Outrage at the deal is bipartisan
In a letter to Treasury secretary John Snow, Senator Richard Shelby, an influential Alabama Republican, stopped short of calling for the deal to be blocked, but said the transaction merited further scrutiny, potentially raising complications for DP World's bid. Mr Shelby is expected to call for a hearing to discuss the issue in coming weeks.
In a separate letter to Mr Snow, New York senator Chuck Schumer and others said US ports were "the most vulnerable targets for terrorist attack". They questioned whether DP World, which is owned and controlled by Dubai, should be allowed to take over P&O, charging that Dubai was a "key transfer point" for shipments of nuclear components bound for Iran, North Korea and Libya.
And from yesterday's press briefing:
Q Scott, I have a two-part. The government's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has approved a deal that will put six major ports in the United States under the control of a state-sponsored company based in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. And my question: Knowing, as we do, that the Arab Emirate was tied in many ways to the 9/11 hijackers and their deeds, and knowing the critical nature of port security and protecting the nation, will the President step in and stop this deal from going into effect March 2nd?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, my understanding, Les, is that this went through the national security review process under CFIUS, at the Department of Treasury. That is the agency that is responsible for overseeing such matters. And this includes a number of national security agencies -- the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the Justice, among others, and there is a rigorous review that goes on for proposed foreign investments for national security concerns. And in terms of specifics relating to this, Treasury is the chair of this and you should direct those questions to Treasury.
That question, by the way, wasn't asked by Helen Thomas or David Gregory. It was posed by Les Kinsolving, right-wing reporter for WorldNutDaily.
Republicans feel betrayed that their President would make such a foolish national security move. Even Rick Santorum (R-PA) has sent a letter to the President protesting the deal. Also, Republican Congressman Mark Foley had this to day:
"Six of our largest commercial ports are being handed over to a country that is seeking to be Iran's free trade partner and has been linked to the funding and planning of 9/11. If our ports are the most vulnerable targets for terrorism and if we are at war, as the President says, we should be overly critical of handing over management of our ports to any foreign countries, post 9/11. Instead, this was done in the dead of night."
Besides Schumer, (who was quoted above and who sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Snowe), other Democrats are shocked at the deal--and are taking action:
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., told The Associated Press he will introduce legislation to prohibit companies owned or controlled by foreign governments from running port operations in the United States. Menendez said his proposal would effectively block state-owned Dubai Ports World from realizing gains from its purchase of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. [...]
We wouldn't turn the border patrol or the customs service over to a foreign government, and we can't afford to turn our ports over to one, either," Menendez said.
So conservatives, moderates, liberals, and basically everyone on the political spectrum opposes this deal. About the only people who like the deal are those who enjoy walking in wildflower meadows hand in hand with super-rich royal families whose countries may incubate terrorists.
The bipartisan concern here is that we are handing the key to our nation's security to just such a foreign government. Not to a private corporation, but to a company controlled by a foreign state. No matter how good our relations are with that country, how can we ever justify letting another government control the security of our citizens?
Anthony R. Coscia, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, has repeatedly contacted the administration to get answers to his concerns. The Bush administration has refused to respond.
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