Brushing aside objections from Republicans and Democrats alike, President Bush endorsed the takeover of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports by a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates. He pledged to veto any bill Congress might approve to block the agreement.
The president on Tuesday defended his administration's earlier approval of the sale of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. to Dubai Ports World, despite concerns in Congress it could increase the possibility of terrorism at American ports.
When we first reported on the proposed sale on February 12, 2006, very little was known about the sale, which the Bush administration had signed off on after review by various federal agencies. Detailing a Washington Post account of the sale, we wrote then:
According to the Post report, a panel of U.S. representatives from the departments of Treasury, Defense, Justice, Commerce, State and Homeland Security concluded that the purchase by the Arab country represented no threat to national security. In fact, the government considers UAE a major partner in the war on terrorism despite its role in the 9/11 attacks.
The Post reported, "The State Department describes the UAE as a vital partner in the fight against terrorism. But the UAE, a loose federation of seven emirates on the Saudi peninsula, was an important operational and financial base for the hijackers who carried out the attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the FBI concluded."
Why is the sale of this company so important to President Bush that he would threaten the use of his veto power to discourage members of Congress, including many vocal opponents of the sale within his own party, from attempting to block the sale? The answer we fear is three words: "The Carlyle Group."
The Carlyle Group is one of the world's largest private equity firms based in D.C. It has substantial defense-related investments, including United Defense Industries and the Vinnell Corporation, both with major investments in the Middle East. Its successful investments in the Middle East are thanks in large part to its many well-known political associates, including former President George Bush, former Secretaries of State James Baker and Colin Powell, former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci and former British Prime Minister John Major. The company made billions off the first Gulf War, as well as the current war in Iraq. It is business partners with the bin Laden family's construction company in Saudi Arabia. Yes--the family of Osama bin Laden.
If someone digs deeply enough into this story, we believe you will find some connection to the sale of this company to the Carlyle Group. Before President Dwight Eisenhower left office, he warned the nation about the influence of the military industrial complex. That power Eisenhower warned against is embodied by this company.
It's pretty pathetic that the current President Bush, who has built his entire presidency around the war on terror, is more interested in lining the pockets of his father and his Arab business associates than our own national security. The more terrorist acts we have, the more money the Carlyle Group will be able to make. Isn't that the real point of it all? Congress must stop this sale.