It's not a good idea to go up against the powers that be with an idea that calls into question generally accepted wisdom. Galileo contradicted the Roman Catholic Church when he said the Earth revolved around the sun. He was put in jail, and it took a few hundred years for the church to exonerate him and admit he was correct.
Hopefully, a fate similar to Galileo's will not befall Cynthia McKinney.
McKinney is the representative from the 4th district of Georgia. The district includes Decatur, just outside Atlanta. McKinney is a Democrat, black, and, obviously, a woman. Three strikes in an area that has sent the likes of Newt Gingrich and Bob Barr to Congress.
On March 25 McKinney was interviewed by telephone on Flashpoints, an independent radio program produced and hosted by Dennis Bernstein and broadcast on Pacifica station KPFA in Berkeley, Calif. The congresswoman read a roughly 10-minute statement, then answered questions and chatted with Bernstein for another 16 or so minutes. A major portion of McKinney's statement concerned U.S. actions in Africa, and contained stinging attacks of the Clinton administration, particularly former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She also discussed the high incarceration rate of blacks, their treatment by the police, and the actual mechanics of the massive voter fraud in Florida that benefited George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential election. Rep. McKinney also pointed out how the current administration has created a climate in which elected officials need to censor themselves lest their patriotism be questioned. Only a few sentences in the almost 30-minute segment were her comments about the need for an investigation into what the Bush Administration knew prior to the events of 9-11.
Two-and-a-half weeks later on April 12, an article appeared in the Washington Post about McKinney's appearance on Flashpoints. The article was written by Juliet Eilperin, a Post staff writer who says a colleague received the show's transcript in an anonymous e-mail, and passed it along to her. Eilperin's article was headlined, "Democrat Implies Sept. 11 Administration Plot."
What McKinney actually said was the American people deserve a full, complete and no-holds-barred investigation of the events involving 9-11, and what the Bush administration knew and when they knew it. Every single question McKinney raised was based on information readily available from mainstream media sources. Among the issues McKinney raised regarding 9-11 were:
- The warnings from several foreign governments to the highest levels of the U.S. government that were ignored;
- The huge profits made in sophisticated stock transactions involving several airlines, brokerages and insurance firms whose stock prices were affected dramatically by 9-11;
- The relationship between the oil company Unocal and the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan;
- The relationship between the administration and the Carlyle Group, an investment firm with major defense holdings for whom the president's father works;
- The requests by both the president and vice president that any congressional investigations into 9-11 not be particularly intense or lengthy;
- The huge profits persons close to the administration will make thanks to increased defense spending.
Let the games begin
Almost immediately after the Washington Post article, the administration, the mainstream media and its pundits shifted into overdrive, floored the pedal, and wound the smear engine right to the redline. Interestingly, no one has challenged the accuracy of a single word McKinney said. What has been said, in a variety of ways, is that her call for a complete investigation is an indication that McKinney is either "crazy" or "treacherous."
In the original Washington Post article, Bush spokesman Scott McLellan was quoted as saying “The American people know the facts, and they dismiss such ludicrous, baseless views." Carlyle Group spokesman Chris Ullman posed the question "Did she say these things while standing on a grassy knoll in Roswell, New Mexico?"
That same day, April 12, "Representative Awful” was posted on National Review Online by Jonah Goldberg, son of Lucianne Goldberg -- literary agent, Linda Tripp crony, and former Nixon dirty trickster. National Review was founded by William F. Buckley, whose family fortune was made in the oil business. Goldberg dismissed McKinney's suggestion for an investigation, saying "I am not aware of any evidence that Ms. McKinney has murdered several children or that she personally profited from sleeping with the entire defensive squad of the Atlanta Falcons." He then goes on to say that the congresswoman is suffering "paranoid, America-hating, crypto-Marxist conspiratorial delusions."
Anyone who remembers the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings will remember Anita Hill was described as "a little bit nutty, a little bit slutty." Apparently, Goldberg has learned some big words to repeat the easy smear used against any black woman to the left of Condoleezza Rice. Keep in mind that in an Oct. 29 attack piece on McKinney Goldberg wrote, "Taking black politicians seriously pays them a compliment."
Next, McKinney's hometown newspaper took up the charge. An April 13 Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) article by staff writer Melanie Eversley reported that Democratic Georgia Sen. Zell Miller issued a "bristling" statement saying her on-air comments were "dangerous and irresponsible." Not being content to dismiss the legitimate, American ideas of dissent and question, Miller made a sarcastic comment about McKinney attempting to get kissed by President Bush. Bush's press secretary, Ari Fleischer, is quoted: "All I can tell you is the congresswoman must be running for the hall of fame of the Grassy Knoll Society." Interesting that the "grassy knoll" allusion was made twice by people connected to the administration, yet they will not dispute her facts.
The AJC article also quotes Emory University political scientist Merle Black: "It reinforces the view among serious people in her district that she's a very ineffective representative if this is how she chooses to spend her political capital." Apparently there are very few "serious" people Black will be able to "reinforce" with his totally "unscientific" opinion, as McKinney has won five elections in a row, with her lowest margin of victory being 58 percent.
Along with Eversley's article, AJC put up a poll on its website asking the question, "Are you satisfied the Bush administration had no advance warning of the Sept. 11 attacks?" A visitor could vote "Yes," "No, I think officials knew it was coming" or "I'm not sure. Congress should investigate."
Within hours, the "No, I think officials knew it was coming" vote led the "Yes" vote 51 percent to 47 percent, with two percent "Not sure." The ultra-conservative website FreeRepublic.com alerted its viewers and encouraged them to vote against McKinney, to no avail. The vote seesawed back and forth across the 50 percent mark, each side holding a slim lead at various points throughout the day. By mid-afternoon 23,145 people had voted. "Yes" (anti-McKinney) had 52 percent, "No" (pro-McKinney) had 46 percent, and "Not sure" had one percent. Forty-seven percent of voters do not believe the story the world has been told by the Bush Administration.
Then, the poll vanished. Gone. Disappeared. Not there. People signed on to vote, but there was no poll to vote at. The article was there, but the poll was gone. There was no explanation.
On April 21, AJC columnist Mike King explained what happened. "The responses broke down the tabulator we use to keep track of the votes." So can we assume, then, when Mr. King gets a flat tire he throws the entire car away and abandons his trip?
King goes on at great length to inform the reader that even if the poll had not been taken down due to "mechanical problems," the poll was meaningless anyway because "groups and people who believe there is evidence of a conspiracy in the attacks urged friends to vote on ajc.com to send Congress a message of the need to investigate." This undoubtedly occurred, as did urging from the other side which King makes no mention of. He also says that voters were not "scientifically" chosen to represent a broad cross-section of views and that "most online polls are really just opportunities to register an opinion." How registering an opinion differs from a vote will be left for Noah Webster to explain.
Another online poll has been running regarding McKinney's call for a thorough investigation. This one is at truthout.com, an online digest of articles being published in the mainstream media. While truthout readers are undoubtedly more open to McKinney's ideas than the general public, at press time, the poll shows 5,616 supporting the congresswoman versus 80 opposing her. Truthout also reports McKinney's call for a 9-11 investigation is supported by two additional members of the House -- Democrats Loretta Sanchez of California and Major Owens of New York.
Interestingly, while truthout is a non-profit organization entirely dependent on donations, it has had no problems keeping its poll functioning, while the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a major for-profit entity, claims they could not.
WHERE ARE THE CLOWNS?
With the AJC poll having turned into a debacle, the forces arrayed against McKinney became desperate, and the smear became vicious. On April 16, the Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) released a report claiming 21 percent of McKinney's 1999-2000 campaign contributions of over $101 came from Arab or Middle-Eastern-connected individuals and organizations. The report states among the organizations donating to McKinney's campaign are "the American-Muslim Council and the Council on American/Islamic Relations, both of which maintain ties or have expressed support for terrorist organizations."
Phil Kent, SLF president, is quoted in the report: "If we are to give any credence to her baseless claims, the American people deserve to know that McKinney's financial 'relationships' -- her campaign contributors -- are heavily represented by Arab and Middle Eastern-connected individuals, as well as organizations which have expressed sympathy for terrorist organizations." Here we have examples of how McKinney's call for an investigation morphs into "claims," and how an investigation into her is acceptable, while one into the Bush Administration is not. The SLF report flew around the Internet, and was posted on several conservative websites. It was generally headlined to the effect, "McKinney Supported by Terrorists."
SLF was founded in 1976 and has received major financial support from Richard Mellon Scaife, the billionaire reactionary who funded the 10-year effort to destroy President Bill Clinton. In 2000 the Democratic National Committee accused the SLF of sending a quarter-million deceptive pieces of mail designed to interfere with that year's census and result in inaccurate congressional representation. In issue after issue during its 26 years, SLF has consistently taken vehement anti-black, anti-environment, anti-worker, anti-gay, and anti-public education positions. They are currently preparing litigation to invalidate portions of the Bush-signed McCain-Feingold/Shays-Meehan campaign reform legislation. Some in the Atlanta area believe SLF's long-range goal is overturning the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
SLF describes itself as "an Atlanta-based public interest law firm which advocates limited government, individual economic freedom, and the free enterprise system in the courts of law and public opinion.” SLF's website includes links to other reactionary groups including the Heritage Foundation, the Hudson Institute, Federalist Society, and the Conservative Caucus Foundation. Along with links to expected conservative media outlets such as WorldNetDaily, Drudge, and the Conservative News Service, SLF links itself to Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, C-SPAN, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Matthew Glavin was SLF president and chief executive from 1994 to 2000, and devoted a tremendous amount of energy, and Scaife's money, trying to get Bill Clinton disbarred in Arkansas for his alleged perjury in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. Glavin, however, was forced to abandon these efforts, and resign after he was arrested for fondling himself in public. According to an Oct. 4, 2000 report on CNSNEWS.com, an affiliate of the above-mentioned Conservative News Service, an undercover federal officer found Glavin masturbating near a parking lot in the Chattahoochee National River Park in Atlanta, an area said to be popular with homosexual cruisers. The arresting officer says that he, himself, was fondled lewdly when he spoke to Glavin on Oct. 13, 2000. The AJC reported Glavin had pled guilty and was sentenced to a year's probation.
On April 22 SLF sent a letter to House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt demanding McKinney be removed from her seats on both the House Armed Services and International Relations committees, citing the above-mentioned campaign donations from Middle Eastern contributors. That same day, an identical request using virtually identical language was made by the African-American Republican Leadership Council (AARLC). Like SLF, AARLC also requested an ethics investigation of McKinney. Additionally, AARLC has also asked the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Eddie Bernie Johnson, D-Texas, to suspend McKinney from that group. This is a transparent ploy to intimidate and divide black members of Congress, lest their patriotism be questioned.
Also on April 22, an article was posted on the website of Human Events, the National Conservative Weekly. Written by David Freddoso, it's headlined "Feds Searched Offices of Seven McKinney Donors." Many Arab names are listed as well as several organizations, some of which have names with Arab or Islamic references. Going into excruciating detail, Freddoso lists names of individuals, organizations, dollar amounts, dates of search warrants, judges signing search warrants (interestingly, copies of search warrants were allegedly obtained by Human Events), and the connections between all these details. Then, Freddoso writes, "None of the McKinney contributors has been charged with any crime, a Customs spokesman said." Apparently, Freddoso finds not being charged with a crime to be news.
Britain’s The Guardian reported March 25 on a recent FBI raid. The Republican Party was accepting sizeable donations to a political action committee called The Islamic Institute from an alleged terrorist support group, the Safa Trust. It seems that the Safa Trust had been sending money to both the Republican Party and to terrorist groups at the same time. This reported direct linkage between terrorist funding and the Republican Party was conveniently ignored, while McKinney was attacked with much weaker allegations. These backfired too.
SLF's report, AARLC's letter, and Freddoso's article all specifically discuss donations to McKinney from Abdurahman Alamoudi, founder and executive director of the American Muslim Council (AMC). According to an April 24 article at onlinejournal.com, AMC supported George W. Bush in the 2000 campaign and donated money to him. Bush also invited Alamoudi to the Sept. 14 prayer service for the 9-11 victims at the National Cathedral. Additionally, long-time Bush associate Grover Norquist has been doing business with Alamoudi, and is a registered lobbyist for the Islamic Institute. According to the Oct. 4 issue of the Boston Phoenix, Norquist's firm, Janus-Merritt Strategies LLC, has been paid over $20,000 by Alamoudi.
Despite Alamoudi's Republican connections, his donation to McKinney is used as the "smoking gun" in the April 22 column by nationally syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker. Parker has been one of the most prolific members of the "get McKinney" team, jumping into the smear campaign with all four paws. Parker wrote about McKinney's radio comments on April 17 and 22. She's very upset. In the April 17 column, Parker dreams of inaugurating "The McKinney Award -- for people too stupid to serve in public office." Further on, Parker, like everyone participating in the smear campaign, claims that McKinney said Bush knew of the impending 9-11 attacks, and accused the president of mass murder. She also picks up Jonah Goldberg's pathetic attempt at sarcasm, writing "A complete investigation also might prove that McKinney has been dropping acid and living with cross-dressing dental hygienists under the Brooklyn Bridge." What is it about outspoken black women that makes right-wing nut jobs attribute unusual sexual behavior to them?
In her April 22 column, Parker reiterates her lie as to what McKinney actually said. She goes on: "She's black, which means people give her a pass lest they be perceived racist." Parker quotes an unnamed "e-mailer" who quotes a friend in Ramallah: "If you see 'Cynth,' kindly tell her that Arab TV networks appreciate her comments for they now have the needed 'proof' that their paranoia is rational." Parker closes: "None of which is to suggest that Cynthia McKinney is a terrorist, or a terrorist sympathizer, or even a socialist rabble-rouser who despises her own country. On the other hand, using McKinney's own talent for inferential dot-connecting, she just might be."
Despite finding nice ways to call McKinney a terrorist and traitor, Parker strenuously defends her independence and complete lack of bias. In her April 24 column, which is about so-called "conspiracy theories," Parker wrote, "I'm told, for instance, that I'm paid by the right-wing propaganda machine, given my support of most Bush policies in the wake of 9-11 and my rejection of current conspiracy theories.’You're being paid to lie to the American people,' wrote one of my new friends. Here's the truth: I know of no reporter, editor or columnist in the Western hemisphere who wouldn't sell his mother's honeymoon pictures for a good story, no matter whose life gets ruined. No one, especially a president, is off limits when truth is at stake, not to mention Pulitzers." Perhaps Parker found a new dedication to Truth after writing two consecutive columns filled with lies, innuendo and character assassination.
The story about McKinney's comments on the Flashpoints radio show traveled around the media for about 12 days, then just petered out. Several newspapers ran editorials condemning her, including the AJC and the New York Post. Comments and asides were made about her on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. Generally, she was described as crazy, pro-Iraqi, a conspiracy theorist, irresponsible or dangerous, but it didn't seem to work. The public wasn't responding with the sense of outrage the media is used to being able to create.
On April 17 ABCNews.com ran a piece by Dean Schabner headed, "What Consensus? Conspiracy Theorist Immune to the Widespread Support For War on Terror." First line: "When the government said evidence pointed to Islamic fundamentalist terrorists, other voices wondered why investigators weren't looking in other directions." The article, about three pages, lays out many of the beliefs that, apparently, a lot of people have, and discusses them in a calm, measured manner. While Schabner does eventually get around to dismissing everything but the official story as "conspiracy theories," his words and the words of the "experts" he quotes don't have the wild-eyed hatred and anger that the stories about McKinney generally do. Schabner comes close to giving the "non-believers" a degree of respect.
The acceptability of alternate explanations for 9-11 may be growing for a very simple reason. According to a poll taken in late-April by Scott Rasmussen Public Opinion Research, 36 percent of Americans believe Al Gore won the 2000 presidential election. Over a third of America's citizens believe the man occupying the White House to be a fraud! With such a large portion of the country believing George W. Bush is not really the president, it's not hard to understand why almost half of the voters in the AJC poll indicated they do not believe the Bush Administration's story about 9-11, and support McKinney's call for a full investigation.
Whenever Bush allies try to impose new police-state tactics on Americans, such as warrantless searches, random drug tests, racial profiling, or stop-and-frisk laws, they always say, "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about. It's just a minor inconvenience for the public good." If the Bush Administration keeps repeating that mantra, then they should have no trouble supporting McKinney’s call for a full and complete investigation into 9-11.
Copyright © 2002, From The Wilderness Publications, www.copvcia.com. All Rights Reserved. May be reprinted or posted for non-profit purposes only.
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