American Samizdat Guernica
Saturday, February 21, 2004
For those still puzzling over the whys and wherefores of Washington's invasion of Iraq 11 months ago, major new, but curiously unnoticed, clues were offered this week by two central players in the events leading up to the war.

Both clues tend to confirm growing suspicions that the Bush administration's drive to war in Iraq had very little, if anything, to do with the dangers posed by Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or his alleged ties to terrorist groups like al-Qaeda Ė the two main reasons the U.S. Congress and public were given for the invasion.

Separate statements by Ahmed Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), and US retired Gen. Jay Garner, who was in charge of planning and administering postwar reconstruction from January through May 2002, suggest that other, less public motives were behind the war, none of which concerned self-defense, preemptive or otherwise. [more]
Friday, February 20, 2004
If George W. Bush is the result of affirmative
  action then we have to end it immediately.
"I'm also not very analytical. You know I don't spend a lot
of time thinking about myself, about why I do things.

~ George W. Bush, June 4, 2003

When President Bush sat down for an interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press he single-handedly proved that affirmative action is a bad thing. George W. Bush is the poster child for affirmative action. He attended prep school at Andover Academy because his father was an alumnus. He didnít get good grades at Andover but got into Yale because the Bushes were alumni there as well. His fatherís connections got him into a National Guard unit and helped him avoid serving in Vietnam. When he didnít feel compelled to complete his National Guard duty he just walked away and didnít suffer because of his decision. He then went to Harvard where he earned his MBA. He was admitted to Harvard despite earning only a C average while at Yale.

George W. Bush has participated in a racial preference program his entire life. But after all those years of entitlement and connections to the best America has to offer, George W. Bush has emerged as a man who canít put together more than two coherent sentences and stumbles and pauses when attempting to express very simple ideas.

Have fun!
... dwarfing the combined fortunes of Bush and Cheney -- the most bloated pair of plutocrats ever to rule the country.Chris Floyd:
This is no ordinary election. It's emergency surgery -- a desperate operation in the field, using whatever comes to hand to keep the patient from dying.
Indeed, Kerry has vested interests, usually in the millions of dollars, in almost every aspect of U.S. commerce. Finance, media, electronics, food, energy, health care, agriculture -- the list is staggering in its reach. It will be practically impossible for him to take any action as president that will not have a substantial impact on his family assets. These are conservatively estimated at more than $550 million, dwarfing the combined fortunes of Bush and Cheney -- the most bloated pair of plutocrats ever to rule the country. A Bush-Kerry contest will offer about as much democratic authenticity as Crassus and Pompey bribing their way to consulships in the death throes of the Roman Republic.
"Kerry might be a rusty knife, but the life of a patient in extremis takes precedence over questions of hygiene. When the worst is past, then judge the knife -- discard it if necessary -- and get on with the work of restoring the Republic."
Not newsworthy, but I found this amusing.
Four crop-spraying planes circling overhead have brought silent death to the fields of wheat and barley that Shaikh Salih Abu Darim and his beduin tribe will need to feed themselves and their goats and sheep for the year.

The Araqib tribe have farmed the land close to the city of Beer Sheva in southern Israel for generations. But in the past year the Israeli government has declared war on them and some 70,000 other beduin living in 45 communities it refuses to recognise in the Negev (al-Naqab).

On 15 January the authorities stepped up the pressure on the Araqib to leave by spraying powerful herbicides on their crops, making the young shoots shrivel and die in the following weeks.

It was the third time the Araqib's crops had been sprayed in the past two years by a government agency, the Israel Lands Authority.

"This time we hurriedly took what crops we could for feed," says Abu Darim. "We made the mistake of giving them to our animals. Nearly 400 of the sheep miscarried."

The recent campaign of crop-spraying by the authorities - more than 6000 acres have been destroyed over a wide area of the Negev in the last two years - is not the only weapon being used by the state.
Thursday, February 19, 2004
Don't Forget March 20th - Takin' it to the Streets
Kurt Nimmo's thoughts are well worth reading. He does a good job of highlighting the stakes faced by the current generation of young people. Next year could very well be the year that the draft rears its ugly head, three decades after its demise. Why a draft? Someone's going to have to be cannon fodder for the state of perpetual war envisioned by the neocons who currently hold sway in the White House. The current all-volunteer military set-up simply is not able to support neocon foreign policy objectives. We're seeing already the strain on the full-time branches of the service, but the Reserves and National Guard as well.

Who's at risk? Young people, especially young men. If you're in your late teens or 20s and haven't included being killed or wounded on a foreign battle field in your plans, you might be in for a rude awakening. If there are young people reading this blog, all I can say is that your actions this year -- on the streets and in the voting booth -- will be critical. Ending mandatory military conscription the last time around was rather difficult when members of Kurt Nimmo's generation were working to end the draft. With an even more-solidly entrenched military-industrial establishment to deal with in this first decade of the new century, the task of ending a resurrected draft may prove to be more daunting. Our best hope is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Like Kurt, I'm not going to be directly affected if the draft is revived. If I am to believe the statistics, I'm at or just past the half-way point in my lifespan (I'm 38). I've been quite ready to be a conscientious objector in any case, and have been since the mid-1980s. My main concern is for my son, who will turn 8 just days after the scheduled March 20th demonstrations and who would be a potential draftee a decade hence. That's not the future I would want for him. It's on his behalf that I write and on his behalf that I will do whatever it takes to persuade our leaders that a perpetual war state is a very very bad idea.
The Pakistan Daily Times:
A guide to Israeli hawks
So much of the debate on Israel is so instantaneously polarized, that even my mouth hesitates to tread there. But this article is refreshing. A simple explanation without taking sides.

Knowledge is strength, and this article provides it.

"The worst president in our lifetime" is how many Americans view George W. Bush.
But Bush is not merely the worst president in recent memory. He's the worst in all US history. And he's won the distinction not on a weakness or two, but in at least nine separate categories, giving him a triple trifecta.

It's a record unmatched by any previous president.

  • TRIFECTA ONE: Economy, Environment, Education
  • TRIFECTA TWO: Corruption, Constitution, Global Contempt
  • TRIFECTA THREE: Military madness, Messianic delusion, Macho Matricide
Have fun!
Five of the nine British prisoners being held at a United States military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba are to be returned home "in the next few weeks".

Officials said on Thursday the five men are Rhuhel Ahmad, Tariq Dergoul, Jamal al-Harith, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul.

British police will consider whether the five should be arrested under anti-terrorist legislation when they arrive in Britain, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said.

He added that discussions are continuing with Washington over the other four Britons who are being held at the military base after they were picked up during the US-led "war on terror".
Check this out!

That's Jeffrey Skilling in the middle, former CEO of Enron. Notice his hands behind him? That's called HANDCUFFS!

42 counts. We must have an election coming up.

A few stories on this:

CBS News: Feds Throw Book At Ex-Enron CEO

ABC News: Former Enron CEO Skilling Faces 42 Counts

BBC News: Enron's dream of world domination

"Kenny Boy" Lay. Will he still be smiling with handcuffs on?You know what gets me about all of this? Both Skilling and "Kenny Boy" Lay (right, smiling) are trying to claim that as the top two executives at Enron, neither of them had a clue as to what was going on. Consider for just a moment that this is true.

Then what the hell were they being paid for?

But let's say they get off with that excuse. Sounds to me like the basis of a quite solid class action by Enron shareholders. If they really didn't know what was going on, then why should they have ever been compensated?

But if you're like me, someone who has actually had the pleasure of wearing handcuffs, then you'll delight in seeing a few more pics of Skilling in handcuffs. Glad to oblige! [ 1 ] [ 2 ] And you can actually see the cuffs on the second! Too cool!

Union of Concerned Scientists:
Scientific Integrity in Policymaking
An Investigation into the Bush Administration's Misuse of Science
Science, like any field of endeavor, relies on freedom of inquiry; and one of the hallmarks of that freedom is objectivity. Now more than ever, on issues ranging from climate change to AIDS research to genetic engineering to food additives, government relies on the impartial perspective of science for guidance.


That was then; this is now.

The Bush administration has deliberately and systematically distorted scientific fact in the service of policy goals on the environment, health, biomedical research and nuclear weaponry at home and abroad, a group of about 60 influential scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, said in a statement issued Wednesday. The group, the Union of Concerned Scientists, has documented its findings and accusations in a 38-page report.

From the report's Executive Summary:

The U.S. government runs on vast amounts of information. Researchers at the National Weather Service gather and analyze meteorological data to know when to issue severe-weather advisories. Specialists at the Federal Reserve Board collect and analyze economic data to determine when to raise or lower interest rates. Experts at the Centers for Disease Control examine bacteria and viral samples to guard against a large-scale outbreak of disease. The American public relies on the accuracy of such governmental data and upon the integrity of the researchers who gather and analyze it.

However, at a time when one might expect the federal government to increasingly rely on impartial researchers for the critical role they play in gathering and analyzing specialized data, there are numerous indications that the opposite is occurring. A growing number of scientists, policy makers, and technical specialists both inside and outside the government allege that the Bush administration has suppressed or distorted the scientific analyses of federal agencies to bring these results in line with administration policy. In addition, these experts contend that irregularities in the appointment of scientific advisors and advisory panels are threatening to upset the legally mandated balance of these bodies.

The quantity and breadth of these charges warrant further examination, especially given the stature of many of the individuals lodging them. Toward this end, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) undertook an investigation of many of the allegations made in the mainstream media, in scientific journals, and in overview reports issued from within the federal government and by non-governmental organizations. To determine the validity of the allegations, UCS reviewed the public record, obtained internal government documents, and conducted interviews with many of the parties involved (including current and former government officials).

The report's findings?
  1. There is a well-established pattern of suppression and distortion of scientific findings by high-ranking Bush administration political appointees across numerous federal agencies. These actions have consequences for human health, public safety, and community well-being.

  2. There is strong documentation of a wideranging effort to manipulate the government's scientific advisory system to prevent the appearance of advice that might run counter to the administration's political agenda.

  3. There is evidence that the administration often imposes restrictions on what government scientists can say or write about "sensitive" topics.

  4. There is significant evidence that the scope and scale of the manipulation, suppression, and misrepresentation of science by the Bush administration is unprecedented.
The White House predictably has denied the accusations.

Additional Resources:

From the Union of Concerned Scientists:In the media:
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience. --George Bernard Shaw

This article from The American Conservative magazine highlights the situation Karen Kwiatkowski found herself in while working under William Luti and being exposed to the malignant Neoconservative influence on the intelligence that made its way to the White House via the Office of Special Plans.

This attempt to pre-empt vetted information from America's formal intelligence analysts at the CIA and DIA that the Neoconservatives didn't find useful to their ideological plans is not new. History shows it to be an ongoing and successful trend, both in implementing Neocon policy and in managing public opinion in that policies support. Many of the same players nearly thirty years ago worked to influence politicians and the media through leaks and politically "cooked" intelligence. This time the Neocons were afraid of President Ford's moves toward detente' with the Soviet Union.

Ford was concerned that he would lose the Republican Presidential nomination to Ronald Reagan, who called his Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger too liberal.
Under Kissinger and Ford," Reagan intoned, "this nation has become number two in a world where it is dangerous--if not fatal--to be second best."

Team B
President Ford was supportive of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty II. The CIA assessments showed radically less arms spending by the USSR, dropping from 68% to less than 17% of their GNP. Soviet military expenditures were destroying their economy by the end of the 1960's. Showed that the missiles they had were less accurate than was widely thought. Using hard data, CIA National Intelligence Estimates showed a USSR that was no longer a threat. History shows that their supposedly "soft" estimates underestimated the weakness and instability of the Soviet government.

But politics won out over common sense. The word "detente'" disappeared from the Presidents vocabulary. He was afraid his support of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty II would cause him to look soft on our ailing enemy. Kissinger was perceived as a liability to Ford during the election campaign.

A shakeup occured to Fords staff. Henry Kissinger lost his position as special assistant to the president for national security affairs but was retained as Secretary of State. Ford fired outspoken Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger, a one time RAND researcher and hired one of Fords closest associates and advisors, Donald Rumsfeld, former US Ambassador to NATO and part of Fords transition team to be the new Secretary of Defense. William Colby was replaced as Director of the CIA by George H.W. Bush. In a departure from the thought of Colby Bush was warm to the idea of non-analysts critiquing CIA intelligence estimates.
It was, Colby said, hard "to envisage how an ad hoc independent group of analysts could prepare a more thorough, comprehensive assessment of Soviet strategic capabilities than could the intelligence community".

Team B was started under the auspices of Bush.
1976 found our Neo-conservative lead actors staffing a George H. W. Bush - then Director of Central Intelligence- approved intelligence Team B. The Team was made possible by Neo-con leading light and Rand Corporation heavyweight Albert Wohlstetter. Staffers included Wohlstetter's son-in-law Richard Perle and associate Paul Wolfowitz. Team B was headed by Neo-con media maven Daniel Pipes' father, Richard. The President was Gerald Ford, high in his administration were Richard Cheney, who reportedly helped Bush Senior secure the CIA job, and Donald Rumsfeld. This early Neo-Con venture challenged and hoped to undermine nuclear detente with the USSR. CIA and State Department analysis were not well suited to this goal. Traditional and professional assessments were not panic inducing, questions and opposition remained credible- even reasonable. Opponents of containment needed another understanding to dominate. "Intelligence" from Team B offered a possible solution. The Team set out to develop its own assessments of Soviet Military might

An "untimely" end to the cold war could derail hawk/neocon plans for a pre-eminent US military authority in the world. Without the threat of the Soviet Union it would become hard to get the American people, who were growing more isolationist after the Viet Nam debacle, fully behind greatly increased US arms spending.

Today, the Team B reports recall the stridency and militancy of the conservatives in the 1970s. Team B accused the CIA of consistently underestimating the "intensity, scope, and implicit threat" posed by the Soviet Union by relying on technical or "hard" data rather than "contemplat[ing] Soviet strategic objectives in terms of the Soviet conception of 'strategy' as well as in light of Soviet history, the structure of Soviet society, and the pronouncements of Soviet leaders."

Team B ramped up the Soviet threat. Housed in the offices of Coalition for a Democratic Majority, bringing together Conservatives of all stripes, Republican and Democrat. Founded by Henry "Scoop" Jackson the group believes in
"peace through stength".
The CDM argued that the U.S. must have a strong national defense and a foreign policy of active resistance to what it calls "totalitarianism and repression." Further it urges strong support for "foreign allies who share America's democratic values--whether it is the government of Israel in the Middle East or the government of El Salvador's Jose Napoleon Duarte in Central America."

Bush, who had written Ford stating "I want to get the CIA off the front pages and at some point out of the papers altogether," under President Carter promoted the ad hoc intelligence group on "Meet the Press". The Times carried an article on Team B.

Team B promoted it's skewed intelligence through leaks to journalists and "top secret" briefings held with Legislators on the Hill. Through the revitalized Committee on the Present Danger media was managed to put the public in a state of fear concerning the Soviet Union. This undermined incoming President Jimmy Carter and his administrations efforts concerning disarmament and set the stage for the Reagan Presidential campaign based on fear of "the Evil Empire". This spin also allowed him to to drain the countries finances in a one sided arms race, enriching weapons manufacturers and ensuring campaign contributions and support from the military/industrial complex.

The Neocons presently controlling US policy rose to power based on lies, and consolidated their hold on America under Reagan.

Rumsfeld again was party to using "cooked" intelligence to counter the CIA analysts counselling against a need for National Missile Defense when he chaired the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States. Newt Gingrich helped him to establish this group dedicated to pumping up fear contrary to a credible CIA assessment.

Much like Ford changing his stance on detente', Democrats do not wish to be seen as weak on defense. Clinton vetoed the idea but Rumsfeld would run with his pet project. He has longstanding ties to organizations funded by interested weapons contractors.
Perhaps worst of all, for missile defense to become a reality, the landmark Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty needs to be amended--something the Russians are not eager to do. No matter, says Rumsfeld; at his confirmation hearings, he dismissed the ABM treaty as "ancient history" and said he had no compunction about abrogating it.

In his weekly radio address Mr Bush said that the US is threatened by ballistic missiles.

As the case of the intelligence concerning Iraq shows, the same players have been skewing intelligence to serve their ends since the mid seventies, coming up with a new "cause" in line with their inherent militarism each time the old one is revealed for the sham it is.

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it...
If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then, by George, it's an outrageous affront to public integrity.

I'm referring to this incestuous intersection of politics, the judiciary and big business. It's the first place people ought to look whenever Vice President Dick Cheney turns up missing.

Who knows? They just might run into that right-wing ideologue of a U.S. Supreme Court justice, Antonin Scalia.

This is a story that begs the vexing question: Which is more offensive, the incident or Justice Scalia's reaction?

Ralph @ Rove

It looks like Ralph Nader is poised to announce another run. I guess he found this email persuasive:



Subject: What will it take?

Hey Ralphie. How ya doing? Long time no talk.

I didn't think we'd need you in '04, but things aren't going as well as I expected.

The rest of Karl Rove's email to Ralph Nader is here.

Two good article pairs from the Asia Times:

Pepe Escobar:
The Roving Eye: Iraq and al-Qaeda
Even before the Iraq War, the administration went to great lengths to try to tie al-Qaeda with Iraq, and as the WMD justification for the war dies its proper death, the administration continues to try to promote an al-Qaeda/Iraq connection as perhaps its only remaining justification that the American public will buy into. Mysterious CD-ROMs (which al-Qaeda does not use) and suicide bombings are attributed as al-Qaeda footprints, but al-Qaeda no longer uses CD-ROMs to communicate, and suicide bombings fit quite well into the Shi'ite tradition of martyrdom. The suggestion of course is that the Iraqis themselves would not by themselves be conducting such an extensive campaign of violence; that they would only do so with outside aggitation, and that means al-Qaeda.

Yet credible estimates of Iraqi deaths and severe injuries from the war run as high as several hundred thousand, and as Escobar points out:

This means that many Iraqis now know that in the name of their "liberation", the Americans have killed or maimed 200,000 people. When something like this happens, you don't need any help from al-Qaeda to fuel your anger.
But is there really even an al-Qaeda acting as a directing force to the terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere around the globe, or has al-Qaeda merely become a myth and a rallying point for various local terrorist efforts? French Ministry of Defense expert Alain Chouet believes the latter to be the case, and further believes that the Bush administration's effort to highlight al-Qaeda as a key force in the world (and Iraqi) terrorism is a double-edged sword. Just as it allows the administration to continue to sell its "War on Terrorism" to the American people, so too does it allow small groups of local dissidents to identify with a greater cause, that of curbing and rolling back what is viewed as American imperialism.

As Pepe Escobar concludes:

As for a weakened, disabled al-Qaeda, it is definitely voting Bush next November. Al-Qaeda wants the Iraq occupation to be prolonged, with or without a puppet government: there could not be a better advertisement for rallying Muslims against the arrogance of the West.
Al-Qaeda likely has little if any capability left in the United States to carry out another 9/11 scale attack. But even a small-scale attack in a major city before the election "would be like help from above for the Bushites", and a Bush re-election is the exact outcome needed to advance the myth of al-Qaeda.

David Isenberg:
The Costs of Empire
"Imperial overstretch", first coined in 1987 by Paul Kennedy and repeated by him 10 years later:
"The United States now runs the risk, so familiar to historians of the rise and fall of Great Powers, of what might be called 'imperial overstretch': that is to say, decision-makers in Washington must face the awkward and enduring fact that the total of the United States's global interests and obligations is nowadays far too large for the country to be able to defend them all simultaneously."
Imperial has since been replaced by "empire" in the halls of the administration, but the "overstretch" part remains; empires are very expensive to maintain:

But while empire in all its imperial, multicolored, geopolitical hues may be an alluring sight, there is one thing to keep in mind. The process of creating and maintaining an empire, like making sausage or passing congressional legislation, is not a pretty process. In fact, it is costly, very costly, in terms of lives, money and liberty. It requires a large military establishment, which can consume a substantial, if not disproportionate amount of the national treasury. And it requires stationing and deploying forces around the world.
David Isenberg looks a the plans being made and executed in the name of the New American Empire. The question isn't really whether we want one however, but rather whether we can even afford one if we do.
The Pentagon's Weather Nightmare
The climate could change radically, and fast. That
would be the mother of all national security issues
With an administration stuck in reverse on global warming, an unlikely ally to environmentalists may be about to emerge: The Pentagon. In a secret report commissioned by them and first reported by Fortune Magazine in January, Global Business Network, a California-based scenario-planning think tank, warns that scenarios where global warming occurs gradually over a long period of time are overly optimistic, and that the more likely scenario is that catastrophic climate changes may actually occur in less than a decade and could cause massive displacements in population and ensuing food wars.

At the root of this is a giant climate engine known as "The Great Conveyor Belt," which includes what we call the Gulf Stream. A simple look at mercator projection (flat map) of the world reveals the key element of this: most of Europe lies well to the north of the United States, and it is the Gulf Stream and its warm waters that provides most of the moderating effect that allows Europe to enjoy a climate similar to the U.S. If the Gulf Stream were to slow or even stall, the effect on Europe's climate would be sudden and dramatic, with Europe potentially entering a new Ice Age.

So how exactly might global warming cause such a sudden change in "The Great Conveyor Belt"? A detailed and excellent explanation of this is provided by Thom Hartmann in "How Global Warming May Cause the Next Ice Age..."

Of course, Europe would not be alone in being effected by this. As the heat in the waters of the Gulf Stream failed to be moved to Europe, it would increasing concentrate off the east coast of North America, and this in combination with the rising ocean levels caused by glacial and polar ice cap meltdowns would likely cuase far more severe weather here which would particularly effect the highly-populated low-lying costal areas of the continent. As pointed out in an additional commentary, "Secretive Pentagon Forecasts Climate Wars" (mirror), this could result in large refugee flows from Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean, and an ensuing "food war" scenario that has Pentagon planners scurrying to address.

Many additional links on this are provided by the Woods Hole Ocean and Climate Change Institute's Abrupt Climate Change page.

[Thanks to thoughts on the eve of the apocalypse for of several links here.]

Tuesday, February 17, 2004
This special edition of the online journal Swans contains a number of exceptional essays on Iraq -- before, during, and after the war.
Monday, February 16, 2004
Have you read "A Case Not Closed" by Seymour Hersh? His New Yorker article refutes the Urban Legend that Saddam Hussein tried to assassinate the elected President Bush.

"Cooked" intelligence, Neocons, leaks, the article is from '93 but reads like yesterdays news.
The US occupation forces in Iraq have been arresting the wives of suspected resistance fighters in an attempt to force their husbands to turn themselves in.

"Surrender, we have your wife." This type of threatening note has been found at the homes of many Iraqis. According to Aljazeera's reporter in Baghdad, US forces leave such notes whenever they raid the house of an Iraqi suspect and find him out.

Scores of Iraqi women are believed to be in jail because US forces suspect their husbands of being resistance fighters. [more]
Of course, this is propaganda from a news source that hates America so much that the US military has repeatedly bombed its offices. Nevermind that the Washington Post has reported pretty much the same thing on two separate occasions, in July and November of this past year.
Two pilots who served their country at Dannelly Air National Guard base in Montgomery, Alabama and retired with ranks of lieutenant colonel and colonel said it was common knowledge that Bush never appeared at the base.

Something not much commented on is the odd occurrence that Bush friend James Bath lost his flying privilege a month to the day after Bush.

The CBC offers an interesting perspective on the Bush/Bath connection (.pdf).

Wayne Madsen on Bush/Bath/Bin Laden.
A Texas Observer article by Andrew Wheat on Bush/Bath/Bin Laden
More lengthy documentation of the connection by Tom Flocco.
Kean Insight: Bush, bin Laden, BCCI and the 9/11 Commission ties current events up some.

Maybe the Bush Absent Without Leave issue is hardly an issue at all, comparatively. It may be the tip of the iceburg.

I bet Helen Thomas would ask about this Bush/Bath/Bin Laden connection information. She is a real journalist, no Rather or Russert....

David Dill again:
"The system is in crisis. A quarter of the American public are voting on machines where there's very little protection of their votes. I don't think there's any reason to trust these machines," he said.

Such a system is even vulnerable to fraud byemployees of the machine's manufacturers, who could rewrite the software to rig an election he said.

"It is technically not difficult to do if you bribe a programmer at a major manufacturer. If you ask how likely it is that it could be done, the answer is 100 per cent. If you ask how likely it is to be done, I can't answer that," he added.

Technically not difficult? That's an understatement. Ask Jim March.

And as for how likely? It is inevitable if it has not been done yet. A single rogue operator could swing a state, and a talented one could swing a country ... without being detected.

[Note: Dill was speaking before the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. As of this writing, the text of his speech is not available there.]

[This article appeared on Black Box Notes. It is time to get involved people.]

What our Supreme hath wrought:
Florida bans recounts of touch-screen ballots
State elections officials banned any attempt to recount votes cast on touch-screen voting machines Friday, reversing an earlier decision as counties prepare for the presidential primary less than a month away.
This can only be called insane. Remember Bush v. Gore, the Election 2000 Supreme Court case that effectively handed that election to George Bush? The basis of their decision was essentially that if different standards for recounting ballots were used in different voting districts, irreperable harm would befall Bush. It was a quite tortured decision that even the Court itself said should not be used as precident for future decisions. But it wasn't only tortured, it was idiotic, as we will soon see.

Fast forward to 2004 and the advent of E-votng terminals in some Florida voting districts. State election officials initially decided that it would be left to the individual counties to decide if they wanted their terminals to produce paper ballots for use in audits and recounts. (Note that at the present, no E-vote terminals that produce paper ballots have been certified for use in Florida.)

These same officials however have recently reversed this decision, saying that no counties can produce paper ballots produced by E-vote terminals. Why? The Bush v. Gore decision. Here's the logic. If only some counties produce paper ballots, only those counties will be able to do recounts using those ballots. That creates "different standards" for recounting ballots, something that Bush v. Gore declares to be illegal.

Let's look at what they are saying here because it's important. What they are saying here effectively is that no Florida county can adopt a better voting system than any other Florida county. What they are saying here is that if all Florida counties cannot do a paper recount, then no Florida county is allowed to do a paper recount. What they are saying here is that all Florida counties must adopt the least secure voting system chosen by any Florida county. This is nonsense, and yet it is nonsense mandated by Bush v. Gore; that all recounting of votes must be as bad as the worst recounting of votes!

I would be remiss here is I did not point to my easlier post, Budgeting for Another Florida, which pointed out that the new White House budget only funds 5% of the $800 million legislated for the upgrade of voting systems around the country. The net result of this budget when combined with this recent Florida decicion is that counties in Florida will almost certainly not be seeking to use the now far more limited funds they will be receiving on paper e-ballot technology that they may not even be allowed to use. Local Florida voting supervisors will now not even have to take a position for or against paper e-ballots; they need only say that there is no money for them.

Is this some sort of conspiracy between the national Bush administration and the Florida Bush administration to sabotage the Florida 2004 election? One could hardly be faulted for noticng the "complimentary" nature of these decisions, but far more likely we are simply seeing a parallel lack of concern for the integrity of our voting systems that is all too common among members of today's Republican Party.

[The article originally appeared on Black Box Notes.]

Sunday, February 15, 2004
Regurgitated meal bags all around.

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