-- Brad Friedman
Last week Ohio Attorney Cliff Arnebeck held a press conference in Columbus to announce his motion to lift the stay on the long-running King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell lawsuit in which massive improprieties, irregularities, and violations of the Voting Rights Act are alleged to have taken place in the 2004 Presidential Election in Ohio.
In the wake of the failure by the Buckeye State's Attorney General to properly investigate the allegations, and new evidence and testimony unearthed by Arnebeck and other private investigators, he is now asking that the stay on the lawsuit be lifted by the court in order to refocus the case and depose Karl Rove, and a number of other top GOP operatives believed to be involved in manipulating the results of the '04 election.
One of those operatives is Republican tech-guru Mike Connell.
Steve Heller covered last week's press conference for us, which featured comments from data security expert Stephen Spoonamore alleging fraud in the '04 election and Arnebeck's assertion that he believes "Rove will be identified as having engaged in a corrupt, ongoing pattern of corrupt activities specifically affecting the situation here in Ohio."
The following day, RAW STORY's Larisa Alexandrovna detailed related concerns by Arnebeck and Spoonamore concerning Diebold's questionable involvement in the 2002 Senate race in Georgia.
After last week's presser, Velvet Revolution's Brett Kimberlin sat down to follow up with Arnebeck and attorney/investigative journalist Bob Fitrakis, who participated in both the original '04 election lawsuits and has reported in detail on the related matters continuously since then at the Columbus Free Press.
In the video-taped interview, posted at right (appx. 10 mins), the two attorneys focus specifically on their concerns about GOP operative/IT specialist Connell, who, they allege, has been found to have been "at the scene of the crime" for numerous questionable elections since 2000. Connell's firm was also responsible for creating the RNC email systems used by Karl Rove and others. He is also said to have installed the existing Congressional computer networks for high-security House and Senate committees such as Judiciary and Intelligence.
The complete text transcript of the interview follows below...
with Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis
VELVET REVOLUTION: Cliff and Bob you just had a press conference, talking about the next steps you are going to take in litigation. It looks like you're looking for discovery to understand the facts behind what happened in 2004 and make sure this doesn't happen in 2008. Can you give us an idea of the kinds of people or the names of people that you intend to target?
CLIFF ARNEBECK: At the very top of the list is probably Mike Connell. For the same reason that Spoonamore is so valuable to us as a witness, Connell has a breadth of perspective in this stuff and when Connell, with his politics and his position, identifies Triad and the Rapp family as an area, as a point of vulnerability - Well, we're saying, if Connell makes the same observation --which we think he will because if you look at this objectively, it makes no sense. Here's a guy, he's a mathematician or an engineer or whatever; we anticipate he is going to say "Yeah, that looks odd."
So Connell's an important witness and because we're talking about a conspiracy, one of the problems is you say 'where's the coordination, where's the communication?' --- Here's one individual who's been part of all the elements of the things that we think are problematic.
BOB FITRAKIS: He's a high IQ Forrest Gump. It's like everything important --- 2000 election Florida; 2004 Ohio; firewall in Congress --- he happens to show up and be the builder of these [im]penetrable forces and also may know who has the key to get in.
VR: So he's at the scene of the crime... whether he's pulling the gun or not.
FITRAKIS: Every single crime --- Well even more than that. He's the guy who made the gun.
ARNEBECK: The problem with a guy like KR everyone wants, here Bush has been identified as the architect, you're saying the corrupt elections, he's obviously someone you need to talk to. The problem is you don't build the foundation of getting the evidence out about 'Hey, this is obvious fraud' to the point where, 'If you don't appear, Mr. Rove, we're going to...the prosecutor's going to call.' That's the position we're really in. Mr. Rove is not going to step forward to help us put him in jail.
So we need to build the case on witnesses who will come forward to testify. That's why Connell's important.
Then we need to go after some of the people that are proved [to be] clearly engaged in fraudulent conduct, which appears to be the Rapp family in 2000.
VR: What about, you mentioned Jack Abramoff, when I interviewed Alabama Governor Don Siegelman last week, he stated on camera that Abramoff and his henchman Mike Scanlon were the bagmen for Rove who... Is that why you were thinking or mentioning him?
ARNEBECK: Mentioning Rove?
VR: No, mentioning Abramoff. In the press conference, you mentioned Abramoff was behind HAVA.
ARNEBECK: Yeah, Abramoff and Grover Norquist. There are all these characters. You know what's interesting about some of these people? Well, first of all, Abramoff by virtue of the fact that he's willing to be more cooperative these days.
FITRAKIS: Very small merry-go-round same basis, Connell, Abramoff, Bob Ney, Karl Rove keep coming around the Rapp family over and over again. And every place they go, what you find is illegal money laundering, the FBI, Justice Department launching investigations against Democrats. And even more interesting, since the [advent of the] electronic voting machines, what you find is tracking polls and exit polls that are predicting victories for Democrats --- as in Georgia in 2002, Ohio in 2004 --- that suddenly become unexpectedly flipped at the last second as if somebody had built a computer network and was essentially hacking the vote.
VR: Now I know you got into a little bit about Connell in this press conference --- and it wasn't really clear to me --- but it seemed like you were saying Connell had created the servers that were used to run the Ohio election results through Chattanooga TN, Smartech, and these are the same servers that house other GOP operations, including the email systems that Karl Rove and George Bush ...
FITRAKIS: They're running through the .... ??
You have got to wonder why you get literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of sites, partisan websites, sites like GW.com --- ah, even more important, the voter vault, which is essentially everyone that's probably voted in America --- that's in real time, that's Republicans updated during the election. And you know sites that go running to the White House and they're on the same integrated servers in this secure old bank building --- the old pioneer bank building in Chattanooga, Tennessee. You have to ask yourself why would the state of Ohio, at the last second, right when the unexpected vote flip comes, be outsourcing that in real time to Tennessee.
And why did Mr. Connell build such a system?
And I think the suggestion is that it might have been built in such a way that other people who have access to central tabulators know the vote count they need to win an election because the exit polls are coming in all showing Kerry winning at 51:48. And then it's flipped, but it's flipped because these unexpected, unexplained results in these 14 Republican-dominated southwest counties, most of these that reported in later than in Cleveland and Columbus, both that still had people in line by court order in Franklin county until midnight.
So you've got, [which] hardly ever do, small rural areas report[ing] after the big cities where the polls are jammed and the polls are open by court order until midnight but historically this .. this is done by the wire services and other things. You need to know the exact vote you need to win. and they [Republicans] had a system in place.
...and that system was built by Mike Connell.
VR: Now, let me ask this because it was not clear to me in the press conference about the conflicts --- both actual and possible conflict of interest that Michael Connell is laboring under by handling George W. Bush's election campaign websites and, then, also Ken Blackwell's election websites and on the other side the election results for the state of Ohio.
FITRAKIS: ...and the firewall of the U.S. Congress...
VR: ...and two of them being highly-partisan and one of them being supposedly nonpartisan. Now you've also got Connell handling Jeb Bush's website down in Florida. and then shortly after the inauguration of George Bush, Connell gets the first private company awarded contract allowing his company behind the firewall of the U.S. Congress and then he takes over House Intelligence, House Ways and Means, House Judiciary, Rules and Ethics --- the most important committees in congress.
I'm just wondering if you could talk about this conflict?
ARNEBECK: if you think about it, as a government official, or as an agent of government, one of your jobs is to protect whatever you're responsible for from fraudulent manipulation, and if you --- in wearing that hat as the fiduciary of the public trust --- you see, you see indications of possible corruption.
But the source of the possible corruption is from the partisan side of things where you have, you wear a partisan hat. The problem is: Are you being scrupulous? Are you being …taking aggressive countermeasures as you would if you were completely independent? [But are you] when it's coming from a partisan, you know, when it's coming from your friends?
And that is the conflict of interest. Even if you have the ethical caliber that you can wear both hats at the same time, it certainly creates an appearance problem.
And when you combine that with the fact that 2004 was stolen, it's clear, it's crystal clear and it's absolutely crystal clear that 2000 was stolen. So here are two stolen elections, and here's a guy wearing this government hat, and it sure looks like he was not protecting the system against data, uh, fraudulent data manipulation which should be part of his responsibility as the government, the agent of the government.
FITRAKIS: when you take the most partisan IT man in the history of the US, every time an irregularity occurs, Florida 2000, 2004 Ohio, he's the guy who built the system.
Then you put him in charge of building the security and firewall for the U.S. Congress? Dealing with the most sensitive matters? All of the emails and communications of the party that he hates?
Uh, how can you do that? I mean, it's an invitation to spy.
It's an invitation to gather information in an information age.
Knowledge is power. He holds the secrets of the temple.
The most partisan IT man on earth [who] was at the scene of every crime is the [very] guy who's protecting the secrecy and security of the Democrats he despises.
That's what's wrong about it.
VR: Thank you very much, I look forward to seeing how this case proceeds.