After an amazingly encouraging week or two, we head into the July 4th weekend with a whole bunch of stuff we've been trying to clear off our desk. Plus: Lots of breaking news and an encouraging ending for the weekend...
Voter registration is the subject of today’s three “Featured” articles. First, nine Senators have introduced S-3308 to require the Department of Veteran Affairs to help veterans to register to vote. We welcome this new legislation but it may be too little too late. Also, voting rights groups have accused Louisiana, Michigan, and Kansas of violations of the National Voting Rights Act (NVRA) by removing legally registered voters from the rolls. It is imperative that every voter in these states, especially, check to ensure their registration is still good. And, voting rights advocates have also filed suit in New Mexico state court over the state’s harshly restrictive voter registration law. ...
Ohio Attorney Cliff Arnebeck, who notified Attorney General Mukasey yesterday about threats made by Karl Rove against the GOP's high-tech guru, Mike Connell, as we reported last night, will join Peter B. Collins and me during my weekly Friday 5pm PT appearance on PBC's syndicated radio show.
You'll be able to listen online at www.PeterBCollins.com if his show is not aired in your town. And you may call in with questions and comments for Arnebeck or myself at 888-5-PeterB (or post them here, and I'll try to ask them). Hope you'll tune in!
POST-SHOW UPDATE: Arnebeck joined us for the first half-hour of the show and dropped a few interesting details during our discussion. Among them: 1) Bush can't pardon someone convicted under a civil RICO case, which is what Arnebeck is compiling. (Also, can't remember if it came up during the interview, but as some have suggested that Rove simply invoke Executive Privilege to avoid being deposed in this case, Exec Privilege does not come into play in such a case. It only refers to Congressional testimony.) 2) Connell had agreed to meet with the House Judiciary Comm. several months ago, but so far Judiciary hasn't followed up. 3) Arnebeck makes a tantalizing reference to the finding in the Paula Jones case that sitting Presidents may be deposed in civil cases. More detail on those points and others in the audio interview. Download MP3 or listen online here...
We were up not long after dawn on this coast to catch the hearings in full and have been able to follow them with the exception of one hour when we had a radio commitment. In any case, it's still-ongoing, and well worth the watch on C-SPAN 1, for a change. If you can't get to a TV, you can catch it online here. I suspect we'll have more on it later today, as time allows. For those of you watching, feel free to "open thread" your thoughts on it here.
UPDATE 1:15pm PT: Phew. The six-hour session just concluded with Conyers stating that these were "the most important hearings we've held in the Judiciary in this session of Congress." We concur, but are thus left wondering what took 'em so long. As mentioned, hopefully more later on today's sobering and historic hearings (if we can overcome our sore wrist).
All six hours will be re-aired in full tonight (Friday) on C-SPAN beginning at 8pm ET.
In today’s featured article Bo Lipari of New Yorkers For Verified Voting opens, “It’s become obvious that New York State’s new voting systems will not be able to complete New York State certification testing in time for the scheduled 2009 rollout. The state sets the highest bar in the nation for approval of voting machines, one that vendors have never been required to meet before. Their performance in New York demonstrates that they are a long, long way from understanding that the public will not stand for poorly designed, badly tested and outrageously overpriced equipment, and a business philosophy of let the customer be damned.”...
Karl Rove has threatened a GOP high-tech guru and his wife, if he does not "'take the fall' for election fraud in Ohio," according to a letter sent this morning to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, by Ohio election attorney Cliff Arnebeck.
The email, posted in full below, details threats against Mike Connell of the Republican firm New Media Communications, which describes itself on its website as "a powerhouse in the field of Republican website development and Internet services" and having "played a strategic role in helping the GOP expand its technological supremacy."
Connell was described in a recent interview with the plaintiff's attorneys in Ohio as a "high IQ Forrest Gump" for his appearance "at the scene of every [GOP] crime" from Florida 2000 to Ohio 2004 to the RNC email system to the installation of the currently-used Congressional computer network firewall.
Connell and his firm are currently employed by the John McCain campaign, as well as the RNC and other Republican and so-called "faith-based" organizations.
In a phone call this afternoon, Arnebeck could not publicly reveal specific details of the information that triggered his concern about the threats to Connell. The message to the IT man from Rove is said to have been sent via a go-between in Ohio. That information led Arnebeck to contact Mukasey after he found the reports to be credible and troubling.
"If there's a credible threat, which I regard this to be," he told The BRAD BLOG, "I have a professional duty to report it."
Attempts to reach Connell for comment late this afternoon were not successful.
The motion was made following the discovery of new information, including details from a Republican data security expert, leading Arnebeck towards seeking depositions of Rove, Connell, and other GOP operatives believed to have participated in the gaming of election results in 2004. A letter [PDF] was sent to Mukasey at the same time last week, asking him to retain email and other documents from Rove...
As we broke earlier this week, after previous snubs and threats of subpoenas, Ohio's disgracefully-partisan former Sec. of State J. Kenneth Blackwell was finally set to testify to the House Judiciary Committee today (as well as another legendary GOP vote suppressor, former FEC chair and DoJ Voting Rights Division gamer, Hans von Spakovsky.)
After a late start, and a then a blackout of the Judiciary Committee's webcast feed just after Blackwell began his opening statement ("Thank you Mr. Chairman..." and then suddenly the feed went out), things picked up again during the opening statement of GOP propagandist/attorney Cleta Mitchell who went on and on about the same old nonsense concerning "voter fraud" via voter registration applications submitted by ACORN, the GOP's old "voter fraud" strawman...
I have spoken many times in this space about voter registration. People ask where they can go to check their registration or what is the final day for registration in their state. VotersUnite has now provided a data base that tells the voter the final date to register to vote before the general election and who to call to ensure you are still registered. We have also provided information on who to call to find your polling site and some other useful information HERE...
Ed Note: The following request comes from Matthew Segal, who formed the Student Association for Voter Empowerment (SAVE) following his experience voting as a student at Kenyon College in Ohio in 2004 where the last vote was not cast until after 2am on Election Night. Please take the time to read it, and use the opportunity to get some tough questions directly to the folks who will be on his panel this week! - BF
The U.S. House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties will be holding a hearing this Thursday on "Lessons Learned from the 2004 Presidential Election."
Though no press release has yet been sent out by the Committee, and the link to the hearing's page at the Judiciary website is currently broken, The BRAD BLOG has both good news and bad news to report here.
The good news: Ohio's former Sec. of State J. Kenneth Blackwell has been invited to testify and has confirmed that he will actually show up this time, according to several Judiciary sources. Blackwell had previously snubbed the committee's earlier invitation to testify back in February about the myriad crimes that were committed on and by his watch in the 2004 Presidential Election.
Following his last refusal to appear --- when he responded to the committee claiming "my schedule will not permit me to attend the hearings" --- Judiciary Committee spokesperson Jonathon Godfrey hinted that a subpoena might be forthcoming if Blackwell continued to refuse to appear. This time, at least as of today, it looks like he's coming, according to confirmation by Godfrey this afternoon. Thus guaranteeing what should be a very lively hearing.
More good news: Shameless GOP "voter fraud" zealot and disgraced former FEC chair Hans Von Spakovsky will also be appearing. By invitation of the Republicans on the committee, amusingly enough. What were they thinking in inviting this embarrassment? Beats us, but we're happy to hear he'll be back on the Congressional hot seat. Thanks Repubs!
“It seems incomprehensible for me that VA does not want to assist veterans to register. It is despicable,” said Jim Dickson, vice-president of American Association of Persons with Disabilities (AAPD). “I am trying hard to not express how angry I am.” On this I will agree 100% with Dickson. Also in our featured articles several Senators have stepped up in support of our veterans as they have introduced a bill to require the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to do the right thing. One of those Senators, Patty Murry (D-WA), said, "The right to vote is at the very heart of the democracy that our nation's veterans have fought so hard to protect,” Senator Murray said. “The VA knows first-hand how much our veterans have sacrificed and should make every attempt to make voting easier – not harder – for them. This legislation breaks down barriers to voting for our veterans and helps keep our commitment to protect the rights of those who have fought for us."...
Does anything that George W. Bush and John McCain say matter? Based on this colloquy between Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow on "Countdown" last night, apparently not:
OLBERMANN: ...The Iraqi government is saying, “Get out,” and President Bush swore, you know, “Some day if they say ‘get out,‘ we‘ll get out.”
MADDOW: That‘s right. May 2007 in the Rose Garden, Bush said—and I went back and checked the quote directly so I could be sure to directly quote him — “If they were to say leave, we would leave.” Also, for what it‘s worth, in April of 2004, John McCain at the Council on Foreign Relations said, “It is obvious we would have to leave if they asked to us leave.”
I mean, they told us that the point of invading Iraq was to topple Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein was toppled; they told us that the point of staying there after, was to set up a sovereign Iraqi government. Well now, the sovereign Iraqi government is standing up on its hind legs enough to tell us to leave, and we‘re left with this situation where they need another explanation of why we can‘t leave. That‘s the real headline here.
'Whether He's Pulling the Gun or Not...He's the Guy Who Made the Gun,' Allege Buckeye Lawyers About Man Said to Have Been Behind Florida 2000, Ohio 2004, RNC Emails, Congressional Computer Networks, & More...
Last week Ohio Attorney Cliff Arnebeck held a press conference in Columbus to announce his motion to lift the stay on the long-running King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell lawsuit in which massive improprieties, irregularities, and violations of the Voting Rights Act are alleged to have taken place in the 2004 Presidential Election in Ohio.
In the wake of the failure by the Buckeye State's Attorney General to properly investigate the allegations, and new evidence and testimony unearthed by Arnebeck and other private investigators, he is now asking that the stay on the lawsuit be lifted by the court in order to refocus the case and depose Karl Rove, and a number of other top GOP operatives believed to be involved in manipulating the results of the '04 election.
One of those operatives is Republican tech-guru Mike Connell.
Steve Heller covered last week's press conference for us, which featured comments from data security expert Stephen Spoonamore alleging fraud in the '04 election and Arnebeck's assertion that he believes "Rove will be identified as having engaged in a corrupt, ongoing pattern of corrupt activities specifically affecting the situation here in Ohio."
After last week's presser, Velvet Revolution's Brett Kimberlin sat down to follow up with Arnebeck and attorney/investigative journalist Bob Fitrakis, who participated in both the original '04 election lawsuits and has reported in detail on the related matters continuously since then at the Columbus Free Press.
In the video-taped interview, posted at right (appx. 10 mins), the two attorneys focus specifically on their concerns about GOP operative/IT specialist Connell, who, they allege, has been found to have been "at the scene of the crime" for numerous questionable elections since 2000. Connell's firm was also responsible for creating the RNC email systems used by Karl Rove and others. He is also said to have installed the existing Congressional computer networks for high-security House and Senate committees such as Judiciary and Intelligence.
The complete text transcript of the interview follows below...
Transcript of the 7/17/2008 VelvetRevolution.us Interview
with Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis
VELVET REVOLUTION: Cliff and Bob you just had a press conference, talking about the next steps you are going to take in litigation. It looks like you're looking for discovery to understand the facts behind what happened in 2004 and make sure this doesn't happen in 2008. Can you give us an idea of the kinds of people or the names of people that you intend to target?
CLIFF ARNEBECK: At the very top of the list is probably Mike Connell. For the same reason that Spoonamore is so valuable to us as a witness, Connell has a breadth of perspective in this stuff and when Connell, with his politics and his position, identifies Triad and the Rapp family as an area, as a point of vulnerability - Well, we're saying, if Connell makes the same observation --which we think he will because if you look at this objectively, it makes no sense. Here's a guy, he's a mathematician or an engineer or whatever; we anticipate he is going to say "Yeah, that looks odd."
So Connell's an important witness and because we're talking about a conspiracy, one of the problems is you say 'where's the coordination, where's the communication?' --- Here's one individual who's been part of all the elements of the things that we think are problematic.
BOB FITRAKIS: He's a high IQ Forrest Gump. It's like everything important --- 2000 election Florida; 2004 Ohio; firewall in Congress --- he happens to show up and be the builder of these [im]penetrable forces and also may know who has the key to get in.
VR: So he's at the scene of the crime... whether he's pulling the gun or not.
FITRAKIS: Every single crime --- Well even more than that. He's the guy who made the gun.
“I’m concerned about the weak spots,” said Rosemary E. Rodriguez, the chairwoman of the United States Election Assistance Commission, which oversees voting. “So much depends on whether there will be enough poll workers, whether they are trained enough and whether their state and county election directors give them contingency plans and resources to handle the unexpected.” That is, in our opinion, an understatement. Today’s featured article goes on to tell a bit more of the story. Eleven states will use new voting systems this year, as compared to 2004, moving from DREs to paper based systems. One more item can be added to what are most certainly concerns of the EAC and that is discussed in our second featured article. The Brennan Center has produced another excellent paper. This time it is about ballot design; the issue that gave us the infamous “butterfly ballot” and the recent “Double Bubble Trouble” from Los Angeles Co. By all reports voter registration is way up this year. Turnout will be huge and problems are going to be rampant unless election officials are prepared and they have plenty of volunteers....
Arizona's election watchdog group, Audit AZ, went to the state Attorney General in its efforts to learn the truth about Pima County's 2006 RTA (Regional Transportation Authority) election. Attorney Bill Risner handed Arizona AG Terry Goddard a letter detailing the evidence suggesting that the RTA election was flipped. The clearly written letter is accompanied by dozens of documents as well as video links to depositions and testimony from the 2007 court case Risner won for the Pima County Democratic Party. As a result of that case, every political party in the county has access to Diebold's database files, recording how voters voted, from previous and future elections.
In May, 2007, on the heels of questions about the results of the '06 RTA election following polls and previous elections in which similar initiatives were rejected by voters, the Arizona Attorney General's office launched a criminal investigation into the RTA election. The software quality assurance firm, iBeta, was given computer databases to look over which indicated the vote counting might have been tampered with. Though iBeta saw instances of possible tampering, it decided they were simply the result of "human error." Using tortured logic, iBeta said the signs of possible tampering were evidence that there was actually no tampering, since anyone who knew how to manipulate the data would also know how to cover their computer tracks and leave no evidence behind.
Risner's letter explains how the direction of the AG's investigation was, incredibly, set by the suspects themselves, members of the Pima County Elections Division. Those officials, Risner details, purposely turned the investigation away from the very evidence which could have proven their guilt in manipulating the results.
Those very same officials are named in a startling new affidavit from a former county employee who recently came forward to allege he was told by a Pima County election official that they had "fixed" the RTA election...