Monday, February 27, 2006

Reasonable MSM: Back to Sensation and Spin

I'm getting sore sitting on the fence regarding the Port issue. On the one hand, I'm pleased that the Administration agreed to a 45 day review of this deal that current law demands. I'm also more persuaded by those more well-informed than myself that DPW and Dubai in general do not represent security risks for the US. On the other hand, why was this deal rushed through in the first place? Exactly what processes does DPW and the Dubai government have in place to prevent infiltration by Al Qaeda, other islamofascist franchises or sympathizers? How will Dubai, a dictatorship, address the discontent that many of it's citizens feel?

In the face of such questions, I would like to depend on MSM to provide me with as much information, and as little hype, as possible. Unfortunately, such an ethical position evidently does not move product or serve as a large enough brickbat against that real enemy of the US: President George W. Bush.

My Way News, carrying this AP story, demonstrates.

Take a look at this opening:
Citing broad gaps in U.S. intelligence, the Coast Guard raised concerns weeks ago that it could not determine whether a United Arab Emirates-based company seeking a stake in some U.S. port operations might support terrorist operations.

The disclosure came during a hearing Monday on Dubai-owned DP World's plans to assume significant operations at six leading U.S. ports. It also clouded whether the Bush administration's agreement to conduct an unusual investigation into the pending takeover's security risks would allay lawmakers' concerns.

The administration said the Coast Guard's concerns were raised during its review of the deal, which it approved Jan. 17, and that all those questions were resolved. London-based Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. now handles the port operations.

"There are many intelligence gaps, concerning the potential for DPW or P&O assets to support terrorist operations, that precludes an overall threat assessment" of the potential merger, an unclassified Coast Guard intelligence assessment said.

"The breadth of the intelligence gaps also infer potential unknown threats against a large number of potential vulnerabilities," said the half-page assessment. Officials said it was an unclassified excerpt from a larger document.
Pretty damning stuff. The first four paragraphs practically scream "Nixonian cover-up!" It's a variation on the "his friends, the Saudis" criticism some levelled at the President before. Yeah, they finally got him!

Until, gentle reader, you read the very next paragraph:
In a statement, the Coast Guard said the concerns reflected in the excerpt ultimately were addressed and that other U.S. intelligence agencies answered the questions raised.
Well! That was a quick scandal! And there's more:
The Coast Guard indicated to The Associated Press that it did not have serious reservations about the ports deal on Feb. 10, when the news organization first inquired about potential security concerns.
As Administration officials said:
Stewart Baker, an assistant secretary for the Homeland Security Department, told lawmakers that the excerpt was from an internal Coast Guard document that he did not see. However, Baker said the Coast Guard had indicated to the inter-agency panel that reviews such transactions that the security concerns it had ultimately had been resolved.

"It communicated to us that it had no further concerns about the transaction," Baker said.
The Coast Guard had security questions regarding the deal. The agency raised them. The Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States answered them to the Coast Guard brass' satisfaction. They have no objection by the time the deal goes public.

So where's the story?

In fact, whose posturing continues to move it forward.

Well, there's Senator Susan Collins (R-ME):
Sen. Susan Collins, chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, released the excerpt at a briefing Monday. The Bush administration agreed Sunday to DP World's request for a 45-day investigation of the potential security risks related to the deal.
"This report suggests there were significant and troubling intelligence gaps," said Collins, R-Maine. "That language is very troubling to me."
Yeah, I'm sure you are, Senator. After all, you had such a Reasonable response to Mr. Baker's point:
"I think it's a little unfair to judge this report by one paragraph that happens not to be classified," Baker said. "This paragraph is not really representative of the entire report."

"I think the paragraph speaks for itself," Collins responded before adjourning the public hearing for a closed session to explore the issue further.
So, what's her play! Why, it's simple: she wants to maintain her "independence." What better opportunity could there be than to throw the gauntlet down on the President and get to his right on national security?

After all, it's working for Senator Charles Schumer. At least, he thinks it is. Why else would he continue the shell game being played here?
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said the Coast Guard assessment reinforces the need for a thorough review of security issues. "If this isn't a smoking gun, it shows that there may be one undetected" by the interagency panel that did the initial review, Schumer said.
Politicos will make whatever hay they can to push their agenda. If they spent as much time representing their voters' interests in the context of seeking the nation's common good, we'd all be much better off. But I digress. If politicos are going to pander, why must MSM become their constant enabler and cheerleader? The port issue is far too important to clutter up with the usual semantics. In choosing economic expediency and political satisfaction over the people's right to know, the MSM continues to undermine its own legitimacy. I'd laugh, but our society needs a free and responsible media in order for us to remain free and responsible citizens. If the "fourth estate" continues to muddle and propagandize for the Reasonable elites that hurl our society toward a cliff, we won't continue to be free or responsible.