier for them?

Posted by: aaron aardvark on February 22, 2006 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

Rush Limbaugh and John Batchelor, two radio hosts who keep Bush pubic hairs as talismans, are pushing the idea that the evil unions are against the poor UAE. The unions give money to the "Hillary Clintons of the world" and this is why democratic politicians are against this deal. Limbaugh seemed a bit uncomfortable making this argument suggesting that a longshoreman would be waiting outside his house ready to kick his ass. I assume this is Rove's argument for the moment. I have no idea if the nation's security is compromised by this buyout but I certainly hope that there is further investigation by the congress. But will this argument work? Do the republicans think that they have so successfully demonized unions that the bogeyman of a union member can be more powerful than the bogeyman of a totalitarian Arab state?

Posted by: Patrick on February 22, 2006 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

Dick Cheney --completely plastered,

http://www.capitolhillblue.com/artman/publish/article_8184.shtml

Posted by: cld on February 22, 2006 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. A week ago it was "silly Republicans, hiding under the bed from the nasty terrorists" and now it's "look out, here come the Arabs!"

Wish we could raise as much fuss over thousands of miles of open border as we are about the shipping ports.

Posted by: tbrosz on February 22, 2006 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

Still, unlike the NSA wiretap issue, it doesn't appear (so far) that there was any actual foul play in the Dubai deal. The DPW acquisition was approved through the usual channels, Congress isn't normally involved in oversight on these things, and the Exon-Florio provision requires not that the DPW deal undergo a 45-day investigation, but that the investigation be completed within 45 days (although the actual requirements in this case are a little hazy, I admit).

The objection that critics have, though the media accounts seem to confuse this, is not that an investigation that must take exactly 45 days was not done in favor of an investigation taking 45-days, but that the kind of investigation spelled out in Exon-Florio (50 USC App. 2170), which is mandatory when a foreign-government controlled entity is involved in a merger or acquisition that may impact national security, and must be completed within 45 days of being started, must consider certain specified factors, and must be reported by the President to the Congress, whichever way it is decided, was not conducted at all.

The focus that has been put on the length of the investigation entirely misrepresents the central point.

So, I'd say, you are incorrect that it was approved through the "usual channels", since, in the circumstances presented, those would include an Exon-Florio investigation and a Presidential determination reported to Congress. I'd further say that you are again wrong when you say that "Congress isn't normally involved in oversight of these things", since the the report of the investigation under Exon-Florio is delivered to both houses of Congress, for the purpose of allowing them oversight. So, all of the premises on which your statement that "unlike the NSA wiretap issue, it doesn't appear (so far) that there was any actual foul play in the Dubai deal" appear to be faulty, and I'd say the conclusion is faulty as well. The violation here is, of course, unlike the NSA wiretap issue, not a regular criminal violation of the law; nevertheless, it is at best a grossly negligent handling of duty that constitutes a substantial failure in the duty of the executive to faithfully execute the law.

And its notable that the Homeland Security Secretary himself characterized it as a result of a considered tradeoff between national security and trade interests. That suggests that, well, security weighs a lot less heavily on this Administration's mind when is weighed against trade than when it is weighed against civil liberties. Of course, its sheer hysteria for a liberal to criticize the administration when its own words show this to be the case.

I don't understand your persistent to desire to minimize, minimize, minimize over this issue, other than as some kind of bizarre fear that if you actually raise serious concerns that relate to this action, you'll somehow be tarred as shrill because of the xenophobic wingnuts who initially went batshit about this because they hate Ay-rabs.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

What gets me about this whole story is that people seem to be unable to acknowledge a very real basis for the disgust most Americans feel about this contract.

We read stories that half the royal family of UAE visited bin Laden not long before 9/11, at a time when bin Laden was already a self-declared mortal enemy of the US, and had already been behind terrorist attacks against American interests and citizens. Then we read that the UAE owns a corporation that is granted a major contract by the US government to handle port security.

Now, for most people, the symbolism of that is sufficient unto itself to find the granting of the contract nearly obscene. It simply doesn't matter how many arm lengths the UAE can place between itself and the day to day operation of the ports. This is NOT merely an issue of whether all the moral and trust issues can be laundered away under some cleverly devised corporate entity.

It's an issue of the symbolism of it all -- that the very royal family that partied with bin Laden while he was the most vicious enemy of the US should somehow receive the benefits of US largesse, and in dealing of all things with the very security of the US.

This is what has infuriated a great many Americans when it comes to the Saudis as well: the idea that there was no accountability for their behavior, that all could be hidden under some corporatism and business as usual.

For most of us, it just isn't enough that the corporations can be made to get around the moral and trust issues; indeed, for many of us, THAT is precisely the problem -- that countries and ruling classes can arrange things so that they never are punished for any outrageous thing they do. In effect, these countries can use global corporatism to game the whole system, so that they can have their bin Laden and American money too.

Somewhere, somehow, that has to stop.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 22, 2006 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

http://tinyurl.com/fn23l

Read Larry Johnson.

Posted by: Jones on February 23, 2006 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

this deal will not happen. if it does the modern GOP is done. I hate and distrust arabs a lot more than I like the GOP. If the GOP sells us out to the arabs fuck them.

Posted by: me on February 23, 2006 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

A week ago it was "silly Republicans, hiding under the bed from the nasty terrorists" and now it's "look out, here come the Arabs!"

So far, its been the Republican opposition to the Dubai deal that's been doing most of the "look out, here come the Arabs" thing, so I don't see the inconsistency.

Wish we could raise as much fuss over thousands of miles of open border as we are about the shipping ports.

I suppose if Bush decided to allow operation of border crossing to be outsourced to an operation run by the government of Cuba, there would be a similar stink.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 23, 2006 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

Follow the Bushie money...

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The oil-rich United Arab Emirates is a major investor in The Carlyle Group, the private equity investment firm where President Bush's father once served as senior adviser and is a who's who of former high-level government officials. Just last year, Dubai International Capital, a government-backed buyout firm, invested in an $8 billion Carlyle fund. [Transcript]
Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 23, 2006 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

We read stories that half the royal family of UAE visited bin Laden not long before 9/11, at a time when bin Laden was already a self-declared mortal enemy of the US, and had already been behind terrorist attacks against American interests and citizens. Then we read that the UAE owns a corporation that is granted a major contract by the US government to handle port security.

Well, other than the fact that the UAE, per se doesn't have a royal family, that it is not the government of the UAE, but the government of Dubai that is doing the buyout, that it is a British-owned firm with several port operations contracts being bought that has been approved by the US government, not a contract for port security being issued by the US government, you've posted a fairly accurate description of the facts.

IOW, if those are the stories you are reading, maybe you ought to get better news sources.

That said, your summary of why this whole deal pisses people off is mostly well done, notwithstanding the errors on the description of what the whole deal is.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 23, 2006 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

Re: what LisainVan was wondering (upthread, 9:59).

If it was mandated that only American companies can operate these ports, does one exist that could do it?

tbrosz, the Bushites are mongering fear (and curtailing civil rights, and practising torture, and spying on their own citizens, and waging illegal war) over an existential threat: Arab terrorists determined to strike (ahem). The port deal opponents here merely point out the inconsistency of that stance vis-a-vis allowing control of these ports go to a Bin Laden-associated royal family. Your calling people hypocrites because they oppose hypocrisy.

Posted by: exasperanto on February 23, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

TPM has an AP release that shows that the administration did not mearly rubber stamp a request from an "ally in the GWOT" There are specific provisions in this deal that are different that standard, and its hard not to read them as looser. Apparently there is usually a requirement to house documents on US soil that relate to port opperation so that court orders can be served effectively without having to work through foreign courts. A special master for these documents is usually required to be a US citizen, so that they are also accountable to US authority.

This deal does not specify either of those conditions. If there is smoke, there is usually fire, and two things about this revelation strike me.

1. If Bush truely just learned of this sale, and was not involved at all in the previous negotiations then who in the administration took these steps and what in gods name would prompt them to weaken the documents protections. What was that persons motivation, because it is surely not in the best interests of the US. P&O or DPW makes no difference to the US as long as procedures and taxes are handled correctly. So why sweeten the deal for the Emirates firm?

2. Again, if Bush just truely learned of this, then I think we can safely stop referring to the bubble. I remember a Port owernership scandal during the Clinton presidency relating to a west coast port. It was the exact same circumstances, except it was a Chinese company that wanted to buy and Clinton was fully engaged. If Bush was not inolved, then his "bubble" has evolved into a working environment that lets un-elected underlings make truely monumental decisions without review.

3. I didn't count this point above, because it kind of goes without saying. Bush may have known about this the whole time, and is just lying. I try not to stoop to this easy explanation because of faith in humanity, but with this administration, its certainly must be left on the table.

Posted by: Matthew Taylor on February 23, 2006 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

Here's what the source says (and I have no particular reason to doubt its accuracy, to my eyes it seems to be a legitimate news agency):

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.

Now, cmdicely, virtually all of the other "qualifications" you insist on represent exactly the sorts of ways that the guys in the UAE royal family use to manage to avoid any accountability -- by getting their American money through a system that essentially allows them to do whatever in the hell they want with impunity, because of the levels of indirection involved. Yes, it's the government of Dubai involved -- but Dubai is part of UAE, and bears responsibility for the UAE royal family. Yes, the corporate firm has a British connection -- whence the further indirection. (And does it matter that it's for port operations, not port security strictly speaking -- how can they possibly NOT be connected intimately?)

Look, the very point I'm making is that people look rightly at SYMBOLS here, and at ultimate accountability. They are looking at the larger picture, not the slight of hand, the vast corporate camouflage, that allows decadent actors in places like UAE and Saudi Arabia to have it both ways.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 23, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

That Larry Johnson post deserves to be reprinted in full,


Don't Do Dubai Dubya

by
Larry C Johnson

If Dubai Ports World (DPW) does as nifty a job of running our ports as it has done running the freeport in Dubai then we are screwed. This is not about the fact that police and security officials from the United Arab Emirates have been helping us track down Al Qaeda operatives and other ornery jihadists. The issue here is the fact that the port in Dubai is one of the major ports in the world involved with smuggling of counterfeit and contraband product. A few years ago, for example, I was alerted to a shipment of several containers of cigarettes from Panama's port of Colon to Dubai. The addressee on the invoice? Al Rabea Spare Car Parts. Now, last time I checked, cigarettes are not and never have been an automobile spare car part.

Other items, including consumer electronics, liquor, HP print cartridges, make their way to Dubai and are then smuggled into tough areas like Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. And what is Dubai Ports World doing to crackdown on this activity? Nothing.

The inability or refusal to deal with the use of ports under the control of Dubai Ports World that are involved with smuggling is reason enough to stop this deal dead in its tracks. The owners of DPW are not the ones cooperating closely with the United States in tracking down the terrorists who attacked us. Instead, they have close ties to a host of shipping companies, including those owned by the Bin Laden family.

The challenge of smuggling a dirty nuke is comparable to smuggling containers of cigarettes, liquor, and shoes. If DPW will not stop the latter how can we be confident they will prevent the former? That's a security bet we should not take or make.

Posted by Larry Johnson on February 22, 2006 at 08:20 PM | Permalink

Posted by: cld on February 23, 2006 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

The reason that the Repubthugs came to own government is they play for keeps. Every act is to further the cause of winning the political war. And they viciously gouge at any percieved weakness - facts or not.

Unless we claw back at these opportunities, and start drawing some blood, this war can't be won. Not on this current playing field.

Cheney and Ports are secrecy and corruption. Real Chewy Soundbite Memes. Not to be confused by facts.

And they're way more factual than swiftboats.

Posted by: canucklehead on February 23, 2006 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

Here's what the source says (and I have no particular reason to doubt its accuracy, to my eyes it seems to be a legitimate news agency):

The 7 emirates of the UAE each have a royal family. The federal government has a President elected by the 7 emirs and a Prime Minister appointed by that President. (all per the CIA World Factbook). There is no federal royal family.

Any source that claims that "the royal family of the UAE" was anywhere is automatically suspect, because no such royal family exists. Of course, whether the supposed news agency or "Slam Dunk" Tenet, to whom it attributes the preposterous claim, was making it all up is hard to say without further research; at any rate, the story itself cannot be true as suggested.

es, it's the government of Dubai involved -- but Dubai is part of UAE, and bears responsibility for the UAE royal family.

Yes, in the same way California bears responsibility for the US royal family -- complicated by the fact that neither the UAE nor the US has a royal family.


Posted by: cmdicely on February 23, 2006 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah... it was a secret deal. The rules normally applied to foreign operators were altered. No foul play here huh Kevin?

What evidence that it was reviewed have been shown? Even Rumsfeld says he never heard of it and he is on one of the review committees. All we have are assurances by the Administration.

It's usually about this time that more inconsistencies emerge.

Posted by: Poncho & Lefty on February 23, 2006 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

"Am I the only one who thinks that this wouldn't be an issue if we had port security worthy of the name?"

That's the thing - seems as if the only thing the Bush administration has done about port security was to try to sell them to Dubai.

Posted by: Dan S. on February 23, 2006 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: ...Exon-Florio (50 USC App. 2170), which is mandatory when a foreign-government controlled entity is involved in a merger or acquisition that may impact national security, and must be completed within 45 days of being started, must consider certain specified factors, and must be reported by the President to the Congress, whichever way it is decided, was not conducted at all. ...The focus that has been put on the length of the investigation entirely misrepresents the central point.

Thanks for clearing that up and I'll change my language hereafter. Props for your 11:52 PM post.

Basically, zero oversight of an executive decision involving national security as mandated by law has happened once again. No wonder Dems and Repubs are in an uproar. I would guess that phones are ringing off the hook in D.C. and local congress-critter offices with calls from angry constituents, too.

I don't understand your persistent to desire to minimize, minimize, minimize over this issue...

I don't get it either. I'm scratching my head. What's up with Kevin? Puzzling.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 23, 2006 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK

Intelligence agency that vetted the deal is only four months old,

http://go.reuters.co.uk/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=1097504§ion=news&src=rss/uk/worldNews

"But intelligence officials said CARC, which has little to do with counterterrorism activities, was formed just last October as the agency mandated to assess security risks posed by companies that do business with the intelligence community.

Only a small part of the center's resources are devoted to vetting commercial deals, officials said. . . ."

Posted by: cld on February 23, 2006 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely, I don't know all the details about the royal families of UAE, but I'd be pretty surprised if they don't behave basically as one ruling class, in which intermarriage and interdependency is the very basis of their power. I would expect that this would be the very basis of their coming together as a single country, the UAE.

If you don't see how this cirmcumstance, quite different in any case from what goes on in the US, confers responsibility on each subpart of that large ruling class for the behavior of the rest, what can I say? If, as the report quotes Tenet, half of that ruling class was effectively partying with bin Laden, how can anyone in that class pretend not to bear some very real responsibility?

And why should the American people help them pretend that they don't?

Posted by: frankly0 on February 23, 2006 at 1:19 AM | PERMALINK

Time and time again we allow and invite events to occure without carefully weighing what the out come could be. Before 9/11 did all the senarios that could befall us, yet we were mixed up confused and the result lives were lost. I can commend and condemn the media for two things they have shown our weaknesses to our enemies, and alert the apathetic public to action, or is it hype. The containers that are shipped into this country are not totally screened, they say, the government, media, shipping conclave an impossible task that could be the result of an attack. I am not an alarmist. But we must wake up to reality, allowing those who have the keys to our ports and access that can tolerate and not totally condemn any act of violence against men women and children...this is a safe move...its o.k. things will be fine... So says President Bush.. Do you Believe this?

Posted by: michael Gable on February 23, 2006 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin actually does this more often than a lot of commenters realize. It his blog so he can have at it.

In this particular post he did not mention informing Congress was required in the law. However, he did say "no foul play". What the hell does that mean? Does failing to fulfill the requirment of informing Congress mean "foul play"?

Why does Kevin use the very same descriptives that he so admonishes about CNN and the missing white single woman?

Foul play? Now that's real objective jargon there Mr. Drum.

Can we all agree that this deal was another end run around Congress?

Foul play? I can't think of a more useless term to use in this scandalous event.

Posted by: Poncho & Lefty on February 23, 2006 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK

about asbestos cancer and prostate cancer,asbestos Cancer also called malignant prostate Cancer
mesothelioma is a disease in which
asbestos cancer (malignant) cells are found in the sac lining the chest (the pleura) or abdomen (the peritoneum). It is a rare form of cancer. Most people with malignant
mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they breathed asbestos.

You should see a doctor if you experience shortness of breath, pain in the chest, or pain or swelling in the abdomen. If there are Prostate Cancer symptoms, your doctor may order an x-ray of the chest or abdomen.

Posted by: eee on February 23, 2006 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK
If you don't see how this cirmcumstance, quite different in any case from what goes on in the US, confers responsibility on each subpart of that large ruling class for the behavior of the rest, what can I say?


Wow. First, you credulously repeat a story about the "royal family of the UAE", now you've got a theory based on ignorance of the seven separate royal families act, and are berating people for not automatically accepting the conclusion you draw from that presumption? Well, excuse me for disagreeing.

Besides which, you haven't dealt with the fact that your only source for the allegation that there is an act of any UAE royal family for Dubai to be responsible from is that same quote from a source which alleges that "half of the royal family of the UAE" -- and utterly meaningless string of words -- was, according to "Slam Dunk" Tenet, with bin Laden. Since this claim is clearly not true, perhaps you ought to find some confirming source that something bad actually happened which has a characterization which is even possible, before assigning responsibility to anyone.

If, as the report quotes Tenet, half of that ruling class was effectively partying with bin Laden, how can anyone in that class pretend not to bear some very real responsibility?

A more reliable source reports on the testimony thusly:

U.S. officials received information that bin Laden was at a camp in the Afghan desert, located next to a hunting camp frequented by princes from the United Arab Emirates. CIA Director Tenet testified that the strike never occurred because he didn't trust the intelligence, adding, "You might have wiped out half the royal family in the UAE in the process."

It still has the bizarre reference -- in a direct quote -- to "the royal family in the UAE", but makes it clear that the royals weren't "partying with" Osama, they frequently used a camp near the one Osama was identified at and Tenet, apparently not yet in "Slam Dunk" mode, was concerned that attacking the camp Osama was at, without better eintelligence, had the possibility of killing an unknown number of UAE royals with no established linked to al-Qaeda.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 23, 2006 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

If you need to kill people in a hunting camp, send in Dick 'Shotgun' Cheney not Bill 'Cigar' Clinton.

Posted by: McA on February 23, 2006 at 4:17 AM | PERMALINK

In other news:

Lt. Milo Minderbinder awarded contract to attack the USAAF 256th Bomber Group base.
Posted by: alex

Woo-hoo!

Hey, Milo's also got some eggs he'd like to trade for parachute silk...

Posted by: CFShep on February 23, 2006 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

>>The Bush Administration has a highly troubling record of handing contracts and lucrative positions to individuals on the basis of personal friendship not the public interest. Given the Presidents cozy relationship with the governments of oil-rich nations, I think its only natural for alarm bells to be going off. We need time for Congress to take a hard look at this proposal.


Public interest? Surely you jest.

Posted by: CFShep on February 23, 2006 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

Wish we could raise as much fuss over thousands of miles of open border as we are about the shipping ports.

I suppose if Bush decided to allow operation of border crossing to be outsourced to an operation run by the government of Cuba, there would be a similar stink.
Posted by: cmdicely

Well, actually I think they're considering Columbia since the deal with Cuba might upset Miami...

Posted by: CFShep on February 23, 2006 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Windhorse: That way when we catch terrrorists, we'll reeeaallly have to work for it, making it more satisfying than if we just caught them easily.

No one wants to win that way.

Hilarious!

Posted by: shortstop on February 23, 2006 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely writes:

...the royals weren't "partying with" Osama, they frequently used a camp near the one Osama was identified at and Tenet, apparently not yet in "Slam Dunk" mode, was concerned that attacking the camp Osama was at, without better intelligence, had the possibility of killing an unknown number of UAE royals with no established linked [sic] to al-Qaeda.

Think Progress quotes the 9/11 Commission report on this incident:

"According to reporting from the tribals, Bin Ladin regularly went from his adjacent camp to the larger camp where he visited the Emiratis; the tribals expected him to be at the hunting camp for such a visit at least until midmorning on February 11....According to CIA and Defense officials, policymakers were concerned about the danger that a strike would kill an Emirati prince or other senior officials who might be with Bin Ladin or close by." [ellipsis mine]

http://tinyurl.com/ldlub

So it apparently wasn't just a matter of the two camps being in proximity. At least per the tribals' reports, bin Laden regularly interacted with the Emirati. Whether that would constitute an "established link" depends on the reliability of the tribals and one's definition of "established," I suppose.

Posted by: Swift Loris on February 23, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

I think it's time we put all our fears to rest and let our elected leaders protect us.Why is there such distrust in government????? Why do we question every shady deal we hear about????? Can we as a nation triumph over evil if we believe it does exist????? Embrace our leaders with open hearts, open minds and let us all stick our heads in the sand and not get in the way of VICTORY for FREEDOM. Remember Peace Brother,Peace.

Posted by: The Shadow on February 23, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's time we put all our fears to rest and let our elected leaders protect us.Why is there such distrust in government????? Why do we question every shady deal we hear about????? Can we as a nation triumph over evil if we believe it does exist????? Embrace our leaders with open hearts, open minds and let us all stick our heads in the sand and not get in the way of VICTORY for FREEDOM. Remember Peace Brother,Peace.

Posted by: The Shadow on February 23, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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