by Congresswoman Cynthia A. McKinney
Authorities tell us that the world changed on September 11. As a result,
university professors must watch what they say in class or be turned
in to the "speech" police. Elected officials must censor themselves
or be censured by the media. Citizens now report behavior of suspicious-looking
people to the police. Laws now exist that erode our civil liberties.
Americans now accept these infringements as necessary to win America's
America, the world's only superpower, is stifled in its ability to defend
human rights and democracy abroad because it has failed the fundamental
test at home. Our combination of money and military might, and our willingness
to use them, did not make us a superpower. We are the most powerful nation
on the face of the planet because we have combined raw power with American
ideals such as dignity, freedom, justice, and peace. These ideas and
ideals are admired around the world and are more important, in my view,
to our position of global strength than our ability to shoot a missile
down a chimney. We might be feared because of our military, but we are
loved because of our ideals.
Sadly, we have put American goodwill at risk around the world because
of an imbalance in our foreign policy that is palpable to even the most
In 1994, after an act of terrorism killed two sitting presidents, the
Clinton Administration purposely failed to prevent the genocide of one
million Rwandans in order to install favorable regimes in the region.
In 1999 Madeleine Albright OK'd a Sierra Leone peace plan that positioned
Foday Sankoh as Chairman of the Commission for the Management of Strategic
Resources, a position that placed him answerable only to the President
despite the fact that his terrorist organization raped little girls and
chopped off their hands as it financed its way to power with illegal
diamond sales. Jonas Savimbi, recently killed on the battlefield, helped
the US protect the minority rule of racists in South Africa and his organization
continues to rampage across southern Africa in Angola, Namibia, parts
of Congo-Kinshasha, and Rwanda without restriction, financed by illegal
diamond sales. The continued plunder of Africa's rich resources without
penalty and sadly with the knowledge and support of powerful people in
the US, serves as the foundation of the particular terrorism that victimizes
Africans. And now, as Africans grapple with the fundamental right to
control their own resources and despite United Nations reports making
no such links, Bush Administration experts seem prepared to link African
diamonds with anti-US terrorism, "necessitating" tightened US control
over Africa's resources.
And so, with no concern at all for the effects on others of US-supported
terrorism, the US, with its bombs and military, embarks on a worldwide
crusade against terrorism that Bush says likely will last as many as
twenty years. The list of target countries is long with Afghanistan,
Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan, the Philippines, and Iraq offering the
But what of the fact that Henry Kissinger and the current new US Ambassador
to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, both once lobbied Washington, DC on
behalf of a US oil company, Unocal, and a softer policy toward the Taliban?
Whose war is this really?
In November 2000, Republicans stole from America our most precious right
of all: the right to free and fair elections. In an organized manner,
Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his Secretary of State Katherine Harris,
created a list of convicted felons--57,700 to be exact--to "scrub" from
the state's voter rolls. The names were created from Florida records
and from lists provided by 11 other states, the largest list coming from
Texas. We now know that most of the people on that list were innocent
of crimes. The list was a phony. And worse, the majority of these rightful
voters were people of color and likely Democratic voters. Of the thousands
who ultimately lost their vote through this scrub of voters, 80% are
African-American. Had they voted, the course of history would have changed:
Harris declared Bush the victor by only 537 votes. President Carter has
said that the Carter Center would not certify the US 2000 Presidential
elections had they been asked to do so.
Consequently, an Administration of questionable legitimacy has been
given unprecedented power to fight America's new war against terrorism.
Before September 11, two million Americans found themselves behind bars:
80% of them people of color. Millions of Americans are sleeping on the
streets of American cities. All over America, unarmed black men are targeted
by rogue police officers, who shoot first and ask questions later. While
52% of all black men feel they have been victims of racial profiling,
the Supreme Court declines to hear an important case on racial profiling.
The Bush Administration "disses" the World Conference Against Racism
and the people around the world who care about eliminating racism. In
February 2001, The United States Commission on National Security, including
Newt Gingrich, recommended that the National Homeland Security Agency
be established with a hefty price tag. Most people chuckled at the suggestion.
After September 11, we have OK'd the targeting and profiling of certain
groups of people in America while not arresting in any way the racial
profiling and discrimination that existed prior to September 11. Mass
arrests, detention without charge, military tribunals, and infringements
on due process rights are now realities in America. Even more alarming
are the calls in some circles to allow the use of torture and other brutal
methods in pursuit of "justice." Sadly, US administration of justice
will be conducted by an Administration incapable of it. Interestingly,
prominent officials explain to us that September 11 happened because
we are free. And "they" hate us because we are free.
Moreover, persons close to this Administration are poised to make huge
profits off America's new war. Former President Bush sits on the board
of the Carlyle Group. The Los Angeles Times reports that on a single
day last month, Carlyle earned $237 million selling shares in United
Defense Industries, the Army's fifth-largest contractor. The stock offering
was well timed: Carlyle officials say they decided to take the company
public only after the Sept. 11 attacks. The stock sale cashed in on increased
congressional support for hefty defense spending, including one of United
Defense's cornerstone weapon programs.
Now is the time for our elected officials to be held accountable. Now
is the time for the media to be held accountable. Why aren't the hard
questions being asked? 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?
September 11 erased the line between "over there" and "over here." The
American people can longer afford to be detached from the world, as our
actions abroad will have a direct impact on our lives at home. In Washington,
DC, decisions affecting home and abroad are made and too many of us leave
the responsibility of protecting our freedoms to other people whose interests
are not our own. From Durban to Kabul to Atlanta to Washington, what
our government does in our name is important. It is now also clear that
our future, our security, and our rights depend on our vigilance.
Copyright Cynthia McKinney 2002.