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'Progress' v. 'Revolution': Bernie and Hillary's Lively NH Debate: 'BradCast' 2/5/16
Coverage and analysis with KY civil rights attorney Joe Dunman and Crooks and Liars' Managing Editor Karoli Kuns...
Black Box Voting's Bev Harris on Iowa Caucus Mess, NH Concerns: 'BradCast' 2/4/16
ALSO: 'Hero of Democracy' Tom Courbat, In Memoriam...
'Green News Report' 2/4/16
  w/ Brad & Desi
Dems keep pushing climate action, Repubs keep ignoring it; FL mayors slam Rubio on sea level rise; CA AG files suit over massive gas leak; PLUS: FBI launches Flint probe...
Previous GNRs: 2/2/16 - 1/28/16 - Archives...
FL Mayors Slam Rubio on Climate Flip-Flop; Cruz Accused of 'Fraud' in IA: 'BradCast' 2/3/16
Rising ire, rising tides. Mayor Cindy Lerner of Pinecrest, FL joins us...
What the Hell Just Happened in Iowa?!: 'BradCast' 2/2/16
Concerned about missing votes, coin tosses, videos suggesting fraud? Caucus expert Prof. David P. Redlawsk explains it all (and more) for you...and me...
'Green News Report' 2/2/16
Cruz promises to kill all energy subsidies; Rubio was for climate action, before against it; Crashing oil prices blow hole in NC budget; PLUS: Bad and good news in CA...
Sanders on the 'Edge'? Really, NY Times?: 'BradCast' 2/1/16
Jim Naureckas of FAIR on corporate media's false balance; Plus: More Dem debates; Trump's Iowa faux pas; Leaker Petraeus gets another pass...
Sunday Toons of the Hawkeye State Moment
Documenting the moments before the Iowa Caucuses via PDiddie's weekly collection of political toons...
Microsoft's App at the Iowa Caucuses: 'BradCast' 1/28/16
Also, the latest on the Oregon 'Patriot' standoff with independent journalist Arun Gupta...
'Green News Report' 1/28/16
Dems focus on climate, energy in IA; FL mayors smack Rubio on climate; Flint stuck with bad pipes, water; Poor bear brunt of pollution; PLUS: Victory for coal miners...
Ernie on Bernie: 'BradCast' 1/27/16
BRAD BLOG legal analyst turned Vets for Bernie advisor Ernest A. Canning on Sanders' electability and much more; PLUS: New OR standoff news, GOP/Dem debate controversies, listener calls!...
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
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'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

By Brad Friedman on 10/27/2004 12:40pm PT  

I had been planning to cover this a bit, but it looks like New Donkey has taken care of some of it for me:

The GOP's November Surprise
I should have known when George Will started writing columns about the dastardly threat of voter fraud that something big was in the works. And sure enough, the conservative media echo chamber is now vibrating from a cacophany of warnings that Democrats are trying to steal the presidential election by fradulently registering ineligible voters.

What's happening here is an effort to soften up the news media and the public for a truly audacious, and perhaps even desperate, gambit by the Republican Party that appears to be planned for election day: wholesale challenges to minority voters in battleground states in an effort to either (1) intimidate or demoralize likely Democratic voters, or (2) lay the groundwork for one of those Bush-v.-Gore-enabled retroactive legal actions aimed at reversing an adverse result. More likely, the aim is (3) both.

Read the article for more specifics.

As I've mentioned here previously, when the GOP starts charging something about Democrats (e.g. "They're trying to scare voters!", "They're intolerant of free speech!", etc.), it's a virtual guarantee that it's something they are either currently doing or plan to do themselves. For years now, they've honed this pre-emptive attack on others for what they are actually doing themselves to an art form. Will the media and the voters be smart enough to recognize that this time around?

(Hat tip Bryan for the link!)

By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2004 11:27pm PT  

Just a quick note to mention that the BRAD BLOG has been steadily gaining traffic over the last month or two due to so many of you spreading the good word and staying involved.

Yesterday we had just under 10,000 unique visitors stop by. More importantly though, 2,500 of you were return visitors which is really most important to me. Whatever brought you here, many of you decided to come back again, and that's truly appreciated.

As I mentioned to our friend Henry in comments yesterday, never "mis-underestimate" the power of one. Please keep that in mind as Election Day nears. Get to work, spread the word, volunteer to knock on doors or help keep them honest on Election Day or just work the phones from home if that's more convenient. But do something.

To quote this year's savior of the Democratic Party: "You have the power!...You have the power!...You have the power!..."

He was right. I know this for a fact. So please, go use it! service of George W. Bush.
White House Uses Website to Campaign, In Violation of the Rule of Law...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2004 11:08pm PT  

While it may not be "breaking news", still I never fail to grow more amazed each day at the ever lowering depths of stark and cynical politicization of this George W. Bush administration.

While I'm not old enough to have contemporaneously tracked the troubling goings-on of the Nixon administration, I must say that from what I've been able to glean over the years about them, they just don't seem to hold a candle to the slick and orchestrated campaign of top-to-bottom politicization of virtually every facet of the current administration.

Sure both Clinton and Reagan were political champs, but they just didn't seem to have the fixation on the politicization of every nook and cranny of their administration in the way the Dubya team seems have accomplished during their catastrophic failure.

As I've been dealing with various issues related to the political scrubbing and/or white-washing and/or flagrantly partisan use of the White House website over the past couple of weeks, I've come across various bits and pieces, and have received various tips from readers on all sorts of questionable and/or deceptive and/or partisan and/or downright ugly uses of Bush administration-run facilities on their portion of the tax-payer funded "Internets".

By way of just a few examples, the White House's website is one of the top destinations on all of the Internets, as it offers a treasure trove of historical and educational information, including a section specifically tailored for children. (NOTE FOR THOSE OF YOU IN BLINDFOLD LAND: We're talking about the publicly funded site now, a different animal all together than the appropriately partisan campaign site!)

Yet take a look at the screenshot on the right taken from the front page of today. There's your tax dollars at work. A historical report concluding that "President George W. Bush's first term has been among the most consequential and successful in modern times."

I'll grant them "most consequential", but "most successful in modern times"?

Clicking on the link to their "special report" called "President George W. Bush: Record of Achievement", I found that my tax dollars are being used to inform me that...

President Bush...has signed one of the most sweeping arms reduction pacts in history. [ed: That's right, go read about it yourself in Chapter 3: "Promoting Peace and Democracy - and Acts of Mercy"]

President Bush...has signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act, the most important Federal education reform in history.

President Bush has strongly advocated...environmental standards that are making America's water and air cleaner.

He has made civility a touchstone of his rhetoric.

Such times demand a leader of clear convictions and determination, hope and vision, integrity and the courage to act. These qualities are the hallmarks of the Bush Presidency.

President George W. Bush put forward a historically ambitious agenda and restored dignity to the office he holds...The United States is safer and stronger, more resilient and better for his efforts.

And all of that is just on the first page of the full 19 Chapter "report"!

Meanwhile, lest we forget the children, the "Kids" section of informs the impressionable tykes that "President Bush has pledged to work in a bipartisan spirit, which means he plans to work with both Republicans and Democrats in Congress." Perhaps those plans got set aside.

In another example of rank partisanship at work on the official website, a reader (Vic) pointed out that there is a page devoted to a short biography of each American President. And right in the middle of the text of each one of those, they've been kind enough to offer the reader a convenient set of "Related links" (See screenshot at left for the " related links" to Abraham Lincoln, for example.)

The bio pages for each of the 43 former (or soon-to-be former) Presidents have that same set of "related" links dropped squarely into the middle of every historic Presidential biography.

As the reader who sent the tip noted, we might give the benefit of the doubt and overlook the links to the current President and Vice-President perhaps --- but links to their wives as well?!

To be fair, we've only had two administrations so far that have even had websites. So I wondered if perhaps Bill Clinton's website was similarly as unabashedly partisan and politicized as George W. Bush's.

I jumped over to the National Archives, where they have all five versions of Clinton's website archived, versioned, indexed and frozen for posterity as the historical documents that such websites are --- according to the "rule of law" anyway, for those of you out there who still care about such antiquated notions.

I looked mostly at the fifth and final version of the Clinton website, since it would have been in play during the 2000 Elections and most comparable to Bush's current site. While I found documents that discussed various positive Clinton achievements, I just didn't come across the sort of wildly unabashed campaign rhetoric that the current White House site offers readers in spades.

One enlightening, though admittedly anecdotal measure of the differences in the two administrations is revealed by comparing each administration's former (and soon-to-former) historical bio pages of past Presidents.

There are no " related links" to Clinton, Gore and their respective wives in the middle of the Clinton versions of those pages. Though there is a link on each page to a bio for each respective President's wife on the Clinton version. The direct links to the First Ladies (other than Laura Bush, of course, who is on every page) is removed on the Bush version. Instead, the Bush site, as did the Clinton site, offers a section specifically dedicated to historical First Lady bios.

More telling, however, is the direct comparison of the biographical essays for each President. I compared each site's version for LBJ through "present".

But for a short "FUN FACT" removed from the top of each of the Clinton site's Bio pages, it looks like the Bush Administration retained the exact same texts from the Clinton years for almost every President. That says something, I'd think, of the fair and balanced treatment that the Clinton team gave to former Presidents.

All of the Clinton essays seemed to be mostly even and non-partisan essays. An observation further borne out, I'd suggest, by the fact that even the Clinton team's version of Dubya's dad, Bush 41, remains completely unchanged on Dubya's version for his own dad through all four years of his term.

So Bush 43 found no reason to change the essay that Clinton had created for Bush 41, but --- as you might guess --- they did change the text for the Clinton bio when they took over the sandbox. Appropriately, they added information that hadn't been there previously about impeachment, but many Clinton achievements were simply excised entirely. Phrases such as "he outlined a bold strategy to lift the economy through increased public and private investment while cutting $500 billion from the Federal deficit" were removed. While other descriptive phrases like "After the failure in his second year of a huge program of health care reform" were added by Team Bush.

You can compare other differences for yourself.

While all of this is not necessarily earth-shaking --- as I said, "not breaking news" --- I do find it interesting, instructive and indicative of the politicized posture the current Administration has had from Day 1 of their "Presidency" in virtually every area, large to small.

The only other differences in Presidential essays that I noticed between the two sites is the entirely lopped off final paragraph from Clinton's version of the Jimmy Carter bio. The short excised paragraph at the end which spoke of Carter's achievements after leaving the White House, such as his founding of "the nonprofit Carter Center in Atlanta to promote peace and human rights worldwide" was simply gone.

Perhaps the Bush White House decided that post-Presidential activities were a can of worms they preferred better left unopened.

Some day, if I find the stomach for it, perhaps I'll compare the First Lady bios from the Clinton and Bush sites. Though I have a feeling it's not gonna be pretty.

UPDATE 10/29/04: BRAD BLOG SUCCESS! WH restores Audio/Video! Though much still missing...

By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2004 9:48am PT  

Advice for our Right Wing Readers
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2004 9:44am PT  

A helpful note to our Wingnut Readers: Before you race to your blogs in a panic to parrot the misleading Drudge/NBCNews story which tries to suggest that the 380 TONS of missing high explosives from al Qaqaa were missing before we ever got there....Before you hit the comments button here and re-type what Rush is lying to you about this morning...For once, try to educate yourself and understand the facts of the story first so you don't embarrass yourself again, and waste everybody's time. Josh Marshall --- a very good and professional reporter --- can help you avoid that mistake again. But you'll have to read him first. Please do.

Thank you.

Who do you suppose he's voting for this year?
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2004 11:42pm PT  

Gave me the smile I needed tonight.
via Angry Finger who titled it "Biggest. Kerry. Fan. Ever" :-)

By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2004 10:31pm PT  

The Washington Post is reporting this in tomorrow's paper:

The Bush administration intends to seek about $70 billion in emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan early next year, pushing total war costs close to $225 billion since the invasion of Iraq early last year, Pentagon and congressional officials said yesterday.

Now go watch Bush not answer Charlie Gibson's direct question about precisely that on tomorrow's GMA interview (I've seen the preview).

Letters intended for miss their target!
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2004 8:54pm PT, a very funny parody website, has just discovered the misaddressed email they've been receiving in their "catch-all" mailbox intended for addresses of Peruse the "dead letters" from GOP operatives! Share your favorite finds in comments here (and give Mary Matlin a phonecall with our best regards while you're there!)

Can't these guys get anything right?

It keeps going...and going...and going...
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2004 6:20pm PT  

"Pacific John" at DKos has info on the now vanished "Countries Where al Qaeda Has Operated" from a State Dept. website report on a "very embarrassing Nov 10, 2001 State Dept. Report" on "Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda".

I've found other missing material from the State Dept. website, but haven't had time yet to report it in detail, unfortunately. Glad they're picking up the ball at Daily Kos!

(Thanks to tipster Brad J. for this one!)

UPDATE 10/29/04: BRAD BLOG SUCCESS! WH restores Audio/Video! Though much still missing...

Who can keep up?
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2004 6:06pm PT  

While I've gotten sidelined a bit on the "Shrub Scrub" story, other all-new all-more-incredible failures of this administration have been hitting the wires. Most notably the 380 tons of explosive material that went unsecured and now missing from Al-Qaqaa after the U.S. capture of Iraq.

Apparently the latest White House / Wingnut line is that this is no big deal, and we don't even really know for sure when these 380 tons of explosives(!) went missing.

Josh Marshall, who's all over this one, shows that not only has the Administration known about this for over a year (only of actual concern to the White House now that the media has reported the story) but contrary to the denials of the Bush Dead Enders, the explosives which the U.N. and the IAEA both notified the U.S. about before the war was indeed found to be there, according to AP after we invaded Iraq:

At the Pentagon, an official who monitors developments in Iraq said US-led coalition troops had searched Al-Qaqaa in the immediate aftermath of the March 2003 invasion and confirmed that the explosives, which had been under IAEA seal since 1991, were intact. Thereafter the site was not secured by U.S. forces, the official said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

So it was there, and we didn't secure it, and now the White House is stuck in another lie, fib, mislead, failure, disaster...whatever you wish to call it.

The extraordinary thing at this point seems to be that the sheer unprecedented number of failures for a single administration may, in the end, help them cover up all of them! From 9/11 to WMD's to Abu Ghraib to Increases in Terrorism to 9/11 Commission failures to Backdoor Drafts to deadly Flu Vaccine mishaps to Website Scrubbing to Job Losses to Increases in Poverty Rates to Decreases in the number of Insured to rises in Health Costs to Rising Death Tolls to Unsecured Munitions Sites to Insufficient Forces on the Ground to Osama bin Laden both running and hiding...and on and on...Who can keep up with it all?

I suspect, as when America simply became turned off to endless silly (and unproven) allegations of scandal during the Clinton Administration, it's likely America may end up viewing actual disastrous policy failures-- most of which have made America less safe and certainly less better off than we were four years ago --- as more than they are able to process. I know I can hardly process it all anymore, and I'm paying attention!

Will Bush's endless failures turn out to be his trump card in the end? It's amazing to ponder that this may be the very thing that Bush and Co. now have to hang their hat on!

"Bush/Cheney '04: Who Understands Disaster Better Than Us?!"

(Shrub Scrub? HTML-File-Gate?)
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2004 2:09pm PT  

· 10/06/04: WH Scrubs Coalition List from Website...
· 10/17/04: WH caught red-handed trying to cover tracks...
· 10/18/04: Bush's "not that concerned" about bin Laden Audio/Video goes missing...
· 10/21/04: More embarrassing Audio/Video files found missing from site...
· 10/22/04: 'Vanished Coalition List' story hits AFP news wires...
· 10/24/04: Scrubbed files in violation of "Presidential Records Act"...
· 10/25/04: Washington Post gets in game, covers Scrub story twice in one day...
· 10/25/04: State Dept. website scrubbed as well!...
· 10/26/04: WH uses website to campaign for Prez!...
· 10/29/04: SUCCESS! WH restores Audio/Video! Though much still missing...
· 1/21/05 (Yes, '05!): Reuters Reports: "White House Scraps 'Coalition of the Willing' List" (What took ya so long?!)
· 9/15/07: White House Still Lying About Coalition in Iraq After All These Years...
· 12/5/08: Altered White House Iraq War Docs "Discovered" by University Professor...More Than Four Years After The BRAD BLOG Originally Reported Same

And the White House lies about it again.
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2004 1:08pm PT  

Looks like I can back off a bit, for the moment, on my criticism of the print media (if not the broadcast media) as The Washington Post today has finally picked up the "White House Website Scrub" story in two different pieces. (Unlike the wire report on AFP/Yahoo, both WaPo stories were kind enough to give credit to yours truly for breaking the story.)

Helen Dewar and Brian Faler cover the story on page 6 of today's paper here. And then Dan Froomkin's "White House Briefing" follows up a bit on that report here.

Since Froomkin's column does not get archived on the WaPo site (I don't think) and since a few minor corrections should be made to his report, I'll run it here in it's entirety:

"White House Briefing"
Dan Froomkin - Monday, Oct 25, 2004; 12:22 PM
The Washinton Post

Missing from the Web

Is the White House scrubbing its Web site?

Helen Dewar and Brian Faler write in The Washington Post about the mystery of the disappearing Coalition of the Willing --- and more.

"Blogger Brad Friedman, who noticed the disappearance, believes this is part of a widespread 'scrubbing' of documents on the government site. Gone are links to the audio and video of President Bush's statement that 'I'm not that concerned' about Osama bin Laden, a Q&A when Bush said 'misunderestimate' and Bush's acknowledgment that his decision making on stem cell policy was 'unusually deliberative for my administration.'

"Jimmy Orr, who handles the content for the White House site, said nothing nefarious was intended. 'We have some 80,000 pages and 3,000 video and audio links,' he said. 'When we republish pages and move files, some links are bound to go down, and there are bound to be dead pages.' "

For the record, the March 2001 press conference where Bush first said "misunderestimate" is in fact on the site; the transcript just says "mis-understimate" instead. Using Google, I found another version of the coalition list on the Web servers, for those of you who are curious. And the July 2001 press conference where Bush spoke about his unusual deliberation is in fact also on line. But the other stuff is indeed missing.

Indeed, as Froomkin reports, the audio from the "March 2002 press conference" where Bush used "misunderestimate" is now back online. It was not there when we originally reported that part of the story a few days ago. But as the other WaPo piece on this today from Dewar and Faler report, James Orr, head of content for the White House website claims that staffers are now "'clicking on every single audio and video link on our site' to make sure they work. So that could be one of the pages where they've now restored the previously missing audio.

In regards to the other version of the coalition list Froomkin was able to find by searching Google, as we reported old versions of the coalition list could be found via searching, but that the latest coalition list, the version linked to their actively updated "RENEWAL IN IRAQ: the Coalition" special report was expressly removed from that report just after Dick Cheney blasted John Edwards in the Veep Debate for being "dead wrong" for not counting Iraqi casualties as part of the coalition. That issue is explained, with before and after screenshots here.

Finally, the transcript for the "July 2001 press conference" where Bush spoke about being "unusually deliberative for my administration" on Stem Cell research was always available online, as my report on that indicated at the time. It was only the Audio and Video from the press conference that was not --- and is still not, as of this post --- available online. The links to them are there, but the content is unavailable.

Nonetheless, those are minor issues and I'm glad to see the media picking up on this story at all. I hope they will also look into the issues of possible criminal violations by the White House of the Presidential Records Act that I reported on last night.

Most importantly, I hope the media keep pressing the White House on all of this since their ridiculous cover story (now given by Orr to both AFP and WaPo) has been pretty pathetic. As the Dewar and Faler story reported in it's final graf...

As for the Coalition of the Willing? "This coalition list was dated and inaccurate," Orr said. He said another will be posted "as soon as we get a new one" --- without countries such as Costa Rica, which last month asked to be removed from the list.

So Orr is suggesting here that it takes over a month to remove a single line of text from an HTML web page?! Yet they were able to both delete the original page --- a list which never contained the country of Iraq, as Cheney suggested --- and remove the graphic link to that list from their special report on Iraq just a day or two after we first reported on it? But they can't seem to provide a list of coaltion countries during a time of war and in the middle of a Presidential campaign?

If you believe that, you probably also believe that "freedom is on the march" in Falluja.

These guys are incredible, and will say anything to cover their asses for what is clearly a cynical and corrupt, and likely illegal (remember that "rule of law" that used to matter?) use of the historical record on the publically funded White House website. Sadly, it's all merely demonstrative of the way everything in this administration seems to be handled.

UPDATE 10/29/04: BRAD BLOG SUCCESS! WH restores Audio/Video! Though much still missing...

Desperation Reveals Character
By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2004 9:13pm PT  

Just when you thought there was no new depths for these Bush bigots to plumb...Homophobia becomes a fully outted and approved Bush/Cheney campaign tactic. Why hide it in the closet? I guess we should expect nothing less from these people. Sad and pathetic. Be horrified..

Vote November 2nd.

Meanwhile...the Mainstream Media would rather go Goose Hunting.
By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2004 5:56pm PT  

On Nov. 1, 2001 George W. Bush issued Executive Order #13233 which modified some of the measures of the "Presidential Records Act (PRA) of 1978", instituted in the wake of the Nixon Administration's legal imbroglio over which Presidential documents were private and which were public. The PRA, according to the National Archives, "changed the legal ownership of the official records of the President from private to public."

In a bit of Orwellian irony that has now become all too recognizable for the Bush Administration, their Executive Order #13233 which modified that PRA, is not listed at all on the White House website page entitled “Executive Orders Issued by President Bush”.

Despite the changes implemented by George W. Bush, the PRA still "Defines and states public ownership of the records" as the National Archives points out.

Specifically, the National Archives makes it clear:

Presidential records are defined as:
Documentary materials, or an reasonably segregable portion thereof, created or received by the President, his immediate staff, or a unit or individual or the Executive Office of the President whose function is to advise and assist the President, in the course of conducting activities which relate to or have and effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President [44 U.S.C. ß 2201(2)].

These records can be in a variety of media, including paper, audiovisual, and electronic.

The Clinton Administration was the first to have a White House website, and indeed the original architects of that site apparenty took great pains to create a precise "versioning" system to capture various changes to the content over time. As the National Archives website on this notes; "These versions are historical materials." One can still view all of the various versions of the Clinton White House's website via that link.

Over the past several weeks, the BRAD BLOG has been chronicling the stark difference in the Bush Administration's management of their White House website. We've caught them red-handed as they hastily removed the website's list of Iraq "coaltion" members just after the V.P. Debate when Dick Cheney accused John Edwards of being "dead wrong" for not counting Iraqi casualties as a percentage of "coalition casualties" and then again after the third Presidential Debate when the White House removed damning video footage of Bush admitting at a press conference that he was "not truly that concerned" about bin Laden --- precisely as John Kerry had charged during the debate.

Continued investigation by the BRAD BLOG has found a great deal of information that has vanished from the site. Some of it easily spotted, such as the link to "Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neil testifies about terrorism risk insurance" still displayed on this page (a sample from that page is pictured at right) but which now leads instead to a "The file you have attempted to access cannot be found" page.

More troubling, however, are those pages which have simply been modified, or deleted all together and which are not tracked and/or cached (and are therefore lost to the historic record entirely, as discussed shortly) by Internet archive and caching sites. Enormous sections of the White House website then are not indexed or cached at all by these external public archive and search engines.

Therefore, any number of modified and/or deleted pages of "historical material" may now be almost impossible to track, record or even notice. Ever.

Notably, we've documented here just some of the loads of audio and video material that has been "disappeared" from the website. Such audio and video media is not indexed or cached at all on any site by search and archive sites. So the material systematically removed from hundreds of pages at may well be gone for good.

A critic or two have suggested that the White House Website has a policy to remove old media after a year or so for space reasons. Given how inexpensive digital storage space has become and the vast amount of material already catalogued on their website, such an explanation would constitute a strange reason to delete "historical material". As well, such a practice is likely illegal defined by the PRA. But even if one sees "storage space" as a plausible explanation for some of the vanished material, it certainly could not be used to explain their purposefully removed link to their "List of Coalition Members". Good luck trying to find any up-to-date listing of "coalition" countries on the website at this point. Pretty remarkable considering we're in the middle of a war, and Bush/Cheney are parading around the country talking about the strengths of this --- apparently mysterious --- "coalition of the willing".

The AFP wire story that finally picked up on our original reporting at the end of last week offered this "official" explanation:

"This is not unusual. If there is incorrect, or out of date information, we take it down," White House spokesman Jimmy Orr told AFP. "What we're doing right now, with the entire Iraq site, is we're updating the information."

So, in other words, a simple list of "coaltion member" countries that had previously been updated regularly (here's an example of one from April of 2003) to add new countries whenever one came on board, can no longer just be updated to add or remove countries as they come and go. Now, they must just "take it down" entirely instead of updating the information on the page.

Of course they must. With Bush/Cheney running around the country telling folks that Kerry/Edwards are disrespecting "coalition" countries like Iraq (never, ever, ever named as a "Coalition Country" on any White House or State Dept. or Pentagon website page that I've been able to find - and those other Websites have also been scrubbed apparently of such information!) they've now got to use the publically owned White House website, in possible violation of both the PRA and existing campaign laws, to scrub the evidence entirely that might show Bush/Cheney are actively lying to America.

Anyone willing to bet that the "entire Iraq site" won't be "updated" accurately again until some time after, oh, say November 2nd or so?

As this story has gained momentum in the blogosphere, there has been a critic or two --- okay, one, Jim Gilliam, one of the producers of the excellent OutFoxed documentary (who, by the way, has some superb inside skinny on the late-in-the-week O'Rilly "buzz") who seems to be backing up the White House line from the AFP article suggesting the White House is simply removing old media after a year, as some sort of a space-saving policy.

He is wrong. Clearly, on the "Coalition List" issue there is no denying their purposeful cover-up to avoid telling America who the "coaltion" countries are. On that, they've been caught with a hand directly in the cookie jar.

But on the issue of various audio and video being removed from the site, also as reported here, there is ample evidence that Gilliam is giving far too much credence to the White House spin of removing old media after a certain date.

While such a "policy", questionable in and of itself, might have explained some of the media that is no longer available, there is far more evidence suggesting that there is no blanket policy for the removal of audio and video media from the site. Rather, if there is such a policy, it is either a haphazard operation or, more likely, done as the political operatives see fit.

How otherwise to explain the January 21, 2002 video from a Martin Luther King Day event which is still available from the White House website? We're well beyond the suggested one-year expiry date for such material. And, of course, that's just one of many videos well over a year old which are still available for viewing at the White House website.

And take a look at a sampling of Bush's Radio Addresses from all the way back in 2001, just before and after 9/11. Some audio is still there, some isn't:

Could that simply be the result of sloppy webmastering? I suppose so. Though it's certainly of note that audio only from "National Security" and "Compassionate Conservatism" addresses remain online, while Economic, Education and Stem Cell related addresses are no longer available.

As well, it all begs the question as to why a White House as politically structured from the ground up as this one has proven to be, who have now been caught specifically removing politically damaging material and demonstrably lying about virtually every aspect of their four years in power as part of a clearly orchestrated campaign strategy, should now be given the benefit-of-the-doubt on anything anymore.

That notion alone underscores why these guys need to go; if they can't even be trusted in their own country by their own citizens, how are they to be able to represent our best interests and be trusted by any of the nations in the world who's confidence we so desperately need to gain back at this time to assist in all forms of crucial foreign policy?

The unavoidable perception is that of arrogant attempts at deception, displayed by a willful manipulation of the publically funded and historically relevant records of the White House website. The arrogance here is revealed by the fact that it's so simple to demonstrate what theses guys are doing and yet they both continue to do it and lie about it in the bargain.

We're able to follow some of the shenanigans thanks in part to Internet cache and search sites as mentioned, such as Google's Cache and The Wayback Machine. But those sites do not cache old media (audio and video) files, only old documents --- and the White House has even attempted to block caching of those, as reported over a year ago by and others. That policy is still in effect today via a Robots.txt file on the site which provides a long list for Internet search and archive engines describing precisely which directories should not be indexed! And yet, even with all the evidence to the contrary, this White House baldly announces to the American people that this entire process is nothing more essentially than routine maintenance.

Right. And George W. Bush never said he was "truly not that concerned" about Osama bin Laden. Just one of those "ex-agg-er-ations" in a world where words, they continue to hope in these last few days of the campaign, will speak louder than actions.

With the exception of a single AFP report filed on this on-going matter, and despite the story becoming amongst the most discussed in the entire blogosphere over the past week, we still continue to scratch our head and wonder how the Mainstream Media can file report after report about lesbians, wolfpacks, and goose-hunting while possible on-going violations of federal laws by a sitting administration go virtually unreported!

That is a courtesy granted, apparently, only to this administration. I'm sure Al Gore would have appreciated the same back in 2000 when literally hundreds, if not thousands, of reports were filed on a couple of campaign-related phone calls alleged to have been made from a White House telephone and "no controlling legal authority" became the buzz phrase of both the Rightwing and (supposedly) "Liberal" Media from then on through Election Day.

As ever, a different set of "media rules" seem to apply Democrat versus Republican administrations. Never fear. I'm sure the media will suddenly begin to "get it right" again during the Kerry Administration.

Bush/Cheney '04: These aren't the droids you're looking for...

UPDATE 10/25/04: The Washington Post finally picks up the story today! Twice!

UPDATE 10/29/04: BRAD BLOG SUCCESS! WH restores Audio/Video! Though much still missing... of this morning, anyway.
By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2004 1:37pm PT  

Summarizing the latest polls, ABC This Week displayed it this way to a clearly concerned Ken Mehlman, chair of Bush/Cheney '04:

Marist: BUSH +1
ABC News: BUSH +1
AP-Ipsos: KERRY +3
NBC/Wall Street Journal: EVEN

Those are simply horrible numbers for an incumbent, since undecideds late in the game have always traditionally broken for the challenger. (Emphasis on traditionally! Everything is whacky this year!)

More troubling for Mehlman though, were these numbers:

Marist: KERRY +8
Pew: KERRY +6
ABC News: KERRY +1
AP-Ipsos: KERRY +4
NBC/Wall Street Journal: KERRY +6

As I've been saying for sometime, unless there's a new shake-up (terrorist attack, huge Kerry foul-up, bin Laden capture, etc.) it's gonna be Kerry in a walk and the Senate goes Democrat.

(Kerry is pictured in the center on right there, Thursday in Minnesota, one of those "Battleground States" that the GOP likes to publically suggest --- emphasis on publically --- will go to Bush.)

Given, however, the concerted, organized and parrallel strategies of the Republicans right now to both keep folks from voting and at the same time spin the premise that Democrats are planning dirty voter tricks and legal challenges to the results (generally, when Republicans make a charge of anything, it means they themselves are actually doing it), there are reasons to stay very vigilant everywhere.

But supporting my suggestion that things are going well for the Dems, I'd point you to MyDD who's been doing terrific analysis of all the various polls out there. Here's what they have to say about actual voting data coming in from early voting in Iowa (one of the Battlegrounds that the conservative media is too frightened to admit will most likely go to Kerry):

In actual votes. With at least 7% of the vote in, right now Kerry holds a sizable lead on Bush:
Ballots Returned %
RNC 28,824 28.2
DNC 51,706 50.6
IND 21,590 21.1
Total 102,120 100.0

Finally, see this WaPo piece about the real concerns of Bush/Cheney '04 as revealed by an insider who has access to their actual internal polling:

The Republican official said polling for Bush showed him in a weaker position than some published polls have indicated, both nationally and in battlegrounds. In many of the key states, the official said, Bush is below 50 percent, and he is ahead or behind within the margin of sampling error --- a statistical tie.

"There's just no place where they're polling outside the margin of error so they can say, 'We have this state,'" the official said. "And they know that an incumbent needs to be outside the margin of error."

As usual, I predict the safety of the "conventional wisdom" --- which the Mainstream Media enjoys hiding behind --- will prove to be wrong in the end. So give credence to all those "Bush is leading" pronouncements at your own risk. The Mainstream Media has gotten it wrong in the last 3 elections. Why should they stop now?

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