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UPDATES INCLUDE: CONGRESS MEMBERS NAMED IN ESPIONAGE, BRIBERY, SEXUAL BLACKMAIL SCHEMES; NEW BREWSTER JENNINGS / VALERIE PLAME DISCLOSURE...
'State Secrets' privilege NOT asserted by DoJ; FBI whistleblower answered ALL questions under oath on Turkish infiltration of U.S. Government...
By Brad Friedman on 8/8/2009 8:51am PT  

Live blogging coverage of the Sibel Edmonds deposition at the National Whistleblowers Center in Washington D.C. For background see previous coverage:

[Updates at bottom...]

8:00am PT (11:00am ET): The deposition has now begun inside the National Whisteblowers Center, and has not, apparently, been blocked by an assertion of the "state secrets" privilege by the DoJ.

The BRAD BLOG has some folks covering outside the testimony this morning, and I just spoke to some of the folks on the ground outside the NWC, just before the deposition was set to begin, including David Krikorian, who flew in last night from Ohio.

Krikorian said that he hadn't yet seen anybody from the DoJ there, and both he and Edmonds confirmed that there hadn't been any new action (that they knew about) since the late-night legal back and forth between the DoJ and OEC on Friday night. Though Krikorian added that he "wouldn't be surprised" if someone from DoJ showed up. We'll find out later today if they did.

He said his team intended to ask detailed questions on the three major points they'd described in their press release [PDF] issued earlier this week, focusing on whether and how "The Government of Turkey had illegally infiltrated and influenced various U.S. government institutions and officials, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and individual members of the United States Congress."

Krikorian did not seem dissuaded by the FBI's and then the DoJ's attempts to block Edmonds' testimony, and that they intended to be thorough in their deposition. "That's pretty much the whole point of this exercise," he told me.

Schmidt (R-OH)'s attorney is Bruce Fein, the one-time Assoc. Deputy Attorney General in the Reagan Administration who has, over the past several years, become a fierce critic of the George W. Bush Administration. He believed the deposition would not take long, though Krikorian's people may have a differing opinion there.

There are apparently a handful of mostly independent and foreign media outlets present outside the NWC. No corporate MSM, from the reports I've gotten. Independent TV/media, an Armenian English language weekly, and press attache representatives of some foreign governments are among those present.

8:40am PT (11:40am ET): During a break, Edmonds and the attorneys stepped outside.

DoJ still a no-show, so the questioning has proceeded, and Edmonds has been able to say "everything that she hasn't been able to say so far, implicating many members of Congress in a criminal conspiracy," according to interviews with Fein and others.

Edmonds' attorney, Michael Kohn said: "The Justice Department decided not to show. Therefore, the deposition has gone much more smoothly than we had anticipated."

Edmonds told me in a brief phone conversation during the break: "Bruce Fein is raising objections to everything," though that's to be expected. She said she's been asked, and has answered, questions on Dan Burton (R-IN), Dennis Hastert (R-IL) (who is now a lobbyist for Turkey), and Stephen Solarz (D-NY), as well as other questions on those high-ranking officials and lobbyists in her "State Secrets Gallery."

She added that "somebody said the FBI was given the wrong time, for 11:30 instead of 10:30," though she didn't see how that could be, given that the time for the start of the deposition has been well publicized. In any case, it's now 11:45am ET, so we'll see if they showed up during this break. They have now gone back into session...

9:41am PT (12:41pm ET): Another break...Edmonds still being questioned under direct. Fein believes his cross-examination will last two hours or so once he begins. They are now breaking for lunch. DoJ/FBI still have not shown up.

The deposition is being videotaped and Edmonds hopes that it can be released as soon as possible after the deposition, though there have been some objections about releasing the video tape...

10:09am PT (1:09pm ET): Wow... just had lengthy conversation with Krikorian about Edmonds' testimony. Just wow... coming momentarily...
...
Spoke to Edmonds, who says she's "tired, gotta put some sugar into her system," but that she's satisfied with what's being put on the record so far. "Things we have never discussed outside before."

A lengthy conversation then, with Krikorian, may give you some idea of what she's referring to.

Here's Krikorian, directly quoted. Hang on to your seats...

From my opinion, if I'm some of the current members of Congress, I'd be very very worried about the information that's going to come out of this. There are current members of Congress that she has implicated in bribery, espionage. It's not good. It's crazy, it's absolutely crazy. For people in power situations in the United States, who know about this information, if they don't take action against it, in my opinion, it's negligence.

[Which current members have been implicated?]

[Dan] Burton (R-IN), described as basically accepting bribes and involved in espionage for the Turkish government...she could not discuss the extremely illegal activities that Mr. Burton committed against U.S. interests, as she put it.

Also, a current female Democratic [ed note: I misheard, he later said he didn't know if she was Dem or Rep] member of Congress who has been blackmailed by the Turkish Government...called a 'hooking exercise'...she's apparently bi-sexual and they bugged her apartment, she's married with children, and they set up a relationship with another female who went in and had sexual relationships with her. And they had all the episodes bugged within this current Representative's home and they blackmailed her. ... She wouldn't give her name, but her photograph [is the one with the question mark on it in the "Sibel Edmonds Rogue Gallery." ]

The context of the discussion was that this particular Representative was amenable to passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution. And then based on this 'hooking' operation, changed her position. She was reluctant to put this person's name on record.

[CORRECTION/CLARIFICATION FROM EDMONDS, 4:26pm PT (7:26pm ET): After reviewing our coverage, Edmonds clarifies that she did not discuss the specific voting record of the Congresswoman in question discussed above, because she didn't, and still doesn't, know her record on that particular issue. As Krikorian's quote above may have been inadvertently misleading on that point, she wanted to correct that record. - BF]

[Other people implicated included] Livingston (R-TX LA), Hastert (R-IL), Dick Gephardt (D-MO), other non-Congressional members, people like Brent Scowcroft, other appointed members of the U.S. government.

One of the reasons we sought her testimony is especially for these reasons. I can tell you that counsel for Schmidt has been objecting to much of the testimony. I stopped counting the number of objections that were raised. But, she's an extremely credible witness, she knows a lot about what happened. She's implicated Turkish organizations operating in the U.S. with both overt and covert operations.

[Q: Which ones?]

ATC, ATAA, TACA...She talked about how she was recruited to join these operations, she talked about the fact that the Inspector General's report exonerated her, she talked about the circumstances around her dismissal, she talked about the fact that these Turkish American operations were, she said in her words, 'all receiving support from the Turkish government.'

She talks about one of the main lobby issues is suppressing U.S. media coverage of the Armenian Genocide and preventing the Armenian Genocide resolution in Congress from passing. She said very very strongly that is one of their major issues.

She also attested there is no credible opposition to the historical facts of the Armenian genocide, that it's only coming from Turkey.

[Ed note: Edmonds was raised in Turkey, though is a U.S. citizen. Krikorian is of Armenian descent. Schmidt is neither, but she is co-chair of the Congressional Turkish Caucus.]

Did not have very flattering things to say about former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert. ... Actually, I stopped taking notes because I was o fascinated by what she was saying. ... She talked about the Rand Corp., Brewster-Jennings, nuclear secrets...

Frankly it's disappointing that things like this are happening in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Is it a huge surprise? No. Should it be tolerated? Absolutely not. I can't imagine George Washington and Thomas Jefferson allowing this sort of thing to go on in the Republic that they created. I cannot imagine it.

We're talking about High Crimes against the United States government. If the Government is aware of these High Crimes and doesn't prosecute them, I'm not sure what can be said about this.
...
[Q: Do you predict problems with Democrats whose support you will need when running against Schmidt as a Dem in 2010?]

Problem with Democrats...?

Well, Mr. Gephardt and Mr. Solarz are no longer Representatives of the U.S. House of Representatives. I think it would be extremely naive and the height of folly for the Democratic leadership to suggest for a moment that Democrats aren't also corrupt. I don't mean as an entirety, but that there aren't corrupt members of the Democrat caucus. I think there was a recent Democrat down south somewhere who was found with thirty thousand dollars cash in his freezer, or whatever.

If Democratic National Committee or the DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Comm.] came out and said, 'hey, we're entirely clean and there's no fault on us,' I think the American public would laugh at them. So, this is not an indictment of one party or the other. This is about standing up for what's right for the country, and what is right for the citizens of our country.

Again, I ran as an independent last time [in 2008]. I'm running as a Democrat [in 2010] because I think right now they're probably the better of the two parties. But nevertheless, I don't necessarily buy into the fact that they're without blood on their hands...

[Q: Did she implicate any sitting Democrats?]

She did not indicate any names of any currently serving Democrats that I'm aware. [Though he wasn't certain if the unnamed female Representative was either Democratic or Republican.]

Krikorian went on to say that he expects to release the video of the deposition, which, along with the transcript, is the property of his legal team. says "There will be...This could be a 10 part YouTube video segment, that we'll put out there."

He doesn't yet know when a transcript will be available.

The cross-examination of Edmonds, by Schmidt's attorney Fein, is still in progress...

12:24pm PT (3:24pm ET) Apparently the proceedings are now wrapping up. It's believed that Edmonds and Krikorian and the attorneys will speak to whatever media are outside the NWC. Will cover...

12:56pm (3:56pm ET) Okay, I believe this will be the final update. But it will end with a BANG. Big time...Read to the end...really...

The attorneys and Krikorian and Edmonds all had a media avail after the deposition completed.

Bruce Fein, the attorney for Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) --- who began all of this with her complaint at the Ohio Election Commission against David Krikorian, claiming he made "false statements" by alleging she took "blood money" from Turkish interests to suppress a vote in the U.S. House on the Armenian Genocide resolution --- was confronted by a reporter with Armenian TV who asked if it wasn't the "cornerstone of free speech" for candidates to talk about freely about these matters.

Fein became very defensive, said that Krikorian "can say whatever he wants about the Armenian Genocide, but what he's not allowed to do is state lies. We don't want to close anybody's mouth when it comes to taking about the Armenian Genocide...What we're trying to do is promote freedom of speech. Some versions are trying to harass individuals who are trying to dispute history."

The reporter, Elizabeth Chouldjian, freelancing coverage today for Armenian Horizons TV, is also with Armenian National Committee of America, and she continue to press her points, and asked Fein if he didn't have a conflict of interest in this case. She had earlier told me that Fein was a Board member of the Turkish Coalition of America, Turkish American Legal Defense Fund and legal counsel for Assembly of Turkish American Associations. She wondered if it was appropriate for Fein to represent Schmidt, since he himself could be called to testify, as a witness on behalf of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations.

Chouldjian had told me that he's been flying around the country, essentially trying to deny that the genocide ever occurred, has sued the state of Massachusetts to put Armenian genocide "denialist" material in text books, is suing the Southern Poverty Law Center for putting out an article last year called "State of Denial" which, she says, focused on Turkish interests trying to block Armenian Genocide resolution from being passed.

Fein left very quickly thereafter, so I didn't get a chance to ask him if he, himself, recognized what he called, several times, "the Armenian genocide."

Chouldjian later told Edmonds of Fein's connections to those organizations, several of whom came up in the deposition, apparently. Edmonds had no idea Fein was allied with those organizations.

Michael Kohn, Edmonds attorney, working on behalf of the National Whistleblower Center made his statement to say he's "glad her testimony has finally count out...It's been many years in the making. We're delighted that the Justice Department did not intervene and allowed the testimony to go forward." He said it was "a breath of fresh air from the previous administration." He didn't "think it would have happened with the previous administration."

He was not sure when the transcript of the session would be released. New information today, he said, including naming persons by name and with a great deal of specifics. NWC would review the testimony and disseminate it publicly as soon as possible.

Krikorian stated: "We came here to get the sworn testimony of a very very credible witness in defense against a current Congresswoman. And then, beyond that, doing what is right for the country, which is why I'm running. I plan to win this case, and I plan to win this election," he said.

He said there is an Ohio Election Commission preliminary meeting on Aug. 13th, and a hearing on Sept 3rd, and that he would look at releasing both video and transcript thereafter.

Edmonds, however, seemed to suggest that the video tape, at least, might be released in full sooner.

Here comes a bombshell or two...

At the venue, Edmonds said that she named names and details on all of the Congress members noted on her "State Secrets Gallery" page. And then some.

She said she told them about "Mr. [Marc] Grossman and Brewster Jennings...And the real story about them, not the crap they got from the media."

I was unable to follow up that statement with a question, before she got into a cab, but was able to track her down on her cell thereafter.

First, I asked if she specified whether the sitting bi-sexual, married Congresswoman who had been taped sleeping with a woman, without knowing, and then bribed by Turkish interests with the tape, to vote against the Armenian Genocide resolution had been a Democrat or a Republican. She said she is a Democrat, and that she testified to that during her deposition. (See Krikorian's long statement above for more details on that woman.)

Second, I asked about the "real" story on Brewster Jennings, as opposed to the "crap...from the media" as she mentioned at the venue.

"Basically," she said, "I told them how [third-ranking State Dept. official in the Bush Admin and former Ambassador to Turkey] Marc Grossman disclosed" that Brewster Jennings was a CIA front company to the target of an FBI investigation. "And it was under oath and that some lives may have been lost."

"Novak has nothing to do with it. Wilson has nothing to do with it. Valerie Plame has nothing to do with it. The whole operation has to do with something totally different and it had to do with the American Turkish Council and the Turkish clients who were about to hire Brewster Jennings as an analyst ... and Grossman found out about it, and tipped off his diplomatic contact who was a target of the FBI counter-intelligence, and that person notified the ISI [Pakistani intelligence agency], etc."

She says that Brewster Jenning was then "dismantled as soon as the FBI notified the CIA," after which "FBI requested CIA to do a damage assessment, to see if lives would be lost."

All of this, she re-iterated, was "long before, three years before," Novak outed Valerie Plame as a CIA operative in his newspaper column.

Brewster Jennings was "absolutely" dismantled in August of 2001.

"Grossman and [Richard] Armitage, they are the only two people involved. Later on Cheney and his people may have used it, but it had nothing to do with those other things, [Brewster Jennings] was completely destroyed and gone by the summer of 2001."

For those not fully up on Edmonds' story, her job at the FBI was to listen to wiretaps in the counter-intel department, to translate foreign targets caught on those taps. Presumably, that's where her details on the destruction of Brewster Jennings comes from. She was hired by the agency shortly after 9/11.

Bombshell enough for ya? Let's see if anyone in the corporate media bothers to agree, and/or pick up on this --- now that it's officially "on the record" and, as Edmonds took pains to point out: under oath!

Here endeth today's live-blogging session. We hope to be hitting the road this afternoon (we were supposed to go on "vacation" today, but have had to put things off for this), so if anyone feels like tipping us some gas money, to make up for three hours sleep and today's marathon coverage, we'd much appreciate it!

You can donate to The BRAD BLOG here...

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Long-gagged FBI whistleblower re-iterates request for citizen media in D.C. to show up at Saturday morning deposition...
By Brad Friedman on 8/7/2009 8:06pm PT  

The DoJ is now jumping into action, at least on behalf of covering the FBI's rear, if not yet to issue any "states secrets" claims to stop the scheduled testimony of FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds in D.C. tomorrow morning in the Ohio Election Commission (OEC) case of Schmidt v. Krikorian.

For background, first see Wednesday night's report:
FBI Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds Subpoenaed, Set to 'Break' Gag Order Unless DoJ Intercedes
Former agency translator called to testify in Ohio election case this Saturday on Turkish infiltration of U.S. government...

...and then today's update:
EXCLUSIVE: FBI Attempts to Block Edmonds Testimony in OH Election Case; Attorneys Say Effort Insufficient to Stop Her
Whistleblower org says FBI/DoJ attempting 'censorship,' trying to 'silence whistleblower' answering 'lawful subpoena'

Tonight Arthur Goldberg of the DoJ's civil division sent a letter to the OEC's Executive Director Philip C. Richter, and Richter has replied. Both letters are downloadable below, and the text is posted there as well.

In short, the DoJ has informed the OEC that Edmonds has "not complied with the procedures for obtaining authorization from the FBI, her former employer, prior to making any disclosure relating to information that she acquired in the course of her work for the FBI. Therefore, she is not authorized to testify at the deposition."

Edmonds and her attorneys argued earlier today in their letter to the FBI (see today's earlier story and documents) that her employment agreements do not preclude her from answering a lawful subpoena, which they consider this to be, nor further do those agreements require approval from the FBI for oral, versus written, testimony. She was subpoenaed earlier this week on behalf of candidate David Krikorian, who is defending himself in an OEC "false statements" claim by U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH-2nd).

The DoJ further claims in its letter that the OEC's subpoena is not enforceable, because the deposition is to take place outside of Ohio.

In response, the OEC has said it will not enforce the subpoena, but it has not withdrawn it, either. Thus, it seems, Krikorian is still within his rights to carry out the deposition at this time, and Edmonds tells The BRAD BLOG she plans on being there in the morning to answer it.

As we reported earlier today, the National Whistleblowers Legal Defense & Education Fund, representing Edmonds, issued a statement [PDF] today blasting the FBI and DoJ's attempts to block Edmonds' testimony as "censorship" and trying to "silence [a] whistleblower."
The Bush Administration's DoJ had twice invoked the "state secrets" privilege in order to gag Edmonds, to keep her from testifying on matters they argued were of national security. So far, however, the Obama Administration's DoJ has failed to re-invoke that privilege, though it's possible it still could do so prior to tomorrow's testimony.

In a brief conversation with Edmonds moments ago, she re-iterated her belief that the "MSM will be a no-show tomorrow," and therefore says "citizen journalists are needed" to cover what may happen at the deposition. Both she and Krikorian, as well as attorneys from all sides, will be available to answer questions from media --- both corporate and citizen --- before and after the scheduled deposition tomorrow. It is slated to begin at 10:30am Saturday morning (8/8/09) at the National Whistleblowers Center, 3238 P St. NW, in Washington D.C..

* * *

Tonight's letter from the DoJ's Arthur Goldberg to the OEC's Philip C. Richter may be downloaded here [PDF]. Richter's reply to Goldberg may be downloaded here [PDF].

The text of both letters now follow below in full...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Whistleblower org says FBI/DoJ attempting 'censorship,' trying to 'silence whistleblower' answering 'lawful subpoena'
Letters from FBI, Edmonds attorney posted...
By Brad Friedman on 8/7/2009 2:26pm PT  

[Update 8:08pm PT: The DoJ has now attempted to intercede, on behalf of the FBI, with the Ohio Election Commission. Details, and letters between DoJ and OEC now posted here...]

The BRAD BLOG has obtained both the FBI's response to FBI translator-turned-whistleblower Sibel Edmonds' notice of her intention to give a deposition this Saturday in response to a subpoena she received in a case before the Ohio Elections Commission (OEC). We've also been given exclusive access to her attorneys' response in turn, which is to be officially released later this afternoon.

The FBI stated its objection to Edmonds' plans to testify in a two-page letter [PDF] on Thursday, sent to Edmonds' attorney Stephen Kohn, at the National Whistleblowers Legal Defense & Education Fund. Edmonds and her attorneys, however, in their own two-page letter [PDF], say the objections raised so far by the agency are not sufficient to block Edmonds from "truthfully answer[ing] questions while under oath pursuant to a lawful subpoena" on Saturday morning in D.C. as scheduled.

Their press release [PDF], to be issued publicly later today, accuses the FBI and DoJ of attempting "censorship" and trying to "silence [a] whistleblower."

As we reported in detail on Wednesday, Edmonds' attorneys had notified the Department of Justice earlier this week, in a hand-delivered letter of declaration [PDF], that she intended to testify in the pending Schmidt v. Krikorian case about the information she has concerning infiltration of the U.S. Government by agents of Turkey. She informed the DoJ of her intentions to move forward, unless the DoJ re-invoked the "state secrets" claim that the Bush Administration had twice used to gag any public testimony, her own whistleblower suit, and all other disclosures in regard to information she was privy to during her employ as a linguistics specialist with the FBI following 9/11. So far, the DoJ has not done so.

As of this afternoon, Edmonds tells The BRAD BLOG she still "absolutely" plans to testify...

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Former agency translator called to testify in Ohio election case this Saturday on Turkish infiltration of U.S. government...
By Brad Friedman on 8/5/2009 8:56pm PT  

[Update 8/7/09: FBI has now attempted to block Edmonds' testimony. Exclusive details now here...]

Unless the Dept. of Justice re-invokes their twice-invoked "state secrets privilege" claim in order to once again gag former FBI translator-turned-whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, her attorneys have notified the department by hand-delivered, sworn letter of declaration [PDF] this week, that she intends to give a deposition, open to the media [Updated: see bottom of article for details], in response to a subpoena this Saturday in Washington D.C..

Edmonds has confirmed her intentions to answer any questions asked of her during the sworn proceedings, fully and publicly, during conversations with The BRAD BLOG this week. She notes that her agreement with her former employer, the FBI --- who fired her illegally after she filed whistleblower allegations about corruption and foreign infiltration in the linguistics department --- includes certain non-disclosure requirements. However, those requirements do not preclude her answering to a legally issued court subpoena.

The subpoena and request for sworn deposition is part of a case now pending before the Ohio Elections Commission in which Ohio's Republican U.S. Congresswoman Jean Schmidt (R-2nd District) has filed a complaint against her 2008 independent challenger, David Krikorian who Schmidt has charged distributed false statements about her during last year's campaign.

The resulting testimony, if it indeed occurs this weekend, could be far more explosive than either Schmidt or Krikorian might have ever guessed...

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Modern elections have become a parlor game dangerously and needlessly imperiling democracy in the bargain...
By Brad Friedman on 6/15/2009 3:29pm PT  

At the risk of undermining the vigorous debate and discussion now ongoing in response to my Saturday morning article drawing a comparison between Iran's '09 election and Ohio's '04 election (and the ongoing speculation about the reported Iranian results going on just about everywhere else today), allow me to amplify a bit on the point I was hoping to get at in that piece, written as reports were just coming in about skepticism in the reported results.

Since The BRAD BLOG began reporting on issues of democracy and concerns about elections, most intensely beginning on or about the early morning hours of November 3rd, 2004 and continuing ever since, we've likely investigated, researched and/or written as much or more on virtually every aspect of the topic as any other media outlet in the world.

In the process of observing one election after another since that time, and the increasingly inevitable ensuing questions about, as well as disbelief and/or belief in the validity of each election's results, one thing has become crystal clear: without complete transparency and 100% citizen oversight of every aspect of any given election, most notably the tabulation of its ballots, certainty in any given officially-announced result has become nearly impossible.

Without the transparency required for democracy to actually work, each "democratic" election, whether in this country, or in any other, has become more and more like Russian Roulette, but without the certainty...

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'Major typos' seen by reader in paper's editorial on Iran election...
By Brad Friedman on 6/15/2009 12:25pm PT  

The New York Times has an unbylined editorial today, headlined "Neither Real Nor Free" which blasts the Iranian election, alleging that "it certainly looks like fraud."

Our friend Michael Jay, a former delegate to the California Democratic Party who amended their party platform to include language encouraging Democratic candidates to not concede until every ballot is counted, took the opportunity today to riff on our weekend comparison of Iran '09 to Ohio '04 with a letter to the NYTimes editors which begins as follows...

Major typos in "Neither Real Nor Free"

To The Editor:
I'm afraid your spell check software got the better of you in preparing "Neither Real Nor Free," (Editorial, June 15, 2009.) It appears both the country and a key political party were misidentified.

I've included a corrected, and abbreviated, version. Too bad the Times, and other news outlets, didn't publish such editorials following our 2004 election.

See Michael's "corrected" version of the piece, sent with his letter to the Times editors, below...

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Without citizen oversight and transparency, 'faith-based' elections threaten democracy no matter where they are held...
By Brad Friedman on 6/13/2009 11:19am PT  

It sounds a lot like Ohio 2004. A less than popular old-line incumbent facing massive public demonstrations against him and in favor of his main progressive challenger promising reform; polls that suggest a swell of support for the challenger; unprecedented turnout on Election Day; long lines at polling places; paper ballot shortages and names missing from voter rolls; widespread rumors, concerns, and evidence of voter intimidation and vote-rigging, all accompanied nonetheless by a general feeling among the populace that the incumbent has been turned out, only to learn from officials, late on Election Night, after secret vote counting, that the incumbent has been declared the winner of a second term.

The most substantive difference from Ohio 2004, however: the declared winner President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is said to have defeated his main opponent Mir Hossein Mousavi by a 63% to 34% "landslide," instead of the razor-thin margin seen in Ohio (and across the popular vote in the rest of the nation). In Iran, a result of anything less than 50% + 1 for the leading candidate would have triggered a national runoff election.

The other main differences between Iran '09 and Ohio '04: New York Times is already asking "Landslide or Fraud?" this morning; in Iran, supporters of the challenger are taking to the streets; and the challenger himself has already called the election results a "fraud"...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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'It's hard not to believe there was something deliberate about it'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/2/2009 12:04pm PT  

A few developments this week in the case of Mike Connell, the GOP IT guru who died in a single-engine plane craft last December, just after being forced to testify in a long-standing OH 2004 voting rights case, but before the case could come to trial. As The BRAD BLOG has long covered both the lawsuit, and Connell's central role, I wanted to make sure the new developments were noted here. Forgive my quick copy and paste, necessarily, given the circumstances of the week which still have me otherwise distracted in many ways. Background links on the entire Connell story are included at the end of this item...

First via RAW:

The sisters of Michael Connell, a GOP IT consultant and former associate of Karl Rove who died in a plane crash last December, are now questioning the circumstances surrounding his death.

“Shannon Connell of Madison says her brother Michael rarely talked about work,” a local Wisconsin paper reported Thursday. “She knew he ran an Ohio company called New Media Communications that set up websites for Republicans including former President George H.W. Bush and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. But it wasn’t until after he died last December, when the small plane he was piloting crashed, that she learned via the Internet of his tie to a voter fraud case and to allegations that presidential adviser Karl Rove had made threats against him.

“‘At first, it was really hard for me to believe Mike was dead because somebody wanted him dead,” the paper quoted Shannon as saying. “But as time goes on, it’s hard for me not to believe there was something deliberate about it.”

“A native of Illinois, Shannon moved to Madison in 2002,” the paper adds, “the same year as her sister, Mary Jo Walker. Walker, a former Dane County Humane Society employee, has similar concerns about their brother’s death: ‘It doesn’t seem right to me at all.’”

There were a few other notable tidbits from Bill Lueders' original report in Wisconsin's The Daily Page...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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'Our nation has lost a true hero of democracy...I salute his courage for asking the tough questions'
PLUS: Activist turned CA Dep. SoS Lowell Finley offers his unique perspective as well...
By Brad Friedman on 5/1/2009 11:22am PT  

I'm certain that John would have been simply flabbergasted at the outpouring of emotional response and moving tributes upon his passing --- in particular from various public officials, many of whom he'd been at odds with at various times over the years.

The latest comes this morning in the form of condolences, and a very moving statement on his loss, from OH Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner via her Director of Communications, Patrick Gallaway...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Presentation to election officials underscores years of reporting at The BRAD BLOG, including dangers of voting machine 'sleepovers,' and Sequoia Voting Systems' continuing ties to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez...
By Brad Friedman on 3/27/2009 4:02pm PT  

- Brad Friedman, The BRAD BLOG

"I follow the vote. And wherever the vote becomes an electron and touches a computer, that's an opportunity for a malicious actor potentially to...make bad things happen," CIA cybersecurity expert Steven Stigall explained, in a stunning presentation to a U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) field hearing held one month ago in Orlando.

As initially reported earlier this week by Greg Gordon at McClatchy, "Stigall said that voting equipment connected to the Internet could be hacked, and machines that weren't connected could be compromised wirelessly. Eleven U.S. states have banned or limited wireless capability in voting equipment, but Stigall said that election officials didn't always know it when wireless cards were embedded in their machines."

"The CIA got interested in electronic systems a few years ago," Gordon reports Stigall as explaining at the EAC hearing, "after concluding that foreigners might try to hack U.S. election systems."

But as disturbing as Stigall's presentation was, what's almost as disturbing is that it took more than 11 days, McClatchy's coverage, a number of FOIA requests from VotersUnite's John Gideon (a frequent guest blogger here), and a couple of articles from BRAD BLOG alum, Michael Richardson of the Examiner (his coverage is here and here), before the EAC finally released the complete transcript of the meeting [WORD], including Stigall's remarks.

"The presenter did not provide the presentation, 'Computers and Elections: The Growing Potential for Cyber Vote Fraud', to the EAC, so we have no materials responsive to your request," Gideon was told in response to his Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the EAC, as reported by Richardson. "We received the transcript on March 16, 2009, and it will be publicly available in the next few days."

As of last night, 10 days since the EAC admits they received the transcript of their own event which had taken place 20 days earlier, they had neither sent it to Gideon in response to his request, nor posted it on their website. As of this morning, a month since the hearing, it's finally up on their website, thanks in part, no doubt, to the pressure brought on the EAC by the public to do so. Even then, Stigall's remarks are not posted separately, as other presentations are, but rather, one has to go looking for the full transcript of the actual event to find it. So why both the delay and obfuscation from the famously dysfunctional (a nice way to put it) federal agency? Make your own best guesses, since there is no official explanation for the moment.

Happily, there were others at the meeting who had transcribed the CIA cybersecurity expert's startling remarks --- decimating the idea of supposedly "secure" e-voting --- independently, who then helped to bring it to the public's attention. Clearly, the strongly pro-e-voting EAC had/has little intention of doing so themselves.

Stigall's presentation, and we've got much more of it excerpted below, include a passel of disturbing thoughts. Many of them we've tried to impart on these pages for years, including comments which point up the dangers we've tried to warn about concerning pre-election voting machine "sleepovers" at the houses of pollworkers, and more indications of the dangers of Sequoia Voting Systems clandestine, on-going relationship with the Hugo Chavez-tied Venezuelan e-voting firm Smartmatic, as we reported exclusively here one year ago --- to little interest from the corporate media, despite Sequoia's claims to federal investigators that they had severed all ties with the firm...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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CBS/AP jumps in with good coverage, McClatchy not so much
And other odds and ends of note...
By Brad Friedman on 12/24/2008 12:31pm PT  

Yesterday, "Mediabloodhound" Brad Jacobson (an occasional guest contributor to The BRAD BLOG) covered the coverage, noting the curious lack thereof, in the corporate mainstream, of the death of Mike Connell, the longtime top Bush/Rove/McCain IT consultant.

Jacobson's piece concludes:

Connell was allegedly a linchpin in the biggest maze of White House scandal this country's ever seen, yet the national news media is a no-show.

What caused Connell's crash is only one piece of this story. One that, as in many such stories, may or may never be confirmed. Pilot error? Aircraft malfunction? Weather conditions? Foul play? Suicide? Heart attack? A thorough investigation needs to take place. Part of what the media should be doing is making sure that happens.

But everything that has already been confirmed, having nothing to do with the crash, should also have the national media covering this with at least as much gusto as "BlaggoGate" or, say, Britney's comeback or Brangelina's pre-nup. So far, though, in a replay of journalistic fecklessness rife during the Bush years, mum's the word.

Shortly following the publication of Jacobson's piece, AP/CBS filed a rather detailed report, one which is actually quite thorough by MSM standards.

Nonetheless, it's still been fairly quiet in the bulk of the MSM, especially in the broadcast MSM, and especially given the high-ranks of Connell, who had been the chief IT consultant for Karl Rove, had received millions creating websites for the Bushes, McCain, the Swiftboaters, the state of OH and dozens of other GOP campaigns, as well as having created the network firewalls for top Congressional committees (for which his company reportedly received a sweetheart, no-bid contract) and the controversial alternate email server used by the White House and at the center of the US Attorney purge scandal.

Let's hope the AP/CBS report will now spur more MSM coverage...just in time to be lost in the XMas news hole, of course.

A few more odds and ends of note today on this matter, as we head into that news hole...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Weather appears clear; 'Ear-witnesses' heard on tape describing sounds leading to crash
UPDATE: Audio interview with OH attorney who recently deposed Connell, asked for his protection from AG, in election fraud case...
By Brad Friedman on 12/23/2008 10:34am PT  

I'm not sure what, if any, light this video --- as shot by local eye and ear-witnesses in Akron, OH --- sheds on the plane crash and death of high-ranking GOP IT operative Mike Connell. But, as it may reveal something, to somebody, in the still-unexplained, and surprisingly-timed crash, I suppose it may useful to put it on the record here.

For example, despite scattered reports that bad weather may have contributed to the cause of the crash, the weather seems to have been clear, at least on the ground, at least by the time the witnesses arrived, as seen in the video. Reports of "mist" seem to be belied in the early part of the video, shot through the front window of the car which does not appear to have its windshield wipers on. [UPDATE: RAW STORY also reports weather data during the hour of the crash, noting visibility was clear, and temperatures just above freezing.] Also, several descriptions of what was heard by the "ear-witnesses" as the crash occurred, may be of value as well.

The video, and an audio interview with OH attorney Cliff Arnebeck, who had sought Connell's protection after reported threats from Karl Rove, follow below...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Cliff Arnebeck, lead attorney in the growing federal election conspiracy case tells The BRAD BLOG that the loss of a key witness will not deter his pursuit of justice
U.S. Dept. of Justice ignored months-long effort to protect GOP 'IT guru' following reported threats from Karl Rove...
By Brad Friedman on 12/22/2008 1:52pm PT  

-- Brad Friedman, The BRAD BLOG

The lead attorney in the widening 2004 federal election fraud conspiracy case which began in Ohio --- but is rapidly growing to other states and other elections --- says that the stunning death of a key witness last Friday is a blow to the case, but not the end of it by a long shot.

"Michael Connell was a critically important witness. His loss hurts our case," Cliff Arnebeck, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the King-Lincoln Bronzeville v. OH Sec. of State lawsuit, told The BRAD BLOG in an email responding to questions about Connell's death. The Republican 'IT guru,' a top IT consultant to Karl Rove, George W. Bush, John McCain, and a bevy of congressional Republicans, had been in the nation's capital on still-unknown business before his single engine plane crashed Friday night on the way home, just three miles short of the runway in Akron, Ohio. The cause of the crash remains similarly unknown as of today.

"We will have to adjust," Arnebeck told us in response to queries about where the case may necessarily need to go from here. "The kind of organized criminal enterprise we are addressing requires the resources of the very best that the investigative press corps and law enforcement, at all levels, can muster."

As posted on the New York Times website in full on Saturday, the last line of a press release from VelvetRevolution.us, who has retained Arnebeck as counsel in the case, reads "Our prior request to have Mr. Connell protected went unheeded and now he is dead." [DISCLOSURE: The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder of VR.]

However, despite Connell's elite status as a top-rung Republican consultant for years --- he reportedly received some $800,000 from the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2004 alone --- the NYTimes, the nation's paper of record, has yet to run anything else on the death of the man who, Arnebeck notes, he had intended to both further depose, as well as call to testify as a key trial witness in the federal conspiracy case. Coverage from the UK's Telegraph, however, is published here.

Connell had been compelled by the federal district judge in the case, on the Friday prior to last month's Presidential Election, to give a deposition to plaintiff attorneys on the Monday before the general election. The order for that deposition came after the OH attorneys had sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, seeking protection for Connell and his wife. While Connell had expressed a willingness to testify about what he knew concerning the '04 election, and the election website network he had created for Ohio's then-Sec. of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, he had become reticent after Rove had sent threats to Connell and his wife, according to tipsters...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Said Recently Threatened by Karl Rove, Had Been Key Witness in OH '04 Election Fraud Case
Built Alternate WH Email System, Websites for Bush, McCain, Swiftboaters, '04 OH Election, More...
By Emily Levy on 12/19/2008 11:27pm PT  

Guest blogged by Emily Levy of Velvet Revolution
[Additional material added on 12/20/08 by Brad Friedman]

The Akron Beacon Journal is reporting that the private plane of the GOP's highly-placed "IT guru" Mike Connell's went down in Lake Township, Ohio on Friday evening. Connell was killed in the crash and is reported to have been the only person on board. There are no reports of anyone on the ground being hurt, though his plane crashed in a residential neighborhood.

Connell is a familiar name to readers of The BRAD BLOG as a key witness in the King-Lincoln v. Blackwell lawsuit regarding fraud in the 2004 Presidential Election in Ohio. That recently revived, long-standing lawsuit led to Connell's recent deposition on November 3, 2008, the day before this year's general election. According to plaintiff's lead attorney Cliff Arnebeck in July, a tipster had warned that Connell had been threatened by Karl Rove, as The BRAD BLOG reported at the time, in an attempt to intimidate him into "taking the fall" for Ohio election fraud not long after a motion was filed to lift the stay in that case.

Connell had been memorably described as a "high IQ Forrest Gump", by the attorneys for the plaintiffs in the Ohio fraud case, for his apparent penchant at the scene of "every single crime" from Florida 2000 to Ohio 2004 to the network firewall on a number of key Congressional committees to the case of the missing White House emails. (Video and text transcript of the interview with the attorneys here.)

In late September, the federal judge in the Ohio case agreed to lift the stay, and in late October he compelled Connell to give a deposition to plaintiff attorneys on the Monday before the Tuesday general election.

Connell had been served with a subpoena to appear in the federal courtroom in Ohio at the same College Park, MD airport where his single engine plane reportedly took off from last night, on his final solo flight...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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After Finding Diebold's Tabulator Had Secretly Deleted Ballots from '08 Election, Humboldt's Election Chief Rushes to Buy New System From Different Vendor Without Adequate Public Discussion Period, According to Election Advocates
State-Commissioned Studies Find Hart InterCivic Ballot Scanners Vulnerable to 'Simple Attack', 'Malicious Alteration of Vote Totals'...
By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2008 1:05pm PT  

Following the discovery of hundreds of ballots deleted by Diebold's paper ballot op-scan system in Humboldt County, CA, the county's election chief Carolyn Crnich has finally decided to dump Diebold all together. That's the good news.

The bad news, as longtime local election integrity advocate Dave Berman detailed this week, is that Crnich has decided to jump out of the frying pan, and into the fire with a different op-scan system, made by a different private vendor, using similarly secret software, with many of the same problems found in the crappy Diebold system she's finally tossing over the side.

A spokesman for Hart InterCivic, the private Austin, TX company which makes the paper ballot op-scan system Crnich is hoping to use, defended the county's planned move, though he had to make some erroneous claims to The BRAD BLOG in order to do so...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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