Thursday, March 09, 2006

Portgate: Victory!

Victory indeed.

As some of you know, I was a staunch critic of the Dubai deal from the very beginning. My opposition to the deal wasn't rooted in racism or xenophobia, nor in any sort of blanket criticism of the Muslim (or specifically Arab) world. Rather, I was simply concerned that control of some of America's major ports was being handed over to a foreign state with connections to terrorism. That state may now be an ally of the United States in the war on terror, but, to me, the risk was too high.

In addition, the deal exposed once more just how the Bush Administration operates.

Well, as The Washington Post is reporting, "[t]he United Arab Emirates company that was attempting to take over management operations at six U.S. ports said today that it will divest itself of all U.S. port interests". And this surely is no coincidence: "The decision came several hours after Republican congressional leaders met with President Bush and told him that Congress appeared ready to block the takeover by Dubai Ports World, a deal that has generated fierce opposition on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill but has been defended by the administration."

(More from The New York Times, CNN, and MSNBC.)

Questions linger: What does this whole debacle say about the state of Bush's leadership? What of the apparent rift between the White House and Congessional Republicans? Will Dubai retaliate against U.S. commercial interests, including a deal with Boeing (as The Hill is reporting)? Will the issue now be dropped, or will there be a serious evaluation of port security? Beyond that, will anything actually be done to improve port security? Will Portgate be a lingering issue going into this years midterms? Will Democrats be able to capitalize on this key White House fumble on national security?


Update: Here's what Edward Bilkey, Dubai Ports World COO, said this afternoon: "Because of the strong relationship between the United Arab Emirates and the United States and to preserve this relationship, DP World has decided to transfer fully the U.S. operations of P&O Ports North America, Inc. to a United States entity." We'll have to see just what this "entity" is.


Needless to say, this is the top story at Memeorandum. In particular, see:

Steve Soto at The Left Coaster: "Look, this was a colossal blunder from a cabal that was used to having its way with Congress. How could these guys, weeks after Rove boasted about how the GOP would ram national security down the throats of the Democrats this fall, allow its own committee overseeing foreign investments to rubber stamp a deal that would destroy that whole narrative? And how could the White House assume that a lame veto threat would scare its own party incumbents to allow a transaction that would position Nancy Pelosi to their right on national security?"

Zoe Kentucky at Demagogue: "When it comes to the Dubai deal I think the real issues are the oversight, or the lack thereof, and Bush's "just trust me" attitude. Not that it is a Middle Eastern country. Americans are truly delusional if they think that installing an American company is enough to protect our ports. This is a much bigger issue than that."

And also: The Carpetbagger Report, Taylor Marsh, Shakespeare's Sister -- and Joe Gandelman with updates at The Moderate Voice here, here, and here.


My previous posts on all things Portgate:

And so it goes.

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