From Rove's January 20 speech:Is it possible or impossible to have a pre-Nine Eleven view of the world? Certainly us as taxpayers aught be very aware that we are sinking closer to a trillion dollars spent on the illegitimate war in Iraq? And, OBL is still alive and kicking. Here, the spin bubbles up in today's press briefing:
ROVE: [S]ome leading Democrats have made wild and reckless and false charges against the president, and some even call for his removal from office. Let me be as clear as I can: President Bush believes if Al Qaeda is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they're calling and why. Some important Democrats clearly disagree.
Q Let me just follow on this point. There's bipartisan consensus that monitoring the ports, the seaports, is very difficult, and it's a vulnerable area of our homeland security strategy. Karl Rove said, memorably, recently, that Democrats have a pre-9/11 view of the world; Republicans and this President have a post-9/11 view of the world. So a lot of people wonder on both sides of the aisle, how is it the President could allow a sale like this to go through with country that has clear ties to terrorism?Everything the W, Rove and Co does is political, no? Wouldn't it have been more right to find a US company to scoop up the port opperations? It could have been a win-win: A) domestic economy boost for an American Company keep the profits at home rather than exporting them to the UAE, and B) increasing, not decreasing the separation between US soil and very real terrorists.
MR. McCLELLAN: The President doesn't view it as a political issue. The President views it as the right principle and the right policy.
I have several more concerns about this whole deal. At what point did the President care about this? Only after it became a political hot potato: So, don't buy it when they say it's not political for them.
Q So he found out through the news coverage, is that what you're saying? How did he find out about it?Port security is perhaps one of the weakest areas in terms of homeland security. You could ship an atomic warhead and detonate it underneath the Golden Gate Bridge if you were crafty enough and got lucky that some one believed your manifest. So, what are the W, Rove and Co doing to boost security in that area?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I think, initially, Steve, when this was becoming more -- it was getting more press coverage, that's how he found out about it.
Q You talked about checking cargo and that they say they'll allow cargo to be checked. There's clearly not the manpower to check cargo. About 5 percent to 7 percent coming in this country are ever checked. So what does the U.S. need for this company to do? Hiring and firing? Do they vet people? Do you know all that?If this UAE company can select their own people, how do we know they won't hire people specifically who were/are part of some sleeper cell - you know, the kinds of people the W, Rove and Co want to wiretap?
MR. McCLELLAN: This is the company that manages the terminals. They'll manage the terminals --
Q So can they hire and fire?
Incidntially, is the President being usurped in matters of national security?
Q Scott, there were some questions raised about information flow to the President during Hurricane -- after Hurricane Katrina and questions about when he learned that the Vice President had shot a man. And now there are questions about when the President learned about this. Is there some sort of systematic issue here where information --Was this a wise decision?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think there's a systematic over-analysis sometimes in this room, and I think that's over-interpreting things and drawing the wrong conclusions, Peter.
Q Will that be --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- false impression on each of those issues. I'll be glad to address each of those issues individually, but I think it's totally wrong to try to draw conclusions and over -- overanalyze this thing in that manner.
Q -- should be looked at in the report coming out tomorrow about information flow to the President during Katrina?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you will have the report tomorrow, and you'll hear the briefing tomorrow from Fran Townsend. You'll have an opportunity to ask her questions about it.
Q Thank you. Scott, my question is, was it really necessary or wise to issue the ports contract to a UAE company? Isn't it risky and taking a chance since many terrorists are believed to be in the UAE?Why not find an American Contractor to handle these contracts?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry. I didn't hear the first part of your question. Isn't it risky for this transaction to go forward, is that what your question is?
Q Yes, is it wise?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, for the reasons that I've stated throughout this very briefing. The President believes it should go forward because all the security issues were looked at...
Q Scott, why was an American company not chosen for this job?This doesn't change the fact that the US Government does not have to support this transaction. Certainly, other bids can be sought for these contracts, but this is an Administration that is very familiar with the "no-bid" situation, isn't it?
MR. McCLELLAN: This was a transaction involving a British company and a company from the UAE. And this company wanted to purchase this British-owned company, or purchase the terminal -- management of the terminals at these sites. And now they made a number of agreements in this process, too, as I pointed out. But you'd have to ask those American companies if they didn't want to purchase it. It doesn't change -- it doesn't change who controls the ports or who's in charge of security. So let's be clear on that.
Let's let Martha finish up for us. Indeed, if the President and the whole of the W, Rove and Co is telling us not to hold the UAE organization to a different standard, this is a legit question:
Q Just to clear up -- back on the ports again -- you said at one point, these additional measures that the company will take, security measures. Are they doing exactly the same thing at the British company did? Are these actually additional measures? Were they looked at in a different way?Oh, and of course, they are going to skirt the answer to this question:
MR. McCLELLAN: I understand in their agreement there were additional security measures that were reached with Dubai.
Q That the British didn't have to. Then why should you hold a company from the Middle East to a different standard?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you're talking about the transaction proceeding forward. The top priority of this administration is the safety and security of the American people, and that was a top priority when it went through this review process. But as we move forward, we look at these issues and look at these transactions, and there was an agreement reached with this company to provide those additional security -- those additional security -- those additional security assurances.
Q That went above and beyond what the British company had to do.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I'll let the Department of Homeland Security or Treasury can probably talk more about specifics. Some of this, as I said, is proprietary information so I don't want to get further into it, but I don't think you can leap to that same conclusion. This transaction is going forward. They went through the process. Part of the process is that if you come to an agreement like this, you can put additional security measures in place.
Q So they were under greater scrutiny than the British company? They were held to a different standard?
MR. McCLELLAN: They were closely scrutinized --
Q They were held to a different standard than the British?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- through this review process. This review process provides for us to be able to reach agreements like this for transactions to move forward.
Q But, Scott, back again on -- so they were held to a different standard? The President is saying we should not hold a company from the Middle East to a different standard -- they, in fact, were?
MR. McCLELLAN: He's talking about the review process. If you go through the review process and all these issues are thoroughly addressed and thoroughly reviewed, and it poses no national security threat, we shouldn't be holding them to a different standard. So I think you're taking it to a different step than what I was suggesting.
Q Wait a minute. She's saying that the President who took the step of buttonholing every Cabinet agency involved in to say, are you sure we're not going to get in trouble -- presumably he did this because there were some questions about --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, no, no, he didn't say, are you sure we're not going to get in trouble. He said, are you comfortable with this transaction.
Q Are you sure that this is safe?
MR. McCLELLAN: Right.
Q Right. What I'm saying is why did he do that if this was a company operating out of --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, to ensure these transactions proceeding forward. There's no national security threat you're concerned about.
Q Does he do that for every transaction?
Q One final point about the ties that Treasury Secretary Snow and your nominee, Mr. Sanborn -- David Sanborn has to this company. Did that in any --
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know what Secretary Snow --
Q Well, CSX, where he was CEO, had port deals with Dubai Ports, as well.
MR. McCLELLAN: After he had left the company, is my understanding.
Q Okay. So in your view, is there any reason to suspect that ties -- administration ties to the company might have put this on a fast track in some fashion?
MR. McCLELLAN: Absolutely not. It went through the normal review process and was carefully checked.