Here's the thing: I pretty much agree with Kevin Drum's take on the whole port-sale-to-the-UAE deal. I think that, on the face of things, turning over port management to this UAE company does not automatically mean we will be overrun with Arab terrorists sneaking backpack nukes onto our shores. And I agree completely with Drum that too many Democrats have been far too eager to throw their lot in with a right-wing outcry whose knee-jerk anti-Arab jingoism they have previously, and correctly, objected to -- just to have another issue they can nail Bush on. (Though for these same wingnuts, particularly racist ass cancer Rush Limbaugh, to dare turn around and try to paint Democrats as the racists is just so laughable I won't even expend the energy it would take to give it the teardown it deserves.)
But here's the thing: While I don't think this deal is an automatic disaster, there are clearly some security issues that need to be addressed. You've got people all over the country decrying this deal as a security risk; if the deal is really such a fantastic idea, why not do an investigation, make sure everything checks out, put their fears to rest? Why not indeed: A 1993 law mandates a 45-day investigation in cases like the one we're talking about -- and not only has this investigation not occurred, nobody in the Bush administration even knows why it didn't occur.
And now we have Bush promising to veto any bill that would block the Dubai Ports World deal. Make no mistake about what a monumental deal this is, people -- Bush has not vetoed a single bill in five-plus years in office. Didn't veto the bill creating the Department of Homeland Security, even though he initially opposed the idea; didn't veto any of those massive debt-inflating budgets that have been passed under his presidency; didn't veto any spending measures for Iraq. But this he's willing to go to the mat for. He'll look the other way while the national debt jumps past $7 trillion, but this deal, boy, this is gonna go through, and he's gonna fight you over it if he has to.
Just what in the hell is going on here? Why is Bush willing to ignore a federal law, piss off his own party, and put his "strong on security" reputation (well-deserved or not) at risk over this? It's come out that a couple guys in the administration have ties to the Dubai company, but that alone doesn't seem like enough. There's something even deeper going on here, and somebody needs to find out what it is.
If it turns out that this deal has some kind of tie back into Halliburton or KBR or some other company that Bush and/or Cheney has family ties to -- and at this point, I would not be at all averse to laying some money that it does -- then I don't see how anyone can say this isn't some impeachment-worthy shit. The thing is, I really hope Democrats and lefty bloggers can figure out a way to make this case without jumping on the Republicans' OMG they're Arabs so it must be bad!!11!!1! bandwagon. Let the Repubs and wingnuts tear themselves to pieces over the fact that they're Arabs; the real issue here, the one that the Democrats need to take the lead on, is that Bush seems to be in a real hurry to get this thing passed without the necessary investigations and seems prepared to use what, for him, has been a nuclear option if anyone stands in his way.
I don't want to oppose this just because the buyers in question are Arabs, but I do want to get to the bottom of what's going on here. Usually the mainstream media is too cowed by the liberal-media whiners on the right to get out of bed for stuff like this, but with even people on the right taking Bush to task for his actions, the press will feel secure in getting up off their asses and looking into it. (Sad that this is what we've come to with the American press, but you take what you can get, I suppose.) We'll just have to see.
UPDATE: This new bit of information (link via Atrios sheds some new light on the situation, and yet muddies the waters at the same time. Basically it looks like the Bush administration cut a secret deal with Dubai that would require them to cooperate with any future investigations yet that would not require the company to do any of those things that would expedite those investigations. So in the end, I'm still really at a loss to figure out why Bush is bending over backwards to hook up the UAE here.
Bush has been pointing out that our relations with the United Arab Emirates are good, and that's true, but when he says that the UAE is "one of our strongest Arab allies" in the war on terror, what he really means is "one of the few remaining Arab countries that doesn't completely hate our guts." I don't know what kind of cooperation the UAE is giving us in the War on Terra, but I can't really think of a whole lot of things that would be worth either the political hit Bush is taking at home or the bizarre lengths he's willing to go to in order to see this deal through. Excepting, of course, if the UAE had Osama bin Laden in a cell somewhere and were offering to trade him for passage of the ports deal -- and quite frankly that still seems way more implausible than Halliburton or some other Bush/Cheney buddy having a hidden stake in this deal.