Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bush Threatens Veto

(via Malkin) Bloomberg News:
President George W. Bush said a Dubai company's bid to manage six major U.S. ports should go forward, threatening to veto legislation that blocks the transaction because of security concerns.
Say what? Did someone say veto? Does anyone recall President Bush vetoing a single item that has come to his desk in 6 years? A Malkin reader:

Reader Brian L.:

He says he'll veto any congressional effort to stop the deal. Now, he decides to veto something. Not Campaign Finance Reform. Not immense pork barrel spending.

I'd call his bluff if I were a leader in Congress.

Exactly. This whole story is a bit strange:
United States ports are being sold from a British company to a company that is from the United Arab Emirates - home of 2 of the 9/11 hijackers, and a country that allows terrorists to run transactions through it. President Bush makes a somewhat valid point when he says:
"After careful review by our government, I believe the transaction ought to go forward," Bush told reporters who had traveled with him on Air Force One to Washington. "I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company. I am trying to conduct foreign policy now by saying to the people of the world, `We'll treat you fairly.'"
His argument is that it is blatant discrimination. But I disagree. There is no reason to think a British company would allow anyone to slip by security, while the UAE has a longer history of allowing terrorists to act under their noses. I think it makes as much sense as profiling does: The UAE fits the profile of a country that cannot be trusted with US security; Great Britian does not.

A better question is why we allow the security of our ports to be controlled by any other country, period. Nobody ever anticipated the possibility that a sale such as this could occur? There are very few things the government should have full control over, but the security of our borders is one of them. This whole story is a disaster.

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  1. I gotta say, I actually agree with you. Why isn't our government dealing with this? Brits are good, and at least we trust them, but, really, why isn't this our problem?

  2. A better question is why we allow the security of our ports to be controlled by any other country, period.

    The prior owner was a British company. As far as I know, it wasn't owned by Great Britain, so it is incorrect to say that our ports were controlled by another country. The new owner, on the other hand is a state owned company.

  3. This is certainly a R nightmare for the president and one I hope does not go away. This is vital to our countries security and there should at the very least be a very thorough investigation.

  4. Krum - sorry, I assumed both were state-owned companies. Nevertheless, the point still stands: Shouldn't US border security be run by the US government? Or at the least, US citizens?

  5. I am as befuddled by this as you are. This, for his first veto?

    FWIW there is indeed a major difference between a British company and a government owned company based in Dubai. Britain is an ally. It is a fellow NATO member. We have mutual treaty obligations. We share classified information with each other. We have no such agreements with the United Arab Emirates.

    Chalk up another success for privatization!

  6. Ultimately the Coast Guard is responsible, even if Martians get their hands on the Phila. ports. But...

    This is a strange story.

  7. Krum - sorry, I assumed both were state-owned companies. Nevertheless, the point still stands: Shouldn't US border security be run by the US government? Or at the least, US citizens?

    Ezzie, I don't know if it's correct to say that the Dubai company will be running "border security." I am still not sure what exactly the Dubai company will be doing. AIUI, ports are generally owned by state (or bi-state) agencies. The terminal operators run the port. I am not sure where port security comes into the picture.

  8. Krum - my understanding from what I've read is that they will be hiring the operators for the port, and running security. If I'm wrong, that's great.

  9. Maybe. I haven't seen any solid reporting into exactly what this company will be doing.

  10. I can't disagree with anything in this editorial:

    And WCBS has been running and re-running Leno and Letterman's humorous take on this. Karl Rove (who really runs things in the White House) must be on vacation.

  11. The Emperor's birthday suit is quite revealing, ain't it my children? I'm so sorry you had to find out this way, I really am. But as the saying goes, an imbecile, is an imbecile, is an imbecile.

  12. You are all forgetting his coninient new apointeed, mr. David Sanborn to head up leader of the U.S. Maritime Administration. Sandborn was previously employed by the same exact Dabai Ports world. how exactly does that happen so conviniently? Florida senator nelson has promised to block that nomination - with good reason.

  13. The Jewish Press chimes in.

    As expected, they offer harsher criticisms toward Democrats even though this one is an entirely Republican doing. The Jewish Press just can't bring itself to admit that President Bush might actually be objectively wrong on something.

  14. Aharon - I agreed with the op-ed when they stayed on subject (paras 1,3,6 I think); all their tangents were just poor (and dissimilar) attempts to bash President Bush.

    TTC - You're making the same mistake. I agree that sounds bad, but before knocking it, just how many people are there who are qualified for such a position? There aren't that many corporations who run numerous major ports.

    Charlie - I don't think so. They're not attacking Dems at all on this one, merely saying that it makes it harder to immediately believe that this is such an issue based on the Dems' cry wolf reputation. The second half then takes Bush to task.

  15. I think that the "business can do nothing wrong" mentality that pervades this administration is well demonstrated by the fact that none of Bush's appointees who were responsible for approving the sale even thought it was important enough to tell the President about it!

  16. Charlie - I'm not sure that the President is usually informed about such transactions. I'd guess he usually isn't, actually. Out of all the issues to look at in this, that's not one of them.

  17. I think Bush raises a valid point. There is a prima facie case of racial/religious/ethnic discrimination when you protest against an Arab owned corporation and not a British one. That being said, discrimination is sometimes called for, even if based on racial or ethnic grounds.

    As I posted yesterday, I don't see the concern being that worker's paychecks will come from a different bank or corporation. Rather, the concern is that those who wish to do America harm may have easier access to disaster control and sensitive plans. If that's true (and we don't know what safeguards were put in, nor how easy it was when a British company - Britain has their fair share of fanatics - ran it) then there is a concern.

    As for the government being in charge, I'd mention that, in general, the government isn't the most efficient. While ultimately the responsibility does rest on the federal government, the most efficient method may well be to utilize a private company, while overseeing them to make sure they keep up standards.

  18. Romach - I agree Bush makes a good point, but as I said in the post, so what: This is similar to my argument for profiling. (i.e. I agree with you.)

  19. 'in general, the government isn't the most efficient.'

    The government is the most efficient provider of services when there is a natural economy of scale or natural monopoly, such as in health insurance and electric power. It is very inefficient compared to the private sector otherwise. I don't know about ports, but I suspect that this might be a natural monopoly.