Subject: On the 2004 Presidential Elections : From Center for the Advance Study of American Institutions and Social Movements, Grenobl, France.
23 April 2003
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
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:
Thank you very much,
Senator Barbara Boxer
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
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
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:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2003 10:12 AM
Sunday April 20, 2003
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
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
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.
has already been awarded a huge contract.
This is an almost total failure in democracy - ours, not Iraq's: 70
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
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..