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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

By David Edwards on 3/8/2006 4:36pm PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards of Veredictum.com


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Abu Dhabi TV which is located in The United Arab Emirates broadcasts this report on prisoner abuse by "Iraqis and Americans" in Iraq.

Amnesty International found crimes so severe that they are considered "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity." They also found that American forces have detained 14,000 Iraqis.

Iraqis that have been released are almost never given an explanation for their detention or compensation. In the video, one Iraq can seen being released decrying his imprisonment as "terrorism! terrorism! terrorism!"

Today, the United States Department of State released a report claiming human rights violations by The United Arab Emirates and the Iraqi Police. The report even hinted at abuses by the U.S.




Leon County Election Supervisor Alleges 'Breach of Contract' After Security Test Revealed Hackable Elections Possible on Diebold Optical-Scan Systems!
E-Voting Monolith and 'Competitors' All Refuse to do Business with County Unless the Elected Ion Sancho is 'Removed from Office'
By Brad Friedman on 3/8/2006 2:26pm PT  

Ion Sancho is fighting back.

Sancho, the Election Supervisor of Leon County, Florida who exposed a number of security flaws in Electronic Voting Machines made by the Diebold corporation of North Canton, Ohio, today launched legal "breach of contract" proceedings against the company. The action has been filed on behalf of the Leon County Supervisor of Elections office.

In a conversation moments ago with Sancho, he confirmed to The BRAD BLOG that "we filed a breach action this morning, pursuant to a contract which notifies Diebold we are pursuing all available options."

The breach concerns Diebold's refusal to deliver their latest operating system for the optical scan voting systems which had previously been used in Leon County --- until Sancho discovered an alarming security flaw in the system at the end of last year.

"According to our contract with Diebold," Sancho explained, "we have to give them 30 days notice. And so we are requiring them to answer by March 21, as to how they intend to repair the breach."

The only two other Voting Machine Vendors, ES&S and Sequoia Voting Systems, have now officially refused to do business with Leon County and Sancho in the wake of a series of security evaluations held last year in the county on actual Diebold equipment. With the state threatening Sancho with legal action themselves if he is not able to implement a voting system which requires with the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA), Sancho had been forced to attempt to do business again with Diebold.

The most infamous of the security evaluations held last year by Sancho was a "hack test" in December of Diebold's optical scan voting system. That mock election test revealed that election results could be completely flipped on Diebold's optical-scan system without a trace of the hack being left behind.

With all three companyies now refusing to do business with him, and pressure being applied from Diebold as well as state and local officials to do "do something about Sancho" - he now finds himself with no other choice but to fight back against Diebold, and face this "titanic clash" head on...

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




By David Edwards on 3/8/2006 12:13pm PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards of Veredictum.com


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The Bush Administration has ordered investigations into who blew the whistle leaked information about NSA domestic spying and information about secret CIA prisons.

Employees of the CIA and other agencies have been questioned and forced to undergo polygraph testing. The Justice Department has warned that journalists may also be prosecuted under Federal espionage laws.

This video is a segment from Monday's MSNBC Countdown. Craig Crawford discusses the chilling effect this attack has on the ability to report information about the government. In effect, we are quickly getting to the point where only official information released by the government can be reported by the media.

You may also want to take a look at this video at C&L where David Gergen rails against the Bush Admin. for being worse than Nixon about secrecy and the press.




Delegation Seeks U.N. Help to Avoid Civil War, Hardships for Women, Children Under U.S. Occupation
By Brad Friedman on 3/7/2006 10:04pm PT  

Meant to post this yesterday...From Reuters...

Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war activist whose son was killed in the Iraq war, was arrested with three other protesters in New York on Monday after a rally with women from Iraq.
...
On Monday, she had joined a delegation of women from Iraq at the rally at the United Nations, urging the United Nations to help prevent civil war in Iraq.
...
Entisar Mohammad Ariabi, a pharmacist at Baghdad's Yarmook Teaching Hospital, wept as she told reporters of the hardships experienced by Iraqi women.

"U.S. occupation has destroyed our country, made it into a prison," she said. "Schools are bombed, hospitals are bombed."

"We thank you, Mr. Bush, for liberating our country from Saddam. But now, go out! Please go out!" she said.




(With a Nod to your Friendly Neighborhood BRAD BLOG)
By Brad Friedman on 3/7/2006 9:49pm PT  

A bit alarmist, perhaps, for our personal taste (though we've misunderstimated the amount of needed "alarm" in the past), Chris Floyd covers the state of American Democracy and the Rise of the Machines in Russia's Moscow Times.

Chris, of Empire Burlesque, who has popped up from time to time as a friendly BRAD BLOG Guest Blogger, covers some of our Diebold/California coverage in his article. So we have no complaints. And couldn't be prouder.

If only American Media would cover the fall of American Democracy as closely as the Moscow Times does. Remember what the Wingnuts like to say: The world is watching.




By David Edwards on 3/7/2006 2:58pm PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards of Veredictum.com


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Senator Pat Roberts convinced Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee to vote to kill an investigation into the NSA domestic spying scandal. Instead of an investigation, Republican Senators Hagel, Snow and Dewine agreed to create a new subcommittee that would oversee future domestic spying by the NSA.

Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller said that "this is an unprecedented bow to political pressure from the White House."




Two Completely Unrelated News Stories
By Brad Friedman on 3/7/2006 12:29pm PT  

Today, Tom DeLay faces his first primary battle for re-election down in Texas since being indicted on money-laundering and conspiracy charges.

Tonight, he'll be back in D.C. at a fundraiser held by lobbyists. Smartly done.

Over the weekend, an ES&S IVotronic touch-screen voting machine was stolen from the house of an election judge. That, despite the water-tight security that American Election Officials are known for across the globe. (Just ask Linda Lamone in Maryland.)

To be clear, however, all four of the counties in DeLay's 22nd congressional district, use Hart-Intercivic machines and not ES&S machines. It's just an unfortunate coincidence that we can't help but think about Tom DeLay, Elections, Voting Machines and Theft all at the same time. Oh, well.




By Brad Friedman on 3/7/2006 11:38am PT  

They were abruptly removed from the air last week, and replaced with yet another Christian radio station.

This week, Air America Phoenix is fighting back to rise from the ashes, perhaps as soon as April if you can help with money and/or noise.




By David Edwards on 3/7/2006 9:09am PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards of Veredictum.com

A Denver teacher, Jay Bennish, was suspended after he made a loose comparison between Bush's and Hilter's foreign policies. A student made an audio recording of the teacher's comments. The same student may have been attempting to draw provocative comments from the teacher by asking specific questions.

Instead of contacting the teacher or the school, the parents "shopped" the audio tape around to different right-wing radio shows. Both the teacher and the student have now been suspended.

NBC Today had the first exclusive interview with Bennish. He says that he has had a great deal of support from his students and community. The parents of the student that made the audio tape still have not contacted him.


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ADDITIONAL THOUGHT FROM BRAD: While the Wingnut Media has spent hours upon hours trashing this obscure, previously unknown high-school teacher from a small town in Colorado for the answers he gave to the recording-student in front of a few dozen classmates, to date, we're unaware of any of those same Wingnuts having aired Ann Coulter's recent "Raghead Speech".

Her speech was given as the keynote address, to a packed house of thousands and a standing ovation at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held a couple of weeks ago in D.C. The CPAC is the nation's largest and most important "Conservative" annual gathering and featured other speakers such as Dick Cheney and Bill Frist etc. Coulter also discussed the assassination of Bill Clinton and the bombing of the Supreme Court in her speech. The entire speech can be heard here on BRAD BLOG (if not on Rush, O'Reilly, Hannity et al, where you can hear the high-school teacher's lecture to a few dozen students over and over again.)

ALSO...: Newshounds has great coverage of how Hannity et al, are taking Bennish's comments out of context and mis-quoting him, etc. to fit their own agenda and to fool their gullible, captive audiences who seem to be less educated than the high schoolers Bennish was speaking to.




Three Republican Candidates Threaten DeLay
Absentee Ballot Problem Sends Bush to Vote in Texas
By David Edwards on 3/7/2006 7:26am PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards of Veredictum.com


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Tom DeLay faces three Republican challengers in today's Sugerland Primary Election but he isn't sticking around for the results. DeLay is on his way back to Washington for a fund-raiser.

In related news, President Bush is flying to Texas today to vote. It has been reported that an aide made a mistake with his absentee ballot.




Nominated 9 Times in the First Round! (Thanks!)
By Brad Friedman on 3/6/2006 9:31pm PT  

Wow. We've made it through the first rounds with 9 nominations in 6 different categories of Wampum's "Koufax 2005 Blog Awards!" And we didn't even need to call in Harri Hursti! Thanks to all for getting us there!

And now, the next round of voting begins. Please vote BRAD BLOG into the Semi-Finals if you're so inclined!

There are links to all of the categories on this post. Otherwise, hit any or all of the following links where you are inclined to vote for us, and leave a vote in the Comments section at the bottom!

I'll try to keep this at the top when I can, as a reminder to vote while it's still allowed for the next few days in this round. Be sure to check out some of the other superb nominated blogs while you're there!




Diebold's Other 'Showcase State' Starts Wising Up
AP Continues to Report on Issues That Actually Matter, Albeit Not Particularly Accurately...
By Brad Friedman on 3/6/2006 5:58pm PT  

What's with AP? We thought all of this stuff was "conspiracy theory"?

It looks like Diebold's other "showcase state" who, along with Maryland, were the first to move to un-auditable paperles touch-screen voting machines is beginning to face the music. Reports AP...

ATLANTA - The state Senate on Monday unanimously approved a plan that could lead to paper ballots being added to Georgia's electronic voting machines.

"My hope is that this legislation will take us one more step forward toward having the most trustworthy, secure voting system in the country," said Sen. Bill Stephens, R-Canton, the plan's sponsor and a candidate for secretary of state in this year's election.

According to the plan, which passed 51-0, precincts in Bibb, Camden and Cobb counties would be outfitted with the paper balloting for November's general election.

If all went well, the state could add the receipts to all of its voting machines by the 2008 presidential election, Stephens said.

Under current Secretary of State Cathy Cox, Georgia switched to an all-electronic voting system in 2002 in the aftermath of the chaotic presidential vote in Florida.

We should point out that what the GA Senate is talking about is not actually "paper ballots" as the AP story seems to erroneously suggest, but "paper trails". There's a difference, of course. More on that in a second.

For additional context here, we'll note (with a hat-tip to John Gideon) that Cox, a Democrat, is running for Governor now in the state. She, along with her counterpart in Marlyand, Linda Lamone had been huge supporters of paperless Diebold voting originally, going so far as to allowing herself to be featured on Diebold's brochures (see photo below).

Apparently Cox sees the writing on the wall, while the tone-deaf Lamone is still fighting to ensure nobody can ever actually count how her state's constituents actually voted (see this previous article.)

Also worth noting, unfortunately, is that what they seem to be calling for down in Georgia is "paper trails". The worthless, uncounted little "voter-verifiable" toilet-paper roll tapes which are almost never counted at all and, in the case of Diebold machines, have turned up completely blank on the busiest voting machines during the most recent Ohio election.

Well, it's a step in the right direction, anyway. If the state of Georgia wants to create new legislation for these "paper trails" now, only to have to face the music once again later to spend still another round of money in order to ensure full paper ballots that's up to them, of course. Though we might recommend skipping the middle step, and going right now to something that is actually countable.




New Letter from Governor to State Board of Election Repeats Call for Paper Ballots, Expresses Additional Concerns About Security of E-Voting in Diebold's 'Showcase State' of Maryland
Says Machines May Be Vulnerable to 'Hursti-like Attack' Even if California's Recommended Security Measures are Implemented
By Brad Friedman on 3/6/2006 2:33pm PT  

Maryland's Republican Governor Ehrlich continues to face the music about the Diebold voting machines that his state bought into hook, line and sinker (emphasis on sinker). He's been had by Diebold's use of the state as a "showcase", but at least he now seems brave enough to admit it, even while the Diebold dead-enders (like State Elections Board Chairman Gilles W. Burger and Democratic Election Administrator Linda H. Lamone who brokered the deal) are trying to hang on to the very last.

Ehrlich has sent a new letter to Burger today, demanding that Maryland's paperless touch-screen Diebold voting machines be sent back to federal authorities for further testing in light of recent discoveries of the vulnerability of the machines to hacking and tampering. Ehrlich writes, "We are spending too much time protecting the status quo instead of evaluating Maryland's current election system from an objective and unbiased perspective."

-- The complete new letter from Ehrlich to Berger is now available in full right here [PDF].

Washington Post picks up on the Governor's letter today and reports:

"Maryland's lack of a paper trail means we are no longer a national leader in elections systems and that our equipment is susceptible to system failures," the governor wrote in a letter to be delivered today to the chairman of the State Board of Elections. "It is inexcusable for us not to be prepared for a catastrophic system failure in the 2006 cycle."

It should be pointed out that Ehrlich's motives may not be entirely pure. He is up for re-election himself this November, and the Democratic legislature has approved a measure to allow for early voting and other measures to help increase voter turnout. As Republican's do, Ehrlich opposed the measure to make it easier to vote by vetoing the bill, but the Dems in the legislature were able to muster enough votes to override that veto. Again from WaPo...

Last month, Ehrlich --- who championed the Diebold machines in 2003 --- wrote to Burger to express concern about reliability questions raised in California and Florida about those machines, which Ehrlich said would be exacerbated by early voting.

Nonetheless, Ehrlich is now joining the Dem run House Ways and Means Committee who, as we reported last night, voted 20 to 3 last Friday to support a measure calling for paper ballots...

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




AP Reports Again on E-Voting Issues!
MD Elections Director, Diebold Champion Linda Lamone Still Has a Job!
By Brad Friedman on 3/6/2006 12:55pm PT  

Signs are good in Maryland --- Diebold's original "showcase state" --- that the legislature there is finally wising up to the democracy undermining problem that is Diebold.

According to AP --- yes, again AP --- the Democratic chaired House Ways and Means Committee "voted 20-3 on Friday to scrap the Diebold touchscreen machines for at least this year and use paper ballots with an optical-scan system for the primary and general elections."

The measure still has to move through the Senate, though the Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich has previously called for something very similar. So if the Senate moves, chances are the Guv will sign on.

Yes, there are problems, as you know, with optical-scan machines (just ask democracy's hero Ion Sancho in Leon County, FL), but at least the move away from Democratic Election Administrator Linda Lamone's fateful deal with the devil to use (and continue apologizing for) Diebold's unrecountable paperless touch-screen machines across the state may finally be coming to an end.

Also of note; The media, this time in the form of Associated Press, is finally beginning to understand the importance of the story that they've ignored for years. From Tom Stuckey of AP...

Ohio company's voting machines lead election issues in Maryland

With Maryland facing what could be its most hotly contested election season ever, it's no surprise that election-related issues have grabbed the attention of lawmakers during the 2006 legislative session.
...
But the biggest election issue, which cuts across party lines, involves the electronic voting machines of Ohio-based Diebold that are scheduled to be used by all Maryland voters this year. With doubts growing about the reliability of the machines, a campaign to return to the days of paper ballots, at least for one year, is gaining momentum in the General Assembly.

Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich, who approved purchase of the Diebold Accuvote-TS voting system in 2003, now questions the reliability of the touchscreen machines.
...
Many members of the General Assembly share his concerns, and voting rights activists are keeping up an attack on the system (ed note: Yea voting rights activists!), arguing that the machines are vulnerable to hackers who could manipulate results and that fraud would be impossible to detect because there are no paper records that could be used for recounts in disputed elections.

The article also points out that Lamone --- who, as of this article, still has a job --- is certain everything will be fine due to the legendarily watertight security that American election officials are recognized for world-wide:

She and other proponents of the Diebold system say the kinds of fraud and manipulation feared by critics are impossible because of tight security measures implemented by state and local officials.

Fraud and manipulation is "impossible" says Lamone! I know I'll sleep better at night...




By David Edwards on 3/6/2006 12:26pm PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards of Veredictum.com


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Most Americans believe that John McCain's anti-torture bill clearly protects prisoners in U.S. custody from abuse. Most Americans also believe that the conditions for detainees have improved since the Abu Ghraib scandal and some initial problems at the U.S. detention center in Guantßnamo Bay, Cuba.

Republican PR efforts to change American's perceptions of detainee treatment have been have been successful. The truth is that the Bush Administration has used the McCain anti-torture bill to codify a policy of torture that is now embedded in our legal system for perpetuity.

Professor Alfred McCoy is the author of a new book, "A Question of Torture", in which he gives a history of US torture from the CIA's development of torture techniques through the latest generation of systematic torture in the Bush Administration's "war on terror".

McCoy explains how the Bush Administration has purposefully crafted a strategy of torture. They have claimed executive powers and have had laws re-interpreted by Administration lawyers to give the government the power to continue the practice. Loopholes slipped into the McCain bill now ensure an enduring policy of torture.

Democracy Now interviewed Professor McCoy several weeks ago. We've taken about 9 minutes of clips frmo the 23 minute interview and provided them here. The entire interview and transcript are available from Democracy Now.

Due to the focus on detainees' human rights at Guantßnamo, the U.S. is quietly expanding a detention center at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. In the past few years, the population has increased by 5 times. While there has been significant legal action over Gitmo, little has been done for the detainees at Bagram. Many say the conditions at Bagram are far worse than even during the height of the Abu Ghraib abuse.




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