No More "Trust Me"
There comes a time when trust gives way to verification. It was Ronald Reagan's false expression of confidence in the Soviets. Because "trust but verify" means "verify". And now again we are dealing with another Bush Administration "trust me", this time on port security.
As I opined here, this lapse is fairly consistent with the Administration's eyes wide open policy on border insecurity. And while our airliners are very secure--nobody is going to sneak a nuclear device into the country on one--cargo containers entering through our ports are nearly a sure thing for terrorist importation of munitions and improvised nuclear devices. Very easy to package it, very easy to slip it past security, as we cannot pick through each container entering the ports.
And if anyone believes that Dubai Ports World (DPW), the United Arab Emirates company charged with doing the job of operating and securing our ports isn't susceptible to compromise, they are being naive. The UAE is a haven for terrorist money laundering. A number of the 9/11 hijackers used it as their transfer point into the U.S. It was one of the three nations which recognized the Taliban government of Afghanistan, and it is even today trying to cozy up to Iran. This is not a friendly nation, despite the fact that they are not actually engaging us in battle or a diplomatic dispute. And we want them to guard our soft underbelly. Now, this doesn't mean that the company cannot do that effectively and competently, but we'd like to know why this company gets the nod.
And now, two staunch Bush allies, Gov. Bob Ehrlich of my state of Maryland and Gov. George Pataki of New York are taking steps to prevent DPW from operating their state's ports. The Administration continues to assure us that they have every confidence that DPW is a fine organization, up to the job of operating and securing our ports. But we have no basis upon which to evaluate that belief, as the Administration has once again reverted back to "trust us".
And I admit that in this space I stood up for the Administration on the Harriet Miers nomination when Bush told conservatives that they had nothing to worry about and simply to trust them. I indeed did trust this Administration. But I cannot do so any longer when it comes to our border security.
I have much respect for this President on many issues, but I cannot comprehend why the notion of sealing off our border with Mexico except for limited and approved entry points is somehow anathema to them. I cannot understand why that welcome mat for criminals and drug terrorists remains out and dusted off. I cannot understand why they have permitted certain towns on the Texas border to become lawless enclaves where drug money controls the local governments. Mexico is becoming the newest enemy in the war on terror, and Vincente Fox, once thought to be an ally of the United States has become an encourager of illegal border crossings, unwilling to police his own people or behave in a peaceful fashion to his most important neighbor. And I cannot understand why this Administration puts the security of that border and the people on this side of it, second to a facade of good relations with a foreign government that deserves nothing of the sort and for the purpose of garnering a greater share of the Hispanic vote for Republicans. And likewise, I cannot understand why port security is something that we can trust to a nation with a relatively poor track record on terror.
So if there is a reason to trust the Administration's decision on this matter, it would be helpful if they shared it with us. Because they seem to be asleep on the border security issue. And "trust me" isn't going to fly anymore. It's time to trust--but verify--the Bush Administration's decisions on border security.