said Sunday that Bush administration policies were stripping the National Guard of equipment and personnel needed to respond to hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, forest fires and other emergencies.” Following a recent Pentagon budget proposal to cut 20,000 Guard members, “all 50 governors signed a letter to the president opposing any cuts in the size of the National Guard.”
Make no mistake about it, the “face-saving” deal on the Dubai port imbroglio was concocted by the White House. It’s being spun to the press as a “offer” by Dubai Ports World. But the AP reports that “senior U.S. officials and DP World executives have closely coordinated their efforts in recent weeks.”
The deal is political, not substantive. It’s designed take some heat off the White House, not protect the security of the United States.
1. The deal would not actually be delayed. Dubai Ports World has just offered to alter its management structure until the review is completed. “The company said that during the renewed scrutiny, or until May 1, a London-based executive who is a British citizen would have authority over DP World’s U.S. operations. It pledged that Dubai executives would not control or influence company business in the U.S., but said it was entitled to all profits during the period.”
2. If the outcome is different, Dubai Ports World said it may sue. “In the legal papers sent to the White House, DP World said it would abide by the outcome of the lengthier review but indicated it could sue if the results were any different.”
3. The administration has already made up their mind. Unless Congress has a role, it’s meaningless. “[Sen. Chuck] Schumer said Congress should have a chance after the review to approve or reject the administration’s decision. ‘If the report is completed and kept secret and only given to the president, who has already come out for the deal, it will not reassure Americans,’ Schumer said.”
Reasonable people can disagree about whether it makes sense to have the UAE run operations at U.S. ports. But the proposed ‘compromise’ is fundamentally dishonest.
There are reasonable arguments for and against the sale of U.S. port operations to the UAE. But there is a 45-day investigation for such transactions that is required by law. The administration should conduct the review because its legally mandatory and important for the security of the United States.
The scheme that is being concocted as a face-saving measure for the administration is absurd. The administration would conduct the 45-day review — but only because the UAE requested it. From Meet the Press:
SEN. WARNER: And this is a copy of the agreement which is now being delivered to the administration and to members of Congress. And it really spells out unequivocally the willingness of this country””excuse me, this company, to give every means of support to help work this thing out.
It says, “DP World and POPNA,” that’s the British, “jointly request,” now, they’re requesting, that’s a key thing, “that the CFIUS process on a nonprecedential basis to conduct an aview””review full and 45 days for the acquisition.” So there it all is. And I…
MR. RUSSERT: So the company is requesting a 45-day review investigation …
SEN. WARNER: That’s correct. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
This is too much even for right-wing pundit Charles Krauthammer, who supports the deal. From this morning on Fox News:
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I love how the company is on its own asking for a new review. It sounds like a Soviet show trial in which the defendant says I would like to request that the court indict me again.
Obviously, this is a cover the administration is cooking up to allow it to save the face and say we didn’t ask for a second review.
The point here is simple: the United States government should determine what kind of review is required, not the UAE royal family.
This morning on ABC’s This Week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) argued that concern over the Dubai port sale is misplaced since the UAE is freer than that beacon of liberty, China.
I think our priorities are misplaced. We’ve got a tremendous crisis in Iraq, that I’m happy to say the religious clerics have stood up against this violence. We’ve got the Iranian threat. We have got Nigerian oil at stake. We had an attack on a Saudi oil installation. We’ve got some very, very big issues that I think are perhaps more important than whether a country that’s freer than China should have control of some of our terminals.
According to the Freedom House’s 2006 Global Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties, China scores the worst rating (7) for political rights and a 6 for civil liberties. Overall, it receives a rating of “Not Free.” It’s actually a feat to be less free than China — only 7 countries of 192 do it.
The UAE is also rated “Not Free,” scoring a 6 for both political rights and civil liberties. Some other human rights bastions who are “freer than China”: Iran, the Congo, Cote d’Iviore, and Rwanda.
Bottom line: There are reasonable arguments for why the ports sale should go through. Freedom in the United Arab Emirates is not one of them.
Conservative columnist George Will this morning on ABC’s This Week:
STEPHANOPOULOS: What does civil war look like?
WILL: This. This is a civil war.
Later, Will even questioned whether Iraq can truly be said to have a government:
Now, does Iraq have a government? Let me just postulate the question. A government exists when it has a reasonable monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. As long as the militias are out there, the existence of an Iraqi government is questionable. Think of Los Angeles. If Los Angeles said the Bloods and the Crips are going to be tolerated, they’re going to be armed and police their areas and enforce the law in certain areas, what sense would Los Angeles have of government?
Full transcript below: Read more
This morning on Fox News Sunday, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, one the staunches defenders of the administration’s policy in Iraq, said the war in Iraq was not a “serious effort.”
BILL KRISTOL: There would not be civil war if Zarqawi had not spent the last 2 1/2 years – had ex-Saddamists with him, very skillfully going on the offensive slaughtering Shia in Karbala, now blowing up the mosque.
CHRIS WALLACE: They’re there. There are going to be more mosques to blow up. What do you do about the terrorists?
KRISTOL: Kill them. Defeat them.
CHRIS WALLACE: We’ve been trying.
KRISTOL: We’ve been trying, and our soldiers are doing terrifically, but we have not had a serious three-year effort to fight a war in Iraq as opposed to laying the preconditions for getting out.
CICI CONNELLY: I think that really begs the question then: what have we been doing over there for three-plus years? You say there hasn’t been a serious effort to rid that region of the terrorists. I just wonder what secretary Rumsfeld would say in response to that or all the U.S. soldiers who have been over there all this time.
KRISTOL: Secretary Rumsfeld’s plan was to draw town to 30,000 troops at the end of major activities.
Essentially, Kristol claims the Iraq war — which he was sure would be a smashing success — isn’t working out because Donald Rumsfeld is Michael Moore.
Another question: Mr. Kristol, if the administration’s policy in Iraq the last three years has not been a “serious effort” why have you spent the last three years defending it?
UPDATE: Crooks and Liars has the video.
Percentage of revenue Sen. Rick Santorum’s charity that went to “overhead,” including “several hundred thousand dollars to campaign aides on the charity payroll.” The AP reports that Santorum’s group, Operation Good Neighbor, does not meet “Better Business Bureau standards.”
In his radio address yesterday, President Bush said the following:
More than 25 million people with Medicare now have prescription drug coverage, and hundreds of thousands more are enrolling each week.
But just this week, a government report indicated that the 25 million figure is way off:
Since December, the US Department of Health and Human Services has repeatedly overstated the number of enrollees in the new Medicare prescription drug plan. … [A]ccording to Medicare’s own figures, the actual number of voluntary enrollees is much smaller, about 5 million.
Confusion over the prescription drug benefit continues to prevent people from signing up. Instead of admitting it, the administration finds it more convenient to make up figures that suggest the program is a success.