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9/11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean Slams Bush Administration On UAE Port Deal. Hannity Tries To Change Subject To Clinton.

Reported by Ellen - March 2, 2006

During his appearance on Hannity & Colmes last night (3/1/06), Tom Kean, Chairman of the 9/11 Commission, flatly declared that the UAE port deal will not happen and that the Bush Administration should be working on ways to get out of it now.

Kean told Sean Hannity that the port deal “doesn’t make any sense at all.” He likewise dismissed the 45-day review as just “a chance for people to talk about it that much longer… to further blacken our image in the Arab world.” In response to Hannity’s question as to whether or not adequate security measures could be put in place, Kean said, “There may be something I’d be comfortable with but not something the American people are going to be comfortable with. And that’s the most important.”

Hannity reiterated the concerns about UAE and its connection to terrorism. “Some of (the 9/11 terrorists’) operational planning money was funneled through their banks, some of the hijackers came from the UAE, some nuclear components went to our enemy countries through their ports.”

Kean replied, “Even if there aren’t as many problems as we suspect there might be with this port deal, it’s not gonna happen. The American people don’t want it.”

The specter of the 9/11 Commissioner – a Republican, no less – criticizing Bush was obviously just too much for Hannity. Rather than defend Bush, he tried to deflect the conversation by making it look like 9/11 was all Clinton’s fault. “You, in the 9/11 Report, what I agreed with most – and I have my issues with it – is you said they were at war with us, we were not at war with them. You predicted that it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when we will be attacked again. My biggest frustrations – I want to put up on the screen the words of Bill Clinton…”

Conveniently overlooking the warnings the Bush Administration had (and ignored) about bin Laden, Hannity repeated his oft-told lie that Bill Clinton turned down Sudan’s offer of bin Laden “on a silver platter.” Hannity started pounding the desk as he demanded, “Why did we ignore that?”

Kean was too much of a gentleman to tell Hannity to his face that he was posturing for the cameras but he did comment that “We didn’t take bin Laden seriously even after he went to Afghanistan.” Kean added that the incident WAS in the 9/11 Report and that it wasn’t the only missed opportunity to get bin Laden.

In fact, according to Media Matters, the 9/11 Commission found “no reliable evidence to support” the claim that Sudan made such an offer. Lanny J. Davis, former White House special counsel to Clinton, pointed out that Hannity was lying, but Hannity persisted.

Alan Colmes, who must have heard this lie so many times it’s a wonder he can keep a straight face, started to ask if it was true that bin Laden was really offered to the US, then interrupted his question to say that Clinton’s reason for not going after bin Laden was that he didn’t have the legal authority to do so. Kean agreed Clinton’s interpretation was probably correct because at the time, bin Laden was not known to be the threat he later turned out to be.

Colmes also pointed out that the Bush Administration failed to get bin Laden at Tora Bora and that it had diverted resources away from him to Iraq. Kean agreed that there were “a number of missed opportunities.”

Then Colmes went back to the port deal. He said that UAE will not allow “disembarking passengers from Israel in their country” and that it’s illegal for the US to do business with any country that boycotts Israel.

Kean sighed. “To me, the amazing thing is how did this deal ever reach the proportions it did? How can a small government agency within the State Department OK a deal like this?” He added that if something like that had happened to him as governor, “heads would have rolled, someone would have been fired.”

Colmes said that the 9/11 Report gave a number of D’s and F’s on port security, among other issues.

Kean said the reason behind the poor grades on port security was because only 5% of the cargo gets screened. “My hope is, out of this, once this is put to bed, that it will energize the American people to recognize one of our greatest dangers.”

He did not mention any hope that the Bush Administration might get energized that way.

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