2007.03.19: March 19, 2007: Headlines: Figures: COS - Tunisia: Journalism: Humor: Washington Post: Al Kamen writes: Cynthia McKinney is "No Longer a Sign of the Times"
Peace Corps Online:
Speicial Report: Journalist and Tunisia RPCV Al Kamen:
2007.03.19: March 19, 2007: Headlines: Figures: COS - Tunisia: Journalism: Humor: Washington Post: Al Kamen writes: Cynthia McKinney is "No Longer a Sign of the Times"
Al Kamen writes: Cynthia McKinney is "No Longer a Sign of the Times"
There's often trouble when folks rush to honor pols who are still in office. Ohio University in December scratched the name of former representative Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) from an athletic facility a month after he resigned and pleaded guilty to corruption charges. The Robert W. Ney Center for Health and Physical Education is now the Ohio University Eastern Campus Health and Education Center. Let's hope Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) doesn't get indicted. There are about 40 buildings in West Virginia named after him. Washington Post reporter Al Kamen served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia.
Al Kamen writes: Cynthia McKinney is "No Longer a Sign of the Times"
It appears that former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney's name will continue to grace the signs on a major road that runs through her old district in Georgia.
Caption: In 2000, Memorial Drive in Atlanta was renamed the "Cynthia McKinney Parkway," honoring Georgia's first black congresswoman. McKinney lost her primary election last year, but her name remains on the road sign. (Photo By Gene Blythe -- Associated Press)
McKinney lost in a Democratic primary in August after years of controversy -- accusing the Bush administration of knowing of the impending Sept. 11 attacks but keeping it quiet, scuffling with a Capitol Police officer, accusing Al Gore of having a "low Negro tolerance level."
The old Memorial Drive was changed in 2000 to the Cynthia McKinney Parkway, to honor McKinney, Georgia's first black congresswoman.
A move last year to revert to the old name is pending in the Georgia House and is unlikely to pass this year, the Associated Press reported last week.
There's often trouble when folks rush to honor pols who are still in office. Ohio University in December scratched the name of former representative Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) from an athletic facility a month after he resigned and pleaded guilty to corruption charges. The Robert W. Ney Center for Health and Physical Education is now the Ohio University Eastern Campus Health and Education Center.
Let's hope Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) doesn't get indicted. There are about 40 buildings in West Virginia named after him.
Who is Cynthia McKinney?
Cynthia Ann McKinney (born March 17, 1955) is an American politician from the U.S. state of Georgia. A Democrat, McKinney is a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2003, and from 2005 to 2007, representing Georgia's fourth congressional district. McKinney was defeated in the 2006 Democratic primary, losing her Congressional seat for the second time.
Early life and political career
McKinney was born in Atlanta, the daughter of Billy McKinney, one of Atlanta's first African-American law enforcement officers and a former Georgia State Representative, and Leola McKinney, a retired nurse. She currently lives in the Atlanta suburb of Stone Mountain. She is a Roman Catholic, one of the few members of that faith to have electoral success in heavily Protestant Georgia.
She earned a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Southern California, a Masters of Art in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and she is expected to complete a Ph.D. at University of California, Berkeley.
Her political career began in 1986 when her father, a representative in the Georgia House of Representatives, submitted his daughter's name as a write-in candidate for the Georgia state house. She received about 40 percent 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 age 20). In 1988, McKinney ran for the same seat and won, making the McKinneys the first father and daughter to simultaneously serve in the Georgia state house.
McKinney immediately challenged House rules requiring women to wear dresses by wearing slacks. In 1991, she spoke out against the Persian Gulf War, causing many legislators to walk out in protest at her remarks.
Service in the U.S. House of Representatives
In the 1992 election, McKinney was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as the member of Congress from the newly-created 11th District, a 64 percent black-majority district stretching from Atlanta to Savannah. She was the first African-American woman to represent Georgia in the House. She was handily reelected in 1994.
In 1995 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Johnson that the 11th District was an unconstitutional gerrymander because the boundaries were racially discriminatory. McKinney's district was subsequently renumbered the 4th and redrawn to take in almost all of DeKalb County, prompting a response of outrage from McKinney. She asserted that it was a racially-discriminatory ruling, given the fact that the Supreme Court had previously ruled that Texas's 6th District, which is 91 percent white, was constitutional.
The new 4th, however, was no less Democratic than the 11th, and McKinney was reelected from this district in 1996, 1998 and 2000 with no substantive opposition. McKinney lost her seat in 2002 after losing the primary election (details below). She regained her seat in 2004, when it was open due to Denise Majette's run for U.S. Senate. In 2006, she was opposed in the Democratic primary by Hank Johnson and John Coyne III. She led the July 18 primary, with Johnson coming in second, but the race continued to an August 8 runoff, because no candidate received 50 percent of the votes cast. McKinney lost the primary election runoff 59 percent to 41 percent to Johnson on August 8, 2006: Hank Johnson 41,178 59% Cynthia McKinney 28,832 41%.
Honors and recognition
McKinney has been featured in a full-length motion picture titled American Blackout. On April 14, 2006, she received the key to the city of Sarasota, Florida and was doubly honored when the city named April 8 as "Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney Day" in Sarasota. On May 1, 2004, during her hiatus from office, McKinney was awarded the fifth annual Backbone Award by the Backbone Campaign "because she was willing to challenge the Bush administration and called for an investigation into 9-11 when few others dared to air their criticism and questions."
On June 14, 2000, Rep. McKinney was honored when part of Memorial Drive, a major thoroughfare running through her district, was renamed "Cynthia McKinney Parkway," but the naming has come under scrutiny since her primary defeat in 2006. Memorial Drive leads from south Atlanta to Stone Mountain. Her father had previously been honored when a portion of Interstate 285 in Atlanta was dedicated as "Billy McKinney Parkway."
2002 Primary defeat
In 2002, McKinney was defeated in the Democratic primary by DeKalb County judge Denise Majette. It was stunning by itself that Majette, who had never run in a partisan contest before, was able to unseat the seemingly entrenched McKinney. However, Majette won by an overwhelming margin, garnering 58% of the vote to McKinney's 42%.
McKinney protested the result in court, claiming that thousands of Republicans, knowing they had no realistic chance of defeating her in November, had participated in the Democratic primary to vote against McKinney in revenge for her anti-Bush administration views and allegations of possible voter fraud in Florida in the 2000 Presidential Election. Like 20 other states, Georgia operates an open primary: voters do not claim a political party when they register to vote, and may participate in whichever party's primary election they choose. Thus, relying on the Supreme Court's decision in California Democratic Party v. Jones, which had held that California's blanket primary violated the First Amendment (despite the fact that the Court explicitly differentiated - albeit in dicta - the blanket primary from the open primary in Jones), on McKinney's behalf, five voters claimed that the open primary system was unconstitutional, operating in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the associational right protected by the First Amendment, and various statutory rights protected by §2 of the Voting Rights Act.
The district court dismissed the case, noting that the plaintiffs had presented no evidence in support of the Equal Protection and VRA claims, and lacked standing to bring the First Amendment claim. It interpreted the Supreme Court's Jones ruling to hold that the right to association involved in a dispute over a primary - and thus, standing to sue - belongs to a political party, not an individual voter. On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld this result (Osburn v. Cox, 369 F.3d 1283 (2004)) in May 2004, noting that not only were the plaintiffs' claims meritless, but the remedy they requested would likely be unconstitutional under the Supreme Court's decision in Tashjian v. Republican Party of Connecticut. On October 18, 2004, the Supreme Court brought an end to the litigation, denying certiorari without comment (Osburn v. Georgia, 04-217) (cert denied, 541 U.S. __).
Other factors in her defeat were her controversial statements regarding 9/11, her reported support of Palestinian causes and her condemnation of human rights abuses against Palestians by Israel. Indeed, many pro-Israel lobbying groups donated money to Majette during the primary. On the night before the primary election, McKinney's father stated on Atlanta television that "Jews have bought everyone ... J-E-W-S" in the election, presumably referring to AIPAC involvement in orchestrating the "erase Cynthia" campaign.
McKinney wrote in CounterPunch on September 13, 2002 that Judge Joe Brown told the Congressional Black Caucus unequivocally that the "murder rifle" was not the weapon that killed Dr. Martin Luther King.
McKinney traveled widely as a public speaker between her terms in office.
Cynthia McKinney in 2006
Cynthia McKinney in 2006
Throughout 2003 and 2004, McKinney toured America and much of Europe speaking of her defeat, her opposition to the Iraq War, and the Bush administration. In a January 2004 issue of Jet magazine, McKinney said that the "white, rich Democratic boys club wanted her to stay in the back of the bus."
On September 9, 2004, McKinney participated as a Commissioner in the The Citizens' Commission on 9-11. On October 26, 2004, she was among 100 prominent Americans and 40 family members of those killed on 9/11 who signed the 9/11 Truth Movement statement, calling for new investigations of what they perceived as unexplained aspects of the 9/11 events.
Speculation suggested that she was considering a run as the Green Party's nominee for the 2004 presidential election. However, she had made no secret of her desire to win back her old congressional seat, and turned down the Green Party nomination.
2004 return to Congress
Majette declined to run for reelection to the House, opting instead to become a candidate to replace retiring Senator Zell Miller, a conservative Democrat. McKinney instantly became the favorite in the Democratic primary. Since it was taken for granted that whoever won the Democratic primary would be the district's next congressman, McKinney's opponents focused on clearing the field for a single candidate who could force her into a runoff election. They apparently hoped in the interim to drive up McKinney's negatives enough to make it easier to defeat her in the runoff.
However, her opponents' efforts were unsuccessful, and five candidates entered the Democratic primary. As a result of the fragmented primary opposition, McKinney won just enough votes to avoid a runoff. This all but assured her return to Congress after a two-year absence. However, in a break from traditional practice, the House Democratic Caucus did not restore her seniority. If her seniority had been restored, McKinney would have been a senior Democrat as ranking member of the International Relations Committee. Instead, that post went to Tom Lantos of California.
McKinney hosted the first delegation of Afro-Latinos from Central and South America and worked with the World Bank and the U.S. State Department to recognize Afro-Latinos. She stood with Aboriginals against Australian mining companies; and with the U'wa people of Colombia in their fight to save their sacred land from oil rigs.
9/11 commission and government secrecy issues
Initially, McKinney kept a low profile upon her return to Congress. However, on July 22, 2005, the first anniversary of the release of the 9/11 Commission Report, McKinney held a well-attended congressional briefing on Capitol Hill to address outstanding issues regarding the September 11, 2001, attacks. The day-long briefing featured family members of victims, scholars, former intelligence officers and others who critiqued the 9/11 Commission account of 9/11 and its recommendations. The four morning panels purported 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, expressing surprise that McKinney was once again taking on the issue which was widely believed to have been the one that cost her House seat. The Journal-Constitution refused to publish McKinney's reply.
McKinney's interest in 9/11 relates specifically to what she expresses as 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 2028. 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 be released under another bill introduced by Rep. McKinney. 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).
On March 24, 2005, she held a talk with Rumsfeld and others regarding 9/11 and other issues.
McKinney has been an advocate for victims of Hurricane Katrina and a critic of the government's response. Over 100,000 evacuees from New Orleans and Mississippi relocated to the Atlanta area, and many have now settled there.
During the Katrina crisis, evacuees were turned away by the Gretna Police when they attempted to cross the Crescent City Connection Bridge between New Orleans and Gretna, Louisiana.  Representative McKinney was the only member of Congress to participate in a march across the Crescent City Connection Bridge on November 7, 2005 to protest what had happened on that bridge in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. 
Seeking justice for the affected survivors, McKinney introduced a bill , on November 2, 2005, that 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. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, but was not acted on. However, in August 2006, a grand jury began an investigation of the incident  
McKinney chose to be an active participant in the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina, despite the Democratic Party leadership's call for Democratic Members to boycott the committee, and submitted her own 72 page report. She sat 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?"
The Congressional Black Caucus' Omnibus Bill (HR 4197) was introduced on November 2, 2005 to provide a comprehensive response to the Gulf Coast residents affected by Hurricane Katrina. The second title of the bill was submitted by McKinney, seeking 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.
At the request of McKinney's efforts, 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.
Rep. McKinney along with Rep. Barbara Lee (CA), produced a "Katrina Legislative Summary," a chart summarizing House and Senate bills on Hurricane Katrina. On June 13, 2006, McKinney pointed out on the House Floor that only a dozen of the 176 Katrina bills identified on the chart had passed into law, leaving 163 bills stalled in committee.
Anti-war and human rights efforts
Until 2000, McKinney served on the House International Relations Committee, where she was the highest-ranking Democrat on the Human Rights Subcommittee. McKinney felt that it was important that US policy reflect a deep respect for human rights, so she worked on legislation to stop conventional weapons transfers to governments which are undemocratic or fail to respect human rights. Her legislation to end the mining of coltan in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo was mentioned in the United Nations Security Council's "Special Report on Ituri," January 2002-December 2003.
On November 18, 2005, McKinney was one of only three House members (out of 406) to vote for H.R. 571, introduced by House Armed Services Committee chairman Duncan Hunter, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, on which McKinney sat. Hunter, a Republican, offered this resolution calling for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces in Iraq in place of John Murtha's H.J.Res. 73, which called for redeployment "at the earliest possible date." In her prepared statement, McKinney accused the Republicans of "trying to set a trap for the Democrats. A 'no' vote for this Resolution will obscure the fact that there is strong support for withdrawal of US forces from Iraq ... In voting for this bill, let me be perfectly clear that I am not saying the United States should exit Iraq without a plan. I agree with Mr. Murtha that security and stability in Iraq should be pursued through diplomacy. I simply want to vote 'yes' to an orderly withdrawal from Iraq."
Articles of Impeachment Introduced
At the end of the 2006 legislative session, McKinney introduced articles of impeachment against President Bush as (H Res 1106), which makes three charges against President Bush: manipulating intelligence and lying to justify the war in Iraq, failing to uphold accountability and violating privacy laws with his domestic spying program.
The second article also makes charges against Vice President Cheney for helping to "fix" the intelligence in order to justify the Iraq war, and against Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for making false statements concerning Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction program.
Because the resolution was introduced on the final day of voting before McKinney's term ended, the legislation was largely symbolic.
The Capitol Police incident
On the morning of March 29, 2006, McKinney entered the Longworth House Office Building's southeast entrance and proceeded past the security checkpoint, walking around the metal detector. Members of Congress have identifying lapel pins and are not required to pass through metal detectors. The officers present failed to recognize her as a Member of Congress because she was not wearing the appropriate lapel pin. She proceeded westward down the ground floor hallway, and about halfway down the hallway was grabbed by United States Capitol Police officer Paul McKenna, who states that he had been calling after her "Ma'am, Ma'am!" Two days later, Officer McKenna filed a police report claiming that McKinney had struck "his chest with a closed fist."
In the midst of a media frenzy, McKinney made an apology  on the floor of the House of Representatives on April 6, 2006, neither admitting to nor denying the charge, stating only that: "There should not have been any physical contact in this incident." Minutes before making the Congresswoman's apology, McKinney's security officer made contact with a TV correspondent outside of the U.S. Capitol. 
Though not indicted for criminal charges or subjected to disciplinary action by the House, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police has advocated the filing of a civil suit by Officer McKenna.
For more on this incident, go to: March 29, 2006 Capitol Hill Police Incident.
Cynthia McKinney has been involved in controversies before. In the wake of the March 29 incident with the Capitol Police officer, Rep. McKinney was still very much "in the news" and her office invited the media to attend one of her monthly "District Days," where she spends one full day meeting with constituents to discuss issues of concern. At her April 23, 2006, "District Days" event, Rep. McKinney was being interviewed by WGCL's Renee Starzyk, who rather than asking questions about District Days as McKinney would have liked, repeatedly questioned her about the March 29 scuffle with a Capitol Police officer. Frustrated, McKinney stood up, and forgot she was still wearing the microphone. Her off screen comments were captured on tape. She was heard saying, "Oh, crap, now you know what ... they lied to Coz and Coz is a fool." She was referring to one of her aides, Coz Carson. McKinney realized the embarrassing mistake and returned on screen with the microphone, this time with instructions on what parts of the interview CBS 46 was allowed to use, "anything that is captured by your audio ... that is captured while I'm not seated in this chair is off the record and is not permissible to be used ... is that understood?" Her comments were immediately aired on CBS and eventually across the nation: CNN video Link to video: McKinney Caught On-Air Blasting Aide.
McKinney had long maintained that Bush was illegitimately elected and had lied about 9/11 in order for him to allow his friends to personally profit from the attack.Breitbart News
In a 2002 interview on Pacifica Radio McKinney questioned the Bush administration's possible prior knowledge of the September 11, 2001 attacks:
We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on September 11 ... 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 the 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?
– "Flashpoints" with Dennis Bernstein, KFPA Pacifica Radio, March 25, 2002
These remarks provoked criticism, and many Democrats distanced themselves from McKinney's statements. However, in the film American Blackout, journalist Greg Palast points out that the ellipses used in this quotation put together two phrases from different parts of the interview, charging that it was an attempt to mi On April 12, 2002, McKinney issued a statement saying that "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 this to be the case."
In a controversial remark, McKinney said that on September 13, 2002, Judge Joe Brown had stated unequivocally that the purported murder rifle was not the weapon that killed Dr. Martin Luther King.
On October 12, 2001 (approximately the one-month anniversary of the September 11 attacks), McKinney sent a letter to Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal that was highly critical of the way Israel responds to terrorist attacks, and was not critical of the terrorist attacks upon Israel.  McKinney further suggested that the money that the prince donated for 9/11 relief that had been rejected by Rudolph Giuliani be redirected toward charities chosen by McKinney. McKinney's supporters say the letter was appropriate; her critics describe it as "fawning" and "disgraceful."
During the 2000 presidential campaign, McKinney wrote that "Al Gore's Negro tolerance level has never been too high. I've never known him to have more than one black person around him at any given time." The Gore campaign pointed out, however, that his campaign manager was black.
McKinney's 2002 campaign and statements had been characterized by some as anti-Semitic, and controversy erupted again when one of her "supporters" blamed "Jews" for her defeat. McKinney maintains that she opposes anti-Semitism and responded to the controversy with this statement:
"The people who made those remarks were not associated with my campaign in any formal way, and I want to make clear from this hour that any informal ties between me and my campaign and anyone holding or espousing such views are cut and renounced."
McKinney added, "Anyone who makes blanket denunciations of Jews or "the Jew" is certainly not a supporter of mine, not a staff member, not a consultant to, nor is welcome to be a volunteer in my campaign," despite a similar statement by her father in the past.
 2006 primary and primary runoff
Main article: Georgia 4th congressional district election, 2006
McKinney finished first in the July 18, 2006 Democratic primary, edging DeKalb County Commissioner Hank Johnson 47.1% to 44.4%, with a third candidate receiving 8.5%. However, since McKinney failed to get at least 50% of the vote, she and Johnson were forced into a run-off. McKinney had been heavily favored to win, so her narrow margin surprised observers. Johnson picked up support because he seemed to have a real possibility of winning.
In the runoff of August 8, 2006, although there were about 8,000 more voters than in the primary, McKinney received about the same number of votes as in July. Johnson won with 41,178 votes (59%) to McKinney's 28,832 (41%). According to CNN, during her concession speech, McKinney barely mentioned her opponent but praised the leaders of Cuba and Venezuela [taken to be Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez], took aim at the efficacy of electronic voting machines and offered several swipes at the media.
2008 Green Party speculation
Once again, McKinney is being mentioned among Green Party circles as a potential candidate in 2008. Green Party members attempted to recruit McKinney both in 2000 and 2004. In 2000, she was widely mentioned as a possible running mate (in the VP slot) for Ralph Nader; in 2004 attempts were made to convince McKinney to run on the Green Party ballot line for president. While there had been a great deal of excitement amongst party members concerning a possible McKinney run in those prior elections, the congresswoman had little to do with the party outside of Green Party loyalists working on her Democratic congressional campaigns. This changed drastically following her defeat in the 2006 election. McKinney recently attended the California Green Party strategy retreat in Sonoma, California, where she was the keynote speaker 
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