Sheila Samples: With Friends Like These...
With Friends Like These...
By Sheila Samples
"They're blowin' this town all to hell"
—Bo Hopkins in Sam Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch"(1969)
Senator John Warner (R-Va.) has the unexpected problem of a foreign state-owned company taking over operations at U.S. ports all figured out. The dour, self-righteous chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee announced from the Senate floor on March 9 that Dubai Ports World (DPW), one of seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE), "has decided to transfer fully U.S. operation of P&O Ports North America to a United States entity."
For Rove-Cheney watchers, that immediately begs the question -- what U.S. entity? What does "transfer fully" mean? But, alas, Warner said details about that part of the scam "weren't immediately available." For Warner watchers, especially those of us who have looked at him from every possible angle while scratching our heads, another question springs to mind -- What could Liz Taylor possibly have been thinking back in December 1976 when she took this cranky, cheerless man for a spin on her seventh time around?
Before we get too giddy...it's been suggested that DPW hire a "front company" to run port operations. You know, like defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld did when the Congress told him he couldn't have the Total Information Awareness (TIA) data-mining program. Rumsfeld said okay, and took the program into the shadows, out of Congressional oversight and gave it a new name -- Terrorist Information Awareness program. Then, with Congress and the American public appeased, TIA continued business as usual, and is going full-bore today.
Several US companies have been mentioned to serve as a U.S. front for DPW, such as SSA Marine Ports Company and Maher Terminals. CNN also suggested CSX World Terminals, but failed to mention that Dubai purchased a major portion of CSX from the Carlyle Group in 2005 and, oh yes, CNN suggested almost as an afterthought that perhaps the best qualified of all "entities" is Halliburton. If you're a Halliburton watcher, you know what that's all about, and it has little to do with qualifications...
Who's in charge here?
It looks like it's back to the shadows for a port-control strategy session. If you believe either the Bush regime or the UAE will politely back off because of the nuisance of an unhappy American citizenry, you just haven't been watching these guys in action for the past five years. There's too much money and power involved. They'll figure it out. That session ought to be easy. Bush says he's a "strategist" because, he explained, "I create...er..strategy." Can't argue with that. He also claims to be a problem-solver because he solves...er...problems; he says he's a leader because he...er...leads, and brags that he's a war president because he...er...ohhh, never mind.
It should be obvious by now that George Bush has no control over the machinations of the government he claims to lead. He admittedly knew nothing about the secretive deal pushed through by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) to put six additional U.S. ports, or 24 container terminals, under the control of an Islamic regime that provided -- as Cheney says -- "safe haven" to those who -- as Bush says -- "are lurking, plotting, planning to kill us" until the story broke in the media. White House aides also said that Bush knew nothing about the UAE decision to withdraw until Warner (was Liz drunk?) announced it. Bush's belated threat to veto any amendment to derail the deal didn't scare anybody, least of all Congress, and Warner's success at taking the deal off the table saved Bush the embarrassment of being steamrolled by his own party.
They would have us believe that the deal "just happened." Nobody knew. In addition to Bush taking the Abu Ghraib defense, AP's Ted Bridis writes that "...Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and even Treasury Secretary John Snow, who was plucked from CSX World Terminals for the Treasury job and oversees the government committee that approved the deal, all say they did not know about the purchase until after it was finalized." Bridis adds, "The work was done mostly by assistant secretaries."
So, who's in control here? Disregard what Israel PM Ariel Sharon allegedly told Shimon Peres, his Minister of Foreign Affairs, a month after the 9-11 attack -- "I want to tell you something very clear, don't worry about American pressure on Israel," Sharon said. "We, the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it."
Yeah? Well, I want to tell you Americans don't know Jack about who controls this country. Israel may be our partner in crime; may be sucking us dry; prodding us to fight its battles -- but the United Arab Emirates, "entities" like the Carlyle Group and Halliburton, and the administration globalization gurus are in control and, as Sam Peckinpah so aptly put it -- they're blowin' this town all to hell.
The critical news about the UAE is what the media, the Congress, and the administration are NOT telling the people. In addition to its multi-million-dollar order for Boeing jets, and a $6.4 billion deal to buy 80 F-16E/F multi-role fighters which will make Abu Dhabi the leading air power in the Gulf, Dubai firms have several lucrative contracts with the Pentagon, which might explain Rumsfeld's tight-lipped, purple-veined fury after a recent congressional hearing as he stood there beside a dreamily nodding Joe Lieberman (?-CT) and deflected media questions to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, and U.S. Central Commander Gen. John Abizaid.
The spectacle of this nation's top military brass lobbying Congress to give a foreign government control over a crucial part of our infrastructure, our military operations and security is appalling. Making the rounds of recent Sunday talk shows, Pace said, "Since 9-11, Dubai is as good a partner and friend as we've had." Pace told a Pentagon briefing on Feb. 21 that the Arab Emirates were "very, very solid partners in the alliance."
Abizaid was not nearly so diplomatic. He lashed out at the public and the Congress --"The UAE is absolutely vital to our interests," Abizaid said angrily, and added that the furor over the port control was "nothing but Arab and Muslim bashing that is totally unnecessary." Abizaid should know. He's been bashing, smashing and blowing apart Arabs and Muslims for years...
The tantrum Republicans and Democrats are throwing on center stage is very effective at covering the activity teeming in the shadows. Time Magazine's Daren Fonda writes that another Dubai company shows no signs of backing off its Navy contract in the Middle East. Britain sold Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS) to "a Dubai government investment vehicle for $285 million." According to Fonda, ISS "provides services to clients ranging from cruiseship operators to oil tankers to commercial cargo vessels." ISS operates out of more than a dozen U.S. port cities, the article states, "including Houston, Miami and New Orleans."
In a June 2005 release, ISS announced it will provide all logistics requirements of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships in ports throughout the Middle East. The release also notes that ISS may asked to provide services for U.S. military training exercises and "contingency operations inland." ISS will "partner" for these services with Halliburton's Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR), which has been awarded billions (and billions) of dollars in no-bid contracts for Iraq reconstruction. KBR watchers might wonder if these "contingency operations inland" have anything to do with its recent no-bid contract to build a network of detainment camps in the U.S.
Also under consideration is the sale to Dubai International of (you guessed it) yet another British company that makes precision parts used in engines for military aircraft and tanks. The UAE purchased London's Doncasters Group for $1.2 billion, which operates nine factories, including military production facilities in Connecticut and Georgia. According to Middle East Newsline, Doncasters' clients include Boeing, General Electric, Honeywell and Pratt and Whitney...
What should concern Congress and, as a minimum, tweak the curiosity of the media is the UAE's ties to, and protection of, Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, its recognition of the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, its thwarting of a CIA attempt to kill bin Laden before 9-11, its massive money-laundering network for terrorist activity, its funding ($23 million) for Neil Bush's IGNITE! learning systems company, and its furnishing two hijackers for the 9-11 attacks. The UAE's appalling record on human slavery should be dragged out of the shadows for all to see. In June 2005, the U.S. State Department reported that the UAE is a major destination for women sex slaves, and it regularly imports, steals or buys children from other countries to serve as camel jockeys to feed the gambling frenzy of oil-rich sheiks.
Why the UAE will win
We seem to be incapable of wrapping our minds around the concept of "order" that our increasingly totalitarianism government is inflicting upon us. Even as we "high-five" our success at forcing Congress to back out of the Dubai deal, we fail to notice that the power brokers on both sides of this issue have not budged. And they will not. In its initial statement, DPW said transferring operation of the ports hinged on its not losing money on its $6.8 billion purchase of London's Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. Otherwise, it would have no alternative but to promise to behave itself and continue to march.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist agrees. On Sunday, Frist said if no buyer is found and the Bush administration can't find any security risks, the deal for DPW to manage and operate U.S. ports could go through. "If everything that the president, the administration has said, and that is that there is absolutely no threatening or jeopardy to our security and safety of the American people ... I don't see how the deal would have to be canceled," Frist told ABC's "This Week."
There's no stopping them. With friends like Frist scurrying around in the shadows, and a media willing to distort facts and distract attention, this deal is a no-brainer. Yesterday, an e-mail surfaced from DP World telling managers in Miami that the sale of U.S. assets "could take a while," and for them to assume for now that "ownership...is not going to change." CNN followed up with an opposite-speak report this morning that DP World announced it would divest itself of all U.S. port assets. However, it has hired both a financial advisor and a legal advisor, and the deal will take some time -- possibly four to six months.
That's the good news. The bad news is Bush watchers know what kind of mischief this grand strategist is capable of in four to six months. Unless I am mistaken, we will be far more worried about the insurgency in Iran than we are with the port in Miami...
The UAE will win because of the Free Trade Agreement we are determined to have in that part of the world. It will win because, as Mike Whitney writes in Online Journal, "The United Arab Emirates is situated at the center of an oil-dependent world. This tiny state forms the promontory that juts out into the famed Strait of Hormuz through which 40 percent of the world's oil passes every day." Whitney says Iran is just across that strait and, if we're going to attack Iran, we must have boots on the ground in Dubai to keep the strait open and ward off the resulting devastation to world oil supplies and financial markets.
It will win because the crony alliance that comprises the Iron Triangle of the New World Order -- industry, government and military -- is a power elite that feeds ravenously on the soft underbelly of war like maggots on rotten meat. Until we realize just how precious freedom is, until we work to take back that which was stolen, nothing will change. We must do more than complain and cast worthless votes every few years.
Most Americans are critically aware of the importance of security in the wake of 9-11. But with best friends and partners like the United Arab Emirates, the Carlyle Group and Halliburton controlling the house -- we have little time to worry about enemies at the gate.