Larisa Alexandrovna

GOP Consultant Subpoenaed in Case Alleging Tampering with 2004 Election

COLUMBUS -- A high-level Republican consultant has been subpoenaed in a case regarding alleged tampering with the 2004 election.

Michael S. Connell was served with a subpoena in Ohio on Sept. 22 in a case alleging that vote-tampering during the 2004 presidential election resulted in civil rights violations. Connell, president of GovTech Solutions and New Media Communications, is a website designer and IT professional who created a website for Ohio's secretary of state that presented the results of the 2004 election in real time as they were tabulated.

At the time, Ohio's Secretary of State, Kenneth J. Blackwell, was also chairman of Bush-Cheney 2004 reelection effort in Ohio.

Connell is refusing to testify or to produce documents relating to the system used in the 2004 and 2006 elections, lawyers say. His motion to quash the subpoena asserts that the request for documents is burdensome because the information sought should be "readily ascertainable through public records request" -- but also, paradoxically, because "it seeks confidential, trade secrets, and/or proprietary information" that "have independent economic value" and "are not known to the public, or even to non-designated personnel within or working for Mr. Connell's business."

According to sources close to the office of Clifford Arnebeck, one of the Ohio attorneys who brought the case, Arnebeck intends to ask the court to compel Connell to testify. An emergency conference with the judge, originally scheduled for Monday, is to be rescheduled.

King Lincoln Bronzeville Neighborhood Association v. Blackwell

The case, known as King Lincoln Bronzeville Neighborhood Association v. Blackwell, was filed against Kenneth J. Blackwell on Aug. 31, 2006 by Columbus attorneys Clifford Arnebeck, Robert Fitrakis and others. It initially charged Blackwell with racially discriminatory practices -- including the selective purging of voters from the election rolls and the unequal allocation of voting machines to various districts -- and asked for measures to be taken to prevent similar problems during the November 2006 election.

On Oct. 9, 2006, an amended complaint added charges of various forms of ballot-rigging as also having the effect of "depriving the Plaintiffs of their voting rights, including the right to have their votes successfully cast without intimidation, dilution, cancellation or reversal by voting machine or ballot tampering." A motion to dismiss the case as moot was filed following the November 2006 election, but it was instead stayed to allow for settlement discussions.

The case took on fresh momentum earlier this year when Arnebeck announced in July that he was filing to "lift the stay in the case [and] proceed with targeted discovery in order to help protect the integrity of the 2008 election." The new filing was inspired in part by the coming forward as a whistleblower of GOP IT security expert Stephen Spoonamore, who said he was prepared to testify to the plausibility of electronic vote-rigging having been carried out in 2004.

Arnebeck's hope was that in the course of the discovery procedure it would be possible to subpoena Michael Connell, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, and others to obtain additional information and improve the focus of the case. The stay was lifted Sept. 19, 2008 by an order from Magistrate Judge Terrence P. Kemp of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, and a subpoena was served to Connell on the following Monday, Sept. 22.

Allegations Against Connell

The interest in Mike Connell stems from his association with a firm called GovTech, which he had spun off from his own New Media Communications under his wife Heather Connell's name. GovTech was hired by Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell to set up an official election website at election.sos.state.oh.us to presented the 2004 presidential returns as they came in.

Connell is a long-time GOP operative, whose New Media Communications provided web services for the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign, the US Chamber of Commerce, the Republican National Committee and many Republican candidates. This in itself might have raised questions about his involvement in creating Ohio's official state election website.

However, the alternative media group ePlubibus Media further discovered in November 2006 that election.sos.state.oh.us was hosted on the servers of a company in Chattanooga, TN called SmarTech, which also provided hosting for a long list of Republican Internet domains.

"Since early this decade, top Internet 'gurus' in Ohio have been coordinating web services with their GOP counterparts in Chattanooga, wiring up a major hub that in 2004, first served as a conduit for Ohio's live election night results," researchers at ePluribus Media wrote.

A few months after this revelation, when a scandal erupted surrounding the firing of US Attorneys for reasons of White House policy, other researchers found that the gwb43 domain used by members of the White House staff to evade freedom of information laws by sending emails outside of official White House channels was hosted on those same SmarTech servers.

Given that the Bush White House used SmarTech servers to send and receive email, the use of one of those servers in tabulating Ohio's election returns has raised eyebrows. Ohio gave Bush the decisive margin in the Electoral College to secure his reelection in 2004.

IT expert Stephen Spoonamore says the SmartTech server could have functioned as a routing point for malicious activity and remains a weakness in electronic voting tabulation.

According to Spoonamore's Sept. 17 affidavit, the "computer placement, in the middle of the network, is a defined type of attack." Spoonamore describes this as a "Man in the Middle Attack" or MIM.

"It is a common problem in the banking settlement space," he writes. "A criminal gang will introduce a computer into the outgoing electronic systems of a major retail mall, or smaller branch office of a bank. They will capture the legitimate transactions and then add fraudulent charges to the system for their benefit."

"Any time all information is directed to a single computer for consolidation, it is possible, and in fact likely, that single computer will exploit the information for some purpose," he adds. "In the case of Ohio 2004, the only purpose I can conceive for sending all county vote tabulations to a GOP managed Man-in-the-Middle site in Chattanooga before sending the results onward to the Sec. of State, would be to hack the vote at the MIM."

Hold letters were sent out in July to parties in the case, informing them of their obligation not to destroy relevant documentation. One such letter went to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, asking him to advise the federal government of its responsibility to preserve emails from Rove.

Arnebeck explained, "We expressed concern about the reports that Mr. Rove destroyed his emails and suggested that we want the duplicates that should exist [be put] under the control of the Secret Service and be sure that those are retained, as well as those on the receiving end in the Justice Department and elsewhere, that those documents are retained for purposes of this litigation, in which we anticipate Mr. Rove will be identified as having engaged in a corrupt, ongoing pattern of corrupt activities specifically affecting the situation here in Ohio."

More recently, Newsweek's Michael Isikoff has revealed that John McCain's presidential campaign paid nearly a million dollars for web services to a firm called 3eDC, created and partly owned by McCain campaign manager Rick Davis. According to an archived version of a 3eDC webpage from 2007, that firm's five "strategic partners" included not only Connell's New Media Communications but also Campaign Solutions -- a firm run by Connell's sometimes-partner, Rebecca Donatelli -- and a component of SmarTech called AirNet.

The Origin of the Case

The roots of the King Lincoln Bronzeville case go back to the case of Moss v. Bush, which Arnebeck, Fitrakis and other attorneys filed immediately after the 2004 presidential election. In that filing, they challenged the results of the Ohio voting on the basis of numerous irregularities and allegations of fraud and sought to depose President George W. Bush, Vice President, Dick Cheney, and then-White House Deputy Chief of Staff, Karl Rove, as well as Secretary Blackwell.

That case was dropped by the plaintiffs in January 2005, after the US Senate accepted the casting of Ohio's electoral votes for George W. Bush. Two weeks later, Ohio's Republican Attorney General James Petro attempted to sanction and fine the attorneys for what he described as a "frivolous filing," but they were supported by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) -- then the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee -- who had already held a hearing at which Arnebeck and Jesse Jackson testified concerning the suppression of minority votes. Those same concerns are now at the heart of King Lincoln Bronzeville.

Reprinted with permission. Copyright 2008 Raw Story

US Sponsored Terrorism in Iran?

I think people should be very concerned about the following:

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Bush Is Waiting for An Iraq Solution That Will Never Come

I am not sure who it is that The Decider is waiting for, be it Godot or a shaman. What is becoming increasingly clear, however, is that the US is in a holding pattern with regard to Iraq, stuck on stall while our soldiers and more Iraqis die. Yes, this administration is waiting for something, but what? I don’t think we will ever really know, but more and more people will die while this President stalls in his holiday-adorned mansion, having never seen combat and having suffered no personal loss in this war. Disregard for the urgency of time comes easily to those who are gambling with other peoples’ lives and other peoples’ money.

The plan to plan a plan:

The President claims he is listening to different voices of opinion, but anyone who has watched this arrogant, self-serving administration should know by now that the only voices Bush listens to are the ones that come with cash.

I don’t buy for a moment that this President is weighing all options and listening to all of the experts. Nearly four full years into this inferno we call Iraq, there has yet to be a well reasoned, thoughtful assessment of the situation or an adjustment to address conditions on the ground.

What thoughtful planning was done prior to the invasion of Iraq? That is to say, outside of painstakingly fabricating evidence to mislead a grieving nation into war -- what actual planning took place to secure Iraq after the invasion? What planning did this administration do to make sure our military had the resources it needed? Even now, our soldiers lack the necessary armor and equipment, and yet we are to believe this President is remotely serious about developing a winning plan?

What attention was paid to the aftermath of the invasion and securing the peace of a nation with three fully autonomous factions jockeying for power, ready to kill one another over control of the country? Who had the brilliant idea to dismiss the Iraqi army, still in possession of their weapons, so that military contractors could then "secure" Iraq? What prompted the idea to take jobs away from Iraqis so that Halliburton’s no bid contracts had a place to play out?

What genius decided that creating a palace-like US military base in Iraq took precedence over ensuring that the Iraqis had water and electricity? If this is planning of any sort, it is a plan for deliberate and catastrophic failure. And at each stage there was a milestone that would mark some sort of mission accomplished and victory delivered, only to allow for more stalling and more misery.

Even after the Iraq Study Group delivered its bipartisan edict of "blame it on Rumsfeld and save face," the President decided he would mull things over through the holidays, having first agreed to follow the group’s recommendations when he thought they would be different, somehow.

What is obvious now is that the removal of Rumsfeld was not a sign of a real commitment to change direction in Iraq. It was nothing more than yet another stalling tactic, which is why the news was delivered after the election, not before. The nomination of Robert Gates to Secretary of Defense appears also to be nothing but stagecraft to silence the angry public, because Gates, no matter his view, is still bound by the chain of command. If the leadership says "stall," then Gates can only stall or resign.

What are they waiting for?

The President’s latest tactic now being floated is to deploy 30,000 troops to Iraq, which will no doubt serve to add more dead bodies to the death toll but little else.

How many dead bodies will it take before Congress says that stalling for Godot is not feasible (always knowing of course, that it has never been ethical)? Or perhaps a better question to ask is to whom is this administration beholden and for whom has this entire travesty of foreign policy been devised? I believe that the intended winner was always meant to be the Saudi regime, not the US, nor the Iraqi people. Ironically, the true victor has turned out to be Iran, something that no doubt disturbs the house of Saud greatly.

If the Saudis are in fact the country for whom we are fighting a proxy war with Iraq, then it stands to reason we cannot leave until we neutralize the Iranian threat to our benefactors. Perhaps this is really why this administration is stalling. It has failed several times over to successfully launch a military attack on Iran. The WMD argument does not seem to be working as well this time around in frightening the US populace into yet another war. The anti-Israeli rhetoric and Holocaust denial, too, don’t seem to be budging the US masses into supporting an attack on Iran. So the Bush administration awaits the delivery trick that might work to quiet the House of Saud and keep them from delivering on their blackmail of a full US economic meltdown.

I know that there are some that believe Israel is guiding the US misadventure into hell, but Israel is a client state who does what it is told. I have never found a convincing argument that would explain how Israel, whose very survival turns on US backing, would have the power to lead America into total suicide. It is true that the most visible faces of a pro-war policy towards the Middle East are tied to Likud, but Israel too needs to protect the House of Saud, because it is America’s benefactor. It serves US interests well to play the Jews against the Muslims. Such machinations have been going on for centuries. But anyone who can see farther than the day to day perspective should be able to see that a fully destabilized Middle East does not benefit Israel, nor does a rise in terrorism benefit Israel. It is already in a precarious position and not much is needed for Israel’s full and total collapse when the Middle East fully descends into chaos. The only winner that could have been intended as a result of this mess in Iraq is the House of Saud. Unfortunately, with Iraq failed in such a way as to embolden Iran, the House of Saud will not let the US leave the power structure in such a condition.

While this is mainly my own belief, of course, if we assume that the Saudi regime is calling the shots, then it becomes clear that the US will not be able to leave Iraq until it attacks Iran. Not if the Saudi clan has anything to say about it. Perhaps this is why our beloved Vice President recently ran to the feet of the Crown Prince as soon as he was summoned -- that is, to assure the royal regime that the US will not abandon the House of Saud’s plans? Maybe, just maybe, this is what the US stalls for? Maybe, but if this is the case, then America has long since ceased being anything other than an oil junkie, holding on for dear life to the robes of its dealer.

Republican Torture Laws Will Live in History

If we learned anything from the Nuremberg trials it is that citizens are responsible for what their government does in their name. The right wing of Congress, which has shed any last vestige of being anything remotely conservative in substance or American in spirit, has, like a deranged peacock, proudly shown the world that it can and did "happen here." The passing of the pro-torture bill is a full handover of everything democratic into the arms of fascism.

Before Bush has even signed his pro-torture, anti-humanity bill into law, his legal framer and torture apologist Alberto Gonzales is already cautioning the judiciary:

"Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who is defending President Bush's anti-terrorism tactics in multiple court battles, said Friday that federal judges should not substitute their personal views for the president's judgments in wartime."

Instead of continuing with this farce called checks and balances, why not simply declare the "It has happened here" amendment for the Congress to rubber stamp and the president to tack on to the Constitution as a preemptive measure against dictatorial power?

Something along the lines of:

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