Monday, March 20, 2006

One of a Thousand Points of Light

Cynthia McKinney's

political career began in 1986 when her father, state representative Billy McKinney, submitted her name as a write-in candidate for a Georgia State House district. She received approximately 40% of the popular vote, despite the fact that she lived in Jamaica at the time with then-husband Coy Grandison (with whom she had a son, Coy McKinney, now aged sixteen).

In 1988 she ran for the seat herself and won, thus making the McKinneys the first father and daughter to simultaneously serve in the state house.

McKinney immediately challenged House rules requiring women to wear dresses by wearing slacks. In 1991, she spoke out against the bombing of Iraq during the Persian Gulf War, causing many legislators to walk out in protest at her remarks.

...............

McKinney has suffered through an all out smear campaign by the Bush brown shirt media,
yet continues to speak truth to the tyrants in office. She stood after 9/11 and spoke the truth and she continues to stand in her own light and divine right to be here.

Last election people listened and re-elected her to office.

These are just a few of the issues she has taken on and never looked away.

9/11 commission and government secrecy issues

Initially, McKinney was low-key upon her return to Congress. However, on July 22, 2005, McKinney held a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill to address outstanding issues regarding the September 11, 2001 attacks. The day-long briefing featured family members of victims, former intelligence agency officials, noted authors, and other experts who collectively gave a searing indictment of the 9/11 Commission and its recommendations. First to speak were the Jersey Girls, an organization of 9/11 widows who endeavored to see the 9/11 Commission formed, only to conclude that it was "an insult to the intelligence of the American public," as member Lorie Van Auken described it in her opening statement. The four morning panels were meant to address flaws, omissions, and the lack of historical and political analysis in the commission's report. Three afternoon panels critiqued the commission's recommendations in the areas of foreign and domestic policy, and intelligence reform.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial maintained that the purpose of the event was to discuss whether or not the Bush administration was involved in the 9/11 attacks, and was timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the 9/11 Commission's reports, expressing surprise that McKinney was once again taking on the issue which was widely believed to have been the one that cost her her House seat, yet the Journal-Constitution refused to publish McKinney's reply.

McKinney's interest in 9/11 relates specifically to her opposition to excessive government secrecy. She has submitted to Congress two versions of the same bill, the "MLK Records Act" (one in 2003, the other in 2005,) which, if signed into law, would release all currently sealed files concerning the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.. These records were sealed in 1978 and are not due to be declassified until the year 2038.

Likewise, the 9/11 Commission has sealed all the notes and transcripts of some 2,000 interviews, all the forensic evidence, and both classified and non-classified documents used in compiling its final report until January, 2009. Documents relating to the death of rapper Tupac Shakur, which McKinney has taken an active interest in, would also fall under this bill. In a statement, McKinney explained her reason for the bill: "The public has the right to know because he was a well-known figure. There is intense public interest in the life and death of Tupac Shakur.” Critics assert she is merely pandering to her power base. Others point out that legislation demanding release of records is a more direct route than the tedious process and limited scope of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
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Hurricane Katrina and its responses

McKinney has been an outspoken advocate of the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and an outspoken critic of the government's slow response.

Despite the Democratic Party leadership's call for a boycott, McKinney has been an active participant in the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina, sitting as a "guest" along with only a few other Democrats. In questioning Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, McKinney referred to a news story in which the owners of a nursing home were charged with negligent homicide for abandoning 34 clients who died in the flood waters, McKinney asked Chertoff:

"Mr. Secretary, if the nursing home owners are arrested for negligent homicide, why shouldn't you also be arrested for negligent homicide?"

Another incident in the aftermath of Katrina attracted such attention that McKinney responded with a bill in Congress. Thousands of fleeing evacuees were turned away by the Gretna Police at when they attempted to cross the Crescent City Connection Bridge between New Orleans and Gretna, Louisiana. HR 4209, introduced by McKinney on November 2, 2005, would temporarily deny Federal assistance to the City of Gretna Police Department, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, and the Crescent City Connection Division Police Department in the State of Louisiana for their maltreatment of individuals seeking aid during the Hurricane Katrina crisis, and for other purposes.

Also introduced on November 2, 2005 was the Congressional Black Caucus' Omnibus Bill (HR 4197) to provide a comprehensive response to the Gulf Coast residents affected by Hurricane Katrina, the second title of which was submitted to the Congressional Black Caucus by McKinney and seeks a Comprehensive Environmental Sampling and Toxicity Assessment Plan, or CESTAP, to minimize harm to Gulf Coast residents from the toxic releases into the environment caused by the hurricane. On October 25, 2005, McKinney had already introduced a longer version of this language as the first of two titles in the CESTAP Bill (HR 4139), the second title of which would establish household inspections for mold and other toxins in the wake of Katrina. (The title dealing with mold inspections was first introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-Vermont) as Title XI of S 1836.)

At the request of McKinney, the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina, chaired by Thomas M. Davis held a previously unscheduled hearing titled "Voices Inside the Storm" on December 6, 2005. The first of two panels attracted national attention when several African-American evacuees from New Orleans stated their belief that the disaster relief planning for the hurricane and flood would have been better if the victims had been mostly white, and reported nightmarish stories of their treatment at the hands of police and military authorities. Broadcast live on C-SPAN, the hearing received national media attention (including stories from MSNBC, Yahoo! News, Democracy Now! and an AP story that was republished widely). On December 7th, MSNBC's Brian Williams in an interview with former Presidents Bill Clinton and George Herbert Walker Bush, Bush Sr. said "I would discount somewhat the charge" of racism, in response to a video clip from the December 6th hearing.
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Anti-war, human rights, and impeachment efforts continue http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynthia_McKinney#9.2F11_commission_and_government_secrecy_issues

Thank you Cynthia McKinney - for your courage and statesmanship, both sorely lacking in a corporate criminal congress.

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