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Even Sean Hannity Agrees UAE Port Deal Is A Bad Idea

Reported by Ellen - February 23, 2006

Dear President Bush: When Sean Hannity, your most loyal supporter on the airwaves, says he has deep concerns over one of your policies, it might be a good idea to reconsider.

As painful as it clearly was for Sean Hannity, he had to admit that he agreed with the Democrats on the UAE port deal controversy.

The guests for the first segment on the port issue were Republican Congressman Vito Fossella and Democrat Jerrold Nadler. They were in strong agreement that the port deal defies common sense.

Alan Colmes started the discussion by asking Rep. Fossella if there were any Republicans in Congress supporting the administration on this. Fossella said he didn’t know (meaning he didn’t know of any) but that what he’s hearing from people around the country is that “this is not good and at a minimum it should be explained.”

Rep. Nadler called the port deal ‘”absurd” and added that what’s even more important is that 95% of 9 million shipping containers coming into the country go uninspected. “We ought to take the position that no container gets put on a ship bound for the United States unless an American inspection team, in the foreign port, inspects that container.” Nadler said that could be done for a fraction of what we are spending in Iraq.

Fossella said that UAE has “a checkered and spotty past when it comes to terrorists,” that they have not been friendly to Israel and that they recognized the Taliban as an official government. “They may have changed their colors and been a good ally and I take our president at his word for that but at the end of the day what we and many people have asked for is why not at least take another 45 days to investigate?”

Sean Hannity was clearly in a bind over this one. On the one hand, he could not back up such a crackpot idea, but on the other, he could not bear to give the Democrats an opening to appear stronger on security than his beloved Bush. Hannity told Nadler, “I hate to agree with you, Congressman… I have some deep concerns here.” Hannity allowed that he liked the idea of a moratorium for further review and that maybe it could go forward eventually.

Nadler said, “Maybe, but on the other hand, as of today, they still are stonewalling the Treasury Department in terms of looking into the financing of Al Qaeda.”

Hannity ignored that very troubling fact and went to the heart of what was obviously competing for first place in his list of concerns over this issue. “What I’m trying to get to here from you is… I’m wondering how much of this is partisanship.” Then, as though selecting from an IPOD playlist, he launched into harangue WOT: Howard Dean saying we can’t win the war in Iraq, John Kerry “calling our troops terrorists.” (Hey, Hannity, you forgot about Clinton "being offered Bin Laden on a silver platter."). “It seems to me like Democrats, who have been pretty weak on defense, want to jump all over this issue for political reasons.”

Nadler rightly called that “nonsense” and said “I don’t think you see any division between the Democratic and Republican parties with the exception of the president, as far as I know, on this question.”

Hannity couldn’t let it go at that. First, he tried to bait Nadler by bringing up the fact that Nadler thinks Bush may be liable for impeachment. Nadler wisely turned the question away and brought the subject back to the ports and the fact that we don’t inspect more than 5% of the containers. Hannity agreed that was an important point, but he passed right over it to ask Rep. Fossella, “Do you think there’s politics involved? Do you think the Administration’s created an opening for people who have traditionally for four and a half years been weak on Homeland Security to jump in and try to create a false impression as the Wall Street Journal said?”

Fossella said that some people are but, “I see this as a significant public policy matter and the American people need to be dealt with straight on this.”

The next guest was General Tommy Franks who had nothing but good words to say for the deal. Without a Democrat to scare him, Hannity, for a change, made an informed argument by listing his concerns based on the 9/11 Commission’s findings about UAE.

Franks did not rebut anything Hannity said but he insisted, “We have had no greater ally in seeking a resolution of problems in the Middle East.”

Alan Colmes asked Franks a great question. “We went and invaded a country that was hinted had links to 9/11, that country being Iraq. We found out no WMD’s, no links to 9/11 and now (UAE) clearly did have links to 9/11 – as an operational and financial base, two of the terrorists came from there. I don’t get it. How could the president make that case against Iraq and invade that country and then want to have this other country, where there was a link, control our ports?”

Franks couldn’t answer that, of course, other than to call it “ludicrous and disingenuous” to blame the UAE just because the terrorists came from there.

Colmes persisted. “But there were specific links, specific links to the UAE and 9/11. We know that the government controls everything that goes on there. There were not those links to Iraq.”

You’d think a general who had fought in Iraq would express at least some interest, would have either provided specific information to respond to the issues Hannity and Colmes raised or else probed further. But Franks seemed completely uninterested in the question of ties between UAE and terrorism. He dismissed the whole thing by saying he had not seen those links and did not believe there were any. He called UAE “the most progressive country with whom we have relationships inside the Middle East.”

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