Thursday, February 23, 2006


You Say Hello, I Say...Dubai?

OK, I was wrong. "Dubai Ports World" is evidently Arabic for..."WTF????"

Let's get this straight: The United States federal government approves the managerial takeover of six American seaports by a firm owned by the United Arab Emirate of Dubai. After days of bipartisan outrage and calls for the deal to be scrapped -- or at least reviewed by Congress -- the president puts his foot down: The deal stays as is, or he vetoes any congressional legislation that upends it.

Then, when it becomes vitally clear that Congress isn't backing down, the White House changes tactics: Apparently, the
president wasn't completely aware of all the details on the arrangement -- until it was just about completed. Funny, the day before, he sounded like he knew what was going on.

Now, the AP reports that this was a most curious deal: Dubai made certain concessions involving cooperating with U.S. investigators to get the deal done. Par for the course,
this was a secret deal. Still, basic, run-of-the-mill paperwork that other countries would have had to complete was just waived:

[T]he papers show CFIUS did not require DP World to keep copies of business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to orders by American courts. Foreign telecommunications companies are usually required to store their business records in the United States.

The documents also say DP World must retain paperwork "in the normal course of business" but did not specify a time period or location where they need to be held, a decision that troubled outside experts who call such agreements routine

"There is a very serious question as to why the records are not going to be maintained on American soil subject to American jurisdiction," said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and a leading critic of the sale.
Ah, lovely, that would be one more thing that this administration has managed to (potentially) keep out of the hands of the American courts. Curiouser and curiouser.

While we're keeping track, let's not forget that there was another odd deviation from the regular course of business: Most arrangements of this sort are subject to a 45-day waiting period to fully review details. Yet this one was approved
in half that time.

To make matters even more interesting, this deal which has supposedly been certified as not a threat to national security and a good business deal to boot is championed by both Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Treasury Secretary John Snow.

That would be fine, except for two things: 1 )
"Mr. Rumsfeld said both he and Gen. Pace were unaware of the port-deal security issue until the weekend." Oh.

So, the head of the president's national security team only knew about this a few days ago.

And, the putative head of the president's economic team?
Not so good there either:

A senior White House official, who discussed internal strategy under the condition of anonymity, said Bush realizes that Republicans are dug in and that he may have to compromise. 'We are sensitive to the fact that people have taken firm positions,' the official said. But that effort was complicated by the disclosure that Bush and Treasury Secretary John W. Snow were unaware until this week about the purchase agreement and the administration's approval of the transaction last month.
Snow, whose department chairs the secretive executive branch panel that reviewed the proposed sale, told reporters in Torrington, Conn., that "I learned of this transaction probably the same way as members of the Senate did, by reading it in the newspapers."

A deal with various secret aspects to it is made between the U.S. and a Middle Eastern country -- a deal that has serious national security implications, because of that nation's historical ties to al Qaeda. In the wake of outrage from members of both sides of the aisle, Americans are told that this is a vital deal that must go forward. Members of the president's Cabinet all come forward to say that the national security concerns have been met.

Yet, neither the President, the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of the Treasury knew about the details until they became public in recent days.

Meanwhile, the press secretary says that this all part of the "normal review process."

WTF??? WTF? ???

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