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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, November 28, 2014
'KPFK' BradCast: Maine Mystery, Ferguson Fury and Thanks for Something
'My thanks to all of you this Thanksgiving which, as a few callers reminded me, isn't nearly as terrible as it seemed before this week's show'...
Mysterious Ballots Flip Maine Senate Recount Result From Democratic to Republican
21 'phantom' ballots appear out of nowhere in Town of Long Island, reverse results of very close state contest, leaving officials baffled...
'Green News Report' 11/25/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Gov. Cuomo blames meteorologists for his Buffalo storm fail; Canada protests another tar sands pipeline, lead's world in deforestation; PLUS: World Bank issue's dire warning...
Previous GNRs: 11/20/14 - 11/18/14 - Archives...
No Indictment in Ferguson Shooting of Michael Brown
A few early thoughts on the St. Louis County Prosecutor's extraordinary spectacle and miscarriage of justice on the night of his announcement...
'Recount' Ahead for Oregon's GMO Labeling Measure
Fewer than 900 votes separate 'Yes' from 'No' on 'Right to Know' Measure 92, out of more than 1.5 million paper ballots tallied by computers statewide in Nov. 4 election...
GOP House Intel Committee Findings Debunk GOP BENGHAZI! 'Scandal'
Final report released quietly before holiday weekend and before eighth Republican BENGHAZI! committee set to convene...
Monster Energy Drink Not Just Crappy, Also the Work of Satan!
The indisputable video proof is now here!...
'Green News Report' 11/20/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Record-breaking storm breaks Buffalo; October 2014 hottest October on record; Sorry, Repubs: China to cap coal use by 2020; PLUS: Obama doubles down on climate foreign policy...
Previous GNRs: 11/18/14 - 11/13/14 - Archives...
Extreme Weather? What Extreme Weather?
Yes, scientists have been warning us about this for years. And, yes, the record breaking storm in Buffalo is tied to global warming...
We're #26! Harvard 'Electoral Integrity' Report Dings U.S.
'World's Greatest Democracy' rated worst among Western nations; Ranked just below Micronesia, just above Mexico in overall list...
Gag Order Won't Ensure Impartial Jury in Trial of 'Dark Lord of Coal Country'
WV's criminally indicted coal boss and U.S. Chamber of Comm. director Don Blankeship presents challenge for federal prosecutors...
Oxford English Dictionary's 2014 Word of the Year: 'Vape'
That small point likely underscores some very encouraging news for the health of the world...
'Green News Report' 11/18/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
US Senate fails to approve Keystone XL; Can Congress override the Prez next year?; Native Americans: KXL is 'an act of war'; PLUS: Accountability for 'The Dark Lord of Coal'...
Previous GNRs: 11/13/14 - 11/11/14 - Archives...
Sanders on Colbert: Midterms a Vote Against Both Parties
For those mad at us for asserting 'not voting IS a vote', look who just said the same thing...
Exclusive: St. Louis County Was Warned Before Election Paper Ballots Would Run Out
Email obtained by BRAD BLOG reveals County's top election official ignored warnings from election experts, leading to shortages...
Not Voting IS a Vote
Stop blaming those who didn't turn out. Americans did vote. By not turning out, they voted against the two major parties and against the system as a whole. It may have been a dumb vote, but it was a landslide...
Stephen Colbert is Really REALLY Funny
This segment makes clear once again that it's very very sad The Colbert Report is soon going away...
'Green News Report' 11/13/14
Historic US-China agreement that GOP said couldn't be done; New hope for int'l treaty; Repub freak out; Scientists say deal not enough, but good start...
Crucial Moment for FCC & 'Net Neutrality'
Will the Democratic majority commissioners support the President's clarion call and thwart GOP opposition to an open Internet?...
Brad on Hartmann TV: Election 2014 Mess
On thousands of 'missing' votes in Wisconsin, on Nate Silver and polls vs. 'results', on Rightwing 'True the Vote' voter fraud fraudsters, and on much more...
'Green News Report' 11/11/14
'Science has spoken': Final UN report - bad, good & room for hope; PLUS: Margaret Thatcher's historic climate change speech - when conservatives accepted science ...
IN MEMORIAM: Tomas Young, 1979-2014
On Veterans Day, America added another casualty from the War on Iraq -- one who, after first meeting and interviewing him in 2005, we will never forget...
Early Data Suggests TX GOP Photo ID Restrictions 'Worked'
Provisional ballots doubled, turnout down by more 1/4 million votes, despite larger population, contested gov's race and increased voter registration...
WI Scanner Fails To Tally Thousands of Votes in 'Citizens United' Referendum
'Programming error' blamed for paper ballot tabulator recording just 16 of 5,350 votes in city of Stoughton, WI...
The Results Were Skewed Toward Republicans: A Response to Nate Silver
The statistics guru unhelpfully explains away mid-term's surprising outcome by presuming pre-election polling was wrong and unverified election results were all correct...
'True the Vote' Group Fails to Find 'Voter Fraud' (Again)
Laughingstock RW org's 'army' of monitors and smart phone app uncover just 18 benign 'irregularities', 0 cases of polling place impersonation...
'Green News Report' 11/6/14
Election 2014-pocalypse: Republican hegemonic hellscape!; Climate deniers now in charge; PLUS: At least one note of very good environmental election news...
About Last Night: KPFK 'BradCast'
Guest Matthew Segal of OurTime.org joins Brad to discuss whether young voters are to blame for Tuesday's election results and, if not them, then who...or what...
Reuters: Voting Probs Around Nation, 2,000 Missing Election Judges in Chicago
Wire service summarizes machine probs, Photo ID vote suppression and a really strange story out of Chicago...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


One of Several Reports 'Buried' by EAC, Shows Drop in Voter Participation in Wake of Poll Restrictions, Is Shamelessly Described as 'Draft'
Election Law Professor Warns: 'Chance for EAC to be an Honest Broker Above Politics Are Fading'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2007 4:51pm PT  

After recent Congressional oversight questioning by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission's Bush-appointed chairwoman, Donetta Davidson, has finally relented and agreed to release the commission's bi-partisan report on "Voter ID" issues which has been held back for months. That report, and another not yet released on claims of "Voter Fraud" have been withheld by the EAC, as we reported here and here and in a guest blog by Tova Andrea Wang, one of the two original lead researchers of the still-withheld "Voter Fraud" report.

Hinchey's statement on today's release, including a call for the release of the other related reports, is posted here.

Finally having released the June 28, 2006, report [PDF] today, in the wake of Congressional pressure, and shamefully titling it as a "Draft Voter ID Report" (since it didn't show what they had wanted it to show), the EAC today announced the following:

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has voted unanimously to launch a comprehensive study focused on voter identification laws after concluding that initial research it received in a report, which focused on only one election cycle, was not sufficient to draw any conclusions. The Commission declined to adopt the report, but is releasing all of the data to the public.

In other words, they'll get the "facts" they want, no matter how many reports they need to commission!

The report details how voter participation in minority areas had, in fact, declined after restrictive "Photo ID" laws were enacted at the polls.

"It appears that politics remains the EAC's main priority," said Michael Slater, Deputy Director of Project Vote who claims the commission responsible for overseeing elections systems in the U.S. continues to "play politics." In a statement posted after the report was released today he said, "It's disappointing that the Commission is building a reputation for ignoring or suppressing research findings that don’t satisfy everyone’s ideological position."

He added that the commission's disassociation from the report is another example of their string of continuing failures. "The EAC should be embarrassed by its attempt to impeach the report's findings by insinuating its methodology is unsound."

Are supporters of Rep. Rush Holt's Election Reform Bill paying attention?! His bill, HR811, as currently drafted, would reward the EAC by making them a permanent body, despite their notable and repeated failures...

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

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'Why would you have a paper record if you don't count it?' Asks 'Losing' Candidate
Orange County, CA, Court Decision to 'Set Precedent' According to Both Sets of Attorneys...
By Brad Friedman on 3/27/2007 1:35pm PT  

The Los Angeles Times underscores everything that is wrong with relying on "paper trails" from Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen voting systems: Nobody ever counts them. Even in incredibly close contested elections as overseen by a court of law...

A judge ruled Monday that Janet Nguyen won the February election for an Orange County Board of Supervisors seat by a slim three-vote margin, rejecting arguments by her opponent that a recount wasn't completed because the paper audit of electronically cast ballots was not counted manually.

"All the votes were counted," said Orange County Superior Court Judge Michael Brenner. "There was a full and legal recount."
...
It was, he said, "perfectly reasonable" for Janet Nguyen to ask for about 35,000 paper absentee ballots to be checked by hand to contest ones that weren't filled out properly and then ask to have about 10,000 electronic votes recounted the way they were on election night — by machine
...
Trung Nguyen, who is not related to the winner, declined to comment and left the courthouse as his attorney, Michael Schroeder, said an appeal was likely. "Why would you have a paper record if you don't count it?" Schroeder said.
...
All sides agreed that Brenner's ruling could set a precedent.

Please note that Rush Holt's Election Reform bill (HR811), which mandates the hand-count of a very small minority of paper records in most federal races (which this race was not) via an audit after Election Day, allows no audit to happen at all in the case of an automatic state-mandated recount --- the type that occurs when an election is incredibly close, and when such an audit, arguably, might be needed the most.

UPDATE 4:58pm PT: Election Integrity advocate Tom Courbatt of Riverside County points us towards an October 31, 2006 statement [PDF] from former CA Sec. of State Bruce McPherson, who said: "The mandatory paper audit trail will be used for a full recount if necessary." That statement is at the bottom of the 5-page press release. Guess he was just kidding. Or the judge in Orange County didn't care. Or "paper trails" don't actually matter after all, no matter what any law or elections officials try to tell you...Which is why we need a paper ballot --- one that is actually tabulated --- for every vote cast in America!

# # #

Take action to amend the Holt Election Reform Bill!
DEMAND A BAN ON DRE/TOUCH-SCREEN VOTING!
- Email Congress!
- Call your members!
See www.BradBlog.com/Holt for more details, coverage, talking points & information on all of the above!
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San Diego County Chief Promotes Hard Rightwing Haas to Top Executive Position in County!
By Brad Friedman on 3/24/2007 2:03pm PT  

From the San Diego Union-Tribune today:

Mikel Haas, a 13-year county employee who oversaw a slew of elections in two stints as registrar of voters, has been promoted to one of the top executive positions in county government.

Haas, 49, will replace Alex Martinez, who retired March 16, as deputy chief administrative officer of the Community Services Group. In the post, Haas will oversee several departments, including the registrar, housing, animal services and general services.

Chief Administrative Officer Walt Ekard made the decision Thursday after considering several in-house candidates. He called Haas “a top-notch executive” with stellar management experience.
...
Haas earned $145,288 annually as registrar. His new salary has yet to be determined, county spokesman Mike Workman said.

In the North County Times' report on same, which focused on the difficulty the county may have in finding a replacement for Haas, and bothered, (unlike the as-ever rightwing U-T's coverage above) to note just some of the fire that Haas has been under for his horrible performance as head of elections in SD, added:

County Chief Administrative Officer Walt Ekard...issued a statement through Workman praising Haas, who had been something of a "troubleshooter" for the county during his 13 years.

A "troubleshooter" indeed, for the hard rightwing San Diego County administrators.

A quick review of a just a few BRAD BLOG items concerning Haas will inform the initiated about one of America's worst, most dangerous, partisan Elections Administrators and the disaster that Diebold's man in San Diego has been for the voters of San Diego as he's overseen/mis-managed such elections as the Busby/Bilbray race and many more.

His failures have led both Democrats and Republicans to call for his resignation. Little wonder then, here in Bush's World, that he's now been rewarded for his bad work. Can the Medal of Freedom be far behind?

Heckuva job, San Diego!

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ALSO: A Clarification of Why I Wrote the Story in the First Place About the Alarming Position, Advocating for DRE Use, by People for the American Way...
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2007 4:16pm PT  

If you missed our coverage of the concerns about the positions on Election Reform by People for the American Way (PFAW), including their advocacy of dangerous touch-screen DRE voting systems which originally ran here a couple of days ago, you've got another chance. AlterNet is now running the article from their front page today under the title "An Opposing View on the Progressive Voting Machines Debate."

As with the original, it includes the links to the audio and transcripts of both PFAW Executive Director Ralph Neas's and my appearances on Ring of Fire with RFK Jr. and Mike Papantonio, so you can decide what's going on here for yourself.

And if it wasn't 100% clear in the article originally, PFAW does not have the same position as some of the other groups (like Common Cause, VoteTrustUSA, MoveOn, etc.), who are generally opposed to DRE use, but have been afraid (for political reasons, legitimately or not) to support a ban.

PFAW, to the contrary, is actually advocating the use of DREs in their position and arguments to back it up.

I'm happy to run a response from Ralph or PFAW if they'd like to contact me in order to clarify anything they feel I've misrepresented. That was not my purpose. Similarly, my purpose was not to attack them, but to discuss openly what I see as a very troubling position that I spent much time trying to figure out --- and work out --- privately, before Ralph's public interview on RoF made it necessary for me to respond in kind to help clarify what seems to be going on here...

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By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2007 2:52am PT  

It's a big day in the House on Friday, with hours of hearings set for Rush Holt's HR811 Election Reform bill in the House Adminstration Committee's Subcomittee on Elections, with four big panels set.

The witnesses this time may be more good than bad for a change, and include, among other familiar names, Debra Bowen (CA SoS) and Noel Runyan, the blind technology expert who, with many other disabled voter advocates released a statement here calling for "an immediate ban" on DREs last week. (My interview with Runyan, during last week's guest hosting stint for Action Point on Air America/Nova M Phoenix is here [MP3] for your listening pleasure. I'm back again this Sunday, btw, with a special exclusive broadcast interview premiere! Stay tuned for details!). The rest of the witnesses are listed below.

Unfortunately, I may be gone for much of the day, so let me know how they did in the event that C-SPAN picks any of it up (and if anybody spots Warren Stewart of VoteTrustUSA calling for an amendment to the Holt Bill to require a DRE ban during his public testimony, send him a few dozen roses, will ya?!)

By the way, now's a great time to email and call your Congress members to ask them nicely, but firmly, to amend Holt to include a ban on Electronic DRE Ballots!

The full panel breakdown is listed below...

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

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Voters, State Law, Rendered Meaningless, Plaintiffs Likely to Appeal Decision to CA Supreme Court...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2007 6:35pm PT  
"We need not (and do not) resolve the question of whether the election contest at issue here fits within the category of election contests that may be entertained without infringing on Congress' authority because the instant dispute can, and should, be resolved on a much narrower ground — mootness."
-- CA Court of Appeals (4th District), Majority Opinion, Jacobson v. Bilbray, 3/20/07

Need more evidence for why election results need to be right on Election Night? Look no further than the now-infamous CA50 Busby/Bilbray Special U.S. House Election to replace Randy "Duke" Cunningham last June.

The latest chapter finds an Appellate Court in California dismissing the case on the grounds that the issue is now "moot" because the six month term for the original election being challenged has now ended. That, despite the defense never even having raised the issue. And thus, the voters' right to even have a proper recount as afforded by state law, in order to find out who had the most votes in an election, is usurped by the U.S. Congress's ultimate Constitutional authority to decide who will be seated in its chambers....

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

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Lists Many Clinton AND Bush Administration Officials Who Have Been Allowed to Testify Under Oath Before Congress
Cites Previous White House Disclosure of Information, Communications...
By Brad Friedman on 3/21/2007 2:58pm PT  

Just out from Waxman's office. A letter [PDF] to House and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairs Conyres and Leahy disputing Bush's contention yesterday that he is giving Congress "unprecedented" access to White House information and officials.

The letter begins this way...

Dear Chairman Leahy and Chairman Conyers:

Yesterday President Bush asserted that the White House would give Congress "unprecedented" access to information regarding the Administration's recent dismissal of U.S. Attorneys. This statement is misinformed. As you continue discussions with the White House regarding your investigation of the U.S. Attorneys matter, I wanted to bring to your attention relevant precedent.

The President said yesterday that he would not allow White House aides including Senior Advisor to the President Karl Rove, former White House Counsel Harriet Miers, deputy counsel William Kelley, and political aide J. Scott Jennings testify under oath and on the record about the dismissal of the U.S. Attorneys. Contrary to the President's contention, there is extensive precedent for officials in these positions to appear before Congress.

When Republicans controlled Congress during the Clinton Administration, they routinely insisted that White House officials appear before Congress. During the prior Administration, a series of White House Counsels testified to congressional committees publicly and under oath:

Click here for the full letter [PDF], which outlines not only numerous White House officials who testified under oath before Congressional committees during the Clinton Administration, but even Bush Administration officials who were allowed to do so, as recently as last week!

This page at the House Oversight Committee has links to additional info and reports on the matter.

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As Heard on 'Ring of Fire' with RFK Jr. & Mike Papantonio: I Support Banning DREs, Neas Opposes Such a Ban, and Speaks in Support of DREs
Papantonio: 'Brad, my bet is on you on this one' --- Audio & Transcripts Now Posted
By Brad Friedman on 3/21/2007 1:51am PT  

The Saturday before last I was interviewed on Air America's Ring of Fire with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Mike Papantonio concerning my call for the Election Reform Bill (HR811) by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) to be amended to include a full ban on Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems.

The interview was pre-taped, and an edited-for-time version was aired. The complete, unedited version of that 15 minute interview, along with a text-transcript is now posted here.

This past Saturday, Ralph Neas, the president of People for the American Way (PFAW), one of the groups supporting the Holt Bill as is, and fighting against a ban on DRE voting systems, was interviewed on Ring of Fire. I had been critical of PFAW's unwaivering support of the bill during my interview the week before (as I have been in many articles here and elsewhere), so Bobby Kennedy asked Neas, a number of times, to answer directly to some of my criticisms.

The audio of that interview as well as a text-transcript, is also now posted here.

Now before I get to a huge number of concerns about the Neas interview and what I see as the dangerous PFAW position, and not to stack the deck (but I will anyway), Papantonio concluded his interview with me as follows, which I then promised to quote on the blog, so here it is...

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

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Conyers Statement: House Judiciary Prepared to Use Subpoena Power if Necessary...
By Brad Friedman on 3/19/2007 8:46pm PT  

3,000 pages were just released to the House Judiciary Committee by the Dept. of Justice in re: the U.S. Attorney purge. Judiciary is getting 'em posted as quickly as they can, even as we type. Says Conyers in a statement just released:

"While I appreciate the Department's willingness to make these voluminous documents regarding the U.S. Attorney firings available to us for review, I am disappointed that they are denying other important information to Congress without any real authority to do so. This investigation has uncovered serious charges of misleading congress, obstructing justice, and abuse of power. I hope we can resolve the outstanding issues over redactions, but if necessary, we are prepared to press ahead to get to the bottom of this growing scandal, using subpoenas if necessary."

Looks like it'll be a long night for the folks at Judiciary, and likely much longer for Josh Marshall and friends at TPM. Happy reading, all!

Earlier from U.S. News & World Report:

Paralysis Sets In as DOJ Faces Crisis
...
"You have no idea," said one Justice official, "how bad it is here."

The fear that virtually any piece of communication will have to be turned over has paralyzed department officials' ability to communicate effectively and respond in unison to the crisis...

Accountability sucks, huh? Welcome to it. We believe your nightmare is just beginning.

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Says 'Voting Machine Purists Should Not Let The Perfect be the Enemy of the Good'
We Disagree With Both the Premise and the Conclusion...
By Brad Friedman on 3/19/2007 5:57pm PT  

Using often inaccurate characterizations of my position, and the position of those like me who are in favor of amending Rep. Rush Holt's Election Reform Bill (HR811) to include a ban on Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, often called "touch-screen") voting systems, my friend Steve Rosenfeld filed an article today at AlterNet titled "Are Voting Machine Purists Standing in the Way of Reform?" which is critical of my position.

The piece is in direct response to an article of mine published at AlterNet several weeks ago on the false arguments being put forward by supporters of Rush Holt's Election Reform Bill (HR811) --- folks like PFAW, Common Cause, MoveOn, etc. --- in trying to see the bill passes as is and in opposition to an amendment that would ban dangerous, unverifiable, disenfranchising DRE voting systems.

In the editorial, Rosenfeld, describes folks like me, misleadingly, as "voting machine purists" and inaccurately suggest we have an "all or nothing approach" to Election Reform. Further, he goes on to mischaracterize a number of provisions of the Holt bill, as well as many of the arguments that have been made in favor of banning DREs.

I just spoke with Steve...

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

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Seeking Just One Democracy-Serving Reason to Keep DREs Allowable Under the Holt Bill
Any takers?...
By Ellen Theisen on 3/19/2007 6:05am PT  

Guest Blogged by Ellen Theisen of VotersUnite.Org

I challenge anyone to put forward an actual disadvantage of amending Representative Rush Holt's bill (HR 811, "The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007") to ban electronic ballots. With a few moments' thought, I can list five bad things (which opponents might anticipate) that such an amendment would NOT do and fifteen good — actually, critical — things it WILL do.

Is there even one way in which electronic ballots serve our democracy better than true paper ballots?

I claim that an amendment banning electronic ballots has LOTS of advantages and NO disadvantages — for our country and its democracy, anyway. And I challenge anyone to think of a democracy-serving reason why NOT to amend it. "The bill won't pass with the amendment" doesn't count. I'm looking for a genuine disadvantage of the amendment.

Here's what I see. Tell me if I've missed something….

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

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Letter to Josh Bolten Follows Earlier Congressional Testimony from WH Security Director That No Investigation Was Ever Conducted Into Disclosure of the Identity of Covert Operative Valerie Plame-Wilson...
By Brad Friedman on 3/16/2007 2:18pm PT  

Just in from Waxman's office after this morning's stunning revelation that the White House never conducted an investigation into the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame-Wilson, despite a number of promises from Bush to do exactly that and an executive order signed in early 2003 which requires such an investigation in the wake of such a disclosure.

In a statement sent to The BRAD BLOG, Waxman's office explains that a letter just sent to White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten asks for an explanation as to why the White House "did not follow the investigative steps prescribed by Executive Order 12958," as signed in March 2003. The order requires the White House to "'take appropriate and prompt corrective action' whenever there is a release of classified information," according to the statement. (Waxman's letter is posted in full at the end of the article.)

During this morning's testimony of James Knodell, Director of the Office of Security at the White House, it was revealed --- to the amazement of the assembled Congress members on the House Oversight Committee panel --- that no such investigation was ever conducted.

"Taken as a whole, the testimony at today's hearing described breach after breach of national security requirements at the White House," the letter reads. "The first breach was the disclosure of Ms. Wilson's identity. Other breaches included the failure of Mr. Rove and other officials to report their disclosures as required by law, the failure of the White House to initiate the prompt investigation required by the executive order, and the failure of the White House to suspend the security clearances of the implicated officials."

Waxman asked for the following from Bolten: "I request that you provide the Committee with a complete account of the steps that the White House took following the disclosure of Ms. Wilson's identity (1) to investigate how the leak occurred; (2) to review the security clearances of the White House officials implicated in the leak; (3) to impose administrative or disciplinary sanctions on the officials involved in the leak; and (4) to review and revise existing White House security procedures to prevent future breaches of national security."

Waxman's letter to Bolten follows in full...

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

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Director James Knodell, Under Intense Questioning, Can't Explain Why There Was Never an Investigation by White House
Victoria Toensing, in Third Panel, Also Subjected to Intense Scrutiny on Previous 'Plame Wasn't Covert' Statements, Seems Shaken, Offers Much Conflicting Info, Explanations...
By Brad Friedman on 3/16/2007 9:22am PT  

In the second panel in the House Oversight Committee hearings this morning, following the testimony of Valerie Plame-Wilson, the Director of the White House Security Office, James Knodell, has stunned the Congress members by disclosing that no investigation into the leaking of Plame-Wilson's covert identity as a CIA operative was ever conducted by his office!

The members are flabbergasted. The questioning is intense. My live-blogging notes are posted, and updated live, below...

Also, the third panel, featuring Victoria Toensing, apologist for White House leaks, was fascinating, as her previous claims that "Plame was not covert" and that "she didn't serve overseas within five years prior to the leak" had been demolished by Plame-Wilson's earlier testimony. She attempted to mitigate the situation throughout her testimony by claiming that Plame-Wilson was not covert "under the provisions of the statute." Many more details below...

(Live blogging of Valerie Plame-Wilson's testimony is back here...)

UPDATE: Video of complete hearing and related documents now online at House Oversight Committee website right here...

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

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Testifies She Had Nothing to do With Sending Husband to Niger, Blows Out Every Claim by Republicans, Novak, Toensing, etc. That She Wasn't Covert
LIVE-BLOGGING HOUSE OVERSIGHT HEARINGS...
By Brad Friedman on 3/16/2007 7:42am PT  

Absolutely riveting, historic, under-oath testimony by Valerie Plame-Wilson in the House Oversight Committee on-going right now. Recurring theme over and over again: She was covert, covert, covert when her identity was outed and her cover was blown --- for the first time in history by her own government.

Every wingnut argument to the contrary, and concerning her case has been utterly destroyed. The Republican questioning of Plame-Wilson has come up with absolutely nothing to counter and it's been confirmed that CIA Director Gen. Hayden has also confirmed her covert status and that she we worked overseas (as per the Intelligence Identity Protections Act) in the last five years.

Hearings were covered for first 15 minutes or so on all three cable news nets. Now only LIVE currently on C-SPAN.

AP just filed this short initial item:

WASHINGTON - Valerie Plame, the CIA operative at the heart of a political scandal, told Congress Friday that senior officials at the White House and State Department "carelessly and recklessly" blew her cover to discredit her diplomat-husband.

Plame, whose 2003 outing triggered a federal investigation, said she always knew her identity could be discovered by foreign governments.

"It was a terrible irony that administration officials were the ones who destroyed my cover," she told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

RAW STORY currently has details on her opening testimony.

Live blogging notes on the testimony below follow below...

(NOTE: Second and Third panels now live blogged here. Includes details on stunning admission from White House Security Director that no investigation was ever made into the leak by his office!)

UPDATE: Video of complete hearing and related documents now online at House Oversight Committee website right here...

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

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Two Different Statements from Civil Rights Leaders Call for Discontinuation of Unsecure, Unverifiable, Disenfranchising DRE/Touch-Screen Voting Technology
Both Destroy Myth of Need to Sacrifice Verifed Ballots for Accessibility...
By Brad Friedman on 3/14/2007 1:56pm PT  

Hallelujah!

Voters with disabilities are finally beginning to speak out against the use of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, often known as "touch-screen") voting systems!

After years of DRE supporters, and indeed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, using the canard that blind and disabled voters must use DREs to vote privately and independently, a number of leaders in the disabilities community are speaking out against their having been used as a wedge to force the nationwide implementation of such disenfranchising, dangerous voting systems.

Two different landmark statements on the issue have now been released, The BRAD BLOG has learned. One statement [PDF] released last week by the Disability Law Center and the ACLU speaks in support of the decision by the Massachusetts Secretary of State to approve the use of ballot marking devices, as opposed to DREs, for use by the state's disabled voters.

The second, released today to The BRAD BLOG in advance of Congressional subcommittee hearings tomorrow, is signed so far by more than 20 leaders of the blind and disabled communities and calls for "an immediate ban" on DRE voting systems. Like the release from the Disability Law Center, the newly released statement crushes the long-overused myth that such unsecure, disenfranchising, failed technology is required for disabled access to private, independent voting. (The complete statement is posted at the end of this item.)

"Providing secure voting machines for voters with disabilities is part and parcel of protecting [disabilities voters'] rights to equal access to the ballot and to having their votes reliably counted," said Stanley J. Eicher, Executive Director of the Disability Law Center in their March 5th statement.

"The decision by the Secretary shows that it is both possible and essential to build common ground between the disability rights community and the growing number of citizens who are concerned that many of the proposed new technologies are subject to tampering and error," said Eichner, adding notably, "We must debunk the myth that we have to choose between accessible voting and verifiable voting. Democracy requires that we have both."

The brief but no-uncertain-terms statement today from the disabilities advocates calls for a nationwide ban on the use of DRE technology.

"Electronic ballot systems such as the direct record electronic (DRE) machines...now in use," the statement reads, "have quickly proven to be neither fully accessible to all voters nor secure and accurate methods of recording, tallying, and reporting votes. While the goal of private voting has been achieved by some voters, this has often been without meaningful assurance that our votes have been counted as cast."

The disabilities leaders go on to point out that verification of ballots and the accuracy of their tabulation need not be sacrificed for accessibility or privacy. A similar point was at the heart of a report recently released by one of the letter's authors, blind technology expert Noel H. Runyan. His report, published simultaneously by both Demos and VoterAction.org, concerns the failure of DRE systems to meet both HAVA requirements and the accessibility and verification needs of disabled voters.

The statement further describes DRE electronic balloting systems as "inappropriate for use" and calls on "all disability rights groups, other civil rights groups, election protection groups, and elected officials to recognize the necessity for an immediate ban" on such dangerous, unreliable, and unsecure technology:

It is now clear that in order to guarantee reliability and security in our elections, it is necessary for the voter to be able to truly verify the accuracy of his or her ballot--the ballot that will actually be counted. The only voting systems that permit truly accessible verification of the paper ballot are ballot marking devices. These non-tabulating devices, either electronic or non-electronic, assist the voter in marking and verifying votes on paper ballots that can either be optically scanned or hand-counted."
...
We leaders and members of the disability rights community assert that neither accessibility for all voters nor the security of the vote can be sacrificed for the sake of the other. Fortunately, true accessibility and election security can both be achieved; there is no inherent incompatibility between voting system accessibility and security.

We recognize that electronic ballot systems are inappropriate for use, because these systems make it impossible for voters to verify that their votes will be counted as cast. We call upon all disability rights groups, other civil rights groups, election protection groups, and elected officials to recognize the necessity for an immediate ban on any voting system that fails to meet the twin requirements of full accessibility and election security.

This new and most welcome statement from this particular community is in stark contrast to the only other major voices previously allowed to testify before Congress on such matters, such as the National Federal for the Blind (NFB) and Jim Dickson of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).

Despite both of those groups having received large donations from voting machine companies such as Diebold, Inc., both have been granted extraordinary access to Congress and have leveraged that access to call for the use of DRE systems for their communities (and even paperless ones at that).

The NFB received $1 million from Diebold, and Jim Dickson's group, although he lied to The BRAD BLOG about it previously, received at least $16,000 from the voting machine vendors, according to the New York Times.

We are happy to see new, uncompromised voices from this important community finally speaking up and adding their concerns to others such as Johns Hopkins computer scientist Avi Rubin, who testified last week that DRE systems, with or without a so-called "voter verified paper audit trail," are "not a reasonable voting system."

It would be nice if Runyan and some of the other signatories were invited to testify before Congress as well, and equally nice if Congress held hearings devoted to the issue of the safety, accuracy and accessibility of DRE systems before moving forward on Election Reform bills such as Rep. Rush Holt's HR811, which unfortunately falls short of banning DRE technology in American democracy.

NOTE: We will be Guest Hosting Cynthia Black's Action Point this Sunday 3/18/07 @ 3pm ET (12noon PT) on Phoenix's Air America/NovaM affiliate 1480 KPHX. We hope to have Runyan as one of our featured guests.

UPDATE: Here is my interview on on Action Point with Noel Runyan. MP3 appx. 30 minutes

The complete statement from the disabilities leaders, including Runyan and many others, follow in full below...

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

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