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Reposted: The other Dennis Kucinich

The candidate is depicted as an opportunist and a career polititian. A man who has run for office 18 times in 35 years, voted to support a Constitutional ban on flag burning, and one of just 31 democrats who supported Clinton's impeachment: this is the other Dennis Kucinich.
From Cleveland Scene, March 19 2003


"Hollow Man: Dennis Kucinich has spent his life fighting for the little guy -- and that little guy is Dennis"


By David W. Martin


One Saturday morning two years ago, Dennis Kucinich and George Forbes met at an East Side McDonald's. Forbes bought coffee. Kucinich ordered hot water and lemon.

Mike White was finally stepping aside, and Kucinich was toying with the idea of running for mayor. He wanted to know what Forbes thought of the idea. Forbes had been the president of city council during Kucinich's brief and tantrum-filled reign as mayor in the late 1970s. Once rivals, the two are now friendly.

West Side voters elected Kucinich to Congress in 1996. He hadn't campaigned on the East Side in years. Yet at McDonald's that day, Kucinich showed he could still light the room. "Everybody in the damn restaurant came up there and shook his hand and hugged him," Forbes says. "They still think he's a little boy. And he swears I set it up, but these were nothing but black people. They remember him."

East Side love notwithstanding, Kucinich decided to bypass the mayor's race. A larger executive office beckoned. "As I look back now," Forbes says, "I'm pretty sure he had this on his mind."

Kucinich wants to become the 44th President of the United States. When he filed the paperwork last month, he joined a crowded field of Democrats. Of the crop, Kucinich is the lone former mayor of a major city that went bankrupt. But only a politician with his cyborgian powers of regeneration could turn that dark day into a moment of personal triumph. The "Dennis!" yard signs and bumper stickers you see in election years are light-bulb yellow in homage to his refusal to sell the city's electric utility -- and avoid default -- a quarter-century ago.

Kucinich, we've been told countless times in the last 10 years, is no longer the craven opportunist who could only be trusted to infuriate. Who stood in front of a bank of news cameras and canned a popular police chief on Good Friday. Who banned nuns from City Hall. Who believed that you were either with him or you were Satan. Who, as a council president once said, "can tear your heart out and rip it to ribbons."

The New Dennis laid aside his shiv for a palm frond. He's now the vegan Catholic who speaks of compassion and restraint and forbearance. One of his grander notions is the creation of the cabinet-level Department of Peace. He's Jesus of Croatia, dalai lama as union steward.

Today, says former County Commissioner Tim Hagan, "He doesn't look at people who disagree with him as his enemies."

Cleveland AFL-CIO Executive Secretary John Ryan says he hears the same thing all the time: "People will say he's matured or they were wrong about Dennis."

A key to Kucinich's survival has been his ability to style himself as the champion of little people. A little man himself, the role suits him. But over his career, Kucinich has played many parts. His knack of assuming the qualities of his audience is the stuff of a National Geographic nature spread.

Addressing the Western Caucus of the Democratic National Committee last year, Kucinich opened by saying, "I love the West. In some ways, the spirit of my own politics is animated by the mythology of the West . . ." He announced his presidential candidacy in Ames, Iowa, with a pledge for "economic justice for farmers and all Americans." He greeted his brothers and sisters of the Iowa Federation of Labor as a dues-paying member of the camera operators' union.

Acting has been a constant in Kucinich's political life. As the nation gets acquainted with our spirited congressman, let us pause to consider some of his more memorable characters.

The Serial Campaigner

The Kucinich-for-President idea germinated in Los Angeles. In February 2002, the congressman addressed the Southern California chapter of Americans for Democratic Action. The "nation's oldest independent liberal political organization" offered a Kucinich kind of crowd.

At the time, most Democrats were cowering before George W. Bush's poll numbers. Kucinich, however, dared to challenge the administration's increasing militarism and powers of surveillance. His speeches -- at least when he's not on the West Side -- are often slathered in the gooey mysticism he picked up in his exile years, but the ADA address, titled "A Prayer for America," had a sharp edge. It called for a nation "which has the ability to rally the support of the world . . . which stands not in pursuit of an axis of evil, but which is itself at the axis of hope and faith and peace and freedom."

The speech was met with loud ovations and later disseminated via the Internet. The Nation hailed it as a "clarion call." Studs Turkel and Helen Thomas wrote pieces praising Kucinich's courage to stand up to the Bush bullies.

Kucinich had found his voice, and he wanted to share it. He spoke in 40 cities across the country last year. By summer, the Kucinich-for-President idea was being written about seriously: Would the diminutive Ohioan be the Jesse Jackson/Jerry Brown/Ralph Nader candidate of 2004?

Of course he would.

Recall: This is a man who sought klieg lights before he was old enough to vote. In 1967, Kucinich, a college sophomore, petitioned to run for city council. (Voting age was 21 then.) He has run for office 18 times in the last 35 years. In one remarkable stretch in the early '70s, his name was on a ballot for five consecutive years.

Every politician has, at some point, imagined his or her name preceding the notes of "Hail to the Chief." A serial candidate like Kucinich, it stands to reason, has fantasized about the Oval Office more than most. "He always had a desire to be on the national scene," says Cleveland attorney Joe Tegreene, the boy mayor's 24-year-old finance director.

According to a prescient 1972 Cleveland magazine article, Kucinich was plotting a path to the White House from the moment he entered politics. "If I win this one, I can go all the way," he said about his 1967 council race.

"All the way to where?" he was asked.

"Well, you know . . ."

Yet Kucinich would have us believe that in 2003, he had to be coaxed into the spotlight. "In response to tens of thousands of e-mails and countless phone calls, letters, and personal appeals, I am moving forward to take the first step towards a candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States," his website announced.

If anything, Kucinich is behind schedule. He ran for Congress as soon as he met the pesky age requirement (25). He would have been eligible to run for President in 1984. Had his mayoralty not been such a bust, the world might have known the Reagan-Kucinich debates.

In 1995, Kucinich sounded as though he had quit the pursuit of political stardom and accepted the role of character actor. "Power is seductive," he told The Plain Dealer. "It's easy to believe your existence depends on the rush that you feel from being at the center of events. But it's an illusion. The world does go on without you."

Or maybe it doesn't.

The Pacifist at Any Price

Last month, after spending a week on the hustings in Iowa, Kucinich returned to Washington and appeared on Meet the Press. During the broadcast, host Tim Russert called the congressman on comments he made during a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in Lakewood. "Why is the administration targeting Iraq? Oil," Kucinich had said.

"What do you base that on?" Russert asked.

"I base that on the fact that there is $5 trillion worth of oil above and in the ground in Iraq, that individuals involved in the administration have been involved in the oil industry, that the oil industry certainly would benefit from having the administration control Iraq, and that the fact is that, since no other case has been made to go to war against Iraq, for this nation to go to war against Iraq, oil represents the strongest incentive."

No doubt, the Bush administration is up to its ears in super unleaded. But to say no case has been made for an invasion is absurd. Serious people have made serious arguments for a strike against Iraq. Even a progressive like Vanity Fair writer Christopher Hitchens has taken to stirring his gin-and-tonic with a saber since 9-11. Kucinich may not agree with the arguments, but the arguments have been made. In a sense, his reductionism seems no more intellectually honest than hawks questioning the patriotism of protesters. After watching the exchange, Washington Post writer Richard Cohen was led to wonder how NBC let such a "fool" in the studio.

Kucinich doesn't back down from his comments about oil, but he doesn't really stand behind them either. "I said the administration hasn't made another case, and that's true," he says. "But I didn't say it was only about oil."

If Kucinich sounds injudicious on foreign affairs, it is perhaps because he confuses pacifism with peace. Late in the conflict in Kosovo, the congressman beseeched the U.S. to "try to appeal to whatever sense of humanity remains in Slobodan Milosevic." Had the Clinton administration followed that advice, Serb forces might still be torching the countryside. Milosevic, history shows, responded to NATO bombs, not reason.

His foreign policy seems to have been grabbed from a Coke commercial. "We have to get the world community to function as a world community," Kucinich said recently. And there's a hint of fashion to his pacifism: He opposes removing Saddam Hussein from power today, but he supported such efforts in 1998, when he voted for the Iraq Liberation Act. Kucinich says the difference between then and now is that the Bush administration is preparing to wage an illegal war. "The resolution in '98 did not call for a violent intervention in Iraq," he explains. Yet in '98, the Clinton administration ordered air strikes without Security Council approval.

Kucinich also appears to contradict himself on sanctions. In 2000, he addressed a demonstration sponsored by the National Mobilization to End the Sanctions Against Iraq. Now, with war drums beating, he believes sanctions are an effective means to keep Saddam in check.

Kucinich says he has always supported "smart" sanctions and opposed conditions that have kept baby food and incubators out of the country. "There are sanctions which have had a devastating effect, particularly against the children of Iraq," he says.

But at the time of the rally in 2000, sanctions had been so liberalized, Iraq was exporting more oil than it did before the Gulf War, according to then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The Patron Saint of Lost Causes

Republicans have run the House of Representatives for the length of his tenure. Minority status cramps his abilities. Asked by a Salon interviewer to list his accomplishments in Congress, Kucinich had trouble coming up with anything substantive. One triumph he thought worth mentioning was a letter he and other Democrats sent to President Clinton on the eve of World Trade Organization talks in Seattle.

Yes, six years in Congress have produced the crowning achievement of . . . a letter.

Still, at times he has managed to use his office for good. He led the effort to keep open St. Michael Hospital and Mt. Sinai Medical Center-East, which many thought hopeless. He worked to check rail traffic through Northeast Ohio neighborhoods. He was the loudest player in salvaging what could be saved of Cleveland's steel industry. "He's clearly been very effective in things in his district where a national platform coupled with local activism has mattered," says fellow Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-Lorain).

Kucinich has always had a talent for knowing where to direct his efforts. When developer Bart Wolstein battled with Parma residents over his plans for a Home Depot a few years ago, Kucinich emerged as a great friend to the neighbors. That Parma's city council botched the deal was secondary. When middle-class residents square off with a wealthy developer, Kucinich knows which side to take.

State Representative Dale Miller (D-Cleveland) was no match for Kucinich's constituent services when the two competed in the 1994 state Senate primary. Miller lost to Kucinich by 12 percentage points. "In retrospect," Miller says, "that was probably the best campaign I've ever run."

An awful lot of the time, however, Kucinich's work on behalf of the people drops below accepted levels of pandering.

A few weeks ago, he summoned reporters to his Lakewood office to announce a bill that would tax the profits of oil companies. Gas prices hovered above $1.60 a gallon, and Kucinich called it gouging. He compared the current price spike to the one that occurred before the Gulf War. "The oil companies are clearly taking advantage of the American people," he said, with a garage-door-sized American flag as his backdrop.

To be sure, domestic oil producers are for the moment benefiting from an instability premium. War has the oil market nervous. But Kucinich said nothing of the other factors contributing to high prices: dwindling reserves, a frigid winter, a strike in Venezuela, a nuclear-power shutdown in Japan.

Kucinich also said oil companies are making a killing, yet their stocks are in a slump. Share prices of Exxon Mobil, BP, and ChevronTexaco are down more than 20 percent from last spring.

All of four co-sponsors have lent support to the bill. Still, Kucinich thinks it could be a winner. "As the prices of oil continue to go up, I think members are going to start to pay more attention to a bill that will answer the concerns of their constituents." Then he modestly adds, "As in most cases, I am ahead of the issue."

The legislation was probably not designed to dazzle the Committee on Energy and Commerce, however. A former Plain Dealer copyboy, Kucinich is keen to how the media operate. On a slow-news Saturday, local TV news reporters attended the press conference in force. Kucinich's cries of gouging and interviews with irate motorists filling their tanks made for a tidy package.

Forbes says Kucinich is just being Kucinich when he chases Big Oil with a popgun. "Nobody likes him but the people," he says. "I'm sure [Senator Joe] Lieberman would love to do the same damn thing he did, but he's restricted by logic and his constituencies. Dennis doesn't have that."

Indeed, there ain't no mountain high enough, so long as Kucinich can hold a press conference at base camp. Last summer, he stood outside Jacobs Field and unveiled the Fan Protection Act, which stipulated that baseball owners air some games on free television. In the off-season, the Indians had signed an exclusive local TV deal with cable's Fox Sports.

The possibility of the Indians going all cable was public knowledge by the middle of the 2001 season. Before the deal was signed, a man of influence -- a congressman, say -- had an opportunity to call the club and express his concern for fans who couldn't afford cable. Instead, Kucinich waited a year, turned the Bob Feller statue into a soapbox, and announced legislation that had the legs of a salamander. The bill languished in committee.

Kucinich pulled a similar stunt in 1995. While a state senator, he introduced a bill that would have made it illegal to sell tickets to sporting events for more than face value. The Indians, fresh off a World Series appearance, had just sold out the 1996 season.

Never mind that Cleveland already has a scalping law. Never mind that it was the first time in baseball history a club sold out the season in advance. Never mind that Kucinich, alleged man of the people, didn't understand that scalped tickets are the only means by which Wes and Wendy West Park can spend their anniversary in club seating.

The bill died in committee. The next year, Kucinich ran for Congress.

"Let me tell you something," Forbes says. "He has a very keen sense of timing, and he has the ability to understand what it is that people want. You won't find anybody in this business who understands what it is people want from their public officials. Now, that doesn't mean they can have it, but he understands it."

Even when the Indians stank, Kucinich tried to endear himself to the ticket-buying public. While a councilman, he made a fuss when the club raised stadium parking from $1 to $2. Sheriff Gerald McFaul, then downtown's councilman, told Kucinich to get the hell out of his ward.

The Conspiracy Theorist

Persuasive in its warnings against unilateralism and incursions on liberty, Kucinich's "Prayer for America" speech did have its wacky moments. He spoke of a "great fear" enveloping Washington since the terrorist attacks of 9-11 forced the evacuation of the Capitol. He then suggested that shadowy forces were not only exploiting that horrible day, but manufacturing panic in order to impose martial law. "It continued when we had to leave the Capitol again, when a bomb scare occurred as members were pressing the CIA during a secret briefing. It occurred when we abandoned Washington when anthrax, possibly from a government lab, arrived in the mail."

CIA? Government lab? Dialing Oliver Stone . . .

Kucinich says he wanted to note the coincidence of events. "We haven't had a thorough, conclusive investigation of anthrax," he says. "And I never heard much about the bomb threat after it occurred." He adds: "What I said stands. You can take it any way you like it."

Paranoia is a longstanding Kucinich tic. As a young councilman, he complained that "Neanderthal types" in his ward wanted him dead. He packed a starter's pistol to scare muggers. He threw out the first pitch before an Indians game wearing a flak jacket.

One of the greatest conspiracies of all, of course, was perpetrated in 1978, when bankers ordered him down the gangplank of default. History has largely vindicated Kucinich's insistence that Muny Light remain a public utility, though his brattiness hadn't earned the city any leniency. The Kucinich administration was like that episode of Star Trek where the Enterprise crew encounters a colony of children who murdered their parents. City Brahmins set their phasers on kill.

If only cheesy science fiction were just a metaphor. In 2001, Kucinich introduced a bill to ban space-based weapons, which might have been written by the moonlight over Roswell, New Mexico. The bill prohibits the U.S. from using "radiation, electromagnetic, psychotronic, sonic, laser, or other energies . . . for the purpose of information war, mood management, or mind control of such populations." Among the exotic weapons Kucinich sought to bar were "chemtrails," airplane emissions that change the weather or cause rashes in schoolkids, depending on which conspiracy theory you buy.

Chemtrails were removed in a revised draft of the bill. "I'm not into that," Kucinich told The Plain Dealer recently. So who was? Kucinich was the legislation's sole author. Presumably, enemies used psychotronic energies to put the thought in his head to make him look silly.

The Closet Conservative

In 1997, Kucinich supported a constitutional amendment to ban flag-burning. In the days leading up to the vote, he refused to divulge his intentions. Sherrod Brown also voted for the amendment, but at least he was up front about it. "This amendment means a lot to veterans in this country who fought for the flag," Brown said. Translation: Veterans vote.

Kucinich, in contrast, played coy; then, after voting for the ban, he came up with this tortured justification: "The very constitutional protections we are guaranteed exist today because of the commitment people have to our nation as expressly symbolized by the flag."

In other words, symbols are more important than the protections themselves. By this logic, adultery is permissible so long as wedding bands are kept polished.

A year later, Kucinich was one of 31 Democrats to vote for a no-holds-barred impeachment of President Clinton. That turned out well.

But nowhere has Kucinich proved a more "regressive progressive," as The Nation put it, than on abortion.

The week he entered the presidential race, Kucinich announced that he supported a woman's right to choose. To everyone but Kucinich, the pledge contradicted his long history of opposing abortion rights. The congressman voted anti-choice on bills pertaining to RU-486, partial birth, parental consent, and a Bush gag rule on funds for family-planning organizations overseas.

But there he was in Cedar Rapids, calling for the preservation of Roe v. Wade. Kucinich explained that his thinking had "evolved." He told reporters: "It took a lot for me in the last Congress to recognize what I saw was an agenda being developed that would divide this nation."

Abortion, a wedge issue? Say it ain't so!

More likely, Kucinich saw that he couldn't be the darling of the left while voting with the National Right to Life Committee. The Nation columnist Katha Pollitt badgered Kucinich about his abortion record after her publication wrote about the "resonance" of his speech in California. Kucinich told Pollitt that he was not in favor of "criminalizing" abortion, yet the partial-birth ban he supported provided fines and jail time.

"I can't tell you I don't have anything to learn," Kucinich said meekly. He did learn that he needed NARAL's approval, apparently.

Kucinich has also been confronted with tales of Nixonian race-baiting from his political youth. While a councilman, he lent his tenacity to white Republican Ralph Perk in the 1971 mayor's race. When Perk won, Kucinich declaimed that "government is returned to the little people," as opposed to where it was with Carl Stokes at the helm. Kucinich campaign leaflets dropped in Parma ridiculed a congressional opponent for supporting the radical notion of a Martin Luther King holiday. In another literature drop, Mary Rose Oakar was depicted in the thrall of politicians on "the east side of the river." You don't need a translator to hear what he's getting at.

Kucinich claims it was "never about race" and finds such assertions "offensive" (see sidebar). Yet even fellow Democrats admit Kucinich "played the race card" and "appealed to the lowest common denominator in the white community," as former County Commissioner Tim Hagan recently put it.

Forbes seems to have a more honest understanding of what took place. "He played to his constituency, and I played to mine," he says of Kucinich. "But out of all that, I can tell you right now that he was not a racist."

He just sometimes appeals to people's lesser instincts.

The Obstructionist

The polite take on Kucinich for President is that his FDR rhetoric will enliven the discourse, keep the field honest. He's a flannel shirt among empty suits, a hard hat among $100 haircuts. If a Candidate Most Likely to Pull Union Card From Breast Pocket contest were to be held, Kucinich would win going away.

The AFL-CIO's John Ryan accompanied the congressman to Iowa and says the response was tremendous. "He certainly will be heard and will help form the debate in the next presidential election."

Sherrod Brown is glad Kucinich joined the race, too. "He's raising issues that others don't, especially on trade and on Iraq. I'm appreciative of that, because when you run for President, you have a bigger microphone than the rest of us have."

Others are not as generous. On Face the Nation, Time magazine columnist Joe Klein listed Kucinich in the "brigade of buffoons" with former Senator Carole Moseley Braun and the Reverend Al Sharpton. The New Republic called him "truly a fringe candidate."

Des Moines Register columnist David Yepsen, who has covered the Iowa caucuses since 1972, would be stunned if Kucinich mounted much of a challenge. "I don't think he's going to be President, and I don't know anybody who does," he says. "His is essentially a protest candidacy, and I don't expect him to do well."

In fact, Kucinich might hurt the cause. Centrists win in Iowa; liberals tend to split the vote. Yepsen is reminded of 1984, when Walter Mondale took 49 percent of the vote, and Gary Hart and George McGovern left with mud in their loafers. If Kucinich hangs, he might take attention from former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who opposes the war in Iraq and claims to represent "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party." (Dean spokeswoman Sue Allen refused to speculate on Kucinich's spoiling capabilities. "This sounds like I'm trying to be coy, but I don't know that the governor has given it five minutes of thought.")

In all likelihood, Kucinich will try to parlay his raised visibility from the presidential campaign into a run for governor or the Senate. If he does, he may encounter kissing-cousin TV host Jerry Springer, who's been shaking hands and slapping backs at Democratic Party events around the state.

Springer was elected mayor of Cincinnati in 1977, the same year Kucinich took the keys to Cleveland. Should they meet in a primary down the road, it will be hard to decide who has led the stranger public life.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


'That's offensive'

Scene spoke with Kucinich the day The Plain Dealer ran a front-page story about the "divisive" politics he practiced in his early years. But Kucinich makes no apologies for previous campaigns:

Scene: "This is in The Plain Dealer today. I thought they made a pretty persuasive case that you have a history of race-baiting."

Kucinich: "I find your assessment of that offensive, and I take exception to your assessment of that."

Scene: "That what?"

Kucinich: "I take exception to your characterization."

Scene: "OK. What exactly offends you about that?"

Kucinich: "I find it offensive that you just said I have a history of race-baiting. That's offensive."

Scene: "No, I said I thought the story made a pretty persuasive case."

Kucinich: "I would take exception to that, too."

Scene: "OK."

Kucinich: "I would say that any responsible journalist would try to get the whole story."

Scene: "Well, I'm asking you now."

Kucinich: "Even people who didn't agree with me would not claim that anything that I did was racially motivated."

Scene: "I think people had quotes to that effect in the paper today, that race was behind some of the tactics back then."

Kucinich: "You know what: I disagree with that. Strongly."

Scene: "Disagree with . . ."

Kucinich: "I disagree with that assessment and I disagree with that characterization. It was never about race."

Scene: "Then why do you think people are bringing it up?"

Kucinich: "Gee, I don't know. But it was never about race . . ."
Kucinich vs. Oilboy 22.Jul.2003 23:07

44

The Honorable Dick Cheney
Vice President
Office of the Vice President of the United States
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
Washington, DC 20501

Dear Mr. Vice President:

While it has been widely reported that the President made a false assertion in his State of the Union address concerning unsubstantiated intelligence that Iraq purchased uranium from Niger, your own role in the dissemination of that disinformation has not been explained by you or the White House. Yet, you reportedly paid direct personal visits to CIA's Iraq analysts; your request for investigation of the Niger uranium claim resulted in an investigation by a former U.S. ambassador, and you made several high-profile public assertions about Iraq's alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons. We hope that you will take the opportunity to provide responses to the following ten questions.

I. Concerning "unusual" personal visits by the Vice President to CIA analysts.

According to The Washington Post, June 5, 2003, you made "multiple" "unusual" visits to CIA to meet directly with Iraq analysts. The Post reported: "Vice President Cheney and his most senior aide made multiple trips to the CIA over the past year to question analysts studying Iraq's weapons programs."

These visits were unprecedented. Normally, Vice Presidents, yourself included, receive regular briefings from CIA in your office and have a CIA officer on permanent detail. In other words, there is no reason for the Vice President to make personal visits to CIA analysts.

According to the Post, your unprecedented visits created "an environment in which some analysts felt they were being pressured to make their assessments fit with the Bush administration's policy objectives."

Questions:

1) How many visits did you and your chief of staff make to CIA to meet directly with CIA analysts working on Iraq?
2) What was the purpose of each of these visits?
3) Did you or a member of your staff at any time direct or encourage CIA analysts to disseminate unreliable intelligence?
4) Did you or a member of your staff at any time request or demand rewriting of intelligence assessments concerning the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

II. Concerning a request by the Vice President to investigate intelligence of Niger uranium sale, revealing forgery one year ago.

This alleged sale of uranium to Iraq by Niger was critical to the administration's case that Iraq was reconstituting a nuclear weapons program. During the period of time you reportedly paid visits to CIA, you also requested that CIA investigate intelligence that purported to show Iraqi pursuit of uranium from Niger, and your office received a briefing on the investigation.

According to The New York Times of May 6, 2003, "more than a year ago the vice president's office asked for an investigation of the uranium deal, so a former U.S. Ambassador to Africa was dispatched to Niger."

The ambassador "reported to the CIA and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents had been forged," according to the Times. Indeed, that former U.S. Ambassador, Joseph Wilson, wrote in The New York Times, July 6, 2003, "The vice president's office asked a serious question. We were asked to help formulate the answer. We did so, and we have every confidence that the answer we provided was circulated to the appropriate officials within our government."

Moreover, your chief of staff, Mr. Libby, told Time magazine this week that you did in fact express interest in the report to the CIA briefer. Our understanding is that Standard Operating Procedure is that if a principal asks about a report, he is given a specific answer.

Questions:

5) Who in the office of Vice President was informed of the contents of Ambassador Wilson's report?
6) What efforts were made by your office to disseminate the findings of Ambassador Wilson's investigation to the President, National Security Adviser, and Secretary of Defense?
7) Did your office regard Ambassador Wilson's conclusions as accurate or inaccurate?

III. Assertions by the Vice President and other high ranking members of the Administration claiming Iraqi nuclear weapons program.

The President's erroneous reference to the faked Niger uranium sale in his State of the Union address was only one example of a pattern of similar assertions by high ranking members of the administration, including yourself. The assertion was made repeatedly in the administration's campaign to win congressional approval of military action against Iraq.

For instance, you said to the 103d National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars on August 26, 2002, "they [the Iraqi regime] continue to pursue the nuclear program they began so many years ago... we now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons... Should all his ambitions be realized... [he could] subject the United States or any other nation to nuclear blackmail."

In sworn testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, just weeks before the House of Representatives voted to authorize military action against Iraq, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld testified on September 18, 2002: "He [Saddam]... is pursuing nuclear weapons. If he demonstrates the capability to deliver them to our shores, the world would be changed. Our people would be at great risk. Our willingness to be engaged in the world, our willingness to project power to stop aggression, our ability to forge coalitions for multilateral action, could all be under question. And many lives could be lost."

Questions:

8) Since your address to the VFW occurred nearly 7 months after Ambassador Wilson reported his findings to the CIA and State Department, what evidence did you have for the assertion that Iraq was continuing "to pursue the nuclear program" and that Saddam had "resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons"?
9) Since the Secretary of Defense testified to Congress that Iraq was "pursuing nuclear weapons" nearly 8 months after Ambassador Wilson's briefing to CIA and the State Department, what effort did you make to determine what evidence the Secretary of Defense had for his assertion to Congress?

Further refutation of the authenticity of the forged Niger documents came from IAEA Director General ElBaradei, when he reported to the UN Security Council on March 7, 2003: "These documents, which formed the basis for reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger, are in fact not authentic. We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded... we have found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons programme in Iraq." Yet on March 16 -- nine days afterwards -- you again repeated the unfounded assertion on national television (Meet the Press, Sunday, March 16, 2003). You said:

"We think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong," and "We believe [Saddam] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."

Question:

10) What was the basis for this assertion made by you on national television? We hope you will take the opportunity to answer these questions about your role in the dissemination of false information about Iraq's nuclear program to justify the war in Iraq. We look forward to a response.

Sincerely,

Dennis J. Kucinich, Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations

Carolyn B. Maloney, Member
Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations

Bernie Sanders, Member
Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations

hardy har har 23.Jul.2003 01:40

na

This piece was good for a few laughs, especially the business about flag burning and abortion. Still. a bit of a heavy-handed slam. For example, in reference to Kucinich's suspicions about the anthrax scare:
"CIA? Government lab? Dialing Oliver Stone . . ."

Hello? Someone needs to remind this guy or gal that the anthrax was indeed found to have come out of a gov't lab...

This Article is a Hatchet Job from the Phony Progressives 23.Jul.2003 05:06

Fuck the Republicrats

I don't know about the intentions of whoever posted this article, but this article by David Martin from the Cleveland Scene is a hatchet job masquerading as a "progressive expose" on Dennis Kucinich. It is completely insincere and politically disingenous at best. Martin's article cites Kucinich's stand on specific single issues such as abortion, race, and Flag burning in order to discredit the image of Kucinich as a Progressive--but it does so from the perspective and interests of the Democratic and Liberal establishment which are even more Reactionary and Right Wing than Kucinich, especially on foreign policy and "national security" issues! While I don't support Dennis Kucinich, the rest of the presidential candidates (like Howard Dean) and the Democratic Party in general are even worse!

Note that Martin often attacks Kucinich for in essence being *too Left Wing* on Foreign Policy and "National Security" issues (when in fact most people here would probably say that Kucininch is not that different from other Mainstream political candidates). Thus, as exemplied by the quotations from the article excerpted below, Martin derides Kucinich for opposing the Invasion of Iraq and for questioning the LIES about Weapons of Mass Destruction used to justify this invasion--LIES which have steadily been uncovered and exposed as such since this article was published in March.

In fact, Martin's article even tries to dismiss OIL as a primary rationale for invading Iraq and describes Christopher Hitchens (!) of all people as a "progressive" no less. Martin's article also seems to reiterate all the lies about "ethnic cleansing" used to justify the American "humanitarian" bombing of Yugoslavia and seems to have approved of the attacks themselves.

Also, Martin specifically tries to discredit Kucinich's comments about how the US government has seized upon 9-11 to whip up nationalist warmongering, fear, and push through various repressive legislation (such as the Patriot Act and Homeland Security Dept.), not to mention the fact that the specific strain anthrax used in the Anthrax attacks of Oct. 2001 came from a US government lab--all of which are TRUE. And Martin does this by employing that standard Mainstream media propaganda tactic of smearing Kucinich as a "conspiracy theorist." How pathetic can you get. Again, see the quotations excerpted below...

Worse yet, Martin liberally sprinkles quotations from the AFL-CIA , and other Right Wing union bosses, as well as an assortment of Democratic Party establishment hacks (like Time Magazine columnist Joe Klein) throughout his article in order to buttress his arguments.

Funniest of all is the fact that Martin has the gall to smear Kucinich as being "Conservative" even as Martin himself adopts poltical positions to the RIGHT of Kucinich on matters such as the Invasion of Iraq, 9-11, and the phony War on Terror--as demonstrated by the below excerpted quotations. Talk about Orwellian manipulation! This would be like Lyndon Baines Johnson attacking George McGovern...for being a warmonger.

MOST LIKELY, David Martin and the Cleveland Scene are media flacks that represent the political perspective of mainstream Democratic Party sympathizers who fear that Kucinich's foreign policy positions on issues such as the War are too "radical," and thus represents a challenge to the Democratic Party leadership that must be discredited and dismissed. More importantly, from the perpsective of these Phony Progressives, Kucinch's criticisms of the war (limited though they actually are) will expose the lie that the Democratic Party and Liberalism in general represents the interests of the antiwar or peace movements.

What the Cleveland Scene and David Martin are attempting to do is to play a cyncial game of attacking the progressive "bona fides" of Kucinich--all in order to discredit any political challenge (no matter how limited) to a Democratic Party that is a Right Wing party in everything but name....

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Revealing quotations from the Cleveland Scene article by David Martin:

The Pacifist at Any Price

Last month, after spending a week on the hustings in Iowa, Kucinich returned to Washington and appeared on Meet the Press. During the broadcast, host Tim Russert called the congressman on comments he made during a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in Lakewood. "Why is the administration targeting Iraq? Oil," Kucinich had said.

"What do you base that on?" Russert asked.

"I base that on the fact that there is $5 trillion worth of oil above and in the ground in Iraq, that individuals involved in the administration have been involved in the oil industry, that the oil industry certainly would benefit from having the administration control Iraq, and that the fact is that, since no other case has been made to go to war against Iraq, for this nation to go to war against Iraq, oil represents the strongest incentive."

No doubt, the Bush administration is up to its ears in super unleaded. But to say no case has been made for an invasion is absurd. Serious people have made serious arguments for a strike against Iraq. Even a progressive like Vanity Fair writer Christopher Hitchens has taken to stirring his gin-and-tonic with a saber since 9-11. Kucinich may not agree with the arguments, but the arguments have been made. In a sense, his reductionism seems no more intellectually honest than hawks questioning the patriotism of protesters. After watching the exchange, Washington Post writer Richard Cohen was led to wonder how NBC let such a "fool" in the studio.

Kucinich doesn't back down from his comments about oil, but he doesn't really stand behind them either. "I said the administration hasn't made another case, and that's true," he says. "But I didn't say it was only about oil."

If Kucinich sounds injudicious on foreign affairs, it is perhaps because he confuses pacifism with peace. Late in the conflict in Kosovo, the congressman beseeched the U.S. to "try to appeal to whatever sense of humanity remains in Slobodan Milosevic." Had the Clinton administration followed that advice, Serb forces might still be torching the countryside. Milosevic, history shows, responded to NATO bombs, not reason.

[ ... ]

The Conspiracy Theorist

Persuasive in its warnings against unilateralism and incursions on liberty, Kucinich's "Prayer for America" speech did have its wacky moments. He spoke of a "great fear" enveloping Washington since the terrorist attacks of 9-11 forced the evacuation of the Capitol. He then suggested that shadowy forces were not only exploiting that horrible day, but manufacturing panic in order to impose martial law. "It continued when we had to leave the Capitol again, when a bomb scare occurred as members were pressing the CIA during a secret briefing. It occurred when we abandoned Washington when anthrax, possibly from a government lab, arrived in the mail."

CIA? Government lab? Dialing Oliver Stone . . .

Cleveland Scene has a personal grudge against Kucinich.. 23.Jul.2003 06:04

bleh

This rather hilariously poorly written article on Kucinich, which attempts to discredit him but actually brought him lots of good publicity in spite of itself, was published in the Cleveland Scene paper during a time in which Kucinich was helping to push ahead antitrust charges against the Cleveland Scene and its parent company, New Times Media, for forcing the competing Cleveland 'alternative' paper, the Free Times, to shut down and cease publishing in blatantly illegal backroom publishing deals with the Free Times' parent company.

Thanks in part to Kucinich's help, these charges were brought up against New Times & the Cleveland Scene, who ended up having to pay several million dollars as punishment. You can read about all this in these articles, which, admittedly are slanted from the Free Times point of view, but still gives a clear picture as to why the Scene would write such a hatchet job on Kucinich:

 http://www.freetimes.com/issues/1105/cover-lead.php
 http://www.freetimes.com/issues/1105/cover-two.php


It should be clear to anyone with half a brain that of *anyone* running for the office of President, Kucinich has the best ideas and the gumption to stand up for them - he is easily the best candidate I have ever seen run in my lifetime.

bleh

Kucinich in not the leading democrat 23.Jul.2003 07:10

PHH

But he's the one the Republicans are going after the most.

Makes you wonder why. If they don't like him that's a good sign.

Whatever is bad for them is good for America.

Kucinich is on the Republican's radar screen? 24.Jul.2003 00:30

James

News to me. Whether or not the point about what is bad for them is good for America is true, you can bet the Republicans would love nothing more than a Kucinich candidacy. Because it would be a Bush landslide.

Karl Rove has been reported as cheering on the Dean campaign -- because to Rove and the current leaders of the Republicans, even Dean is so far to the left as to be a cinch to beat.

"According to Weiss, Rove said, 'Heh, heh, heh. Yeah, that's the one we want,' and then cheered on the Dean marchers: 'Come on, everybody! Go, Howard Dean!'"

So says The New Republic.

I'm not sure how many here follow the forums at Free Republic, but there have been many posts by FReepers who claim to have donated somewhat substantial sums of money (a couple hundred at a time), all things considered, to the Dean campaign.

Hopefully Rove and the FReepers have miscalculated.

Still, I sometimes wonder if the people here realize just how far away their beliefs are from the political center in America. (Which is itself a bit right of center historically). If a man like John McCain were president, I suspect he would walk all over the competition -- no matter who the left was able to come up with. (Not that I support John McCain. I think he's a weasel.)

The saving grace for the left in this election is that Bush is widely viewed as inept by all but his core supporters. Thus, I think come election time, the Democrats stand a pretty good chance.

But Kucinich is not the one on the Republican's radar. Lieberman and Gephardt and Kerry are.

Rejection of pro-war arguments "reductionist"...."absurd"???? 24.Jul.2003 07:36

Danny

Every local rag has the right--almost the duty, it seems nowadays, when a local boy is running--to run a hatchet piece claiming an "inside" line on the figure. I remember having to comb through attack-dog slanders on Kennedy, Dukakis etc from Massachusetts conservatives masquerading as "objective" or even, god forbid, "progressive." This Scene piece is no different. While raising some legitimate points that any candidate is bound to face about his or her past, the sloppiness and personal vendetta shows through. Particularly galling (and where I lost interest) is the bit about Kucinich's antiwar arguments. His opposition to the war was steadfast, genuine and appreciated by tens of millions of Americans, not to mention the rest of the world. It is the author, perhaps, who is living in a Coke commercial, where American corporate interests fantasize that they "would like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony..." ---and keep giving us their oil and buying our products...! It is a particularly stupid and blind component of American narcicism to scoff at antiwar arguments, always giving some sort of "benefit of the doubt" to justifications for INVADING ANOTHER COUNTRY under cover of "journalistic balance." Not only were these arguments proven to be complete crap, but millions of us correctly argued so at the time. The author's lazy reach for Christopher Hitchens' hand is a typical tactic. By saying "even a progressive like Hitchens.." a so-called journalist thinks he can cover his sloppy ass--'See? I even quoted a leftist!' Never mind the point that Hitchens was roundly condemned, and his point of view was shared by virtually no one on the left, either in the U.S. or abroad. Perhaps these "journalists" should stick to covering gossip or bickering among council members, since it seems to be their shtick. Scene spinmeisters are either so angry at Kucinich personally, so steeped in the conservative poison of the right-wing media environment, or just so journalistically dense that they could not recognize a leftist argument if it came along and bit them in ass. By the way, it just did.


Disregard this Article! 24.Jul.2003 14:33

Clevelander

I live in Cleveland so I read the Scene and its competitor, the Free Times. . .

The parent company of the Scene made an illegal monopolistic buy-out on the company which owns the Free Times about a year ago, effectively shutting down it's only competition. The Free Times is accepted as being the far better of the two Independent papers and gets way more into political issues (they support the local Critical Mass, for one thing, while the Scene is busy talking about Britney Spears).

Kucinich was instrumental in bringing the Free Times back into town. The Scene article is intended as a sloppy smear for revenge.