A Lady's Ruminations

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


Friday, February 24, 2006

Still More on the Ports-Updated

Mark Levin has some bad & ugly news about Dubai and the UAE in general, and also has a fantastic post pointing out inconsistencies on the part of the deal's defenders. He tells them:

If the UAE is a great friend in the war on terrorism, then convince us. If the UAE won't be handling any of the security at these ports, then show us. If this deal is in our best interests, then prove it to us. But by all means, stop brow-beating us with racism, scare tactics and platitudes. Now who's sounding hysterical?
Amen. Amen. Amen.

0National Review Editor Rich Lowry notes Charles Krauthammer's skepticism over the Dubai Ports World Deal, but thinks the furor is a distraction:

It is loosely said that Dubai Ports World would “take over” six ports. That’s false. The ports are owned by local governmental entities, and the company will manage only a few terminals. For instance, it will manage two terminals out of 14 in Baltimore. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey owns five terminals devoted chiefly to cargo. Dubai Ports World would be involved in only one, which it would manage together with a Danish firm.

A management company has very little to do with port security. It unloads cargo containers and then holds them until they are hauled out by trucks. As homeland-security expert Stewart Verdery says, this is but a small part of the process. The U.S. begins screening select cargo containers at their port of departure. Then, when they are on their way here, computer-based risk analysis is done to decide which containers need further scrutiny.

Dubai Ports World would have no role in determining how containers or ships are reviewed and deciding which containers are inspected. Critics complain that the company will obtain inside information about U.S. ports. But because the UAE has signed on to the Container Security Initiative, in which foreign countries cooperate with the U.S. on safeguards, it already is privy to our security practices in general. The company will probably learn more about specific procedures at individual ports, but this knowledge is not that tightly held.
NR's Jonah Goldberg also thinks people have gone Overboard

The NR Editors have this to say:

The debate over the United Arab Emirates ports deal hasn't been terribly edifying. Most members of Congress haven't let their ignorance of what the deal is or how ports operate keep them from making categorical pronouncements about it. We have yet to hear a convincing explanation of why having the UAE-owned firm Dubai Ports World manage some terminals at six U.S. ports would threaten our national security. A firm like DP World basically operates the cranes. It is a small part of a big operation, with various U.S. government agencies providing the security. But it is understandable — and not a sign of some sort of bias, as President Bush has suggested — that people are nervous about having an Arab country involved in our ports in any way.

If the interagency review was more extensive than is often the case with these sort of deals, it was still fairly cursory — only one meeting in 30 days — and calls for further review strike us as reasonable. We are therefore encouraged that the White House has signalled it might accept a delay, and that DP World has indicated it would go along with one. This is what chairman of the House homeland-security committee Pete King — a responsible voice of skepticism about the deal — has been urging. If the deal is sound, as we expect, there is no reason to rush, and perhaps a couple of weeks from now Congress will have grown tired of its own demagoguery on the issue.
(emphasis added)

The Weekly Standard has a list of pros and cons.

At Human Events, Terence Jeffrey asks, Did UAE Save Bin Laden? and notes President Bush ought to read a few pages of the 9/11 Report before vetoing anything because:

The story the commission tells is that [Richard] Clarke made a call to a high-ranking UAE official that may have inadvertently saved bin Laden from a U.S. missile strike. The commission’s reporting strongly suggests someone in the UAE government tipped off someone in Afghanistan, protecting bin Laden.
Also at Human Events, Pat Buchanan disagrees with those who call those questioning the dealracists and xenophobes and asks what happened to Bush's political antenna?

The Anchoress notes that UAE firms have been in Houston for years and is "more and more coming down on the side that this deal should happen." Still, she notes there are good reasons for approving and not approving the deal. In another post, the Anchoress further notes that just because someone disagrees with the deal is no reason to call him (or her) an "Islamophobe." Indeed,

But I am wondering if some “phobia” (which means “fear” not hate) IS at the bottom of the swift “oh no” which so many of us felt upon hearing about the deal. After all - let’s be honest - one can have a completely principaled stand and still feel fear, still feel “phobic” about what these folks might bring. I know that’s true because I SUPPORT the deal, and I still feel a little fearful, a little apprehensive, a little, yes, phobic.

And I think the phobia is warranted, because every other headline these days is about murderous Muslims who seem to want to kill everyone. That sort of attitude is not conducive to the creation of trusting relationships.

But - it can’t be said enough - not all Muslims are part of the Islamofascist extremist mob. The thing is, it is time for them to come out and play - it’s time for the moderate Muslims to declare their disagreement with the tactics of the tyrants.
The Anchoress underscores this with a link to a story about the horrific torture (for THREE WEEKS) and murder of a Jewish man by a Muslim. Ilan Halimi's family received phone calls, during which they heard Ilan's screams and verses of the Quran being read. More on the story at Solomonia.

In my posts, I have tried to make the same point. Why are we not allowed to question the deal and learn more about what exactly is going on? The White House ought to have competent answers for reasonable questions. We have had reasonable questions. We are not anti-Muslim just because we ask about a Muslim nation's company taking over some aspect of some of our ports.

Perhaps the most aggregious part of this whole "controversy" is the White House's response to the legitimate, reasonable questions. President Bush immediately made it into a "this would be discrimination" thing and threatened to veto any legislation. Other top "Republicans" have also cast aspersions on people uncertain about the deal.

None have addressed other concerns about the UAE, very well listed by Andy McCarthy. The UAE:

is a hub for international narcotics trafficking and money laundering.

Nonetheless, the [Bush] administration regards the regime — which does not show much promise of democratic reform — as both friendly and adherent to moderate Islam. As usual, “moderate” is in the eye of the beholder. For example, it is a crime punishable by imprisonment in the UAE for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man — because that is a violation of the meta-tolerant Religion of Peace's sharia law, which governs the realm. Muslim men can marry non-Muslim women (and more than one if they like), but you can get sent to prison for such crimes as urging Muslims to convert to other faiths.

Moreover, as my friend Frank Gaffney points out, the regime despises our close ally, Israel. The UAE promotes the idea of a one-state solution in “Palestine” (hint: the one state is not Israel), and may well be funding charities in Gaza and the West Bank — where “charities” are notorious for underwriting terrorism.

It was also a key supporter of the Taliban — one of only three countries to recognize bin Laden's kindly hosts as the official government of Afghanistan. In fact, the UAE is the country through which bin Laden was allowed to transit when al Qaeda moved its headquarters to Afghanistan from Sudan in 1996.

All that aside, we are at war with jihadists who, more than anything else, seek to strike us domestically with weapons of mass destruction — including nukes if they can access them. Lo and behold, it turns out that the UAE has been used as a transfer-station for nuclear components in the conspiracy of Pakistani proliferator A. Q. Kahn, who was selling technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya. Obviously, the Kahn enterprise would have made other plans had it not believed it was on safe footing with the UAE.
What about these things? Do they mean nothing?

McCarthy posts more at the Corner, including why he disagrees with Rich Lowry and part of the transcript from last night's Hannity & Colmes-AG Gonzales interview. Gonzales refused to answer whether we should be doing business with a country that refuses to recognize Israel.

Lowry responds to McCarthy's response here.

McCarthy responds here, with Lowry's final response here and McCarthy's conclusion here.

Michael Ledeen tells us:

There is a clean way to handle things such as the port operations, and it still astonishes me that it wasn't done properly. It's been done thusly for many years, actually many decades:
And, really, shouldn't our Secretary of Homeland Security have at least known about the deal before it was ok'd? Just a thought. Apparently,

the reason Mr. Chertoff was not informed was because CFIUS canvassed scores of government agencies and none objected to Dubai Ports World's (DPW) bid to buy terminal operations on national security grounds.
Which, I suppose is standard practice. Still, this is the sort of thing that means the WH should have been prepared with better reasons than "people against the deal are being discriminatory" (not exact wording, but same basic message as G.W.'s words).

Some lawsuits have been filed to stop the deal.

What do you all think?

Here are my previous posts:
Thank You, Mr. Frist
Bush Threatens Veto
More on the Ports Deal
Ann's Take on the Ports Deal
UK vs. UAE
AP: UAE Company Agrees to Delay Ports Takeover
Rush is FOR the Ports Deal and Related News