On February 22, Lou Dobbs dusted the Bush family fingerprints on the Dubai Ports World deal.
President Bush's family and members of the Bush administration have long-standing business connections with the United Arab Emirates, and those connections are raising new concerns and questions tonight in some quarters about why the president is defying his very own party leadership and his party in defending the Dubai port deal.
The UAE, it turns out, is a major investor in The Carlyle Group, an equities firm where Big Daddy Bush once served as a senior adviser. Last year, Dubai International Capital, a government-backed buyout company, invested $8 billion in a Carlyle fund.
Bush brother Neil of Savings and Loan scandal infamy appears in the scenario. Little Brother has reportedly received funding for his educational software company from UAE investors.
As reported earlier by P&S and others, Treasury Secretary and Bush family friend John Snow is the former chairman of CSX, the rail company that sold its port operations to Dubai Ports World a year after Snow left CSX to take the Treasury post. Snow now claims he had no knowledge of the sale. "I learned of this transaction probably the same way members of the Senate did, by reading about it in the newspapers," Snow told reporters.
David Sanborn, chosen by Bush last month to oversee U.S. port operations, is the former director of Dubai Ports World's European and Latin American operations.
Many Republicans in Congress are screaming holy murder over this deal, but it's interesting to note which leading GOP legislators are sticking to the Bush flypaper.
Senator John Warner (R-Virginia) says he believes the "commander in chief" deserves some deference in the port security decision. "I think the president and his subordinates followed the law, did a careful examination," he says. "And at this point in time, I do not see a basis to question it."
Warner is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and is a major player in the wheelings and dealings between Congress and the military industrial complex. But Warner's under-the-table maneuvering isn't limited to arms contractors. In August 2005, he helped fellow Virginia legislators Randy Forbes, George Allen, and Virginia Drake slip a $10.8 million rider into the transportation bill to build an interchange along Interstate 64 that will support a development project planned by TV evangelist Pat Robertson, Roberston is a long time contributor to GOP election campaigns, most notably those of Allen, Forbes, and Drake.
Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), a sometime critic of the Bush administration, says it's important to trust President Bush on this issue. It's funny how when shove comes to biff, McCain always backs the White House. We'll probably never know what the Rovewellians have on McCain, but whatever it is, they have it in spades.
The GOP crony circle supporting the DP World deal isn't limited to present members of Congress. Bob Dole, the former Senator and presidential candidate who helped the Bush campaign swift boat John Kerry during the 2004 presidential race, is now a lobbyist. He works for Alston and Bird, the D.C. law firm that represents Dubai Ports World.
Dole's wife, Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, claims she had no knowledge of her husband's efforts to grease the skids on the port deal.
And From the Irony is Dead Department…
Lou Dobbs again:
At the United Nations tonight, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton is demanding that the United Nations take action to end corruption and abuse in U.N. peacekeeping operations.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bush still says he'll veto any congressional kibosh of the Dubai Ports World Deal. "I'm trying to conduct foreign policy by saying to people of the world, 'We'll treat you fairly,'" he says.
The foreign policy Bush wants to conduct is the same foreign policy that has Zalmay Khalilzad, Bush's handpicked Ambassador to Iraq, saying that the Middle East country is in danger of falling completely apart.
Administration supporters like former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo of the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute continue to argue that the Constitution gives Mr. Bush a free hand to conduct foreign policy in any way he sees fit.
On the domestic front, lawyers for Lewis "Scooter" Libby argue that Libby's indictment is unconstitutional because special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed by the Justice Department and not by Mr. Bush.
That, friends, is the state of the Union and the world on February 24th in the year of our Lord 2006. Have a great weekend. See you on Monday if we're all still here, and haven't been sold as indentured servants to the emir of the United Arab Emirates.