CommunityPam's House Blend

Ports wide open

[UPDATE: Below I joked about the AFA having a direct line to Bill Frist’s batphone. Look at this AP story, right on time: Frist Calls for Halt to U.S. Ports Deal.]

Bush’s deal with a United Arab Emirates-based company to provide operational and security control over six of our nation’s largest ports is outrageous, given he’s the Wartime President. Some of the 9/11 hijackers were originally from the UAE. Several businesses in the country are also suspected of having financial ties to al-Qaeda and other terrorists groups. Imagine if Clinton made a decision like this?

Even more embarrassing, they had to trot out zero-credibility Chertoff to defend the deal, sayingWe make sure there are assurances in place, in general, sufficient to satisfy us that the deal is appropriate from a national security standpoint.”

Don’t you feel better about the deal now? That shows you how pathetic this security situation is. It’s so beyond the pale that two GOP governors are pissed off. (AP):

New York Gov. George Pataki and Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich on Monday voiced doubts about the acquisition of a British company that has been running six U.S. ports by Dubai Ports World, a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates.

The British company, Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., runs major commercial operations at ports in Baltimore, Miami, New Jersey, New Orleans, New York and Philadelphia.

Both governors indicated they may try to cancel lease arrangements at ports in their states because of the DP World takeover.

“Ensuring the security of New York’s port operations is paramount and I am very concerned with the purchase of Peninsular & Oriental Steam by Dubai Ports World,” Pataki said in a news release. “I have directed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to explore all legal options that may be available to them.”

Ehrlich, concerned about security at the Port of Baltimore, said Monday he was “very troubled” that Maryland officials got no advance notice before the Bush administration approved the Arab company’s takeover of the operations at the six ports. “We needed to know before this was a done deal, given the state of where we are concerning security,” Ehrlich told reporters in the State House rotunda in Annapolis.

What’s Ehrlich smoking? Did he really expect this administration to consult with anyone before doing something like this? That would break protocol, darling. You silly governors just need to trust your Dear Leader and his competent, altruistic minions.

As Blender Paul wrote me last night:

You know this port issue may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I have a friend who has many Repub and right wing friends and he says that they are going ape sh-t over the idea of handing the ports over. These people who never before would admit that anything the Chimp did was less than divinely inspired are really pissed at him now. Cheney’s shooting might be fun to joke about, this might turn into the real story of the year.

And Paul’s right. The base is growling. The Kool-Aid drinkers, the “my Chimperor right or wrong” crowd has lost its cookies over this one. Look at the American Family Association. Don and Tim Wildmon most certainly have picked up the Bill Frist batphone and let him know this press release was going out.

Help Keep Our Country Secure By Keeping Control Of Our Ports

Normally we don’t ask you to participate in issues such as this, but we feel that this one justifies your involvement.

Our port operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia have been, or soon will be, purchased by Dubai Ports World, a state-owned company in the United Arab Emirates, a firm that manages port facilities. The purchase was cleared by an obscure federal panel, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, with little fanfare.

The United Arab Emirates government is generally pro-U.S., but the September 11 hijackers traveled easily through the country, and Al Qaeda-linked groups have used its banking system. Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is pleading with the administration to reverse the decision. At a press conference outlining his opposition, he said, “Handing the keys to U.S. strategic ports to a regime that recognized the Taliban is not a sound next step in our war against terror.”

Several Senators and Representatives are calling for hearings into the matter. This is a matter which deserves a full and complete hearing. Ask President Bush to override the agreement and conduct a special investigation into the matter.

To read the Washington Times article on this, click here.

Click Here to send a letter to President Bush now!

Thanks for caring enough to get involved.

The Freepi are all over the map on this as well. Some are steaming mad, others are STILL trying to defend the administration. Those knuckledraggers will be the last to turn the lights out.

One astute Freeper, however, noted that Dubai Ports also owns the CSX Railroad‘s port operations: “If they get hold of this port, they could bring in a 100 shipping container nukes, load them on the railroad, and park them up and down the east coast. Then set ’em off, all at once.” From the press release on the deal:

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman, Dubai Ports, commented: “This is a major step in DPI’s global expansion strategy. The acquisition will give DPI an important platform in the North Asia region, notably in Hong Kong, China and Korea and further expands our global network in Europe and the Americas. We look forward to working with our new and existing partners, customers and the relevant governments and regulatory bodies to contribute to the fabric of the local social environment.

…Michael Ward, Chairman, CSX Corporation:”On behalf of CSX, I am delighted to join the announcement of the agreement to sell CSX World Terminals to Dubai Ports International…Ward added that the transaction will be “another important step in our continuing efforts to focus on the North American railroad business. CSX is focused on leadership in the U.S. rail industry through safe, reliable service to customers and consistent, continuous improvement quality in all aspects of our performance.”

The Star-Ledger asked people in Newark, Bush supporters, about how this deal was flying with them.

On any day, the docks of a busy waterfront like Port Newark can be a place to hear some of the most colorful phrases the English language has to offer.

But yesterday was something special.

At the mention of the Bush administration’s approval of the sale of port operations to a Dubai-based company, longshoremen, truck drivers, mechanics and waitresses gushed with harsh words.

“Horrendous. Scary and horren
dous,” said Tom DiDomenico, a longhoreman from East Hanover, uttering one of the few printable reactions by customers at the Port Eatery on Corbin Street in Newark. “I’m a big Republican and I think Bush has lost his mind.”

… As is the case at most U.S. ports, government inspectors at Port Newark are able to check only about 5 percent of the containers unloaded from arriving ships. Some experts warn such lapses could allow terrorists to sneak in weapons or other materials.

“Even now, sometimes I don’t know what I’m pulling,” said Oscar Marquez, a Jersey City truck driver who makes frequent stops at the port to pick up cargo unloaded from ships. “You want to turn this all over to these guys?”

Again, envision a Democrat in the White House making a deal like this under the radar. If the Dems cannot capitalize on this as a valid national security issue, the party is toast.

Also, some more facts about the UAE via Think Progress:
– The UAE was one of three countries in the world to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

– The UAE has been a key transfer point for illegal shipments of nuclear components to Iran, North Korea and Lybia.

– According to the FBI, money was transferred to the 9/11 hijackers through the UAE banking system.

– After 9/11, the Treasury Department reported that the UAE was not cooperating in efforts to track down Osama Bin Laden’s bank accounts.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding