Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Failure of Cynicism

It has long been obvious that the only effective perspective by which to view the actions of the Bush administration is one borne of pure and unadulterated cynicism. This has generally been employed by critics of the administration and deservedly so. Strangely, cynicism seems to be failing a few of those normally critical of this White House.

Which is odd, because there has not been one policy or agenda item pursued by Bush that has not demonstrated an unremitting fealty to special corporate interests and subjegated the welfare of the larger nation to those interests. Excepting, of course, cases when implemented policies would further enhance the White House's overreaching grab for yet more executive authority.

This is why previous arguments of some administration critics advocating reason and "fact" regarding the DPW ports deal are so puzzling. I lamented this odd turn because it was clear that all the facts of the deal were certainly not known, especially by those claiming to know them. It was more than curious that such folks thought all the facts were on the table and in plain sight when this deal was announced.

Surely, they couldn't believe that everything had been thoroughly reviewed to everyone's satisfaction, despite the known fact that the administration had failed to conduct the 45 day investigation. The deal had clearly been rushed and was the product of closed door sessions of a small number of administration officials. As days went by, more irregularities came to light, which simply demonstrated that a healthy dose of cynicism was more than justified.

It didn't take long before it began to appear that the DPW ports deal might actually involve 22 American ports, from Maine to the Gulf coast, not 6 as had been originally reported. Or maybe not. What is now clear is that the situation is not at all clear. Facts surrounding this aspect of the deal are apprently hard to come by as the affected ports listed on the Department of Homland Security's website keep changing.

But of far greater interest is the recent revelation that Coast Guard intelligence officials had raised serious questions about security issues surrounding the deal. Actually, what they said was that they couldn't even ask questions because intelligence gaps were so broad, there was no way to even assess possible risks. The document in question was "unearthed," not as the result of any White House "transparency," but because the House Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee had to do the unearthing.

This post hoc expository process is typical of other Congressional dealings with the White House, which always and simply says, "trust us." And given this, why on earth would anyone, least of all people who usually are critical of the Bush administration, think they have or know all the facts in this matter. At the time they claimed to know the "facts" of the matter, it is was more than likely that they didn't. Now it is certain that many facts were not known earlier. Nor do we know all of them now. And what is quite certain is that the White House will continue to prevent any more facts from being known in the future. That much, cynicism tells us, is guaranteed.

It had to have been one of those rare moments in the Senate; one of the true reasons for stuffing the deal through was stated, and quite bluntly, by chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner. Warner indicated that the deal was crucial in securing port access for US military in the UAE. Yes, on the floor of the Senate, Warner explained that the US was being blackmailed:
It is the only port in the region that we can dock our major supercarriers. In addition, their airfields are supporting the ongoing operations that we have in Afghanistan and Iraq.
I am not sure if Warner was cognizant of just what he really was saying here. Is Warner aware that he indirectly said that the UAE is blackmailing the US government into approving the deal and threatening to deny US military access to seaports should the DPW contract be scuttled? Because it sure looks like that is what Warner is saying.

What Warner is further saying is that the UAE is placing their commerical interests over US security, which is par for the course in the world in which Bush circulates. This hardly strikes as a sound basis upon which to claim the UAE is a great and good ally in the War on Terror.

So, it appears that the UAE will leverage their seaports against the contract and threaten to withdraw access should that deal fail. Nice. Now, maybe they won't do that. Maybe this is just Warner's fear. We can't quite be sure just what is going on here because we don't know the facts.

It should also be obvious that very little is known of this deal and its supposed "review," the details of which seem to be changing on a daily basis. And of what is known of the White House's lack of diligence in review, it can be certain that that is only the tip of everything this administration did not do in vetting the contract approval.

Whether or not there are legitimate security concerns is not the concern. It is that the White House failed to even find out whether there were such issues and that they did so with defference to commercial interests. Can we really believe that "broad gaps in intelligence" were quickly washed away, without investigation, and are now of no concern? The concern is that security concerns are unknown, though it is broadcast loudly that there are none.

Given that the White House has failed on every 9/11 commission recommendation to boost cited strategic target security since 9/11, none of this should surprise us. But is this then reason to give a pass to the DPW contract? Hardly. Administration approval was rushed, expedient and driven, not by a concern for the security of this country, but by the commercial interests of foreign governments who have long and cosy relationships with a number of administration officials, especially the Bushes.

Come on people. Get cynical.


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