... I'm sorry, but all I can do is LOL

U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay said Wednesday that President Bush is making a big mistake backing a sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates.

The former Republican majority leader said the administration's approval of the deal is "pretty outrageous." DeLay made the remarks during a campaign event with Houston real estate executives.

Separately, U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, said he is concerned about Texas ports where military cargo is handled by London-based Peninsular and Oriental, the company to be purchased by the UAE's Dubai Ports World.

Poe said ports in Beaumont and Corpus Christi move military goods, materials and records of which he would not want UAE employees to have access.

Concerned lawmakers from both parties have noted that some of the Sept. 11 hijackers used the United Arab Emirates as an operational and financial base.

"We would be bringing trouble upon ourselves," Poe said. "I've heard the UAE is our friend on the war on terror, despite the past, but they may not be our friend tomorrow.

"They would have access to every manifest regarding shipping, all cargo going out, what's on it, where it's going and all incoming shipping coming back to the port."

John LaRue, director for the Port of Corpus Christi, said he appreciates Poe's concern, but says ports such as his have experience in working with foreign companies.

"I understand that he wants to review the process that went on. I think most people need that sort of interpretation," he said. "At the same time, ports all over the U.S. are run by companies like Dubai."

Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, said he too is concerned about military shipments handled by a UAE government-owned company.

"I think in the world we are living in today, we need to take all the precautions necessary, and I think there is a lack of oversight," he said.

"So many of us in Congress are disappointed there was insufficient oversight on this."

At the Port of Houston, one of the nation's largest ports, Peninsular and Oriental handle freight and have longshoremen load and unload ships, but there is no military cargo moved, port officials said.

The port's Executive Director Thomas Kornegay said any deal with the UAE company won't change security operations or efficiency.

"They load and unload the ships, but we have the cargo checked by the customs and border protection," Kornegay said.

"And the U.S. Coast Guard does all the terminal security and checking the vessels before the come into the port. That is not going to change."

Still, DeLay said the deal would be overturned by Congress.

"When it's a matter of national security, the president will be overturned," DeLay said in an account that appeared on the Web site of the Austin American-Statesman. "We will overturn it within the next few weeks."

The White House said Wednesday that President Bush was unaware of the pending sale until it already had been approved by his administration.

The administration also said that it should have briefed Congress sooner about the transaction, which has triggered a major political backlash among Republicans and Democrats.