Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Waking Up in Bizarro World

Bizarro WLast night I went to bed on the planet Earth, but I woke up today in what seems to be a different location.

My time is limited tonight, so I’ll assume that my readers know the general outlines of the story about the proposed UAE management of six ports in the United States. For a recent roundup, see this recent news report about the affair. Many prominent Republicans have lined up against the President on this one, including the Senate Majority Leader and the governors of the states involved.

According to the latest word, President Bush has vowed to veto any attempt to stop the deal from going down. A veto! He won’t veto any pork, no matter how grotesque, nor would he veto an unconstitutional bill that suppresses political speech — but he’ll veto this one, in order to secure this plum for the Gulf emirs!

And, to top it all off, former President Jimmy Carter has come out in support of President Bush.

The PortWhat the heck is going on?

This president is a lame duck, with no need to court Big Oil donors for the next election cycle. He’s butting heads with Republican Party stalwarts. I assume he has our national security as his highest priority. So what’s he doing?

I have a theory, an uneducated layman’s theory, that I’d like to run by our esteemed readers to see if any intelligence and national security experts want to weigh in.

The UAE, like Pakistan, plays a double game with the United States. They’re a “reliable partner in the War on Terror,” etc., etc., but their financial systems launder money for Islamist terrorists and there are any number of Al Qaeda sympathizers on their soil.

Suppose the administration has talked a few of the non-fundamentalist, non-terrorist emirs into serving as front men for a CIA operation. Set up the business, manage the ports, and wait for the terrorists to approach the company looking to get a few containers of “materiel” into one of our ports. Then wait for the deal to go down, and BOOM! Nab the shipment and the perps in a major sting.

Does that seem impossible? Go ahead and shoot it down if it doesn’t make sense, because I really want some knowledgeable feedback.

If that’s not what’s going on, I sure don’t understand it.


tompain said...

Fascinating theory, best explanation I've heard yet for Bush's baffling stance on this issue. (Been watching a lot of 24 lately?)

Anonymous said...

Sounds pretty implausible, even as a James Bond movie.

So what's the theory behind his absolutely appalling lack of security on the southern border of the US?

It makes just as much sense to me to say he is Ahmadinejad's counterpoint (trying to expedite the return of the Mahdi) and believes by doing this he is hastening the return of Christ. To that end, chaos must ensue and a one world government be in place.

Wasn't that the plot/premise of a bestseller a few years ago?

CHRIS LEAV said...

Interesting theory, and I also thought of 24. Especially the part where it blows up in our face. To heather, the kook theory is that Bush is dealing with the criminals to allow certain smuggling if they alert us to any terrorists coming across.

It's just another policy that doesn't make sense on the face, as the port plan seems to be. I don't have an answer, but I like your theory, as crazy as it sounds.

Wally Ballou said...

Before you go off into Bizarro-land trying to dream up a "secret history" of this deal, make sure you understand its overt history. the reporting on this deal has been more heat than light, and there is a lot of alarmist nonsense and mischaracterization flying around, especially in the blogverse and MSM (working together at last - yay). Time to tune the signal/noise ratio a a little.

Think of this - something is going on that is supported by Condi Rice, Bush, Bill O'Reilly and the Wall Street Journal. It is opposed by Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and the New York Times. Doesn't that give you any qualms at all?

Take a look at some defenses and clarifications of the deal. The first is from the Wall Street Journal editorial page. The second is from CBS news (yes, I know, but read the actual arguments - this is not Dan Rather speaking.
There have been some informative postings on this issue on the Corner recently.

The Washingtom Times, Cal Thomas, a lot of other conservatives oppose the sale - there are clearly arguments on both sides. But that's my point - it's not the obviously horrible decision it's being painted to be. I don't think delay and investigation are necessarily a bad idea - but helping Chuck Schumer and Hillary play political football with this probably is a bad idea.

There may be a whole lot less here than meets the eye.

Chris said...

How about the possibility that cancelling this deal could torpedo our basing rights in the UAE? Who in the region would then want to pick up the slack?

Jack Kelly has a roundup of these arguments, including the one that by joining into an economic enterprise with the US, the UAE becomes a partner. Isn't this sort of what we're trying to promote in the Middle East?

This deal seems to be much more complex than people are willing to believe.

Joseph Marshall said...

There is absolutely nothing at all inconsistent about this. From the Battle of Tora Bora forward, the War On Terror has been a part-time job at the White House, pursued if and only if it does not interfere with other, more pressing, agendas of political power and corporate influence.

The most dangerous possible terrorist target–in terms of lives that could be lost in America–is any one of our chemical plants close to a major city, as most of them are. A simple truck bomb, like McVeigh’s in Oklahoma City, could kill thousands if detonated at a plant making, say, anhydrous ammonia.

This has been brought up over and over in Congress, news programs of all sorts have repeatedly demonstrated that reporters can simply drive in the front gate of most plants without even being challenged, and there would be no reason why the White House couldn’t take up the bully pulpit and get this fixed. Have you heard a peep out of them about it? You can ask the Chemical Maunfacturer’s lobby why.

The President has defiantly told us that he will order, if he has to, the screening of every phone call and e-mail in America, to identify people using words like “bomb” and “terror”. So the NSA goes dilligently deviling after everybody who tells someone else, “Dat’s da Bomb!”

But you will never hear a peep out of the White House about the one surveilance measure that would destroy virtually every avenue that funded terrorist cells in this country but gold smuggling and halwala banking: make every electronic fund transaction completely transparent to Government scrutiny.

This has also been proposed since the very first days after 9/11, because the principle is obvious: terrorism costs money. Lots of it. Stop the money and you stop it. Even Bill Clinton suggested this long before 9/11. But it will never happen. Guess why, and guess who doesn’t want it to happen. Besides the terrorists, of course.

Way back when, Charles Schumer made a very intelligent proposal to increase security in the Trucking Industry nationwide. And even Michelle Malkin supported it. Heard much about it lately? And did you hear anything at all about it from the White House?

It’s almost embarrasing to mention, but we still have the longest virtually unguarded borders in the world. They have remained so now for about four and one half years, despite repeated calls to fix this from those in the President’s own party who think fighting terror should be a full-time job.

Finally, how much have we heard from the White House about the scathing, and bi-partisan, Congressional criticism report on the Department of Homeland Security’s response to Katrina? Are we really ready to cope with someone blowing up one of those completely naked chemical plants? I don’t think so!

Of course, I haven’t run into too much about this one on Conservative blogs, either.

Hoozyrdady said...

Yesterday Michelle Malkin posted an email detailing what the Ports deal would mean for the brand spankin’ new Dubai Stock Market. Basically, this contract will put some major meat into it, making it the “Go To” place for Middle East investing.

We know that the Saudi’s are at least playing both sides, agreeing with everything we say while providing some support to terrorist organizations. Maybe Dunya’ sees this as a chance to reinforce our “friendship” with stronger economic ties.

Whenever I wonder about why politicos make the decisions they do, I remind myself to look for the money. Theres always money involved.

Baron Bodissey said...

Cato --

What gave me pause was the news that Jimmuh supported it. I wasn't even going to blog on it before then. That raised the hair on the back of neck, and a little voice inside my head said, If Jimmuh supports it, then it must be good for Hamas.

I agree that the Administration must have had good reasons to propose it. But for them to hang on to it in the face of so much opposition from Republicans -- they must have real, real good reasons to want it to happen.

I just wonder what those reasons are. It's got to be more than "we've checked the company out, and it's not a security threat."

Wally Ballou said...

That's just great - a plurality of commenters seems to think W is doing it to promote business interests or line his own pockets. Is this GOV or the Daily Kos? talk about Bizarro world.

Pastorius said...

I agree with Cato's comment, and I agree with Hooz, but I am not so cynical as he makes himself sound.

Money is important. It is the measure of the worth of the way we spend our lives. When you give a person or a company money, it means you literally value what they do.

In this light, it seems that the Bush Administration wants to show the Arab world that we are willing to work with them, pay them money and have real friendships with them (besides oil), if they will reciprocate.

I think this is a good strategy.

However, I do have my doubts about the deal.

Pastorius said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
goesh said...

Something is also going on with the Public in our American democracy - they don't want it. The lastest FOX poll shows about 88% opposed. All I hear is people opposed to it, including many of the 'faithful'. The only unknown is the kickbacks and greased palms somebody is getting over this. Elements of the DNC are salivating over this and Bush is fool enough not to see how this is going to hurt the GOP. I remember how fond he was of Harriet Maiers to be the next SC Justice too. He bit the weenie on that and he will on this too. He is acting like a jackass IMHO and a fair number of Republicans agree.

bordergal said...

And to add to the confusion...

The US called off a strike against Osama Bin Laden because members of the UAE royal family were visiting him in Afghanistan.

UAE royals, bin Laden's saviours

March 25, 2004 12:04 IST

The Central Intelligence Agency did not target Al Qaeda chief Osama bin laden once as he had the royal family of the United Arab Emirates with him in Afghanistan, the agency's director, George Tenet, told the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States on Thursday.

Had the CIA targeted bin Laden, half the royal family would have been wiped out as well, he said.

The 10-member bipartisan commission is investigating the events leading up to the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US.


corndog said...

Could this have something to do with the confrontation with Iran? I understand the UAE and Iran have been at odds for some time on some islands in the straight, and they don't want the mullahs to have nukes either. Have they made Bush an offer he couldn't refuse?

Are we misunderestimating W, just like the Dems?

Papa Ray said...


You guys are bitching about who gets to be the mayor when you should be bitching about why the sheriff and the city council are not doing their jobs.

Get over it. Over the past 5 years millions of containers containing anything and everything have been offloaded in our ports.

99.9 percent were never inspected in any way.

That is what you should be bitching about.

Papa Ray
West Texas

Fat Man said...

Read this:

"I've never quite seen a story so distorted so quickly"

Baron Bodissey said...

Look, folks, I'm not talking about the original case for the UAE company managing the ports. I'm not talking about the administration's motives for promoting it, venal or otherwise.

I'm talking about why the administration is hanging on, and threating a veto, for G-d's sake, in the face of enormous political pressure, allowing Hillary to outflank it on the right, and antagonizing a large chunk of the VRWC, i.e. its base.

Regardless of the merits of the deal:

Why is the administration fighting so hard for this?

Cui bono, and how much bono?

Don Miguel said...

"...former President Jimmy Carter has come out in support of President Bush."

Now there's the kissof death!

AndyS said...

Agreed that this would have been better politically to not award the contract to Dubai Ports. Bush may have not realized the impact since the top executives of DPW are all Americans, and like most huge Multinantional companies don't really come across as an 'Arab' enterprise. But anyways, once the deal was signed Bush has to come out strong in it's defense because -

1. Dubai is the most important port in the Middle East both commerically and militarily. A lot of U.S military suppiles go through there and the last thing you want is to piss them off.

2. Talking about pissing them off, this is exactly the kind of double standard (like the David Irving case) that would end intel cooperation among all our GCC 'allies' like Qatar,Kuwait, Oman, U.A.E etc. We have military bases in all these countries.

Also, it's absurd to compare the Dubai with Pakistan as far as terror complicity goes. They're pure merchants who don't care what the source of the money flowing through their markets is - I really doubt if they have any actual sympathies to Jihadists. Just as Switzerland clamped down on drug trafficers in the 80s once the pressure was put on them, similar pressure has the same impact on Dubai. After 9/11, is there any evidence to show that they've played a double game by sheltering or facilitating the extremists?

kevin said...

I don't care about sting operations or
theorys. It's a matter of principle.
Dubai is state-owned.
The UAE reconized the Taliban.
The Taliban was connected to 9/11.
Everything else is just fluff.

kevin said...

I voted Repulican in every election since 1980.

kevin said...

would you trust them with our airlines as well? If no, then what's the difference?