Wednesday, July 23, 2008

McCain's environmental attacks and violent temper

Mad McCain has never been a friend of the environment or Native Americans

TUCSON -- Below are some sections from an important new article about John McCain's anti-environmental record and threatening temper.

From Star Whores: How John McCain doomed Mount Graham, by Jeffrey St. Clair: More tellingly, the University got its way because it has powerful politicians in its pocket, ranging from Bruce Babbitt to John McCain, and they used them relentlessly, especially the vile McCain.

The university tapped McCain to push through congress the so-called Idaho and Arizona Conservation Act of 1988. This deceptively-titled law was actually a double-barrel blast at the environment: it gave the green light to illegal logging in the wildlands of Idaho and for the construction of the Mount Graham telescopes, shielding them from any kind of litigation by environmentalists or Apaches. To help sneak this malign measure through congress, the University shelled out more than a half-million dollars for the services of the powerhouse DC lobbying firm Patton, Boggs and Blow.

Arizona sacred sky island Mt. Graham harmed by McCain

The bill passed in the dead of night and, in the words of one University of Arizona lawyer, it gave the astronomers the right to move forward "even if it killed every squirrel".

It also exempted the project from the National Historic Preservation Act and other laws that might have made it possible for the Apaches to assert their claims to the mountain, giving the University of Arizona the dubious honor of becoming the first academic institution to seek the right to trample on the religious freedoms of Native Americans.

In the spring of 1989 with the squirrel population in freefall, the Forest Service, which oversees Mount Graham as part of the Coronado National Forest, began to raise questions about the project. Worried that the astronomers' road might spell the squirrel's demise, Jim Abbott, the supervisor of the Coronado forest, ordered a halt construction at the site. The delay infuriated McCain.

On May 17, 1989, Abbott got a call from Mike Jimenez, McCain's chief of staff. Jimenez informed Abbot that McCain was angry and wanted to meet with him the next day. He told Abbott to expect "some ass-chewing". At the meeting, McCain raged, threatening Abbott that "if you do not cooperate on this project [bypassing the Endangered Species Act], you'll be the shortest tenured forest supervisor in the history of the Forest Service."

Unfortunately for McCain, there was a witness to this encounter, a ranking Forest Service employee named Richard Flannelly, who recorded the encounter in his notebook. This notebook was later turned over to investigators at the General Accounting Office.

A few days later, McCain called Abbott to apologize. But the call sounded more like an attempt to bribe the Forest Supervisor to go along with the project. According to a 1990 GAO report on the affair, McCain "held out a carrot that with better cooperation, he would see about getting funding for Mr. Abbott's desired recreation projects".

Environmentalists lodged an ethics complaint against McCain, citing a federal law that prohibits anyone (including members of Congress) from browbeating federal personnel. The Senate ethics committee never pursued the matter. When the GAO report, condemning McCain, surfaced publicly, McCain lied about the encounter, calling the allegations "groundless" and "silly"

In 1992, environmentalists Robin Silver and Bob Witzeman went to meet with McCain at his office in Phoenix to discuss Mount Graham. Silver and Witzeman are both physicians. The doctors say that at the mention of the words Mount Graham McCain erupted into a violent fit. "He slammed his fists on his desk, scattering papers across the room", said Silver. "He jumped up and down, screaming obscenities at us for about 10 minutes. He shook his fists as if he was going to slug us. It was as violent as almost any domestic abuse altercation."

Witzeman left the meeting stunned: "I'm a lifelong environmentalist, but what really scares me about McCain is not his environmental policies, which are horrid, but his violent, irrational temper. I wouldn't want to see this guy with his finger on the button."

Read the full story.

No comments: