WASHINGTON (Associated Mess)-- Speaking from New Delhi, where he is in high level talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to sell an American-made missile defense system to India, President Bush defended a deal that would see a Saudi Arabian firm take control of New York City.
Threatening to veto any legislation Congress attempts to use to block Bin Ladin Company Ltd. - a billion-dollar conglomerate, partly owned by Haliburton Company and run by a second cousin of Osama Bin Laden - from a hostile takeover of New York City, the president said that he is satisfied that the firm will take the proper safeguards to protect New Yorkers.
"The Saudis have always been one of America's strongest and best friends in the war against terrorism in the Middle East," said Bush after a visit to a Nike factory near Calcutta. "And I am certain that Bin Laden Company will do the utmost to safeguard New York against the enemy."
Lawmakers from both parties, however, are not convinced that the deal, brokered by a classified commission run by Vice President Dick Cheney, was thoroughly looked into by either the White House or Homeland Security.
Labelling the sale "incomprehensible and incompetent", Senator Hillary Clinton, D-NY, one of the strongest opponents to the deal in a Senate debate early Tuesday morning, said that such a deal would put not only New Yorkers, but all Americans, at risk for another terrorist attack.
"I honestly cannot understand how Homeland Security could find no fault with selling New York City to a company run by a cousin of the mastermind of 9-11. It simply amazes me that every time the White House reaches a whole new level of irresponsibility, suddenly something even more ludicrous comes along to endanger American lives," said Clinton.
With the majority of the Senate threatening to block the sale, one lone senator has been vocally critical of what he termed "those anti-American, sissy, liberals" in a press conference held yesterday near the Capital Building's lone remaining soda fountain.
Ninety-nine year old Senator Vance W.R. Dubois, R-Mis, charged Democrats with politicising the deal for partisan gain and undermining the troops in Iraq, while chastising dissenting Republicans for siding with the "Lesbians, homosexuals, communists and draft dodgers who oppose good, old-fashioned Christians like the Saudis."
"Why are we so worried about another big explosion in New York if America's good friends, the Saudis, take over? Because as everyone knows, the real mastermind behind 9-11 was Saddam, and we have that Iraqi bastard in custody. I can assure you people that it will still be business as usual after this deal goes through," Dubois said.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan also defended the sale, noting that both Homeland Security and the New York Police Department had been heavily consulted and found nothing to raise concern that the takeover by Bin Ladin Company Ltd. would be a security threat to New Yorkers.
He added that Bush had not been aware of the situation until news of the deal hit the media because the agreement was considered a low-risk sale that was not important enough to require presidential authorization.
"In an election year, there is no level that certain Democrats won't stoop to for political gain," said McClellan. "There is no difference between Bin Ladin Enterprises taking over the day to day operations of America's largest city and the New York City mayor's office running things. The president is confident that this deal with do nothing expect benefit all parties involved."
McClellan explained that Bush was hopeful Congress and the American people would eventually come around to the deal and was not worried about potential repercussions for the president or the country. However, he was at a loss to explain the exact details of the sale, which remain classified by authority of executive order, until the deal is finalized.
Homeland security experts have been highly critical of the multi-billion dollar agreement, which will see every aspect of New York City's daily operations turned over to Bin Laden Company, including the city's water supply, subway system and the Statue of Liberty.
"I was just aghast when I first heard about the deal. It practically invites another terrorist attack on American soil," said a source who was a top level Homeland Security official until recently.
However, Mitchell Hendricks, of the Libertarian Enterprise Group, a Washington-based conservative think tank who helped create the initial blueprint for the deal, thinks the controversy surrounding the sale is simply election year posturing.
The sale will eventually go through without any noticeable difference in the lives of New Yorkers, said Hendricks on the phone from India where he is touring the country with the president. "I can't see why anyone would object to having the Bin Laden Company run New York City. This is no different than during the '40s when Hawaii was leased to a Japan-based consortium. Some people objected back then, but history proved them wrong. This is just another case where all the liberal purveyors of junk politics can't stand the fact that that, once again, the president is right on this one."
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office could not be reached for comment.