Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Friday, March 10, 2006
The next shoes to drop?
Here comes Jack Abramoff...
The Pimping of the Presidency
Jack Abramoff and Grover Norquist Billing Clients for Face Time with G.W. Bush
BY LOU DUBOSE, The Texas Observer

Four months after he took the oath of office in 2001, President George W. Bush was the attraction, and the White House the venue, for a fundraiser organized by the alleged perpetrator of the largest billing fraud in the history of corporate lobbying. In May 2001, Jack Abramoff’s lobbying client book was worth $4.1 million in annual billing for the Greenberg Traurig law firm. He was a friend of Bush advisor Karl Rove. He was a Bush “Pioneer,” delivering at least $100,000 in bundled contributions to the 2000 campaign. He had just concluded his work on the Bush Transition Team as an advisor to the Department of the Interior. He had sent his personal assistant Susan Ralston to the White House to work as Rove’s personal assistant. He was a close friend, advisor, and high-dollar fundraiser for the most powerful man in Congress, Tom DeLay. Abramoff was so closely tied to the Bush Administration that he could, and did, charge two of his clients $25,000 for a White House lunch date and a meeting with the President. From the same two clients he took to the White House in May 2001, Abramoff also obtained $2.5 million in contributions for a non-profit foundation he and his wife operated. ...
... and here comes the other Dubai deal...
With midterm elections approaching, no politician wanted to go home and explain to voters why a company controlled by the government of Dubai was taking over operations at six U.S. ports—without so much as a meow of protest from Congress. As it turns out, that won't be necessary. Dubai Ports World, the firm at the center of the controversy, announced today that it would give up its bid to manage U.S. ports, agreeing to transfer the contracts to a “U.S. entity."

Yet while one Dubai company may be giving up on U.S. ports, another one shows no signs of quitting the U.S.—or of giving up a contract with the Navy to provide shore services for vessels in the Middle East. The firm, Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS), is an old British company that last January was sold to a Dubai government investment vehicle for $285 million. ISS has more than 200 offices around the world and provides services to clients ranging from cruise ship operators to oil tankers to commercial cargo vessels. In the U.S., the company operates out of more than a dozen port cities, including Houston, Miami and New Orleans, arranging pilots, tugs, linesmen and stevedores, among other things. The firm is also a defense contractor which has long worked for Britain’s Royal Navy. And last June, the U.S. Navy signed on too, awarding ISS a $50 million contract to be the “Husbanding Agent” for vessels in most Southwest Asia ports, including those in the Middle East, according to an unclassified Navy logistics manual, for the Fifth Fleet, and a press release from ISS.
So will this deal be derailed? Unlikely:
Dubai companies aren't just buying overseas assets like hotels in New York and wax museums in London; they're providing jobs and business for U.S. companies. Boeing, for one, can only hope it doesn't receive a frosty reception the next time it wants to sell airplanes to Dubai's booming airline, Emirates. Rival Airbus would be more than happy to take advantage of Washington's creeping protectionism.

The Navy, for one, has long understood that it would be virtually impossible to rely solely on Western-owned companies for critical services. It simply couldn’t operate without local firms providing logistics support at the 200 ports its ships visit around the world. ...
Welcome to the new world order...

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posted by JReid @ 2:34 AM  
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