For the past several years, I've been condemned as an "extremist" for advocating nationality profiling -- unapologetically applying stricter scrutiny to terror-sponsoring and terror-sympathizing countries in our entrance, immigration and security policies.
Now, mirabile dictu, some of the same Democrats who have routinely lambasted such profiling are rushing to the floors of Congress and in front of TV cameras espousing these very same policies. The impetus: the White House's boneheaded insistence on ramming through a $7 billion deal giving United Arab Emirates-owned Dubai Ports World control over significant operations at six major American ports in New York, New Jersey, New Orleans, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Miami.
Make no mistake. I stand with critics on both sides of the aisle who want to stop the secretive deal transferring operations of our ports to the UAE -- a Middle Eastern government with a spotty record of fighting terrorist plots and terrorist financing. The issue is not whether day-to-day, on-the-ground conditions at the ports would change. The issues are whether we should grant the demonstrably unreliable UAE access to sensitive information and management plans about our key U.S. ports, which are plenty insecure enough without adding new risks, and whether the decision process was thorough and free from conflicts of interest.
From every angle -- political, safety and sovereignty-wise -- Dubai Ports World's business transaction (made possible by an unprecedented $3.5 billion Islamic financing instrument called a "sukuk" that upholds sharia law) looks bad and smells worse.
But there is a teachable moment here that shouldn't be missed. The tone-deafness of the White House is bad. The craven political opportunism of the Democrats is worse.
Listen to Sen. Evan Bayh, Indiana Democrat: "I think we've got to look into this company. I think we've got to ensure ourselves that the American people's national-security interests are going to be protected. And frankly, I think the threshold ought to be a little higher for a foreign firm."
And Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat: "It is ridiculous to say you're taking secret steps to make sure that it's OK for a nation that had ties to 9/11, (to) take over part of our port operations in many of our largest ports. This has to stop."
And Sen. Hillary Clinton, New York Democrat: "Our port security is too important to place in the hands of foreign governments. I will be working with [New Jersey] Senator [Robert] Menendez to introduce legislation that will prohibit the sale of ports to foreign governments."
And Sen. Charles Schumer, New York Democrat, who said the Dubai company's involvement "is enough to raise a flag -- at least to do a thorough review, at minimum."
I wish these politicians luck in their quest to block the UAE transfer, shed light on the process led by the shadowy Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, and join with congressional Republicans to put American security interests first. But as they attempt to do their best Pat Buchanan impressions, let's not forget:
It was Democrats who tried to block Bush administration efforts to impose common-sense citizenship requirements on airport security workers in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
It was Democrats who attacked the Bush Justice Department after the September 11 attacks for fingerprinting young male temporary visa holders traveling from terror-sponsoring and terror-friendly nations; temporarily detaining asylum seekers from high-risk countries for background screening; and sending undercover agents to investigate mosques suspected of supporting terrorism.
It was Democrats who secretly attempted to remove funding for the National Security Exit-Entry Registration System -- the Justice Department program that helped nab at least 330 known foreign criminals, 15 illegal-alien felons and three known terrorists who attempted to enter the country.
And just one week ago, it was failed Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore who was in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, attacking the Bush administration's profiling and immigration enforcement against illegal aliens from terror-friendly countries as "terrible abuses."
Perhaps the UAE will be hiring Gore to condemn the "abusive" practices now being championed by his fire-breathing extremist Democrat colleagues?
After all, they are all red flag-raising, threshold-hiking, thorough review-espousing, foreign ownership-banning profilers now.