Robert F. Kennedy Jr. today turned a congressional subcommittee hearing into a diatribe on the dangers faced by the United States, affirming that hog producers are a far greater threat to the nation's future than Osama bin Laden and his terror network. Kennedy's comments came in response to a question from U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.
King asked whether a comment attributed to Kennedy in a published Iowa report in 2002 was accurate. According to the report, Kennedy stated, "Large-scale hog producers are a greater threat to the United States and U.S. democracy than Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network."
"Is that an accurate quote?" asked King, whose state includes thousands of small businesses producing pork.
"I believe it and I support it," Kennedy said.
Kennedy's verbal attack on hog producers is found at this YouTube link and also is embedded here:
Kennedy explained that he agrees with Teddy Roosevelt's statement that "this nation would never be destroyed by a foreign enemy. But he said malefactors with great wealth working from within would erode and subvert American democracy."
As an environmental lawyer, Kennedy had been called to testify on various regulations promulgated by the Bush administration.
But Kennedy accused King of asking an "inflammatory" question.
"Osama has no power over this country," he said, periodically poking his finger in the air at the congressman. "Osama can't make us alter our Constitution but that is happening every day because of the power of this industry [hog producers]."
A spokesman for King's office in Washington said the congressman was concerned by the statements from Kennedy that accused the hog industry of subverting public officials, polluting the earth and damaging the nation.
Kennedy is president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, a New York environmental organization.
According to an online research resource called ActivistCash, which monitors the flow of donations regarding political issues, Kennedy "stumbled" into the environmental movement as a result of a 1984 criminal conviction for heroin possession in Rapid City, S.D..
"A judge sentenced him to 800 hours of community service, which he satisfied with volunteer work for the Hudson River Foundation. After his 800 hours were used up, the organization (now operating as the Hudson Riverkeepers) hired Kennedy as its 'chief prosecuting attorney,'" the report said.
The site reported in July 2003 a major U.S. pork producer obtained an indictment against Kennedy in Poland for "slander" over an inflammatory rant against the company's division there. The website reported Kennedy was accused of spouting "untrue information" and "consciously manipulated the facts."