Anyone with knowledge of how to interpret the log is encouraged to contact blackboxvoting.org with an offer to assist.
This is the log for the central tabulator used in the Snohomish County Florida Nov. 2 election. This election is now being "hand recounted" (though it was run on Sequoia touch-screens).
This is the first Sequoia audit log we've been able to get our hands on. Riverside, California reportedly tried to claim it isn't a public record (it is) and we've had to file a lawsuit to get it in Palm Beach County.
Saturday, December 11, 2004
Breaking news: Bernard Kerik withdraws his name for consideration for Homeland Security Head.
Claiming a sudden discovery that he had a NannyGate problem, he withdrew his name from consideration. With all the other issues surrounding his past and present associations and dealings, it is highly unlikely that this is the reason. The odds are that there are many more skeletons in his closet, and he got wind of a really bad one that was about to break if he didn't pull out. It had to be something really big, because the Congress was ready to give him the job.
Yet another Friday night breaking news story hoping to be forgotten by Monday. The Bush administration has done this kind of thing over and over, with much success. Let's hope the press doesn't let this one fade so quickly, and does some research into the real reason for the withdrawal.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:16 AM
Friday, December 10, 2004
Measure Expands Police Powers
Long-Disputed Provisions Are in Intelligence Bill
By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 10, 2004; Page A01
The intelligence package that Congress approved this week includes a series of little-noticed measures that would broaden the government's power to conduct terrorism investigations, including provisions to loosen standards for FBI surveillance warrants and allow the Justice Department to more easily detain suspects without bail.
Other law-enforcement-related measures in the bill -- expected to be signed by President Bush next week -- include an expansion of the criteria that constitute "material support" to terrorist groups and the ability to share U.S. grand jury information with foreign governments in urgent terrorism cases.
These and other changes designed to strengthen federal counterterrorism programs have long been sought by the Bush administration and the Justice Department but have languished in Congress, in part because of opposition from civil liberties advocates.
Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo characterized the measures as "common-sense reforms aimed at preventing terrorist attacks."
"We are very pleased that the Congress agreed with us that despite having passed the Patriot Act right after 9/11, we still had work to do," Corallo said, referring to the anti-terrorism legislation approved in October 2001. "We have to constantly look at the laws and look at our vulnerabilities and make sure we are doing everything we can within the law to protect the American people."
But civil liberties advocates and some Democrats said the measures would do little to protect the public while further eroding constitutional protections for innocent people caught up in investigations.
Critics also say the proposed changes were overshadowed by the debate over other aspects of the bill, which puts in place many intelligence agency reforms proposed by the independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Some Democrats say they reluctantly approved the package because they favored the broader intelligence changes.
Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) said that while he voted for the bill because of its intelligence reforms, he opposed much of the expansion of law enforcement power. Most of it was not part of the Sept. 11 panel's recommendations.
"I am troubled by some provisions that were added in conference that have nothing to do with reforming our intelligence network," Feingold said. He later added: "This Justice Department has a record of abusing its detention powers post-9/11 and of making terrorism allegations that turn out to have no merit."
Charlie Mitchell, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the law enforcement measures are "most troubling in terms of the trend they represent." He added: "They keep pushing and pushing without any attempt to review what they've done."
Congressional aides said most of the law enforcement measures were included as part of the original House proposal for intelligence reform, which also called for wide-ranging changes in border and immigration policies. Although some of the most controversial provisions were removed in House-Senate negotiations, several remained in the bill.
Some of the changes were originally part of a legislative draft drawn up by Justice prosecutors in 2002 as a proposed expansion of the USA Patriot Act, administration and congressional officials said. The draft, leaked to the media and dubbed "Patriot II" by critics, was never introduced as a bill in its entirety. But portions were introduced as stand-alone legislation.
As with parts of the original Patriot Act, some of the new powers would expire at the end of 2005 or 2006 unless Congress renewed them.
One key change is a provision in the new intelligence package that targets "lone wolf" terrorists not linked with established terrorist groups such as al Qaeda. In language similar to earlier Senate legislation, the bill would allow the FBI to obtain secret surveillance and search warrants of individuals without having to show a connection between the target of the warrant and a foreign government or terrorist group.
The provision is aimed squarely at avoiding the quandary FBI investigators faced in the weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, when government lawyers haggled over whether they could link Zacarias Moussaoui to a terrorist group and legally search his belongings. Moussaoui has since been charged in connection with the attacks.
Officials said other parts of the bill are direct responses to setbacks in the courts, where prosecutors have lost cases because of disputes over previous legislative language. For example, the legislation tightens the definitions of material support to terrorists in response to California federal court rulings that found the statute underlying such cases to be unconstitutionally vague.
Other provisions in the bill include:
• Suspects in major terrorism crimes automatically would be denied bail unless they show they are not a danger or a flight risk. Advocates say the provision is modeled on similar rules for certain drug crimes, but Mitchell said it would increase the possibility of indefinite detention in alleged terrorism cases.
• Penalties would be increased for such crimes as harboring illegal immigrants, perpetrating a terrorist hoax, and possessing smallpox, anti-aircraft missile systems and radiological "dirty" bombs. The measure also is more explicit than current statutes in making it illegal to attend military-style training camps run by terrorist groups.
• Federal prosecutors would be allowed to share secret information obtained by grand juries with states or foreign governments to protect against terrorist attacks. German authorities, among others, have complained about difficulties obtaining information from the FBI and other U.S. agencies about foreign terrorist suspects.
Research editor Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:14 PM
20 Amazing Facts About Voting in the USA
1. 80% of all votes in America are counted by only two companies:
Diebold and ES&S.
2. There is no federal agency with regulatory authority or
oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry.
3. The vice-president of Diebold and the president of ES&S are
4. The chairman and CEO of Diebold is a major Bush campaign
organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he was "committed to helping
Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."
5. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel used to be chairman of ES&S. He
became Senator based on votes counted by ES&S machines.
6. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, long-connected with the Bush
family, was recently caught lying about his ownership of ES&S by the
Senate Ethics Committee.
7. Senator Chuck Hagel was on a short list of George W. Bush's
8. ES&S is the largest voting machine manufacturer in the U.S. and
counts almost 60% of all U.S. votes.
9. Diebold's new touch screen voting machines have no paper trail
of any votes. In other words, there is no way to verify that the data
coming out of the machine is the same as what was legitimately put in
10. Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and ticket machines,
all of which log each transaction and can generate a paper trail.
11. Diebold is based in Ohio.
12. Diebold employed 5 convicted felons as senior managers and
developers to help write the central compiler computer code that
counted 50% of the votes in 30 states.
13. Jeff Dean, Diebold's Senior Vice-President and senior programmer
on Diebold's central compiler code, was convicted of 23 counts of
felony theft in the first degree.
14. Diebold Senior Vice-President Jeff Dean was convicted of
planting back doors in his software and using a "high degree of sophistication"
to evade detection over a period of 2 years.
15. None of the international election observers were allowed in the
polls in Ohio.
16. California banned the use of Diebold machines because the
security was so bad. Despite Diebold's claims that the audit logs could
not be hacked, a chimpanzee was able to do it. (See the movie here.)
17. 30% of all U.S. votes are carried out on unverifiable touch
screen voting machines with no paper trail.
18. All - not some - but all the voting machine errors detected and
reported in Florida went in favor of Bush or Republican candidates.
19. The governor of the state of Florida, Jeb Bush, is the
20. Serious voting anomalies in Florida - again always favoring Bush
- have been mathematically demonstrated and experts are recommending
Posted by politicalstuff at 10:23 AM
December 8th, 2004
Unfiltered had a world exclusive broadcast interview with computer programmer Curtis Clinton, who alleges that Florida Representative Tom Feeney asked him to develop a program to steal the election - specifically to create a program that would enable a programmer, like himself, to be able to flip votes between candidates.
Here is a link to the interview (it is a windows media audio file):
And, if you are a programmer and wish to see the code, here is the link:
Posted by politicalstuff at 10:00 AM
Silencing the vote
By David Lytel
December 9, 2004
PEOPLE FROM all over Ukraine have gone to Kiev to protest dishonest vote counting in their presidential election. Exit polls, so trustworthy that they are used worldwide to uncover election fraud, showed the opposition candidate had won, and the people didn't believe the news when it reported the government's surprise victory.
To those of us who doubt President Bush won the election in the United States, the key differences between here and Ukraine are the methods of fraud and the passivity of the news media.
Here the party in power used unverifiable computerized voting to boost its totals and intimidation and misinformation to suppress the vote totals of its opponents, but the news media haven't investigated it.
The recounts by the Libertarian and Green parties in Ohio and by the Ralph Nader campaign in New Hampshire are not being covered by the commercial news media, despite being under way for more than two weeks. And that's not even the most consequential story the national press has not yet seen fit to print.
In Franklin County, Ohio, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a Bush campaign official, distributed voting machines so that Republicans could vote efficiently while ensuring that Democrats had to give up hours of their time waiting in line because of a shortage of voting machines in their districts, thus reintroducing a poll tax that the Constitution forbids. Mr. Blackwell did the same elsewhere. One polling place in Howard County, Ohio, that was under court order to permit everyone in line to cast their vote sent them all home at midnight because the order applied only to Election Day itself.
Warren County, Ohio, closed the vote count to outside observers on the advice of the Department of Homeland Security. This county in suburban Cincinnati is of no interest to al-Qaida but it is the single most important county in the nation to Mr. Bush's re-election, having produced nearly one-third of his statewide margin. Democratic registration improved by one-third from four years ago, while Republican registration dropped by 10 percent. Mr. Bush's performance statewide dropped, too, but despite all the arrows in the other direction, Mr. Bush's vote totals mysteriously increased.
Mr. Bush's total increased dramatically over four years ago in the 26 Florida counties using the optical scan equipment manufactured by Diebold Elections Systems, Inc. Democratic performance apparently plummeted everywhere Diebold equipment counted votes.
Multiple counties in these states recorded more votes than there are registered voters.
Exit polls nationwide showed more voters casting ballots for Sen. John Kerry than for Mr. Bush. But instead of explaining the accuracy of exit polling and the dubious trustworthiness of the voting machinery, the news media have refused to investigate.
About 70 percent of Ohio's voters cast punch card ballots. The recount may undermine Mr. Bush's very narrow victory in Ohio. In New Hampshire, we'll learn if voting equipment manufactured by corporations openly in Mr. Bush's camp gave him a bonus. All of these "glitches" and "irregularities" nationwide and not one improperly credited vote to Mr. Kerry? What are the chances of that being random?
Finally, we deserve an investigation because there are so many of us. According to a post-election Harris Poll, 38 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of people who are not enrolled in either of the two major parties believe there were either "some" or "many" attempts at unlawful vote suppression.
The most conservative estimate would be 37 percent of the millions of Democrats who voted, or 18 million Americans. When the independents are added, the total is 30.3 million Americans who do not trust the legitimacy of our own presidential election.
We oppose faith-based voting and demand complete transparency in the vote casting and counting. Like Charlie Brown trusting Lucy to hold the football steady enough to kick, the leaders of our party seem determined to ignore both reason and experience.
Unless we act, the nation will get the same result as in 2000 -- no investigations, no indictments, no convictions and more fraud. We suspect that if the votes had been tallied honestly, we would be preparing for the inauguration of the candidate who authorities with a huge stake in the outcome tell us lost the election.
David Lytel, founder of ReDefeatBush.com, served in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during the first Clinton administration.
Posted by politicalstuff at 9:53 AM
Remarks by Governor Howard Dean On the Future of the Democratic Party
at George Washington University
December 8, 2004
Thank you, Melissa, for that introduction. It's a pleasure to be here.
Let me tell you what my plan for this Party is:
We're going to win in Mississippi
...and South Carolina.
Four years ago, the President won 49 percent of the vote. The Republican Party treated it like it was a mandate, and we let them get away with it.
Fifty one percent is not a mandate either. And this time we're not going to let them get away with it.
Our challenge today is not to re-hash what has happened, but to look forward, to make the Democratic Party a 50-state party again, and, most importantly, to win.
To win the White House and a majority in Congress, yes. But also to do the real work that will make these victories possible -- to put Democratic ideas and Democratic candidates in every office -- whether it be Secretary of State, supervisor of elections, county commissioner or school board member.
Here in Washington, it seems that after every losing election, there's a consensus reached among decision-makers in the Democratic Party is that the way to win is to be more like Republicans.
I suppose you could call that philosophy: if you didn't beat 'em, join them.
I'm not one for making predictions -- but if we accept that philosophy this time around, another Democrat will be standing here in four years giving this same speech. We cannot win by being "Republican-lite." We've tried it; it doesn't work.
The question is not whether we move left or right. It's not about our direction. What we need to start focusing on... is the destination.
There are some practical elements to the destination.
The destination of the Democratic Party requires that it be financially viable, able to raise money not only from big donors but small contributors, not only through dinners and telephone solicitations and direct mail, but also through the Internet and person-to-person outreach.
The destination of the Democratic Party means making it a party that can communicate with its supporters and with all Americans. Politics is at its best when we create and inspire a sense of community. The tools that were pioneered in my campaign -- like blogs and Meetups and most importantly, community building -- are just a start. We must use all of the power and potential of technology as part of an aggressive outreach to meet and include voters, to work with the state parties and to influence media coverage.
The most practical destination is winning elective office. And we must do that at every level of government.
The way we will rebuild the Democratic Party is not from consultants down, but from the ground up.
We have some successes to build on. We raised more money than the RNC, and we did so by attracting thousands of new small donors. This is the first time in my memory that the DNC is not coming out of a national campaign in debt. We trained tens of thousands of new activists.
We put together the most sophisticated get-out-the-vote operation our Party has ever had. We registered millions of new voters, including a record number of minority and young voters. And we saw those new voters overwhelmingly vote Democrat.
Now we need to build on our successes while transforming the Democratic Party into a grassroots organization that can win in 50 states.
I have seen all the doomsday predictions that the Democratic Party could shrink to become a regional Party. A Party of the Northeast and the Pacific Northwest.
We cannot be a Party that seeks the presidency by running an 18-state campaign. We cannot be a party that cedes a single state, a single District, a single precinct, nor should we cede a single voter.
As many of the candidates supported by my organization Democracy for America showed -- people in places that we've too long ignored are hungry for an alternative; they're hungry for new ideas and new candidates, and they're willing to elect Democrats.
Since we started Democracy for America last March, we raised over $5 million, mostly from small donors.
That money was used to help 748 candidates in 46 states and at every level of government.
We helped a Democratic governor get elected in Montana and a Democratic mayor get elected in Salt Lake County, Utah.
We helped Lori Saldana in San Diego. Lori, a Latina grassroots environmental organizer was outspent in both the primary and the general, won a seat on the state assembly.
We also helped Anita Kelly become the first African-American woman elected to her circuit court in Montgomery, Alabama.
Fifteen of the candidates who we helped win last month never ran for elective office before.
And in Texas, a little known candidate who had been written off completely ran the first competitive race against Tom Delay in over a decade.
And others who lost came very close, including Scott Kawasaki who lost by only 45 votes in an Alaska state legislative race -- in a very Republican state. We can win in these states, and we will.
There are no red states or blue states, just American states. And if we can compete at all levels and in the most conservative parts of the country, we can win... at any level and anywhere.
People will vote for Democratic candidates in Texas, and Alabama and Utah if we knock on their door, introduce ourselves and tell them what we believe.
There is another destination beyond strong finances, outreach and campaigns.
That destination is a better, stronger, smarter, safer, healthier America.
An America where we don't turn our back on our own people.
That's the America we can only build with conviction.
When some people say we should change direction, in essence they are arguing that our basic or guiding principles can be altered or modified.
On issue after issue, we are where the majority of the American people are.
What I want to know is, at what point did it become a radical notion to stand up for what we believe?
Over fifty years ago, Harry Truman said, "We are not going to get anywhere by trimming or appeasing. And we don't need to try it."
Yet here we are still making the same mistakes.
Let me tell you something: there's only one thing Republican power brokers want more than for us to lurch to the left -- and that's for us to lurch to the right.
What they fear most is that we may really begin fighting for what we believe -- the fiscally responsible, socially progressive values for which Democrats have always stood and fought.
I'll give this to Republicans. They know the America they want. They want a government so small that, in the words of one prominent Republican, it can be drowned in a bathtub.
They want a government that runs big deficits, but is small enough to fit into your bedroom.
They want a government that is of, by and for their special interest friends.
They want a government that preaches compassion but practices division.
They want wealth rewarded over work.
And they are willing to use any means to get there.
In going from record surpluses to record deficits, the Republican Party has relinquished the mantle of fiscal responsibility.
And now they're talking about borrowing another $2 trillion to take benefits away from our Senior Citizens.
In going from record job creation to record job loss, they have abandoned the mantle of economic responsibility.
In cutting health care, education, and community policing programs... and in failing to invest in America's inner cities, or distressed rural communities... they certainly have no desire to even claim the mantle of social responsibility.
In their refusal to embrace real electoral reform or conduct the business of government in the light of day, they are hardly the model of civic responsibility.
In their willingness to change the rules so that their indicted leaders can stay in power, they have even given up any claim on personal responsibility.
And in starting an international conflict based on misleading information, I believe they have abdicated America's moral responsibility, as well.
There is a Party of fiscal responsibility... economic responsibility... social responsibility... civic responsibility... personal responsibility... and moral responsibility.
It's the Democratic Party.
We need to be able to say strongly, firmly, and proudly what we believe.
Because we are what we believe.
And we believe every person in America should have access to affordable health care. It is wrong that we remain the only industrialized nation in the world that does not assure health care for all of its citizens.
We believe the path to a better future goes directly through our public schools. I have nothing against private schools, parochial schools and home schooling. Parents with the means and inclination should choose whatever they believe is best for their children. But those choices must never come at the expense of what has been -- and must always be -- the great equalizer in our society; public education.
We believe that if you put in a lifetime of work, you have earned a retirement of dignity -- not one that is put at risk by your government or unethical business practices.
The first time our nation balanced its budget, it was Andrew Jackson, father of the Democratic Party, who did it. The last time our nation balanced its budget, it was Bill Clinton who did it. I did it every year as Governor. Democrats believe in fiscal responsibility and we're the only ones who have delivered it.
We believe that every single American has a voice and that it should be heard in the halls of power everyday. And it most certainly must be heard on Election Day. Democracies around the world look to us as a model. How can we be worthy of their aspirations when we have not done enough to guarantee accurate elections for our own citizens.
We believe in a strong and secure America... and we believe we will be stronger by having a moral foreign policy.
We need to embrace real political reform -- because only real reform will pry government from the grasp of the special interests who fight against reform and progress.
The pundits have said that this election was decided on the issue of moral values. I don't believe that. It is a moral value to provide health care. It is a moral value to educate our young people. The sense of community that comes from full participation in our Democracy is a moral value. Honesty is a moral value.
If this election had been decided on moral values, Democrats would have won.
It is time for the Democratic Party to start framing the debate.
We have to learn to punch our way off the ropes.
We have to set the agenda.
We should not hesitate to call for reform -- reform in elections, reform in health care and education, reforms that promote ethical business practices.
And, yes, we need to talk about some internal reform in the Democratic Party as well, and I'll be discussing that more specifically in the days ahead.
Reform is the hallmark of a strong Democratic Party.
Those who stand in the way of reform cannot be the focus of our attention for only four months out of every four years.
Reform is a daily battle.
And we must pursue those reforms with conviction -- every day, at all levels, in 50 states.
A little while back, at a fundraiser, a woman came up to me. She identified herself as an evangelical Christian from Texas. I asked her what you are all wondering -- why was she supporting me. She said there were two reasons. The first was that she had a child who had poly-cystic kidney disease, and that the illness made it impossible for their family to get health insurance.
The second thing she said was, "The real reason we're with you is because evangelical Christians are people of deep conviction, and you're a person of deep conviction.
We may not agree with you on everything, but what we want more than anything else from our government is that when something happens to our family or something happens to our country -- it's that the people in office have deep conviction."
We are what we believe. And the American people know it.
And I believe that over the next two... four... ten years...
Election by election...
State by state...
Precinct by precinct...
Door by door...
Vote by vote...
We're going to lift our Party up...
And we're going to take this country back for the people who built it.
Governor Howard Dean -- December 8, 2004
Posted by politicalstuff at 9:42 AM
Thursday, December 09, 2004
The New York Times
December 9, 2004
Questions for Mr. Kerik
We've been puzzled by President Bush's choice of Bernard Kerik, who was the police commissioner under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, as the homeland security secretary. Before the Senate signs off on his nomination, there are a lot of questions to ask about Mr. Kerik's readiness for this job, and about some troubling parts of his record. If he is confirmed, Congress will want to keep a close eye on him and his department.
Mr. Kerik has some strengths. He has an impressive personal story: he overcame a troubled family background to lead the nation's largest police force. He has considerable experience in law enforcement and antiterrorism activity. It is also welcome that he is a New Yorker, given the city's unique history with terrorism and the unfairness of the formula used to allocate homeland security money, which favors Wyoming over New York.
But other parts of his record are less reassuring. A homeland security secretary should be above politics and respectful of civil liberties. But when he stumped for President Bush this year, Mr. Kerik engaged in fearmongering. He told The New York Daily News that he was worried about another terrorist attack and that "if you put Senator Kerry in the White House, I think you are going to see that happen." And he was quoted in Newsday as saying this about opponents of the Iraq war: "Political criticism is our enemies' best friend."
There are chapters of Mr. Kerik's career that are worthy of particular scrutiny. In the summer of 2003, he spent several months in Iraq training police officers. But his time there appears to have been cut short, right around the time of some serious terrorist attacks, and the state of the force since his departure has been bleak. Given the relevance of that work to his new duties, it would be instructive to know what, if anything, went wrong.
The public is also entitled to know more about his work for Giuliani-Kerik L.L.C., a consulting business he operates with Mr. Giuliani, who reportedly had a large hand in getting him his new position. Mr. Kerik should offer assurances that former clients and colleagues will not get preferential treatment. He has had difficulty with ethical lines in the past. In 2002, he paid a fine for using a police sergeant and two detectives to research his autobiography.
Then there is Mr. Kerik's enormously profitable membership on the board of Taser International, the stun-gun maker. Tasers are marketed as nonlethal, but Amnesty International says more than 70 people have died in the United States and Canada since 2001 after being shocked with them.
One of the most glaring weaknesses in Mr. Kerik's résumé is his limited experience working with Congress and official Washington. The Senate may want to encourage him to bring in experienced top staff members for the heated battles sure to come.
Posted by politicalstuff at 11:07 PM
The New York Times
December 9, 2004
The Suicide Supply Chain
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
From what I can tell from the new organizational flow chart for U.S. intelligence that Congress adopted yesterday, it is a god-awful combination of new titles and jobs at the top, without clear lines of authority to the people on the ground. One thing I've learned from 25 years in the newspaper business (which is just another form of intelligence gathering) is this: Whenever you add a new layer of editors on top of reporters, and don't get rid of some of the old layer of editors, all you get is trouble. You get less intelligent.
The right way to improve U.S. intelligence is to get more people on the ground who speak the languages we need and who can think unconventionally. If that sounds blindingly obvious to you, it is, but it is precisely the shortage of such people that explains to me America's greatest intelligence failure in Iraq - a failure we are paying for dearly right now. You see, we didn't invade Iraq too soon. We actually invaded 10 years too late.
Let me explain: America's greatest intelligence failure in Iraq was not the W.M.D. we thought were there, but weren't. It was the P.M.D. we thought weren't there, but were. P.M.D., in my lexicon, stands for "people of mass destruction." And there were far more of them in Iraq than anyone realized. The failure of U.S. intelligence to understand what was happening inside Iraqi society during the decade-plus of U.N. sanctions that preceded our invasion is the key to many of the problems we've encountered in post-Saddam Iraq.
The U.N. sanctions pulverized Iraqi society - a society already beaten down by an eight-year Iran-Iraq war, the war over Kuwait and some 30 years of Saddam's tyranny. As Saddamism and sanctions chewed up the Iraqi people during the 1990's, many people of talent left. Before the war, the Bush team told anyone who would listen that Iraq had the most talented secular elite in the Arab world. And it was right. The only problem was that during the 1990's many in that elite moved to Amman, Damascus, Beirut, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Cairo, where they worked as professors, music teachers and engineers.
Meanwhile, back in Iraq, those who had no access to Baath Party privileges got steadily ground down. Many Iraqi youth, unable to connect with the outside world and unable to find jobs at home, turned to religion. Saddam encouraged this with a mosque-building program. By wrapping himself in an aura of Islam, Saddam also hoped to buttress his own waning legitimacy. So Wahhabi religious influence flowed into the Sunni areas from Saudi Arabia, as Iranian religious influence flowed into Shiite regions.
You know all those masked Iraqi youth you see in the Al Jazeera videos, brandishing weapons and standing over some foreigner whose head they are about saw off? They are the product of the last decade of Saddamism and sanctions. Those youth were 10 years old when the U.N. sanctions began. They are the mushrooms that Saddam and the sanctions were growing in the dark. The Bush team had no clue they were there.
These deracinated, unemployed, humiliated Sunni Iraqi youth are our biggest problem today. Some clearly have become suicide bombers. We can't say what percentage, because, unlike the Palestinians, the Iraqi suicide bombers don't even bother to tell us their names or do a farewell video for mom. They not only are ready to commit suicide on demand, but they are ready to do it anonymously. That bespeaks a very high level of commitment or psychosis, or both.
I would estimate that U.S. forces have been hit with over 200 of these human missiles, and we still are not sure how they are recruited and deployed. What we are facing, I think, is a crude underground suicide supply chain - a mutant combination of Wal-Mart and Wahhabism.
Its organizers appear to use word of mouth, and the Internet, to recruit suicide bombers from Iraq and the wider Muslim world. These bombers are ferried down the supply chain to bomb makers in the field, who get them wired up and deploy them against U.S. and Iraqi targets tactically.
This is not haphazard. These bombings are timed for maximum effect. That means the insurgents are quite confident about their supply of bombers. It's just like Wal-Mart's supply chain: you buy an item in a Wal-Mart in Arkansas, and another one is immediately made in China. In Iraq, you deploy a suicide bomber in Baghdad, and another one is immediately manufactured in Mosul or Riyadh.
When we have people in U.S. intelligence who can explain how that organizational flow chart works, I'll feel safer.
Posted by politicalstuff at 11:01 PM
The New York Times
December 9, 2004
Lost in a Masquerade
By MAUREEN DOWD
Hoooo-rah! Rummy finally got called on the carpet.
Not by the president, of course, but by troops fighting in Iraq. Some of them are finally fed up enough to rumble about his back-door draft and failure to provide them with the proper armor for their Humvees, leaving them scrambling to improvise with what they call "hillbilly armor."
The defense secretary had been expected to go to Iraq on this trip but spent the day greeting troops in Kuwait instead. Even though Pentagon officials insist that security wasn't an issue, I bet they had to be worried not to travel the extra 40 miles to Iraq.
Rummy met with troops at Camp Buehring, named for Chad Buehring, an Army colonel who died last year when insurgents in Baghdad launched a rocket-propelled grenade into Al Rasheed, a Green Zone hotel once frequented by Western journalists and administration officials that is still closed to guests because - despite all the president's sunny bromides about resolutely prevailing - security in Iraq is relentlessly deteriorating.
As Joe Biden told Aaron Brown of CNN about his visit to Falluja, "They got the biggest hornets' nest, but the hornets have gone up and set up nests other places." He said that a general had run up to him as he was getting into his helicopter to confide, "Senator, anybody who tells you we don't need forces here is a G.D. liar."
Rummy, however, did not hesitate to give the back of his hand to soldiers about to go risk their lives someplace he didn't trouble to go.
He treated Thomas Wilson - the gutsy guardsman from Tennessee who asked why soldiers had "to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles, and why don't we have those resources readily available to us?" - as if he were a pesky Pentagon reporter. The defense chief used the same coldly cantankerous tone and squint he displays in press briefings, an attitude that long ago wore thin. He did everything but slap the kid in the hospital bed.
In one of his glib "Nothing's perfect," "Freedom's untidy" and "Stuff happens" maxims, Rummy told the soldier: "As you know, you go to war with the Army you have."
It wouldn't make a good Army slogan, and it was a lousy answer, especially when our kids are getting blown up every day in a war ginned up on administration lies. Remember when the president promised in the campaign that the troops would have all the body armor they needed?
These young men and women went to Iraq believing the pap they were told: they'd have a brief battle, chocolate, flowers, gratitude. Instead, they were thrust into a prolonged and savage insurgent war without the troop levels or armor they needed because the Pentagon's neocons had made plans based on their spin - that turning Iraq into a democracy would be a cakewalk. And because Rummy wanted to make his mark by experimenting with a lean, slimmed-down force. And because Rummy kept nattering on about a few "dead-enders," never acknowledging the true force, or true nationalist fervor, of the opposition.
The dreams of Rummy and the neocons were bound to collide. But it's immoral to trap our troops in a guerrilla war without essential, lifesaving support and matériel just so a bunch of officials who have never been in a war can test their theories.
How did this dangerous chucklehead keep his job? He must have argued that because of the president's re-election campaign, the military was constrained from doing what it is trained to do, to flatten Falluja and other insurgent strongholds. He must have told W. he deserved a chance to try again after the election.
He had a willing audience. W. likes officials who feed him swaggering fictions instead of uncomfortable facts.
The president loves dressing up to play soldier. To rally Camp Pendleton marines facing extended deployments in Iraq, he got gussied up in an Ike D-Day-style jacket, with epaulets and a big presidential seal on one lapel and his name and "Commander in Chief" on the other.
When he really had a chance to put on a uniform and go someplace where the enemy was invisible and there was no exit strategy and our government was not leveling with us about how bad it was, W. wasn't so high on the idea. But now that it's just a masquerade - giving a morale boost to troops heading off someplace where the enemy's invisible and there's no exit strategy and the government's not leveling with us about how bad it is - hey, man, it's cool.
Posted by politicalstuff at 4:49 PM
Reporter behind Rumsfeld grilling
NEW YORK - An embedded reporter from the Chattanooga Times Free Press is claiming credit for the blunt questioning yesterday of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld by American soldiers in Kuwait.
In an e-mail to an unidentified colleague at the newspaper, Edward Lee Pitts — traveling with a Tennessee National Guard Unit — said that when a scheduling delay permitted him to attend Rumsfeld’s visit with 2,300 troops, he learned that only soldiers could quiz the Secretary. “So,” Pitts writes, “I brought two of them along with me as my escorts. Before hand we worked on questions to ask Rumsfeld about the appalling lack of armor their vehicles going into combat have.”
A copy of Pitts’ e-mail to his Chattanooga colleague is posted on Jim Romenesko’s media blog at the Poynter Institute website. Pitts has a copyrighted piece on the Rumsfeld grilling, headlined “Dispatch Kuwait: ‘Hillbilly armor’ for 278th,” in today’s edition of the Times Free Press.
His e-mail goes on to claim that he even helped ensure that two of the members of the 278th Regimental Combat team got to ask what can only be described as their and his questions. “While waiting for the VIP (Rumsfeld),” Pitts writes, “I went and found the Sgt. In charge of the microphone for the question and answer session and made sure he knew to get my guys out of the crowd.
“One of my guys,” Pitts writes, “was the second person called on.” That would’ve been Army Specialist Thomas Wilson, whose question provoked first several seconds of silence, and then thunderous applause and cheering from the troops. Wilson asked: “We've had troops in Iraq for coming up on for three years and we've all been staged here out of Kuwait. Now why do we soldiers have to dig through local land fills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles, and why don't we have those resources readily available to us?"
Wilson appeared to be reading his question from a small piece of paper in his hand.
Pitts did not identify the second questioner he claims to have prompted, although additional pointed queries of Rumsfeld focused on the military’s controversial “Stop-Loss” policy, and the purported disparity between the quality of equipment assigned to active-duty units, and guard and reserve units. It is noteworthy that Pitts claimed only two of the three most searing questions were, in essence, his plants — the third presumably arose organically.
In the e-mail Pitts insisted this wasn’t merely a clever journalistic strategy. “I have been trying to get this story out for weeks — as soon as I found out I would be on an unarmored truck — and my paper published two stories on it. But it felt good to hand it off to the national press. I believe lives are at stake with so many soldiers going across the border (to Iraq) riding with scrap metal as protection. It may be to (sic) late for the unit I am with, but hopefully not for those who come after.”
If Pitts’ account is correct, he certainly got the attention for the story that he sought. Yesterday, the Pentagon had to applaud the soldiers who questioned Rumsfeld. This morning, the President echoed that endorsement. And the Defense Department had scheduled an early afternoon briefing on the subject of armoring U.S. troop vehicles in Iraq.
Pitts had opened his e-mail to his colleague with a cogent observation: “I just had one of my best days as a journalist today.”
originally published December 9, 2004
Posted by politicalstuff at 4:45 PM
Town halls in Washington and Kuwait
NEW YORK - For all the testimony, for all the verification provided that the names on the internet(s) belong to real people with real hairstyles, the key moment in Wednesday’s voting irregularities forum on Capitol Hill probably came during a colloquy between two of the Congressmen.
Jesse Jackson, Jr., of Illinois, turned to the chair of the ad hoc committee, John Conyers, of Michigan, and said “if the votes are not tallied in the state of Ohio by the appropriate time, is there any thought being given that the committee might consider an objection to the proceeding of the Ohio Electors until such time (as they are tallied)?”
Conyers replied, extending each word to about eleven syllables: “We are now.”
These were deep waters, and in an interview with Countdown’s Monica Novotny right after the forum closed, Conyers backed quite a bit away from the river’s edge. He said “We will wait for someone else,” in preference to drawing congress into a legal battle.
And a battle it would be, because the congressionalese Jackson and Conyers were using, translates roughly as this:
Jackson (translated): The Constitution says the states have to tally the votes of their citizens before they can send their electors to the Electoral College. If Ohio doesn’t finish its recount before the College votes, or before the vote is unsealed before Congress on January 6th, shouldn’t one of us raise a formal objection to those Ohio electors’ votes?
Conyers (translated): After what I heard today, we ought to talk about it.
You may recall that on the November 9th Countdown, law professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, a constitutional expert, told us that though the Electoral College votes next Monday, there is a subsequent window, and a process, for challenging whether voters from a state, pledged to one candidate and not the other, should be allowed to vote.
“If there are controversies,” Professor Turley reminded me, “such as some disclosure that a state actually went for Kerry (instead of Bush), there is the ability of members of Congress to challenge. It requires a written objection from one House member and one senator.”
Once that objection is raised, the joint meeting of the two houses, convened to formally count the Electoral College votes and certify the winner of the presidential election, would be immediately discontinued. “Then both Houses separate again and they vote by majority vote as to whether to accept the slate of electoral votes from that state.”
What Jackson was asking Conyers was whether or not the Congressmen who were at the voting forum should consider invoking that challenge. The threat was raised in 2000, but Al Gore insisted no Democratic representative or senator should wield the cudgel. It last came up in the 1876 mess and it is not a pleasant thing - the wackier of the politically active of the day started to wonder aloud about rebellion.
But despite Conyers’ back-pedaling in the subsequent interview, Congressman Jackson’s question raises an essential point. If the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee who convened the forum seriously believe something went astray in Ohio - even something entirely attributable to static cling in the computers - they should put some of their political capital where their mouths are.
These minority members, who now say they are headed to Ohio to conduct field hearings to listen directly to the grievances of voters there, have provided an invaluable service in forcing at least part of the mainstream to provide a platform for the 20% or more of the citizenry who suspect error or subterfuge.
But to stop there is to subject themselves to accusations of political cowardice and grandstanding. If, in Ohio, or in the calculations of the academics, or in subsequent developments, they conclude there is reasonable evidence that the vote there was rotten - merely accidentally so - one of them in the House and one of them in the Senate should stand up and produce that written challenge to the Ohio electors’ credibility.
As Jonathan Turley suggested - and logic confirms - for the formal challenge to get anything but token support in the Senate and the House, there would have to be overpowering, dramatic, conclusive, evidence to suggest not merely a sour vote but one so screwed up that it could produce a different outcome. And the likelihood of such evidence turning up in the next month is infinitesimally small.
But the challenge itself, even if it garnered exactly one vote each from the Senate and House, would be a powerful protest, and an earnest signal that a full investigation of what happened in Ohio should take place, even after the inauguration. It could even be relevant, legally, in terms of the impounding of voting machines and records, to serve as the basis for some later examination to determine what, if anything, failed - and how it could be prevented from failing again.
There is no question it would be a short-term political liability - even a fatality - to the Representative and Senator who signed it. But, especially with that realization, it would not be an act of partisanship, but of patriotism.
You know - like those soldiers in Kuwait Wednesday morning who gave Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld the shock of his life by asking him searing questions about how the troops in, and on their way to, Iraq, are supplied - or not supplied.
Whether you support the war in Iraq or have protested against it, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, whether you are a Veteran, or a Conscientious Objector, it was an appalling image presented by Army Specialist Thomas Wilson of the 278th Regimental Combat Team: “We've had troops in Iraq coming up on three years and we've all been staged here out of Kuwait. Now why do we soldiers have to dig through local land fills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles, and why don't we have those resources readily available to us?"
For the record, the media got a hold of Specialist Wilson's former wife. She says that she and her ex-husband both voted for President Bush and that they support him "100 percent." She also said Wilson would’ve asked the same question if the president had been standing there instead of Mr. Rumsfeld.
And she didn't like the reply he got. Quoting her: "Rumsfeld's answer seemed like he was sidestepping around the question. If there is something lacking, perhaps that is why our death toll is climbing."
U.S. service men and women are constantly in harm’s way - 1,000 of them now dead in action in Iraq, and another 10,000 injured as of Tuesday night - and they have to scrounge through the garbage to find materials with which to try to keep themselves in one piece. I don’t know whether to weep, or punch somebody.
The same story about insufficient armor, has previously been a campaign issue, a subject that brought up charges of inadequate patriotism in both political directions, and an urban legend. But to hear the men and women at the front hit the Secretary of Defense over the head with it, was an extraordinary moment.
Too extraordinary for one viewer, a veteran, who suggested that the “Town Hall” format in which superior officers or non-military figures open the floor to questions from the grunts, invariably comes with exhaustive preparation, even rehearsal. The viewer wondered if it was possible that the commanders on the ground at that camp in Kuwait could not have known those were the types of questions that were coming - and might’ve thought that was a particularly useful thing for the Secretary, the media, and the public, to hear.
A little too neatly planned of a theory for my tastes. But regardless, retired General Barry McCaffrey was on the show tonight and he agreed with me: The soldiers who broached those questions weren’t complainers or politically motivated. They were Patriots.
It was an eloquent and conclusive argument that dissent is not dangerous to democracy - it is its lifeblood.
originally posted December 8, 2004
Posted by politicalstuff at 4:40 PM
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Bad news for patients in pain
Dec 8, 2004
For millions of Americans living with chronic pain, the federal government has decided to inflict some more.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is reverting to a heavy-handed approach of targeting doctors who prescribe "too many" narcotic painkillers, even if they follow accepted medical practice. That spells more misery for physicians and patients.
Long-term use of painkillers at high doses is often the only way some patients can relieve the agony of cancer and other diseases and lead functional lives. Undertreatment of pain is common, notes the American Medical Association, which has documented years of DEA harassment of physicians who legitimately prescribe narcotics.
In August, DEA reached a compromise with medical experts that would allow physicians to treat pain without risking prosecution for diverting drugs to abusers. But two months later, DEA abruptly broke the deal.
Officially, DEA withdrew the guidelines because they contained "misstatements." But the pain experts who helped write the protocols believe the about-face occurred because a Virginia physician facing drug charges unsuccessfully tried to use the guidelines as evidence in his trial.
The new policy is vague, and DEA promises a clarification soon. As things stand:
Physicians cannot write multiple prescriptions with instructions that they be filled on future dates. If patients run out of pills before returning to their doctors, they're out of luck, says Russell Portenoy, a pain expert at New York's Beth Israel Medical Center who helped write the now-discarded rules.
Patients with any history of substance abuse may not be able to be prescribed narcotics, even if their pain from disease is documented.
The government "can investigate (physicians) merely on suspicion that the law is being violated, or even just because it wants assurances that it is not," DEA warns. That sends a clear message: Doctors who prescribe a high volume of painkillers to alleviate suffering, the very purpose of medicine, will face intense scrutiny.
The bottom line: Patients, particularly the estimated 25 million Americans who are at least partially disabled by chronic pain, will find it tougher to obtain relief. Physicians who fear losing their licenses or liberty will limit the prescribing of narcotics, and many pharmacies will be reluctant to dispense them.
To be sure, drug seekers do scam physicians, a tiny handful of whom are indeed drug pushers. Doctors must take care to ensure that patients don't become addicted to painkillers, as happened to radio host Rush Limbaugh. And stopping illegal diversion of drugs is important. But it shouldn't hinder patients' ability to receive the care they deserve or scare doctors away from using sound medical judgment.
Law enforcement and pain relief needn't be in conflict. DEA needs to write a more reasonable prescription.
Posted by politicalstuff at 10:54 PM
From: Michael Moore
December 8, 2004
May I take a break from our post-election despair to share with you a little piece of happy/silly/cool news?
"Fahrenheit 9/11" has been nominated by the People's Choice Awards as the American public's "Favorite Film of the Year." The five nominees were chosen from a poll of thousands of Americans in mid-to-late November. The other nominees for best film are "Spiderman 2," "The Incredibles," "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (with Jim Carrey), and "Shrek 2." It is the first time ever a documentary has been nominated for best film by the People's Choice Awards.
The People's Choice Awards are considered, among all the awards shows, to be the one which most accurately reflects the "mainstream" public opinion in the United States.
OK, now, here's the best part: YOU get to vote! Online. Now. Just go to http://www.pcavote.com/voting/film/f01.shtml, click on the little circle next to "Fahrenheit 9/11" in the "Favorite Movie" category and press the "vote" button. Voting is going on now and continues only through this coming Monday, December 13, at 3:00pm ET, so send an e-mail to your friends and let them know they can vote, too. Winners will accept their awards live on CBS on January 9.
Now, normally I wouldn't make a very big deal out of something like this. It's nice and I'm honored, but it's not exactly the number one priority on any of our minds these days. In fact, when we found out we were nominated over a week ago, I didn't even think to tell you about it or put it up on our website.
But then a group of top Republicans took out a full page ad in USA Today (and placed a similar one in the Hollywood trade magazine, Variety) proclaiming that "An election is over, but a war of ideas continues." The point of the ad was to say that while they, as right wing conservatives, were proud of getting rid of Kerry, there was still one more nuisance running around loose they had to deal with -- me! They also issued a not-so-subtle threat to the Academy Awards voters that, in essence, said don't even THINK about nominating "Fahrenheit 9/11" for Best Picture. And Bill O'Reilly recently bellowed that if the Oscars recognize my work this year, Middle America will boycott Hollywood.
Oops. I guess he spoke too soon. Because now along comes Middle America's favorite awards show, the People's Choice, and the People's Choice this year, along with a Spiderman superhero and a lovable green ogre, is a film that apparently continues to resonate throughout the country. The truth about Iraq, Bush, terror and fear. The election has not altered or made irrelevant, unfortunately, a single one of these issues. That they (and the film that dealt with these issues) are still at the forefront of the majority of the public's minds should give serious pause to Mr. Bush as he brags about a nonexistent "mandate" and begins to spend his "political capital."
He may have been (barely) the people's choice on November 2 (Ohio recount excluded), but now the people get to vote again, this time for a movie. It's about the best we can do right now, and, trust me, it won't be long before we start the real work we need to do to get our country back.
Again, go to http://www.pcavote.com/voting/film/f01.shtml if you want to vote for our film. I promise, if we win, to give a nice and polite speech.
Posted by politicalstuff at 10:52 PM
Why the Feeney vote-rigging story sounds like disinformation
ABOUT DISINFORMATION: Like a good lie, it has elements of truth. Trouble is, the truth doesn't relate to the nuts and bolts of the story. For example in the Tom Feeney vote-manipulation story, people are documenting relationships between Tom Feeney and Yang, and between the writer of the story and other scandals, but so far the evidence presented does not back up the vote manipulation story itself.
DISINFORMATION IS DANGEROUS TO THE CLEAN VOTING MOVEMENT: Black Box Voting is finding real evidence consistent with fraud. We are even finding, in one of our investigations, evidence consistent with a systemic, or widespread breakdown in security, possibly exploited. Getting the facts is tedious, unexciting work, consisting of auditing and personal interviews, and it takes time. Many Americans want a magic bullet, a single shot that will blow the lid off everything at once.
That's risky. If the mainstream media continues to be bombarded with stories that sound credible, but aren't, when the real thing comes down the pike it will be ignored.
While MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and I had a run-in last week, I agree absolutely with Olbermann's earlier critique of the Madsen homeland security story, and this new Madsen story is just as weak. Most of both Madsen stories are bait and switch.
While real journalists "write tight" and include only the information directly relevant to the topic, Madsen wanders all over the place, recapping unrelated information from real news agencies, piggybacking onto their credibility, with only the most tenuous ties to what he is actually trying to prove. Analyze the meat of the story, taking out all the loose references to other stories, and Madsen's work gets very weak indeed.
Here are questions raised by the Feeney vote-manipulation story:
1. One of the most significant problems is that, while Clint Curtis describes a technique of writing a program, he never mentions HOW he supposedly got this program into the voting machines.
2. A second significant problem is that several of the Florida counties used different software in 2000 than they do now, and that various Florida counties use different manufacturers and different systems. Writing one program that would tamper with ES&S punch cards and Diebold optical scans at the same time is somewhat unrealistic. The questions this raises are these:
a. Which specific counties was this software supposedly used in for 2000, 2002 and 2004? Actually, from reading both the affidavit and the Madsen article, there is no evidence it was used anywhere.
- Madsen does a bait and switch when he discusses Volusia County. He starts by saying it is Feeney's district, and then actually goes on to report a story broken by Black Box Voting in October, 2003, about minus 16,022 votes for Bush in Volusia -- which appears to have nothing to do with the Feeney story. What systems was his vote rigging program for? Which manufacturers?
3. The techniques used to program a vote-rigging system in the Madsen article don't actually match the techniques in the affidavit by Clint Curtis, and neither one makes much sense. It's a simple matter to re-map a touch-screen to flip votes, and you don't need a special program for it. Simply switch the candidate ID numbers and it's done.
4. Most political shenanigans are not conducted by the candidate himself, but by operatives. It is certainly possible for a politician to hold several meetings in which he commits a felony in front of several witnesses, but that's not usually how it is done. A more common technique is an envelope full of cash left in a drawer of an operative, with at least one, sometimes more, buffer layers between the operative and the politician.
Clint Curtis says Feeney himself had meeting after meeting to directly discuss election rigging software. Could happen, certainly, but this seems unusual.
5. There are some statements that don't hang together from a programming standpoint. The author says that it will be difficult to write a program that will escape notice if the source code is examined. That's not quite true.
Writing a trigger into a program can involve a very small amount of code and there are several ways to do it. The idea is you write a very simple, hard to detect trigger with as little code as possible -- or you comment the code such that it looks like it is there for another purpose. The trigger can do several kinds of things -- allow a user to open up remote access without authentication, for example, or change permissions so that the user can do things that are supposed to be forbidden. In other words, the more complex program certainly would not reside on the voting system, but would appear only when triggered, or inserted by someone with access, or by remote access through telephone lines.
5. Why write a whole software program anyway? You can do what needs to be done with a VBA script, which never goes through certification, never gets compiled, and enters the system like a virus. The program described by the author is not a VBA script, but a compiled software program. You can do anything you want if you obtain remote access such that penetration of the computer itself is enabled. Why lock yourself in, by writing a specific program into the source code?
6. The originator of the story, Clint, says he has filed a "QUITAM" whistleblower suit, that is "pending." This is one of the least credible parts of the story. First, he doesn't spell it correctly. The correct spelling is two words, "Qui Tam." Next, Qui Tam cases MUST be filed under seal. If a Qui Tam is filed in Florida, both the evidence and the existence of the case must be sealed, and only the Florida Attorney General can unseal it.
Black Box Voting Executive Director Bev Harris, and Black Box Voting board member Jim March, filed a Qui Tam suit in California. Using a California law, they refused to seal the evidence, but still had to keep the existence of the case under seal. It did not come out from under seal until the California Attorney General got the court to unseal it, and the Associated Press covered the unsealing of the case. You cannot keep the unsealing of a Qui Tam case away from the press. The press has mentioned no such Qui Tam in Florida.
This leaves two possibilities: (1) He filed the Qui Tam and is violating the court order to keep the case under seal, or (2) There is no Qui Tam case on this.
To develop a more credible story, we'd like to see answers for the following:
1. How the program got into the machine. Not "theoretically" how it got in, but how Clint Curtis says he got it in there.
2. What systems were used (which manufacturers, and were they punch card, optical scan or touch screen) in each of the counties, during each of the years this manipulation supposedly occurred.
3. What's the deal on the Qui Tam, and how is he getting around the sealing of the case?
Posted by politicalstuff at 11:32 AM
Candidates Officially Request Ohio Recount
December 8, 2004
By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS, Associated Press Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio - With support from John Kerry (news - web sites)'s campaign, two third-party candidates for president officially asked on Tuesday for a recount in Ohio, the state that put President Bush (news - web sites) over the top in November.
The requests, mailed to all 88 counties, were expected to arrive by Wednesday.
Generally, county election boards must agree to a recount, as long as the parties bringing the challenge pay for it. And the Green and Libertarian parties collected enough donations to cover the required $113,600, or $10 per precinct.
David Cobb, Green Party presidential candidate, said the election was full of irregularities, including uncounted provisional ballots.
"There is a possibility that George W. Bush did not win Ohio. If that is the case, it would be a crime against democracy for George Bush (news - web sites) to be sworn into office," he said.
Cobb got 186 votes in Ohio. Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik received 14,695, or 0.26 percent of the overall total.
The request came a day after Ohio officially certified Bush as the winner of this battleground state by 118,775 votes. The president's unofficial election-night margin of 136,000 votes shrank slightly after provisional and absentee ballots were counted and errors corrected.
Bush won the presidency by taking Ohio's 20 electoral votes, bringing his total to 286 over Kerry's 252. Kerry conceded the morning after the election when presented with the state's results.
The Kerry campaign has said it supports the recount — not because it believes the outcome will change, but because it wants to see a full and accurate accounting.
Recount advocates have cited numerous Election Day problems, from long lines, a shortage of voting machines in minority neighborhoods and suspicious vote totals for candidates in scattered precincts.
The Bush campaign has criticized the recount effort, saying it will not change anything. And some county officials have complained about the real cost, which Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell said is probably about $1.5 million.
The recount is "an exercise in futility and a ridiculous waste of county tax money," said Larry Long, executive director of the Ohio Association of County Commissioners. "Neither candidate has any chance of winning, so what's the point?"
The recount will probably not begin until next week because of a five-day waiting period to allow candidates time to arrange witnesses to the counting. Cobb, Badnarik and the Kerry camp gave permission for the recount to start before the five-day period. The Bush campaign did not waive the waiting period.
State law requires 3 percent of ballots to be counted by hand in each county, and then all ballots to be counted if the initial check turns up problems.
Posted by politicalstuff at 11:26 AM
Disgruntled Troops Complain to Rumsfeld
December 8, 2004
By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - Disgruntled U.S. soldiers complained to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Wednesday about the lack of armor for their vehicles and long deployments, drawing a blunt retort from the Pentagon (news - web sites) chief.
"You go to war with the Army you have," he said in a rare public airing of rank-and-file concerns among the troops.
In his prepared remarks earlier, Rumsfeld had urged the troops — mostly National Guard and Reserve soldiers — to discount critics of the war in Iraq (news - web sites) and to help "win the test of wills" with the insurgents.
Some of soldiers, however, had criticisms of their own — not of the war itself but of how it is being fought.
Army Spc. Thomas Wilson, for example, of the 278th Regimental Combat Team that is comprised mainly of citizen soldiers of the Tennessee Army National Guard, asked Rumsfeld in a question-and-answer session why vehicle armor is still in short supply, nearly two years after the start of the war that ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites).
"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?" Wilson asked. A big cheer arose from the approximately 2,300 soldiers in the cavernous hangar who assembled to see and hear the secretary of defense.
Rumsfeld hesitated and asked Wilson to repeat his question.
"We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry with us north," Wilson said after asking again.
Rumsfeld replied that troops should make the best of the conditions they face and said the Army was pushing manufacturers of vehicle armor to produce it as fast as humanly possible.
And, the defense chief added, armor is not always a savior in the kind of combat U.S. troops face in Iraq, where the insurgents' weapon of choice is the roadside bomb, or improvised explosive device that has killed and maimed hundreds, if not thousands, of American troops since the summer of 2003.
"You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can (still) be blown up," Rumsfeld said.
Asked later about Wilson's complaint, the deputy commanding general of U.S. forces in Kuwait, Maj. Gen. Gary Speer, said in an interview that as far as he knows, every vehicle that is deploying to Iraq from Camp Buehring in Kuwait has at least "Level 3" armor. That means it at least has locally fabricated armor for its side panels, but not necessarily bulletproof windows or protection against explosions that penetrate the floorboard.
Speer said he was not aware that soldiers were searching landfills for scrap metal and used bulletproof glass.
During the question-and-answer session, another soldier complained that active-duty Army units sometimes get priority over the National Guard and Reserve units for the best equipment in Iraq.
"There's no way I can prove it, but I am told the Army is breaking its neck to see that there is not" discrimination against the National Guard and Reserve in terms of providing equipment, Rumsfeld said.
Yet another soldier asked, without putting it to Rumsfeld as a direct criticism, how much longer the Army will continue using its "stop loss" power to prevent soldiers from leaving the service who are otherwise eligible to retire or quit.
Rumsfeld said that this condition was simply a fact of life for soldiers at time of war.
"It's basically a sound principle, it's nothing new, it's been well understood" by soldiers, he said. "My guess is it will continue to be used as little as possible, but that it will continue to be used."
In his opening remarks, Rumsfeld stressed that soldiers who are heading to Iraq should not believe those who say the insurgents cannot be defeated or who otherwise doubt the will of the military to win.
"They say we can't prevail. I see that violence and say we must win," Rumsfeld said.
Posted by politicalstuff at 11:21 AM
Reform in Haste
Wednesday, December 8, 2004; Page A30
THE RHETORIC emanating from Capitol Hill the past few days may have created the impression that, after a hard-fought battle over key provisions, Congress worked its way to a sensible plan for reorganizing the U.S. intelligence community. Sadly, that is far from the truth. The 600-page omnibus measure on its way to approval yesterday had not been read or carefully considered by the vast majority of members, including some of those most involved in its construction. What passed for a debate in the past couple of weeks was actually little more than a turf battle by Pentagon satraps and the congressmen who share their interests on issues that are marginal to the broad reorganization outlined in the legislation.
That shake-up, driven by an odd combination of election-year politics and the determination of the Sept. 11 commission to leave a mark, may improve the quality of intelligence information supplied to the president and other key policymakers; we have our doubts. Like the passage of the USA Patriot Act or the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, it has been mandated hastily and with scant consideration of its long-term consequences.
The discussion in Congress centered on the relationship between the new director of national intelligence and three Pentagon-based agencies that consume 80 percent of the national intelligence budget. That focus reflected the clout of the current Pentagon leadership and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), its champion in the House. Mr. Hunter claims to have preserved the military chain of command and ensured battlefield officers' access to tactical intelligence; in fact, these were never in danger. Far more affected by the creation of the new intelligence czar and a national counterterrorism center is the CIA -- the agency still responsible for collecting and analyzing most of the intelligence about groups and countries such as al Qaeda, Iraq and Iran. But the CIA has no champions in the Bush administration or among Republican House members; the objections to the reforms raised by its former directors, including the recently departed George J. Tenet, were dismissed or ignored.
The agency's complaints might be regarded as predictable resistance to a reorganization that diminishes its status and that of its director. Yet some of the questions are serious: Will a national intelligence director without day-to-day authority over operations and agents in the field be as capable as a CIA director of making judgments about intelligence and operational priorities? What will be the practical relationship among the three senior intelligence officials who now will be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, including the director of the counterterrorism center as well as the CIA and national intelligence directors? Which one can best brief the president? And, most important, will this massive wartime reorganization help or hinder the critical task of bolstering the CIA's operations on the ground in difficult and dangerous places such as Iraq and Iran? Will it diminish or increase the likelihood that future intelligence judgments will fall victim to "groupthink," or political influence by a presidential appointee?
Congress no more worked through these issues than it considered those raised by civil libertarians about the legislation, which will create federal standards for driver's licenses as the first step toward a national identity system. A proposal by the Sept. 11 commission to create a panel on civil liberties to prevent privacy abuses was watered down: The board will have no subpoena power, and its members will serve at the president's pleasure. Thankfully, even more harmful proposals by House Republicans to strip immigrants and asylum seekers of crucial rights were eliminated from the final bill. But Congress will no doubt consider these measures again next year. We can only hope it will also respond if this rushed reform, like several post-Sept. 11 measures before it, creates as many problems as it solves.
Posted by politicalstuff at 11:17 AM
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
WHISTLEBLOWER AFFIDAVIT: Programmer Built Vote Rigging Prototype at Republican Congressman's Request!
The programmer claims that he designed and built a "vote rigging" software program for the 2000 election at the behest of then Florida Congressman, now U.S. Congressman, Republican Tom Feeney of Florida's 24th Congressional District.
The link to the affidavit is below. It "sounds" legitimate. Hopefully the so-called press will investigate, and if the accusations prove to be true, will finally make the stealing of the 2000 and 2004 elections front page news.
Here is the link to the affidavit:
Posted by politicalstuff at 10:30 AM
All apologies, or not, online
Post-election Web sites pro, con form newest vox populi in cyberspace
By Michael E. Ross
Before he committed to a major in neuroscience, University of Southern California student James Zetlen flirted briefly with majoring in international relations. An Internet project he started as a lark two days after the Nov. 2 election has given him insights into international relations he never anticipated.
Zetlen's Web site gathers the expressions, foreign and domestic, of those who opposed the re-election of President Bush, people offering apologies for his victory.
And in response, other sites have emerged, with contributors just as adamant that the outcome of the election was nothing that deserves an apology.
It's the great divide writ large on the Internet, with the same divisions that animated America and the world before the vote.
At Zetlen's Web site, SorryEverybody, launched Nov. 4, people contribute to a gallery of images that's grown like a virus. They send in messages of apology from Chicago to San Francisco, Brazil to Germany, Australia to New York, from Kentucky, Alabama and other lone blue outposts in a sea of red.
But what distinguishes SorryEverybody, and some of the other post-election sites, is the creativity of peoples' political passion. With a series of digitally-delivered photographs — in color and black and white, with varying degrees of clarity, some of them oddly moving and personal, others silly or witty or filled with anger — SorryEverybody has tapped a reservoir of global regret.
‘Sorry, my bad, mea culpa’
Like many successful ideas, SorryEverybody was a matter of serendipity. “The idea just fell into my lap,” said the 20-year-old Zetlen, who hails from Seattle.
“It originated as a joke between friends, a friendly thing who between friends with the same gimmicky sense of humor,” he said.
“I thought it would be kind of silly to hold up a sign saying ‘Oops, sorry, my bad, mea culpa.’ I got the domain name, since I had an extra $20 laying around.” Zetlen appeared in image No. 1 and SorryEverybody was born.
The site's popularity quickly snowballed. “It began to resolve about three or four in the morning on the fourth of November,” he said.
‘A terabyte a day’
Originally, SorryEverybody was hosted on the USC Web site. “By the end of the day, my college took it down,” Zetlen said. “It was overloaded with hits and traffic.” SorryEverybody “had received over 2.1 million hits and had taken up 82 percent of the traffic for the USC Web site for the day,” he said.
It has since moved to a private web hosting company, and for good reason: “At the peak of the site’s popularity, we were using a little under a terabyte [1,024 gigabytes] a day.”
“It's overwhelming,” he said. “Traffic has dropped off a little bit, but on average we've been getting 5 to 6 million hits a day. Since we started we’ve got 10,000 e-mails.”
What began as a literate undergraduate goof has become a cottage industry. Zetlen said his outfit, which includes 10 volunteers, has begun placing “discreet” Google ads on the site. To defray the cost of operation, he said, “We have a little store with T-shirts, mugs, bumperstickers and buttons.”
But for most of Sorry’s money, Zetlen said, he’s had to count on the kindess of strangers. “The major source of revenue has been donations, which are still coming in at a steady clip.”
Other voices emerge
Other Web sites have sprung up both before and after Zetlen's project, some supportive, others with a contrary point of view.
NotSorryEverybody, a sober conservative blog started in November, links to an array of conservative Web sites.
YoureWelcomeEverybody was started as “a direct response” to SorryEverybody's visual approach; its responses just as outrageous, hilarious and deeply felt as those on Zetlen's site — and with some pages making especially pointed attacks on celebrities of the left.
And there's more to come from Bush supporters: The domain name werenotsorry.com is registered; the Web hosting company cheap-domainnames.com says a site is coming soon.
The World Speaks, a multinational Web site started in September, is a clearinghouse of relatively nonpartisan commentary on American politics and the election.
ApologiesAccepted, started by “some worried Dutch civilians” in the Netherlands, is a genial site whose contributors sympathize with Sorry's constituents.
And one Canadian Web site, MarryAnAmerican.com, proposes that liberal Canadians marry like-minded Americans eager to leave the United States during Bush's second term (“No good American will be left behind,” the site's home page says).
The cost of entertainment
For Zetlen, it suggests how the diversity of opinion that has emerged in the contentious global post-9/11 atmosphere has been both lucrative and lamentable.
“A formula's developed for making a lot of money off people's political convictions,” he said.
“The Rush Limbaughs and Ann Coulters and Bill O'Reillys — as well as the Michael Moores of the world — have entertained us a lot, but we’ve paid a terrible price for it. We’re no longer respectful of one another.”
Zetlen is contemplating making changes to SorryEverybody. “We're going to try to provide an experience where people can learn the nuts and bolts of being an activist — where to go to volunteer, so it’s not a daunting proposition to be a participant in your democracy.”
Zetlen also envisions SorryEverybody morphing into a so-called 527 group, one of the tax-exempt nonprofit political organizations protected under Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code — Punkvoter.com, Music for America and MoveOn.org are others — that may accept soft-money contributions from individual donors.
Other changes are more immediate. Zetlen said a SorryEverybody book compiling photographs from the site would soon be released, as well as a compilation CD of music from a wide range of musicians.
And he's hoping for another example of great timing: “We're trying to get them out on Inauguration Day.”
Michael E. Ross is author of “Interesting Times: Essays and Nonfiction.”
originally posted Dec. 5, 2004
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:57 AM
Certified and/or certifiable
December 6, 2004
SECAUCUS - Exactly one month to the day before Congress will open the votes of the Electoral College, the Secretary of State of Ohio certified the state’s vote this afternoon, that moment in time which separates the Re-Count Exhibition Season from the Re-Count Regular Season.
Exactly per his legally-supported schedule, Kenneth Blackwell this afternoon made the November 2 vote official. With provisionals, absentees, and corrections, it turned out to be not a 136,000 vote margin for President Bush, but rather one of 119,000. The certification was almost immediately greeted by two protests, the prospect of a third, and the details of a fourth.
Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb today scheduled a news conference for Tuesday afternoon in Columbus at which the re-count request from he and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Michael Badnarik will be formalized.
Still delayed, a long, long, long-shot bid - spearheaded by attorney Cliff Arnebeck - to have an Ohio Supreme Court Justice contest the actual election — holding off making the first count official until voting irregularities are reviewed. Mr. Arnebeck told us this afternoon that it now may be Wednesday before his suit is filed.
But the protests are not just from the fringes any more. Citing the long lines, shortages of ballots, voting machine meltdowns, and spoiled ballots, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe announced his party would spend "whatever it takes" to conduct what it calls "a comprehensive investigative study" of the vote in Ohio, one to be completed some time next year.
But just as McAuliffe insisted that the study was not intended "to contest the results of the 2004 election,” a slightly different message was coming from what remains of the Kerry-Edwards campaign in Ohio. Kerry's lead electoral attorney there, Daniel Hoffheimer, echoed the McAuliffe tone, noting "neither the pending Ohio recount nor this investigation is designed to challenge the popular vote in Ohio.”
But in another moment of perplexing tantalization from the Kerry camp, Hoffheimer also said, “while the election of the Bush-Cheney ticket by the Electoral College is all but certain..."
Well that’s enough to drive the remaining Kerry faithful right out of their capsules. File it next to “regardless of the outcome of this election,” and the debate over whether the campaign in Ohio should “join” or “participate in” the Glibs’ recount.
Meantime, what happens when the losing party in the election wants to investigate the election, but has no standing nor political capital to conduct actual hearings in, say, the House of Representatives? It hosts a "forum" — a friendly little informal gathering of members of the House Judiciary Committee in the Rayburn Office Building, Wednesday morning.
John Conyers and as many as dozen of the other 15 Democrats on Judiciary, who say they want to "discuss any issues and concerns regarding the numerous voting irregularities that have been reported in Ohio during the 2004 election."
Conyers has invited a special guest — none other than Warren Mitofsky, the head of Mitofsky International, one of the two companies that conducted exit polling for the television networks. Conyers has written to Mitofsky, asking him to release any of the so-called "raw data" from November 2, the materials constituting the exit polls that fired such controversy, particularly on the internet, and show up to Wednesday's little gathering.
Conyers' office told us Mr. Mitofsky has yet to R.S.V.P.
Interestingly, in the letter to Mitofsky, Conyers is not at all informal. He says Mitofsky can best serve truth right now “by testifying at a hearing we will be holding…”
If you’d like somebody to testify on behalf of the proposition that you’re not nuts for reading about, nor asking, questions, try the Public Editor’s column in Sunday’s edition of the Portland paper, The Oregonian. There, Mike Arrietta-Walden says the foremost complaint received from readers, is about his newspaper’s spotty coverage of voting irregularities. It’s very possible that a lot of the reader feedback was encouraged by websites, but that’s par for the course, as Mediaweek’s piece on the number of Brent Bozell-generated form letters received by the Federal Communications Commission.
What matters most, perhaps, is that while Arrietta-Walden notes the geographical distance between Portland and most of the election hot spots dictated the paper would have to rely on wire services, he still sees his newspaper (and others) as asleep at the switch: “That coverage, especially from national newspapers, has not been extensive and deep, but The Oregonian hasn't taken full advantage of what coverage there was. The lukewarm interest shown by many newspapers partly stems from the fact that leaders of the Kerry campaign and experts with several nonpartisan election watchdogs have repeatedly said that the errors detected would not amount to a reversal of the election. Journalists have moved on to other, pressing stories of the day.”
Arrietta-Walden is also cautionary about the wisdom of letting the blogs drive the net. He didn’t mention Wayne Madsen by name, but he might well have.
When Mr. Madsen’s internet piece positing a $29,000,000 payoff to “fix” the election made the rounds, I wrote here that the journalism didn’t live up to many minimum standards, and the logic, even fewer (somebody promised to pay off people to rig the election computers, gave at least some of them the full history of how the money was to be laundered — and then didn’t ante up?).
Mr. Madsen followed up with another piece in which he claimed to have an actual copy of the check. A single election-fixing check for $29.6 million. One-stop shopping for the political scandal of the millennium.
Now, he is back with an even longer, more intricate story that drags in NASA, Lockheed Martin, Brazilian computer maintenance technicians, Nigerian scammers, and a reputed affidavit that fingers a Florida congressman.
The problem is that the amazing check for $29.6 million, whose authenticity was the cornerstone of Madsen’s first two stories, not only turns out to be a fraud, but now, its fraudulence becomes one of the cornerstone’s of Madsen’s newest story. As he told the Pacifica radio station (KPFT) in Houston Sunday, “Yeah, it turns out that the $29 million check, although a valuable clue, was a fake. But it looks like the people who released the check did so as a way to say ‘hey, look here, don’t look at the check, look who’s behind it, look around it, follow the money that these people have been involved with…’”
Once again, if any part of Mr. Madsen’s writing on the election is proved and valid, I’ll not only repeat my offer to pay his way for him to pick up his Pulitzer Prize — I’ll physically carry him there myself. There could very well be facts — even important facts — hiding in there somewhere.
But to turn on a dime and write that a document is real, and hard evidence of a crime, and then come back and admit that it’s fake, but still hard evidence of a crime, is an intellectual leap of faith worthy of Evel Knievel. It violates every precept of good journalism, to say nothing of good investigation. I won’t even ask about logic.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:50 AM
Democrats vow to examine Ohio results
Party to do 'whatever it takes' to answer questions
The Associated Press
Updated: 6:21 p.m. ET Dec. 6, 2004
WASHINGTON - The Democratic Party said Monday it will examine reports of voting problems in Ohio, where President George W. Bush’s victory clinched his re-election.
Outgoing Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said the party will spend “whatever it takes” to study complaints from Ohio voters that included uncounted votes, long lines, shortages of ballots, understaffed polling stations and voting machine errors.
McAuliffe said the party is not seeking to overturn the result but to ensure that every vote from the Nov. 2 election is counted. He said the study will be conducted by nonpartisan experts to be announced later, with a report issued in the spring that recommends reforms to prevent such problems in the future.
Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett said any investigation or reform should be handled by the state Legislature.
“If the Democrats want to pay for a study to help them sleep at night, that’s fine,” he said in a statement. “Just don’t expect anyone to believe it’s credible.”
Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell certified Bush’s winning margin of nearly 119,000 votes on Monday, a margin closer than election night totals but not close enough to trigger an automatic recount.
Presidential candidates for the Green and Libertarian parties planned to file requests for recounts.
Blackwell, a Republican, oversaw the election process while serving as one of several statewide Republican leaders who co-chaired Bush’s campaign. The 2000 Florida recount was also administered by a Republican secretary of state, Katherine Harris, who is now a member of Congress.
In a conference call with reporters, McAuliffe said the panel needs to look at the practice of secretaries of state serving as campaign officials. He said he personally thinks it’s a laudable goal for election officials to be nonpartisan.
McAuliffe said it’s too early to tell if Republicans were behind any fraud that may have influenced the outcome in Ohio.
McAuliffe said he briefed Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry about the study Sunday night and Kerry will be monitoring the results carefully. Kerry often promised voters, particularly black voters, that his campaign would examine any allegations of voter fraud.
Many blacks said irregularities in Florida in 2000 kept their votes from being counted. Democrats want to ensure that blacks do not give up on the voting process because they are such overwhelming supporters of Democratic candidates.
The U.S. presidential elections are decided under the Electoral College system, in which each state has an amount of electoral votes related to its population. Ohio, with a close race and 20 electoral votes, was seen as the deciding state in this year’s election, like Florida was in 2000.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:29 AM