WASHINGTON – President Bush on Thursday sought to calm an uproar over an Arab company taking over operations at six major American ports, saying “people don’t need to worry about security.”
Under a secretive agreement with the administration, a company in the United Arab Emirates promised to cooperate with U.S. investigations as a condition of its takeover of operations at six major American ports, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The U.S. government chose not to impose other, routine restrictions.
“The more people learn about the transaction,” Bush said, “the more they’ll be comforted that the ports will be secure.” He spoke to reporters at the end of a Cabinet meeting.
In approving the $6.8 billion purchase, the administration chose not to require state-owned Dubai Ports World to keep copies of its business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to orders by American courts. It also did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate requests by the government.
Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales in other industries.
The AP is no friend of the Administration, and they will continue to skewer him with such “people don’t need to worry about security” out-of-context quotes.
And, don’t even get me started on the legal costs American firms must bear that have evidently been eliminated by allowing our Arab friends to keep their records offshore outside the purview of American courts — now that is an unfair trade advantage!
There is a principled argument for this (others, including Rush Limbaugh, are rightfully asking tough questions of the Longshoreman’s Union), but hinting your base supporters are racists is certainly not the principled argument.
Bush said he was struck by the fact that people were not concerned about port security when a British company was running the port operation, but they felt differently about an Arab company at the helm. He said the United Arab Emirates was a valuable partner in the war in terror and cautioned against sending “mixed messages” as the U.S. works with countries in fighting terrorism.
W and team (Karl Rove, are you on vacation?) should have consulted with Congress and obtained the buy-in from key Congressional Leaders — and if he could not, then take heed.
We’re not asking that all Arabs be sent to internment camps, but that we simply apply some common sense during wartime.