Alternet.Org is featuring an article by Greg Palast, The Screwing of Cynthia McKinney, which engages in outright lies and distortions about what McKinney did or did not say about the Bush administration’s prior knowledge about the 9/11 attacks.
Palast cites several media accounts in which McKinney is described as having implied that the Bush administration knew about the 9/11 attacks ahead of time. But Palast says that such claims were simply fabricated. For example, Palast writes of NPR,
Have you heard about Cynthia McKinney, former U.S. Congresswoman?
According to those quoted on National Public Radio, McKinney’s “a loose cannon” (media expert) who “the people of Atlanta are embarrassed and disgusted” (politician) by, and she is also “loony” and “dangerous” (senator from her own party).
Yow! And why is McKinney dangerous/loony/disgusting? According to NPR, “McKinney implied that the [Bush] Administration knew in advance about September 11 and deliberately held back the information.”
. . .
Problem is, McKinney never said it.
That’s right. The “quote” from McKinney is a complete fabrication. A whopper, a fabulous fib, a fake, a flim-flam. Just freakin’ made up.
The first bizarre thing about this is that Palast never actually cites any direct quotes attributed to McKinney, but then turns around and says that this quote that was not attributed to her is fabricated. Huh? If someone fabricated a quote and put it into McKinney’s mouth, it’s odd that Palast doesn’t once describe exactly what that fabricated quote was.
Second, that’s because Palast is a liar who is really the one playing games with quotes here. Notice that the only direct quote from the NPR broadcast about McKinney’s views on 9/11 is the paraphrase, “McKinney implied that the [Bush] Administration knew in advance about September 11 and deliberately held back the information.” But here’s the transcript of the start of that June 16, 2002 broadcast,
JOSHUA LEVS reporting:
A couple of months ago, Congresswoman McKinney was on radio station KPFA in Berkeley, California. She said people close to President Bush, such as his father, could profit from the new war on terrorism. The senior George Bush sits on the board of The Carlyle Group, an investment firm that does hundreds of millions of dollars in defense-related business with the government.
(Soundbite of KPFA broadcast)
Representative CYNTHIA McKINNEY (Democrat, Georgia): And so we get this presidency of questionable legitimacy requesting a nearly unprecedented amount of money to go into a defense budget for defense spending that will directly benefit his father. Where are the brakes on transparency and corruption?
LEVS: McKinney implied that the administration knew in advance about September 11th and deliberately held back information.
(Soundbite of KPFA broadcast)
Rep. McKINNEY: 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?
NPR did not fabricate anything — they included two soundbites that let McKinney speak for herself. Of course, those quotes from McKinney are nowhere to be found in Palast’s article. Why let the facts get in the way of a smear campaign?
Palast does a similarly deceitful hack job on the New York Times coverage of McKinney,
The New York Times’ Lynette Clemetson revealed her comments went even further over the edge: “Ms. McKinney suggest[ed] that President Bush might have known about the September 11 attacks but did nothing so his supporters could make money in a war.”
That’s loony, all right.
Palast then includes a transcript of an interview he did with Clemetson in which Clemetson is unable to cite a direct quote of McKinney back up her reporting. Palast then claims that this quote doesn’t exist “. . . in the Congressional Record, nor in any recorded talk, nor on her Website, nor in any of her radio talks.” In fact, here’s what McKinney said in a press release put out by her office and posted to her House web site shortly after her KPFA interview (emphasis added),
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. 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.
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 September 11. The Carlyle Group, DynCorp, and Halliburton certainly stand out as companies close to this Administration. Secretary 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 twenty years and the Pentagon has lost $2.3 trillion.
It is Clemetson who is correct and Palast who is doing a lousy job of reporting here. Doesn’t Alternet have anyone doing any fact checking or do they simply run any Left wing conspiracy theory that comes along?
Update: Palast apparently repeats this bogus claim in his book See No Evil. TomPaine.Com ran an excerpt from the book which included this,
She [McKinney] was labeled a traitor, a freak, a conspiracy nut and “a looney” — the latter by her state’s Democratic Senator, who led the mob in the political lynching of the uppity Black woman. The New York Times wrote, “She angered some Black voters by suggesting that President Bush might have known in advance about the September 11 attacks but had done nothing so his supporters could make money in war.” The fact that she said no such thing doesn’t matter; the Times is always more influential than the truth. Dan Rather had warned her, shut up, don’t ask questions, and you can avoid the neck-lacing. She didn’t and it cost her her seat in Congress.
Is Palast using Michael Moore as a ghostwriter by any chance?
Update #2: In his extensive research for his book, Palast also apparently missed this article by McKinney published in Counterpunch,
We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on September 11. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, delivered one such warning. Those engaged in unusual stock trades immediately before September 11 knew enough to make millions of dollars from United and American airlines, certain insurance and brokerage firms’ stocks. 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?
Weekend All Things Considered. NPR, June 16, 2002.
The Screwing of Cynthia McKinney. Greg Palast, AlterNet, June 18, 2003.
Statement of Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. April 12, 2002.