Friday, March 17, 2006

Port Security: 0 War: 67 Billion

Back when the DPW ports deal was still on the table, congressional GOP members were howling as loudly as anyone about the safety and security of American ports. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said,
News that a Middle-East based firm is seeking to purchase the operating rights to several U.S. ports raise serious questions regarding the safety and security of our homeland.

I'm not against foreign ownership, but my main concern is national security.
Really, Bill?

Well, if anyone had doubts that Frist and the rest of the howlers were perhaps a little less than genuine, that perhaps this putative concern was meant mostly to grandstand and demonstrate serious resolved in the face of what they described as a cavalier attitude toward homeland security, those doubts would likely be dismissed by news that the Republican controlled Congress has just defeated a Democratic amendment that would increase funding for port security.

There appears now to be no doubt that GOP intransigence on the DPW ports deal was nothing but a puppet show:
The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday easily approved $91.9 billion that President George W. Bush President George W. Bush sought for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and for Gulf Coast hurricane relief, even as lawmakers voiced doubts about the efforts. The emergency spending bill also contained language barring a state-owned Arab company, Dubai Ports World, from managing American ports.

Republicans barely defeated a push by Democrats to add $1.23 billion to tighten security at U.S. ports and for other homeland security initiatives....
Actual port security initiatives that might do something: $1.23 billion
Making a lot of noise about an Arab company running American ports: priceless

There were a few other tidbits tucked away in this bill and the efforts surrounding its passage, such as the GOP effort to strip Gulf Coast hurricane relief, which some claimed would "hamper the recovery effort." Yes, hamper the recovery effort. Specious reasoning was not provided. Perhaps Republican lawmakers were worried that, with another billion in contracts up for grabs, Halliburton would misemploy itself to further abuse of that money.

But no, that can't be it because House Republicans also defeated another Democratic amendment to the bill that would have barred Halliburton from seeking any new government contracts while under investigation for alleged contract abuse (Halliburton is generally known by the generic term, defense contractors under investigation for contract abuse). Republicans claimed that interrupting Halliburton's ability to fuck over American taxpayers would "interrupt the flow of food, transportation and other services the company supplies to U.S. forces."


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