Bush Digs In

Ken AshfordWar on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

Incredible.  He’s never vetoed anything in his 6 years, and now he’s threatening to veto Congress if it blocks the UAE deal, even though it has less support than Harriet Miers.

Libertarian Glenn Reynolds:

Either this deal is somehow a lot more important than it seems (a quid pro quo for, well, something . . . ) or Bush is an idiot. Your call.

A bit ironic, since Congress will probably have the votes to override, thereby tarnishing Bush’s image even further.  Conservative Hugh Hewitt:

Majority Leader Frist just told my audience that an override of a presidential veto of legislation blocking the port deal was possible. Looks like a showdown, and it isn’t one the president can win.

Meanwhile, Glenn Greenwald isn’t sure its a scandal, but is open to argument:

Here is the source of my ambivalence. What exactly is the principle which the Administration has violated here? Are we supposed to be assuming that anything or anyone connected to the Middle East is more likely to pose a threat of terrorism than those who aren’t connected to the Middle East, and thereby avoid anything related to the Middle East when it comes to sensitive contracts? Or is the concern specific to this Middle Eastern country — that we ought to be assuming that anyone with connections to the UAE poses a greater threat of terrorism than those who don’t have such connections? Isn’t that the sort of profiling that most people have agreed is improper? These are real questions, not rhetorical ones.

Sean-Paul Kelley at The Agonist argues that there is no meritorious profiling component to these objections:

A number of people have pointed out that opposition to the UAE-US port management deal has a ‘racist’ tint to it. Bogus. The problem here is that we are giving a foreign company and country (it’s state-owned) control over a vital national security concern. What’s worse, is that we’re considering giving it to a country/company that has links to non-state actors. The same non-state actors that blew up the WTC, the Pentagon and the Cole.

This is a sovereignty issue, but not in a xenophobic/Lou Dobbs/Michelle Malkin type way. It goes to the heart of our struggle with al Qaeda. The UAE still has ties to al Qaeda-not to mention that is was a focal trans-shipment point for material from the network of AQ Khan in Pakistan. P&O, to the best of my knowledge, has links to neither.

Time Magazine also points out just why this isn’t good:

New York Republican Congressman Peter King has insisted the administration revisit its approval of the transfer of control of U.S. ports to "a company coming out of a country where al Qaeda has such a strong presence," and which could be easily infiltrated by the terrorist network. Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton of New York and Bob Menendez of New Jersey plan to hold hearings on the issue next week, and are seeking legislation banning companies controlled by foreign governments from buying U.S. port facilities. Menendez alleged that the UAE has a "serious and dubious history… as a transit point for terrorism." And in response to Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff’s insistence that the administration made a rigorous check — without disclosing details — of the security implications of the deal, California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer said "It’s ridiculous to say you’re taking secret steps to make sure that it’s okay for a nation that has ties to 9/11 to take over part of our port operations."

It seems that conservatives are more apeshit about this then liberals, who are focused on Bush’s hypocrisy.  Conservatives are likely to go even more apeshit when they realize that Jimmy Carter supports Bush on the UAE deal.

To be continued, no doubt.