"That needs to change" was Oprah Winfrey's reply to Nan Talese of Doubleday, publisher of "A Million Little Pieces," after James Frey's "memoir" was exposed as a tissue of lies. Doubleday had tried to escape responsibility by saying that publishers don't fact-check nonfiction books.
To President George W. Bush's approval of the $6.5 billion sale of terminals at six of our most important ports to the United Arab Emirates, Americans are shouting, "That needs to change." We are fed up with the post-Sept. 11 failure (i.e., the refusal) of the Bush administration to secure our borders and ports.
Bush's defense is, "Trust me." Sorry about that. Bush's constituency prefers the Reagan maxim, "Trust but verify."
Ports pose a vital security concern because fewer than 5 percent of the more than 14 million containers that go through U.S. ports every year are inspected. We hope the other 95 percent of containers don't contain bombs or contraband.
The fact that the UAE has been helpful in some respects since Sept. 11 does not trump the facts that two of the Sept. 11 hijackers came from the UAE and some money to finance the terrorists attacks was laundered through that country's banking system. Dubai was the main transshipment point for the Pakistani nuclear engineer who ran the world's largest nuclear proliferation ring and shipped equipment to enrich uranium from there to Libya, Iran and North Korea.
In defending the sale and pledging to veto any bill Congress might pass to cancel the deal, Bush said, "I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company." That's easy to explain.
In the first place, Dubai Ports isn't just a Middle Eastern company; it's wholly owned by a Middle East government. We oppose this deal for the same reason that we successfully blocked Cosco, a company owned by the Communist Chinese government, from taking over the port of Long Beach, Calif.
To those who are looking for a standard for U.S. decision-making, here it is: the ports are U.S. property and we're fully entitled to make any decision we believe is in the best interest of the United States of America. No law requires us to treat all countries the same.
We've been friends with England since 1814, connected by history, common law, language and wartime alliances. There is no reason why we can't prefer England over a country that votes against us in the United Nations 70 percent of the time, and whose total existence depends on selling us oil at exorbitant prices.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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