WHEN REP. CYNTHIA MCKINNEY made the asinine suggestion that President Bush was responsible for Sept. 11, she surely never thought her allegations would travel far.
After all, it’s not as if the Georgia Democrat uttered her infamous remarkthat the Administration foresaw the terrorist attacks, but let them take place so that the armaments industry could profit from a war on terrorismon the House floor. Instead, she chose as obscure and disreputable a media outlet as possible, San Francisco’s KPFA, the Pacifica radio station for Bay Area radicals turned off by the stifling conservatism of NPR.
Little did she know that the Washington Post had its ear tuned in to the voice of the far left, and that nearly three weeks later, the paper would publish her comments. McKinney would soon become the target of national ridicule. Fellow Georgia Democrat Sen. Zell Miller described her conspiracy theory as "loony," as well as "dangerous and irresponsible." The congresswoman’s hometown newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, derided her as "the most prominent nut" among conspiracy-peddling "nut cases."
Such scorn, appropriate and warranted though it is, doesn’t quite go far enough. McKinney deserves not only to be mocked and ridiculed, but censured and condemned, too.
Consider the implications of her suggestion that the White House chose not to "warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered" because "persons close to this Administration are poised to make huge profits off America’s new war." If it were true, Bush and several other Administration officials could easily be found guilty of treasona crime punishable by death. These aren’t the sorts of allegations to be bandied about lightly, without direct, solid evidence.
But McKinney has no evidence to speak ofno documentation showing that the White House knew about the attack and ignored it, or that Bush’s singular ambition as president is to further enrich his wealthy friends.
In the controversy that immediately followed the publication of her comments, the Congresswoman issued a statement admitting as much. "I am not aware of any evidence showing that President Bush or members of his administration have personally profited from the attacks of Sept. 11," she admitted, adding that a "complete investigation might reveal that to be the case." McKinney seemingly believes that baseless conjecture is sufficient grounds for an investigation, and that the President of the United States is guilty until proven innocent.
Notably, the Congresswoman let stand her unsupported allegation that the Administration knew the attacks were coming. The only question left in her mind seems to be motive, but she has some ideas. "What is undeniable," her statement claims, "is that corporations close to the Administration have directly benefited from the increased defense spending arising from the aftermath of Sept. 11."
This is the sort of quackery elevated to the level of fine art in Oliver Stone’s JFKthe anyone-who-stands-to-gain-must-be-responsible school of thought. After all, there are many people who stood to gain from 9/11an attack which, by the way, was largely planned and plotted during the Clinton years.
As long as McKinney is out to find the real killers of Sept. 11, there are some other spurious leads that she may want to investigate. For starters, there are her old friends in the Clinton Administration. Maybe they knew all about the attacks, but declined to tell their successors, in a grand scheme to make Republicans look bad and usher in the federalization of airport-security workers. Then there’s the Red Cross, which profited more from that infamous day than anyone. And, of course, there’s McKinney, who thought she stood to gain by peddling outlandish conspiracy theories to the easily duped listeners of KPFA.
True, there’s no evidence of any such plots, but a complete investigation might reveal them to be the case.
In the US, few people outside the KPFA faithful take mindless and defamatory comments like McKinney’s seriously. But it’s a different story in the Middle East, where the vast majority of "the Arab street" believes that Israel and/or the CIA is responsible for the events of Sept. 11. Hateful Arab delusions have long been nurtured by state-owned schools and media outlets, and now no less an authority than a U.S. congresswoman has indirectly lent her support.
This isn’t the first time McKinney has blown kisses to the radical Arab world. Last Fall, when Mayor Rudy Giuliani declined a $10 million disaster-relief donation from Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal after the prince made comments blaming America’s Middle East policies for the attacks, McKinney smelled an opportunity. She wrote a letter to his Royal Highness in which she not only supported his basic take on world events, but also asked that he send his check to a number of charities working on behalf of black Americans.
Bin Talal declined the offer, but since then, the New York Post reports, he’s undertaken a new philanthropic endeavor. Last week he donated $27 million to the families of Palestinian "martyrs," i.e., terrorists.
Sometimes, it’s more than just loony or nutty to nuzzle up to the nation’s enemies and recycle their rhetoricit’s downright disloyal.