Initially, I was quite puzzled by this report about the deportation of Palestinian democracy activist Issam Abu Issa. I like to think that our government would support freedom-loving Arabs, especially those in dialogue with such figures as Natan Sharansky. A few choice excerpts:

Mr. Abu Issa?s experience is par for the course when it comes to the way America treats profreedom, Western-oriented Arabs.
Whenever these rare leaders happen upon the scene America bends over backward to throw sticks in their wheels. And with Mr. Abu Issa, America has again turned its back on a friend and inexplicably refused to support a courageous supporter of liberty.
….What does a banking dispute between Messrs. Arafat and Abu Issa have to do with his admissibility to America? And why would America want to side with Mr. Arafat anyway?
I first met Mr. Abu Issa at this time last year, when he came to Washington, D.C., to address the Hudson Institute on democratizing the Palestinian Authority.
I interviewed him beforehand for a profile in this newspaper, and came away quite impressed with his intelligence and political acumen.
At the Hudson Institute, Mr. Abu Issa gave a passionate speech to a roomful of curious onlookers on the need for a Palestinian state based on democracy, freedom, and human rights. Many jaws dropped when he began quoting verbatim from Natan Sharansky.
What other Palestinian leader would mention Mr. Sharansky?s name in a public address, let alone quote him?
…..Iran?s mullahs and assorted defenders of the old Arab order are funneling resources to bolster their preferred dogs in the fight ? and rest assured, they are not secular democrats, nor are they friends of America.
Two conclusions can be drawn from these cases.
First, if you?re an Arab who believes in democracy, you had better think twice about a career in banking.
Second, and certainly more sadly, America won?t be there standing by your side in times of need.
(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

Why would American authorities behave in such a manner and side with a murderous tyrant like Arafat?
Because Arafat is seen as “our guy,” that’s why.

Just as the CIA failed to forestall fatal terrorist attacks on US embassies in Nairobi and Daar es Salaam in 1998, it failed again to prevent the bombing of American guided missile destroyer USS Cole in Aden harbor last month.
In the two intervening years between those two strikes, the mechanism Tenet fashioned to coordinate Israeli-Palestinian security efforts to prevent terror outbreaks, missed more often than it hit the mark
A key to its success was the US spymaster?s bond of trust with Yasser Arafat. Tenet often spoke highly to officials in Washington about his warm relations with Palestinian leader, saying in effect: Just leave him to me, if you have any problems. Not only Clinton, but Netanyahu and Barak did exactly that, gambling their own policies on this friendship.
In actual fact, the Palestinian leader double-crossed his American friend, using that trust and the sham operation of Tenet?s anti-terrorist mechanism to conceal his preparations for the ?Al Aksa Intifada?, a violent firestorm that finally burnt that mechanism to a cinder.
Arafat not only duped George Tenet, the man, but also his proud organization, the CIA, inflicting untold damage to America?s standing in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.

Hey, that was written before Bush was president. Read the whole thing, as they say. And if you’re not ready to weep, because the DEBKA story is too old, or if you think DEBKA is unreliable, consider the remarkable continuity in United States policy:

Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erakat welcomed Cheney’s remarks and said he hoped a deal could be struck soon to implement the Tenet plan.
“We don’t have to reinvent anything. Tenet is Tenet. It’s very well specified. What’s needed now is the timeline and the mechanisms to implement and the periods,” said Erakat. “And I hope that we can conclude this as soon as possible.”
The Tenet plan, proposed last year, calls for negotiating a cease-fire and urges Israeli and Palestinian security organizations to reaffirm commitments to agreements contained in the Mitchell report.

Blah blah blah.
That was in 2002 (after September 11), when CNN characterized the Arafat-Tenet alliance as “encouraging.”
Hey, there’s also the Saudi plan!
“We” need “stability.” “We” need to back our “allies.”
Even when they’re undermining Iraq?
We (meaning Tenet) even appear to be giving Arafat regular intelligence briefings.
So he can help “fight terrorism.”
Jim Hoagland offers a similar insight:

The Bush administration now faces an acute dilemma in unraveling the confusion and complexities created by U.S. intelligence taking on responsibilities that are deeply operational and political. Operating under an intelligence “finding” signed by President Clinton, the CIA has helped train and equip Yasser Arafat’s security forces.

HipperCritical links to a tantalizing article in The New Republic which may shed light — although I’m too cheap to pay for it. Plus, I suspect it would only confirm what none of us want to know about. But here’s a sneaky excerpt, quoted by the very leftie Nation:

“the Agency’s reluctance to confront Saddam dates back to the aftermath of the Gulf war, when the CIA grew opposed to assisting the Kurdish and Shia rebellions against the dictator.”

I can’t say the CIA is entirely Bush’s fault, because I don’t think he has the power to do anything about it. (Perhaps nobody does.)
Besides, presidents who dare to cross the CIA tend historically to have a bad time of things.
So, while I agree with Glenn Reynolds that pro-democracy Arabs deserve better treatment by the U.S., it doesn’t appear likely that they’re going to get it.
And it doesn’t matter who is elected in the Fall. Tenet isn’t going anywhere.