CNN Lou Dobbs Tonight - Transcript

By:  Pete King
Date: Feb. 21, 2006
Location: Unknown

CNN Lou Dobbs Tonight - Transcript


DOBBS: Congressman Pete King is the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. He's introducing legislation to block the Emirates port deal. President Bush today threatened to veto King's legislation or any legislation if it reaches his desk.

Congressman Pete King is one of the first members of Congress to come out against this deal. He joins us tonight.

Congressman, I'd like to read to you what the president said. "I believe the deal should go forward. They ought to listen to what I have to say to this. I'll deal with it with a veto."

Congressman, I have to say, I thought that you were generous in suggesting some political cover for the president on this. How does it feel to have the president of the United States tell you to go to hell?

KING: Well, I'm a little disappointed. I've supported this president through the war in Iraq, through the Patriot Act, through the NSA surveillance. And I consider him a friend. And I think he's done a really outstanding job of leadership, especially coming from New York.

But I'm absolutely mystified by this. I can't understand it. I'm very disappointed. I will continue to fight as hard as I can.

I did say yesterday that I was ascribing this decision to midlevel bureaucrats. I was giving the president room to overrule them, to at least put the decision aside so it can be looked at. And, you know, two things the president said today really just makes me more concerned.

One, he was talking about the investigative process. I can tell you there was no investigation at all.

All they did was see whether there was anything open in the file about this company. Nobody did any gumshoe work. Nobody went around tracking them down, looking in to other ports they've operated, including the one in Dubai itself, where A.Q. Khan's nuclear parts went through.

And also, when the president said, "Why can one country do it and not another?" I mean, how can we compare a British company to a company coming out of the United Arab Emirates? You know, Tony Blair didn't recognize the Taliban before September 11. There were no...

DOBBS: The United Kingdom does recognize the state of Israel.

KING: Absolutely. And, I mean, to me, Tony Blair and the British are our closest allies. To compare them with the United Arab Emirates, which is a -- just a breeding ground for terrorists, is absolutely just wrong.

DOBBS: If I may, Mr. Chairman, two comments. One is, this is a United Arab Emirates government-owned company.

KING: Right.

DOBBS: It is not simply as the British company P&O is, a British company. It's not a government company. So that distinction is one that the president failed to uphold today in his comments.

The second is, why in the world should the United States of America -- and this administration likes to make great point of the fact that we're the world's only super power -- why should this nation have to turn anywhere to a foreign company or a foreign company or a foreign government to operate its seaports?

KING: Well, that is certainly something, Lou. (INAUDIBLE) Israel a real wakeup call for us on that.

You know, back in 2000, when this contract first went out for bid, no American company even bid on it. We have to find a way to give financial incentives, to make financial inducements, whether it's through taxes or whatever, to get American companies back into this. Not just in ports, but at airports, bridges, and tunnels and infrastructure.

We can't afford to have -- again, I'm not opposed to foreign companies per se. Believe me, we need foreign trade. We need foreign investment. When it comes to protecting our infrastructure and protecting our society, we have to have Americans on it.

Also, Lou, I see a real problem for the president on this one. Just before I came here tonight I got a call from Congressman Mike McCall of Texas telling me every member of Congress he's spoken to is opposed to this deal.

I don't see support for it anywhere. And these are from people who are the president's most loyal supporters.

For him to threaten the first veto of five years in office over this, to me, again, why can't we put it aside and investigate it? Why the rush to judgment on this?

DOBBS: Well, Mr. Chairman, I'm going to have to ask you for the answer for that question, because I can't, for the life of me, understand why there was a rush to judgment and how even in a rush, a president who is concerned about this country's national security in a war on terror -- we heard today Alberto Gonzales, the U.S. attorney general, talk about we're going to be vigilant in the war on terror, but we're just not going to worry about the fact our borders are not secure.

We're just not going to worry about the fact we're not inspecting 96 percent of the cargo that comes into our nation's ports, and we've not going to worry about the fact that a foreign government is operating six of our most important seaports.

Is there any way in the world to rationalize to what seems from everyone that I have heard from an absolutely irrational decision?

KING: I cannot explain it at all. I think you're going to see a very good discussion on that on the House and Senate floor next week.

I spoke to the speaker of the House today. He was as emphatic certainly as I have been, if not more so about how this deal has to be stopped. We heard what Bill Frist said.

So this isn't just people from the Northeast, like myself and Senator Schumer. You know, you say, a Republican from New York, a Democrat from New York. We're talking about Bill Frist and Denny Hastert, who represent the heart and soul of the Republican Party, our leadership in the House of Representatives, John Boehner.

These are the people who we elected. These are Republicans, conservative Republicans who are opposed to this deal.

So this has to go down. It has to be stooped.

DOBBS: Well, Congressman, remember, all of us up here in the Northeast, we still count, too. Keep reminding those folks down there, will you?

Congressman Pete King, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.

KING: Lou, thank you very much. I appreciate it. Thank you for your help.

DOBBS: Coming up next, we'll have much more on the president's collision course with the Republican leadership of Congress on this port deal. Two of our nation's leading national security analysts are my guests.

And why the Bush administration is fighting to silence some of its leading scientific experts. We'll be joined by NASA's Dr. James Hansen, leading climatologist who dared to speak out on what he sees as the imminent dangers of global warming. He'll be here next.

Stay with us.


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