Bush Defends Sale of Ports

Here is what President Bush had to say in defense of his decision to go through with the sale of six U.S. ports to the United Arab Emirates in a press conference yesterday:

"And I also want to address another issue I just talked to the press about on Air Force One, and that is this issue of a company out of the UAE purchasing the right to manage some ports in the United States from a British company. First of all, this is a private transaction. But it — according to law, the government is required to make sure this transaction does not, in any way, jeopardize the security of the country. And so people responsible in our government have reviewed this transaction.

"The transaction should go forward, in my judgment. If there was any chance that this transaction would jeopardize the security of the United States, it would not go forward. The company has been cooperative with the United States government. The company will not manage port security. The security of our ports will be — continue to be managed by the Coast Guard and Customs. The company is from a country that has been cooperative in the war on terror, been an ally in the war on terror. The company operates ports in different countries around the world, ports from which cargo has been sent to the United States on a regular basis.

"I think it sends a terrible signal to friends around the world that it’s okay for a company from one country to manage the port, but not a country that plays by the rules and has got a good track record from another part of the world can’t manage the port.

"And so, look, I can understand why some in Congress have raised questions about whether or not our country will be less secure as a result of this transaction. But they need to know that our government has looked at this issue and looked at it carefully.

Again, I repeat, if there was any question as to whether or not this country would be less safe as a result of the transaction, it wouldn’t go forward. But I also want to repeat something again, and that is, this is a company that has played by the rules, that has been cooperative with the United States, a country that’s an ally in the war on terror, and it would send a terrible signal to friends and allies not to let this transaction go through.