Former Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney blasts Bush administration's war and corruption
April 2003

Former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney spoke at a town meeting on the Price of War on March 22 in Gainesville. The Town Meeting followed an anti-war March and Rally, and was sponsored by many local groups, and organized by CCAWT, the Community Coalition Against War and Terrorism. What follows is a transcript of her remarks:

This is my first substantive visit to Gainesville--I hope it's not my last. And I now have a police file. We caught them taking our pictures as we were marching. When I ask for my Freedom of Information Act now, I have to include Gainesville in the whole file. This is an example of what they're afraid of; look at the diversity in this room.

During my time in Congress, I was particularly interested in finding out the real root solutions to the problems that face America because I thought that's what I was supposed to do as a member of Congress. When they gave us the senseless, silly 'talking points' and then we were supposed to go out and mimic them to our constituents, and our constituents had real issues and real cares and real fears, I couldn't do that. I couldn't lie to my constituents; I couldn't lie to the American people. Well, anyway it got me into trouble.

Now I'm here and we're going to investigate the various different costs of war. There are human costs, corruption costs, and direct costs. I'll just take a few examples. I love to read. I love to research. When I go on the Internet, I know I can't stop at CNN. Actually, I don't even start at CNN.

First of all, we need to understand that we haven't adequately dealt with the human costs from the first Gulf War. Most media ignore 160,000 US casualties from the first Gulf War. How do we treat our veterans? This is a pretty good indicator of how we're going to treat future veterans. And Bush, who was AWOL for a year and a half, how is he going to treat not just the veterans but our soldiers who are fighting right now?

The first thing that he did after declaring the war on terrorism was to deny our young servicemen and women their high deployment overtime pay. When families are disrupted because one of the members has to go off to all of these places where we now have deployed our young men and women, there's a real cost. What Congress said, and Bill Clinton agreed to, was that we will try to reimburse the young men and women for that cost. Of course, you can't really reimburse them with money, but we will try our best to give them extra pay for having to serve overseas for such a long time. George W. Bush signed an executive order taking this away. If he would do this to the young men and women now when we need them, just imagine what he's going to do when he thinks he doesn't need them any more.

The veterans of the first Gulf War and the Lou Gehrig's Disease, the birth defects, the cancer, the dizzy spells, the infertility, and all that they have to live with--the reaction that they've gotten from our government so far is pitiful. Or as we would say in the hood, a piss-poor response. They used depleted uranium before, they used it in Kosovo and in former Yugoslavia, and now there are studies ... there's a suspicion that they're 'enhancing' some of the missiles with regular uranium.

We have the most recent example of a Gulf War veteran who was executed for killing a soldier. And we know that other young men have come back in North Carolina and committed acts of domestic violence. We don't know what the full range of human costs is with respect to the imbroglios that we get into, but they also need to be a part of the calculation.

Now, with respect to the corruption costs.... Dick Cheney is still on the Halliburton payroll. We didn't get this from the American press. It was the British press (and it's not as corrupted as ours, but it isn't the best, either) who told us. He gets up to a million dollars a year. I think that reeks of something, that you'd have a sitting vice president receiving a salary from a company that has a ten year unlimited contract to 'make the troops happy.' One of the things that they're doing is feeding the troops, and the troops are getting sick off of Halliburton's food. But you won't read about that anywhere. So you've got this contract: he can spend X million dollars, and he can make up the X. And they get a bonus if they go to X plus one.

But then recently, starting with Seymour Hirsch at the New Yorker, we find out about Richard Perle. He sets up a company immediately after 9/11, and then he has meetings with all these people who are unsavory characters, so we're told. Here is the chairman of our Defense Policy Board trying to conduct business with these people.

It is amazing, the corruption costs. President Bush's father has some kind of relationship with the Carlyle Group, a defense manufacturer which has a relationship with Saudi Arabia. Does this affect our policy? What's the relationship if you request the largest defense increase in a generation, and some of that money just happens to go to your daddy's company? That kind of doesn't look good, to me.... And then John Snow was chairman of CSX, which sold its ships to guess who: the Carlyle Group. This happened just before Snow was confirmed as the Treasury Secretary. Y'know, I thought we had something called 'conflict of interest.'

Donald Rumsfeld told the House Armed Services Committee, on which I sat, that we have to increase our defense spending because of September 11th. Why is it that when the MI6 (the British CIA) had a chance to capture Osama Bin Laden, they didn't do it? Or what about those FBI informants who were living with the hijackers--y'all didn't talk to each other? And why is it that both Bush and Cheney--and this one is on Tom Daschle not to investigate September 11th? Sept. 11th is the reason we're doing all this, but they don't want an investigation. It's amazing to me.

Then you read in the Sydney Morning Herald that the agents became suspicious of their bosses. They said the FBI chief was so lax, agents felt they were spies. So when I got the talking points from the House International Relations Committee telling me that they bombed us because we are free, I thought "Wait a minute! It's got to be a little bit deeper than that."

And then I had the opportunity to meet with James Bamford, the author of Body of Secrets. He came up with some shocking documents from a little program that the Joint Chiefs drew up and approved called Operation Northwoods [in the '60s]. It would include shooting innocent people on America's streets, boats carrying refugees to be sunk on the high seas, a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in DC, Miami, and elsewhere, people would be framed for bombing who didn't commit [anything], planes would be hijacked using phony evidence. This was because the Joint Chiefs wanted a war against Cuba, and John F. Kennedy wouldn't give it to them.

Then, there are the moral costs, probably the most important. When the American people give a little bit, our government seems to be inclined to take a lot. In the 1950's, they had a program called MK-Ultra, a mind control program testing drugs like LSD. If you want to hear this story, go to Democracy Now! online and you can hear Paul Robeson, Jr. tell how his father was a victim of MK-Ultra. The assassination of Bobby Kennedy, who we learned recently was considering Martin Luther King, Jr. to be his vice presidential running mate--CIA agents were in the room, and some people suggest that was an MK-Ultra project as well.

Then of course we have these little programs like Magic Lantern, Echelon, Carnivore. These are real; the FBI confirms that Magic Latern exists. Don't think that they're not looking at your computer, your emails, instant messages, faxes, and everything else.

And the government just decides that they aren't going to tell you how bad it really is. The Bush administration has decided that they're just going to stop reporting on layoffs because they don't want the American people to understand the real costs of this war. They can propose $1.2 trillion for what they now call 'national missile defense' which is really just Star Wars, and at the same time Bush can propose a tax cut that gives to the five Walton (of Walmart) children more money than the one million employees of Walmart will get.

From there you get a country that can produce a memorandum like NSC Memorandum #46 where they predict that they're going to implement regime change for black America, and this was written by Zbigniew Brzezinski. Or you can have a complete denunciation of five innocent young men who just happen to be poor, Latino, and black for raping a woman, and then they find out after they've served 10 years in prison that it just wasn't so. Aside from the fact that their lives were damaged, also their reputations were damaged prior to trial by people like Donald Trump.

Then there are the actual costs. I subscribe to what some would consider conservative budget organizations because when it comes to the issue of corporate welfare, there is sometimes a meeting of the minds between the left and the right. We're told that this war could cost more than $100 billion, but the president isn't going to tell you. And it's off-budget, so we'll never know how much we're paying. But one thing we do know we're paying is they're bombing in Florida; did you know that? Our unemployment is at an eight-year high. Social Security faces tough choices. The White House tells us we have a bleaker outlook. So what are the costs of this war? They are multi-faceted. And it is up to good people like you to demonstrate that you will not take any more of George Bush's--and in Florida, Jeb Bush's--machinations to deprive us of democracy.

I will close with this. It is amazing to me that George W. Bush--well, I won't call him what people in Canada, and Austria, and Italy have called him--can send our young men and women off to fight for freedom, and he denies us our freedom here at home. It is absolutely outrageous that we would stand for it. Let's fight back. This country belongs to us.

Transcribed by Chris Zurheide. For more information on CCAWT, the Community Coalition Against War and Terrorism, see or call CCAWT at 337-9274.

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