- WASHINGTON -- Revisiting
the issue that helped spur her ouster from Congress three years ago, Rep.
Cynthia McKinney led a Capitol Hill hearing Friday on whether the
Bush administration was involved in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11,
- The eight-hour hearing, timed to mark the first anniversary
of the release of the Sept. 11 commission's report on the attacks, drew
dozens of contrarians and conspiracy theorists who suggest President Bush
purposely ignored warnings or may even have had a hand in the attack "
claims participants said the commission ignored.
- "The commission's report was not a rush to judgment,
it was a rush to exoneration," said John Judge, a member of McKinney's
staff and a representative of a Web site dedicated to raising questions
about the Sept. 11 commission's report.
- The White House and the commission have dismissed such
questions as unfounded conspiracy theories.
- McKinney first raised questions about Bush's involvement
shortly after the attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, generating
a furious response from fellow Democrats in Washington and voters in Georgia,
who ousted her in 2002.
- "What we are doing is asking the unanswered questions
of the 9/11 families," McKinney, a DeKalb County Democrat who won
back her seat in 2004, said during the proceedings.
- She rebuffed a reporter's repeated attempts to ask her
why she would so boldly embrace the same claims that led to her downfall.
- "Congresswoman McKinney is viewed as a contrarian,"
panelist Melvin Goodman, a former CIA official, said. "And I hope
someday her views will be considered conventional wisdom."
- Though she left the testimony and questioning of panelists
to others, McKinney was the main attraction, presiding over more than two
dozen participants, including the author of a book that claims the U.S.
government had advance knowledge of the Pearl Harbor attack and allowed
it to happen, and Peter Dale Scott, who wrote three books on President
John F. Kennedy's assassination.
- Georgia peanuts, Cokes and coffee were available to more
than 50 attendees, whose casual dress was a decided change from the gangs
of blue-suited lobbyists who usually crowd Capitol Hill hearings.
- McKinney herself offered witnesses bottled water and
found additional trash cans to place around the room.
- Nearly a dozen 9/11 enthusiasts lined one side of the
room, camcorders at the ready, broadcasting the hearing live over the Internet
or recording it for later release. C-SPAN cameras documented the hearing,
and a DVD recording of the proceedings will soon be available.
- Ten people sat in a section reserved for family members
of 9/11 victims.
- "Nine-eleven could have been prevented," said
Marilyn Rosenthal, a University of Michigan professor who lost a son in
the attacks, echoing the premise of the hearing.
- Panelists maintained that Bush ignored numerous warnings
from the CIA, the Federal Aviation Administration, foreign governments
and others who told him before 9/11 that Osama bin Laden was planning to
attack the United States and that terrorists were likely to use hijacked
airliners as weapons.
- But why would the president or his administration want
the 9/11 attacks to occur? Power, the panelists agreed.
- In the wake of the attacks, the administration was able
to greatly expand the president's power and the reach of the federal government,
they said, but whistle-blowers and other potential witnesses who could
have testified to the Sept. 11 commission about such things were either
prevented from speaking or ignored in the commission's final report. Panelists
called the commission's report "a cover-up."
- "The American people have been seriously misled,"
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