Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Daily News: Dubai Ties To The White House

Yesterday I asked the question, 'I wonder which Bush cronies are making money off of the Dubai deal?"

Well, today I have my answer, courtesy of Michael McAuliff of the NY Daily News:

WASHINGTON - The Dubai firm that won Bush administration backing to run six U.S. ports has at least two ties to the White House.

One is Treasury Secretary John Snow, whose agency heads the federal panel that signed off on the $6.8 billion sale of an English company to government-owned Dubai Ports World - giving it control of Manhattan's cruise ship terminal and Newark's container port.

Snow was chairman of the CSX rail firm that sold its own international port operations to DP World for $1.15 billion in 2004, the year after Snow left for President Bush's cabinet.

The other connection is David Sanborn, who runs DP World's European and Latin American operations and was tapped by Bush last month to head the U.S. Maritime Administration.

The ties raised more concerns about the decision to give port control to a company owned by a nation linked to the 9/11 hijackers.

"The more you look at this deal, the more the deal is called into question," said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who said the deal was rubber-stamped in advance - even before DP World formally agreed to buy London's P&O port company.

Besides operations in New York and Jersey, Dubai would also run port facilities in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Baltimore and Miami.

The political fallout over the deal only grows.

"It's particularly troubling that the United States would turn over its port security not only to a foreign company, but a state-owned one," said western New York's Rep. Tom Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee. Reynolds is responsible for helping Republicans keep their majority in the House.

Snow's Treasury Department runs the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which includes 11 other agencies.

"It always raises flags" when administration officials have ties to a firm, Rep. Vito Fossella (R-S.I.) said, but insisted that stopping the deal was more important.

The Daily News has learned that lawmakers also want to know if a detailed 45-day probe should have been conducted instead of one that lasted no more than 25 days.

According to a 1993 congressional measure, the longer review is mandated when the company is owned by a foreign government and the purchase "could result in control of a person engaged in interstate commerce in the U.S. that could affect the national security of the U.S."

Congressional sources said the President has until March 2 to trigger that harder look.

"The most important thing is for someone to explain how this is consistent with our national security," Fossella said.

Well, now at least we know why the deal got okayed by the Bushies.

More cronyism.

But at least members of both parties are fighting back on this one. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) told Keith Olbermann on Countdown last night that the Bush administration must be stopped from turning over port security to a state-owned foreign company with ties to terrorism. Fossella and Reynolds, both Republicans, also want the deal quashed. So does Congressman Peter King, a GOP hack if ever there was one, but apparently not in this case. Even George Pataki, ace suck-up to Karl Rove, has come out against the deal.

Almost every Democrat is against the Dubai deal, all except one.

Joe Lieberman.

Here's the NY Times on Lieberman's position on the Dubai deal:

One of the few legislators to come close to defending the transaction was Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, who is considered a security hawk among Democrats.

He told ABC News that he was "not yet" prepared to try to block the sale. He noted that many port terminals in the United States are foreign-owned.

"I worry more about the failure to invest in port security" - to improve the ability to detect smuggled weapons of mass destruction, for example - "than I worry right now about this sale," Mr. Lieberman said.

Oh, yeah, Joe's a "security hawk" all right - even though he thinks selling the ports to a state-owned company with ties to terrorism is A-OK.

Joe's more like a "security hack" than a "security hawk" on this one.

Then again, with Lieberman's penchant for backing all things Bushie, I guess it should be no surprise he's backing the port sale.

Makes you wonder what Rove's got on Holy Roller Joe.

Dirty pictures? Evidence of an affair? Little girls? Little boys? Dead little girls and/or dead little boys?

I mean, it's got to be something really bad for Joe to just rubber stamp everything the Bush administration wants.

Well, anyway, all of this Lieberman nonsense can be taken care of if Connecticut residents would just support Lieberman's rival in the Democratic primary, Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont.

This way they can send Lieberman packing from his Senate seat and let him join the Bush administration officially, you know?

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