- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 13, 2002

Republicans were outraged and Democrats were on the defensive yesterday over comments by Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney suggesting that the Bush administration knew of impending terrorist attacks before September 11 but did not stop them.
"All I can tell you is the congresswoman must be running for the hall of fame of the Grassy Knoll Society," said White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.
Republicans demanded that Democrats denounce the comments the Georgia Democrat made on "Flashpoints," a show on KPFA radio in Berkeley, Calif.
"Such statements have no place in a country united behind a common goal and against a common enemy," said House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican. He urged "[Rep. Richard A.] Gephardt and all Democratic leaders" to condemn Mrs. McKinney's remarks before someone takes them "seriously."
On the March 25 radio show, Mrs McKinney, 47, said: "We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on September 11th. 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?"
Mr. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat and the House minority leader, was trying to track down yesterday the full transcript from the radio interview, his spokesman Erik Smith said.
"We don't agree with everything she says, and we're confident that a congressional inquiry will answer anyone's questions," he said, referring to a House-Senate panel investigation of the September 11 attacks.
Mrs. McKinney did not respond to Mr. Fleischer's comments but did release a lengthy statement.
It said: "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."
She also said on the radio show that the administration stole the election and with its "questionable legitimacy has been given unprecedented power to fight America's new war against terrorism." She added that "persons close to this administration are poised to make huge profits off America's new war."
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, asked yesterday: "Was this communicated to her by a psychic? Where did that come from?"
One of Miss McKinney's fellow Georgia Democrats, Sen. Zell Miller, came out strongly against her comments, calling them "dangerous and irresponsible."
"I hope President Bush will remember that this is the same congresswoman who during each of his State of the Union addresses arrives early to get a coveted aisle seat, then leans way over as Bush walks down the aisle, hoping he will give her a kiss for all to see on national TV," Mr. Miller said in a statement.
Mr. Gephardt's spokesman said Republicans were focusing yesterday on Mrs. McKinney's comments to draw attention away from the conviction Thursday of Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., Ohio Democrat, on several charges, including racketeering, bribery and fraud.
"Part of me thinks that Republican efforts to focus on McKinney are trying to distract people from Republican leadership's apparent defense of a convicted felon serving in Congress," Mr. Smith said. "I haven't heard a word from Republican leadership about Traficant's fitness about serving in office."
Richard Diamond, spokesman for Mr. Armey, dismissed that. "He's not our member. He's part of the Democratic caucus, not the Republican caucus," Mr. Diamond said of Mr. Traficant.
Mrs. McKinney's on-air comments also suggested that President Bush's father, former President George Bush, and other former high-ranking members from both parties were enriched by the attacks through their employment with the Carlyle Group, a Washington-based investment firm.
"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," Mrs. McKinney said.
Mrs. McKinney, who is serving her fifth term in Congress, has a history of controversy. After September 11, she angered many people by criticizing New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani for turning down a $10 million donation from a Saudi Arabian prince. The prince had suggested that U.S. policies in the Middle East were partly to blame for the terrorist attacks.
The Southeastern Legal Foundation in Atlanta sent a letter yesterday to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct requesting an investigation and sanction of Mrs. McKinney for her statements.
At least one Republican went a little easier on her, saying that such an investigation was not necessary.
"I think they were pretty irresponsible comments," said Rep. Jack Kingston, Georgia Republican and longtime friend and colleague of Mrs. McKinney. "I don't think anyone's taking them seriously. But she has the right as a member of Congress to say what she wants or believe what she wants."
Mr. Kingston, who served with Mrs. McKinney in the Georgia House in the 1980s, called her a "savvy politician" and said this incident will not affect her political career.
"I've known her for a long time, and these somewhat irrational statements pop up from time to time, and she gets through them. She gets elected," he said.

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