George Bush appears to have opened a can of worms with this potential sale of 6 US port facilities to DP World of the UAE. The way that this whole affair has been handled reeks of the Harriet Myers appointment last fall, which means it is Bush’s (not Cheney’s) baby. From the quiet trimming of the mandatory 45-day review to 5 to the delightful “This deal wouldn’t go forward if we were concerned about the security for the United States of America ” quote to his blustery threat to block any legislation with a veto (which would be his first veto in his time in office) to the very public extension of the 5-day review to 45 days, this has “Bush-masterminded gaggle-fuck” written all over it.
The question is, what’s behind it?
The first thing that sprang to my mind is that there might be some monetary ties between the Bush family and DP World. If this was true, which I doubt, I don’t think it would produce the either the heated backlash against the purchase or the vicious wagon-circling within the Whitehouse that it has. In fact, if Scott Maclellan is to be believed (yeah, why believe him this time?), Bush was not even in the loop as this deal was being clinched. It’s just that small scale usury doesn’t seem to be the sine qua non of this administration. These guys aren’t about money – they’re about power, so this just doesn’t fit.
So what on earth is going on?
Last night’s episode of 60 Minutes presented a feature on how poor security is at most US port facilities. If that is to be believed, most port security is being handled not by police forces nor the Coast Guard, but by rent-a-cops hired by port management. What this deal does is expose a huge weakness in the “Fortress Amerika” mentality that Bush and Co. have tried to propagate for the past five years. Selling the ports to a foreign company is therefore effectively selling the security of those very ports (and more) to a foreign company.
And what has been Bush’s stock-and-trade since 9/11? Security? Nope – the illusion of security. Bush, with great bravado created the Department of Homeland Defense in order to bolster and then promptly rolled back its funding and many of the trumpeted initiatives with it. Remember all the talk of “highly trained government-paid” airport security? That went by the wayside quickly and quietly when security contractors caused the government to balked. Just about the only public manifestation of the “improved security regime” that remained three years after 9/11 is taking your shoes off in the airport (Jesus Christ!) and the farcical Terror Alert Level, which seems also to have quietly gone the way of all things.
However, at every opportunity Bush and Fox News have beaten the opposition over the head on security issues and it still remains the only issue on which Americans trust the Republicans. This deal is about more than money, or “friends of America in the War on Terror”; it exposes the bullshit that lies at the heart of Bush’s promse of security.
Only the Democrats could possibly lose an election to these clowns. It’s going to take some work, but I’m sure they’ll manage to do it again.
[Edit - the terror alerts still exist! I guess it's just that the media have realized they are totally bogus and have stopped talking about them.]