Brad takes on a bunch of lies this week that just won't die this week -- from e-cigs to Ann Coulter's voter fraud to 'global cooling' to the death penalty to marriage equality in Mississippi and more...
Ciber Labs teamed with Wyle Labs to test voting system code while Wyle tested hard and firmware. Under the NASED run [federal] voting system qualification process, Ciber inspected and tested about 70% of the voting systems presently in use. Ciber Labs has not been accredited by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to test voting systems under the EAC’s voting system certification program because the EAC found that Ciber did not do tests that they had claimed to do and did a lousy job of documenting those tests they did do. So we have no idea if the code used on about 70% of the voting systems presently being used in the United States meets the voting systems standards. In fact, we know in many situations that the code violates the standards and those are only the systems that have been tested or inspected by other labs or by Universities. States and counties are using untested voting systems that violate the voting systems standards. Let’s just recall all voting systems qualified by NASED and start over with good standards and labs that will do their jobs.
Today's notable voting news stories, related to the above and everything else, are all linked below as usual...
We asked the staffer --- who has requested to remain "anonymous" for obvious reasons --- to elucidate with details, which are now posted in full below...
I welcome the opportunity to respond to John Tanner's testimony yesterday in front of the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
We in the Voting Section were amazed to watch John Tanner's evasion and prevarication. He lost no time in twisting the truth. In his opening statement, he gives his usual litany about all the suits the [DoJ Civil Rights Division Voting] Section has filed. A huge percentage of them have been meaningless, the kinds of suits that never would have been filed under previous leadership. In the past, the Section Chief would pick up the phone, call the jurisdiction, and the jurisdiction would change its procedures. Only truly intransigent jurisdictions got sued. Now, the protocol is that even if we negotiate with the jurisdiction, we sue them, and many times, a previously negotiated consent decree is filed with the court the very same day the complaint is filed. The only possible justification for doing this is to pad the numbers of lawsuits we're filing.
Tanner says "The Section is so productive because of the energy, the enthusiasm, and the commitment of the Section staff." At this point, the only thing that the Section staff could conceivably be said to be energetic and enthusiastic about and committed to is the departure of John Tanner and his handpicked acting deputies, Susana Lorenzo-Giguere and Yvette Rivera. Tanner's ineptitude has done something most of the committed supporters of civil rights in the Section never thought possible: it's given us common cause with people across the aisle. We disagree with their ideology, but as one of them told me only today, Tanner has few supporters even over there. We are united in our belief in their inability to manage the Section. Aside from this, morale is at an ebb that even falls below that which existed when Hans von Spakovsky and Brad Schlozman ran roughshod over the Section.
Well, this is interesting. It seems our Monday Exclusive on "gagged" FBI Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds has disappeared from Google News. Sort of.
A simple news search for "Sibel Edmonds" at Google no longer offers the rather blockbuster story, in which it's announced that she is now challenging American mainstream media television outlets to allow her to tell her story, uncensored and in violation of the ridiculous years-long "State Secrets Privilege" that the DoJ has been using to keep her quiet.
The story can be found via Google News, but it requires a search for both "Sibel Edmonds" and "Brad Blog," or drilling by date, etc. We've got no idea why the story fails to show up otherwise.
That's particularly odd since it's been incredibly popular since we first blogged it, having made it's way to #3 at Digg.com and #4 at Reddit.com, as well as becoming the #1 "recommended" diary at DailyKos.com for most of the day it first ran. (Those rankings alone translate to big traffic on the Internets, for those not familiar with how these things work.) We also ran a version of the report over at Huffington Post. That one doesn't show up either.
Oddly, our much older story from two weeks ago, in which we referred to and quoted Edmonds --- in relation to the recent House resolution declaring "genocide" in Turkey, and her damning allegations concerning former Speaker Dennis Hastert's corrupt bargain while pushing the same legislation in 2000 --- does show up via the Google News search for "Sibel Edmonds." Even though that one, unlike this week's, doesn't even have her name in the headline and was far less popular and infrequently linked to.
No idea what all of that is about, of course, but it seems noteworthy.
In related news, we'll have an exclusive follow-up soon on Edmonds, and the interesting response (or lack thereof), she's so-far received from the American mainstream media in the wake of the blockbuster Monday report. Here's a hint, she's called it "disgusting."
In the meantime, the blogger who pointed out the above anomaly suggests the "Stephen Colbert Effect" might be useful in Edmonds' matter as well.
UPDATE 11/1/07 12:02pm PT: The original story that wouldn't appear via simple Google News search for "Sibel Edmonds" now does show up as a result of that search. We have no idea what, if anything, has changed, but since we ran this report (which also shows up on the same search) 24 hours ago or so, the story now shows up as expected, when it did not previously. No clue what to make of it all still, of course, but noting it nonetheless.
But it's Milbank's online "video sketch" that cuts to the bone, offering the best first-hand encapsulated coverage of the hearings we've seen to date (far better, even, than the PBS News Hour's version last night).
...We said "almost." But not by much. A reply to Tanner's testimony yesterday --- from an insider still forced to work under him at the DoJ's Civil Rights Division Voting Section --- to come shortly.
In the meantime, if you've yet to see the full smack-downs that Tanner received yesterday at the hands of Reps. Artur Davis (D-AL) and then Keith Ellison (D-MN), the videos of both of those brutal Q&As are posted in full below, and are similarly "Must Sees!"...
Asociated Press and ABC both cover the Judiciary Hearings with John Tanner today, leading with his tepid apology: "I want to apologize for the comments I made at the recent meeting of the National Latino Congress about the impact of voter identification laws on elderly and minority voters … My explanation of the data came across in a hurtful way, which I deeply regret."
His data were fine (they weren't), just that his explanation was hurtful.
The head of the DoJ's Civil Rights Division Voting Section's apologia comes in response to comments made on a video tape that, according to both AP and ABC, apparently created itself, reported itself, and then posted itself on YouTube.
In the statement they released yesterday from Howard Dean and Donna Brazile, calling for Tanner to be fired, they attributed the comments to FoxNews.com. Very thoughtful.
Luckily, we are so well off here at The BRAD BLOG, so flush with overflowing resources, as based on the world-wide MSM recognition of the credibility of our work, we don't need the DNC to recognize us for having handed them Tanner's head on a silver platter via our elbow grease at our own expense.
Rupert Murdoch, on the other hand, can use all the help he can get. If we're able to raise enough for this month's rent on our latest premium offer, we'll be sure to send whatever is left over to him. Happy DNC?
(Can you tell I'm rolling on little more than 3 hours' sleep today? Okay, done with my whining for tonight. Maybe.)
UPDATE:The Hill reports "CBC (Congressional Black Caucus) members pummel Department of Justice official" and NPR covers as well. They credit no one for the original reporting. Which is preferred to crediting "a Youtube video."
Here's NPR's coverage, with audio of some of the best Tanner spankings today (appx 4 mins)...
UPDATE: 10/31/07: PBS News Hour covered last night as well. And includes an appropriate attribution. In case it's not clear, the attribution is not because we need ego strokes or pats on the back. It's so that bad guys, in the future, are less able to say "Oh, that explosive report exposing us came from a blog, and we all know that blogs aren't credible." When said blog has been credited as credible by folks such as AP, ABC, and yes, even the DNC, it makes it much more difficult for those bad guys to duck accountability using the "just an Internet blog" defense.
Here's the PBS News Hour's coverage (thanks to Alan Breslauer!) from last night:
What is going on in Colorado? One has to wonder if the Colorado Secretary of State is truly looking out for the voters. On one hand Secretary Coffman sent a suspension letter to ES&S but on the other hand the Colorado Statesman points out that John Gardner is still employed in his old job, testing and certifying voting systems. Gardner’s lack of any experience with voting systems was one of the reasons that the court found that Colorado must test and recertify every system used in the state. Instead of being replaced by someone actually familiar with testing and certification of voting systems or other technical experience Gardner is still in his job.
As a check on Gardner the state has hired two consultants to look over his shoulder and review his work. The consultants are Paul Craft who has a degree in Restaurant and Hotel Management and who was, in part, responsible for the qualification of most of the failing voting systems used in the US at this time. He was on the NASED voting systems panel that rubber stamped the reports from the ITAs that were bought and paid for by the vendors. Also a consultant is Glenn Newkirk. Newkirk reviewed and approved many systems for different states. Included in his failures are the Advanced Voting Solutions voting machines that were recently found to have 1,946 anomalies in their source code. Neither consultant has met a vendors product he does not like. I ask again, “What is going on in Colorado?”
Links to that story, and the other notable voting news stories today, follow below...
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, issues a statement in response to today's extremely contentious subcommittee hearing with star-witness John "Minorities Die First" Tanner. We live-blogged the hearings here (now updated with videos!)
Conyers had said, at one point during the hearing in response to Tanner's "all is well" testimony: "I hope that you will take what is directed at you as constructive, because the one thing I am concerned about is that we stop having happen what has happened since the 2000 elections. And then you come here to stagger our imagination by telling us that 'it's never been better,' its never been worse!"
His post-hearing statement, which follows in full below, concludes notably: "We have clearly reached the point where the status quo is unacceptable."...
All criminal charges against Andrew "Don't Tase Me, Bro" Meyer have now been dropped in exchange for an apology from the 21-year old student. We guess he didn't "incite a riot" after all, as originally charged by the police [PDF] who tasered him.
Meyer, however, remains defiant, and stands by the line of questioning that got him tased (inappropriately, in our opinion) for asking three questions of Sen. John Kerry during a recent, now-infamous, event at the University of Florida (video here).
On his website today, now that he's out of hot water, Meyer posts a number of opinions including...
Tasers are bad: "Tasers are not 'non-lethal.' Since June 2001, more than 150 people in the United States have died after being struck by tasers. I do not believe a taser should have been used on me..."
Democracy is good: "We talk about fighting for democracy in Iraq. What about fighting for democracy at home? There is nothing more central to democracy than the right to vote, and while Americans are fighting and dying for democracy in Iraq, democracy in America is dying without a fight. America, our voting rights are being stolen from us..."
Our elections aren't fair: "Not only might your vote not count, but the "frontrunners" have already been decided for you. Why is anyone a "frontrunner" yet? No one has voted. ... The media, which is controlled by a few men, is deciding the agenda for the entire country..."
Forget about "Liberal" vs. "Conservative": "The United States have been divided. The country has been split into 'left vs. right,' 'Red state vs. Blue state,' 'CNN vs. FOX News.' This is all false division..."
Candidates on both sides are ignored: "The media has time all day to talk about Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan, but millions of Americans have never heard the names Mike Gravel or Ron Paul..."
Stolen Elections: "The will of the American people was subverted in both the 2000 and 2004 elections..."
Wake up, America: "[D]emocracy depends on a free and fair election. If we the people do not decide the elections, than we the people are not living in a democracy. The problems of 2000 and 2004 have not been fixed. In fact, they have been expanded..."
Love him or hate him, we can't say we disagree with any of Meyer's general points. And we won't be issuing an apology about that.
Also not issuing apologies: Kerry and the majority of the students at the event who sat by and took no action as Meyer screamed in pain while being inappropriately tased by six police officers.
The Florida Police, however, acted appropriately according to a Florida Police review of the Florida Police actions. So we guess everything is just hunky-dory.
We're up before the West Coast dawn this morning to monitor the hearings in the U.S. House Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties featuring John "Minorities Die First" Tanner. His recent objectionable comments were originally video-taped and reported by The BRAD BLOG several weeks ago.
The most objectionable of those comments including his contention that it was a "shame" that elderly voters might be disenfranchised by a 2005 Georgia Photo ID poll restriction that he approved on behalf of DoJ and against the advice of four out of five of his career staffers, minorities would somehow benefit from it. His twisted reasoning was that "because our society is such that minorities don't become elderly. The way white people do. They die first."
Tanner, incredibly, is still the Chief of the Voting Section in the DoJ's Civil Rights Division.
ES&S voting machines have failed over and over again in Guilford Co North Carolina and, not to break the string, they failed again during early voting over the weekend. Of course the county claims there were no lost votes but they removed all five machines from one early voting site and replaced them. Why does this county continue to use machines that have failed them over and over again? If the county election director is not willing to take action why are the voters not outraged and taking action? It is time to recall all of the substandard voting systems being used across the country. ...
Sorry for 'Hurtful Way Explanation of Data Came Across,' Does Not Recant Analysis That Minorities Somehow Benefit From Photo ID Restrictions at Polling Places Because They 'Die First' Before Becoming Elderly
Tanner to Meet Elderly Minority Congressman Conyers at Hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday Morning...
John Tanner, chief of the DoJ Civil Rights Division's Voting Unit, has not yet been fired. But he is sorry:
I want to apologize for the comments I made at the recent meeting of the National Latino Congreso about the impact of voter identification laws on elderly and minority voters. I understand that my explanation of the data came across in a hurtful way which I deeply regret. The reports of my comments do not in any way accurately reflect my career of devotion to enforcing federal laws designed to assure fair and equal access to the ballot. I am honored to have the opportunity to do this work, and I am honored to serve with the dedicated employees of the Voting Section who, day in and day out, work hard to protect the rights of all Americans under the Voting Rights Act.
The apology, sent last Friday, becomes public on the eve of his testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee tomorrow morning (Tuesday) at 10am ET, and just after the DNC joined many others early today in demanding he be "immediately fired." Tanner's sorry note was sent to a few folks just after Senator Barack Obama called on the Acting Attorney General to fire him. Several others have followed suit since.
Paul Kiel, who notes that "Tanner does not recant his analysis that voter ID laws actually discriminate against whites, but does apologize that his 'explanation of the data came across in a hurtful way,' has the scoop on the apology. It was sent to some of the attendees at the National Latino Congreso earlier this month where The BRAD BLOG video-taped and reported his objectionable, and incorrect, comments on restrictive Photo ID laws he's approved at the DoJ.
He had claimed such laws were just fine by him since, though they may disenfranchise some elderly voters, "minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."
In advance of tomorrow morning's House Judiciary Committee hearing to feature testimony by DoJ Civil Rights Division Voting Section chief John "Minorities Die First" Tanner, DNC Chair Howard Dean and Donna Brazile of the DNC Voting Rights Institute have issued a statement calling for Tanner to be "immediately fired."
"In their latest scheme, the Republican Administration has manipulated the mission of the Department of Justice, firing US Attorneys who were unwilling to pursue phony 'voter fraud' cases, and politicized the Civil Rights Division," the statement (posted in full at the end of this article) reads.
The release goes on to decry the politicization of the Bush Department of Justice, and what is described as their "outright assault" on the right to vote.
"Tanner's outrageous comments underscore the GOP's utter disregard for the integrity of our nation's election system and are an affront to the spirit of the Voting Rights Act," Dean and Brazile said, before declaring that the embattled Voting Rights Section chief "should be fired immediately and replaced with someone who will work to make sure that all citizens are able to vote and have their vote counted."
They call on Judge Michael Mukasey, if he is confirmed as the next Attorney General, to "commit to replacing Tanner with someone who will protect our rights, not ignore them for a partisan agenda."
As The BRAD BLOG recently reported, however, Mukasey made clear in his recent Senate Confirmation hearings that he does not object to restrictive polling place Photo ID laws which critics contend may disenfranchise anywhere from 10 to 30 million largely Democratic-leaning voters who do not have such ID.
Previously, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) have called for Tanner's firing. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) wrote Mukasey last week to ask if he will review the matter and consider the termination of Tanner.
Tanner's objectionable comments were made several weeks ago during a panel discussion on Photo ID issues at the National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles. Tanner, who approved a controversial Georgia Photo ID law on behalf of the DoJ against the advice of the majority of the career staffers in the Voting Rights section, admitted the law would disenfranchise some elderly voters and added that while that was a "shame," minorities would somehow be positively affected by such laws since "they don't become elderly. They die first."
(A short clip of Tanner's comments is posted at left.)
The Georgia ID law was later found unconstitutional and overturned by two federal courts that compared the restriction to a modern-day Jim Crow-era poll tax.
Paul Kiel at TPM Muck has a few more thoughts in advance of tomorrow's Judiciary Committee hearings.
Attention CBS 60 Minutes: we've got a huge scoop for you. If you want it.
Remember the exclusive story you aired on Sibel Edmonds, originally on October 27th, 2002, when she was not allowed to tell you everything that she heard while serving as an FBI translator after 9/11 because she was gagged by the rarely-invoked "States Secret Privilege"? Well, she's still gagged. In fact, as the ACLU first described her, she's "the most gagged person in the history of the United States of America."
But if you'll sit down and talk with her for an unedited interview, she has now told The BRAD BLOG during an exclusive interview, she will now tell you everything she knows.
Everything she hasn't been allowed to tell since 2002, about the criminal penetration of the FBI where she worked, and at the Departments of State and Defense; everything she heard concerning the corruption and illegal activities of several well-known members of Congress; everything she's aware of concerning information omitted and/or covered up in relation to 9/11. All of the information gleaned from her time listening to and translating wire-taps made prior to 9/11 at the FBI.
Here's a handy bullet-point list, as we ran it in March of 2006, for reference, of what she's now willing to tell you about.
"People say, 'why doesn't she just come forward and spill the beans?' I have gone all the way to the Supreme Court and was shut down, I went to Congress and now consider that shut down," she told The BRAD BLOG last week when we spoke with her for comments in relation to our story on former House Speaker Dennis Hastert's original attempt to move a resolution through the U.S. House in 2000 declaring the 1915 massacre of 1.5 million ethnic Armenians in Turkey as "genocide."
"Here's my promise to the American Public: If anyone of the major networks --- ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, FOX --- promise to air the entire segment, without editing, I promise to tell them everything that I know," about everything mentioned above, she told us.
"I can tell the American public exactly what it is, and what it is that they are covering up," she continued. "I'm not compromising ongoing investigations," Edmonds explained, because "they've all been shut down since."
The Colorado SoS has issued a letter to ES&S to inform them that state certification testing of their voting machines has been suspended due to a lack of concern and inaction taken by the vendor. In that letter the Secretary accused the vendor of “changing project managers multiple times since April, providing incorrect programming of required databases for testing, providing incorrect ballots for testing, failing to provide required documentation of Federal testing, and test failures requiring extensive machine servicing”. Meanwhile election officials in Mesa Co Colorado have decided that they will just ignore what is happening at the state level and they are going to buy more machines from ES&S for another $500,000. What are these people thinking? Where is the outrage from the citizens whose money is being wasted by these same election officials? Rather than buy more products from this company that is arrogant beyond belief they should be taking ES&S to court to get back the original $2.7M they spent....