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Battelle the Truth: U.S. Elections Hijacked Again?

For the past several years, marijuana and drug policy reform measures were winning soundly at the ballot box. What happened this time around?
 
 
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For the past several years, marijuana and drug policy reform measures were winning soundly at the ballot box. Voters elected to enact 17 of 18 pro-drug reform ballot measures since 1996, when propositions to legalize the use of medical marijuana carried in California and Arizona. Since then, voters in seven other states voted to allow marijuana as a medicine. In 2000, California passed a ballot measure mandating treatment rather than incarceration for low-level drug offenders. Again, other states followed suit. In fact, the only drug reform measure that failed since 1996 was in a sweeping full legalization effort in Alaska including restitution for past convictions.

It was stunning, then, to see this month's election results, with marijuana reform measures going down to defeat in Arizona and Nevada, Ohio voters turning down a relatively tame drug treatment initiative, and South Dakota voting down an initiative to legalize industrial hemp.

The defeats are chalked up to government efforts to shoot them down. But the federal government has vehemently fought against medical marijuana and drug policy reform initiatives since 1996 with the many of the same methods used this year: Dottering old drug "czars" joining forces with law enforcement officials to whip up public fears about drug lords invading their neighborhoods and their children turning into pot-smoking couch potatoes. But still the initiatives passed, leaving officials to wring their hands and declare the voters "duped."

What changed this year? Perhaps we should ask the exit pollsters. Voter News Service (VNS), the exit polling company that all the major networks relied on in 2000 to predict Gore, then Bush as the winner in Florida and consequently the country, declared their polls unreliable on election day. Newscasters therefore had no data to compare to reported election results before announcing the Republican and anti-progressive election sweep.

In Georgia and Colorado, Republicans won races for governor and senator, respectively, despite previous polling indicating that the Democrats would win handily. If the elections got fixed, there was no accurate exit polling to dispute the numbers. Warren Mitofsky, who is credited with creating exit polling in 1967, told AP, ''The whole point of the exit polls in the first place was to stop two groups of people from making it up: reporters, and the candidates and their staff from spinning the election. It's corny, but polls, if they're done properly, are a good voice for the people.''

The company that created the software for VNS was Battelle Memorial Institute of Columbus, Ohio. Battelle spokeswoman Katy Delaney confirmed that Battelle had a contract with VNS and referred further inquiries to Lee C. Shapiro at VNS. Shapiro said VNS had no comment beyond the statement it issued on election day. Linda Mason, CBS News vice president and a VNS board member, told AP the company will release exit poll data at some point. ''There will be a document of record, but it will probably be more a historical document of record than an immediate news kind of thing.'' Interestingly, Battelle is one of several donors with ties to military intelligence and the Office of Homeland Security who contribute to the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), a government-funded coalition of some 5000 anti-drug community groups. In December 2001, Resident Bush's pronouncement that drug use supports terrorism coincided with the signing of a bill that could double CADCA's $50 million funding in the next five years.

CADCA was instrumental in the federal/state coalition to undermine California and Arizona's medical marijuana laws. CADCA founder Alvah Chapman and two other CADCA officials attended a November 14, 1996 meeting in Washington DC attended by former drug czar Barry McCaffrey, former DEA Chief Thomas Constantine, and some 40 federal and state officials who sought to undermine the pro-pot measures that had passed only nine days earlier.

With ties to the Department of Defense and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Battelle develops and commercializes technology for government and industry. Another CADCA donor, Ingenium Corporation, builds and plans Intranets that help military organizations share information. Co-donor Channing Bete produces pamphlets on Homeland Security and reporting terrorist threats, and has named as a spokesperson Michele Ridge, wife of Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge.

Marilyn Ware, campaign chair for Ridge's 1994 and 1998 runs for governor of Pennsylvania, also donates to CADCA. Ware serves as a trustee for the American Enterprise Institute, along with vice "resident" Dick Cheney, secretary of the treasury Paul O'Neill, and deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz. Ware is 10% owner of American Water Works, which is fast gobbling up water rights across the country, serving 16 million people in 29 states and three Canadian provinces, and taking their profits at the tap. Connecting the dots leads to a cozy coalition that may well have hijacked our latest election as it helps itself to our private information, our liberty, and our natural resources. It may even be using the infrastructure of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions to help achieve the "Total Information Awareness" sought by the Pentagon's new Information Awareness Office, headed by resurrected Iran-Contra figure John Poindexter.

Poindexter was convicted in 1986 along with Oliver North as part of the guns-for-hostages deal that provoked a Congressional investigation. The conviction was overturned in 1991 on grounds that the men had been granted immunity from prosecution as a result of their testimony before Congress. Since leaving government, Poindexter has worked as a military technology consultant, most recently for Syntek Technologies, a military and intelligence-agency consulting firm in Arlington, Va. Poindexter advances ''data mining'' techniques to collect vast amounts of computer data, such as credit card transactions and travel reservations, and look for patterns threatening national security.

The New York Times reports Poindexter has been given a $200 million budget to create computer dossiers on 300 million Americans through DARPA, the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. According to the Times, as national security adviser, Poindexter was involved with a Reagan administration initiative in 1984 that gave intelligence agencies broad authority to examine computer databases for ''sensitive but unclassified information.'' ''Mr. Poindexter was responsible for several computer policy mistakes in the computer security realm in the 1980's,'' said Marc Rotenberg, a former counsel with Senate Judiciary Committee, referring to Mr. Poindexter's policies that shifted control of computer security to the military. ''It took three administrations and both political parties over a decade to correct those mistakes.''

Another convicted (and pardoned) Iran-Contra figure, Elliott Abrams, has now been appointed to the National Security Council as director of its office for democracy, human rights and international operations. The post requires no Senate approval. And Battelle, which has contracts with DARPA, announced on October 29 it has hired retired army Lieutenant General Lawson Magruder to serve as Deputy Director of Homeland Security. In this role he will "focus on integrating Battelle's vast technology resources from its defense-related business and from work performed for other government agencies" in Battelle's "comprehensive" homeland security strategy.

One week after the election, the House voted to establish a 170,000-member Department of Homeland Security, marking the first major reorganization of government in 25 years, and the largest since the Defense Department was born in 1947. The Homeland Security Act (HR 5710) will set up a centralized database of information with loosened requirements that make the Patriot Act look like democracy.

Drug policy reform advocates, and indeed the country and the United Nations, need to challenge this election and the election of 2000 that put into place the regime that now seeks to spy on us in unprecedented fashion as it strips us of our liberties and sends us to war.