July 19, 2005

LNS Articles of Impeachment, No. 2, Part II

Theft of the 2004 Election

Rep. McKinney (D-GA) Discusses Hack as Diebold Flips Out
by Matthew Cardinale: "The bottom line is we can't trust the machines, and we can't trust the results being told to the American people," U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) said in a phone interview for the progressive news community, adding "we are planning some as-yet-undefined events in [our] district" around the issue.
The problem, the Congresswoman said, is that the machines "haven't been provided with appropriate software and safeguards. If they had the appropriate software and safeguards, then the machines wouldn't be a problem. So either [provide] that, or go back to paper ballots," she advised.
Rep. McKinney, along with Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL), had been on hand for a hack demonstration in the Leon County Elections Office, in Florida, in May 2005. The demo was one of three meetings that had been organized by Bev Harris and the team at Black Box Voting. Diebold has since issued a vitriolic letter to Mr. Ion Sancho, Leon County Elections Supervisor, for allowing Black Box Voting to conduct the hack demo on site.
Mr. Sancho defended his actions in a phone interview and explained his concerns regarding electronic voting.
As Black Box Voting announced in recent weeks, two computer science experts have been able to hack into Leon County's Diebold central tabulator as well as individual optical scan machines. For a recent interview with Bev Harris written by the present columnist about the hack, which ran on YubaNet…
"Granted the same access as an employee of our office, it was possible to enter the computer, alter election results, and exit the system without leaving any physical record of this action," said a formal statement posted by Mr. Ion Sancho on the Leon County Election's Office official website.
The statement is available here.
"It was also demonstrated that false information or instructions could be placed on a memory card (the device used to program the individual voting machines and record the voter's votes) and create false results or election reports," the statement said.
Harri Hursti, 36, who ran the hack demo on the individual machines and memory cards, reiterated Congresswoman McKinney's concerns. " I had prepared memory cards provided by Leon County having elections data for educational purposes. I modified three of these [cards], demonstrating three different attack methods, three different ways to penetrate the layer of security to change the outcome of elections to demonstrate how to change the paper trail believed to protect the election integrity," Hursti said.

Steven Rosenfeld and Bob Fitrakis, The DNC 2004 Election Report: An indictment of incompetence, 6/25/05: The Democratic National Committee's investigation into Ohio's 2004 presidential election irregularities is the perfect postscript to the party's 'election protection' efforts last fall: it is a shocking indictment of a party caught completely off-guard in its most heated presidential campaign in years, and a party that still doesn't fully understand what happened and how to avoid a repeat in the future.
The report primarily documents the fact that Jim Crow voter suppression tactics targeting Democratic African-American voters were rampant in Ohio’s cities during the 2004 presidential election….
The DNC report is filled with omissions of that magnitude and dismissals of the work of citizen-activists who – with no help from the DNC, or Kerry campaign – fought for a fair accounting of the 2004 vote after Election Day…
It’s worth remembering the timing and origin of this report. The Democratic Party and its allied supporters, such as Americans Coming Together, spent millions of dollars on their election protection efforts. The same Ohio Democratic Party that told John Kerry not to challenge the result and to concede to Bush, also was completely caught off-guard with Republican’s resurrection of Jim Crow voter suppression tactics, according to its own report. What kind of a party stations hundreds of lawyers at polls in anticipation of poll challenges that don’t happen, but isn’t aware that voting machines will not be evenly distributed among white and black neighborhoods? Or isn’t aware of the fact that newly registered voters aren’t receiving proper precinct information, or are being targeted with new provisional ballots that are likely to be disqualified on frivolous technicalities?
There’s more history to the DNC report. The DNC announced it would investigate election irregularities on December 6th, two days before Rep. John Conyers, D-MI, and Democrats on the House Judiciary opened their first of several hearings into the 2004 Ohio presidential vote. In effect, the DNC knew Conyers’ inquiry would be explosive and sought to pre-empt his investigation by announcing its inquiry first…
The report contains other outrages. It states African-American voters waited an average of 52 minutes in line, compared to white voters waiting an average of 18 minutes. That calculation defies the experience of thousands of voters who waited four, five or six hours. That figure is the kind of statistical averaging is akin to having a tornado touch down in Columbus and having the National Weather Service say its been a breezy day across the state.
In the primarily African American 55th ward in Columbus, on the ground election protection volunteers clocked an average wait of 3 hours and 15 minutes…
But the biggest disappointment of the DNC report is that it gives no indication that the old-school Jim Crow abuses will be addressed and rectified, and that the newer school electronic voting machine abuses will be similarly addressed. The report portrays a statewide landscape of separate and unequal rules in election jurisdictions across the state. It says local and statewide election officials – and the private companies they hire – aren’t interested in cooperating to make the system more transparent and equitable. And the party hierarchy that commissioned this report dismisses the work of its activists and loyal volunteers who worked before and after the 2004 race for electoral justice.
Is that any way to prepare for 2006 or 2008?

Complicity of the Corporatist News Media

Peter Phillips, Big Media Interlocks with Corporate America, CommonDreams.org, 6/25/05: Mainstream media is the term often used to describe the collective group of big TV, radio and newspapers in the United States. Mainstream implies that the news being produced is for the benefit and enlightenment of the mainstream population-the majority of people living in the US. Mainstream media include a number of communication mediums that carry almost all the news and information on world affairs that most Americans receive. The word media is plural, implying a diversity of news sources.
However, mainstream media no longer produce news for the mainstream population-nor should we consider the media as plural. Instead it is more accurate to speak of big media in the US today as the corporate media and to use the term in the singular tense-as it refers to the singular monolithic top-down power structure of self-interested news giants.
A research team at Sonoma State University has recently finished conducting a network analysis of the boards of directors of the ten big media organizations in the US. The team determined that only 118 people comprise the membership on the boards of director of the ten big media giants. This is a small enough group to fit in a moderate size university classroom. These 118 individuals in turn sit on the corporate boards of 288 national and international corporations. In fact, eight out of ten big media giants share common memberships on boards of directors with each other. NBC and the Washington Post both have board members who sit on Coca Cola and J. P. Morgan, while the Tribune Company, The New York Times and Gannett all have members who share a seat on Pepsi. It is kind of like one big happy family of interlocks and shared interests. The following are but a few of the corporate board interlocks for the big ten media giants in the US:
• New York Times: Caryle Group, Eli Lilly, Ford, Johnson and Johnson, Hallmark, Lehman Brothers, Staples, Pepsi
• Washington Post: Lockheed Martin, Coca-Cola, Dun & Bradstreet, Gillette, G.E. Investments, J.P. Morgan, Moody's
• Knight-Ridder: Adobe Systems, Echelon, H&R Block, Kimberly-Clark, Starwood Hotels
• The Tribune (Chicago & LA Times): 3M, Allstate, Caterpillar, Conoco Phillips, Kraft, McDonalds, Pepsi, Quaker Oats, Shering Plough, Wells Fargo
• News Corp (Fox): British Airways, Rothschild Investments
• GE (NBC): Anheuser-Busch, Avon, Bechtel, Chevron/Texaco, Coca-Cola, Dell, GM, Home Depot, Kellogg, J.P. Morgan, Microsoft, Motorola, Procter & Gamble
• Disney (ABC): Boeing, Northwest Airlines, Clorox, Estee Lauder, FedEx, Gillette, Halliburton, Kmart, McKesson, Staples, Yahoo
• Viacom (CBS): American Express, Consolidated Edison, Oracle, Lafarge North America
• Gannett: AP, Lockheed-Martin, Continental Airlines, Goldman Sachs, Prudential, Target, Pepsi
• AOL-Time Warner (CNN): Citigroup, Estee Lauder, Colgate-Palmolive, Hilton
Can we trust the news editors at the Washington Post to be fair and objective regarding news stories about Lockheed-Martin defense contract over-runs? Or can we assuredly believe that ABC will conduct critical investigative reporting on Halliburton's sole-source contracts in Iraq? If we believe the corporate media give us the full un-censored truth about key issues inside the special interests of American capitalism, then we might feel that they are meeting the democratic needs of mainstream America. However if we believe - as increasingly more Americans do- that corporate media serves its own self-interests instead of those of the people, than we can no longer call it mainstream or refer to it as plural. Instead we need to say that corporate media is corporate America, and that we the mainstream people need to be looking at alternative independent sources for our news and information.

The War in Iraq is Worse than Illegal or Immoral, It is Stupid…

Seymour M. Hersch, Get Out the Vote: Did Washington try to manipulate Iraq’s election?, 7/18/05: The essence of Pelosi’s objection, the recently retired high-level C.I.A. official said, was: “Did we have eleven hundred Americans die”—the number of U.S. combat deaths as of last September—“so they could have a rigged election?”
Sometime after last November’s Presidential election, I was told by past and present intelligence and military officials, the Bush Administration decided to override Pelosi’s objections and covertly intervene in the Iraqi election. A former national-security official told me that he had learned of the effort from “people who worked the beat”—those involved in the operation. It was necessary, he added, “because they couldn’t afford to have a disaster.”
A Pentagon consultant who deals with the senior military leadership acknowledged that the American authorities in Iraq “did an operation” to try to influence the results of the election. “They had to,” he said. “They were trying to make a case that Allawi was popular, and he had no juice.” A government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon’s civilian leaders said, “We didn’t want to take a chance.”
I was informed by several former military and intelligence officials that the activities were kept, in part, “off the books”—they were conducted by retired C.I.A. officers and other non-government personnel, and used funds that were not necessarily appropriated by Congress. Some in the White House and at the Pentagon believed that keeping an operation off the books eliminated the need to give a formal briefing to the relevant members of Congress and congressional intelligence committees, whose jurisdiction is limited, in their view, to officially sanctioned C.I.A. operations. (The Pentagon is known to be running clandestine operations today in North Africa and Central Asia with little or no official C.I.A. involvement.)
“The Administration wouldn’t take the chance of doing it within the system,” the former senior intelligence official said. “The genius of the operation lies in the behind-the-scenes operatives—we have hired hands that deal with this.” He added that a number of military and intelligence officials were angered by the covert plans. Their feeling was “How could we take such a risk, when we didn’t have to? The Shiites were going to win the election anyway.”
In my reporting for this story, one theme that emerged was the Bush Administration’s increasing tendency to turn to off-the-books covert actions to accomplish its goals. This allowed the Administration to avoid the kind of stumbling blocks it encountered in the debate about how to handle the elections: bureaucratic infighting, congressional second-guessing, complaints from outsiders.

Leo Shane III, Stars and Stripes, 6/17/05: Several parents of soldiers killed in Iraq visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday to ask for congressional hearings on the Downing Street memo, which one mother called President Bush’s “Watergate.”
Critics say the document, which contains minutes from a meeting in July 2002 between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and top aides, shows that Bush was determined to go to war with Iraq and ignored evidence that showed the country had no weapons of mass destruction.
“Military action was now seen as inevitable,” the memo reads. “Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
The memo was first revealed by the Sunday Times of London in May. Earlier this month, both Bush and Blair dismissed the accusations, saying that the war in Iraq was justified because Saddam Hussein was ignoring international law.
But members of Military Families Speak Out, whose members are relatives of troops killed in Iraq, said Congress must investigate whether the president lied to the country to justify military action.
“This war was based on lies and deception,” said Celeste Zappala of Philadelphia, whose son was killed in April 2004 while providing security for investigators searching for WMD. “The only way we can understand how we’ve come to this disastrous position is to find out what the truth is.”
The group, which has frequently criticized the administration, met with congressmen and left flyers petitioning for a full investigation at the offices of Republican House leaders.
“I envy the parents who support this war, because if I did I’d sleep better,” said Dianne Davis Santorello, a Pennsylvania resident whose son was killed in August 2004. “But I don’t sleep well. My son died for a lie.”
She said the Downing Street memo would “bring down the house of cards” if lawmakers choose to investigate it, and compared it to the Watergate scandal which eventually forced President Richard Nixon from office.

Sidney Blumenthal, Empty Words, Salon.com, 6/30/05: Five times Bush mentioned 9/11. Terrorism was mentioned 29 times. We are in Iraq, in short, because of 9/11. "And we fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens, and Iraq is where they are making their stand." Bush was not articulating a policy so much as conflating 9/11 with Iraq to restore his popularity.
The novelty in Bush's speech did not come from his militarized stagecraft. His innovation came with his approving quotation of Osama bin Laden. "Some wonder whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. Among the terrorists, there is no debate. Here are the words of Osama bin Laden: 'This third world war is raging in Iraq. The whole world is watching this war.' He says it will end in victory and glory or misery and humiliation."
By citing bin Laden, Bush raised him to the stature of a foreign leader. But he went further, embracing bin Laden's understanding of the war's dynamics as a crusade. By endorsing bin Laden's notion of a "third world war," the American president lent the prestige of his office to the terrorists' vision. Using bin Laden's statement to justify his own course, Bush legitimated their war.
By mixing 9/11 and Iraq, Bush jumbled the actual logic of cause and effect. In the rush to war, Bush, Cheney & Co. had suggested that Saddam Hussein was allied with terrorists, connecting the dot to 9/11. Now the CIA reports that Iraq has become a terrorist training center only since the failed postwar reconstruction.
Rather than making his case by admitting his blunders that led to the current crisis, explaining his proposed correction of course, realistically discussing Iraq's current political or military situation, or any empirical factor on the ground, Bush sought to recapture his past standing by repeating his past rhetoric.
Bush's strategy rests on more than sheer avoidance of facts, however; it depends on willful ignorance of the history of Mesopotamia…
From the thoroughly favorable political position of national unanimity after 9/11, Bush pursued a war of choice in Iraq, relying on shaky, distorted and false intelligence. Skeptics were driven into a corner and punished. The administration became an echo chamber.
Immediately after the invasion, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their neoconservative deputies systematically excluded knowledgeable experts from participation in reconstruction. The State Department's extensive "Future of Iraq" project was sidelined, and Rumsfeld refused to permit 32 State Department experts from being hired by the new US Office of Reconstruction, as David L. Phillips, a member of the State Department's project, recounts in "Losing Iraq: Inside the Postwar Reconstruction Fiasco." Phillips' firsthand account is a chronicle of epic disaster. He reveals that it was not only the US State Department and the intelligence services that were ignored. On the question of disbanding the Iraqi army, it was the US military's senior experts who were shunted aside. "The Bush administration had committed one of the greatest errors in the history of US warfare," he writes…
The crisis in Iraq has been produced by deliberate decisions taken by the Bush administration against the advice of the State Department, the military and others. "Their lack of planning was criminally irresponsible, grounds for impeachment," said Gelb. "Of the things that have happened to the US in warfare, this was the single greatest dereliction of duty. It wasn't as if the military wasn't telling them they needed more troops. They still don't know what they are doing."

Paul Krugman, The War President, NY Times, 6/24/05: In November 2002, Helen Thomas, the veteran White House correspondent, told an audience, "I have never covered a president who actually wanted to go to war" - but she made it clear that Mr. Bush was the exception. And she was right.
Leading the nation wrongfully into war strikes at the heart of democracy. It would have been an unprecedented abuse of power even if the war hadn't turned into a military and moral quagmire. And we won't be able to get out of that quagmire until we face up to the reality of how we got in…
Let me explain. The United States will soon have to start reducing force levels in Iraq, or risk seeing the volunteer Army collapse. Yet the administration and its supporters have effectively prevented any adult discussion of the need to get out.
On one side, the people who sold this war, unable to face up to the fact that their fantasies of a splendid little war have led to disaster, are still peddling illusions: the insurgency is in its "last throes," says Dick Cheney. On the other, they still have moderates and even liberals intimidated: anyone who suggests that the United States will have to settle for something that falls far short of victory is accused of being unpatriotic.
We need to deprive these people of their ability to mislead and intimidate. And the best way to do that is to make it clear that the people who led us to war on false pretenses have no credibility, and no right to lecture the rest of us about patriotism.
The good news is that the public seems ready to hear that message - readier than the media are to deliver it. Major media organizations still act as if only a small, left-wing fringe believes that we were misled into war, but that "fringe" now comprises much if not most of the population.
In a Gallup poll taken in early April - that is, before the release of the Downing Street Memo - 50 percent of those polled agreed with the proposition that the administration "deliberately misled the American public" about Iraq's W.M.D. In a new Rasmussen poll, 49 percent said that Mr. Bush was more responsible for the war than Saddam Hussein, versus 44 percent who blamed Saddam.
Once the media catch up with the public, we'll be able to start talking seriously about how to get out of Iraq.

Ray McGovern, Stay the Crooked Course, www.truthout.org, 6/29/05: Forget the documentary evidence (the Downing Street minutes) that the war on Iraq was fraudulent from the outset. Forget that the US and UK started pulverizing Iraq with stepped-up bombing months before president or prime minister breathed a word to Congress or Parliament. Forget that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his merry men - his co-opted, castrated military brass - have no clue regarding what US forces are up against in Iraq. The president insists that we must stay the course…
Is there no top military official - active-duty or retired - around to tell it like it is? Active-duty? No. Retired? Sure there are. But the latter get little or no ink or airtime in our domesticated media. There is Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni, for example, or Gen. Brent Scowcroft (USAF), who was national security adviser to George H.W. Bush and, until this year, Chair of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. If their remarks are reported at all, one must dig deep into the inside pages to find them.
More outspoken still has been Lt. Gen. William Odom (US Army, ret), the most respected senior intelligence officer still willing to speak out on strategic and intelligence issues. Unfortunately, you would have to understand German to know what he thinks of "staying the course" in Iraq, because US media are not going to run his remarks.
Here is my translation of what Gen. Odom said last September on German TV's Panorama program:
When the president says he is staying the course, that makes me really afraid. For a leader has to know when to change course. Hitler did not change his course: rather he kept sending more and more troops to Stalingrad and they suffered more and more casualties.
When the president says he is staying the course it reminds me of the man who has just jumped from the Empire State Building. Half-way down he says, "I am still on course." Well, I would not want to be on course with a man who will lie splattered in the street. I would like to be someone who could change the course ...
Our invasion of Iraq has made it a homeland for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Indeed, I believe that it was the very first time that many Iraqis became terrorists. Before we invaded, they had no idea of terrorism.
At Fort Bragg yesterday, the president spoke of the need to "prevent al-Qaeda and other foreign terrorists from turning Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban: a safe haven from which they could launch attacks on America and our friends." Too late, Mr. President, has no one told you that you've succeeded in accomplishing that yourself?
Gen. Odom, now professor at Yale and senior fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute, does not confine his criticism to the president, Rumsfeld, and the malleable generals they have promoted. Odom has also been highly critical of leaders of the intelligence community, an area he knows intimately, having served as chief of Army Intelligence (1981-85) and Director of the National Security Agency (1985-88). Commenting on the farcical pre-election-campaign "intelligence reform" last summer, he wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post, observing:
No organizational design will compensate for incompetent incumbents.
Odom is spot-on. In my 27 years of experience as an intelligence analyst I learned the painful lesson that lack of professionalism is the inevitable handmaiden of sycophancy. Military and intelligence officers and diplomats who bubble to the top in this kind of environment do not tend to be the real professionals.
And who pays the price? The young men and women we send off to a misbegotten, unnecessary war.
When the president spoke last evening, Medal of Freedom winners former CIA director George Tenet, Gen. Tommy Franks, and Ambassador Paul Bremer no doubt were cheering him on from their armchairs. A most unsavory spectacle…

Posted by richard at July 19, 2005 11:49 PM