Equal Time

Bush must answer Sept. 11 questions

by Cynthia McKinney

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 4/15/02

The need for an investigation of the events surrounding Sept. 11 is as obvious as the need for an investigation of the Enron debacle. Certainly, if the American people deserve answers about what went wrong with Enron and why (and we do), then we deserve to know what went wrong on Sept. 11 and why.

Are we squandering our goodwill around the world with what many believe to be incoherent, warmongering policies that alienate our friends and antagonize our allies? How much of a role does our reliance on imported oil play in the military policies put forward by the Bush administration? And what role does the close relationship between the Bush administration and the oil and defense industries play, if any, in the policies being pursued by this administration?

We deserve to know what went wrong on Sept. 11 and why. After all, we hold thorough public inquiries into rail disasters, plane crashes and even natural disasters in order to understand what happened and to prevent them from happening again or minimizing the tragic effects when they do. Why, then, does the administration remain steadfast in its opposition to an investigation into the biggest terrorism attack upon our nation?

News reports from Der Spiegel to the London Observer, from the Los Angeles Times to MSNBC to CNN, indicate that many different warnings were received by the administration. In addition, it has even been reported that the United States government broke Osama bin Laden's secure communications before Sept. 11. Sadly, the United States government is being sued today by survivors of the U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa because, from court reports, it appears clear that the United States had received warnings, but did little to secure and protect the staff at our embassies.

Did the same thing happen to us again? 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. A complete investigation might reveal that to be the case. 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 family's construction company and many defense industry holdings, the stocks of which have soared since Sept. 11.

On the other hand, what is undeniable is that corporations close to the administration have directly benefited from the increased defense spending arising from the aftermath of Sept. 11. The Carlyle Group, DynCorp and Halliburton certainly stand out as companies close to this administration.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld maintained in a hearing before Congress that we can afford the new spending, even though the request for more defense spending is the highest increase in 20 years. All the American people are being asked to make sacrifices. Our young men and women in the military are being asked to risk their lives in our war against terrorism while our president's first act was to sign an executive order denying them high deployment overtime pay.

The American people are being asked to make sacrifices by bearing massive budget cuts in the social welfare of our country, in the areas of health care, Social Security and civil liberties for our enhanced military and security needs arising from the events of Sept. 11. It is imperative that they know fully why we make the sacrifices. If the secretary of defense tells us that his new military objectives must be to occupy foreign capital cities and overthrow regimes, then the American people must know why.

It should be easy for this administration to explain fully to the American people in a thorough and methodical way why we are being asked to make these sacrifices and if, indeed, these sacrifices will make us more secure. If the administration cannot articulate these answers to the American people, then the Congress must.

This is not a time for closed-door meetings and secrecy. America's credibility, both with the world and with her own people, rests upon securing credible answers to these questions. The world is teetering on the brink of conflicts while the administration's policies are vague, wavering and unclear.

Major financial conflicts of interest involving the president, the attorney general, the vice president and others in the administration have been and continue to be exposed. This is a time for leadership and judgment that is not compromised in any fashion. This is a time for transparency and a thorough investigation.


U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney is a Democrat representing Georgia's 4th Congressional District

September 11th, 2001

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