Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Snow Job

In the nine days since I posted about the takeover of six important U.S. ports by UAE-based DP World, the debate has kicked up a few notches, eh? To a limited extent I agree with President Bush on this: if completed, the deal would be highly unlikely to compromise security at our ports. And blocking this would smack of protectionism at a sensitive time for the financial markets.

But this issue is a guaranteed loser for the administration. A one-issue president with a sub-40% approval rating cannot stake his credibility and his legacy on "protecting the American people" and at the same time hand over our ports to a Middle Eastern country our own FBI says was an important operational and financial base for the 9/11 attacks. Nor can the president suddenly find his veto pen for this---as he threatened to do today---when it's been under his desk for every piece of spending since he's been in office. If the debate over this took place in a karaoke bar, President Bush would be hooted off the stage for tone deafness.

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.

71 Comments:

Blogger la said...

I like protectionism. Globalism always leads to a bunch of financial mess and a lot of losers in the 98% of the population that are not international financiers, but the elites of the world just can't resist it. Get ready for more trouble

2/21/2006 6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why recuse himself. That's "so" 90s.
Gonzales won't, Frist won't, Alito won't, Cheney won't ... why should the "little guy" have to?

2/21/2006 7:26 PM  
Anonymous thirdeye said...

When considered against the amount of debt we owe the rest of the world, this development is hardly surprising. About the only thing working in our favor is the owners of the ports (Arabs) and the owners of the car factories (Asians) hate each other about as much as the Jews and Arabs.

Meanwhile, let's keep borrowing and buying their stuff so they don't both start hating us. We Americans are pretty slick, eh?

2/21/2006 8:00 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

It has picked up substantially. The Snow story was out in the Daily News -- but Bush decided to accelerate everything with that veto threat.

Reminds me of how centrifuges work.

Oh...

2/21/2006 10:15 PM  
Anonymous lilybart said...

Cute that there is still something you are beyond belief over, after these last 6 years.

2/21/2006 10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still say we let Al Queda run security at the White House.

2/21/2006 11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Carlyle connection is waiting to be mined by an upstart journo. This deal stinks.

2/22/2006 12:53 AM  
Anonymous kay said...

Once Bush declared countries harboring terrorists are also our enemy and now he says he is willing to embrace any middleeastern country as conciliatory gestures towards Islamic countries. How convenient.

2/22/2006 1:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Related?

http://www.dpiterminals.com/fullnews.asp?NewsID=39

2/22/2006 3:01 AM  
Blogger Lymond said...

Interesting, and I agree that this is probably less of a security issue than the "noise" is making it out to be. This will be a serious PR hit and may be the proverbial last straw that really exposes to the many who have been terrorized by them, what this maladministration really is.

2/22/2006 8:44 AM  
Anonymous KHS said...

I recommend that everyone - including our honourable host - go read Dennis the Peasant's Playing the Muslim Card: Dubai Ports World (parts one to three, to date) if you haven't already. Another real conservative, he asks some good questions and points out some obvious(?) facts about the state of U.S. ports security.

2/22/2006 9:09 AM  
Anonymous khs said...

http://dennisthepeasant.typepad.com/dennis_the_peasant/ (yes, I'm an idiot...)

2/22/2006 9:11 AM  
Blogger blogarillo said...

It's called crony capitalism and the Bushies are undisputed masters.

2/22/2006 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting that BushCo and its defenders think that this a tempest in a tea-port (sorry) because there's "no real security risk."

Seems to me when another president, ummmmm, Bill Clinton, was going to allow without reservation the acquisition of a single cargo-handling facility within the port of Long Beach by a Chinese-government owned corporation (COSCO) in 1998, the Republicans (led by Duncan Hunter and James Inhofe) went nuts. Obvious payoffs to the Chinese electoral connection! Risks of sabotage! Espionage! Terrorism!

Now we're going to turn over our major ports -- including those used by the Army -- to a nation which, though officially friendly to the US -- has unambiguously harbored terrorists, and we're expected to take BushCo's word for it?

I seem to recall that in some speech or another just after 9/11, W promised those "who harbor terrorists" that we'd be coming after them. UAE harbored terrorists. Guess he meant we'd be "coming after them" for investment.

2/22/2006 11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We need a fence on our southern border to help prevent illegal immigration. Lets offshore the building of that fence to Vincente Fox. Sure our people would still be in charge of protecting the border so this is not a security risk, the Mexican government would simply be building the fence and installing the locks.

2/22/2006 12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely about Snow, but that would take integrity and principles. Does he have any golden parachute connection... It isn't about National Security it is about the money.

Besides Snow you also have David Sanborn, who worked for Snow at CSX, and left to work for Dubai Ports, brokered some deals with CSX, and he just left two weeks ago and accepted a job as Asst Sec of Transportation -Maritime Adm. and presto you have this deal. Bush nominated Sanborn in January.

U.S. Didn’t Target Bin Laden in 1999 Because He Was Meeting With UAE Royal Family

Bush was in the Dark: Bush unaware of port deal until after approval


Administration Failed To Conduct Legally Required Investigation Before Approving UAE Port Deal

BREAKING: Rumsfeld and Pace Not Consulted On Transfer Of Port Operations To UAE

Administration Outsources Operations Of Six U.S. Ports To The United Arab Emirates

But he's got support from Jimmy Carter.

2/22/2006 1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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2/22/2006 1:52 PM  
Anonymous Dave said...

The funny/sad part about Rummy not being consulted is that he's on the frickin' review committee.

Remember what Brad DeLong says about these guys: "The Bush administration is worse than we imagine--even after taking account of the fact that the Bush adminisntration is worse than we imagine."

2/22/2006 2:37 PM  
Blogger Roy said...

For the last time, they are not buying "the ports" nor will they be in charge of port security.They will be operating terminals at these ports. There are many terminals at every port and many terminals are not being ran by Americans now, including the ones to be purchased by UAE.

That being said, it seems that it is politically dangerous for Bush to threaten a veto. The left and right have sort of merged to show their ignorance on terminal operation and Bush should consider their feelings on this issue and at least allow hearing before the sale to calm the American people.

2/22/2006 4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush has staked his Presidency on being the War President and National Security.

But more important to Bush is his corporate supporters.

"In past two years, the US has been negotiating a free-trade agreement with the UAE."

"At the end of 2004, in fact, it was Bush Trade Representative Robert Zoellick who proudly boasted of his trip to the UAE to begin negotiating the trade accord. Rejecting this port security deal might have set back that trade pact."

Bush knows protecting those interests - regardless of the security implications for America - is integral to the "free" trade agenda all of his corporate supporters are demanding.

But why again does this administration have to be so sneaky and do things against the law and in secrecy. I just think if this administration actually believed it was doing good, doing right, it would be more transparent and forthcoming. It smacks of corruption and cronyism.

2/22/2006 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder how the folks in Kansas (and North Carolina who his wife Elizabeth represents) feel about Bob Dole lobbying for Dubai.

"CNN reported on air Wednesday that former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS) has been hired by Dubai Ports World to lobby for the approval of a deal that would give the company control of several major U.S. ports, RAW STORY has learned."

"Dubai company hires Bob Dole to lobby for port deal

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Dubai-based company at the center of a controversy over the management of six U.S. seaports has hired former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole to lobby on its behalf against bipartisan criticism of the deal, a Dole aide said Wednesday.

The 1996 Republican presidential candidate was "engaged" by Dubai Ports World shortly after lawmakers on both sides of the aisle began expressing their strong opposition to the deal, said Mike Galloway, an aide to the retired senator. ..."

2/22/2006 5:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The deal's in ... it's good old- fashioned blackmail.

From Digby

"From what I just heard from Senator Warner on CNN, it's about maintaining access to the ports, as I guessed earlier. (Airfields too.) Ed Henry just said the UAE hosts more of the US Navy in the gulf than any other country. If we diss them and refuse to scratch their backs, they'll get upset and pull back permission to dock our ships in their country. It's nothing personal. It's strictly business".

2/22/2006 5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't we just let them dock some of their Navy in our docks instead....

But seriously...If Dubai Ports is managed mostly by American officials, why can't those officials simply leave to set up an American port management company?

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