A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

More on the Ports Deal

In case you haven't been following the UAE-US Ports story, I posted about this twice yesterday: here and here.

Yesterday, President Bush said he would veto any attempts by Congress to (do what Congress is supposed to do and) legislate and prevent the deal. Nice.

Today we find that apparently President Bush was "Unaware of Ports Deal Before Approval". Now, it would be very silly to expect the President to know about every single thing the government does, approves, or disapproves during the course of a day.

But, this seems (to me) to be a rather important thing. Something that seems to be central to Homeland Security, which President Bush has been very good about, in general.

Those who are questioning this Port deal are doing so for excellent reasons, not because of discrimination, as suggested by some, including Mansoor Ijaz and President Bush.

Mark Levin had an excellent point on his blog today:

Dealing the race card, as Mansoor Ijaz does elsewhere on NRO, is not only insupportable (unless he has specific names he wishes to tie to racism) it won't win a single convert to the UAE deal. I find it appalling. But he's not the first, just the least subtle. The president and the Wall Street Journal editorial page implied as much. Serious people have serious concerns about this transaction. Let's have the facts (something more than the talking points I received from the RNC today, I hope) without the stink of this poison. It reminds me of some of the reactions to those who challenge current immigration (or is that illegal immigration) policy.
Is there some legitimate reason that We the People and the Members of Congress we elected shouldn't be allowed to question this? Don't we have that right?

What better reason is there to stop the deal than the fact that the UAE doesn't exactly wear white gloves when it comes to terrorism:

Lawmakers from both parties have noted that some of the Sept. 11 hijackers used the United Arab Emirates as an operational and financial base. In addition, critics contend the UAE was an important transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuclear components sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya by a Pakistani scientist.
Not to mention the fact that the UAE is completely anti-Israel. Would we allow a Saudi Arabia-company to run our ports? How about our airports? After all, some of the Sept. 11 hijackers (actually, wasn't the number 15?) were from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has been used as a base for terrorism and financial matters for terrorist groups, right?

If we declined to make such a deal with Saudi Arabia, we would be making the smart choice. While the Saudis have been somewhat helpful in certain aspects of the War on Terror, they have dirty hands. To do other than end the deal would be to put the US at risk.

If the terrorists were all French, we wouldn't let a French-owned company run our ports, would we? How about if all the terrorists came from a French-speaking country or province, like Quebec, but had used France as a financial/material base? No. To do otherwise would be idiotic.

And why is discriminating always a bad thing? It isn't. The first definition of discriminate is:

To make a clear distinction; distinguish: discriminate among the options available. To make sensible decisions; judge wisely.
So, going by that definition, I suppose we are discriminating, by which I mean judging wisely and making sensible decisions. What's wrong with that?

We aren't saying "everyone from the UAE is evil, wicked, a terrorist!" Rather, we are questioning the vetting process and its conclusions. Was it really thorougly done? What about these concerns?

Members of both parties are questioning this deal, though, I daresay, some for different reasons. The Dems see this as a chance to say they are tougher on Homeland Security than the President is. Way to give them that open, G.W.

And what about this article? (Though keep in mind the source is the MSM)

AP: Arab Co., White House Had Secret Agreement---

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration secretly required a company in the United Arab Emirates to cooperate with future U.S. investigations before approving its takeover of operations at six American ports, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. It chose not to impose other, routine restrictions.

As part of the $6.8 billion purchase, state-owned Dubai Ports World agreed to reveal records on demand about "foreign operational direction" of its business at U.S. ports, the documents said. Those records broadly include details about the design, maintenance or operation of ports and equipment.

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.

"They're not lax but they're not draconian," said James Lewis, a former U.S. official who worked on such agreements. If officials had predicted the firestorm of criticism over the deal, Lewis said, "they might have made them sound harder."
Frankly, I don't see any reason we should be allowed to question this deal, or any reason anyone should be outraged over our wonderings. Our government is supposed to be of the people, by the people, and for the people. Now the people are wondering. It is the job of the President to answer us. Pooh-poohing our concerns doesn't cut it.

So, really, go ahead and threaten to veto legislation, President Bush. We'll call your bluff. You haven't vetoed anything: not campaign reform, nothing. You can hang out with Jimmy Carter, who supports you on this deal, while we make sure our Ports stay safe.

Michelle Malkin is also questioning the Ports deal and has an extensive post on this topic, with snippets of a large number of articles, opinions, and facts. I highly recommend visiting. Michelle's latest column is here, calling Dems to task for decrying "profiling," but then calling for "profiling" now, in the Ports deal.

Here are various quotes from politicians on both sides, government officials, and UAE officials/people.

Frank Gaffney has a good column at NRO. He says the President needs to recognize this as a Harriet Miers sort of situation, "recognize that a strategically and politically insupportable mistake has been made and cut his losses."

Here is the OpinionJournal.com article many have referred to.