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BREAKING PORT NEWS: DUBAI YIELDS

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By Michelle Malkin  •  March 9, 2006 01:57 PM

***scroll for updates…230pm EST Dem Senators Schumer, Clinton, Reid scrambling to organize press conference…248pm EST. Harry Reid looks irked at being outmaneuvered: “We want an up-and-down vote…the devil is in the details.” Fox News cuts away to President Bush signing renewal of Patriot Act. Bush (after thanking Cabinet officials, law enforcement, and GOP leaders, including port opponent NY GOP Rep. Peter King): “America remains a nation at war.” …scroll down for statements from John Boehner, Jerry Lewis…

…7pm EST:Unaffiliated entity to operate US ports: US official ***

Ross K. reports:

CNBC is reporting that Dubai Ports World will transfer the ports that they would have run as part of their takeover of P&O to a US Entity.

Big Lizards recommended this option Feb. 21. And yes, I agree, it’s time for a wholesale reassessment of all other foreign government-owned or -operated critical assets in the U.S. We should have done it a lot sooner. That’s not called xenophobia. That’s called dealing with post-Sept. 11 reality.

Reader Marty M. writes: “Please, please, please let Halliburton get the ports contract. Sure, they have no experience at running ports–I just want to see moonbat heads explode.”

CNN has more details:

A United Arab Emirates-owned company has agreed to turn over all of its operations at U.S. ports to an American entity, Sen. John Warner said Thursday.

Reading a statement from DP World on the Senate floor, Warner, a Virginia Republican, said the reason is “to preserve” the strong relationship between the UAE and United States.

The announcement comes after congressional leaders reportedly told President Bush that the deal for DP World to assume some operations at six U.S. ports appeared dead on Capitol Hill.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, delivered the news to Bush during a meeting Thursday at the White House, two Republican sources said.

Fox News:

After Republican leaders warned President Bush that the House and Senate appeared ready to block Dubai Ports World from taking over some U.S. port terminal operations, the company said it would give up its management stake in the deal.

The Thursday announcement was a blow for Democrats, who were pushing for a Senate vote on an amendment that would halt the deal. If they succeeded in that vote, Democrats could then claim a big election year win in the area of national security — an area Republicans generally have a stronger track record on.

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., read a statement from DP World executives on the Senate floor Thursday, announcing the concession.

“Because of the strong relationship between the United Arab Emirates and the United States and to preserve that relationship, DP World has decided to transfer fully the U.S. operation of P&O Operations North America to a United States entity,” DP World’s chief operating officer, Edward H. Bilkey, said in the statement.

With the latest DP World news, many members of Congress who thus far have been critical of the deal may be much more positive toward it.

Reuters:

State-owned Arab company Dubai Ports World confirmed on Thursday an announcement by U.S. Sen. John Warner that it would transfer operation of U.S. ports it has acquired from the British company P & O.

“Sen. Warner has made our statement for us. His announcements says everything we have to say at this point,” a spokesman said.

Breitbart/AP:

Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, took the Senate floor to read to colleagues a company press release disclosing its new stance. “Because of the strong relationship between the United Arab Emirates and the United States and to preserve that relationship, DP World has decided to transfer fully the U.S. operation of P&O Operations North America to a United States entity,” DP World’s chief operating officer, Edward H. Bilkey, said in the statement that Warner relayed to other senators. The announcement did not specify which American company would be involved.

The move came as the White House, facing a Republican rebellion in Congress, played down President Bush’s veto threat and said he was trying to find a compromise to resolve the uproar over the company’s plan to take over significant operations at several U.S. sea ports.

DP World said it will transfer all interest in U.S. port operations to an American-based company, but it was unclear immediately how DP World would manage the divestiture. The company indicated that details of the surprise deal were still being worked out.

Warner said that Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, “advised the company … that this action is the appropriate course to take.” Dubai is in the emirates. Just after Warner’s announcement, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a chief critic of the deal was cautious.

“This is obviously a promising development, but the devil’s in the details,” Schumer said. “Those of us who feel strongly about this issue believe that the U.S. part of the British company should have no connection to the United Arab Emirates or DP World.”

Republican congressional leaders had told Bush at a White House meeting earlier Thursday that both the House and Senate appear ready to block the takeover, GOP officials said. In softening the White House’s previous stand, presidential spokesman Scott McClellan said, “Our emphasis is not on trying to draw lines or issue veto threats. It’s on how we can work together and move forward.”

Mark Levin at NRO:

Thanks goes to the House Republicans. The Appropriations Committee vote was so overwhelming, that the UAE got the message and is now pulling the ports deal. Hence, there will be no confrontation with the president, or embarrassing veto override. And the reaction from Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, and the appeasement wing of the Senate is hilarious…

Statement just in from House Majority Leader Rep. John Boehner:

“The American people raised serious and genuine concerns about this proposed transaction. When it comes to the operation of our nation’s ports and borders, our national security is our first and foremost concern. Americans have the right to feel confident and comfortable with the security arrangements their government sets for them, and House Republicans were obligated to take action to respond to the concerns Americans have expressed about the proposed deal.”

Video of whining Dems over at The Political Pit Bull.

Tom Bevan at Real Clear Politics:

Will this be the end of it? I suspect so. Bush saves face and doesn’t have to make good on a veto threat. A Republican-led Congrees looks good to its constituents (and feels good about itself) for flexing its muscle and derailing the deal. DPW loses, at least for the moment (The statement was notably vague, so we’ll have to wait and see if a restructured deal, of which they may have some connection, emerges at some point after the election).

As with the Harriet Miers nomination, in a few weeks the DPW deal will probably be reduced to a footnote. The question is whether Bush’s standing will rebound fully or whether the Dubai Rebellion will take a further chip out of the President’s credibility with the Republican base that he won’t ever be able to recover.

Washington Post:

The United Arab Emirates company that was attempting to take over management operations at six U.S. ports announced today that it will divest itself of all American interests.

The announcement appears to head off a major confrontation that was brewing between Congress and the Bush administration over the controversial deal…It was not immediately clear how the divesture would be handled or what U.S. company would take over the operation…

Statement from Rep. Jerry Lewis:

“My amendment was narrowly designed to address the widespread, national security concerns about the possibility of a foreign-owned company having direct involvement in the management of U.S. ports. Reports that Dubai Ports World has agreed to sell its holdings of a subsidiary involved in managing six American ports is encouraging news. Our goal is to make sure that the security of our ports is in America’s hands and I look forward to learning more about this recent development,” said House Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis.

I’m with Rick Moran:

I would still like to see hearings on other foreign owned companies who manage our ports and other transportation nexus. These are a particularly vulnerable part of our overall security profile and what this deal proved is that no one appears to be thinking very hard about them.

I sincerely hope that the UAE isn’t offended by the pressure that was put on them, although, when a country is owned by one man, it becomes very hard to separate the business from the personal. Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum may feel that he’s been double crossed but he shouldn’t blame the Congress or the American people. The blame is ultimately the Presidents’ to shoulder as are our other problems with border control and gaps in security at our airports.

If the killing of this deal has opened the eyes of the President and his people to the concerns of Congress and many conservatives, then it just may have a silver lining. They can go a long way toward proving that they’re listening by working with Congress on an immigration reform package that puts security over commerce and the safety of the American people over the wallets of the members of the Chambers of Commerce.

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