August 8, 2001
Posted: 10:59 AM EDTCongress seeks to oust Bush following racial profiling fiasco, police state maneuvers
WASHINGTON (XYZ Wire Service) - Congressional leaders are scrambling to begin impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush following several unprecedented federal security measures that critics say constitute an unconscionable assault on American civil liberties. Wall Street, meanwhile, is reeling from a seismic downturn while the airline industry is predicted to topple.
The Bush administration's sudden imposition of several new - some say ``terrifying' - policies came on the heels of an alleged FBI warning that radical Muslim terrorists were planning to hijack U.S. commercial airliners. In the past 36 hours, Bush has taken several steps that have sent American citizens and institutions into shock.
Federal officials have:
- Detained and begun questioning about two dozen aviation students who are of Arab or Middle Eastern descent, prompting the Arab American and Muslim communities to organize massive protests in several cities.
- Posted military personnel in airports and imposed extensive personal searches that have forced long lines, delays and charges of racial profiling as travelers who appear to be of Middle Eastern descent have been targeted by security inspectors.
- Ordered a tightening of borders and alerted immigration personnel to be on the lookout for suspicious activities, especially among Middle Easterners.
As one TV pundit observed, there hasn't been this much furor in the nation's capital since the days of Vietnam War protesters. ``This is insanity, this is an outrage,' said Democratic leader Rep. Richard Gephardt on CNN's ``Crossfire.'
U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., has charged Bush with racial profiling. She has asked for an investigation into the FBI report that prompted these measures, saying that the report was too ``vague' to justify any government action.
In a radio interview, McKinney suggested that the Bush administration was fictionalizing a terrorist threat in order to justify imposing his conservative domestic agenda on an unsuspecting America. ``I'm not saying he made it up; I'm just saying that an investigation might show that he did,' said McKinney.
Responding to such attacks, the White House is urging Americans to be patient.
``We understand Americans' concern; President Bush did not take these steps without careful consideration,' said White House press secretary Ari Fleischer. ``Given that American lives were at stake, President Bush felt he had no choice.'
The security threat to which Bush allegedly was responding came in the form of a memo to the president during a routine daily briefing while Bush was vacationing at his home in Crawford, Texas. Bush had requested an intelligence analysis of possible attacks by ``al-Qaida,' a radical Muslim terrorist organization headed by a wealthy Saudi Arabian exile named Osama bin Laden.
Bush specifically was interested in possible attacks on American soil, as most intelligence reports previously had focused on threats against U.S. targets overseas. Al-Qaida groups, which operate as small cells, claimed responsibility for several attacks on American targets during the Clinton administration. According to White House sources, Bush was concerned that bin Laden and al-Qaida had not been taken seriously enough during the previous administration.
The new report said that bin Laden followers might seek to hijack U.S. airliners.
``So what?' demanded McKinney. ``Since when don't we know that terrorists might seek to hijack U.S. airliners? It's cold in Alaska, too. Did anybody mention that?'
Fleischer noted during a press conference that another FBI memo, written in July, mentioned that two students at an Arizona flight school were thought to be linked to al-Qaida.
``President Bush merely connected the dots,' said Fleischer. ``When you have two possible al-Qaida members training to fly airplanes in the U.S., combined with information that bin Laden may be targeting American airliners, you can't just hope nothing bad will happen. You have to act, and that's exactly what the president did.'
The Muslim American Society and The Council on American Islamic Relations joined McKinney yesterday at a rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial to demand Bush's impeachment. McKinney has accepted campaign contributions from dozens of Muslim Americans, some of whom also have donated to terrorist organizations.
``Just because two flight students are 'thought' to be members of al-Qaida, Bush is rounding up Muslims?' McKinney said at the rally. ``Can anybody say, 'racial profiling'?
``African Americans cannot stand by and let this happen to people of color. When you start rounding up men of Middle Eastern descent just because some terrorists happen to be of Middle Eastern descent, that's not 'connecting the dots,' my fellow Americans, that's tightening the noose!'
Bush will address the nation tonight at 8 on all major networks. At 9 p.m. CNN's ``Larry King Live' will air a live interview with special guest Osama bin Laden.
Kathleen Parker is a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel, 633 N. Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801. Send e-mail to her at email@example.com