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Bill O'Reilly Shills for the Bush Administration: Says Alliance with UAE So Vital We Cannot Halt Port Deal

Reported by Marie Therese - February 22, 2006

The whores at FOX have finally revealed their true colors. They actually don't support the entire GOP, they only support the Bush faction of the GOP! This became crystal clear Tuesday as show after show spit out talking point after talking point designed to argue in favor of the takeover of port operations in six major American cities by a company owned and operated by a government that has ties to terrorism.

Right-wing and left-wing pundits, congressional leaders, talk show hosts and voters all seem to be on the same page on this issue. However, today, flying in the face of overwhelming bi-partisan opposition, George Bush announced that, if Congress tries to stop the deal, he will veto the legislation.

As I reported earlier, yesterday the hosts of the FOX & Friends floated a lot of different arguments in support of the deal, using their viewer call-in segment to test the waters, without much success. Clearly, by the time O'Reilly taped his show later in the day, the talking points had been solidified into the ones he used last night during his Talking Points Memo and later in an interview with Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institute.

First O'Reilly acknowledged the ground swell of opposition that has erupted over this issue, then he proceeded, in his inimitable style, to use his influence to try to sway the minds of his viewers.

His main arguments in favor of the deal:

1) "We found no evidence that the UAE government want to destroy Israel."

2) "The Emirates, along with Jordan, is America's best Arab state ally in the war on terror. That country allows U. S. planes to base on its soil. It's a tremendous help in intelligence-gathering."

3) "If the Bush administration fires the Emirate's company without cause, it spits in the eye of a strong mideast ally. I hope everybody understands how dreadful that would be. The USA cannot win the war on terror without the help of moderate Arab nations. Talking Points believes we'll actually lose the terror war unless we build alliances in the Middle East."

4) "Right now there's no reason to fire the Arab company EXCEPT that they are Arabs. Isn't that 'racism'? Can America afford to send that message to the world?"

5) "There's nothing Bin Laden would like more than for the USA to alienate the United Arab Emirates."

6) "We have to give the new company a chance to work in our ports but with strict oversight and any foreign company should have that these days."

O'Reilly ended by calling those who oppose this deal "demagogues," which means that last night he insulted a big chunk of the population of the United States!

His guest, Dr. Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institute made the same kind of claims about the ports that O'Reilly has made for years about the borders.

O'HANLON: "I would start with the following, that we have to view ports as part of the front line in the war on terror, part of the front line in homeland security. Turning them over to ANY foreign government or company is essentially like letting a foreign company or government run a military airfield in a classic military operation. It's just something where you have to be super vigilant. I'm not trying to say in any way the UAE is committed to Israel's destruction or to our demise or to the well-being of jihadism, but I think that we have to hold a very high standard here for vigilance."

O'Reilly then introduced two NEW arguments in favor of the secret deal, brokered behind closed doors by twelve very highly placed Bush administration officials. He argued that this company would not be in charge of security, only of operations, and as he put it, "this company is basically a bureaucracy - all they do is port operations."

O'Reilly noted that when P&O, a British company, did the work, there was no media and Congressional outcry and everything ran smoothly.

O'REILLY: "You sell it [the ports contract] to United Arab Emirates - everybody admits, one of our best friends in the war on terror, doin' a heck of a lot behind the scenes to help us and we're gonna kick 'em out because they're Arabs? Sorry, that's a disaster for this country, sir."

O'Hanlon agreed that, even though the timing was bad and this would be a tough from a public relations standpoint, it was important to take a long, hard look at port security and get it right, either by disallowing foreign ownership of port operations or limiting such contracts to NATO allies.

O'Reilly then said that "any new company has to be overseen." This was the second time he referred to DPW as "new." I hadn't heard this before, so looked it up on the internet.

According to a January 22nd, 2006 article in Arabian Business:

"DPW was formed as recently as September [2005] with the amalgamation of the Dubai Ports Authority and DPI Terminals.

However, the article also has some further information about the financing for DPW:

In order to help fund the massive bid, Dubai Ports, Customs & Free Zone Corporation (PCFC) have launched the world’s largest sukuk, or Sharia-compliant bond. What was intended as a US$2.8 billion issue has instead rocketed to US$3.5 billion, after an overwhelming response from investors. Lead-managed by Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) and Barclays Capital, the distinctive sukuk is also the first convertible instrument in the Islamic finance market.

The issue is just one of a series of initiatives designed to boost the PCFC’s corporate activities, ongoing business development needs and expansion plans. Its unique convertible structure allows partial redemption of up to 30% in the form of equity shares of the PCFC entities as and when they go for a Public Equity Offering within the next three years. If no Public Equity Offering takes place prior to the final redemption date, investors will be compensated with a higher yield.

The sukuk offers a return of 7.125% per annum if a Public Equity Offering happens during the first two years, and a higher return of 10.125% per annum on any amount of the sukuk outstanding at maturity, which have not been redeemed from equity offerings. The structure of the sukuk — and the attractive potential yield — has ensured the issue has been subject to very high demand.

The previous largest sukuk was Dubai Civil Aviation’s US$1 billion issue, which was also structured and lead-managed by DIB last year. Saad Abdul Razak, CEO of DIB, claimed that the breaking of their own record demonstrated the bank’s formidable expertise in the field.

“Building on previous successful sukuk issues over the past year, DIB has further strengthened its position as the world’s number one arranger of sukuk,” he said.

Having amassed a considerable war chest, D-Day looms large for DPW. PSA [Singapore Terminals] is likely to make a firm offer — or withdraw — within the next few days. Each has the backing of a hugely wealthy government, eager to invest abroad. Their respective nations are aiming to become global players — the burgeoning subcontinent will be their battleground."

As we all now know. Singapore lost and UAE won the tug of war, with the United States playing the part of the rope.

After O'Hanlon made a reference to how secret the Bush administration has been on this topic, O'Reilly shot back with this: "We don't care at all what the Bush administration is putting forth. We do independent analysis here at the Factor. I want everybody to know that. We did this story last night with the purely informational flow about who the company was. We've studied the issue now for five days. We've talked to the finest minds in the country about the issue. We know at the Factor - as Rumsfeld knows and the President knows - we all know - that if you insult our greatest ally in the Middle East, and, believe me, behind the scenes the Emirates are giving us intelligence we can get nowhere else

OK! If all this intelligence was so "secret," how did Bill O'Reilly know about it? Either he was clued in by someone pretty high up in the Bush administration, in violation of the Patriot Act, or he was just making it up as he went along!!.

Unfortunately, O'Hanlon turned out to be yet another weak go-along guest, because he posited that he could live with the Congress making an exemption for this one company and then changing the law afterwards!

COMMENT

From a Congresssional Report Service (CRS) Report prepared by Kenneth Katzman for Congress in May 2005, obtained through a quick Google search:

"The UAE has been somewhat less cooperative with U.S. efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. In 1994, it joined with the other Gulf monarchies in announcing an end to enforcement of most aspects of the Arab League boycott of Israel, the ban on companies doing business with Israel and on companies that deal with companies that do business with Israel. However, the UAE did not agree to host an Israeli trade liaison office, a measure that neighboring Oman and Qatar agreed to, nor did UAE host sessions of multi-lateral Arab-Israeli working groups on major regional issues when those talks took place during 1994-1998."

The report goes on to detail the UAE's reluctance to initiate reforms, its continued refusal to crack down on human trafficking of women and young girls, its continued refusal to modernize its legal system and its pre-war recognition of the Taliban as the legitimate ruling party of Afghanistan..

There are some other very interesting things in the CRS document.

"On July 18, 2002, the Administration notified Congress it might upgrade the UAE’s 30 AH-64 Apache helicopter gunships (bought during 1991-1994) with the advanced “Longbow” fire control radar. However, the project has been held up by UAE indecision over additional equipment to be outfitted on them. The UAE is also considering purchasing the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACM), which was approved for release to UAE by the Defense Department in March 2003. Because of the missile nature of the weapon, sales of the system to Bahrain have been approved under a system of “dual control” by U.S. and Bahraini military personnel."

And this tidbit about fossil fuels:

"On November 15, 2004, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said the Bush Administration had notified Congress it intends to negotiate with UAE on a free trade agreement (FTA), and the Administration announced on March 8, 2005, that the negotiations were to begin later that month. While Dubai has thrived economically on its liberal trading climate — many U.S. consumer goods are re-exported through Dubai to South Asia and Asia — Abu Dhabi continues to rely on oil exports. Abu Dhabi has 80% of the federation’s proven oil reserves of about 100 billion barrels, and oil accounts for about one-third of the UAE’s GDP of about $58 billion. That is enough for well over 100 years of oil exports at the current production rate of 2.2 million barrels per day (mbd). Of that amount, about 2.1 mbd are exported.

Of its approximately 10 mbd of total oil imports, the United States imports negligible amounts of UAE oil. The UAE does not have ample supplies of natural gas, and it has entered into a deal with neighboring major gas exporter Qatar to construct pipeline that will bring Qatari gas to UAE (Dolphin project). The UAE is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)."

Is it just remotely possible that there is a secret oil and/or weapons deal behind the Bush decision to hand over port operations to the UAE?

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