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White House Faces Mounting Political Backlash Over UAE Port Deal

The White House says President Bush did not know about a company owned by the United Arab Emirates taking over operations at six major U.S. ports until the deal was completed.

The Bush administration's approval of the ports deal has sparked a storm of criticism by political leaders of both parties over security concerns. At least two of the hijackers involved in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were from the UAE.

Congressional Republicans have urged the administration to delay the sale or face possible legislation designed to block it.

On Tuesday, Mr. Bush strongly defended the deal, threatening to veto any legislation holding it up.

Wednesday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan again defended the deal, saying it had been carefully scrutinized by U.S. intelligence agencies.

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Virginia Republican John Warner, says officials from the Bush administration will brief members Wednesday about Dubai Ports World's takeover of a British firm, Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, that had run commercial operations at the ports.

Democratic Senator John Kerry Wednesday called on Treasury Secretary John Snow to release all information relating to contacts between administration officials and Dubai Ports World.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.