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Bob Fitrakis on New Evidence of 2004 Stolen Election in Ohio

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My guest today is Bob Fitrakis,  author, journalist, editor and publisher of The Free Press. Welcome back to OpEdNews, Bob. We last spoke back in April after you wrote a powerful piece called Ohio Republicans pass new Jim Crow "voter ID" law to disenfranchise 900,000 voters.   Things seem to be going from bad to worse. There are more revelations regarding the 2004 Ohio presidential election, which you've written about extensively over the years. For many of our readers, 2004 is the distant past. Can you walk us through it, Bob?  Why does it matter now, all these years later? 


from Ohio State University

The electronic vote count apparatus that was put together to steal the 2004 election is still with us today. We still allow private partisan for-profit companies to control our software and hardware in the election process.

In the new court filing in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville case, instead of us and others being dismissed as "conspiracy theorists," people can make up their own minds. They can look at the architectural map showing how J. Kenneth Blackwell, then-Ohio Secretary of State, allowed private contractors to outsource the Ohio 2004 presidential vote count on election night to a private company, SmarTech, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The court case was stalled after the tragic of Bush IT guru Michael Connell in December 2008, one month after we took his deposition about the outsourcing of the vote count in 2004. People have a chance to look at our brief and Connell's under oath deposition with this new filing.

Also, the contracts signed by Connell's company and SmarTech can be read in the filing for the first time. This isn't ancient history. It is state of the art vote theft. It is tied directly to Karl Rove and partisan Republican IT operatives. It could happen in Ohio again, it could happen anywhere in the country. It appears to have just happened in Wisconsin.

Back up a bit please, Bob. The average reader doesn't understand anything about architectural maps or private contractors or even about the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville case. How can we give them the basic information they need to evaluate the evidence?

The King-Lincoln-Bronzeville case is a civil rights case filed in 2006 against Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell. It was based on evidence showing that during Ohio's 2004 presidential election, black voters were disproportionately purged from the voting rolls, voting machines were deliberately withheld from primarily urban polling sites, and many ballots from minority/young/poor/elderly voters in major urban areas (read: Democratic) were never counted.

The results of the 2004 election have always been at odds with the exit polls. After the election ended, the exit polls showed John Kerry won by three points instead of losing by three points and thus should have won Ohio and become the president.

While investigating the civil rights complaint, evidence emerged that Blackwell (who also served as co-chair of the Bush/Cheney re-election campaign) had hired private contractors to oversee the election. One of the contractors was a long-established Bush IT operative, Mike Connell. Connell originally worked for the former CIA Director George H. W. Bush when he ran for president in 1988.

For some unexplained reason, Connell set up a computer system, which was supposed to be a "back-up" system for reporting the final vote count in Ohio. The system was actually more of a "man-in-the-middle" computer sitting in between Ohio's 88 county central tabulators and the Ohio secretary of state's voting site with the capability to alter the vote count. Within a recent court filing in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville case, there is an architectural map depicting this computer system.

The computer system resided in Chattanooga, Tennesseee, run by a company called SmarTech under Jeff Averbeck. Averbeck is another highly-partisan operative who formerly worked for Richard DeVoss of Amway. Averbeck was a Bush-Rove loyalist. On those same stack of servers in Chattanooga was a website directly linked to the White House - gwb3.com .

Part of this information came from a deposition of Mike Connell and information from other IT experts assisting in the lawsuit. All of this evidence is contained in the new court filings. People should read the brief as well as the Connell deposition, the contracts with these Republican companies and then consider the computer set up.

The system is literally designed to hack the vote.

The reader can find the information here:
"New court filing reveals how the 2004 Ohio presidential election was hacked" article on freepress.org


I sn't this just a case of Democratic sour grapes? Why are we just discovering all this now? And where is the corporate press? Isn't this a rather huge, and historic story with huge ramifications? They should be all over this!

Regarding Democratic sour grapes - you'd have to ask the Democrats about that. I'm a Green, co-chair of the Ohio Green Party and former Green candidate for Governor. It was the Green and Libertarian Parties in Ohio who called for recount in Ohio of the 2004 election.

Democrats are equally to blame for allowing private computer companies to corrupt our voting system.

The case was stayed in the court for a period while we tried to work out a consent decree to clean up the election process in Ohio with former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (2006-2010). We lifted the stay prior to the 2008 election to take Connell's deposition because of our fear that the private companies may be operating again in Ohio. The death of Connell, who we had planned to depose again, forced us to look in different directions.

Now with the new Republican secretary of state in Ohio, who is trying to close the case and challenges the evidence, it was the right time to reveal what we'd found out and we just got permission of the court to make the Connell deposition (which had been sealed by the Court) public.

Where is the corporate press? The for-profit press is in its usual place as lapdog rather than watchdog. These privately held companies owned by the wealthy or publicly traded multi-national corporations are not going to call into question the integrity of the U.S. election system. The story has been driven by the blogs, online websites, documentary filmmakers and increasingly by discussion boards frequented by computer professionals.

Although, if we search the public records there were questions raised about Connell's death by the local media. Maxim magazine did a decent article and Jesse Ventura with Dick Russell had a thoughtful chapter in their book.

The problem here in Columbus is that we were getting good coverage early on about election irregularities until the reporter who was giving us a fair shake was removed from the story.

I agree the mainstream media should have been all over this. But I also think they should have been all over the story that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9.11 and Saddam was enemies with Osama bin Laden. But there was nothing there. It is precisely because its such a large story that the mainstream for-profit press is not all over it. Their editorial boards are overwhelmingly Republican sympathizers and donors to the Bush campaign. What stake do they have in exposing that their guy cheated?

Moreover, they would be calling into question the entire mythology of the U.S. electoral system. I will defer here to Jimmy Carter, however, who said he doesn't monitor the U.S. election system because it doesn't meet minimum standards of transparency required under international law.

Let's revisit the critical figure of Michael Connell. Why was such a clearly partisan operative tasked with handling the Ohio votes? Was that kosher? I seem to remember that Rove threatened Connell not to testify about to his role in the 2004 election. Am I misremembering? And shouldn't that have made his timely plane crash all the more suspicious?

Michael Connell, a partisan operative, was tasked with handling the Ohio votes precisely because the Secretary of State Blackwell, Co-Chair of the Bush-Cheney Re-election Campaign knew he was partisan. Connell created a front company, GovTech, that sold itself as non-partisan when he had been working for years for his company New Media as one of the most partisan IT operatives in the U.S. GovTech managed to become the first private company to put its servers behind the firewalls of the U.S. Congress, when Congressman Bob Ney awarded them a contract to provide servers and internet service for the House Ways and Means, Intelligence, Judicial and Administrative Committees. This should have never happened. No partisan operative should be privy as an internet service provider to the emails of Congressional members. Connell was the man who kept IT secrets for Karl Rove, and we have credible evidence that he approached another IT security expert about erasing emails.

We had it from reliable sources that Connell was being threatened by Rove and we felt the claim was legitimate. After all, Connell was involved with three key political scandals -- the missing emails relating to the Valerie Plame outing, missing emails involving the firing of U.S. attorneys, and the 2004 Ohio election debacle. We asked the Justice Department to place Connell in protective custody. I personally warned Connell at the deposition not to fly his plane. We were involved in trying to get him to testify before Congressman John Conyers' Judiciary Committee and later a subcommittee of Congressman Kucinich. Because of delays, he ended up lawyering up.

The fact that he died a month and a half after his deposition is of course suspicious, as well as the circumstances of the crash. One of his closest friends told us that Connell was being threatened. Many people were concerned for his safety. His plane left from an airbase with ties to the intelligence community. The evidence suggests that he thought he was climbing up instead of heading into the ground. I've spoken with eyewitnesses and family members. The site was "cleaned up" in the middle of the night, leaving parts of his brain, but personal effects missing, according to his wife, who couldn't find his Blackberry.

In your article, you write "In the Connell deposition, plaintiffs' attorneys questioned Connell regarding gwb43, a website that was live on election night operating out of the White House and tied directly into SmarTech's server stacks in Chattanooga, Tennessee which contained Ohio's 2004 presidential election results." What does that mean exactly - about the Bush website being live and connected to SmarTech's server stacks? Translate please so that we non-techies can grasp why this is important.

The same people employed to run George W. Bush's website were controlling the vote count for Ohio's 2004 presidential election, with the ability to alter the vote.

All roads lead to Rove. You've got a Machiavellian political operative who can easily give instructions from the White House and is seeing real time election results and has access to a computer apparatus that allows the altering of election results. Suddenly in Ohio, two precincts in Perry County Ohio that go heavily for Bush are reporting 120% and 118% voter turnout. Phantom votes popped up in Miami County. Clyde, Ohio reported 131% voter turnout.

The exit polls showed a three point Kerry victory -- but after a reported incident of servers "going down" -- the vote results report that Bush won with three points.

131% turnout, you say? I live in Cook County [Chicago] and they make us look like a bunch of pikers! What you say fits well with Richard Charnin [author of Proving Election Fraud: Phantom Voters, Uncounted Votes, and the National Exit Poll ]'s statistical evidence that Kerry won. Have you seen that?  

I think Charnin's work on the exit polls is essential reading for anyone concerned with election integrity. His analysis is in line with the exit polls and he points out the obvious error in this electronic computer era -- to assume that the exit polls, which are the gold standard for detecting election fraud are wrong and we assuming the vote count is uncorrupted and correct. I'm a big fan of Charnin and have been reading him closely lately.

Who is Stephen Spoonamore and how does he fit into this story?

Stephen Spoonamore is one of the nation's leading cybersecurity experts. He started up  various cybersecurity companies. He's worked for some of the nation's largest banking and corporate interests in the area of credit card and financial cyber-fraud. He's a life-long Republican, a McCain supporter. Also, he worked with Michael Connell on election and computer security in overseas elections. He has a strong commitment to democracy and is contributing his unique skills to ensure that any attempts to use computers to alter the U.S. voting system will be exposed.

Spoonamore can't be tarred with the "sour grapes' charge. So, where does that leave us, Bob? We can't change what happened. What can we do to protect ourselves from election fraud if the press won't even acknowledge it?

Some of the mainstream press, like the Cleveland Plain Dealer, dealt with the issue of Connell's 2008 plane crash in an objective manner. Reporters like Jon Craig of the Cincinnati Enquirer went into detail on the destruction of election documents in Ohio in 2006. Rolling Stone, although originally the voice of the counterculture, should be given credit for Bobby Kennedy, Jr.'s article on what happened in Ohio, as well as a follow-up piece by Kennedy and Greg Palast on how easy it is to hack the vote. Mark Crispin Miller had an article in Harper's Magazine about the stolen Ohio election, and Harper's has just contacted us again about printing the computer configuration map that we released in the filing.

To protect ourselves from election fraud, we need to begin by barring private, partisan companies from secretly counting our vote. We need to return to what the rest of the democratic world does -- count ballots on paper with full transparency at the precinct level. Then, and only then, use the machines to report. Luckily, it is fairly easy to do.

Another thing we need to do is remove these companies from controlling the electrontic pollbooks. There's plenty of proof in Ohio and elsewhere that voters, particularly minority and poor voters who tend to vote Democratic, are being systematically purged from voting rolls.

The voting rights of U.S. citizens are under attack from multiple angles by Karl Rove and his cohorts. Instead of shrinking the electorate and uses databases to eliminate voters because they don't have the proper photo ID, we should -- state by state -- hopefully in the long run, make voting rights a universal constitutional right. A right that is protected and not subject to Jim Crow practices such as the legislation in the Ohio (House Bill 194) that prevents pollworkers from telling you if your voting in the right or wrong precinct line. We need to convince people that there's no real evidence of "voter" fraud, but there is evidence of vote rigging and election fraud.

Because of the work being done, key blogs like OpEdNews, Bradblog, TruthOut and others have picked it up and the story is at a tipping point and looks like its on the verge of going viral. It is being discussed all over the world. So I appreciate this follow up interview. Thank you, Joan!

Thanks for talking with me, Bob. Please keep us apprised of developments with this story.  


***

New court filing reveals how the 2004 Ohio presidential election was hacked July 20, The Free Press

Forget Anonymous: Evidence Suggests GOP Hacked, Stole 2004 Election By J ohn Thorpe  July 21, 2011 
 
Dead Men Do Tell Tales (Of Rigged Elections) by Gene Howington, July 26, 2011

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http://www.opednews.com/author/author79.html

Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)
 

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any computerized voting machine can be easily hack... by Jill Herendeen on Thursday, Jul 28, 2011 at 8:15:39 PM
i'm sad to say, you are quite right, jill.not to m... by Joan Brunwasser on Friday, Jul 29, 2011 at 7:16:12 AM
the thieves are on the truth rack... by nation of gandhis on Thursday, Jul 28, 2011 at 11:31:14 PM
so many people dead (on both sides), lives ruined,... by Joan Brunwasser on Friday, Jul 29, 2011 at 7:17:42 AM
I'm not happy to see fellow Green Fitrakis say " B... by David McCorquodale on Friday, Jul 29, 2011 at 8:33:57 AM