Thursday, June 01, 2006

Words of Power #22: Election Fraud As Information Warfare, And A National Security Issue

NOTE: Words of Power is published on a bi-weekly basis, and alternates with the GS(3) Intelligence Briefing, also posted on a bi-weekly basis. As circumstances dictate, we may post special editions. "Words of Power" commentary will explore a range of issues in the interdependent realms of security, sustainability and spirit. The GS(3) Intel Briefing is organized into five sections: Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, Americas, Global and Cyberspace. Each issue will provide insight on terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, health emergencies, natural disasters, and other threats, as well as recommendations on what actions your organizations should take to mitigate risks. For more information, go to

In precincts where Bush received at least eighty percent of the vote, the exit polls were off by an average of ten percent. By contrast, in precincts where Kerry dominated by eighty percent or more, the exit polls were accurate to within three tenths of one percent - a pattern that suggests Republican election officials stuffed the ballot box in Bush country.(39) "When you look at the numbers, there is a tremendous amount of data that supports the supposition of election fraud," concludes Freeman. "The discrepancies are higher in battleground states, higher where there were Republican governors, higher in states with greater proportions of African-American communities and higher in states where there were the most Election Day complaints. All these are strong indicators of fraud - and yet this supposition has been utterly ignored by the press and, oddly, by the Democratic Party." The evidence is especially strong in Ohio….
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Was The 2004 Election Stolen?, Rolling Stone, 6-1-06

When he sits down for an exclusive interview with the Guardian, aide Kalee Kreider - a new hire, and ex-Greenpeace campaigner - hands him a note. The US box office figures are in for An Inconvenient Truth and it has broken two records already: the highest per-screen rating for any Memorial Day weekend opening since Jack Nicholson in The Shining - and the highest ever for a documentary...Later I ask Gore if he's moved to the left these past six years. After all, he denounced plans for the coming war in Iraq in September 2002, long before his Democrat colleagues, and he now unashamedly attacks corporate special interests. A flash of anger: "No! If you have a renegade band of rightwing extremists who get hold of power, the whole thing goes to the right. But I haven't moved. I'm where I've always been."
Guardian interview w/ Al Gore, 5-31-06

It is as implausible that the exit polls for two consecutive US presidential elections could be so wrong (both times to the benefit of the same candidate), as it is reprehensible that the US government would deny the International Red Cross access to prisoners in our custody. And yet, we are expected to endure both insults (one to our intelligence, and the other to our conscience) without questioning them. Fortunately, there are many who remember the greatness of this country.

It is painfully poignant that from among all the high profile political figures of our era, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. would be the one to force the issue of the Bush-Cheney administration’s illegitimacy into the mainstream of national discourse. What happened to this country in 2000, and again in 2004, is matched in tragic significance only by the assassinations of John F. Kennedy in 1963, and Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King in 1968. In 1963, and 1968, progressive leaders of vision and courage were murdered, but in 2000, and again in 2004, the democratic process itself was gravely wounded. And, unless the violence perpetrated against it is fully investigated, and widely acknowledged, the country you and I know and love may never wake up from its coma.

I spent the 1990s as a Clintonista. I felt it was worth compromising on some vital issues to grasp the opportunity to rule from the center, for the greater good. Welfare reform? Fix it later. NAFTA? Fix it later. The Telecommunications Act? Fix it later. I also advocated anti-crime and anti-terrorism legislation that was opposed by many civil libertarians, because I rightly understood the legitimate frustrations of law enforcement and the intelligence community, but also because I wrongly assumed that no government, whether Republican or Democratic, would ever turn back the pages of history and undue the controls established after the excesses of Watergate, COINTELPRO, etc. And then came the theft of the 2000 election, and then came 9/11, and then came Iraq, and then came the theft of the 2004 election.

Now, Andre Sakharov and Vaclav Havel are more relevant to our circumstances than James Carville or George Stephanopoulos. Today, in the USA, if you believe in the co-equal branches of the U.S. federal government, the separation of church and state, the Bill of Rights, the Voting Rights Act, the UN Charter and the Geneva Accords, you are marginalized as a dissident -- at least in the US mainstream media, and on the floor of the US Senate.

Well, as I mentioned in Words of Power #21: Ken Lay, Judith Miller, Florida, 9/11 and The Return of Forbidden Truths, there is a profound discontent stirring in the land, just below the surface, and Robert Kennedy Jr.’s powerful indictment, published in Rolling Stone (an established independent media powerhouse forged in the cultural revolution of the ‘60s and ‘70s) will intensify that stirring, and help bring it to a rolling boil. Those who kept this story alive over the last six years, notably Mark Crispin Miller, Greg Palast, Brad DeLong, and Bev Harris, among others, should feel great pride and vindication.

I urge you to read Bobby’s expose, and speak about it to your fellow citizens. I am compelled to continue to speak out, not only as a patriot, but also as a security professional.

In the late 1990s, as I helped shape the discourse on emerging issues in cyber crime and security, I kept a folder of articles I had torn out of technology magazines, I titled the file “Cyber Security Breaches Waiting To Happen.” It included several naive articles on the wonders of electronic voting. My concerns have long since been proven prophetic. But, of course, it is not just the insecurity of poorly designed electronic voting systems that is open to exploitation; IT-based aspects of the tabulation process in state governments throughout the country are vulnerable (whether electronic voting is implemented or not). If you knew how poorly secured the information systems of many hospitals were, you would not doubt it. If you knew how vulnerable the power grid, the air traffic control system, and other critical elements of the National Information Infrastructure (NII) were, you would not doubt it.

Security professionals in government and industry play cyber war games that feature hypothetical attacks against the NII, to better understand how to respond. Such activity is termed, Information Warfare, and is one of the major elements of Information Operations (IO). Another aspect of IO is termed Psychological Operations (PSYOP). Well, think of what occurred in Florida in 2000, and Ohio in 2004, as Information Warfare, and think of the US mainstream news media’s contemptuous and condescending treatment of those stories as PSYOP. Then what are you looking at? As I wrote in a recent retrospective on issues and trends in cyber security from 1996 to 2006: “Maybe there are more examples of information warfare around us than we think, maybe we just don’t know how to recognize them. What if a government or political party, or a cabal within a government or a political party, were to use information warfare against its own people? What kind of a threat does information warfare poise to democratic institutions? What about the internal threat? Is such a scenario plausible?” (Computer Fraud & Security Journal, March 2006) The answer is yes.

Where are the audit trails? Where are the logs? Where are the backup tapes? Who has access? How is that access monitored? What identification, authentication and authorization controls are in place?

Nor does it have to be a massive conspiracy, or even directly involve large numbers of people.

As an informed observer, I knew which three states would determine the outcome in 2000: Florida, Missouri and Tennessee. If any of them had been counted in Gore’s column, the Electoral College vote would have gone his way. At least two out of those three states (Florida and Missouri) experienced trouble on election night. Again, as no more than an informed observer, in 2004, I knew that Ohio would be the deciding factor. And, of course, Ohio was a train wreck. If I could guess which two or three states would determine an election, than someone like Karl Rove could tell you which two or three precincts would determine it. If you can narrow it down to a handful of counties, and a few precincts within those counties, it would not take too much cumshaw to get it done, or to keep it quiet.

And what about the US mainstream media? What am I insinuating? Nothing incredible really. Anyone who has worked inside of a major corporation knows that you keep your mouth shut. That’s not conspiracy, that’s just corporate culture. And yes, because a handful of media monopolies control the air-waves, it can be narrowed down to just a few control rooms, just as it can be narrowed down to just a few precincts.

There has always been some election fraud in the USA, particularly in the Deep South. But election fraud is an Industrial Age crime. We are exploring the possibility of information warfare, which is an Information Age national security issue. Remember, the oath is to protect the US Constitution against all enemies foreign AND domestic.

"If the last two elections have taught us anything, it is this: the single greatest threat to our democracy," RFK Jr. writes, "is the insecurity of our voting system."

Here are some important items, spanning from 2001 to 2006, to supplement Bobby's piece in Rolling Stone:

F.A.I.R.’s Jim Naureckas writing in Newsday: JOURNALISM, it's called "burying the lead": A story starts off with what everyone already knows, while the real news - the most surprising, significant or never-been-told-before information - gets pushed down where people are less likely to see it. That's what happened to the findings of the media study of the uncounted votes from last year's Florida presidential vote. A consortium of news outlets - including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Tribune Co. (Newsday's parent company), The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press and CNN - spent nearly a year and $900,000 reexamining every disputed ballot. The consortium determined that if the U.S. Supreme Court had allowed the ongoing recount to go through, George W. Bush would still likely have ended up in the White House. That's because the recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court - as well as the more limited recount asked for by Democratic candidate Al Gore - only involved so-called undervotes, ballots that when counted mechanically registered no choice for president….But as the consortium found when it actually looked at the overvotes, one often could tell what the voter's intent was. Many of the overvotes involved, for example, a voter punching the hole next to a candidate's name, and then writing in the same candidate's name. Since the intent of the voter is clear, these are clearly valid votes under Florida law. And Gore picked up enough of such votes that it almost didn't matter what standard you used when looking at undervotes - whether you counted every dimple or insisted on a fully punched chad, the consortium found that Gore ended up the winner of virtually any full reexamination of rejected ballots.
(Jim Naureckas, Not That It Was Reported, but Gore Won, Newsday, 11-15-01)

US Civil Rights Commission on Voting Irregularities in Florida During the 2000 Presidential Election: The Commission found that the problems Florida had during the 2000 presidential election were serious and not isolated. In many cases, they were foreseeable and should have been prevented. The failure to do so resulted in an extraordinarily high and inexcusable level of disenfranchisement, with a significantly disproportionate impact on African American voters. The causes include the following: (1) a general failure of leadership from those with responsibility for ensuring elections are properly planned and executed; (2) inadequate resources for voter education, training of poll workers, and for Election Day trouble-shooting and problem solving; (3) inferior voting equipment and/or ballot design; (4) failure to anticipate and account for the expected high volumes of voters, including inexperienced voters; (5) a poorly designed and even more poorly executed purge system; and (6) a resource allocation system that often left poorer counties, which often were counties with the highest percentage of black voters, adversely affected.
US Civil Rights Commission, 2001

Avi Ruben of Hopkins University (a leading cyber security expert): "There are many things that we teach in Security 101 that were not understood by the developers of these machines," Rubin said. "Within an hour of looking at the source code in the Diebold machines, we knew were looking at very bad code." That code, Rubin says, was vulnerable to tampering that could manipulate vote totals. The researchers are especially critical of the so-called smart cards that control each machine - the card's PIN number was simply: 1-1-1-1. "A 15-year-old in a garage could manufacture smart cards and sell them on the Internet that would allow for multiple votes," Rubin said. CBS, Electronic Voting Causes Concern, 1-3-03

U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO): Examples of problems reported by GAO include computer systems that fail to encrypt data files containing cast votes, allowing them to be viewed or modified without detection by internal auditing systems; (2) systems that could allow individuals to alter ballot definition files so that votes cast for one candidate are counted for another; and (3) weak controls that allowed the alteration of memory cards used in optical scan machines, potentially impacting election results. GAO said that "these weaknesses could damage the integrity of ballots, votes, and voting system software by allowing unauthorized modifications (p. 25)…Examples of problems reported by GAO include (1) the failure to password-protect files and functions; (2) the use of easily guessed passwords or identical passwords for numerous systems built by the same manufacturer; and (3) the failure to secure memory cards used to secure voting systems, potentially allowing individuals to vote multiple times, change vote totals, or produce false election reports…”
US GAO, 2005

Keith Olberman (a real broadcast journalist) and John Zogby (a real pollster): It was a spectacular irony - a Republican senator using the word “fraud” about the presidential election. More spectacular still, he was visiting his condemnation of apparent election manipulation on the incumbent party. And beyond all that, he and others based their conclusions largely on the incredible disparity between the last exit polls and the vote count itself. Of course, Indiana’s Richard Lugar was talking about the presidential election in the Ukraine. But in so doing, he underscored that once again, the exit polls appear to have fulfilled the time-honored international tradition of the canary in the mine shaft. If only we could have used them in that way here….“I don't think that exit polls can be used as a barometer for the accuracy of an election itself,” noted pollster John Zogby explained to me on last night’s Countdown, in what we think was his first full-scale television interview since the election. “At least until we find out if there's something broken with this round of election polls… I think that the gentlemen who are responsible for the exit polls should be fully transparent, release their data, discuss their methodology. Let us see what exactly it is that happened, and why it happened….I think it's in the interests of the nation that we study what happened in this election and widen that, let's study what happened with the exit polls, and let's come out with a definitive conclusions by a blue ribbon panel to restore the legitimacy of this election.” Counterdown, MSNBC, 11-24-04

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to

, , , , , ,