Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bush Threatens To Veto Legislation Blocking Transfer Of U.S. Ports To Dubai Firm

In his five-plus years as president, George W. Bush has not once vetoed a piece of legislation.

With Republicans in control of Congress, it would take extraordinary circumstances for Bush to feel the need to veto legislation. But certainly, Americans would know how passionately Bush felt on a given subject, if he was willing to overrule his own party's Congressional leadership.

And now we may be at such a crossroads. For President Bush is once again threatening his debut veto -- in order to support the takeover of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports by a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates.

The president yesterday defended his administration’s earlier approval of the sale of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. to Dubai Ports World, despite concerns from both sides of the aisle that the deal could increase the possibility of terrorism at American ports.

“If there was any chance that this transaction would jeopardize the security of the United States, it would not go forward,” Bush said.

What's wrong with the United Arab Emirates? Some of the Sept. 11 hijackers used the United Arab Emirates as an operational and financial base. The UAE was an important transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuclear components sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya by Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan. Critics from both parties say a port operator complicit in smuggling or terrorism could manipulate manifests and other records to frustrate Homeland Security’s already limited scrutiny of shipping containers and slip contraband past U.S. Customs inspectors.

But Bush asked Americans to trust his judgment, and why shouldn't we? We were greeted as liberators in Iraq, right? Right before we found all those weapons of mass destruction. And Osama Bin Laden has been captured, right? And we're following that roadmap to a two-state solution, now that the Palestinians have had elections. Everything has gone just as the Bush Administration said it would, right? Asking for our trust may have worked in the days following the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes, but doesn't work with the majority of Americans today.

So it shouldn't be completely surprising that multiple pieces of bipartisan legislation are being written in the House and Senate to block the transfer. New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, said yesterday the state will file lawsuits in federal and state courts opposing the agreement. A company at the Port of Miami, a subsidiary of Eller & Co. Inc., sued last week to block the deal in a Florida state court.

***

Bush has threatened the veto before, showing passion for some very questionable ideals.

-- In October, Bush threatened to veto the Senate's 2006 Defense spending bill because it included an amendment that would mandate uniform standards for the treatment of military detainees by banning "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment of prisoners by the military.

After it seemed the entire nation disagreed with him, Bush relented.

-- Bush has threatened to veto legislation for expanded financial support for stem cell research. With Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) now behind such legislation, a showdown is possible later this year.

-- Last fall, Bush threatened to veto legislation that would have reversed new Environmental Protection Agency rules to give power plants flexibility in how they reduce mercury emissions.

But Bush got a break, as the legislation failed 51-47.

-- Last summer, Bush threatened to veto the pork-laden federal highway bill if it came in over-budget.

But even after the legislation was passed some $30 billion over Bush's line-in-the-sand, he signed it into law. What a fiscal conservative!

***

So again we sit at the crossroads. Bush has laid down the gauntlet. For now, Congressional Republicans appear upset at the idea of our ports being run by a government with as many ties to terrorism as, say, Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

Will Republicans stand firm and fight their party's leader? Will they succumb to late-night arm-twisting from Vice President Cheney and Senior White House Advisor Karl Rove? Or will Bush be forced to put his veto stamp where his mouth is?

With mid-term elections less than nine months away, and with Bush's popular support hovering at about 40 percent, this is a battle worth watching.

6 Comments:

Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

On conservative talk radio, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham separately unveiled similar talking points.

The Republicans in Congress have "legitimate concerns that need to be ironed out." The Democrats -- or as Hannity says, the Clinton, Kerry, Schumer Democrats -- are engaging in "opportunism" and "partisan politics."

Hannity asked Bill Frist yesterday whether the GOP in Congress was giving the Democrats another opporunity to attack Bush.

The fact that the Democrats and Republicans are equally outraged over the issue? Who cares?

11:00 AM  
Blogger thewaronterrible said...

It did not work with 9-11/Homeland security, election fraud, Patriot Act, Katrina, torture prisons, NSA spying.
The UAE port folly will at long last cause the seeds of doubt already embedded in the brains of even the staunchest, red state conservatives to germinate.
And the herbicides, poisins and toxins poured in through their ears from the Hannitys, the Coulters, the Limbaughs will no longer prevail.

4:23 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

David R. Mark said...
"So again we sit at the crossroads. Bush has laid down the gauntlet. For now, Congressional Republicans appear upset at the idea of our ports being run by a government with as many ties to terrorism as, say, Saddam Hussein's Iraq."


I have to admit, after following this issue for several days, I find myself very torn and confused. I'm hearing excellent points being made on both sides of the argument, and from people whom I respect, taking completely opposite views.

For now, all I can do is continue to weigh everything I hear from day to day in order to be as well-informed as possible.

My initial gut reaction was very negative, and even a bit alarmist, but that may have been from the way that the whole issue was presented. I'm beginning to feel slightly more open to the idea, if, in fact, this is simply a matter of who is writing the checks and making the profits, and not a matter of introducing unnecessary risk to our national security.

1:42 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

rob of wilmington, del. said...
"On conservative talk radio, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham separately unveiled similar talking points.

The Republicans in Congress have "legitimate concerns that need to be ironed out." The Democrats -- or as Hannity says, the Clinton, Kerry, Schumer Democrats -- are engaging in "opportunism" and "partisan politics." "


Rob, I strongly disagree with your assertion that conservative talk show hosts are working off of talking points. I'm listening to several, and believe me, each of them are on an individual quest for the truth and for finding a comfort level that works for them.

As for the belief on the part of conservatives that perhaps the Democrats are using this issue as a wedge to gain political advantage, well, all we can possibly go on is the past positions taken by your party, and let's face it, they have been on the opposite side from Republicans on just about every single national security issue out there.

1:52 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

"Consistency, thou art a jewel."

I can't help but find it a bit amusing to see Democrats all of a sudden doing a one-eighty, and finally seeing the value in profiling, when they have consistently hampered all previous efforts to use such basic, good-sense investigative tools in the past. The inconsistency of Democrats never ceases to astound me.

Oh, and then there's this "jewel", as Chuck Schumer recently told Fox News Channel's John Gibson.

"I'd take Halliburton over U.A.E. at this point, if I had to take a choice right now..."

Can you imagine? HALLIBURTON! HALLIBURTON! HALLIBURTON!

Come on now, fellow posters. If you can't find humor in that one, you just don't have a sense of humor. ;)

2:45 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

A question to central scrutinizer, if he/she checks back in here.

Would you be the same "central scrutinizer" who posts on randi.org? Just curious. :)

2:50 PM  

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