Why the Feeney vote-rigging story sounds like disinformation

Excellent congressional review today on CSpan regarding the Ohio election. Congress WILL go to Ohio for an official hearing and investigation. Hope you're viewing it. Go to CSpan to get the program info. and replay if you missed it! Go to truthout.com to get William Rivers Pitt's coverage on it, also.




Why the Feeney vote-rigging story sounds like disinformation

ABOUT DISINFORMATION: Like a good lie, it has elements of truth. Trouble is, the truth doesn't relate to the nuts and bolts of the story. For example in the Tom Feeney vote-manipulation story, people are documenting relationships between Tom Feeney and Yang, and between the writer of the story and other scandals, but so far the evidence presented does not back up the vote manipulation story itself.

DISINFORMATION IS DANGEROUS TO THE CLEAN VOTING MOVEMENT: Black Box Voting is finding real evidence consistent with fraud. We are even finding, in one of our investigations, evidence consistent with a systemic, or widespread breakdown in security, possibly exploited. Getting the facts is tedious, unexciting work, consisting of auditing and personal interviews, and it takes time. Many Americans want a magic bullet, a single shot that will blow the lid off everything at once.

That's risky. If the mainstream media continues to be bombarded with stories that sound credible, but aren't, when the real thing comes down the pike it will be ignored.

While MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and I had a run-in last week, I agree absolutely with Olbermann's earlier critique of the Madsen homeland security story, and this new Madsen story is just as weak. Most of both Madsen stories are bait and switch.

While real journalists "write tight" and include only the information directly relevant to the topic, Madsen wanders all over the place, recapping unrelated information from real news agencies, piggybacking onto their credibility, with only the most tenuous ties to what he is actually trying to prove. Analyze the meat of the story, taking out all the loose references to other stories, and Madsen's work gets very weak indeed.

Here are questions raised by the Feeney vote-manipulation story:

1. One of the most significant problems is that, while Clint Curtis describes a technique of writing a program, he never mentions HOW he supposedly got this program into the voting machines.

2. A second significant problem is that several of the Florida counties used different software in 2000 than they do now, and that various Florida counties use different manufacturers and different systems. Writing one program that would tamper with ES&S punch cards and Diebold optical scans at the same time is somewhat unrealistic. The questions this raises are these:

a. Which specific counties was this software supposedly used in for 2000, 2002 and 2004? Actually, from reading both the affidavit and the Madsen article, there is no evidence it was used anywhere.
- Madsen does a bait and switch when he discusses Volusia County. He starts by saying it is Feeney's district, and then actually goes on to report a story broken by Black Box Voting in October, 2003, about minus 16,022 votes for Bush in Volusia -- which appears to have nothing to do with the Feeney story. What systems was his vote rigging program for? Which manufacturers?

3. The techniques used to program a vote-rigging system in the Madsen article don't actually match the techniques in the affidavit by Clint Curtis, and neither one makes much sense. It's a simple matter to re-map a touch-screen to flip votes, and you don't need a special program for it. Simply switch the candidate ID numbers and it's done.

4. Most political shenanigans are not conducted by the candidate himself, but by operatives. It is certainly possible for a politician to hold several meetings in which he commits a felony in front of several witnesses, but that's not usually how it is done. A more common technique is an envelope full of cash left in a drawer of an operative, with at least one, sometimes more, buffer layers between the operative and the politician.

Clint Curtis says Feeney himself had meeting after meeting to directly discuss election rigging software. Could happen, certainly, but this seems unusual.

5. There are some statements that don't hang together from a programming standpoint. The author says that it will be difficult to write a program that will escape notice if the source code is examined. That's not quite true.

Writing a trigger into a program can involve a very small amount of code and there are several ways to do it. The idea is you write a very simple, hard to detect trigger with as little code as possible -- or you comment the code such that it looks like it is there for another purpose. The trigger can do several kinds of things -- allow a user to open up remote access without authentication, for example, or change permissions so that the user can do things that are supposed to be forbidden. In other words, the more complex program certainly would not reside on the voting system, but would appear only when triggered, or inserted by someone with access, or by remote access through telephone lines.

5. Why write a whole software program anyway? You can do what needs to be done with a VBA script, which never goes through certification, never gets compiled, and enters the system like a virus. The program described by the author is not a VBA script, but a compiled software program. You can do anything you want if you obtain remote access such that penetration of the computer itself is enabled. Why lock yourself in, by writing a specific program into the source code?

6. The originator of the story, Clint, says he has filed a "QUITAM" whistleblower suit, that is "pending." This is one of the least credible parts of the story. First, he doesn't spell it correctly. The correct spelling is two words, "Qui Tam." Next, Qui Tam cases MUST be filed under seal. If a Qui Tam is filed in Florida, both the evidence and the existence of the case must be sealed, and only the Florida Attorney General can unseal it.

Black Box Voting Executive Director Bev Harris, and Black Box Voting board member Jim March, filed a Qui Tam suit in California. Using a California law, they refused to seal the evidence, but still had to keep the existence of the case under seal. It did not come out from under seal until the California Attorney General got the court to unseal it, and the Associated Press covered the unsealing of the case. You cannot keep the unsealing of a Qui Tam case away from the press. The press has mentioned no such Qui Tam in Florida.

This leaves two possibilities: (1) He filed the Qui Tam and is violating the court order to keep the case under seal, or (2) There is no Qui Tam case on this.

To develop a more credible story, we'd like to see answers for the following:

1. How the program got into the machine. Not "theoretically" how it got in, but how Clint Curtis says he got it in there.

2. What systems were used (which manufacturers, and were they punch card, optical scan or touch screen) in each of the counties, during each of the years this manipulation supposedly occurred.

3. What's the deal on the Qui Tam, and how is he getting around the sealing of the case?

Peace through compassion, information, vigilence, and activism


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Dezember 2004

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