Bulletin 76

Subject: On the 2004 Presidential Elections : From Center for the  Advance Study of American Institutions and Social Movements, Grenobl,  France.

23 April 2003
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

The Center for Advanced Research of American Institutions and Social
Movements received the following two messages which warn of a more political
machinations to assure Republican victories in the November 2004 elections.
(Please see Item A, the letter by Peter Coyote addressed to California
Senator Barbara Boxer.)

In addition (item B) is an article by Edward Said, which

Forwarded by Professor Bertell Ollman :

Subject: The 2004 Presidential election may already be decided.
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2003 09:03:30 -0700
From: Peter Coyote
Subject: Rigging the Vote----Please Read!!!

 Dear Friends, I'm including a copy of a letter I sent to Barbara Boxer and
my other representatives with
the evidence accumulated of a potential 'November surprise'-- the rigging of
the next Presidential vote by private, inaccessible, untransparent voting
machines that leave no paper trail. For a fuller discussion of the issue and
links, please go to: CommonDreams.org Published on Friday, January 31, 2003
I consider this a critical issue and if you agree urge you to disseminate
this widely and write a personal letter to your
representatives: NOT AN E-MAIL. If you need their address go to:
http://www.house.gov/writerep/ and for the Senate go to:
http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/ senators_cfm.cfm

Thank you very much,
Peter Coyote

Senator Barbara Boxer
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Barbara,
I'm writing to you about a situation of the greatest urgency. Last year, I
narrated a film called
"Unprecedented" by American journalist Greg Palast (currently writing for
the London Guardian). This
film documents the illegal expunging of 54,000 black and overwhelmingly
Democratic voters from the Florida rolls just before the presidential
election. We interviewed the computer company that did the work, filmed
their explanations of the instructions they received and their admissions
that they knew that their instructions would produce massive error. That
figure has now been revised to 91,000.

Jeb Bush was sued, and was supposed to have returned these voters to the
rolls, and did not, which explains his last re-election. The Republicans
have something far worse in mind for the next presidential election and
Democrats need to be prepared.  The recent elections of Nebraska Republican
Chuck Hagel, the loss in Georgia of Max Cleland, wildly popular Vietnam vet,
and the victory of Alabama Governor Bob Riley, along with a handful of other
Republican victories, (all predicted to have been losers by straw polls
which our nation has refined to a
high-art) points to an ominous source: corporate-programmed,
computer-controlled, modem-capable voting machines, recording and tabulating
ballots. You'd think in an open democracy that the government---answerable
to all its citizens, rather than a handful of corporate officers and
stockholders---would program, repair, and
control the voting machines. You'd think the computers that handle our
cherished ballots would be open and their software and programming available
for public scrutiny. You'd think there would be a paper trail of the vote,
which could be followed and audited if a there was evidence of voting fraud
or if exit polls disagreed with computerized vote counts. You'd be wrong.

The Washington, DC publication The Hill
(www.thehill.com/news/012903/hagel.aspx) has confirmed that former
conservative radio talk-show host and now Republican U.S. Senator Chuck
Hagel was the head of, and continues to own part interest in, the company
that owns the company that installed, programmed, and largely ran the voting
machines that were used by most of the citizens of Nebraska. When Democrat
Charlie Matulka requested a hand count of the vote in the election he lost
to Hagel, his request was denied because Nebraska had a just-passed law that
prohibits government-employee election workers from looking at the ballots,
even in a recount. The
only machines permitted to count votes in Nebraska, he said, are those made
and programmed by the corporation formerly run by Hagel. When Bev Harris and
The Hill's Alexander Bolton pressed the Chief Counsel and Director of the
Senate Ethics Committee, (the man responsible for ensuring that FEC
disclosures are complete),
asking him why he'd not questioned Hagel's 1995, 1996, and 2001 failures to
disclose the details, of his ownership in the company that owned the voting
machine company when he ran for the Senate, the Director
reportedly met with Hagel's office on Friday, January 25, 2003 and Monday,
January 27, 2003. After
the second meeting, on the afternoon of January 27th, the Director of the
Senate Ethics Committee resigned his job.  Hagel's surprise victory is a
trial-run for the presidential election. Election 'reform' laws are now
prohibiting paper ballots (no trail) and exit polls, effectively removing
all trace and record of votes, making prosecution of voter fraud virtually
impossible.  For whatever reasons, the Democrats decided not to pursue the
issue of fraudulence in the last Presidential election. The three Supreme
Court Justices who should have recused themselves (Scalia, Thomas, and
O'Connor) were allowed to stand unchallenged and pass a bizarre
one-time-only ruling. That they were in place long before the election,
demonstrates how clearly the end-game of such moves was thought out.  Unless
the issue of voter fraud is elevated to an issue of national importance, not
only is it highly probable that Democrats will lose again and again, but
eventually voters will "sense" even if they cannot prove, that elections are
rigged, and the current 50% of those boycotting elections will
swell to the majority. Privatization of the vote is tantamount to turning
over the control of democracy to the corporate sector. I urge you to use
your considerable powers and influence to address this issue.

From: Ed Herman [mailto:hermane@wharton.upenn.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2003 10:12 AM

Sunday April 20, 2003
The Observer

                        Give us back our democracy: Americans have been cheated
                    and lied to on matters of the gravest constitutional

                                        by Edward Said

In a speech in the Senate on 19 March, the first day of war against Iraq,

Robert Byrd, the Democrat Senator from West Virginia, asked: 'What is

happening to this country? When did we become a nation which ignores and

berates our friends? When did we decide to risk undermining international

order by adopting a radical and doctrinaire approach to using our awesome

military might? How can we abandon diplomacy when the turmoil in the world

cries out for diplomacy?'

No one bothered to answer, but as the American military machine currently in

Iraq stirs restlessly in other directions, these questions give urgency to

the failure, if not the corruption, of democracy.

Let us examine what the US's Middle East policy has wrought since George W.

Bush came to power. Even before the atrocities of 11 September, Bush's team

had given Ariel Sharon's government freedom to colonise the West Bank and

Gaza, kill and detain people at will, demolish their homes, expropriate

their land and imprison them by curfew and military blockades. After 9/11,

simply hitched his wagon to 'the war on terrorism' and intensified his

unilateral depredations against a defenceless civilian population under

occupation, despite UN Security Council Resolutions enjoining Israel to

withdraw and desist from its war crimes and human-rights abuses.

In October 2001, Bush launched the invasion of Afghanistan, which opened

with concentrated, high-altitude bombing (an 'anti-terrorist' military tactic,

which resembles ordinary terrorism in its effects and structure) and by

December had installed a client regime with no effective power beyond Kabul.

There has been no significant US effort at reconstruction, and it seems the

country has returned to its former abjection.

Since the summer of 2002, the Bush administration has conducted a propaganda

campaign against the despotic government of Iraq and with the UK, having

unsuccessfully tried to push the Security Council into compliance, started

the war. Since last November, dissent disappeared from the mainstream media

swollen with a surfeit of ex-generals sprinkled with recent terrorism

experts drawn from Washington right-wing think-tanks.

Anyone who was critical was labelled anti-American by failed academics,

listed on websites as an 'enemy' scholar who didn't toe the line. Those few

public figures who were critical had their emails swamped, their lives

threatened, their ideas trashed by media commentators who had become

sentinels of America's war.

A torrent of material appeared equating Saddam Hussein's tyranny not only

with evil, but with every known crime. Some of this was factually correct

but neglected the role of the US and Europe in fostering Saddam's rise and

maintaining his power. In fact, the egregious Donald Rumsfeld visited Saddam

in the early 80s, assuring him of US approval for his catastrophic war

against Iran. US corporations supplied nuclear, chemical and biological

materials for the supposed weapons of mass destruction and then were

brazenly erased from public record.


All this was deliberately obscured by government and media in manufacturing

the case for destroying Iraq. Either without proof or with fraudulent

information, Saddam was accused of harbouring weapons of mass destruction

seen as a direct threat to the US. The appalling consequences of the US and

British intervention in Iraq are beginning to unfold, with the calculated

destruction of the country's modern infrastructure, the looting of one of

the world's richest civilisations, the attempt to engage motley 'exiles' plus

large corporations in rebuilding the country, and the appropriation of its

oil and its modern destiny. It's been suggested that Ahmad Chalabi, for

example, will sign a peace treaty with Israel, hardly an Iraqi idea. Bechtel

has already been awarded a huge contract.


This is an almost total failure in democracy - ours, not Iraq's: 70 per cent

of the American people are supposed to support this, but nothing is more

manipulative than polls asking 465 Americans whether they 'support our

President and troops in time of war'. As Senator Byrd said: 'There is a

pervasive sense of rush and risk and too many questions unanswered ... a

pall has fallen over the Senate Chamber. We avoid our solemn duty to debate the

one topic on the minds of all Americans, even while scores of our sons and

daughters faithfully do their duty in Iraq.'


I am convinced this was a rigged, unnecessary and unpopular war. The

reactionary Washington institutions that spawned Wolfowitz, Perle, Abrams

and Feith provide an unhealthy intellectual and moral atmosphere. Policy papers

circulate without real peer review, adopted by a government requiring

justification for illicit policy. The doctrine of military pre-emption was

never voted on by the American people or their representatives. How can

citizens stand up against the blandishments offered to the government by

companies like Halliburton and Boeing? Charting a strategic course for the

most lavishly endowed military establishment in history is left to

ideologically based pressure groups (eg fundamentalist Christian leaders),

wealthy private foundations and lobbies like AIPAC, the American-Israel

Public Affairs Committee. It seems so monumentally criminal that important

words like democracy and freedom have been hijacked, used as a mask for

pillage, taking over territory and settling scores. The US programme for the

Arab world has become the same as Israel's. Along with Syria, Iraq once

represented the only serious military threat to Israel and, therefore, it

had to be smashed.


Besides, what does it mean to liberate and democratise a country when no one

asked you to do it and when, in the process, you occupy it militarily while

failing to preserve law and order? What a travesty of strategic planning

when you assume 'natives' will welcome your presence after you've bombed and

quarantined them for 13 years.

A preposterous mindset about American beneficence has infiltrated the

minutest levels of the media. In writing about a 70-year-old Baghdad widow

who ran a cultural centre in her home that was wrecked by US raids and who

is now beside herself with rage, New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins

implicitly chastises her for her 'comfortable life under Saddam Hussein' and

piously disapproves of her tirade against the Americans, 'and this from a

graduate of London University'.

Adding to the fraudulence of the weapons not found, the Stalingrads that

didn't occur, the artillery defences that never happened, I wouldn't be

surprised if Saddam disappeared suddenly because a deal was made in Moscow

to let him, his family, and his money leave in return for the country. The war

had gone badly for the US in the south, and Bush couldn't risk the same in

Baghdad. On 6 April, a Russian convoy leaving Iraq was bombed; Condi Rice

appeared in Russia on 7 April; Baghdad fell 9 April.

Nevertheless, Americans have been cheated, Iraqis have suffered impossibly

and Bush looks like a cowboy. On matters of the gravest importance,

constitutional principles have been violated and the electorate lied to. We

are the ones who must have our democracy back.

Edward Said is Professor of Comparative Literature at Columbia University, New York..