Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Kansas: Powerhouse of a nation

Former Kansas Senator Dole hired to lobby for Dubai port deal:
CNN's Andrea Koppel reports: "The Dubai-based company at the center of a controversy over the management of six U.S. seaports has hired former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole to lobby on its behalf against bipartisan criticism of the deal, a Dole aide said Wednesday.

"The 1996 Republican presidential candidate was "engaged" by Dubai Ports World shortly after lawmakers on both sides of the aisle began expressing their strong opposition to the deal, said Mike Galloway, an aide to the retired senator.

"He is considered a GOP elder statesman, and his wife, Elizabeth, now represents North Carolina in the Senate."
There's no way this could tread near any ethical boundaries, is there?

Bear in mind that the reason bin Laden was still alive in 2000, according to the 9/11 Commission, is that we didn't want to kill half the UAE royal family to get him. Here's CIA Director Tenet's explanation of why we didn't bomb bin Laden back in 1999:

The third complicating factor here is, you might have wiped out half the royal family in the UAE in the process, which I’m sure entered into everybody’s calculation in all this
The 9/11 Commission's report explains that:

The United Arab Emirates was becoming both a valued counterterrorism ally of the United States and a persistent counterterrorism problem
Now, this morning, when I promised never to speak of this again, I was prepared to assume that the deal to sell operations at 6 American ports to a UAE based company was reached via the normal channels. I thought it was odd that the President and Secretary of Defense weren't briefed on it, but I was prepared to trust the system.

Fool! When will I learn that you can only trust the system if the President feels bound to adhere to it! I trusted that my phones weren't being tapped without a warrant because the law says that they can't be. I forgot that the President can secretly declare himself above the law and read my email, listen to my phone calls, torture people and establish secret detention facilities in old Soviet prisons.

ThinkProgress explains that the law requires a 45 day investigation into any investment by a company controlled by or acting on behalf of a foreign government which involves interstate commerce and "could affect the national security of the United States." The White House isn't sure why such an investigation never took place.

If you assume that the Bush administration follows the rule of law, this whole story is a tempest in a teapot. A 45-day investigation would either determine that DPW is good, safe and trustworthy, or would reveal problems, like a perhaps-too-tight relationship with bin Laden. We'd know, one way or the other. And everyone would be right to declare this a non-story, and perhaps we could spend a few dollars on port security so that a nuclear weapon isn't shipped into the Port of Newark.

But, as is so often the case, the Bush administration treated the law as a tiresome bother and ignored it.

This is why Congress needs to exercise oversight. There should be hearings on all the situations where we've learned that the Executive Branch saw fit to ignore the black letter of the law.

Not just over port security. Port security is important, heaven knows. But what other national security related laws have been ignored?

As with the illegal wiretapping, the issue isn't the act, it's the basis for the act. If someone can convince a judge to sign a warrant, tap away. But don't cut the judge out altogether. It's a necessary safeguard on the system.

The CFIUS is a necessary safeguard also. They review foreign mergers, acquisitions and take-overs to ensure that the business deal doesn't threaten American national security interests. If they investigate fully and determine that there are no problems, then there are no problems, and we can all feel safe in the warm glow of the bureaucracy.

And at the core of the defense against each of these problems stands (lies?) a Kansan. Bob Dole just stepped up to defend the bin Laden lovers of the UAE, and Pat Roberts has been the President's favorite doormat in the Senate.

This administration has undermined our security by skirting the law, and that's a problem. Kansans should be stepping up, not lying down.

Why did the CFIUS not do the legally required 45 day investigation? The Attorney General, Secretaries of Defense, Treasury, Labor, Commerce, the Science Advisor, the National Security Advisor, and other economic advisors all sit on the Committee, and none thought that it was worth looking into? A 9/11 Commission recommended panel on civil liberties has yet to meet? FISA went out the window even as Congress struggled to revise it?