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Rep. Rahm Emanuel has the Perfect Response to Cheney's Hubris...
By Joseph Cannon on 6/23/2007 2:40pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Joseph Cannon

As you know, Dick Cheney recently declared that the Vice President is not really part of the Executive branch of government. Why? Because he doesn't want those snoops at the Information Security Oversight Office to stick their unwelcome noses into Cheney-land. (The job of the ISOO is to oversee how everyone within the Executive branch handles classified material.)

Cheney argues that the Veep has a legislative function, since he casts a tie-breaking vote in the Senate --- a task he has had to perform all of seven times. By this reasoning, the Veep has worked only seven days since January, 2001. Congressional Democrats have crafted the perfect response:

Following Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that his office is not a part of the executive branch of the US government, Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) plans to introduce an amendment to the the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill to cut funding for Cheney's office.

More than that. Dick Cheney has claimed "executive privilege" a number of times, most notably when asked to disclose his energy policy meetings. Legislators have no such privilege. May we see the documents now?

More than that. Do you know the technical grounds for the impeachment charges brought against Richard Nixon? Subpoenas. Nixon ignored them, and so he had to go. Any congressional committee may now subpoena anything it wants from Cheney's office. Not a single document in the joint is protected by executive privilege. Not a single person working under Cheney may claim executive privilege. Dick Cheney has made very clear that he is not part of the executive branch of government.

If Cheney does not comply, he becomes instantly and impeccably impeachable.

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In Case You Missed 'Em... Our Most Important Stories from the Last Week
By Desi Doyen on 6/23/2007 8:17am PT  

Guest blogged by DES

Just a quick intro this week due to travel, but be sure check out the headlines below to make sure you're up-to-date on the goings-on from the last week: From another special report by Greg Palast on tearful vote-cager Tim Griffin (followed shortly thereafter by a new Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into the activities of the Crying Cager), to more fun with Thor Hearne and Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Abramoff), to the unprecedented move by CA Sec. of State Debra Bowen to access voting machine source code, it's been a busy week. And, while Brad is on the road to the Progressive Cabinet Summit and the U. S. Social Forum Conference in Atlanta, check out our new guest bloggers, bringing you fresh perspective and news items you won't find in the MSM....

Read up on all the stories you may have missed from the last week, and consider yourself upped...

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

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By John Gideon on 6/22/2007 8:00pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

Remember Arthur Anderson, the man who ran for Palm Beach Co, Florida, Election Supervisor on a promise that he would give the voters a voter verified paper trail? He is also the man who ran from that promise just as soon as he was elected and took office. In fact he has gone so far to protect the county's paperless Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines that his office lied in an estimate of how much it would cost for elections if the county went to a paper ballot-based optical-scan system. In the estimate to the county, Anderson tripled the cost of printing each paper ballot to $1.25 from the actual $.40 per ballot. The difference in the estimate? $2.2 million. And in California the SoS has announced that ES&S is not cooperating in her “top-to-bottom” review of the state’s voting systems. It seems that ES&S has refused to turn over their source code for review. ...

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

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'I always have acted with honesty and integrity,' Says Corrupt Florida Congressman, Alleged Vote-Rigging Conspirator...
UPDATE: Feeney Creates Own Blog, Welcomes Your Comments!
By Brad Friedman on 6/22/2007 6:44pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from somewhere in Oklahoma (Shawnee...I think)

Need to keep moving, but saw this, and had to stop long enough to let you know about it. Just in case you wanted to send a little something...

WASHINGTON --- U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney established a legal defense fund this week to defray costs relating to an ongoing federal inquiry into his ties with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Department of Justice lawyers and our lawyers have been speaking. We will cooperate," said the Oviedo Republican, who denied Friday that he is the target of a federal probe.

When asked why he established the fund, Feeney said he was being cautious and that it would be used to "demonstrate conclusively that I always have acted with honesty and integrity."

Heheh...Irony becomes him.

If you're unfamiliar with the background for this story, a) Welcome to The BRAD BLOG!, b) See the Orlando Sentinel's article and c) See a few of the stories listed at the bottom of the page at: http://www.Bradblog.com/ClintCurtis for more details.

UPDATE 6/23/07: After years of sniffing at "blogs", Feeney has opened his own. And he welcomes your comments! Please give him our best regards, and be sure to give his readers a link to our Clint Curtis / Tom Feeney Special Coverage page!

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By Brad Friedman on 6/22/2007 6:31pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from...somewhere in Oklahoma...

As we continue on our eastward trek towards the Backbone Campaign's Progressive Cabinet Summit at the Carter Center on Tuesday in Atlanta, to be followed by several workshops and panels at the U.S. Social Forums for the rest of the week...We received this rude awakening early this morning out the window of the BradMobile...

The day got decidedly better thereafter (though not before passing the town of Bushland, quickly followed by Coulter St. just outside of town.)

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Confusion over Paper Ballots
By Bob Bancroft on 6/22/2007 4:03pm PT  

Guest blogged by Bob Bancroft

On today's Morning Edition , NPR’s Pam Fessler reports the growing frustration of election officials around the country. Those interviewed express a general consensus that fussing over the right to vote is simply not worth all the headaches. Elaine Ludwig, Chief Clerk of Lebanon County, PA, says she’s “had enough,” threatening that she and many others will quit if any election reform is passed into law.

That’s disturbing.

But there is a more basic problem in NPR’s reporting on the issue: a deep misunderstanding of what is being debated, and why.

Morning Edition host Renée Montagne introduces the segment (about “Toys and Voting Machines,” no kidding) by describing Rep. Rush Holt's H.R.811 as “legislation to require paper ballots for all voting equipment.” Oh, Renée, if only it were so simple! Sadly, that legislation, the bill that guarantees a paper ballot in every state, does not exist.

Rep. Holt told NPR, “States must provide, they owe it to the voters to provide, voting systems that are transparent and reliable and accessible and verifiable.”

Well said, sir. Yet the current incarnation of Rep. Holt’s bill falls short. In place of transparency, we are given mandatory non-disclosure agreements. In place of verifiable voting, we are given paper printouts.

Printouts, Renée, not ballots...

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

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New Yorkers win Round One in fight for source code protections
By Bo Lipari on 6/22/2007 2:54pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Bo Lipari of New Yorkers for Verified Voting

The following was posted to my Blog on June 22, 2007

I’m pleased to report that due to a huge outpouring of calls from citizens, and three intense days and nights working the Capitol halls by New Yorkers for Verified Voting and the League of Women Voters/NY, New York State's voting machine laws were not weakened or tampered with in any way. Neither the Microsoft amendment nor any other proposals being pushed by voting machine vendor lobbyists made it into any of the thousands of bills passed in this last crazy week of the session. The citizens of New York State stood up to these powerful private interests and won.

A rapid response by citizens to this threat to our essential protections resulted in over 3,000 calls to legislators in just over two days. This huge outpouring from the public averted the threat of a stealth amendment slipping into law unnoticed, as so often happens in this last hectic week in Albany. Every legislator I talked to over the last three days was impressed by the volume of calls and the passionate reaction, and promised they would watch the bills carefully for back door changes, adding their eyes to ours. They reaffirmed their commitment to keeping New York’s voting machine laws among the strongest in the nation, and in the end, they came through. The public’s response to this threat has kept our representatives vigilant and committed to keeping New York State’s voting machine laws among the strongest in the nation.

Keeping our strict laws intact was an essential win for us, but this is only Round One. The next battleground will be the New York State Board of Elections, where the four commissioners are discussing how to interpret the New York State law. And yes, you guessed it, one of the interpretations being promoted by some of these decision makers would allow the voting machine vendors to use Microsoft and other source code in voting technology that would not be subject to review in the event of election problems. Our next task will be to make sure the State Board of Elections understands what we’ve told the State Legislature, that the public’s will is expressed precisely in the letter of our election law – ALL source code must be handed over, not just some pieces of it. Our elections, and the technologies we use to conduct them, belong to us. And we the people aim to keep it that way.

But today, let’s celebrate. Congratulations friends, we did it!

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By John Gideon on 6/21/2007 8:00pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

In the New York state legislature it is coming down to crunch time for legislation to be finalized and passed. It is also a period of great concern for New York’s election integrity community. As the New York Times reports this morning:

“Microsoft, for example, is lobbying legislators to change the laws that govern the electronic voting machines that will soon be in use around the state, thanks to a 2005 law that ballot-integrity experts have hailed as one of the toughest in the nation.

The software company wants to change a rule known as “third-party escrowing,” under which the underlying software codes used by voting machines can be inspected by a third party in the event of tampering or hacking. The voting-machine vendors vying for the state’s business all use Microsoft’s operating software. But Microsoft wants to keep that software’s underlying codes secret.

“This change would remove the ability of citizens to independently review source code in the event of election problems,” said Bo Lipari, the executive director of New Yorkers for Verified Voting, which opposes the amendment.”

That story, and all the other notable voting news today, linked below...

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

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Hearing Clearly Reveals Continuing Lack of Interest in the Vote Caging Issue at DOJ
But McNulty Testimony Throws Little Light on DOJ Hirings and Firings
By Margie Burns on 6/21/2007 7:38pm PT  

Guest blogged from D.C. by Margie Burns

Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty returned to testify before Congress one more time today, but without shedding much new light on the much-criticized firings and hirings, alleged to be politically motivated, in the Department of Justice.

The Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law of the House Judiciary Committee, in another attempt to extract some truth about the DOJ personnel matter, held a hearing with McNulty as the sole witness. Under polite, soft-spoken but excruciatingly poignant questioning by Committee Chair John Conyers (D-MI), McNulty did clarify one thing: indeed it does seem that his part of the DOJ has done very little about “caging.”

Caging, as Rep. Cannon (R-UT) helpfully pointed out, “is a term of art in mailhouses” – it refers to the place where letters go when they have no address, all batched up in a separate room.

As Conyers gently reminded the audience, “caging” in the context of elections “is not an issue of the mail at all.” Voter caging, in the context of elections, means blocking voters out – choosing whole lists of voters whose vote will be challenged, chosen by whom and the criteria for challenge enunciated by whom, under this administration, still not fully explained.

Actually, not explained at all. Though it wasn't for Conyers' lack of trying to get information from McNulty about it...

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

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Josh Rushing Explains Republican Operative Jim Wilkinson's Role In All Three Seminal Events
By Alan Breslauer on 6/20/2007 9:26pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

Amy Goodman interviews former Marine spokesperson Josh Rushing on Democracy Now about his experiences serving at CENTCOM at the start of the Iraq war. In addition to sending over a Hollywood set designer to build a platform costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, Washington sent political operative Jim Wilkinson, who ran the media operation like a political campaign. According to Rushing, Wilkinson is also "credited with coming up with the line about Gore having invented the Internet," had his hand in the "Brooks Brothers Riot" during the 2000 Florida election recount, and was the guy handing George W. the bullhorn at Ground Zero on September 14, 2001.

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By John Gideon on 6/20/2007 8:00pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

In his “S.1487: A Deconstruction” Robert Bancroft points out;

One cannot help but notice a pattern in the fiscal priorities set by this bill.
• Money to help States develop training programs: none
• Money to help States establish early voting programs: none
• Money to help States perform rigorous audits: none
• Money for the Commission to give to manufacturers for research: $4,000,000
• Money for States to give to manufacturers for machines: $600,000,000
The bill is quick to clarify that the $600 million grant in no way prevents States from also tapping the $650 million granted by HAVA. That puts the total amount of American taxpayer dollars siphoned off to voting-machine manufacturers at $1.25 billion. Are the authors certain that the American people agree with these priorities? Even after handing so much of our money over to these business interests, the bill still does not provide the one thing we have requested: a paper ballot.

That story, and all the other notable voting news today, linked below...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 6/20/2007 10:56am PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman on the road...

Following up on a letter sent to the DoJ on Monday by Democratic Senators Kennedy (MA) and Whitehouse (RI) demanding an investigation into the vote caging activities of former RNC/Bush-Cheney '04 operative, former Karl Rove protégé, and now former US Attorney from Arkansas, Tim Griffin, senators from his home state have announced their support of such a probe.

"If a citizen's right to vote is being threatened, I think without a doubt it is a very appropriate thing to investigate," Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) told Stephens News Bureau according to a report today. "There are enough suggestions out there that lend itself to that. Investigators owe it to the American people to find out whether or not (voter suppression) did occur."

Michael Teague, a spokesman for Arkansas Democratic senator Mark Pryor, told Stephens that an investigation is overdue, particularly in light of recent testimony from the DoJ's Monica Goodling. "I think at every turn and every corner at this point, the White House has said one thing and done another," said Teague.

Goodling, the DoJ's now-resigned liaison to the White House, told the U.S. House Judiciary Committee during sworn testimony, under immunity from prosecution, that Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty "failed to disclose that he had some knowledge of allegations that Tim Griffin had been involved in vote 'caging' during his work on the President's 2004 campaign."

"This has a voter-fraud element to it...Why are we having to ask (the Justice Department) to look into this? Shouldn't that be something that's pretty routine?" Teague wondered.

Setting aside that this is about election fraud, not "voter-fraud" as Teague characterized it, both Democratic Senators are correct that an investigation should occur immediately.

Griffin denied wrongdoing in a teary speech in Arkansas last week. He maintained his innocence again to Stephens on Tuesday, telling them, "As I have said before, the allegations are malicious and false."

Vote caging is the practice of sending targeted registered mail to minority voters with "do not forward" instructions, in order to use any returned letters to challenge voter registrations as fraudulent or press for such voters to be removed from the rolls. In 1981 and 1986, after having done the same thing, the RNC signed consent decrees that they would not engage in such activities in the future. Apparently, they were just kidding both times.

In 2004, Greg Palast of the BBC reported on caging lists attached to email mis-sent by Griffin prior to the Presidential election. The lists reportedly targeted minority voters in Florida, some serving overseas in Iraq. The pre-election reports were all but ignored by both Congress and the American media until Goodling's testimony several weeks ago. Since then, The BRAD BLOG has run a number of exclusive follow-up reports by Palast, most notably here and then here. Griffin resigned on June 2 in the wake of the allegations revealed during the US Attorney Purge investigations. He had been named interim Arkansas US Attorney after the previous USA, Bud Cummins, had been one of the first to be forced out of his job during the DoJ/White House purge.

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Republicans Delay Vote on New Registration Initiative with Dubious Charges of 'Invalid Voters'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/20/2007 10:56am PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman on the road...

It looks like the numerous scandals embroiling the Bush Administration Justice Department haven't slowed down the GOP's stealth campaign to suppress voters and pervert democracy any way they can get away with it...

On June 5, less than thirty minutes before the North Carolina State Senate was scheduled to vote on a bill that would allow voters to register up until three days before an election (down from 25), the Republican state auditor sent out an email to legislators saying that he had "sensitive information" about voting irregularities. Lawmakers agreed to delay the vote.

So what was all the fuss about? His office's preliminary report had discovered tens of thousands of potentially invalid voters and nearly 400 votes by dead people, he announced. Clearly the scourge of voter fraud had hit North Carolina --- more registered voters could only logically mean more chances for fraud.

TPM Muckraker has the full details...

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By John Gideon on 6/19/2007 8:00pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

Today gives us more of what was reported yesterday about the appellate court’s decision to not let Christine Jennings look at the ES&S software. Other than that it was a pretty slow day today....

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

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By Brad Friedman on 6/19/2007 3:33pm PT  

It's the worst time in the world for this. Except for any other. I've got to hit the road again, and will be on that road for the balance of the summer. Will be working from the road as usual, but if I'm lucky, I'll find some folks to cover for me here for extended periods, as I much need it. Heading to Atlanta for a start, to speak at the BackboneCampaign.org's Progessive Shadow Cabinet summit convening at the Carter Center next week. I'm proud to accept their nomination as "Secretary of Democracy."

Before I go, however, quick pointers to three must read recent ACVR/Thor Hearne exposés. At Columbus FreePress, TPMCafe, and National Journal. No time, for the moment, to give much more than quick pointers. But, as one recent emailer wrote when I mentioned I was leaving: "Why not leave out the middleman and let Thor Hearne write about himself at BRAD BLOG while you're gone?" :-)

Touché. But until I'm gone, here's the latest.

At Columbus FreePress...

FreePress's democracy champion in Ohio, Bob Fitrakis --- who was one of the first, if not the first to pick up on the ACVR story after we broke it all in 2005 --- gives us "Ohio, the DOJ scandal and 'Thor' - the god of voter suppression" today. It begins this way...

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

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