Treachery From BushCo on Ports "Compromise"

The very first mention on DWT of Bush's outrageous ports sale was called "Why Is The Republican Congress Letting Bush Sell Off Our Ports To A Shaky Arab Emirate?" (exactly a week ago, Monday, February 20). A lot of hot air has been expelled and righteous indignation has been played out in front of the TV cameras but, the question still remains the same. Although every survey and poll shows that Americans overwhelming-- and vehemently-- reject this deal (today's AOL poll shows that only 9% of respondents want to see it go forward Bush is still pushing this through.

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'Sensible Democrat' Jane Harmon: Sell Our Ports to Dubai and Arrest Those Journalists

A few weeks ago I got an invitation to a conference call by Jane Harmon, a Democrat from California who is the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.  She is one of those suburban hawks who thinks that being strong on national security means calling for the New York Times to be prosecuted for uncovering the NSA scandal. Anyway, she just started a new PAC called SecureUs, which was the focus of the conference call.  Now, I believe that you judge politicians based on what they do and say when there's a fight, like right now, during this port crisis.  It's a pretty good lens to see if sensible Democrats are in fact sensible.  Well here's something from The Hill on Harmon's new PAC:

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) today will formally launch SecureUS, a political action committee, to help Democrats craft a "strong, clear message on national security issues," John Hess, a spokesman for the congresswoman, said yesterday.

"The failure of Democrats to articulate a compelling message and policy position on national security issues spelled doom for our party during the last election cycle," Harman said.

Cool!  A new PAC on national security!  And the PAC certainly has the right idea in at least one sense.  Here's one of SecureUs's issue statesments:

Shoring up the gaping holes in our homeland defense, by investing in port and border security and fixing the problems with the Department of Homeland Security.

Great.  So now that we have this awesome shiny new PAC by a really great Democrat on national security, it's sure to be kicking into high gear on such a salient issue as selling our ports to a foreign government with a history of questionable dealings.

Except not really.  I see nothing on her web site about selling our ports to the UAE.  I see nothing on her PAC's web site.  I checked Google News for "Jane Harmon" and the last story I see is about her saying the New York Times should be prosecuted for uncovering the NSA leak.  When you get down to it, there's just nothing there.  Despite her vaunted hawk status, she isn't even bothering to issue a press release on her Congressional web site on Dubai taking control of our ports.

You know why people might think insiders aren't serious on national security?  Because people like Jane Harmon are too stupid to advocate for things that improve national security.

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An Inflection Point: Democrats Take Lead on National Security

Taylor Marsh points to this new Rasmussen poll which shows Democrats taking the lead over Bush on national security by 43% to 41%.  The hackish Chris Matthews even agrees in his own stupid corrupt way, which means that it's becoming conventional wisdom, though I imagine that hard-headed dumbocratic consultants will pout against this reality so they can continue to whine about us libruls.  But anyway.

Americans are pretty reasonable about foreign commerce, which means this isn't about xenophobia but about legitimate security concerns.

Twenty-seven percent (27%) of Americans do not believe foreign firms should be allowed to buy any companies in the U.S. Fifty-five percent (55%) disagree. However, even among those who believe foreign ownership should be allowed in general, 61% oppose the Dubai Ports transaction.

Seventy-two percent (72%) of Americans say they have been following news about the Dubai Ports deal somewhat or very closely.

The fabric of Katrina destroyed the idea that the GOP were competent 'adults'.  But this port deal combined with the civil war in Iraq is devastating for the Republican leadership because it cuts into the idea that they are sincere about national security.  Matthew Yglesias points out that this isn't just an issue of incompetence, and we shouldn't talk about it as if it is.  Bush, the GOP, and conservative Democrats are incompetent, out of touch, weak, and afraid.  They endorse illegal actions, they threaten the press, and they whine about people who speak up about their lack of accountability.

This is a fight for the soul of America, and there's been an inflection point over the past week as the myth of principled conservatives in the White House and insider Democrats as smart on anything has been punctured.  Bush isn't strong on anything.  He's a petty, whiny, stubborn child who is unfit to be President.

Everyone knows it, including the American people.

Taylor Marsh has more.

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The Secret Deal For Our Ports

Two stories have emerged recently. One is that Bush didn't know about the deal to turn over operations of American ports to the United Arab Emirates. The other is that Bush's administration had worked out a secret agreement with the UAE to clear the way for the deal. So which is it?

It's entirely possible that the two are not mutually exclusive. Members of the Bush administration could have cut a secret deal with a foreign government for control of our ports without the President ever knowing. But if that's true, doesn't it prove that Bush is completely out to lunch when it comes to actually leading this country? Here's an overview of the Bush administration's secret conditions (or lack thereof) for approving this deal, from the AP.

Under a secretive agreement with the Bush administration, a company in the United Arab Emirates promised to cooperate with U.S. investigations as a condition of its takeover of operations at six major American ports, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The U.S. government chose not to impose other, routine restrictions.

In approving the $6.8 billion purchase, the administration chose not to require state-owned Dubai Ports World to keep copies of its business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to orders by American courts. It also did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate requests by the government.

Essentially, these conditions weren't so much about protecting Americans from potential wrongdoing by a foreign power, but rather protecting a foreign power from accountability to Americans. It's incredible. And I'm left wondering who in the administration was involved in setting the parameters of this agreement. For example, what level of involvement did Treasury Secretary John Snow or Maritime Secretary David Sanborn, both of whom have a special interest in seeing the deal approved, have in hammering out the details?

The Republican ideal of Bush as vigilant protector is laughable. Their man behind the curtain is napping on the job.

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How Republicans Manipulate Public Opinion

What kind of idiots does Utah Senator Orrin Hatch take us for? It's one thing to make a bombastic comment and then try to reel it back in. But it's another thing entirely for Hatch to state something unequivocally and then, once he's been found out, to claim that he said something altogether different. (Via Kos.)

Saturday:

Appearing before a group of Iron County, Utah, business leaders Saturday, Hatch said: "And, more importantly, we've stopped a mass murderer in Saddam Hussein. Nobody denies that he was supporting al-Qaida," he said, according to The Spectrum newspaper in St. George. "Well, I shouldn't say nobody. Nobody with brains."

Tuesday:

On Tuesday, Hatch said he may have misspoken at the event, and he was speaking of conditions in post-Hussein Iraq and the terrorist network led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

"Saddam clearly had a long history of supporting terrorists, but I was not talking about any formal link between Saddam and al-Qaida before the war," Hatch said in a statement. "Instead, I pointed out that the current insurgency in Iraq includes al-Qaida, under the leadership of al-Zarqawi, along with former elements of Saddam's regime."

I'm sorry, but no. Hatch didn't "misspeak." He lied. And then to cover up for it, he lied again. Just read the quotes. "[w]e've stopped a mass murderer in Saddam Hussein. Nobody denies that he was supporting al-Qaida." How in the world does that square with "I was not talking about any formal link between Saddam and al-Qaida before the war?" He specifically used Hussein's name, not Zarqawi's, so there can be no confusion. There is absolutely no logic by which these two statements can be viewed as anything but completely contradictory.

The vast majority of Republicans in Washington can simply not be trusted to speak honestly about national security. The Bush administration has elevated this kind of doublespeak to an art form. They tailor one statement -- Iraq had ties to al Qaeda -- to the paranoid and the misinformed, and then sit down for interviews in the national press and deliver a message of moderate consideration, denying that they'd ever mislead the public on the topic. Quite honestly, as infuriating as we might find the practice, it had worked out pretty well for them until very recently.

Unfortunately for Hatch, he's not quite the fine artist of doublespeak that one finds in the ranks of the Bush administration. But fortunately for us, someone was on hand to document this willful deception. It's important to keep in mind that this wasn't just a matter of Hatch playing fast and loose to get a rise out of a friendly crowd. This was a United States Senator giving a deceptive "insider briefing" to key business leaders in his state.

It would not surprise me in the least to learn that this is part of a larger, conscious effort by Republicans to manipulate the public by feeding bad information to local opinion leaders. In communities around the country, business leaders serve as a key part of the opinion leadership. In this roll as a trusted source, they disseminate information to those further down on the media food chain. We wonder how so many people can continue to believe that Iraq had WMD or that Iraq was involved with September 11, despite all of the evidence to the contrary. This is how.

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