Marine Log

February 21, 2006

Bush threatens veto in port security row

President George W. Bush is threatening to veto any legislation that would block the take over of operations at six U.S. ports by DP World.

The President was in the Midwest promoting his advanced energy initiative, but found that topic being pushed out of the headlines by growing concern about the ports deal. With prominent Republicans joining the doubters, Bush went into damage control mode.

Back aboard Air Force One, he took the unusual step of summoning reporters to the plane's conference room.

"After careful review by our government, I believe the transaction ought to go forward," he told them. "We believe this is a legitimate deal that will not jeopardize the security of the country and at the same time send out a signal that we're willing to treat people fairly.''

In response to a question, he told reporters he would veto any bill to hold up the agreement.

You can read the transcript of the press conference here.

Were Bush to exercise a veto, it would be the first of his administration.

Back at the White House, Bush talked to reporters on the White House South Lawn--and again it was port security rather than the energy initiative that dominated his remarks.

Describing DP World as "a company that has played by the rules [and] that has been cooperative with the United States," he said "it would send a terrible signal to friends and allies not to let this transaction go through."

You can read the transcript of the President's remarks on the South Lawn here.