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Bush Administration ignores the law (again) on DPW deal

Reported by Chrish - February 23, 2006

Today 2/23/06 The Big Story was still the pending sale of operations of six major US seaports to Dubai Ports World of the United Arab Emirates. John Gibson remains adamantly and vocally opposed and unconvinced that this is the right thing to do for America, and it's quite strange to find myself nodding in agreement with him and saying "you got that right, John" to the television.

Karl Rove, proving once a chickenhawk always a chickenhawk, went on FOX's friendly Tony Snow radio show to promote the impression that the Bush administration is compromising and being reasonable, agreeing to a slight delay in the deal. He said that the current operator, Great Britain's publicly traded Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., had regulatory hurdles to go through that would conclude next week and there's no requirement that the deal close immediately after that.

What we didn't hear on The Big Story was that

" Rove wasn't asked whether Bush would rescind a threat to veto any legislation designed to block the deal, and offered no direct reply when pressed on whether (Bush) would go along with calls to conduct an in-depth, 45-day review of transaction."

Steve Centanni reported that the Senate Armed Services Committee met today to discuss the deal, and the top Democrat on the panel, Carl Levin (MI), claims the administration broke the law by not calling for an extra 45-day review of the sale.

Levin: "If you want the law changed, I don't care which administration you represent, if any administration wants the law changed, this or a previous one, come to Congress and change it but don't ignore it."

Forbes.com reports that Levin

"angrily accused the Bush administration Thursday of ignoring the law by failing to launch more than a routine investigation of a United Arab Emirates company's takeover of significant U.S. port operations.

Clashing with a Treasury Department official on a mission to calm a political uproar, Sen. Carl Levin said the law has language specifically requiring a longer review than the one that an interagency committee conducted, if a business deal could affect national security.

"Is there not one agency in this government that believes this takeover could affect the national security of the United States?" the Michigan Democrat asked at a committee briefing."

...Levin insisted that the law that established the multiagency panel specifically said that any such review should be lengthened by 45 days if it could have an impact on national security.

Centanni says "US officials" interpreted the law differently, AND (comment: further covering their butts if that doesn't fly) the deal was carefully reviewed for ninety days. What we all know now is that Bush was unaware of it himself until just the other day when he was apparently told about it AND instructed to support it and defend it. The emperor is buck naked, folks.

But there he was, defending it: "The more people learn about the (pause) transaction, that has been scrutinized and approved by my government, the more they'll be comforted that our ports will be secure."

Comment: Note the repeated use of the word "transaction"; it's is much more palatable than "deal."

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