News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Dubya and Dubai: The emperor has no vetoes

It is strange that the president who brought us daily color-coded terror alerts, who spearheaded the so-called "Patriot Act" to protect us from threats both foreign and domestic, has put his seal of approval on a deal that would place control of the nation's busiest ports in the hand of an Arab state with known ties to al-Qaida and the Sept. 11 hijackers.

It is strange that the president who has unquestionably given the most lip service to restoring executive powers has never used the office's most powerful weapon, the veto.

Last month, the White House approved a deal that would let Dubai Ports World, a United Arab Emirates-based company, run shipping terminals in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia. The company would have partial control of the 2 billion tons of freight entering the United States each year through shipping ports.

When news of the port deal surfaced in an Associated Press report Feb. 11, lawmakers from both parties asked Treasury Secretary John Snow and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to review and explain the deal. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said last week he would introduce legislation to block the transaction if the White House refused to do so.

President Bush responded the next day by defending the deal and promising to veto any congressional effort to stop it.

The veto threat was ludicrous, coming as it did from a president who has not once in five years met a bill he would not sign — including profligate spending bills that have produced record deficits and raised the national debt to new heights.

It is no surprise, then, that the administration announced a deal over the weekend that would subject the proposed port deal to a second U.S. review of the potential security risks.

The unusual consent to a second review skirted a certain showdown with Congress and temporarily pacified an outraged public.

Stay tuned for Act II.

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