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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

By John Gideon on 12/22/2005 8:08pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

One day after winning a court decision in North Carolina that seemed to open the door wide for Diebold to ply their wares in the state; they decided to pull out. Their concern is that they could be charged with a felony if officials determine the company failed to send a copy of all the software its machines use to a special holding company assigned by the state. They say they don't have permission to provide code that is owned by third parties such as Microsoft Corp. This leaves ES&S as the only approved vendor in the state. There is concern from St. Louis Co., MO that ES&S may be over-pricing their AutoMARK machines in an attempt to force some counties into purchasing their DREs....

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

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Sends Letter to State Announcing Intention to Withdraw in Light of State Law Requirement for Submission of Source Code!
Said to be happy to help state change their law, however!
By Brad Friedman on 12/22/2005 3:51pm PT  

For those who have followed the recent yet storied history of Diebold in North Carolina, The BRAD BLOG has just received word that there has been yet one more late-breaking twist! We can now confirm that, in fact, Diebold is removing their company from contention for the lucrative election systems contracts in the state in light of a state law which requires Voting Machine Companies to submit their full source-code to the state for inspection. At least for now.

A letter just obtained by The BRAD BLOG, sent from Diebold to the NC State Board of Elections, confirms that indeed, the company which had previously fought a state law requiring the submission and inspection of their voting equipment's software source code has decided they'd rather quit than fight, and is withdrawing their bid to contract with the state of NC for the time being, pending their ability to convince NC to change their laws!

According to the letter, dated Dec. 20th, 2005 and sent by a Diebold attorney to NC's State Board of Elections Executive Directory, Gary Bartlett, Diebold has decided they cannot comply with the current state law requiring full source code submission. The letter claims that Diebold is prepared to submit their own source code, but not that of third parties which is used by Diebold in their voting systems, including Operating System software and pre-packaged third-party tools.

Diebold, however, in the letter written by attorney Charles R. Owen, and apparently sent via Email on Diebold stationery, says that Diebold "is prepared to work closely with the North Carolina State Board of Elections ('SBE') in drafting a modification" to the law which they contend neither they nor other vendors can meet. It goes on to say that such a modification to the state law would be one "that meets the true intent of the legislature while at the same time imposing reasonable requirements on all vendors that are capable of being met."

Owen adds, however, that they will be "unable to comply with the deadlines imposed by the SBE in addition to the requirements of state law."

-- Here is the full 12/21/05 Letter from Diebold [PDF] to the NC State Board of Elections.

John Gideon, of VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA, as well as a frequent Guest Blogger here at BRAD BLOG, received word of this decision not long ago via an email sent from a source in NC:

I have just got the official word. Diebold withdrew from NC today because their CEO would not sign the document making him criminally liable for disclosing the source code.

This is what I was talking about in my post yesterday, but I couldn't be too specific.

Thank GOD! We did it. This has been one hell of a battle.

The email was a follow up to word Gideon received late last night from the source who was reportedly waiting to get "the official word" on the matter.

The back and forth between Diebold, North Carolina, and Election Integrity advocates has been an intense roller-coaster ride over the last several weeks as reported in several BRAD BLOG stories which followed all the various ups and downs.

Several weeks ago, Diebold had attempted to receive an exemption from the state court for submitting their complete source code into escrow. They were denied that exemption by the court and announced that they would therefore be unable to do business with North Carolina. Just a day or so later, the state announced they were going to go ahead and certify Diebold anyway based on a partial submission of source code even though that appeared to violate state law. That became known as the "Immaculate Certification" since it came just a day or so after the Ohio-based company had said they'd submit some of their source code to the state after all. Election integrity advocates had argued that their was no way the state could have complied with state law for inspection of the code in the short between the company's submission, and the states certification. The decision to certify at that point, was apparently led by the former Diebold employee, Keith Long, who had recently left the company to join North Carolina's commission advising the State Board of Elections.

Several days later then, a lawsuit was filed by NC citizen, Joyce McCloy, to challenge the state's decision to certify Diebold, contending that it was done against state law. And now, apparently, even Diebold agrees.

North Carolina passed their new, tougher state elections laws, after at least 4,500 votes were entirely lost in Carteret County on a single electronic voting machine made by UniLect, Inc. during the 2004 Presidential Election.

Where things will go from here, we can only guess. But, as ever, we will do our best to stay on top of the story as it moves forward...or backwards...or sideways...as the case, when dealing with Diebold...may eventually be...

UPDATE: AP now has the story, reports that only one vendor is left in NC willing to meet the state law requirements. ES&S. More more on the problems of ES&S, and a few other remarkable items, see this BRAD BLOG story from earlier today.

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Citizen Activists, Increasing Concerns about Diebold Security, Company Integrity Said to Have Been Key to Decision!
ALSO: FOIA Requests Filed About Closed-Door Hearings, Concerns Emerge About ES&S, the Company Chosen Instead of Diebold, and a Diebold Lobbyist Reportedly Inquires About BRAD BLOG...And FAMILY!!!
By Brad Friedman on 12/22/2005 3:23pm PT  

Add St. Louis County, Missouri to the growing list of Elections Boards around the country who have now rejected Diebold, Inc. voting machines in the last-minute scramble to select new election hardware, prior to the Jan. 1, 2006 Help America Vote Act deadline to have such "upgrades" paid for with Federal tax dollars.

The bad news for the once-great, now-disgraced Diebold, Inc. (stock symbol: DBD) of North Canton, Ohio, comes as the latest blow in a long string of disappointments for the company, which last week saw the resignation of its CEO, the filing of several Class Action Securities Fraud lawsuits, and the devasting revelation that their voting machines can be easily hacked, allowing the results of Diebold elections to be completely reversed.

The loss of the contract in St. Louis County, who chose to go instead with Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S), is estimated by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to be at least $9.6 million.

The last minute decision came amid intense lobbying by both citizens' election integrity advocacy groups and paid Diebold lobbyists --- at least one of whom was reported to have inquired about both The BRAD BLOG itself and the financial background of the father of yours truly!

There are also growing concerns about the security of voting equipment sold by ES&S, as well, in light of various states and counties around the country selecting them, instead of Diebold, as the contractor to privatize their public elections.

The County's decision to go with ES&S, instead of Diebold, comes just days after the City of St. Louis (distinct from the county) decided unanimously to go with Diebold. The City's decision occurred even after Diebold's machines were exposed as completely insecure in a so-called "hack test" in Leon County, Florida that resulted in the tally of a test election being completely reversed. A few days later Volusia County, Florida decided against Diebold, and shortly thereafter the State of California "punted" the issue, for now, back to the Feds, stating there were "unresolved significant security concerns" with Diebold's voting machines. The California decision, though not yet definitive, is undoubtedly one of the biggest blows for Diebold, since it is regarded by the company as America's largest "voting market."

The City of St. Louis may come to regret their decision as much as they eventually came to regret allowing the County to split off from it, back in the days when the County was sparsely populated and seen as draining tax dollars from the City. Today, St. Louis County's population is over 1 million, while the City continues to stagnate at a population of just over 300 thousand.

According to reports from both grassroots organization Missourians for Honest Elections and Jo Mannies of The Post, information and concerns about about the latest failures of Diebold voting machines, brought to the County's Board of Election by citizens, was crucial to the BoE's decision. As reported by Mannies in a story on The Post website last night:

Board member Anita Yeckel acknowledged that the controversy surrounding one of the contenders, Diebold Election Systems, was a factor in her decision.

"There was a lot of publicity about Diebold that hadn't been resolved," she said.

In the version of the story which ran in today's paper, the following addition to the above was found:

She added that she personally thought Ohio-based Diebold was "a terrific company."

There was no explanation for that added quote and we have been unable to reach Mannies for comment today.

According to Virginia Harris, a volunteer with Missourians for Honest Elections, St. Louis county resident Harvey Friedman (father of this blogger) was instrumental, along with several others, in bringing the latest disturbing news about the Diebold company to the attention of the Board of Elections.

On a personal note; While my father has never shown a proclivity towards political activism in the past, to the knowledge of this exceedingly proud blogger, I couldn't be more impressed with his tenacious efforts to inform the St. Louis County BoE members of the many growing concerns about Diebold, and to hold their collective feet to the fire in the bargain. The tree, apparently, does not grow far from the fallen apple. Thank you, Dad. And congratulations for the positive effect of your good work in my old home town!

The activism of Friedman the Elder, and the reporting of The BRAD BLOG, apparently has not escaped the notice of at least one person, said to be a Diebold lobbyist present at the series of recent BoE hearings in St. Louis. After Mannies of The Post ran a short blog item highlighting both our hometown connection and our father --- whom she met and interviewed at the hearings --- Lou Hamilton, reportedly representing Diebold, was said to have "thanked" Mannies for "the outing of BRAD BLOG" (whatever that might mean) and to have asked her "Who is Brad's father? What does he do for a living?", according to a report of the incident.

Hamilton is apparently the CEO of "strategic communications consulting service" Hamilton & Company, and described in an article by Mannies as "a prominent Democratic consultant." More information on Hamilton and his company is available here. We have been unable to reach either Hamilton or Mannies for additional comment on the information reported above, which was emailed to us yesterday.

While attention to the many anti-democratic maneuvers of Diebold, whose former CEO Walden O'Dell infamously pledged his personal committment "to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes" to George W. Bush in a fundraising letter to Republicans prior to the 2004 election, has been increasingly well-publicized, ES&S has escaped the scrutiny of many Election Reform advocates.

The fact, however, is that ES&S' voting machines are not known to be any more secure than Diebold's, as reported in an eye-opening article yesterday by Wired News. In the report, adjunct computer science professor at the Florida Institute of Technology, Hugh Thompson, who also took part in the Leon County "hack test" last week, is concerned about the voting equipment being purchased from companies other than Diebold:

"Looking at these systems doesn't send off signals that ... if we just get rid of Diebold and go to another vendor we'll be safe," Thompson said. "We know the Diebold machines are vulnerable. As for ES&S, we don't know that they're bad but we don't know that they're (good) either."

Earlier this year, ES&S acquired distribution rights to the AutoMARK system, which has been described as far superior and far more secure than ES&S' own touch-screen and optical scan voting machines. As well, the AutoMARK system, which produces a paper ballot for every vote cast, is said to be accessible to disabled citizens in ways which ES&S and Diebold machines are not, according to a number of disabled citizen's advocacy groups. In Florida's Leon County, the Board of Elections has decided to contract with ES&S, with the intention of using the AutoMARK system once it becomes certified by the state.

St. Louis County's BoE has decided against the AutoMARK system, and instead will purchase 1,750 ES&S touch-screen machines for use in municipal races, along with 500 precinct-level optical-scan tabulators for use in Federal races, according to Harris, with whom we spoke by telephone earlier today. She suspects that ES&S is not dealing honestly with their newly acquired "partners" at AutoMARK, whom she contends ES&S is "defrauding" by over-pricing and under-representing their machines when dealing with potential clients on State and County elections boards.

"In my opinion, ES&S fraudulently priced the AutoMARK machines so high on their bid, that there was no way they could compete with ES&S's DRE [touch-screen] machines or anybody else's for that matter," she told us. Harris claims to have a copy of the bids submitted and hopes to share them with The BRAD BLOG soon.

The wrangling over which vendor to select in St. Louis County occurred shortly after several "closed door sessions" of the St. Louis County Board of Elections, who met privately with Voting Machine vendors and locked out the public and election integrity advocates. Those "closed door sessions" appear to be in violation of Missouri state law, and since then, The BRAD BLOG has learned, "Freedom of Information Act" (FOIA) requests have been filed with the County for the minutes of those closed door sessions. We will, as always, keep you up to date on details that may be revealed by those FOIA requests if and when the County complies with them.

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By John Gideon on 12/21/2005 6:17pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

Today has to be a bad day for two voting machine vendors. Diebold was told by the California SoS to send their system back to the Independent Test Authorities because some specific source code needs to be re-examined. In the meantime the state will not certify any Diebold voting machines. This morning a Temporary Restraining Order was filed by voters in New Mexico against the purchase of any Sequoia Edge voting machines. Included in the TRO is a statement from a developer of aides for disabled persons, who also happens to be blind, who correctly points out that the Sequoia AVC Edge DRE does not satisfy the disability access requirements of HAVA. There has been one disturbing announcement as a judge in North Carolina found for the state board of elections and against the voters of the state who pointed out that the voting systems certified by the state did not meet the law. Also in California a federal audit found that $3.8M of elections funds had been improperly spent by the previous SoS....

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

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19 NM counties agree that Sequoia DREs should not be used by their voters
By John Gideon on 12/21/2005 3:04pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VoteTrustUSA.org

Last month The BRAD BLOG reported on an important lawsuit underway in New Mexico. We can now report that a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) has been filed and that plaintiffs have been added to the suit.

Today, attorneys for Patricia Rosas Lopategui, et al. and against Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron, et al. filed a temporary restraining order asking District Judge Eugenio Mathis for an emergency order blocking the Secretary of State from spending millions of dollars on Sequoia AVC Edge touch screen voting machines for use in Bernalillo, Dona Ana, Santa Fe and 11 other counties. According to their press release VoterAction, the group who is providing support to the attorneys and the plaintiffs in this case, says:

The plaintiffs allege that the machines are not accessible by disabled voters and violate a state law requirement for voter verifiable paper trail printers, necessary for meaningful audits and recounts. Plaintiffs also submitted substantial evidence that the Sequoia touchscreen voting systems are inaccurate and unreliable, having lost thousands of votes and switched countless others in recent elections.

As a part of their case, plaintiffs submitted the affidavit of Noel Runyan, an expert on the design of disabled access devices. Mr. Runyan, who is blind, gave this harsh assessment:

In my opinion, the Sequoia AVC Edge DRE does not satisfy the disability access requirements of HAVA, as incorporated into New Mexico law. This opinion is based on (1) the Edge's complete lack of any accommodation for persons with severe physical dexterity impairments who are unable to use touchscreens or keypads; (2) the gross inadequacy of the Edge's audio assist feature for persons who are blind or low vision; and (3) the Edge's failure to accommodate elderly voters who have developed severe visual impairments with age but are unfamiliar with and unable to cope with audio-only access technology because they have had normal vision most of their lives. In short, it is my opinion that a large portion of disabled citizens who attempt to cast their votes on Sequoia AVC Edge voting machines will be unable to do so.

The work done by these attorneys has already begun to reap benefits outside of the state of New Mexico as attorneys in other states have begun asking for advice and assistance. VoterAction has a copy of the filing and all attached exhibits posted on their website.

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A By-Request Open Thread...
By Brad Friedman on 12/21/2005 11:33am PT  

Unfortunately, I'm likely off the grid for the bulk of the day/evening today. So, unless the mighty fine Guest Bloggers jump in, feel free to Be the Blog! BRAD BLOG regular, "Dredd" requested an Open Thread recently, so Happy HOLIDAYS, old boy!

In my stead, it'll be as if I'm here by my kicking the Open Thread off with a few things "BRAD" that all have roughly something to do with your occasionally humble host, but that I otherwise don't know what to do with...

Hometown Boy Does Good-ish
Jo Mannies of my one-time hometown paper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch blogs about me. Please note that the commenters in St. Louis on both that item, and the one preceeding it about the city of St. Louis choosing Diebold (the county has yet to make their final determination), need some education and some help. Feel free to offer it to them politely.

Thanks for the Honor Danny!
The notable author/filmmaker Danny Schecter, currently of MediaChannel.org has taken note of The BRAD BLOG as one of the notable blogs listed amongst his notable list of "Media Heroes". Coming from someone such as Schecter, that is no small honor. Given the company we share on his list, we are about as humbled as we are cable of being. We'll not even note he called us "Brad's Blog" since humble beggars shouldn't be choosers. (For more on humble begging, read on to the end of this item...)

FINALLY! A Good Excuse to Go Out and Buy Hustler!
I've got a short piece in the January February issue, on stands now, so I'm told, about DIEB-THROAT! Go get it! Lemme know you think, since I've yet to see the final version. Finally, you can tell people you really did buy it for the articles!

FINALLY! A Good Excuse to Go Out and Buy Mother Jones!
I've got an article about Dan Borchers --- he the Conservative (real one) working on an Anti-Ann Coulter documentary as first discussed in this BRAD BLOG Exclusive --- in the January issue. Now also out on stands, or so I'm told. If you prefer to save your money, for a CHRISTMAKKAKWANZA DONATION to your friendly neighborhood BRAD BLOG, you can read the MoJo article online here. Be sure to note the cool Spewing Ann graphic with it!

And Speaking of Donations...and Beggars...
Remember, just a few days left to make your end of year tax-deductible donations! Of course, we're not tax-deductable as far as I know, but really...Who does more good for the world? Those losers over at Save the Children or The BRAD BLOG? ;-)

Okay. After you send the tax-deductible part to them, feel free to share whatever might left with us. We could use the end o' year help.

Alternately, a monthly subscription of any amount you choose (see the blue form on the right of this page) is also a very lovely way to end one helluva roller-coaster ride of a year!

(And don't forget the swell merchandise in The BRAD STORE! Though who knows if it'll get there in time for the Holidays...Well, hell, there's eight full days of Chanukah to come! So, sure! It'll make it!...Maybe.)

Discuss all or none of the above...in comments below...

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Federal Judge Rules Dover, PA 'Intelligent Design' Mandate in Biology Class Unconstitutional...
By Brad Friedman on 12/21/2005 11:31am PT  

Yesterday, from AP:

Dover Area School Board members violated the Constitution when they ordered that its biology curriculum must include the notion that life on Earth was produced by an unidentified intelligent cause, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III said. Several members repeatedly lied to cover their motives even while professing religious beliefs, he said.

The school board policy, adopted in October 2004, was believed to have been the first of its kind in the nation.

"The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID [Intelligent Design] Policy," Jones wrote.
...
"We find that the secular purposes claimed by the Board amount to a pretext for the Board's real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom," he wrote in his 139-page opinion.

The Dover policy required students to hear a statement about intelligent design before ninth-grade biology lessons on evolution. The statement said Charles Darwin's theory is "not a fact" and has inexplicable "gaps." It refers students to an intelligent-design textbook, "Of Pandas and People," for more information.
...
Said the judge: "It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy."

We should also note that the smart voters of Dover, removed all of the board members responsible for this idiocy from their jobs in last November's election.

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Gun Lovers Take 'War on Christmas' to New Heights (Lows?)
By Brad Friedman on 12/21/2005 9:48am PT  

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SoS: 'Unresolved significant security concerns', 'Source Code Never Ever Reviewed'
State 'Punts' Issue Back to Feds for Further Testing, State Senator Objects --- Complete Letter from SoS, Senator Bowen's Full Statement...
By Brad Friedman on 12/20/2005 7:16pm PT  

Late this afternoon, Sec. of State Bruce McPherson's office sent a letter to Diebold Election Systems, Inc. Vice President David Bryd, informing him that the state is declining --- for the time being --- to re-certify Diebold AccuVote touch-screen machines in the state of California pending further testing and certification by Federal authorities.

In the letter, on McPherson's letterhead (complete letter at bottom of this article), Caren Daniels-Meade, chief of the Elections Division writes that "Unresolved significant security concerns exist with respect to the memory card used to program and configure" the Accu-Vote operating system and touch-screen equipment.

In a statement reported by AP, SoS spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns announced problems "discovered during routine testing...by state employees and independent consultants":

She said each system approved for use in California must meet 10 security requirements, and the Diebold machines did not meet one of those standards.

"This is a unique case in which we discovered that the source code had never, ever been reviewed," said Kerns. "There were potential security risks with it."

Some of those "potential security risks" may have been revealed in a test last week using similar Diebold equipment in Leon County, FL, where the results of a test election were reversed by a hacked program inserted onto one of the AccuVote memory cards. The hacked election was completed without a trace of the manipulation left behind.

In 2004 Diebold machines were de-certified by California's then Democratic Sec. of State Kevin Shelley after it was revealed that the company had used uncertified software in voting machines in the state. That matter was resolved in a $2.6 million settlement by Diebold with the state. A recent Securities Fraud Class Action complaint has alleged the settlement was meant to shield the public from a litany of flaws in Diebold voting systems. Additional complaints are now pending against the Ohio-based company whose former CEO had promised to "deliver the state of Ohio" to George W. Bush in an infamous fundraising letter sent to Republicans prior to the 2004 Presidential Election. The CEO, Walden O'Dell, was forced to resign early last week just prior to the filed litigation.

Republican McPherson, who later replaced Shelley, carried out a massive mock election test over the summer revealing that 20% of Diebold's AccuVote touch screen machines failed to operate as promised, with many of the touch-screens freezing and printers jamming.

Several weeks ago, McPherson's staff, however, suddenly announced that they were recommending the re-certification of Diebold machines again (under specific conditions) after a secret test, using machines specially prepared by Diebold, found this time that only 3% of the machines failed.

Then came the protests, the Securities Fraud Litigations, and last week's devasting Leon County hack test which resulted in the county announcing they would never use Diebold in another election. Another county in Florida, Volusia, quickly followed suit in deciding to dump their Diebold machines.

McPherson's office, rather than simply decertifying Diebold once and for all in California, has today decided instead to pass the buck back to the the so-called Federal "Indepenent Testing Authority" (ITA). The ITA is a group of several companies chosen and paid for by the voting machine companies such as Diebold themselves, to test their equipment and software on behalf of the Federal Government. Those ITA labs then either certify the software and/or hardware or send it back to the company with the results of the failed tests kept confidential.

State Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach) has been an outspoken critic of McPherson's process for considering recertification of Diebold and has otherwise been a watchdog on issues related to the quickly changing Electoral landscape in the Golden State. She released a statement to The BRAD BLOG late this evening (complete statement posted at end of this article). Bowen is critical of McPherson's plan to "punt" the issue back to the Feds and says in her statement:

“The Secretary of State shouldn't punt the decision about whether Diebold machines should be used to count ballots in California to the federal government and an ‘independent' testing authority that's financed by the voting machine vendors. That decision needs to be made in the open, right here in California.”

Bowen, the author of the so-called "Bowen Amendment" (SB 370) recently signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. That legislation mandates, among other things, paper records created for all votes cast in California, as well as mandatory audits of ballots. She has also recently announced her intention to run for Secretary of State in 2006. Her website is here.

Bowen is highly critical of the secretive processes of the ITA, and various electronic voting machinery being deployed around the state using secret software to count Californians votes:

“The federal testing process is notoriously weak and it's done in secret,” continued Bowen. “Plus, these supposedly ‘independent testing authorities' the Secretary of State wants to rely on are financed by the voting machine industry and conduct their tests in secret as well. That's why California shouldn't be relying on proprietary software that uses secret code to count ballots. If we want to ensure we have voting systems that are reliable and secure – and that voters have confidence in – we need to be moving toward an open source software structure.”

Computer security expert, Avi Rubin, who originally discovered some of the astounding security flaws in Diebold's GEMS central tabulator, recently wrote at Huffington Post about the "Dirty Little Secrets of Voting System Testing Labs". We highly recommend his insightful and revealing article on both that and his recent experience at a summit held on Electronic Voting Security issues in California.

In a report just filed by Contra Costa Times Rubin says that review of the source code will determine little, since the source code has little do to with whether or not a hacker is able to introduce a malicious program. It's "definitely not something that's going to give a definitive answer," said Rubin.

McPherson's decision is surely a setback for Diebold who, like several other Voting Machine Companies, are currently scrambling for contracts in the wake of the impending Jan. 1, 2006 Help America Vote Act (HAVA) deadline. If States and Counties wish to receive Federal money to pay for voting systems upgrades, they must make their final decision on which companies to use by that date. Many of those States and Counties had been watching and waiting to see what California would do, given their previous history with Diebold. And of course, as Diebold --- one of several private companies vying to control the country's public voting system --- has described the state: it is America's "largest voting market."

The complete letter from Sec. of State McPherson's office to Diebold, along with Bowen's complete statement follow...

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

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By John Gideon on 12/20/2005 6:58pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

North Carolina counties continue to make their decisions on how their voters are going to vote. There are questions being asked in Alaska about the results of the 2004 general election as they were counted on the states Diebold machines. Finally a county shows that they have actually read and understand what HAVA really says. Benton Co., Arkansas wants to use central-count optical scan machines and they realize they need to augment that with an education program to cut down on over-voting. Benton County gets my award for doing what no one else seems to have done; they read the law and ignored the rhetoric....

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

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A Video of the Moment Flashback...
PLUS: Why Was Bush Admin First Ever, Reportedly, to be Rejected by FISA Court?
By Brad Friedman on 12/20/2005 3:00pm PT  

Emailer Expathos sends us an interesting compilation of video clips taken from both C-SPAN and Whitehouse.gov. Here's an outake from part of it, taken from speeches in Pittsburgh and Buffalo in 2004:

BUSH: Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires --- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.

-- View the complete video here

The emailer also adds:

Wiretaps are conducted around the country every day. The FISA Court alone approves something like a half a dozen a day in highly classified national security or espionage related cases. Bush can tap up to 72 hours prior to asking permission.

The only issue here is why the president decided to go around the normal rules that govern such surveillance, why he chose to make himself above the law.

Indeed.

UPDATE: Additional info on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court in response to those Bush apologists suggesting he had no time to go to the court (Rush Limbaugh told his listeners today that it could take "10 to 12 days" to get approval back from the court which frequently gives appropral to such requests in hours, if not minutes). This from an Op/Ed by Anthony Wade yesterday:

From 1979 through 2002 there were 15,264 surveillance warrants issued by the FISA court, clearly displaying that the process is quite favorable to the government seeking such wiretaps. Further supporting this is the amount of surveillance warrants which were rejected during that same 23 year period, ZERO. That is right; in a 23 year period not one request was denied.

But then Wade adds this:

From 2002 until now, only four such requests were denied.

Interesting. So from the time the act was established until 2002, nobody seeking a warrant was denied. Then, the Bush Admin was turned down four times. Why? And could that be why they simply decided to go around the FISA court?

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Would you expect anything less?
The Right Makes Up Stuff to Defend Their President's Flagrant Disregard for 'The Rule of Law' While Spying on American Citizens
By Brad Friedman on 12/20/2005 1:02pm PT  

The wingnuts are in a full-blown panic to try and justify the latest admission by George W. Bush that he authorized the warrant-less spying on American Citizens. That would be strictly against the law, of course, and likely an impeachable offense (remember, Presidents, we used to be told, are not above "the rule of law").

In their usual well-oiled lockstep fashion, the dead-ender wingnut bloggers and hate-radio folks are now attempting to forward the notion that "Clinton did the same." As usual, the apologists get their talking point assists from the extremist rightwing "news" site, NewsMax who reported:

During the 1990's under President Clinton, the National Security Agency monitored millions of private phone calls placed by U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries under a super secret program code-named Echelon…all of it done without a court order, let alone a catalyst like the 9/11 attacks.

Trouble is, this report, from ThinkProgress, would seem to prove otherwise. Testimony given to Congress in 2000 (back when Republicans pretended to care about this sort of thing) by then FBI Director George Tenet would seem to indicate (surprise!) that NewsMax and the other apologists are wrong:

I'm here today to discuss specific issues about and allegations regarding Signals Intelligence activities and the so-called Echelon Program of the National Security Agency…

There is a rigorous regime of checks and balances which we, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the FBI scrupulously adhere to whenever conversations of U.S. persons are involved, whether directly or indirectly. We do not collect against U.S. persons unless they are agents of a foreign power as that term is defined in the law. We do not target their conversations for collection in the United States unless a FISA warrant has been obtained from the FISA court by the Justice Department.

Whether Tenet was lying or not in his testimony --- which NewsMax didn't bother to quote --- we couldn't tell you. If Bill Clinton actually broke the law in this regard, as the wingnuts suggest, perhaps Republicans should impeach him. Oh, wait, it may be a bit late for that. But perhaps they should have impeached him for it (if it actually occured), instead of impeaching him for receiving an unauthorized blow job. We're just saying.

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Resolutions Call for Censure of Bush, Cheney and Creation of 'Select Committee' to Investigate Impeachable Offenses
-- Complete Texts of Resolutions, Links to Report, Petion Campaigns in Support, Conyers Press Release in Full, and More...
By Brad Friedman on 12/20/2005 11:42am PT  

Lots of fur flying this morning, and us West Coast bloggers, of course, are as ever behind the time-zone eight-ball. So consider this a first volley as we try to bring you the nuts and bolts and offer a lot of summarized raw data and links for you to read through it all yourselves, even as we do same.

The skinny is that the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Democrats, led by ranking minority member John Conyers (D-MI) have now released their full 250-page report, said to be more than six months in the making, on the Administration's use/abuse of pre-war intel, torture policies and much more. The BRAD BLOG first reported exclusively on all of this as 'coming soon' last week. Yesterday, we added quite a few details about what to expect in this report. Our friends at RAW STORY have several articles, including links to the Full Report and its Executive Summary.

-- Report Executive Summary here
-- Report in full here [PDF]
-- Report by chapters here (Includes links to all exhibits, key documents, etc.)

Along with the report, Conyers has introduced three resolutions in the House which call for the Censure of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for failure to provide oversight materials to Congress and for "misstatements" in their lead-up to war. One of the resolutions also calls for the creation of a new "Select Committee" --- with subpeona power --- to discover whether there are grounds for Impeachment of both Bush and Cheney. This committee has been described to us by a Judiciary Committee staffer as "similar to the Ervin Committee on Presidential Campaign Acitivites that kicked off Watergate, to conduct further investigation of the matters described in the report." The committee would then refer evidence constituting impeachable offenses to the House Judiciary Committee.

The report --- entitled THE CONSTITUTION IN CRISIS: The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Toture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War --- is described by Conyers this way in a Press Release this morning (complete text of Press Release posted at end of this article):

"In brief, we have found that there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice-President and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration. There is at least a prima facie case that these actions that federal laws have been violated - from false statements to Congress to retaliating against Administration critics."
...
"The Report rejects the frequent contention by the Bush Administration that there pre-war conduct has been reviewed and they have been exonerated. No entity has ever considered whether the Administration misled Americans about the decision to go to War, and the Senate Intelligence Committee has not yet conducted a review of pre-war intelligence information, while the Silberman-Robb report specifically cautioned, that intelligence manipulation "was not part of our inquiry." There has also not been any independent inquiry concerning torture and other legal violations in Iraq; nor has there been an independent review of the pattern of cover-ups and political retribution by the Bush Administration against its critics, other than the very narrow and still ongoing inquiry of Special Counsel Fitzgerald."

The three House Resolutions created along with the report, were filed in the House on Sunday. Links to the complete draft text of each Resolution, and the introductory paragraph for each follow:

-- H.R. 635 [PDF], Resolution calling for creation of a "Select Committee":

Creating a select committee to investigate the Administration's intent to go to war before congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouraging and countenancing torture, retaliating against critics, and thwarting congressional oversight, and to make recommendations regarding grouns for impeachment.

-- H.R. 636 [PDF], Resolution calling for Censure of George W. Bush:

Censuring President George W. Bush for failing to respond to requests for information concerning allegations that he and others in his Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq, misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for the war, counteananced torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of persons in Iraq, and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of his Administration, for failing to adequately account for specific misstatements he made regarding the war, and for failing to comply with Executive Order 12958.

-- H.R. 637 [PDF], Resolution calling for Censure of Richard B. Cheney:

Censuring Vice President Richard B. Cheney for failing to respond to requests for information concerning allegations that he and others in the Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq, misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for the war, countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of persons in Iraq, and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of the Administration and for failing to adequately account for specific misstatements he made regarding the war.

As we reported yesterday, the AfterDowningStreet.org advocacy website has introduced a new look along with a new URL. In addition to their previous name, they are now also known as CensureBush.org.

Conyers has set up some actions items at his own website JohnConyers.com where he is asking Americans to sign his letter informing George W. Bush about his intentions to censure and call for a Select Committee. A similar letter, asking for answers in regards to the so-called "Downing Street Documents" was signed by more than half a million Americans and delivered to the White House by Conyers' earlier this year.

As well, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) has created a letter writing campaign to allow you to ask your own Representatives to support the resolution calling for the creation of a "Select Committee". You can send that letter to your reps here.

We'll update this item as appropriate throughout the day with additional material and/or links as we move through things.

The complete text of John Conyers' Press Release as issued this morning follows...

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

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By John Gideon on 12/19/2005 10:07pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

North Carolina counties continue to meet and make their selections of voting machines for the future. Unfortunately they cannot wait until a decision from the court on whether any voting system presently certified by the state board of elections can, by law, be considered to be certified. The state is certainly doing nothing to stop the counties from making their decisions....

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

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Damning Report on Bush Admin Use/Misuse of Pre-War Intel! Both Conyers' and 'Downing Street Documents' Advocacy Group to Launch Additional Internet Domains With Release of Report!
PLUS: Increasing Buzz About Bush Impeachment Proceedings May Soon Be Getting Much Louder...
By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2005 4:41pm PT  

As broken this morning by RAW STORY, the House Judiciary Committee Democratic staff is set to release an extensive and damning new report tomorrow entitled "THE CONSTITUTION IN CRISIS: The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Toture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War."

The BRAD BLOG has been able to gather a few additional details, some we are able to report today, others cannot be announced until the final report is released to the public. The report is currently scheduled for release tomorrow.

In anticipation for tomorrow's report, The BRAD BLOG revealed in an exclusive report last week that Rep. John Conyers' (D-MI) House Judiciary Committee staff had registered a number of websites including dsmreport.com, theiraqreport.net and other similar domains. All of those domains have been automatically re-directed to Conyers' personal website JohnConyers.com. Conyers is the ranking minority member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

We can also now report that, beginning tomorrow, along with the release of the upcoming report, AfterDowningStreet.org will change its look and nature and will be accessible via an additional URL. Though, David Swanson, one of the founders of the site which is devoted to spreading news surrounding the so-called "Downing Street Documents" was somewhat cryptic in what he'd allowed us to report about the changes that will be taking place tomorrow.

"I could tell you more," said Swanson, "but for now I need to keep it to myself and the NSA spies assigned to my house."

Additionally, though not necessarily directly related, both AP and RAW STORY are now reporting that several members of Congress have begun discussing the possibilities of Impeachment for George W. Bush. And at least one member of the House Judiciary Committee has asked the Attorney General for a Special Counselor to be assigned to the matter of George W. Bush's recent admission to domestic spying on U.S. citizens.

The BRAD BLOG has learned and confirmed from congressional sources, that the report from the Judiciary Committee Democratic staffers is expected to be the most comprehensive, indepth look at the Bush Administration's use and misuse of pre-war intelligence in the run-up to war in Iraq.

The landmark report, said to be more than six months in the making, will include extensive, detailed allegations concerning the Bush Administration's use of manipulated facts and intelligence, retribution against domestic opposition, coverup of facts and intelligence known to be in contradiction with their contentions about Iraq's weapons programs, and illegal torture.

The report will be more than 200 pages long, including an additional 100 pages or more of evidence and documentation for the very serious Constitutional charges that are being made.

The report is said to be far more extensive than a detailed report issued previously by the House Judiciary Committee Democrats concerning so-called "irregularities" in Ohio during the 2004 Presidential Election and its aftermath. Like that report, this one will also be published in book format.

As with an earlier effort by Judiciary Committee Democrats to raise public awareness of the Downing Street Documents --- top-secret leaked memos from British officials charging that the Bush Administration had determined to topple Saddam through military means and that the "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" even while they were telling both Congress and the American people that war could be avoided by diplomatic means --- this report will also coincide with a public effort to raise awareness and support for the allegations being made. The earlier DSM effort resulted in more than half a million signatures from the American people being delivered by hand to the White House. This report will also be released concurrently with an initiative to gather support from the American people to help raise awareness to the very serious allegations being made.

AP reported earlier today on Civil Rights-era icon, Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) as calling for the potential impeachment of George W. Bush in a radio interview earlier today. His suggestion comes in light of recent admissions that Bush had authorized spying on U.S. citizens in apparent violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Lewis reportedly added, "The president should abide by the law. He deliberately, systematically violated the law. He is not King, he is president."

Since Lewis' comments were reported, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has issued a news release referring to the "'I' word" as well. Boxer's comments point to analysis offered by Watergate figure and one-time White House Counsel John Dean who has suggested that Bush has now admitted to an "impeachable offense" in regards to the authorization of domestic spying.

Additionally, Congressman Jerold Nadler (D-NY) has today written a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales demanding that a Special Prosecutor be assigned to investigate the "secret directive that authorizes domestic eavesdropping on United States citizens, without a warrant." The congressman, who also sits on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, added in his letter, that "This unprecedented intelligence gathering policy is clearly prohibited by law."

It remains to be seen whether tomorrow's report from the House Judiciary staff will add to the now-increasing drumbeat of voices suggesting Investigations and/or Impeachment Proceedings for yet another sitting United States President. The BRAD BLOG will, as always, be keeping our eye on the latest developments...

UPDATE: Late word and a brief post to ConyersBlog, says:

If all goes well, I expect to make an announcement on the Stephanie Miller Show in the third hour of her show (beginning 11am EST).
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