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"They're blowin' this town all to hell" --Bo Hopkins in Sam Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch"(1969)

Senator John Warner (R-Va.) has the unexpected problem of a foreign state-owned company taking over operations at U.S. ports all figured out. The dour, self-righteous chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee announced from the Senate floor on March 9 that Dubai Ports World (DPW), one of seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE), "has decided to transfer fully U.S. operation of P&O Ports North America to a United States entity."

For Rove-Cheney watchers, that immediately begs the question -- what U.S. entity? What does "transfer fully" mean? But, alas, Warner said details about that part of the scam "weren't immediately available." For Warner watchers, especially those of us who have looked at him from every possible angle while scratching our heads, another question springs to mind -- What could Liz Taylor possibly have been thinking back in December 1976 when she took this cranky, cheerless man for a spin on her seventh time around?

Before we get too giddy...it's been suggested that DPW hire a "front company" to run port operations. You know, like defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld did when the Congress told him he couldn't have the Total Information Awareness (TIA) data-mining program. Rumsfeld said okay, and took the program into the shadows, out of Congressional oversight and gave it a new name -- Terrorist Information Awareness program. Then, with Congress and the American public appeased, TIA continued business as usual, and is going full-bore today.

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Several US companies have been mentioned to serve as a U.S. front for DPW, such as SSA Marine Ports Company and Maher Terminals. CNN also suggested CSX World Terminals, but failed to mention that Dubai purchased a major portion of CSX from the Carlyle Group in 2005 and, oh yes, CNN suggested almost as an afterthought that perhaps the best qualified of all "entities" is Halliburton. If you're a Halliburton watcher, you know what that's all about, and it has little to do with qualifications...

Who's in charge here?

It looks like it's back to the shadows for a port-control strategy session. If you believe either the Bush regime or the UAE will politely back off because of the nuisance of an unhappy American citizenry, you just haven't been watching these guys in action for the past five years. There's too much money and power involved. They'll figure it out. That session ought to be easy. Bush says he's a "strategist" because, he explained, "I create...er..strategy." Can't argue with that. He also claims to be a problem-solver because he solves...er...problems; he says he's a leader because he...er...leads, and brags that he's a war president because he...er...ohhh, never mind.

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It should be obvious by now that George Bush has no control over the machinations of the government he claims to lead. He admittedly knew nothing about the secretive deal pushed through by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) to put six additional U.S. ports, or 24 container terminals, under the control of an Islamic regime that provided -- as Cheney says -- "safe haven" to those who -- as Bush says -- "are lurking, plotting, planning to kill us" until the story broke in the media. White House aides also said that Bush knew nothing about the UAE decision to withdraw until Warner (was Liz drunk?) announced it. Bush's belated threat to veto any amendment to derail the deal didn't scare anybody, least of all Congress, and Warner's success at taking the deal off the table saved Bush the embarrassment of being steamrolled by his own party.

They would have us believe that the deal "just happened." Nobody knew. In addition to Bush taking the Abu Ghraib defense, AP's Ted Bridis writes that "...Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and even Treasury Secretary John Snow, who was plucked from CSX World Terminals for the Treasury job and oversees the government committee that approved the deal, all say they did not know about the purchase until after it was finalized." Bridis adds, "The work was done mostly by assistant secretaries."

So, who's in control here? Disregard what Israel PM Ariel Sharon allegedly told Shimon Peres, his Minister of Foreign Affairs, a month after the 9-11 attack -- "I want to tell you something very clear, don't worry about American pressure on Israel," Sharon said. "We, the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it."

Yeah? Well, I want to tell you Americans don't know Jack about who controls this country. Israel may be our partner in crime; may be sucking us dry; prodding us to fight its battles -- but the United Arab Emirates, "entities" like the Carlyle Group and Halliburton, and the administration globalization gurus are in control and, as Sam Peckinpah so aptly put it -- they're blowin' this town all to hell.

Port watch

The critical news about the UAE is what the media, the Congress, and the administration are NOT telling the people. In addition to its multi-million-dollar order for Boeing jets, and a $6.4 billion deal to buy 80 F-16E/F multi-role fighters which will make Abu Dhabi the leading air power in the Gulf, Dubai firms have several lucrative contracts with the Pentagon, which might explain Rumsfeld's tight-lipped, purple-veined fury after a recent congressional hearing as he stood there beside a dreamily nodding Joe Lieberman (?-CT) and deflected media questions to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, and U.S. Central Commander Gen. John Abizaid.

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The spectacle of this nation's top military brass lobbying Congress to give a foreign government control over a crucial part of our infrastructure, our military operations and security is appalling. Making the rounds of recent Sunday talk shows, Pace said, "Since 9-11, Dubai is as good a partner and friend as we've had." Pace told a Pentagon briefing on Feb. 21 that the Arab Emirates were "very, very solid partners in the alliance."

Abizaid was not nearly so diplomatic. He lashed out at the public and the Congress --"The UAE is absolutely vital to our interests," Abizaid said angrily, and added that the furor over the port control was "nothing but Arab and Muslim bashing that is totally unnecessary." Abizaid should know. He's been bashing, smashing and blowing apart Arabs and Muslims for years...

The tantrum Republicans and Democrats are throwing on center stage is very effective at covering the activity teeming in the shadows. Time Magazine's Daren Fonda writes that another Dubai company shows no signs of backing off its Navy contract in the Middle East. Britain sold Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS) to "a Dubai government investment vehicle for $285 million." According to Fonda, ISS "provides services to clients ranging from cruiseship operators to oil tankers to commercial cargo vessels." ISS operates out of more than a dozen U.S. port cities, the article states, "including Houston, Miami and New Orleans."

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Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a Managing Editor for OpEd News, and a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites.

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