Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Blindsided

From the Washington Post:

The U.S. Coast Guard, in charge of reviewing security at ports operated by a Dubai maritime company, warned the Bush administration it could not rule out that the company’s assets could be used for terrorist operations, according to a document released yesterday by a Senate committee.

[…]

“The breadth of the intelligence gaps also infer potential unknown threats against a large number of potential vulnerabilities,” says the document, released by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

[…]

Lawmakers from both parties who loudly challenged the administration’s acceptance of the deal last week were in no mood to take in those assurances. Republicans have grown particularly incensed that the administration has not kept them informed on issues of such political importance. Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) said he will introduce legislation today mandating that security reviews by the homeland security and intelligence committees run concurrently with administration security reviews of company purchases.

“We have tried our best to support this administration at every turn, but to be blindsided by an issue of this magnitude demonstrates we have a lot of work to do,” he said.

This is what bothers me about the whole deal: not that Dubai Ports World is owned by a foreign government, not that they’re Arabs, and not that DPW would only be in charge of terminals and not security. It’s that the agency that is charged with overseeing the security of the ports in question — the Coast Guard — had serious doubts about the deal and that those concerns were either ignored or hushed up in the process of working out the deal.

The fact that this news flies in the face of the spin from the White House, who has been telling us for the last two weeks that nobody who mattered had any objection to the sale, is no surprise whatsoever. Nor am I surprised that they would hang people like Mark Foley out there to twist slowly in the wind. It would be an event if they didn’t obfuscate to the press and screw over their allies.