|[ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 4/12/02 ] |
McKinney implies Bush knew of Sept. 11 plot
The Washington PostWASHINGTON -- Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) is calling for an investigation into whether President Bush and other government officials had advance notice of terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 but did nothing to prevent them. She added that "persons close to this administration are poised to make huge profits off America's new war."
In a recent interview with a Berkeley, Calif., radio station, McKinney said: "We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on September 11th. ... What did this administration know and when did it know it, about the events of September 11th? Who else knew, and why did they not warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered? ... What do they have to hide?"
McKinney declined to be interviewed Thursday, but she issued a statement saying: "I am not aware of any evidence showing that President Bush or members of his administration have personally profited from the attacks of 9-11. A complete investigation might reveal that to be the case."
Bush spokesman Scott McLellan dismissed McKinney's comments.
"The American people know the facts, and they dismiss such ludicrous, baseless views," he said. "The fact that she questions the president's legitimacy shows a partisan mind-set beyond all reason."
In the radio conversation, McKinney delivered a stinging attack on the administration. In 2000, she charged, Bush forces "stole from America our most precious right of all, the right to free and fair elections." With the September attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, McKinney said, "an administration of questionable legitimacy has been given unprecedented power."
She suggested that the administration was serving the interests of a Washington-based investment firm, the Carlyle Group, which employs a number of high-ranking former government officials from both parties. Former president George H.W. Bush -- the current president's father -- is an adviser to the firm. McKinney said the war on terrorism has enriched Carlyle Group investors by enhancing the value of a military contractor partly owned by the firm.
|RESPONSE TO MCKINNEY STATEMENTS|
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ajc_com News McKinney comments 4-12_files/redarrow.gif From U.S. Rep. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and a candidate for U.S. Senate: "As a member of Congress and a community leader, Ms. McKinney has a special responsibility to the people of Georgia and to our nation. Her comments yesterday - which she herself noted are baseless - come at a time of national crisis and do not serve any meaningful purpose in winning our war against terror. From my works on the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security, I can assure Ms. McKinney and all Americans that President Bush is working tirelessly to defeat terrorism and to protect the American people from future attacks."
ajc_com News McKinney comments 4-12_files/redarrow.gif From U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla.: "She has said some outrageous things but this has gone too far. If she has any evidence that President Bush has personally profited from conspiring to blow up thousands of people, she'd better hand it over. Put up or shut up... We all have the right to free speech but with that right comes some basic sense of responsibility. Maybe there should be an investigation as she suggests - but one focused on her. Maybe the investigation should ask her what knowledge she has of the case or what role she played in Sept. 11th. Sound ridiculous? Exactly."
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Carlyle Group spokesman Chris Ullman asked: "Did she say these things while standing on a grassy knoll in Roswell, New Mexico?"
During her five terms in office, McKinney has often given voice to radical critiques of U.S. policy, especially in the Middle East. She defied the State Department to investigate assertions that international sanctions are brutalizing innocent Iraqis.
With her comments concerning Sept. 11, McKinney, 47, seems to have tapped into a web of conspiracy theories circulating during the past six months among people who believe that the government is partially -- or entirely -- to blame for last year's attacks, which killed more than 3,000 people.
"What is undeniable is that corporations close to the administration have directly benefited from the increased defense spending arising from the aftermath of September 11th," McKinney charged. "America's credibility, both with the world and with her own people, rests upon securing credible answers to these questions."
None of McKinney's colleagues has embraced her allegations, but a few said they are familiar with the theories.
"I've heard a number of people say it," said Rep. Melvin Watt (D-N.C.), who quickly added, "I can't say that it would be a widely held view" among lawmakers.
Some lawmakers have a less charitable view of McKinney's penchant for publicity.
Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.) called McKinney's comments "... very dangerous and irresponsible."
In a prepared statement, Miller said, "I hope President Bush will remember that this is the same Congresswoman who -- during each of his State of the Union addresses -- arrives early to get a coveted aisle seat, then leans way over as Bush walks down the aisle, hoping he will give her a kiss for all to see on national TV."
Rep. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said McKinney is simply trying to impress her constituents.
"She's demonstrated at home an ability to win," he said, "and she's demonstrated in Washington a total lack of responsibility in her statements."
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), a friend of McKinney's, said the Georgia Democrat is adept at seizing on "red-meat" issues that resonate with her political base and have helped her fend off a series of GOP challengers.
"She's not as random as people think," Kingston said. "People always want to hear a political conspiracy theory."