Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bush on the UAE Port deal

This is what the President had to say about the port deal. A direct excerpt from a doc downloaded here

I don't think its an issue of their security record in other ports. It's ownership of our port. If a foreign power owns it, then we lose some control of it.

Remember, these guys came from the United Arab Emirates:
from Wikipedia:

Hamza al-Ghamdi and Marwan al-Shehhi

Organization

U.S. authorities believe that the hijackers were in two groups: six core organizers, who included the four pilots and two others; and the remaining thirteen who entered the United States later in pairs in the spring and summer of 2001 via the United Arab Emirates.

Try to remember, the ports are the gateways to our nation.

Bush's Comments
Q The understatement today, and one of the concerns of lawmakers seems to be that they want more of a briefing, and they want more details about the things that you know, that have given you confidence that there aren't any national security implications with the port deal. Are you willing to either have your staff or to give any kind of briefing to leaders of Congress --

PRESIDENT BUSH: Look at the company's record, Jim, and it's clear for everybody to see. We've looked at the ports in which they've operated. There is a standard process mandated by Congress that we go through, called the CFIUS process. I'm not exactly sure if there's any national security concerns in briefing Congress. I just don't know. I can't answer your question.

Q It seems like -- you've already heard from different administration officials, saying, not in as strong terms as you have today, that there aren't problems with this deal, that the deal should go forward. But they seem to want more of a briefing.

Would you be willing to give any additional briefings, either --

PRESIDENT BUSH: We'll be glad to send --

Q -- either in a classified basis, or --

PRESIDENT BUSH: I don't see why not. Again, you're asking -- I need to make sure I understand exactly what they're asking for.

Yes. Oh, you're not the press.

DAN BARTLETT (counselor to the president): I could ask a question. You showed some strong leadership today -- (laughter.)

Q Why is it so important to you, sir, that you take on this issue as a political fight? Clearly, there's bipartisan --

PRESIDENT BUSH: I don't view it as a political fight. So do you want to start your question over? I view it as a good policy.

Q Why is it -- clearly --

PRESIDENT BUSH: Are you talking about the energy issue?

Q No, I'm sorry, the ports issue.

PRESIDENT BUSH: It's not a political issue.

Q But there clearly are members of your own party who will go to the mat against you on this.

PRESIDENT BUSH: It's not a political issue.

Q Why are you -- to make this, to have this fight?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I don't view it as a fight. I view it as me saying to people what I think is right, the right policy.

Q What's the larger message that you're conveying by sticking to this UAE contract, by saying that you're not going to budge on this, or you don't want to change policy?

PRESIDENT BUSH: There is a process in place where we analyze -- where the government analyzes many, many business transactions, to make sure they meet national security concerns. And I'm sure if you -- careful review, this process yielded a result that said, yes, a deal should go forward.

One of my concerns, however, is mixed messages. And the message is, it's okay for a British company, but a Middle Eastern company -- maybe we ought not to deal the same way. It's a mixed message. You put interesting words in your question, but I just view -- my job is to do what I think is right for the country. I don't intend to have a fight. If there's a fight, there is one, but nor do I view this as a political issue.

Q I say it because you said you'd be willing to use the veto on it.
PRESIDENT BUSH: I would. That's one of the tools the President has to indicate to the legislative branch his intentions. A veto doesn't mean fight, or politics, it's just one of the tools I've got. I say veto, by the way, quite frequently in messages to Congress.

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