Running The Gamut: News, Views And Issues And A Thought….
The Dred Scott v. Sanford Decision, considered the moral nadir of the Supreme Court until a few days ago, declared that slaves were not people but property and laid down a major paving block in the walkway to the Civil War. Now our less than stellar court has declared that Corporations are people for all practical purposes when it comes to spending their money on maintaining a strangle hold on the destiny of this nation, the welfare of the people and the integrity of our government. If ever there was an official authorization of Fascism; this is it! And just what are you prepared to do about it? Had enough yet to review your Jefferson, Henry and Adams?
Let me frame this another way. Americans are being lied to, defrauded, stolen blind of their homes, jobs, savings, retirement and dreams. They are being Gang Banged raped and sodomized by banks, corporations, the courts Congress and every segment of our government in broad day light and on live TV cast everyday and no one is being arrested, charged, indicted, brought to trail, prosecuted or convicted. No wonder Americans are becoming ugly and mean spirited towards one another. They have to take it out on someone.
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010
For those of us on the progressive left (meaning the majority), the time has come to make ourselves heard. The majority of Americans want socialized medicine, a special commission to look into 9/11, a special prosecutor to investigate serious crimes committed by the Bush II administration, relief aid for the growing-ranks of the unemployed, deep and meaningful reforms in the financial sector and how it does business, and general restoration of New Deal controls and protections that have served the public well for over 75 years, like the Glass-Stegall Act. Who got rid of Glass-Stegall, a barrier that kept banks from running amuck? A Republican controlled Congress, blue dog Democrats, and the Clinton administration, that's who. It gave us much of the economic crisis we're inhabiting right now. The time has come to rollback these policies, the time is now to mobilize.
Posted by Matt Janovic at 2/10/2010 08:39:00 PM
Once upon a time there was a Lieutenant colonel François de La Rocque. It was 1930 in Paris, and La Rocque becomes the leader of a group of WWI veterans who were advocating the violent overthrow of the French Government. And their greatest fear, or their best kind of fear mongering involved the influences of Socialism and 'hidden Communism'. Sound familiar?
Irony of ironies of course was that the real enemies of the French would come from the right-wing Nazis who had taken control of the German government and not the commies at all. Eventually, there were confrontations over the next half dozen years or so and by June of '36 this coalition of right wing nutsos was toast.
It was interesting to me to read of this La Rocque because the amateur historian can see mirror images of this French right wing movement in Germany as well as in the U.S. during the same time period. In Germany of course, the disgruntled WWI veterans won out.
On July 17, 1932, thousands of World War I veterans converged on Washington, D.C., set up tent camps, and demanded immediate payment of bonuses due them according to the Adjusted Service Certificate Law of 1924. This "Bonus Army" was led by Walter W. Waters, a former Army sergeant. The Army was encouraged by an appearance from retired Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler, who had some influence over the veterans, being a popular military figure of the time. A few days after Butler's arrival, President Herbert Hoover ordered the marchers removed, and their camps were destroyed by US Army cavalry troops under the command of General Douglas MacArthur.
See we had our own group of disgruntled WWI vets at the same time that La Rocque came to the fore in France. Some 43,000 poverty stricken and disgruntled men and women showed up in DC demanding payment under some seven or eight year old law that had promised some sort of bonus for those who served their country during the Great War. They actually pitched tents setting up camp. The group included around 17,000 vets as well as their families.
But General Butler turned out not to be anything like La Rocque. And as Wiki notes, he became infuriated when MacArthur moved in with Patton and Ike leading the cavalry, and decimated the camp. Although only two vets lost their lives, it was reported that some children died as a result of the use of poison gas by MacArthur's forces.
These events occurred three years into the Great Depression; a world-wide depression affecting the lives of hundreds of millions of people. I find it interesting that our protesting veterans brought their families and were seeking media coverage with no intent of creating a putsch in the manner of the French or German veterans.
A matter of great historical consequence occurred in that same year of course when FDR was elected President of the United States.
The Whitehouse Coup, BBC: Document uncovers details of a planned coup in the USA in 1933 by right-wing American businessmen The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans. The plotters, who were alleged to involve some of the most famous families in America, (owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodtea, Maxwell Hse & George Bush's Grandfather, Prescott) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the great depression. Mike Thomson investigates why so little is known about this biggest ever peacetime threat to American democracy. [Listen to this programme in full] [View a picture gallery of images related to this edition] http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2007/07/the-plot-agains.html
Smedley Butler shows up to testify before Congress that he had been approached to participate in this coup. According to the link as well as Wiki, no one was prosecuted. In other words, this great man stepped up to the plate and had something to do with the fascist plot's demise.
Now even Wiki disputes its certain portions of its own article. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_MacGuire
What is funny is that Gerald MacGuire, a nobody, was placed somewhere at the core of this proposed coup. Whether he was simply made the fall guy for a conspiracy that went sour, who knows? But powerful money interests were involved along with powerful members and ex members of the Armed Forces of the United States. And Butler was going to be a key figure, because they wanted him to lead a million vet march on Washington; except this was not going to be a camping expedition but a real putsch.
It is funny to me that the ring man is Jerry MacGuire. Hahahah
But I digress.
One of my favorite movies was re-aired last night on Turner's Classic Movies.Seven Days in May is one of the most fascinating films I have ever seen. It hit the theaters in 1964 but was futuristic in that the events related took place in 1972.
Not only was the screen play written by Rod Serling, but some of my favorite actors appear in it. I do not especially like black and white films and I am not one to tout actors from the 40's & 50's made in this country. It was not the actors' fault, but censorship was at its height during this period and most of the movies stink in my humble opinion.
But if Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster appear in the same film, I watch it. Add Frederic March to the cast and throw in Edmond O'Brien and Marty Balsam and you are going to have a good time.
Serling wrote the screen play but it was based upon a book by Fletcher Kneibel and Charles Bailey. Douglas plays the chief assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs played by Lancaster.
The film opens on a Monday in May. Douglas comes across a file mentioning something called ECOMCON. He also comes across a file involving a solicitation for bets on the upcoming Preakness race to be held the following Sunday. This bothers the adjutant because the solicitations for wagers are being addressed to the most powerful members of the U.S. Military. It just does not make any sense to him.
The film involves drunken southern politicians (Edmond O'Brien), secret military bases in Texas, a clash between the Joint Chiefs and the President over nuclear arms, a mock national alert that may not be that much of a test at all but the real thing, a conspiracy to shut down and take control of our entire communication system, a murdered Presidential Chief of Staff and a plot to overthrow the government of the United States of America.
On a pretense of taking the night off, Kirk Douglas secretly meets with the President of the United States in the Oval Office to express his concerns.
We find ourselves in the Rumsfeld conundrum:
What do we know and what do we not know?
At what point do you express concerns when you have only indications of criminal conduct undertaken by powerful people? Context is important in the film because Lancaster's character is acting much worse than MacArthur ever did as a military leader expressing his disagreement with certain actions of his Commander-in-Chief. I mean this General is going before Congressional Committees spewing out his personal political opinions and dissing his own President.
After several meetings in the Oval Office, it becomes apparent that the plot is not some mirage. There is a secret base. There is an Admiral who refused to participate in the treason--although we lose the evidence given by the Admiral when the Chief of Staff dies in a plane crash.
I cannot gain access to a free transcript of the film but one piece of dialogue is really poignant and goes something like this:
President: Colonel, tell me, what do you think of this proposed non-proliferation treaty with the Soviets?
Colonel: I do not involve myself in politics Mr. President.
President: No, it is all right... I just wish to know how you come down on this issue.
Colonel: I do not like the proposed treaty. I think it weakens our position in the world. But I believe in the Constitution and I do not believe that this is my call Mr. President.
Serling does a better job I am sure. But Douglas draws a line. And the expression on the face of Frederic March is not one of disappointment at the Colonel's response. He expresses a pride that there are still members of the Military who understand their offices and their responsibilities to their country.
It recalled to me the Congressional hearing of a few years ago; that ditsy blond adjutant in the White House Counsel's Office who remarked that she had taken an oath to her president.
Except she never took an oath to her president, she had taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States.
Now Wiki tells us that Knebel got his idea for the novel after interviewing Curtis LeMay.
We come to the infamous Bay of Pigs incident.
The scenario of the film may have been inspired by the clash between General Curtis LeMay and President John F. Kennedy. It is suspected that LeMay, furious after the Cuban missile crisis for not being allowed to use his atomic bombs, talked to some of his staff about removing the President from power.
Other observers cite as the inspiration for the story a historically-ambiguous conspiracy among major industrial leaders to enlist retired Marine Gen. Smedley Butler in a plot to overthrowFranklin Delano Roosevelt, as reported by Butler in his testimony to the McCormack-Dickstein Congressional Committee in 1934. (See Business Plot of 1933.)
I do not believe that Curtis LeMay plotted to overthrow the U.S. Government. He was probably angry, maybe even a little tipsy and said something he should not have. But then again, Knebel said he got the idea for his plot after interviewing LeMay.
Owing to his unrelenting opposition to the Johnson administration's Vietnam policy and what was widely perceived as his hostility to Secretary McNamara, LeMay was essentially forced into retirement in February 1965, and seemed headed for a political career. Moving to California, he was approached by conservatives to challenge moderate Republican Thomas Kuchelfor his seat in the United States Senate in 1968, but he declined. For the presidential race that year, LeMay originally supportedRichard Nixon; he turned down two requests by George Wallace to join his American Independent Party that year, on the grounds that a third party candidacy might hurt Nixon's chances at the polls. (By coincidence, Wallace had served as a sergeant in a unit commanded by LeMay during World War II.) However, LeMaygradually became convinced that Nixon planned to pursue a conciliatory policy with the Soviets and to accept nuclear parity, rather than retain America's first-strike supremacy....
See, in this country, our right wing generals resign their commissions and run for office. That is why we have the oldest constitutional government in the world.
I love Seven Days in May.
And sometimes I need to be reminded of how much I love my Country.
Understanding Each Other, Diversity And Dissent: HOME LAND ...
Le Café Politique De Camus De Café · Tea Baggers Are Assembling The Rabble And Rubble Of American Politics. - Tea Baggers Are Assembling The Rabble And ...
Limbaugh Falsely Claimed Obama, Reich Were Never Professors
Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed on his radio show that President Obama and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich were never professors. Limbaugh's claim about Obama echoed a claim previously made by Karl Rove.
Limbaugh falsely claimed Obama was never a professor
Limbaugh: "One of the reasons I don't call Obama a professor is because he never was one." On the February 10 broadcast of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, Rush Limbaugh said: "One of the reasons I don't call Obama a professor is 'cause he never was one. Calling him a professor is elevating him; he was a visiting lecturer."
University of Chicago considered Obama a professor
Obama was among "Professors" listed on University of Chicago website.
Obama -- who held the title "Senior Lecturer in Law" between 1996 and 2004 -- was listed under "Professors" on the University of Chicago Law School's faculty page at least as far back as August 24, 2000, according to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. By contrast, "Lecturers in Law," which Obama was between 1992 and 1996, are listed separately.
Robert Scheer on Wall Street's Retribution
"Wall Street Wants a Refund" -- Buyer s remorse is the way Sen. John Cornyn, the Senate Republicans fundraiser, gleefully refers to Wall Street moguls current disenchantment with the U.S. president they thought they had bought.
William Pfaff on What the U.S. Wants in Afghanistan
"America’s Confused Approach to Afghanistan" -- U.N. officials and American military commanders suggest that diplomacy might be coming alive on the Afghan front, but neither the Pentagon nor the White House seems to have clearly identified what the United States wants in Afghanistan.
How Should True Patriots Reclaim The Media From Republican/Fascist ...
Neo-fascism in America : Too many people believe fascism is only about goose-stepping, jack-booted Nazis. Too many people believe that American democracy is so strong that fascists could never take control of America. ...
www.questionsandanswersonline.com - http://www.questionsandanswersonline.com/
By Shoq, on February 9th, 2010
Fascism: a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition. Websters
Fascism: A political regime, usually totalitarian, ideologically based on centralized government, government control of business, repression of criticism or opposition, a leader cult and exalting the state and/or religion above individual rights. Wikipedia
As with everything the right wing does, Jonah Goldberg, a hack scholar using his stature as a a renowned right wing hack editor, fooled a lot of people with limited education and information, and completely polluted the Palinista's understanding of fascism with his absurdly manipulative screed, "Liberal Fascism." He enjoyed himself immensely, fending off any opportunity to debate his views in open forum, precisely because he knew it was all a crock pot of nonsensical lies which were easy to sell to people who are themselves, the bread and butter patriots of any movement deserving the fascist label. When you have thugs like Andrew Breitbart, Sean Hannity, and all the other ideological punks to pimp your book, you can make a lot of money telling fairy tales.
And he just didn't care. His world view is perfectly aligned with the more opportunistic aspects of fascist ideology, but he lacks the intellectual courage to admit it. And besides, he can make good money selling his slop to the suckers. So he projects all the worst aspects of that ideology onto liberals, knowing that a massive right wing echo chamber, led by Fox news, can make it "truth." And so it has in fact come to be thus for millions of Fox viewers, who also, perhaps not coincidentally, think that the Fox propaganda network is "the most trusted name in news."
The left has to start reversing these lies, by summoning every sensible historian and scholar to start correcting the historical record and populist memes. If they don't, we will quickly find ourselves under the treads of a new and nuclear-armed fascist tank we might once have stopped.
I hope this reader might start a trend on the left, and in academia, to start rebooting the history of the fascist reality for millions of people who are far too susceptible to the organized lying that has become our national religion, of late.
Any person with a high school education, who reads the REAL history of fascism, and its mechanisms, should be able to understand why it's the antithesis of liberalism, and why it was all the more clever to try and equate the two in the minds of the people they know are already but a few steps away from Brown shirts. That's why you hear Obama bashers, who can't define liberals, capitalism, OR fascism, throwing around the term "fascist" whenever Obama gets mentioned. It's not just stupid; it may be deadly.
..our fascist American future now looms very large in the front windshield — and those of us who value American democracy need to understand how we got here, what’s changing now, and what’s at stake in the very near future if these people are allowed to win — or even hold their ground.
American Conservative Movement in Pictures – Washington 9/12 Teaparty, 2009. A photo essay by @strwbrry_blonde that gives you a sense of what rampant, misguided nationalism can look like, up close and personal.
VIDEO ~ White Power in The USA (and Inside the Teaparty) -- The language of white supremacy is very similar to what the Teaparty is now selling. It takes about 15 minutes for this video to really get there, but look for the many similarities throughout. If this is indeed the emerging America of the 21st century, we're in very, very deep trouble.
Read more: http://shoqvalue.com/american-fascism-yeah-really#ixzz0fCXhdTxP
Iraq Orders Former Blackwater Security Guards Out
By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA
The Associated Press
Thursday, February 11, 2010; 1:49 AM
BAGHDAD -- Iraq has ordered hundreds of private security guards linked to Blackwater Worldwide to leave the country within seven days or face possible arrest on visa violations, the interior minister said Wednesday.
The order comes in the wake of a U.S. judge's dismissal of criminal charges against five Blackwater guards who were accused in the September 2007 shooting deaths of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad.
It applies to about 250 security contractors who worked for Blackwater in Iraq at the time of the incident, Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani told The Associated Press.
Some of the guards now work for other security firms in Iraq, while others work for a Blackwater subsidiary, al-Bolani said. He said all "concerned parties" were notified of the order three days ago and now have four days left before they must leave. He did not name the companies.
Blackwater security contractors were protecting U.S. diplomats when the guards opened fire in Nisoor Square, a busy Baghdad intersection, on Sept. 16, 2007. Seventeen people were killed, including women and children, in a shooting that inflamed anti-American sentiment in Iraq.
"We want to turn the page," al-Bolani said. "It was a painful experience, and we would like to go forward."
Backlash from the Blackwater shooting has been felt hardest by private security contractors, who typically provide protection for diplomats, journalists and aid workers. Iraqi security forces have routinely stopped security details at checkpoints to conduct searches and question guards.
Security guards will be required within the next 10 days to register their weapons with the Ministry of Interior, al-Bolani said. Failure to do so could result in arrest, he added.
Based in Moyock, North Carolina, Blackwater is now known as Xe Services, a name change that happened after six of the security firm's guards were charged in the Nisoor Square shooting. At the time, Blackwater was the largest of the State Department's three security contractors working in Iraq.
Xe Services said the company had no employees currently in Iraq, including with its subsidiary, Presidential Airways.
"Xe does not have one, single person in Iraq," said Xe spokeswoman Stacy DeLuke.
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad declined comment. The State Department in Washington did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.
The Blackwater guards involved in the incident said they were ambushed, but U.S. prosecutors and many Iraqis said they let loose an unprovoked attack on civilians using machine guns and grenades.
One of the accused guards pleaded guilty in the case, but a federal judge in Washington threw out charges against the other five in December, ruling that the Justice Department for mishandling the evidence.
The legal ruling infuriated Iraqis and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki vowed to seek punishment for the guards.
Last month, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden flew to Baghdad to assure Iraqis the Obama administration to appeal the case and bring the guards back to trial.
The shooting further strained relations between the United States and Iraq, leading the parliament in Baghdad to seek new laws that would clear the way for foreign contractors to be prosecuted in Iraqi courts. The U.S. government rejected those demands in the Blackwater case.
In January 2009, the State Department informed Blackwater that it would not renew its contracts to provide security for U.S. diplomats in Iraq because of the Iraqi government's refusal to grant it an operating license.
But last September, the State Department said it temporarily extended a contract with Blackwater subsidiary Presidential Airways to provide air support for U.S. diplomats. The State Department has since ended its contracts with Xe, and DynCorp International has taken over air support.
The Justice Department now is investigating whether Blackwater tried to bribe Iraqi officials with $1 million to allow the company to keep working there after the Baghdad shooting, according to U.S. officials close to the probe.
Elsewhere in Iraq, attackers bombed an oil pipeline north of Baghdad, cutting production in half at a refinery in the capital, the Oil Ministry said Wednesday.
There were no injuries in Tuesday night's bombing in Rashidiya, just north of Baghdad.
Production at the Baghdad refinery was cut from 140,000 barrels per day to 70,000, said Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad.
The pipeline runs from oil fields in northern Kirkuk province to Baghdad. It has been the target of attacks for years, and has been bombed multiple times since 2004.
Associated Press Writers Lara Jakes, Mazin Yahya and Chelsea J. Carter in Baghdad; Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina; and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.
Shortly before six o’clock on the evening of December 19, 2008, a man standing outside his home in Lake Township, Ohio heard the whine of an engine in the sky above him.
Moments later two red lights broke through the low clouds, heading almost directly toward the ground. It was a light aircraft, and for a second, as it descended below the tree line, the man thought it would climb back up. Instead, there was a terrible thud, and the sky turned orange. When the fire crews arrived, they found the burning wreckage of a Piper Saratoga strewn across a vacant lot. The plane had narrowly missed a house, but the explosion was so intense that the home’s plastic siding was on fire. So was the grass. The pilot had been thrown from the plane and died instantly. Body parts and pieces of twisted metal were scattered everywhere. A prayer book lay open on the ground, its pages on fire.
The crash would have remained a private tragedy confined to the pages of the local press and the hearts of the pilot’s widow and four children, but within days the blogosphere was abuzz with rumors and conspiracy theories: The plane, it was said, had been sabotaged and the pilot murdered to cover up the GOP’s alleged theft of the Ohio vote in the 2004 presidential election. At the center of this plot was the Saratoga’s pilot, a prodigiously gifted IT expert named Michael Connell, whose altar boy charm and technical brilliance had made him the computer whiz of choice for the Republican Party. Left-wing Web sites openly referred to Connell as “Bush’s vote rigger” and claimed that his fingerprints were on all the most controversial elections in recent history. There were dark whispers of electronic pulses or sniper fire being used to bring down the plane—a black ops attack designed to keep him from testifying against his former cronies. Right-wing bloggers and talk show hosts derided such claims as the twisted delusions of liberal nut jobs and tinfoil hatters. The mainstream press sat on its hands.
But while the rumors, innuendos, and allegations continue to swirl through the ether, evidence has recently emerged that suggests the Ohio vote may have been hacked, and that Connell was involved.
Born in 1963 in Peoria, Illinois into a large Irish-American family, Michael Connell was a lifelong Republican and a devout Roman Catholic who went to Mass every day and wore a wristband saying what would jesus do? What Connell did was realize the potential of the Internet to shape politics. While still in his 20s, he worked as finance director for Republican Congressman Jim Leach, and as director of voter programs for Senator Dan Coats of Indiana. In 1988 Connell developed a voter contact database for George H. W. Bush, thus inaugurating a long association with the Bush family: Connell worked on Jeb’s gubernatorial campaign in Florida in 1998; two years later he was the chief architect of George W. Bush’s Web site as Dubya launched his bid for the White House.
But it was while serving as tech guru to Karl Rove that Connell developed his deepest and perhaps most problematic professional relationship. Recruited in the late ’80s, Connell became Rove’s most trusted cyberlieutenant: a Web wizard who could turn portals into power and who would gain access to the very heights of American politics by the time he reached 30 years old. Connell’s two Ohio-based companies, New Media Communications and GovTech, became virtual research and development labs for the Republican Party, building and managing Web sites and e-mail accounts for both Presidents Bush and a long list of leading Republicans. GovTech also designed and managed numerous Congressional IT systems, including those for the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees, putting Connell “behind the fire wall” of some of the most sensitive gov--ernment Web sites from the safety of the Bush White House.
“Mike was known as the GOP’s Mister Fix-It,” says Stephen Spoonamore, an IT security expert and friend of Connell’s. “He built really intelligent tools that allowed people who wanted to win elections do a better job organizing their data.” But aside from his more legitimate business, Connell was no stranger to the darker side of American politics. He was forced to resign from Senator Coats’ campaign for his involvement in ethical violations. Connell’s was also the hand behind the Web site for the notorious Swift Boat Veterans’ for Truth smear campaign against John Kerry and GWB43.com, the secret e-mail account used by Rove and dozens of other White House staffers.
Just six weeks before his death, Connell had given a deposition in an Ohio lawsuit that accused Rove, Bush, and Co. of something far more serious than merely scrubbing e-mails: the theft of the 2004 Ohio vote. “This is the biggest scandal in our history,” says Mark Crispin Miller, a professor at New York University who has written extensively about electronic voter fraud. “Watergate grew out of a paranoid attempt to disable the opposition. But Ohio was exponentially different. We’re talking about a systematic, centralized attempt to rig the voting system.”
“We decided to try to bring a racketeering claim against Rove under Ohio law,” says Cliff Arnebeck, the attorney who brought the suit, a broad-shouldered man with a Senatorial air dressed in a blue blazer. “We detected a pattern of criminal activity, and we identified Connell as a key witness, as the implementer for Rove.”
By any calculation, the Ohio 2004 election was a black day for American democracy. Lou Harris, known as the “father of modern political polling,” and a man not given to hyperbole, called it “as dirty an election as America has ever seen.” All the exit polls suggested Ohio would go to Kerry. But when the vote was counted George Bush had won by 132,685 votes, adding Ohio’s crucial 20 Electoral College votes to his tally. And putting him, not Kerry, into the White House. It has since been alleged that at several points on election night, the Ohio secretary of state’s official Web site, which was responsible for reporting the results, was being hosted by a server in a basement in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Ohio’s secretary of state in 2004 was a fiercely partisan Christian named Ken Blackwell. Blackwell had hired a company called GDC Limited to run the IT systems, which had subcontracted the job to Michael Connell’s company, GovTech. Connell had in turn sub-contracted SMARTech, an IT firm based in Chattanooga, to act, it was claimed, as a backup server.
“By looking at the URLs on the Web site, we discovered that there were three points on election night when SMARTech’s computers took over from the secretary of state,” says Arnebeck. “It is during that period that we believe votes were manipulated.”
In computer jargon it is known as a man-in-the-middle attack.
“At the time I didn’t know who SMARTech were,” says IT expert Stephen Spoonamore, opening a file on his computer showing the Internet architecture map of the 2004 Ohio election. He points to a red box in the bottom right-hand corner showing SMARTech’s server.
“Then I found out: They host Rove’s e-mails. They host the RNC’s Web site. They host George Bush’s Web site.” His voice rises in disbelief.
“I go, ‘Holy shit, this is a man-in-the-middle attack! These guys have programmed the state’s computers to talk to a company with ties to the Republican Party.’ It’s brilliant.”
With his wiry hair and designer glasses, Spoonamore looks like a character in a Tim Burton movie. A lifelong Republican, he is also one of the world’s acknowledged experts on cybersecurity, with a résumé that includes work for the U.S. armed forces and the FBI. In his spare time he has devoted thousands of hours to investigating cyberfraud in American elections. “I know I sound crazy when I talk about this stuff. No one wants to believe it. They say, ‘No one would steal an elec--tion.’ And I go, ‘Yeah, they would. And that’s exactly what they did.’ ”
Spoonamore believes that while Michael Connell may have facilitated electoral fraud, he was really just a tool of more powerful forces. “Mike has been called the Forrest Gump of GOP IT operations,” he says. “And I think there’s a truth to that. I think he was a good guy surrounded by wolves. He was always going to be the fall guy.”
The two men had gotten to know each other at Spoonamore’s Washington, D.C. offices in late 2005. “The two of us hit it off,” recalls Spoonamore. “We were the same age, the same generation. We had a lot of friends in common.” At the end of the meeting, Connell broached a delicate topic. “Mike asked me, ‘How easy is it to destroy all records of e-mail?’ ” recalls Spoonamore. “He sort of gestured toward the White House and said, ‘Because I have clients down the street who are working on that problem.’ And I stepped back and said, ‘If you are talking about White House e-mail destruction, I want nothing to do with it.’ ”
A year later, at an IT conference in London, Spoonamore confronted the pro-life Connell about the Ohio election: “He said, ‘I’m afraid that in my zeal to save the babies, the system I built may have been abused.’ ”
Three days later, in the back of a cab heading toward the airport, Spoonamore asked Connell if he would be willing to talk to a Congressional judiciary committee about what he knew. “I actually took Mike’s hand and said, ‘If I can arrange for a private meeting for you to sit down with the committee and explain what you think may have happened in 2004 and how your systems may have been abused, will you do it?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ ”
Connell never did talk to the judiciary committee. But in the months leading up to his death he was under intense pressure. In an attempt to extricate himself from the world of politics, he had sold two of his businesses, including GovTech. Throughout the fall his plane was being tracked by Arnebeck and his associates so they could serve him with a subpoena. Connell sought refuge from the maelstrom in his deep Catholic faith. He took to wearing a scapular, two squares of cloth with religious images favored by devout Catholics, under his shirt. He went to Mass twice a day and became more directly involved with the pro-life movement, spending weekends standing outside abortion clinics. He traveled to Burma and Thailand to work with religious dissidents and started a Catholic charity in El Salvador.
Finally, on October 8, 2008, Connell was served with his subpoena at College Park Airfield outside Washington, D.C. Seven weeks later his Piper Saratoga would fall from the sky.
On December 18, Connell flew to D.C. to meet with the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men’s organization, about starting a new branch and rebuilding their Web site. He stayed the night at a hotel, got up early to attend Mass and then a breakfast meeting. At about 11 a.m., Connell went to College Park Airfield to prepare to fly home to Akron. His firm, New Media Communication, was holding its Christmas party that evening, and he didn’t want to miss it. An experienced pilot with more than 500 hours of flight time under his belt, Connell waited for the weather to clear. Shortly after 3:30 p.m., he called his wife, Heather, in Ohio to say he had his “window.” He took off at 3:51 p.m.
At first everything went fine. On his approach to Akron-Canton Regional Airport, he asked the tower if there were any reports of icing and was told there were not. It was certainly dark and cold, with cloud cover at 1,000 feet, but the plane had a sophisticated autopilot system that would normally bring it onto the runway, like a homing pigeon. But at 3,200 feet, as Connell began his descent, air traffic control radioed to say he was off course by several miles. Connell radioed that he would correct his position. Something seemed to be wrong with the lateral controls.
The audiotapes of Connell’s last communications with the tower suggest a rising sense of panic and confusion. Realizing that he is still off course, he asks to do a 360-degree turn “to reestablish ourselves.” It’s an unusual maneuver at this late stage of the approach, and the flight controller denies the request. Instead, he advises Connell to “climb and maintain 3,000 feet.” Seconds later there is a loud rushing sound as the cockpit bursts open and the engine goes haywire. Connell screams, “Nine nine November declaring an emergency!” Out of respect for his religious beliefs—and his children—the tower reported that his last words were, “Oh, God!” In fact, he cries out, “Oh, fuck!” Then the tape goes dead.
Capt. Lorin Geisner of the Greentown Fire Department was the first person to arrive at the scene. “We received a 911 call, so we contacted the tower and asked what size plane it was and how many souls were on board,” he recalls. “But we were informed that the tower was in lockdown and that no information was available.”
According to sources, there were other anomalies. Normally, a night crash scene would be roped off and investigated in daylight. In this case representatives of the NTSB and FAA used light towers to photograph and document the scene. Connell’s plane was hastily removed to a secure hangar under cover of darkness. By 6 a.m. the investigators had vanished, leaving behind them a trail of debris, and one very angry widow.
“How is this OK?” asks Heather Connell, pulling a chunk of metal from a cardboard box she had brought in from the garage. She is kneeling on the floor of her husband’s basement office, a tidy space decorated with sleek black office furniture. A photo of a 25-year-old Connell with George H. W. Bush sits on the bookshelf next to an action figure of Dubya decked out in fighter pilot garb. A cascade of frizzy blonde hair tumbles forward over Heather’s face. Her eyes are red from crying. “They think this is part of the foot pedal.”
When I ask how she met her husband, she starts to hum the ’80s hit “Don’t You Want Me.” “She was working as waitress in a cocktail bar...” Then her voice falters. “That much is true. We met in Indiana. He was working for Senator Coats, and I was going to college and working at a sports bar. He was with a bunch of interns who came in. I carded every one of them and was in the process of kicking him out of the bar.” She gives a throaty chuckle. “He was used to people fawning over him, and I think he liked me because I was mean.”
“I didn’t go to the crash site on the night he died,” she says, picking another piece of debris from the box. As her husband began his final descent, Heather and the rest of the staff gathered at a restaurant for the company’s annual Christmas party. “I got a message that his plane had landed,” she recalls, choking back tears. “So I kept calling and calling.” She winces at the memory. “This is making me sick again.” Leaning back in her chair, she takes a drag of a cigarette. “They told me the plane had crashed and that he was dead, but I didn’t want to believe it. I thought maybe he was on the way to the hospital, so I didn’t go to the crash site until December 26.” Her left nostril spasms. “I have pieces of my husband’s brain!” she cries. “I picked them up with my hands six days after the crash. Chunks of his skin and internal organs. How is that a proper investigation? How is that acceptable? How dare they leave pieces of my husband lying there!”
She pulls out another storage box filled with personal items from the crash site: $50 in cash; a charred prayer book with a note inside it reading, “I love you”; a Mickey Mouse dollar bill. Something important is missing, though. “Why do I have his earpiece?” she asks, pulling out the Jawbone headset of a BlackBerry. “This was in his backpack. And the backpack was zipped. So where’s his phone?”
“He always clips them next to each other,” interjects her 15-year-old daughter, Lauren. It’s an important detail because it suggests that the BlackBerry may have been intentionally removed from the backpack. On it were hundreds, if not thousands, of sensitive files and e-mails relating to Karl Rove and the Bush administration.
“I want to know where my husband’s phone is,” Connell says angrily. “It’s my responsibility as a mother and a spouse to find out what happened. And I will not accept ‘Cause of crash unknown.’ I will not.”
Though she is furious at the NTSB, she has no time for the conspiracy theories. While she admits that Connell was disillusioned with politics, she bridles at any suggestion that he could have been involved with vote rigging. “With Mike there was religion, family, and a love for democracy,” she says firmly. “He would never interfere with the democratic process. That’s just ridiculous.”
Connell’s younger sister isn’t so sure. “I knew he worked for the Bushes,” says Shannon Connell. The two siblings had diametrically opposed views—Shannon Connell is a pro-Obama liberal—but they never allowed this to come between them. “We stayed close despite the political differences. He was my brother.”
She doesn’t know whether Connell helped steal elections. If he did, she says, it was because of his passionate anti-abortion views. “I think he was convinced he was doing good—to save the babies,” she says. “That’s the only thing my sisters and I can come up with.
“Mike had been deposed, but he hadn’t been called as a witness yet,” she says of the possibility that her brother was murdered. “He was incredibly loyal to the people he worked for, but he would never have lied under oath. For want of a better expression, I think they played him. His death would have been a really nice Christmas present for Rove and Cheney.
“I am beyond looking for justice,” she says, resigned. “I just want the truth to be known. But I am not counting on it.” She may be right.
After more than nine months, the factual report into Connell’s crash had still not been made public. According to an NTSB spokesperson, it was “still being reviewed.” That’s scant comfort
to Connell’s family, who just want some sense of closure, whatever the outcome.
Still, “In my mind and my heart,” says Shannon Connell, “I am convinced he was murdered.”
We may never know the truth about Connell’s last flight, but contracts between Connell’s company, GovTech, and Ken Blackwell’s administration establish a credible scenario for electoral fraud and place Connell at the scene of the alleged crime.
Among other things, the contracts contradict Connell’s sworn testimony that SMARTech, in Chattanooga, merely acted as a backup site for election data.
The contracts, signed in March 2004, show that SMARTech was specifically tasked with creating a “mirror site” to manage election night results.“What this means is that Connell’s company was on both sides of the mirror,” explains Stephen Spoonamore. “And that the votes of the people of Ohio were in the control of a fiercely partisan IT company (SMARTech) and operating out of another state.”
Clouding matters further is the persistent specter of paranoid conspiracy that has enveloped the case from the beginning. In September 2009, an anonymous letter was sent to the FBI in Ohio and five other addressees, including Heather Connell. “Enclosed is a document that is not meant to exist,” begins the anonymous writer. Included is what purports to be an “after action report” by a black ops agent. All names have been redacted, but the report provides a detailed time log of actions taken to install an AMD (microprocessor) in the engine of Connell’s plane at College Park Airfield in D.C. the night before he made his fatal last flight. Connell himself is not mentioned by name. Just the registration number of his plane, NP299N, which the agent confirms he had been sent to “neutralize.” The letter accompanying the report is headed MICHAEL CONNELL, HOMICIDE. It ends with the words: “Connell was not NST (national security threat).”
While skeptics may be tempted to dismiss these documents as the ingenious work of a hoaxer intent on pouring gasoline on the bonfire of conspiracy theories already surrounding Connell,
a number of experts from the intelligence community who have seen the document believe it to be genuine.
In early November, the NTSB finally released its factual report into Connell’s crash. The report concludes that tests carried out on the plane’s engine, flight control, and autopilot systems revealed “no anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.”
A spokeswoman for the NTSB confirmed that the organization had received a copy of the anonymous letter, but would not say whether its claims were being looked into. “We’re investigating the accident,” she says, “not any possible criminal activity.” She adds that the NTSB forwarded the letter to the FBI in Cleveland. When asked to confirm this, Scott Wilson at the FBI’s Cleveland bureau, says, “The only thing I can say is...I can’t say anything.”
Ultimately, only a full criminal investigation can determine the truth about Ohio ’04 and the death of Michael Connell. Robert Kennedy Jr., who sought Connell’s cooperation during an investigation into the election, believes the current administration should pursue the matter. “I think this is more serious than Watergate,” he says. “Watergate was essentially about winning the battle for public opinion. That’s why the break-in took place—to gather strategic information about Democratic strategy and dirt. But the electoral process remained intact. The Ohio vote undermines the very foundation stone of American democracy. There should be an official investigation. Otherwise this becomes a blueprint for how to steal an election from here to eternity.”
That may not be enough for Connell’s widow. When I first spoke to her on the phone, Heather Connell was adamant that her husband’s plane crash had been an accident, God’s will. But she is no longer so sure. “This is a messed-up case of whether Karl Rove threatened my husband or not,” she says. I ask her directly if she now believes her husband could have been murdered. She takes a deep drag of her cigarette and, choking back tears, says: “I don’t know. I don’t know.”