Saturday, February 25, 2006

Digging their own graves, Part 2: Update on the Ports Deal

The link to the full CNN story is now up here. The most relevant section:

Republicans in Congress are crafting a solution under which the controversial deal allowing a state-owned Arab company to run some terminals at six U.S. ports could move forward.

The agreement would first have to pass a 45-day investigation focusing on the national security implications of the deal, several sources linked to the talks said.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee is encouraging DP World to ask a government review panel to kick-start the investigations, which is the best way to convince lawmakers the transaction won't jeopardize national security, a Frist aide said...

Though the White House says this level of review is unnecessary, it could prove to be a handy exit strategy to end a dramatic face-off with the GOP leadership and ultimately allow the deal to go through.

The deal underwent a 30-day review before it was initially approved, but the 45-day review will focus almost exclusively on national security and it would involve more senior administration officials.

Essentially, the GOP wants a full 45 days to hunker down, get their talking points straight, strongarm lawmakers, and wait for this story to die. Beautiful.

But it's not going to work. They're essentially screwed: they've already been found to be equivocating on it, whether they actually pass it or not. And it looks like Rove is going to strongarm them into passing it. All Democrats have to do is take advantage of a painfully easy opening.

I still, however, am plagued by the mystery of WHY. What possible compelling reason on this earth does the Bush Administration have to play chicken with such a politically dangerous but relatively inconsequential for their foreign policy bit of business as this UAE port deal? What is it that they know that we don't, and what are they hiding?


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