The terms "brain trust" and "Cynthia McKinney" do not roll off the tongue like "peanut butter and jelly." But that's how the press release advertised a series of "Brain Trust" panels moderated by Rep. McKinney this past weekend at the Congressional Black Caucus's annual legislative conference. The topic: "The 9/11 Omission: Did the Commission Get it Wrong?"
For the September 23rd meeting at the Washington Convention Center, McKinney assembled three teams of panelists to tackle issues related to "The Road to 9/11," "The Road Since 9/11," and "What the Commissioners Chose to Ignore." After each panelist addressed the 50 or 60 members of the audience, they were questioned by three experts from the "9/11 community," a group dedicated to exposing the government's malfeasance in regards to the terrorist attacks.
On their face, the topics of the panels were not totally ridiculous or far-fetched. After all, Rep. Curt Weldon, a Republican from Pennsylvania, has spent months informing the public about the Department of Defense program Able Danger. The intelligence gathering program may have identified Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 hijackers as threats in the months prior to the attacks, but the 9/11 Commission all but ignored the program in its final report.
Weldon was on the panel's itinerary, but did not appear at the event. (Weldon's office says they never confirmed the representative's appearance at the conference.) Judging from some of the other speakers and questioners at the event, it's no surprise that he wanted nothing to do with it.
McKinney has long lived on the lunatic fringe of leftist politics. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, she claimed that President Bush was aware of "numerous warnings of the events to come on September 11," and that by doing nothing he and his cronies could "make huge profits off America's new war."
Voters in Georgia's 4th district were outraged. She was defeated by Denise Majette in the 2002 Democratic primary. But McKinney and her supporters saw a more sinister reason for her defeat. Her father appeared on an Atlanta TV station to explain why traditional campaign methods like gathering endorsements had failed his daughter: "Jews have bought everybody," he explained. "J-E-W-S."
McKinney reclaimed her seat in 2004 when Majette threw her hat in the ring for the Senate seat vacated by Zell Miller. McKinney has since picked up right where she left off; her "brain trust" panels were stocked with like-minded conspiracy theorists.
Wayne Madsen, author of the Wayne Madsen Report, was one of three questioners of the panelists. His hatred of all things George W. Bush, and love of all things conspiratorial, almost rises to self-parody. In a November, 2002 article in CounterPunch, a progressive newsletter, he had this convoluted analysis of Karl Rove's role in McKinney's reelection campaign: