Wednesday, September 28, 2011

With The News Contained Here; There Is Good Reason For A Revolution.

With The News Contained Here; There Is Good Reason For A Revolution.

Neither Romney nor Perry has done the one thing that truly excites the Koch brothers and their fellow deep-pocketed Christie fans: take on the public sector unions in a big way. READ MORE

The Rise of the Pro-Ignorance Right Wing Puts us All In Danger
Tea Party simpletons wrap themselves in prideful ignorance, and treat matters of life and death, like global warming, with dismissive derision.

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 27, 2011 (IPS) - If Palestine fails to achieve full statehood recognition at the United Nations, the only other viable option is to get "enhanced" observer status with the 193-member General Assembly, the U.N.'s highest policy making body.

But that proposed new status has already triggered Israeli and Western fears that Palestinians may also logically win the right to haul the Jewish state before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on war crimes charges. 

"If Israel is not going to commit any war crimes or violate international humanitarian law," says Dr. Nabeel Shaath, a senior official of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and a former foreign minister, "it should have absolutely no reason to fear our membership with the ICC." 

The ICC is one of those institutions created by the United Nations in order to make people accountable when they violate, he said. 

"If they don't violate, why should they be worried?" asked Shaath, one of the most articulate Palestinians holding a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, where he once taught finance and economics. 

"Of course, Shaath is rhetorically correct," said Richard Falk, a former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights, "but the Israeli response would be that would not stop the Palestinian Authority from making irresponsible allegations." 

"In fact, I would doubt that the PA would use its enhanced membership status to make allegations about past Israeli criminality, but it might use it to raise fresh charges arising out of future Israeli behaviour," he told IPS. 

"It is rather complicated situation but I suspect that the PA will not push its General Assembly recognition of statehood in these directions early on," he said. 

It is more a political question than a legal one, said Falk, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. 

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement, told IPS, "Yes, if the Israeli government feels its actions are justified under international law, it should have nothing to fear from Palestine joining the ICC." 

But that's a big "if", she added. 

"Surely, they understand that the continued building of settlements on Palestinian land, the siege of Gaza and the brutal Gaza invasion (Operation Cast Lead) are gross violations of international law," she said. 

They certainly don't want the intense scrutiny that would come from cases being brought before the court, said Benjamin, also a co- founder of the international human rights organisation Global Exchange. 

The speculation at the United Nations is that Palestine has to clear two political hurdles: either get the nine required votes in the 15- member Security Council on its claim for statehood, or escape a veto by the United States. 

If it fails on both counts, the Palestinians will have only one option: go to the General Assembly for "enhanced" observer status. 

The vote requires only a simple majority - 97 out of 193 votes. But as of now, Palestine could end up with as much as 125 or 130 votes. 

Armed with the new observer status - on par with the Vatican in the General Assembly - Palestine will qualify to join the myriads of U.N. agencies, and also the ICC, which was created to pursue war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

Currently, Palestine only has "observer" status with very limited options and political clout. As expected, if the General Assembly votes in favour, Palestine will be "a non-member State member." 

"We'd be accepted as a state but we won't have the full membership that only the Security Council can award," Shaath told reporters last week. 

Mouin Rabbani, a visiting senior fellow at the Washington-based Institute for Palestine Studies, told IPS it's not yet clear whether or not the Palestinians will go to the General Assembly, and whether they will seek enhanced observer status if they do go that route. 

"I think the American-Israeli fears that the PLO could accede to the Rome Statute (that created the ICC) and file cases in the ICC are precisely why the Palestinians should make a concerted effort to take this route," he said. 

It has become abundantly clear to many over the course of the past two decades - and particularly so since U.S. President Barack Obama assumed office - that the Palestinians need to definitively break with the Oslo framework and develop alternative strategies that challenge rather than accommodate U.S. policy. 

The 1993 Oslo accords between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel resulted in the creation of the Palestinian Authority; called for the withdrawal of the Israeli Defence Forces from parts of the occupied territory; and also spelled out the future relationship between the two warring parties. 

Rabbani said the record conclusively demonstrates that U.S. mediation has become indistinguishable from Israeli policy and thus leads to consolidation of Israeli occupation rather than Palestinian self- determination. 

"And the American policy that most needs to be challenged is its systematic sponsorship of Israeli impunity in its dealings with its colonial subjects," he added. 

Shaath told reporters last week that it took Israel one and a half years to join the United Nations as a full member, it took Macedonia nine months, but it took only two days for South Sudan to join the world body. 

He pointed out there are already nine countries in the Security Council which recognise Palestine as a state: China, India, Russia, Lebanon, South Africa, Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Gabon and Nigeria. 

But he said there is tremendous pressure on some of these countries either to vote against or abstain on the statehood resolution, thereby depriving Palestine the nine votes it needs. 

Shaath said the Palestinians were conscious of the fact that there is an upcoming presidential election in the U.S. "and a lot of domestic requirements of the president of the United States". 

"We are not seeking to join the mafia or Al-Qaeda," he stressed. "We are seeking the United Nations that Mr. Obama spoke about so eloquently (at the General Assembly last week) and so grandly." 

Rabbani said Shaath's statement draws attention to the reality that Palestinians cannot just file cases with the ICC and expect a fair hearing. 

It is after all a court that thus far has interpreted its mandate as applying exclusively to Africans, and under current circumstances the prospects that the ICC would accept cases concerning Israeli war crimes are at best minimal, he said. 

This is, however, a reality that is subject to change, particularly if the Palestinians launch a concerted campaign to promote the internationalization of the Palestine Question, and bolster such a campaign with other elements of an alternative strategy, both on the ground in the occupied territories, as well as regionally and internationally, said Rabbani, also a co-editor of Jadaliyya, an independent e-magazine published by the Arab Studies Institute. 

Such a strategy, he pointed out, should systematically challenge the U.S. -Israel agenda and seek and break their monopoly on Middle East diplomacy. 


Israel Oks 1100 New East Jersusalem Settlement Homes

Globe and - 5 hours ago -  A construction site is seen in Gilo, a Jewish settlement that Israel erected ... Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said the newhousing units ...

Iranian Regime Continues Push to Unite Muslim World Against Israel and the West

Amid all the hoopla surrounding the Palestinian push to unilaterally declare statehood at this week's U.N. General Assembly--and further their ultimate goal of pushing Israel into the sea--an important development out of Tehran last Friday was overlooked.

The Iranian regime held a two-day conference on "Islamic Awakening" that was attended by several hundred guests from Arab countries. The main order of business was the so-called "Arab Spring" and how Islamists can gain power as a result of the ongoing revolutions sweeping the Middle East.

As I wrote here last month, the Iranian regime's dream is to lead a united Islamic front against Israel and the West. And with the Islamist Winter, er, "Arab Spring" in full swing, the Iranians see a golden opportunity to do just that.

Here's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking at the Islamic Awakening Event:

TEHRAN — Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday warned those involved in popular Arab uprisings against trusting Western powers and their "promises," saying they should instead confide in Islam for solutions.

"Never trust America, NATO, and criminal regimes like Britain, France and Italy — who for a long time divided your lands (among themselves) and plundered them," Khamenei said as he opened a two-day conference in Tehran on "Islamic Awakening" attended by several hundred guests from Arab countries.

"Be suspicious of them and do not believe in their smiles. Behind those smiles and promises lie conspiracy and betrayal," Khamenei said. "Look for solutions in . . . Islam."

"Do not let your enemies dictate your plans for the future, do not sacrifice the principles of Islam before temporary interests," he said in remarks broadcast live on state television.

Iran has vocally supported most uprisings in the Arab world, with the exception of the revolt in its regional ally Syria, where it backs the regime of President Bashar al-Assad while advocating reform.

The Islamic republic has in recent months repeatedly accused the West of attempting to hijack the revolt movements in the Arab world.

Precisely. The Iranian leadership is seeking to co-opt the uprisings for its own end: the emergence of the Mahdi, and the destruction of Israel and the West by the combined forces of Islam.

Class Warfare Or Legalized Fascism?

I read all of the letters fit to print on the issue of class warfare in your Letters to the Editor on Sunday. The call for compromise was compelling, but a number of the letters left me feeling as if I must have flunked civics class.

The United States of America was never intended to be a fascist nation. It was formed as a republic -- of the people, by the people and for the people.

If you check your basic civics book, a fascist government brings government ownership and control of the private business enterprises. Fascist economics supports the existence of private property, the existence of a market economy and the use of the profit motive -- all government-directed. Fascists also support government nationalization of businesses. (Think Chrysler and General Motors.)

By the way, the next stop to the left is communism, which is what our friends in China have. The left's contemporary romance with militant Islam seems to be a continuation of the left's love affair with communist totalitarianism in the 20th century.

Now we have a death struggle between those who want to preserve our republic pitted against the radicals and parasites who are attempting to tear it down.

Both the radical left and radical Islam possess a profound hatred for Western culture, for a capitalist economic structure that recognizes individual achievement, and for the Judeo-Christian heritage of the United States.

So let's look at who benefits and who doesn't under this new form of government that "we the people" have voted into power.

Washington, D.C., enjoyed the steepest spike in median income over the past four years. It soared a whopping 12.1 percent last year, to $60,903. Ohio's, by the way, fell 3.2 percent.

So if we want to start a class-warfare battle, which clearly seems to be front and center on the agenda these days, let's take on the real issue: Our government has brought corruption and strong-arm politics to Washington, looking to reward its friends (unions, federal workers and liberal interest groups) and punish its enemies (private-sector workers and the taxpayers who foot the bill for massive expansion of the federal government). Let's reframe this battle as a battle against government, not the poor vs. the rich.

Steve Bigach, Solon

The Tea Party, Right-Wing Media and the Dog That Didn't Bark

You could make the argument that the Tea Party movement is the most potent force in American politics today. After all, the evidence is everywhere -- especially in Washington, where Republican lawmakers pushed the previously-unheard-of, tea-flavored notion that disaster aid for hurricane victims can only be paid for by cutting social programs.

That was advocated by the same Tea Party faction, swept into office last fall, that has scuttled any talk that higher taxes -- even on millionaires and billionaires who thrived in an era of working-class decimation -- could ever be part of the Beltway's obsession with debt reduction. From making support for generally accepted global warming science melt faster than an Arctic glacier, to folks cheering the death penalty and then booing a gay solider serving in Iraq at GOP presidential debates, the anti-government, anti-science, anti-knowledge 26 Percenters of the Tea Party Movement have been the angry tail wagging the confused dog of American police for the last 30 months. Right?

Yes, you could make that argument.

But here's the weird thing -- if the Tea Party is really such a powerhouse of political influence... where has it been recently?

It wasn't in South Carolina, where a "smaller than expected" crowd came to see Michele Bachmann for a Tax Day Rally back in April (just as Sarah Palin and Donald Trump also drew small crowds on the same day), or at the "small" crowd of only 200 activists who showed up in March for a D.C. rally in favor of shutting down the government, or the less than 100 people who were rousted this summer to rally for the Tea Party's stance on the debt ceiling (pictured at top), even with supposed movement's superstars Sens. Rand Paul and Jim DeMint at the podium.

Where's the Tea Party? It's not in Las Vegas, where the swanky Venetian Hotel has been suing the Tes Party Nation for more than $600,000, for canceling a planned convention last fall when it couldn't deliver nearly enough people for the more than 1,800 hotel rooms it had once reserved. (By the way, Tea Party nation's founder just endorsed Newt Gingrich for president... you think that's a game changer?) You could also fairly ask what happened to the nearly 100,000 people who showed up at the National Mall just 13 months ago for a rally organized by and starring the then-king of all right-wing media, Glenn Beck, but a better question would be simply -- what happened to Glenn Beck? Little more than a year removed from the cover of Time and the New York Times Magazine, Beck has lost his main platform on the Fox News Channel, been booted from the airwaves in Philadelphia and New York, and taken his shtick to the narrowcasting world of Internet TV.

The 2010 election was supposed to be the warm-up for the Tea Party's ultimate goal, which was turning Barack Obama into a one-term president. But where is the Tea Party candidate for the White House? The self-declared members of the Tea Party who entered the race -- most notably Bachmann -- are sinking like stones. And then there's Rick Perry, who studied at the right hand of Glenn Beck and turned himself into a master of extreme rhetoric, suggesting that Texas could secede from the Union and then calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme -- positions that seem to being doing more harm to his quick-rise-and-quick-fall candidacy than good.

Sure, there's no question that the so-called Tea Party philosophy is fueling the discussion in Washington and in the media these days -- where every conversation on spending begins and ends with "cutting," where every notion about government boils down to "how much less." But the bizarre thing is that this ongoing influence seems to be playing out against a broad canvass that seems to be missing the existence of an actual Tea Party.

Did the Tea Party become, in that famous Sherlock Holmesian expression, the dog that did not bark?

For the most part, yes. So what was all that barking that woke America up in the middle of the night?

It was the right-wing media, and its echoes, that you heard.

When historians look back on the surge and decline of the Tea Party Movement in America, and they will, I believe the focus will be how something that was real -- anger and fear among a segment of the middle class that has been decimated by the decline of the U.S. economy -- was hijacked by a band of high-def hucksters, starting with media stars and their bosses seeking ratings, attention and cash, not necessarily in that order. The behind-the-scene billionaires eager to save their oligarchy, and the craven politicians that they own, piled on later.

I've been thinking a lot about the Tea Party recently. It's been just over a year since my book on the birth of the movement -- The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters, and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama -- was published (and it's just been released in more affordable paperback and e-book editions.) When I reported and wrote the book in 2009 and 2010, it was undoubtedly a current event, but now already it has the feel of history -- a moment in American politics that was both remarkable and alarming in nature.

How has the main premise of The Backlash -- that a cauldron of fear among the denizens of the American heartland over their grim economic fortunes and the rise of a non-white majority, punctuated by the election of a black president, was then stirred up by cynical manipulators like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin -- held up over a year's time?

So well that the president of Fox News, Roger Ailes, just essentially pleaded guilty to that central argument. This week, Ailes told Newsweek's Howard Kurtz, in a much discussed article, that his FNC has undergone....

....a "course correction," quietly adopted at Fox over the last year. Glenn Beck's inflammatory rhetoric--his ranting about Obama being a racist -- "became a bit of a branding issue for us" before the hot-button host left in July, Ailes says. So too did Sarah Palin's being widely promoted as the GOP's potential savior -- in large measure through her lucrative platform at Fox. Privately, Fox executives say the entire network took a hard right turn after Obama's election, but, as the Tea Party's popularity fades, is edging back toward the mainstream.

Fascinating, but there's also a part of the tale here that's more than a tad disingenuous. One reason that the Tea Party is fading is that Fox is no longer promoting it aggressively, especially not since Beck departed at the start of this summer. And more importantly, the Tea Party would not have burst onto the scene in the first place without Ailes' Rupert Murdoch-owned network playing such a large part in creating it.

Remember, the concept of the Tea Party itself came not from the masses but from a TV rant -- not on Fox, surprisingly, but by CNBC's Rick Santelli surrounded by affluent traders on the floor of the Chicago financial exchange. To be sure, there was genuine public rage about the 2008 economic crisis and the bailout of the big banks, but the right-wing media -- which has remarkable influence in the top-down, narrowcasted "Dittohead" world of American conservatives -- steered anger away from Wall Street before Jan. 20. 2009, and toward 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue after that date.

Credit that above mentioned "hard right turn" on Fox -- which incessantly promoted Tax Day rallies on April 15, 2009 to drive up turnout and then covered them as major news events, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Helping to pay for some of the events was the Americans for Prosperity, the front group for the Koch Brothers who had every incentive to tap the public's raw energies for its pet issues, including low taxes for billionaires and climate-change denial. Republican pols desperate for "the next new thing" in those early Obama days took their cue from Fox, instead of the other way around. None more so than a certain Sunbelt governor who attended three rallies that day and who said at one that secession from the Union wasn't such a bad idea. You see...Fox didn't just create the Tea Party, but the network -- with a huge hand from Glenn Beck -- also created Rick Perry.

Do you still doubt that the froth of the Tea Party was whipped up by the media? Think about this: The zenith for Glenn Beck (whose show launched on the day before Obama took the oath of office) came on Friday the 13th of March, 2009, when in an emotional rant ("I just love my country," he wept, "and I fear for it") he invoked the spirit of post-9/11 America and even announced a companion movement to the Tea Party called the 9/12 Project. Like magic, this 9/12 Project attracted thousands of enthusiastic joiners who posted anti-Obama rants online (in the post-9/11 spirit?). formed local chapters and turned out in decent numbers on the National Mall on Sept. 12, 2009, in an event that of course got considerable coverage on Fox.

Then Glenn Beck got bored with the 9/12 Project that he had created from thin airwaves. Then he went off the TV altogether. And the 9/12 Project also disappeared completely off the face of the American political map.

In The Backlash, I wrote about the fulfillment of the mid-1980s prophecies of the late media critic Neil Postman, who worried in his landmark book Amusing Ourselves to Death that entertainment values would subsume political discourse, that the powers-that-be would not resort to Orwellian censorship because we could be so easily and happily be manipulated instead. This is what exactly what we saw in the Glenn Beck and the Tea Party, which not uncoincidentally pretty much rose and fell the same time.

Even at its peak in 2009-10, the Tea Party Movement had the political juice to do one thing, which was turn out an energized army of Fox-watching zombies to win low-turnout primaries, as they did in Alaska with Joe Miller, in Nevada with Sharron Angle, and most famously in Delaware with Christine O'Donnell in Delaware. None of these extremists were able to win the general election, even in a throw-the-bums-out GOP tidal wave election.

And so suddenly it's 2011, and Roger Ailes and Fox News decide to pull a "course correction." And just like that, the Tea Party is barely anywhere to be found.

But here's the funny -- OK, actually not that funny -- thing. The chaos unleashed by Fox and friends on the American political system during those two years of the Obama backlash is going to be with us for a long, long time. Some of that is in the extremists like Kentucky's Rand Paul and Utah's Mike Lee who did zig-zag through the electoral maze of 2010 and we are now stuck with for the next six years, at least.

But mainly it's in the fear that forces of nature like radio's Limbaugh and the brief surge of the Tea Party has created in the mainstream GOP, its members so afraid now of losing a primary like Delaware's Mike Castle did to O'Donnell at this time last year. That smell of fear moved once-compromise-minded Republicans like Arizona's John McCain to the extreme right, and scuttled what in 2008 had been bright hopes that Washington would take action on climate change and real immigration reform. It's what inspired so many GOPers to sign a no-tax-increase-ever pledge that will hamper America's efforts to dig from the current hole, even as the very real problem of unemployment is ignored.

And now comes Roger Ailes to essentially tell us that the whole thing was a politically motivated ratings gimmick. And yet the Beltway pundits and the politicians still can't realize or admit that the Tea Party was at its brief peak just a 26 percent tail wagging the American dog... or that the dog stopped barking months ago.

A UN Study Examines To What Extent Children Who Commit Crimes During Armed ...
Deutsche Welle
Many war criminals, she criticizes, are released prematurely simply because of their good behavior and age. Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Child soldiers need to be recognized as victims - not perpetrators - of ...See all stories on this topic »

U.S. Demands Action On Pakistani Terrorist Network

The United States on Tuesday demanded that Pakistan dismantle a terrorist network blamed for attacking a U.S. embassy as Pakistanis defended efforts to fight militants and demonstrated against the increasing U.S. pressure.

Raising Cain

September 28, 2011 by Bob Livingston

Herman Cain won the Florida Straw Poll.

The Republican apparatchik and mainstream media have lost control of the nomination process, and they’re scrambling to get it back.

Bilderberg-selected candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Perry are fading. Romney is reviled by the Tea Party and hasn’t caught on with conservatives despite four years of campaigning.

Romneycare hangs around his neck like a millstone. Perry, who entered the race as the group’s darling, is stumbling and bumbling his way out of contention as his crony capitalist/soft-on-immigration past comes to light.

And he didn’t help himself during the Florida GOP debate when he insulted everyone who opposes special subsidies for the illegal aliens.

Herman Cain, fresh off a strong performance in the debate and a win in the Florida Straw Poll — which has correctly picked the Republican nominee every time it’s been held — is surging. In the latest Zogby poll, Cain garnered 28 percent support, but Perry dropped to 18 percent.

The mainstream media and Republican insiders desperately want a two-man race between Romney and Perry.

That’s because they expected Perry to implode so Romney could carry the day. But try as they might, their hoped-for horserace is not going to happen.

Perry will crash and burn, but Romney has enough Republican insider support to trudge on. Writing for The Hill, Brent Budowsky predicted Perry’s implosion and said the race is going to be between Romney and either Cain or Congressman Ron Paul.

“Both Paul and Cain deserve far more respect from the major media,” Budowsky wrote. “This is not a Soviet campaign where Pravda-like pundits treat certain candidates as though they do not exist.”

So far, it has been exactly that in the case of Paul and Cain. But the voters aren’t cooperating.

Planned Parenthood Turns to Hogan Lovells for Congressional Probe

Planned Parenthood has retained lawyers from Hogan Lovells as it prepares to respond to a sweeping new inquiry into how the organization and its affiliates use federal money.

New Prosecution Team Takes Over Blackwater Case

A new team of lawyers today took over the controversial manslaughter prosecution against a group of Blackwater security guards charged in the killing of Iraqi civilians.

Pentagon Launches War Court Website
Sunday, The Weekly Standard magazine included a profile of the new Obama era War Crimes Prosecutor, Army Brig. Gen Mark Martins, pledging to beam closed-circuit broadcasts of remote Guantánamo proceedings to both victims and media viewing centers on US ...
See all stories on this topic »

My Weekend At The “Hague Hilton” | Photographers
By Damir Sagolj
I have followed their bloody trail for 20 years now. That road ends at The Hague Hilton, as the detention unit of the war crimes tribunal is sometimes called.

Diebold voting machines can be hacked by remote control

Exclusive: A laboratory shows how an e-voting machine used by a third of all voters can be easily manipulated

It could be one of the most disturbing e-voting machine hacks to date.

Voting machines used by as many as a quarter of American voters heading to the polls in 2012 can be hacked with just $10.50 in parts and an 8th grade science education, according to computer science and security experts at the Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. The experts say the newly developed hack could change voting results while leaving absolutely no trace of the manipulation behind.

"We believe these man-in-the-middle attacks are potentially possible on a wide variety of electronic voting machines," said Roger Johnston, leader of the assessment team "We think we can do similar things on pretty much every electronic voting machine."

The Argonne Lab, run by the Department of Energy, has the mission of conducting scientific research to meet national needs. The Diebold Accuvote voting system used in the study was loaned to the lab's scientists by, of which the Brad Blog is a co-founder. Velvet Revolution received the machine from a former Diebold contractor
Previous lab demonstrations of e-voting system hacks, such as Princeton's demonstration of a viral cyber attack on a Diebold touch-screen system -- as I wrote for Salon back in 2006 -- relied on cyber attacks to change the results of elections. Such attacks, according to the team at Argonne, require more coding skills and knowledge of the voting system software than is needed for the attack on the Diebold system.

Indeed, the Argonne team's attack required no modification, reprogramming, or even knowledge, of the voting machine's proprietary source code. It was carried out by inserting a piece of inexpensive "alien electronics" into the machine.

The Argonne team's demonstration of the attack on a Diebold Accuvote machine is seen in a short new video shared exclusively with the Brad Blog [posted below]. The team successfully demonstrated a similar attack on a touch-screen system made by Sequoia Voting Systems in 2009.

The new findings of the Vulnerability Assessment Team echo long-ignored concerns about e-voting vulnerabilities issued by other computer scientists and security experts, the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (an arm of the Department of Homeland Security), and even a long-ignored presentation by a CIA official given to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

"This is a national security issue," says Johnston. "It should really be handled by the Department of Homeland Security."

The use of touch-screen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems of the type Argonne demonstrated to be vulnerable to manipulation has declined in recent years due to security concerns, and the high cost of programming and maintenance. Nonetheless, the same type of DRE systems, or ones very similar, will once again be used by a significant part of the electorate on Election Day in 2012. According to Sean Flaherty, a policy analyst for, a nonpartisan e-voting watchdog group, "About one-third of registered voters live where the only way to vote on Election Day is to use a DRE."

Almost all voters in states like Georgia, Maryland, Utah and Nevada, and the majority of voters in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Texas, will vote on DREs on Election Day in 2012, says Flaherty. Voters in major municipalities such as Houston, Atlanta, Chicago and Pittsburgh will also line up in next year's election to use DREs of the type hacked by the Argonne National Lab.

Voting machine companies and election officials have long sought to protect source code and the memory cards that store ballot programming and election results for each machine as a way to guard against potential outside manipulation of election results. But critics like California Secretary of State Debra Bowen have pointed out that attempts at "security by obscurity" largely ignore the most immediate threat, which comes from election insiders who have regular access to the e-voting systems, as well as those who may gain physical access to machines that were not designed with security safeguards in mind.

"This is a fundamentally very powerful attack and we believe that voting officials should become aware of this and stop focusing strictly on cyber [attacks]," says Vulnerability Assessment Team member John Warner. "There's a very large physical protection component of the voting machine that needs to be addressed."

The team's video demonstrates how inserting the inexpensive electronic device into the voting machine can offer a "bad guy" virtually complete control over the machine. A cheap remote control unit can enable access to the voting machine from up to half a mile away.

"The cost of the attack that you're going to see was $10.50 in retail quantities," explains Warner in the video. "If you want to use the RF [radio frequency] remote control to stop and start the attacks, that's another $15. So the total cost would be $26."

The video shows three different types of attack, each demonstrating how the  intrusion developed by the team allows them to take complete control of the Diebold touch-screen voting machine. They were able to demonstrate a similar attack on a DRE system made by Sequoia Voting Systems as well.

In what Warner describes as "probably the most relevant attack for vote tampering," the intruder would allow the voter to make his or her selections. But when the voter actually attempts to push the Vote Now button, which records the voter's final selections to the system's memory card, he says, "we will simply intercept that attempt ... change a few of the votes," and  the changed votes would then be registered in the machine.

"In order to do this," Warner explains, "we blank the screen temporarily so that the voter doesn't see that there's some revoting going on prior to the final registration of the votes."

This type of attack is particularly troubling because the manipulation would occur after the voter has approved as "correct" the on-screen summaries of his or her intended selections. Team leader Johnson says that while such an attack could be mounted on Election Day, there would be "a high probability of being detected." But he explained that the machines could also be tampered with during so-called voting machine "sleepovers" when e-voting systems are kept by poll workers at their houses, often days and weeks prior to the election or at other times when the systems are  unguarded.

"The more realistic way to insert these alien electronics is to do it while the voting machines are waiting in the polling place a week or two prior to the election," Johnston said. "Often the polling places are in elementary schools or a church basement or some place that doesn't really have a great deal of security. Or the voting machines can be tampered while they're in transit to the polling place. Or while they're in storage in the warehouse between elections," says Johnston. He notes that the Argonne team had no owner's manual or circuit diagrams for either the Diebold or Sequoia voting systems they were able to access in these attacks.

The  team members are critical of election security procedures, which rarely, if ever, include physical inspection of the machines, especially their internal electronics. Even if such inspections were carried out, however, the Argonne scientists say the type of attack they've developed leaves behind no physical or programming evidence, if properly executed.

"The really nice thing about this attack, the man-in-the-middle, is that there's no soldering or destruction of the circuit board of any kind," Warner says. "You can remove this attack and leave no forensic evidence that we've been there."

Gaining access to the inside of the Diebold touch-screen is as simple as picking the rudimentary lock, or using a standard hotel minibar key, as all of the machines use the same easily copied key, available at most office supply stores.

"I think our main message is, let's not get overly transfixed on the cyber," team leader Johnston says. Since he believes they "can do similar things on pretty much every electronic voting machine," he recommends a number of improvements for future e-voting systems.

"The machines themselves need to be designed better, with the idea that people may be trying to get into them," he says. " If you're just thinking about the fact that someone can try to get in, you can design the seals better, for example."

"Don't do things like use a standard blank key for every machine," he warns. "Spend an extra four bucks and get a better lock. You don't have to have state of the art security, but you can do some things where it takes at least a little bit of skill to get in."
The video demonstration and explanation of the Diebold "Man-in-the-Middle" attack, as developed by Argonne National Lab's Vulnerability Assessment Team, follows below. Their related attack on a Sequoia voting system can be viewed here.

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