That thud you heard coming from the White House today was the sound of Karl Rove’s invincibility hitting the floor.
The UAE was either asked or decided on their own to nix the ports deal thus heading off a certain veto override by Congress and embarrassing the President more than he and his Administration have already embarrassed themselves:
The United Arab Emirates company that was attempting to take over management operations at six U.S. ports announced today that it will divest itself of all American interests.
The announcement appears to head off a major confrontation that was brewing between Congress and the Bush administration over the controversial deal.
Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) announced on the Senate floor shortly before 2 p.m. that Dubai Ports World would “transfer fully the operations of U.S. ports to a U.S. entity.” Warner, who had been trying to broker a compromise on the issue, said DP World would divest itself of U.S. interests “in an orderly fashion” so as not to suffer “economic loss.”
It was never about the security of the ports. It was never the fact that the UAE has a leader that has gone hunting with Bin Laden. It was never the fact that the UAE government has funded Wahabbist Madrasses all over the world to the tune of billions of dollars over the last 2 decades. It was never the fact that they don’t recognize Israel or that their banking system may be a financial way station for al Qaeda funds or that they were Muslims and I’m a bigoted fool.
It was always about the Bush Administration and their arrogant, cavalier attitude toward this deal and other aspects of homeland security including securing our borders. The committee set up to vet DPW was a bureaucratic rubber stamp made up of second and third tier assistant secretaries who didn’t even feel the need to brief the heads of their agencies about the deal. They never felt the need to brief the Joint Chiefs. The never felt the need to brief Congress.
Nervous nellies will argue that the House Republican “hotheads” should have waited for the 45-day review of the deal. But to many knowledgeable observers of the CFIUS process, the panel is the root of the problem—not the solution. As I made clear in my first post on this subject on Feb. 18 and consistently throughout the debate, we simply cannot afford the business-as-usual attitude of the rubber-stampers at CFIUS. And if that means the UAE retaliates by pulling out of business deals with Boeing, as it is threatening to do now, so be it.
You will recall that both DHS and the Coast Guard raised objections to the deal when it was first proposed. While both entities have come back and said their concerns were “addressed” what exactly does that mean? Were real concerns about security papered over with typical bureaucratic double-talk? Or were substantiative changes made to the deal that took into account the potential security problems pointed out by agencies whose job it is to protect us.
For that reason alone this deal needed to be examined. And I would still like to see hearings on other foreign owned companies who manage our ports and other transportation nexus. These are a particularly vulnerable part of our overall security profile and what this deal proved is that no one appears to be thinking very hard about them.
I sincerely hope that the UAE isn’t offended by the pressure that was put on them, although, when a country is owned by one man, it becomes very hard to separate the business from the personal. Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum may feel that he’s been double crossed but he shouldn’t blame the Congress or the American people. The blame is ultimately the Presidents’ to shoulder as are our other problems with border control and gaps in security at our airports.
If the killing of this deal has opened the eyes of the President and his people to the concerns of Congress and many conservatives, then it just may have a silver lining. They can go a long way toward proving that they’re listening by working with Congress on an immigration reform package that puts security over commerce and the safety of the American people over the wallets of the members of the Chambers of Commerce.
Michelle Malkin also has an excellent “first reaction” round up of media. Check back to her site often for more updates to come,