Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Portsgate: Public Outrage be Damned

The supporters of turning U.S. seaports over to the management of Dubai Ports World, a state-owned United Arab Emirates company, tout Dubai as a fun-loving mecca of westernized living.

What they don't mention is that the "glittering oil-rich city, one of seven sheikdoms making up the UAE, is home to Indian and Russian mobsters, Iranian arms traffickers, and a banking system that was used to funnel money to the 9/11 hijackers." U.S. News & World Report, March 6, 2006.

Lou Dobbs reported on his February 27 Lou Dobbs Tonight broadcast that the UAE has forbidden CNN interviews because of Dobbs vigorous reporting on Portgate. No silly things like freedom of speech in the United Arab Emirates! Dobbs, a lifelong Republican, said he has the full support of CNN and plans to continue his coverage of U. S. port and border security issues.

Remember, regardless of how much lipstick you put on this tawdry deal, the UAE is still a royal oligarchy with rulers and subjects and used to getting their way. And, lucky for them, President Bush is looking out for their best interests too!

One other silly little detail. The Bush administration loudly proclaimed that there were no security concerns raised over the P&O takeover deal. Turns out that is not true. The Coast Guard raised such issues last December!

The sale is going to close this Thursday, March 2. So the promised a 45-day review will be after the fact. The majority leader of the Senate, Bill Frist, after vigorously objecting to the port deal with Dubai Ports World, has now fallen into line with the Bush administration. Bush, after threatening his first veto ever in support of the DB World takeover, will have the final say. Looks like the United States is a Bush oligarchy, public outrage be damned!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Bush Ports Deal Risks Security

Today the United States Seaport Commission, a conservative public policy body devoted to preventing foreign government control of U.S. seaports, issued its statement on the proposed sale of P&O to United Arab Emirates-owned Dubai Ports World.

For the full text of their statement: http://www.usseaportcommission.org

According to this report, the assertion by the Bush administration that the U. S. government will handle security at the ports taken over by the UAE through this deal is false.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Homeland Security have regulatory authority but the implementation of security provisions is carried out by the companies themselves. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Carter reluctantly admitted this to The Washington Times.

High risk cargo could sit overnight in ports waiting for inspection. Foreign executives will have the authority to wander at will through our seaports.

DP World would "have direct day-to-day management control over harbors less than a mile away from the wreckage of the World Trade Center in New York City and in busy Baltimore harbor--only a 90 minute rented-truck drive from the nation's capital, Washington, D.C."

The UAE would have access to and knowledge of all of the U. S. security systems and procedures at our seaports.

Senator Hillary Clinton asked during a senate hearing on the DP World deal how many meetings during the 30 day investigation the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) had to review this transaction for national security concerns. The answer.....one meeting and some of the principals were no shows.

The 45 day public relations investigation proposed by UAE and the Bush administration doesn't address the basic concern....no foreign government should have any degree of control over U.S. seaports. Period!

It is already too late for Pier J in the Los Angeles Long Beach Harbor which is operated by The China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO), which is controlled by and functioning as an arm of the government of Communist China. This is allowed to continue in the face of a threat from Chinese Gen. Xiong Guang Kai to "rain nuclear bombs on Los Angeles." And last summer another Chinese General threatened a nuclear attack against the U.S.

Wake up America! The Bush administration cares more about its deals with Arab nations than our national security.

It is long past time to stop the selling of America to foreign governments!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

This is the CFIUS Committee of 12

The security of our ports is vital to our national security. How is it the Bush administration came to recommend that vital port operations conducted by Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation (P&O) be taken over by the Dubai Ports World (DP World) a state-owned company of the United Arab Emirates. Follow the bouncing ball....after all to hear Bush tell it, he was clueless.

The Secretary of the Treasury, John Snow, is charged with implementing the Exon-Florio (EF) provision that puts into place the mechanism to review Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as it pertains to national security. The statue Section 5021 of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 gives the President of the United States the authority to block a foreign acquisition. To assist in making this determination, EF provides the President, or his designee, written notice of a takeover by a foreign entity.

This provision and written notice is implemented by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Treasury, acting at the staff level through the Director of the Office of International Investment in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Internal Affairs (Clay Lowery) acts as the secretariat for CFIUS. It receives and circulates notices to CFIUS agencies and coordinates reviews. In cases where the acquirer (DP World) is controlled by a foreign government a 45-day investigation is required. The DP World takeover of P&O investigation was just 30 days.

There are twelve inter-agency members of CFIUS:

1. Secretary of Treasury- CFIUS Committee Chairman - John Snow. His charge is to protect national security while maintaining the credibility of our open investment policy. Only problem is, Snow was chairman of CSX rail firm that sold its own international port operations to DP World for $1.5 billion in 2004.

2. Secretary of State - Condoleezza Rice

3. Secretary of Defense - Donald Rumsfeld
In a Department of Defense press conference on February 21, 2006 with Rumsfeld a reporter asked: "Are you confident that any problems with security--from what you know, are you confident that any problems with security would not be greater with a UAE company running this than an American Company."

Rumsfeld's reply: "I am reluctant to make judgments based on the minimal amount of information I have, because I just heard about this over the weekend." This statement was made after the review was approved on February 13 by the CFIUS committee of which he is a member!

4. Secretary of Commerce - Carlos Gutierrez

5. Attorney General - Alberto Gonzales

6. Director, Office of Management & Budget - Joshua B. Bolten

7. U.S. Trade Representative - Ambassador Rob Portman

8. Chairman, Council Economic Advisors - Ben Bernamke, Until February 2006, currently Federal Reserve Chairman.

9. Director, Office of Science & Technology Policy - Dr. John Marburger

10.Asst. to President, National Security Affairs - Stephen Hadley

11.Asst. to President, Economic Policy - Allan B. Hubbard

12.Dept. of Homeland Security - Secretary Michael Chertoff

In the same February 21 press conference with Rumsfeld, in response to a question about the Defense Department representative involved in the decision making process he said: "There were Defense Department and -- I think as I said, there were six departments that were involved in the process in one way or another, and the Defense Department was one of them. The lead was the Department of Homeland Security."

Rumsfeld not only isn't doing his job, he is trying to push the blame off on another Department Secretary, Chertoff, who is already on the ropes for his mishandling of Katrina.

So this is the super-secret CFIUS committee of twelve. More like the deadly Keystone Cops! Of course many on the committee of twelve deny knowledge of the transaction, say someone else in their department was their representative. But, according to the EF provision, the buck stops with each of them. Especially Snow who had the leadership reponsibility and the intimate knowledge of DP World.

And while we're at it, how about telling the full story about how many ports are involved in the takeover by DP World, it's 24, and here they are according to the P&O's own website:

Baltimore, Baton Rouge, Beaumont, Boston, Camden, Corpus Christi, Davidville, Freeport, Galveston, Gulfport, Houston, Lake Charles, Miami, New Jersey, New Orleans, New York, Newport News, Norfolk, Orange, Philadelphia, Port Arthur, Portland, Portsmouth, Wilmington.

It's time for a thorough investigation of Portgate!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Bush Vows to Rebuild Mosque

Bush vows to the Iraq government that we will help rebuild the Golden Mosque in Samarra.

"We understand its importance to Iraqi society and we want to stand side by side with the government in making sure that beautiful dome is restored," Bush said.

There have been 10 church arsons of southern Baptist churches recently. They meant a lot to their communities too. Did Bush make the same promise to rebuild these churches?

One thing Bush likes to do is spend taxpayer money and run up the national debt rebuilding other countries. Maybe he should take another trip to New Orleans. Maybe he should stand side by side with his countrymen and focus on their interests.

But we all know this won't happen. He's an oil man and his "heart belongs to Dubai."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

P&O in 24 U.S. Ports

According to the official Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. Internet site there are many more US ports involved in their takeover by Dubai Ports World than the six ports being publicized.

Actually, the DP World, through their wholly-owned subsidiary "Thunder FZE" in taking over P&O would be acquiring internationally 29 container terminal operations, with logistics operations in over 100 ports in 19 countries. The P&O web site:

This site shows that what they call "container terminals" are located in 8 major ports in the US including the NY Passenger Terminal. Houston was conveniently omitted from the much-publicized six ports list. P&O has "stevedore" operations in other US ports and in all they will either run operations or have a large presence in 24 US ports, plus a container terminal in Vancouver, Canada.

The access to our US ports by an Arab country is much more extensive than is being reported or discussed.

Add to that the fact that the administration will not require DP World to keep copies of business records on US soil, where they would be subject to court orders. Nor must they have a designated American citizen to accommodate US government requests. Legal experts say such obligations are routinely attached to US approvals of foreign sales in other industries.

There is something more going on here than the sale we know about. What is the real deal with the United Arab Emirates?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

More Ports in Bush Deal

By cleverly highlighting six major ports, the full story about the takeover of P & O by Dubai Ports World in the United Arab Emirates is being nicely obscured. P & O is exiting all of its holdings in the U.S. including the seven ports in Texas located in Houston, Galveston, Freeport, Corpus Christi, Beaumont and Port Arthur. These are key ports for the movement of oil, but also for arms and materials for the war effort in Iraq!

But it gets worse. P & O also operates the New York City Passenger Terminal just 5 minutes from Times Square. All would be a part of a takeover deal.

Ask yourself, why is President Bush is so worried about this deal with the United Arab Emirates that he is willing to do something he has never done before. He threatens to use his first veto ever to override congressional bi-partisan efforts to stop this sale. Bush is stating loud and clear, he will put the UAE interests ahead of our security interests.

But we America-loving citizens can also use our veto power in November.....loud and clear!

One further thought on the Bush administration's selling of America. Were you left with the impression that Dubai Ports World was a regular company based in the United Arab Emirates.

Oh no.

Dubai Ports World is a United Arab Emirates state-owned and run company. Our ports would be in fact operated by an Arab country. And is UAE using their own money for the takeover? No, the UAE $6.5 billion takeover loan will be financed by about 30 Middle East banks.

November can't come soon enough!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bush Ports Deal Stinkier!

More disturbing facts have surfaced on the Bush administration decision to allow an Arab-owned company, Dubai Ports World, to operate six of the major ports in the United States:

According to Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich he received no advance notice until the deal was done even though the Baltimore port is one of the ports involved.

Treasury Secretary John Snow whose department headed the secret federal panel that signed off on the deal, was chairman of the CSX rail firm that sold its own international port operations to Dubai Ports World for $1.15 billion in 2004, a year after Snow left to join Bush's cabinet.

David Sanborn who ran Dubai Ports World's European and Latin American operations was tapped by Bush last month to head the U.S. Maritime Administration.

The Bush administration evidently thinks like this.....don't tell the governor responsible for the security of his state about the deal to sell his port. (No need to wonder why.)

Put Snow was in charge of investigating a company his old firm sold its ports to. (Why not put VP Cheney in charge of investigating the Halliburton Iraq contracts while you're at it?)

And, just to make sure the fox is in the hen house, why not put a Dubai Ports World senior executive in charge of U. S. Maritime operations!

Rotten isn't it.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Cheney Has Good Reason For Secrecy!!

According to Newsweek, the owner of the ranch where VP Dick Cheney sprayed Harry Whittington with birdshot is Anne Armstrong, GOP big hitter and onetime ambassador to the Court of St. James. She is also a former member of the Halliburton board that picked Cheney to be CEO. (She was also mentioned as a possible vice president for Gerald Ford.)

Armstrong's daughter Katharine was in the hunting party and according to her resume at one time she worked for Senator John Tower and in the Nixon White House. She was appointed by Gov. George W. Bush in 1999 to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission and was named its Chairman in 2001. She now has her own consulting firm specializing in corporate affairs and government relations at state and national levels.

Another member of the hunting party, U. S. Ambassador to Switzerland Pamela Willeford also has interesting connections. Her brother-in-law, Lewis Lucke, is the recently appointed U. S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Swaziland. From November 2002 to February of 2004 Lucke was Deputy Assistant Administrator of USAID in Iraq.

USAID, under the Bush administration's faith-based funding initiative, has been giving significant financial support to several high-powered U.S.-based Christian evangelical organizations that are focusing on Africa. And here we thought the faith-based program was to benefit the needy in our country, not to convert Africans. Silly us.

During his stint with USAID in Iraq, Lucke headquartered in the Iraqi Republican Guard Palace in Baghdad while coordinating reconstruction efforts. Of course one company who received huge multi-billion reconstruction contracts was Halliburton. Surprise, surprise.

Could the real reason for the secrecy surrounding this hunting party incident be that Cheney and the Bush administration didn't want anyone snooping into these relationships?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Broder Uncovers Bush Tricks

In what David Broder calls a "Trillion-Dollar Gimmick" in his latest editorial in the Washington Post, he lays out the treatment of the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 which are slated to expire in 2010.

Bush in his recently submitted 2007 budget is treating those tax cuts as if they don't expire. The net result of this is to ensure that the cost of continuing the tax cuts in the years after the expiration date would never be counted. And, since those years were not counted when the tax cuts were first enacted, this accounting gimmick would actually cost an unbudgeted $1.6 trillion over the next decade according to the Congressional Budget Office.

This same budget proposes costly personal accounts for Social Security yet curbs spending for Medicare and Medicade benefits. Bush is remaking our country into his and his big business cronies image. To do it he is drowning us in red ink!

The complete Broder article can be found at this Washington Post site:


Saturday, February 18, 2006

Comments by Anonymous Hit the Mark

Take a moment to read the comments from Anonymous on the "We're Selling Our Ports" post of February 17. (Click "comments" at the end of the piece.) They certainly hit the mark with insightful analysis.

David Broder has a great editorial today on the $1 trillion budget gimmick being foisted on us by the Bush administration. As soon as it becomes available I'll show the link.

Thought for the day:
"Tolerance is not acceptance, and indifference is not assimilation."
Carey McWilliams

Friday, February 17, 2006

We're Selling Our Ports!

Do you remember right after 9/11 when our government was making an assessment of security weaknesses in the country and one really big concern was security at our ports? So you probably figured your government was working hard to fix this deadly problem.

Well, the Bush administration is proposing the perfect solution!

We are going to sell for $6.8 billion the control over operations at six major American ports to a company in the United Arab Emirates!

The company, Dubai Ports World, would run significant commercial operations at shipping terminals in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.

Just to review the record of the United Arab Emirates, it was an important transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuclear components sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya for Pakistani scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan. It was one of only three countries to recognize the now-toppled Taliban as Afghanistan's legitimate government. It is also alleged that United Arab Emirates was an operational and financial base for the hijackers who carried out the attacks of 9/11.

And, yes, they will hire their own security personnel.

Has our administration gone mad?

But, rest easy. We have been assured by Stewart Baker, an assistant secretary in the Homeland Security Department (aggghhhhhhh) that they have looked at this transaction closely and have concluded the transaction should not be halted.

Oh that makes me feel better!

Write, call, email your Senators. We must stop this unbelievable lunacy.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cheney's Image Crumbling

When Vice President Dick Cheney's offered his mea culpa of what happened when he shot hunting companion Harry Whittleford he tried to be a Marlboro man.

Weren't you left with the idea that Cheney, the strong and silent type, deferred to eye witness and experienced hunter Katharine Armstrong as the ranch owner where the accident happened. The scene goes...."My Gawd, this is terrible. Can't let Harry's family find out from the press. Katharine, you take care of it gal."

Actually, the scene played out more like, "My Gawd, this is a terrible moment. Everyone keep quiet, I'll handle this. Take Harry to the hospital then let's eat dinner."

Well, Katharine in a very lady-like Texan way set the record straight about who did what and when. According to her statement she, her sister Sara Armstrong Hixon, and her mother made a family decision after breakfast Sunday, the day after the shooting, to make the incident public. She said very clearly that this was a family decision and their idea.

One other thing, besides hiding behind his female hunting companions skirts, Cheney let ride without comment the insinuation that the incident was poor Whittington's fault for not declaring loudly "Simon says I'm back." But, according to hunting experts, it is up to the hunter to make sure before you pull the trigger that the field in front of you is clear. Guess Cheney is kind of fast on the trigger.

Which is the perfect metaphor for how this administration has handled so many things under Cheney's tutelage, including the war in Iraq. His itchy trigger finger propelled us into a war with a contained secular nation. By not understanding the religious, social and political terrain before him, Cheney misfired and this secular nation is now a dangerous hotbed of extremist Muslims.

So, the strong and silent I-know-best Cheney image is crumbling. In its place we see the cold and calculating power broker behind the curtain....a curtain that keeps him from clearly seeing the fields of fire.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cheney's Moment in Time

Finally, on Wednesday, a public admission from Vice President Cheney that contrary to earlier statements from his female hunting companions, he was at fault for the shooting after all. Not the hapless funeral magnate and Republican lawyer Harry Whittington who had the nerve to go retrieve his bird on that Saturday hunt.

Hunting companion and U. S. Ambassador to Switzerland Pamela Willeford said in an interview for Tuesday's Dallas Morning News that "she and Cheney didn't realize that Whittington had picked up a bird and caught up with them." Guess hunting with Cheney is kind of like musical chairs, if you leave the line don't expect to just take your place again without a fight.

What Cheney actually said during his apology was.....you won't believe this.....it was "one of the worst days in my life AT THAT MOMENT." Now I don't know what you think the length of time a moment is, but to me a moment is kind of like a split second. So for all of a split second he had a bad time, but after that it was just an ooops.

After Whittington went to the hospital what was left of the hunting party sat down for a nice dinner according to Katharine Armstrong, owner of the 50,000-acre ranch where they were hunting, and an eye witness to the event. No sense letting the shooting of your friend and all that blood spoil your appetite.

The apology four days after the fact was taped by FOX News. Just to make sure it was fair and balanced of course. No live press conference with those nasty unscripted questions. Managed and controlled. Just business as usual for Cheney.

Funny, Cheney's wife, Lynne, didn't rush to his side. Especially considering how they all felt so bad....for a moment.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cheney Quick on the Trigger

"It was just a hunting accident," the right wing spinners proclaim.

But it took over 12 hours to notify the local sheriff that Vice President Dick Cheney had shot 78-year-old lawyer Harry Whittington on Katharine Armstrong's 50,000 acre ranch .

It took 24 hours to tell the nation.

To tell you and me.

Why is this important?

Because such accidents are normally investigated while the evidence is such that there is something that can be investigated. You and I would have to undergo such an

And, because this incident involves the Vice President of the United States.

How seriously was Whittington injured? This information was initially a stonewall. Cheney's modus operandi.

The accident was on Saturday. On Tuesday the Corpus Christi-Memorial hospital announced that one of the pellets was lodged near Whittington's heart and had caused a "silent heart attack." Hospital officials said there were about six to 200 other pieces of birdshot that might still be in Whittington's body.

This was a serious incident. Were alcohol or drugs involved? Probably no way to know after so many hours and now days. The first public announcement came on Sunday from Armstrong, the former Chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission and a Bush Pioneer. She informed her local paper, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Not a word from Cheney or the White House.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Hunting Accident and Incident Report Form completed by Game Warden Jason Duke was very detailed except for the question "Number of persons in party" which was left blank. It was reported that besides Cheney, Whittington and Armstrong there was another, initially undisclosed, person in the party.

The other hunting companion? The lovely U. S. Ambassador to Switzerland, Pamela Willeford.

There must be more than meets the eye, otherwise why the Texas shuffle? Stay tuned.

U.S. Ambassador Pamela Willeford February 2004