Presidential press secretary Scott McClellan stressed today that several national security agencies approved a deal that will turn six major U.S. ports over to a firm run by the government of the United Arab Emirates – an agreement that’s been roundly criticized by federal lawmakers.

As WorldNetDaily reported, a merger deal approved by the government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has the company currently running the ports, London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, getting acquired by the Emirati firm, Dubai Ports World. UAE has known ties to terrorists and 9-11 hijackers, raising concerns about security issues at the ports involved: New York, Baltimore, New Jersey, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.

WND asked McClellan at today’s press briefing: “Knowing, as we do, that the Arab Emirate was tied in many ways to the 9-11 hijackers and their deeds, and knowing the critical nature of port security and protecting the nation, will the president step in and stop this deal from going into effect March 2nd?”

Responded the spokesman: “Well, my understanding, Les, is that this went through the national security review process under [the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States], at the Department of Treasury. That is the agency that is responsible for overseeing such matters. And this includes a number of national security agencies – the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the Justice, among others, and there is a rigorous review that goes on for proposed foreign investments for national security concerns.”

McClellan then referred the matter to the Treasury Deparment, saying, “In terms of specifics relating to this, Treasury is the chair of this and you should direct those questions to Treasury.”

WND also asked McClellan about a column by Michelle Malkin in which she described White House reporters’ criticism of the spokesman’s handling of the shooting incident involving Vice President Cheney as “‘circus antics of clown journalism 101’ [with] one print reporter is going on television wearing an orange hat and vest, and a TV reporter yelling at you (McClellan) that you’re a jerk.

“And my question: Do you honestly believe Michelle is wrong, or will you evade?”

The spokesman responded:

“Let me point out a couple things. One, we talked about this earlier in the week – there have been some legitimate questions and legitimate issues that have been raised. At the same time, I think that those questions and those issues have been addressed. They’ve been addressed in a very thorough way. I went out of my way to be as responsive as I could be earlier in this week. The vice president thoroughly addressed all the questions that came up yesterday in his nearly 30-minute interview with Brit Hume. Brit Hume is a very respected journalist, and I think that I’ll leave it to others to make judgments, or get into that kind of analysis. I’ll leave that to others.”

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