The Forces Against Tanker Win Gather

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I got an email from a congressional source in Rep. Norm Dicks' (D-Wash.) office over the weekend that foreshadows the upcoming fight on the Hill over giving those rotten Frenchies and their Euro pals billions of U.S. tax dollars for something red-blooded Americans can build better themselves (or that's what the anti-NorGrum/EADS forces are probably thinking deep down).

Attached is the letter that Sen. McCain sent to Robert Gates as he was being confirmed ... saying that the competition should not include a consideration of the WTO dispute. The result was that the Air Force a month later dropped the provision in the draft RFP that would have attempted to account for the subsidy that the USTR is alleging has gone into the A330 program. That was one of the key changes that ultimately cleared the way for the EADS-Northrop win.

Protectionism cloaked in legalistic trade jargon seems to be the first salvo fired by Boeing backers so far -- unless you count former presidential hopeful Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) who threw in a little Cold War redbaiting by basically describing EADS/Airbus as a "socialist" government-supported monopoly.

Reuters pulled the issue together well over the weekend, and I'll bet you a million bucks whoever is facing McCain in the general election will blame him for losing American jobs by scuttling the Boeing lease deal and hinting in a letter to Sec. Gates that the Air Force might be attempting to negate the A330's edge on cargo capacity (the letter was supplied by the Dicks source).

Stay tuned folks. You think the CSAR-X deal/protest was a hot one? This KC-X debate is going to get worse before it gets any better.

-- Christian

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