Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bush plays the `race card' on port deal

This is getting crazier and crazier. President Bush said today that he would veto any congressional attempts to stop a deal allowing an Arab company to take over six major U.S. seaports.

This puts him in conflict with the senate and house leaders of his own party, aong with most Democrats. I can't imagine what Dubbyah is thinking.

"After careful review by our government, I believe the transaction ought to go forward," Bush told reporters who had traveled with him on Air Force One to Washington. "I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company. I am trying to conduct foreign policy now by saying to the people of the world, `We'll treat you fairly.'"

Well, for starters, Mr. President,there's the little matter of Dubai and the UAE being a major funding source for al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah, the fact that some of the 9/11 hijackers used the UAE as an operational and financial base and the fact that the UAE was the main transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuke components and data sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya by Pakistani scientist Dr. Aly Khan.

Perhaps the administration considers this insignificant. I don't think most of Congress or the American people agree.

Bush called reporters his conference room on Air Force One after returning from a speech in Colorado. He obviously wanted to be on record on this controversy. He said the seaports arrangement had been extensively examined by the administration and was "a legitimate deal that will not jeopardize the security of the country."

Bush, who has yet to veto a bill in more than five years in office, said sternly he would not back down.

"They ought to listen to what I have to say about this. They'll look at the facts and understand the consequences of what they're going to do," he said. "But if they pass a law, I'll deal with it with a veto."

Bush adressed this again immediately upon his return to the White House, to make sure his position would be on camera and make the evening news. "This is a company that has played by the rules, has been cooperative with the United States, from a country that's an ally on the war on terror, and it would send a terrible signal to friends and allies not to let this transaction go through," the president said after emerging from his helicopter on the South Lawn.

Now, I wonder why Bush is so exercised personally about this. Whom did he make promises to and on what basis? And what is the US getting in return? This is obviously more than a simple commercial transaction.

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