Archives of Commentary / Opinion

Conduct Unbecoming

April 17, 2002

You can't yell "Fire!" in a crowded theatre, unless, of course, the theatre’s on fire. Within the laws of libel and slander, you can't make unfounded accusations about another person. The police can’t accuse someone of a crime without some reasonable cause proof. But that's what Georgia Democrat Cynthia McKinney's done. And she thinks there's nothing wrong with it.

On March 25, Representative McKinney, who represents Georgia's 4th district, was interviewed on a Berkeley, (yes, I know, consider the source) California radio station. The KPFA 94.1 FM transcript has McKinney stating: "We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on September 11. What did this administration know and when did it know it, about the events of September 11? 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?"

Gee. McKinney must be a mind-reader. Or she's utilizing former First Lady co-president junior Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's Psychic Friends. Whatever. First, to place in perspective the blatant stupidity of this statement, one must recall that this is the same congressperson who blasted Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani for not taking the $10 million from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia after the September 11 attacks. The House of Saud had repeatedly stated that US policy towards the Middle East had precipitated these attacks. Guiliani, while quite gracious to the visiting Prince, refused the check on moral grounds - basically telling the Prince to stick it. Most people applauded and supported this decision. McKinney, however, didn't. The Honorable Ms. McKinney even penned a letter to the Prince, all but prostrating herself on the ground for his money. Hmm, trying to profit, Ms. McKinney?

Yet, McKinney has all but pointed her finger and yelled, "Fire!" where none exists at the Bush administration and former President Bush Number 41 for allegedly profiting from the attacks. "For example, it is known that President Bush's father, through the Carlyle Group had — at the time of the attacks — joint business interests with the bin Laden construction company and many defense-industry holdings, the stocks of which have soared since September 11," Mrs. McKinney said.

Where's the proof? Where's the evidence?

On the April 12 edition of Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes both asked pointed questions to Ms. McKinney's spokesperson who appeared on the show on her behalf. A journalist, Wayne Madsen did the standard song-and-spin-dance to the direct questions posed. Hannity asked, point blank - "Where's the proof? Where's the evidence?" Of course, Mr. Madsen dodged and parried and equivocated by arguing for an "investigation."

To investigate a crime, cops and law enforcement need proof. They need evidence. One can't just fashion allegations out of thin air. The agencies tasked to investigate also need the manpower and tools to properly do the job. An investigation by Congress into the breakdown of the intelligence is, no doubt, definitely warranted. But maybe they should also look at some of the restrictions they have placed on the Intelligence community and its agents.

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence should take a long hard look at some of the policies they have initiated in the past few years on how human intelligence may, or more appropriately may not, gather information. By hand-cuffing human intelligence operations with impractical rules on gathering practices, the committee has in a sense, brought this down upon themselves. To catch a criminal, you sometimes have to deal with criminals. Not so, according to this committee.

The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States is as follows: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Nowhere in this most precious guarantee does it say, imply, suggest or otherwise hint that someone can make blatant accusations of heinous conduct or alleged crimes, and call it protected speech. We do have a guarantee in this country to say what's on our mind, to print what we want - thank God, or else you wouldn't be reading this article, and this website wouldn't exist! To waffle and whine that McKinney's statement is "protected" by the First Amendment, is to grant those who yell "Gun!" in a crowded public place the same right.

Our elected officials bear a huge responsibility, one granted to Ms. McKinney by her constituents, to act and conduct themselves in the best interests of, We, the People of the United States. By undermining this administration with unfounded allegations of such horrific proportions during a time when this country is at war, is not only dangerous, it borders upon treason.

McKinney released a statement shortly after the Berkeley radio interview in which she said, "I am not aware of any evidence showing that President Bush or members of his administration have personally profited from the attacks of September 11. A complete investigation might reveal that to be the case." Wishful thinking on her part or semi-backpedalling from her earlier comments? One thing is for sure; it's definitely not a retraction of her outrageous accusations.

The Atlanta-based Southeastern Legal Foundation has called for immediate and formal action be taken against Representative McKinney for her statements. "Cynthia McKinney has disgraced the U.S. House and has offered falsehoods and innuendo to the terrorist enemies of America," said Phil Kent, Southeastern Legal Foundation's President. "We have petitioned the House Committee to investigate and sanction Ms. McKinney's public allegations of high treason by the Bush administration as conduct unbecoming an elected official."

When is free speech not free speech? When it's treason.

Update: The day this article was set to be pubished, this news item was brought to my attention. Written by Congressional Bureau Chief, Jeff Johnson, the article is titled: "Some McKinney Contributors Support Terrorist Groups." Johnson details funds donated to McKinney's 1999-2000 campaign as reported by the Federal Elections Commission records from the following: Abdurahman Alamoudi, the founder and former executive director of the American Muslim Council ($1,000), Aly Abuzaakouk, American Muslim Council ($1,000), Nihad Hammad, Council on American Islamic Relations ($500). The American Muslim Council has ties to Hamas and Hezbollah. CAIR has been under scrutiny since the 1993 bombing of the WTC. The data is courtesy of the Center for Responsive Politics -


© 2002 Lori Cutshall

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