No time for detail today due to travel, but be sure to review the highlights of stories from the last week that you won't see anywhere else, including the stellar contributions of our most excellent guest bloggers, who are holding down the fort while Brad is on the road...
Today brings us a few articles and opinion pieces. We have opinion pieces from Nancy Tobi, Bev Harris and Howard Stanislevic. There isn’t much to pass on that is real news. Maybe that’s a good thing because most of what is reported by the Main Stream Media (MSM) is only reported when there is a real election problem and many of those are ignored. Why, for instance, has the MSM totally ignored the ES&S source code escrow issue and their arrogant letter to the California Secretary of State’s office? Not one word has been printed by the MSM on this issue that could bring into question whether many state’s election laws are being followed by the vendors....
Catching no one by surprise, yet another official in Bush's Department of Justice has resigned with an announcement late on a Friday afternoon, apparently in hopes of minimizing coverage of the beleaguered department in the media.
According to the Boston Globe (via Think Progress), Rachel Brand, Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy, announced she will step down from her post on July 9.
While no reason was given for Brand's departure, apparently the department is floating the explanation that she is "expecting a baby soon." It is unclear what, if anything, that floater is intended to imply. Is it that the Bush Administration's version "maternity leave" is unofficially equivalent to permanent leave, or Brand never intended to return to her job after having her baby anyway, and simply decided to leave the job early and forgo using maternity leave benefits altogether? In the past, the Bush Justice Department has used maternity leave as a reason to pass over other pregnant career professionals for promotion. That is considered an illegal form of job discrimination, and in any other Justice Department, would be grounds for an investigation.
Aside from the pregnancy discrimination question, Brand's resignation couldn't possibly be related to the U.S. Attorney firing scandal, could it? According to the Globe, why, yes, it could...
Yesterday I mentioned that Maryland chief election official, Linda Lamone, had been caught with her picture on a Diebold brochure touting the company’s electronic poll book product. I asked, “What are the odds that Diebold will pull back the brochures to help Lamone out of a fix?” Well, the odds turned out to be 100 percent. Lamone asked Diebold to stop distributing the brochure and Diebold says they will comply. ...
Congrats to our friends, at RAW STORY. They've made it onto the radar screen of Rightwing Extremist, borderline psychotic John Gibson of Fox "News." They must be doing something right. Fantasy World Dwellers like the Bush dead-ender Gibson must be seeing the writing on the wall. If Gibson's silly, desperate, and unsupportable shots at RAW are any indication, it seems that the previous strategy of the 28-percenters may be quickly disintegrating. Pretending the real world doesn't exist --- by ignoring actual journalism and critics of administration policies (such as breaking the law, ignoring the constitution, etc.) --- may be a dog whose time on the hunt is soon coming to an end.
"The far Lefties are mad at [Cheney] for a host of imagined and concocted offenses. Having mostly to do with the fact that Cheney doggedly pursues our nation's enemies and he doesn't much care what other people think of what he's doing," opines Gibson from the undisclosed location of his own mind. That, after using the words "far far," "extreme," and "lefties" more times in his opening several sentences than we were able to count this morning.
Gibson, not watched by all that many people on Fox "News," describes RAW as being read by "not all that many people." In the past week, RAW STORY has had over 3.5 million page views. Anyone have time to check any numbers for Gibson's "Big Show"? We wonder how it compares number-wise.
By the way, the "Leftist blog" RAW STORY, as Gibson attempts to marginalize it, is not a blog. It's a news site. But, given his employer, we'll forgive Gibson for being unfamiliar with what news actually looks like.
The inside Maryland media has finally discovered what was reported outside of Maryland earlier this week; the state’s election director may have a conflict of interest issue and there is no doubt that she suffers from poor decision making. Linda Lamone, Maryland’s top election official allowed her picture, and a statement of questionable quality, to be used in a brochure that Diebold is using to promote their electronic poll book product. While Lamone discusses how great the product is, she conveniently forgets that the system failed miserably when used in the state primary last September. She claims that she sees nothing wrong with allowing Diebold to use this promotion, after all she is a lawyer and she reviewed the brochure before it was printed. The Governor and some state legislators from both parties seem to disagree with Lamone. What are the odds that Diebold will pull back the brochures to help Lamone out of a fix? ...
While this may not be one of Lewis Black's better "Back in Black" segments on The Daily Show, he does deliver one great line at the end about Fox "News" and the awful 1/2 Hour News Hour, in which BRAD BLOG has taken far too great an interest. To date, BRAD BLOG's extensive coverage of the alleged Fox comedy show has included a video post from the debut episode in February, a Brad Friedman exclusive interview with one of the stars from the premiere and a follow-up video post when the fake fake news show unexpectedly returned after a long hiatus. Let this put to rest once and for all any talk that BRAD BLOG only provides worthwhile coverage of election integrity issues!
A long predicted constitutional battle has finally begun. The judiciary committees of both the House and the Senate have subpoenaed administration documents pertinent to the U.S. attorney scandal. In a letter of response, White House counsel Fred Fielding has declined to cooperate, invoking executive privilege.
Thursday was the deadline for surrendering the documents. The White House also made clear that (former counsel Harriet) Miers and (ex-political director Sara) Taylor would not testify next month, as directed by the subpoenas, which were issued June 13. The stalemate could end up with House and Senate contempt citations and a battle in federal court over separation of powers.
The judiciary committees have, in a separate action, also subpoenaed documents relating to the warrantless wiretapping controversy. The White House is again expected to invoke executive privilege.
Congressman John Conyers has fired back at the White House attorney...
NOTE: While the above toon's suggestion, that the Constitution is protected each night from Dick Cheney, may be a joke, the part about powerful hydraulics lowering it into the ground each night is actually true. The company who made the high-tech security system, custom built to protect our nation's most important document: Diebold, Inc.
As The BRAD BLOG reported yesterday, voting machine company ES&S has finally relented and agreed to join all of the other companies operating in the state by cooperating with the Secretary of State Debra Bowen's "Top-to-Bottom Review" of all electronic voting systems previously certified by her predecessor Bruce McPherson. After previously refusing to supply the state with source code for the company's InkaVote Plus system used exclusively in Los Angeles County, Bowen had demanded the release of the source code from escrow where it was stored by state law, as we also reported previously.
But has ES&S really relented? Or is something else up?
We asked yesterday why ES&S decided to send their source code, instead of allowing Bowen to pull it from the escrow facility at Iron Mountain, as she had previously demanded. And now, based on a letter from the company which The BRAD BLOG was able to obtain from one of our sources, as sent to Bowen's office when they agreed to supply the source code Monday, the smell of something fishy continues to permeate. The complete ES&S letter is posted in full at the bottom of this article.
On Monday, June 25, ES&S sent the letter to Lowell Finley, California's Deputy Sec. of State in charge of Voting Systems Technology and Policy, agreeing to supply the source code for InkaVote Plus is an amazing example of the company's arrogance even as it continues to beg a myriad of unanswered questions.
ES&S opens the letter repeating their desire for changes to the previously agreed upon Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) they have with the state. AS well, they believe the cost of Bowen's "top-to-bottom review" is too high, and they have concerns with some of the researchers who are doing the review. Nonetheless, they agree to cooperate.
Yet, after informing Finley that they intend to finally send the required source code, they instruct him that they expect him to send a letter to Iron Mountain Intellectual Property Management Inc. to release the firm from the state's request for the escrowed source code. Now why would they need to do that?
"As ES&S is providing the InkaVote Plus voting system source code directly to your office, ES&S requests that you send a letter to Iron Mountain retracting your request for the InkaVote Plus voting system source code," writes ES&S' Steven M. Pearson in the letter.
"This will provide the required notification to Iron Mountain that you are no longer in need of the requested source code and allow Iron Mountain to close your request. In addition, this will avoid ES&S from having to issue contrary instructions to Iron Mountain to prohibit the release of the InkaVote Plus voting system source code."
Constitutional law professor Jonathon Turley on Olbermann: "For many years, since we first found out about this program, some of us have said that this was a clearly criminal act that the president called for. ... If we're right, not only did he order that crime, but it would be, in fact, an impeachable offense."
"This administration, I have to say, has a certain contempt for the law," added Turley. "They treat it like some of my criminal defendents used to treat it. ... They come up with any argument that might work. ... It's a sort of shocking development. ... But at the end of the day, they will lose, and they're making the situation worse."
ES&S seems to have complied with the demand from the California SoS’s office that they provide their source code as part of the state’s “Top-to-Bottom Review” of all voting systems used in the state. I say “seems to” because ES&S delivered source code but would not let the state have the code that is sitting in escrow, per state law, for exactly the purpose of a review of their voting system. This is a growing story with a lot of unanswered questions. Also, is it not enough that we have given a few corporations too much involvement in our voting process (with more to come if S-1487 is signed into law)? Now Salt Lake Co. Utah is actually discussing allowing companies to advertise at the polls in exchange for providing a minimum of five uniform dressed “volunteers” as poll workers. I can see it now, a banner running across the DRE screen announcing, “Today’s election is brought to you by WalMart”...
Following on subpoenas issued to both Dick Cheney and the White House earlier today on the warrantless wire-tapping issue, the Summer of Accountability continues as the heat grows on both Cheney and Gonzales in the matter of the refusal by Cheney's office to provide reports on the handling of classified information.
A statement just sent to The BRAD BLOG (posted in full at the end of this article) by the offices of Representatives Conyers, Waxman, and Clay calls on Gonzales to explain his position on the National Archives request for Cheney to comply with an Executive Order requiring all Executive Branch offices to detail their handling of classified material and his subsequent refusal.
Cheney has claimed, in his failure to file appropriate reports for the last three years, that he didn't need to because the Office of the Vice President is not a part of the Executive Branch (that, despite their having complied with the order in years prior to 2003, when it seems they leaked the classified identify of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame).
In the statement, Waxman says Cheney's response is "absurd," Conyers calls it "highly dubious," and Clay characterizes the matter as "a breathtaking act of arrogance" in which Cheney is making a mockery of the law and our system of checks and balances."
The complete statement from Waxman, Conyers, and Clay follows in full below...
Well, the pseudonymous "drational" has now followed up with an excellent analysis of the caging lists which shores up the bulk of Palast's claims and reporting (even if he can't help but take a few more inappropriate and unhelpful shots at the guy who broke the story in the first place, and kept banging on it for two and a half years until Mr. "Drat" finally found the time to investigate the charges).
"Drational" posted a follow-up today on the RNC's "Widespread Caging in 2004" (in FL, OH, NV, WA, and OR, all crucial battlegrounds) and names names of high-level Bush/Cheney officials and others who seem to have been involved in some way.
Also yesterday, Spencer Ackerman at TPM Muckraker posted a similar independent analysis of the Tim Griffin caging lists. His findings, as well, "strengthened allegations that Griffin, working for the Republican National Committee, was involved in an effort to target African-American voters."
All four posts mentioned are worth reading in full, with a reminder that we quoted a bit more from TPM Muck in Alan Breslauer's posting here yesterday of Tim Griffin's recent denial video in which he strains credulity by claiming he didn't even know what caging was, and had to look it up in a dictionary.
Nice try, Tim. In the meantime, any broadcast news outlets ready to run the story yet? Or will they wait until after it happens again, say, in 2008 or so?
Oh, and Mr. "Drat"? You owe a straight up --- unqualified --- apology to Palast for your original, over-the-top, un-researched, knee-jerk attacks on his reporting. Advancing and/or independently verifying someone's reporting is appropriate and appreciated, as you did in your latest. As well, holding folks responsible when elements are incorrect is also helpful. Going off half-cocked, as you did, with claims that Palast's reporting on this was "dangerous" and trying to justify those claims later based on several errors you claim to have found, none of which change the thrust of his original reports, as you did in your very good follow-ups, is less than impressive, in our opinion.
UPDATE: We failed to link, originally, to the ePluribus Media report upon which much of "drational's" article was based. We've now corrected that failure in the above article and have changed both the text and the headline to incorporate and link to their excellent work. The BRAD BLOG regrets the original oversight.
WASHINGTON - The Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney's office Wednesday for documents relating to President Bush's warrant-free eavesdropping program.
Also named in subpoenas signed by committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., were the Justice Department and the National Security Council.
The committee wants documents that might shed light on internal squabbles within the administration over the legality of the program, said a congressional official speaking on condition of anonymity because the subpoenas had not been made public.
"If Cheney or any of his underlings refuse to comply with a single subpoena --- and that's a very good bet --- he becomes instantly impeachable, on the same grounds that brought down Nixon," wrote Cannon, who knows the topic well.
Stay tuned. It may be a busy summer...
UPDATE 12:06pm PT: In a statement sent to The BRAD BLOG (posted in full below) Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says "After a year and a half of stonewalling by the Administration...The bipartisan support for issuing these subpoenas demonstrates that both Democrats and Republicans are fed up with the misleading statements from the Attorney General and the Administration about this illegal program."