ed marszewski on 15 Jan 2001 10:01:01 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] COUP 2K PT2

Party Allies Wrongly Purged ‘Felon’ Voters
     Since the Reconstruction, any Florida resident with a felony conviction 
is stripped of the right to vote, regardless of where the conviction 
occurred.  After serving their sentences, felons can only be re-enfranchised 
after filling out mountains of paperwork and then winning the approval of 
the governor and two state representatives.
     In June, between 8,000 and 12,000 Florida voters were wrongly purged 
from the voting rolls as felons. Many of those disenfranchised had never 
even been arrested; one was even a sitting judge. Meanwhile, hundreds of 
genuine felons were not purged and according to post-election analysis by 
the press were able to illegally cast votes, thus further muddying the 
election results.25
     The Florida State Government uses an outside contractor to vet their 
voter rolls; it is the only state to do so.  In 1998, the $4 million 
contract was awarded to a Boca Raton company called Database Technologies 
(DBT).  Earlier this year, DBT was acquired by an Atlanta-area company 
called ChoicePoint Inc.  According to SEC documents, ChoicePoint’s 
acquisition of DBT was completed on May 15, just one month before the 
grossly inaccurate "purge lists" were turned over to Florida election 
     Curiously, it turned out ChoicePoint had obtained this false list of  
"felons" from the state of Texas.27   Yes, Texas.  According to the company, 
a list of Texans convicted of misdemeanors had "somehow" been added to the 
Florida lists as felons.  Some effort was made to contact those who had been 
wrongly purged, but most did not find out until they had arrived at their 
polling place only to be refused ballots.
     Curiouser and curiouser, it turns out that ChoicePoint is closely tied 
to the Republican Party, and that its top executives and board members 
include many high-dollar donors.  Among them is billionaire Ken Langone, who 
served as Rudolph Giuliani’s fund-raising chairman in his aborted Senate run 
against Hillary Clinton.28  According to Federal Election Committee records, 
between 1997 and 1999 Langone donated at least $54,000 to Republican 
committees in campaigns.  According to the most recent records available at 
press time, Langone gave another $29,000 or so within the last year, using 
multiple addresses and jobs to skirt federal limits.  Ken’s wife Elaine, who 
lists "homemaker" as her profession, gave another $8,000 to the Republicans 
just in the last year.29  Not bad for a mere homemaker.
     Another Giuliani politico at ChoicePoint is former NY Police 
Commissioner Howard Safir.  ChoicePoint’s lobbyist, former congressman Vin 
Weber, has donated over $48,000 to the Republicans in the last three 
years.30  Company founder Rick Rozar himself donated $100,000 to the party 
just before his death in 1998.31  Other ChoicePoint employees and 
executives, or at least those who could be identified in the FEC database, 
have donated an additional $30,000, and probably a good deal more.
     (As this edition goes to press, the NAACP, ACLU and several other civil 
rights groups announced they have filed a federal lawsuit naming DBT and a 
number of Florida government and election officials defendants.32)

Systematic Absentee Ballot Fraud
     There are further signs that Republican operatives played a covert role 
in advance work to jimmy the Florida election.  Xavier Suarez, the very same 
"mayor" of Miami who was thrown from office because of massive voter-fraud 
in the infamous 1997 election, worked for the Republicans on the 2000 
presidential election. Suarez currently serves on the executive committee of 
the Miami-Dade Republican Party.  What’s more, Suarez told Feed Magazine 
that right up to election night he "helped fill out absentee ballot forms 
and enlist Republican absentee voters in Miami-Dade County."33
     "Dade County Republicans have a very specific expertise in getting out 
absentee ballots," he said proudly. "I obviously have specific experience in 
this myself."34
     This is profoundly shocking to anyone who knows that Suarez was found 
guilt of illegally tampering with some 5,000 absentee ballots in the 1997 
election.  Indeed, absentee ballots had put Suarez over the top in the 
election when he "won" twice as many as his rival.  Incredibly, even after 
the stringent legal reforms following the 1997 Miami vote-fraud case, 
Florida still has no independent oversight of absentee ballots until they 
are actually counted.
     Some of Suarez’s "expertise in getting out absentee ballots" may have 
been evident in Seminole County.  A lawsuit there nearly succeeded in 
throwing out 15,000 absentee ballots because the elections supervisor, 
Sandra Goard (an elected Republican), had illegally allowed two GOP 
operatives to "correct" thousands of pre-printed absentee ballot 
applications that mistakenly printed birth dates instead of the 
legally-required voter IDs.35
     Without the voter ID numbers, the law says the applications are 
automatically void, and no third party can "correct" them.  Period.  But 
when the Republicans realized what had happened, they called Goard, who 
agreed to let them correct the applications as long as they brought their 
own laptops loaded with the ID data.  Goard had her staff retrieve the 
voided applications from storage and sort the Republican ones from the rest. 
  She then provided a room for the men to work in.  For "15-21 days" 
(they’re not sure?), the party hacks worked there – completely unsupervised. 
  Meanwhile, the helpful Goard made sure Democrats’ applications with 
similar errors were thrown away, as required by law.
     According to trial transcripts, the two GOP operatives "corrected" at 
least 2,100 absentee ballot applications – nearly four times the majority 
Bush "won" by in Florida.  Incredibly, it came out during the trial that a 
large number of these had "scrambled" ID numbers and should have been 
rejected (again).  Instead, Goard illegally instructed her staff to process 
the applications anyway and send these completely illegal absentee ballots 
to the Republicans.36
     Under Florida law, the suit should have won handily.  The violations 
were clear, categorical, and largely uncontested.  Previously, counties had 
their absentee ballots thrown out for far less.  But perhaps because of GOP 
public pressure on the judge (a Democrat), the incredible ruling was that 
these actions "had not violated the spirit" of Florida law, nor the 
"sanctity" of the ballots – a patently absurd conclusion that flies in the 
face of the law.
     As important as the Seminole case was, the real significance of it may 
have eluded the court and observers alike.  The room these men were allowed 
to work in, unsupervised, contained 18 computers linked directly to the 
mainframe computer containing the state’s voting database.  During the 
trial, GOP lawyers said this didn’t matter because "as far as anyone knows," 
the two men did not have the passwords to those computers.37
     Such a "defense" is absurd.  Even without passwords from Goard, the 
fact remains that these men brought their own laptops.  A laptop can hold 
hacking programs just as easily as it can data.  Any fool with a modem can 
download dozens of free programs that can crack most passwords within 
minutes. Furthermore, the defense conceded that these men worked in the room 
for 2 or 3 weeks with no supervision at all. With that much time to work, 
they could have hacked the NSA.  Did the GOP operatives hack Florida’s 
voting mainframe?  We’ll probably never know, but five will get you ten….

‘Spontaneous’ Mob Violence
     In Florida, the Bush campaign quietly organized "rent-a-rioters" and 
flew them to Florida from all over the country.  While disingenuously 
portraying the protests as "spontaneous grass-roots efforts," the Bush 
campaign sent special squads of GOP Congressional staffers who, in several 
instances, led violent attacks on Democratic observers, smashed windows, and 
tried to force their way into vote-counting rooms.  This was not civil 
disobedience intended to show disagreement, but a concerted attack designed 
to threaten and intimidate.38
     Shortly after the election, the Bush campaign began a two-pronged 
program to import as many protesters into Florida as they could.  The first 
prong was done openly:  phone-trees reached out across the country to coax 
party loyalists to head down and fight Al Gore’s "theft" of the election. 
This much is standard political fare.  What was unusual was the more 
discreet second prong.
     Under the direction of House Republican Whip Tom DeLay (of Texas, mind 
you), staff members of GOP Congressmen were quietly approached with offers 
of all-expenses-paid trips to Florida, "all paid for by the Bush 
campaign."39  In addition to staying in swanky beach-side hotels, part of 
their reward would be an exclusive Thanksgiving Day party in Ft. Lauderdale.
     According to the Wall Street Journal, more than 200 Congressional 
staffers signed on, with many of them staying in Florida for over a week.  
"Once word leaked out," said one GOP operative, "everybody wanted in."40
     Of course, the law prohibits Congressional staffers from participating 
in political activities on "company" time.  However, the rules allow them to 
"go on vacation" or declare themselves on "temporary leave" at a moment’s 
notice.  Their marching orders came from their bosses, but officially they 
were simply "private citizens" (albeit on the Bush campaign’s tab).
     Once on the scene, high-level coordination was done as secretly as 
possible. The Wall Street Journal described the "air of mystery to the 
operation," noting that daily instructions were issued in the form anonymous 
memos slipped under hotel-room doors late at night.  One aide told the 
paper, "To tell the truth, nobody knows who is calling the shots."41
     On the streets, operations were coordinated from a motor home decorated 
with Bush-Cheney campaign shwag, like many others parked nearby.  The mobile 
command center was kept a block or so away from the center of the protests, 
far enough to lay low but close enough for instant access.  The protesters 
were brought to the scene in specially rented busses.  Party operatives used 
bullhorns to shout inflammatory rhetoric, passed out t-shirts and leaflets, 
and generally kept things heated.
     The first GOP riot occurred in Miami on November 22.42  In command were 
some 75 members of the "Congress Gang," who floated in and out of the mobile 
home a block away where the votes were being counted.
     NY Rep. John Sweeney, who was observing the recount, gave the order to 
"shut it down."43  Within minutes, an angry mob filled the halls of the 
government building, screaming threats with their fists in the air.  Leading 
the mob, clearly visible in news footage and photographs, were a number of 
the staffers in the "Congress Gang."
     Panicked sheriff’s deputies tried to close the doors leading to the 
counting area.  The protesters responded by pounding on the doors and the 
large window looking in on the besieged canvassers.  The glass bulged under 
the strain.
     Joe Geller, the chairman of the local Democratic Party, decided wisdom 
was the better part of valor.  He shoved some papers and a standard blank 
sample ballot into his brief case and tried to get away.  Someone shouted 
that Geller was "stealing a ballot," and the mob leapt into hot pursuit.  
Once on the street, Geller was surrounded.  He was beaten and kicked as he 
tried to shield himself with his arms.  Finally, local police waded into the 
crowd and after a considerable struggle managed to extract Geller in one 
     Back inside, other Democrats were attacked.  Party spokesman Luis 
Rosero was shoved, punched and kicked when cornered outside the election 
supervisor’s office.  Even Congressman Peter Deutsch was "manhandled."  Then 
word came that 1,000 Cuban-Americans were on their way to join the fray, 
egged on by the most influential Spanish-language radio station, Radio 
     To stave off a full-fledged lynching, the canvassing board announced 
the counting would be re-opened to the public.  Sheriff’s deputies had to 
escort the three terrified counters back into the public recount area.  
Meanwhile, the local election board held a private meeting in more secure 
quarters.  When they emerged, they announced exactly what the mob wanted:  
the recount would be stopped altogether, and the original results from Nov. 
7 would be certified.  The Miami-Dade election supervisor, David Leahy, 
initially admitted that the attacks had played a part in their decision to 
stop the count.  "If what I’d envisioned worked out," he said at the time, 
"and there were no objections, we’d be up there now counting."45  Later, he 
denied the protests had been a factor.
     With their work done in Miami, the motor home and its troops moved on 
to Broward County, where they were joined by about 20 other Congressional 
staffers who were already on the scene. The promised Cuban-American 
activists also arrived, many of whom were members of the Cuban American 
National Foundation, a right-wing organization with documented ties to the 
     Security was much heavier in Broward, in part because of the Miami riot 
that had just been broadcast live on CNN.  As a result, the protests there 
were extremely vocal and sometimes tense but, judging from the available 
press reports at least, no one was physically assaulted.  However, the local 
Democratic Party Headquarters was surrounded and at one point a brick was 
thrown through its window.
     Other "Congress Gang" platoons were sent to Fort Lauderdale, and some 
of the same Congressional staffers were also involved in a tense 
confrontation with Democratic volunteers in West Palm Beach.  The group, 
which included Rev. Al Sharpton, was cornered while trying to retrieve some 
campaign signs.  Things got quite tense and heated words were exchanged, but 
no violence erupted.
     In the end, the secret GOP effort was so successful that at many 
demonstrations, GOP protesters outnumbered Democratic supporters 10 to one.  
When it was all over, the Republican rent-a-rioters got their lavish 
Thanksgiving Day party, with plenty of free food and booze.
     Wayne Newton crooned "Danke Schoen" for the crowd, until screaming 
female fans stormed the stage.  "Danke schoen, darling, danke schoen.  Save 
those lies, darling, don’t explain…."46  But the real highlight of the 
evening was a conference call from Bush and Cheney. Instead of chastising 
the goon squad for their violent tactics, the candidates thanked them for 
their work.  They even cracked mocking jokes about their rivals.47

     The judicious application of "spontaneous" protests and mob violence 
has always been a key feature of CIA destabilization.  Such operations help 
put political pressure on the target, make for good TV propaganda, and are 
sometimes used to intentionally provoke a crackdown that is then widely 
publicized, often through journalists on the Agency payroll.
     For example, the CIA’s plan for the 1953 coup in Iran called for 
"stage[d] political demonstrations under religious cover," to include 
"staged attacks" on Muslim religious leaders which would then be falsely 
blamed on the Mossadegh government.48
     In their Chilean operations against Salvador Allende during the early 
‘70s, one of the CIA’s greatest propaganda victories was "The March of Empty 
Pots."  Thousands of women marched through the streets banging empty cooking 
pots with ladles to protest food shortages. In reality, the shortages were 
artificially induced through a secret campaign of economic sabotage 
coordinated by the CIA along with ITT, Anaconda Copper and other 
multinationals.  Many of the marching "housewives" were actually the spouses 
of wealthy anti-Allende partisans who were suffering little. Armed fascist 
gangs backed by the CIA marched along with the women, then provoked violent 
clashes with the police. Stories of police "attacking women with empty pots" 
flooded the world press.  Dozens of other protests were organized by CIA 
front groups in order to artificially escalate tensions and portray Allende 
as having little support or control.49
     In 1990, during Bulgaria’s first post-Communist elections, professional 
agitators, backed by millions in covert financing from the US, organized 
massive street protests that ultimately succeeded in unseating the duly 
elected government.  Even though the renamed Communist party had won the 
overwhelming majority in voting which western observers on the scene widely 
agreed had been fair, the US (through the CIA) used the mobs to intimidate 
and ultimately hound officials from office.50
     Not coincidentally, one of the senior members of the Bush 
administration who coordinated the Bulgarian action was none other than 
James Baker – the man who spearheaded the Bush campaign’s post-election 
response to Gore’s challenges in Florida.51

"All effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and this 
must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulae." – Adolf 
Hitler, Mein Kampf

     In his Coup d’Etat handbook, Luttwak explains the importance of 
propaganda in the post-coup period.  "Our first objective," says Luttwak, 
"will be achieved by conveying the reality and strength of the coup instead 
of trying to justify it."52  The goal is not to explain the legitimacy of 
the seizure of power, but simply to emphasize that it is a fait acompli to 
be accepted as fact.
     This very stratagem served as the touchstone for James Baker and the 
entire Bush apparatus.  Rather than act on the confidence of their professed 
certainty, let alone take the moral high-ground in what everyone agreed were 
questionable circumstances, the Bush campaign instead did everything it 
could to derail the recounts and assert the "fact" of their victory.
     They did not seek to prove the vote had not been tampered with or that 
machines had failed catastrophically.  Rather, the issue of the legitimacy 
of the Florida vote was only addressed in terms of its finality.  Through 
simple repetition, these mere stipulations took on the coloration of fact. 
The people have spoken, we have a majority (even though evidence suggests 
otherwise), the deadline has passed, and 3,000 Jewish votes for Buchanan 
just happened.  Tough luck, get over it, now shut up and give us the keys to 
the Capitol.  These same semantics were reflected in the GOP’s legal 
challenges to Gore’s calls for perfectly legal (indeed, mandatory) recounts. 
  Bush’s hatchet men did not so much justify their position, as they instead 
merely emphasized over and over that it was a done deal.
     Another important propaganda theme was that it was Bush who was truly 
honoring the law; that it was Gore who was violating the law and thus 
defiling the sanctity of the democratic process.  Through this constant 
refrain, the Bush campaign sought to create an image of themselves as 
protectors of these sacred tenets of the nation.  This is fully consistent 
with Luttwak’s propaganda strategy:

…[O]ur information campaign…[must]…reassure the general public by dispelling 
fears that the coup is inspired by foreign and/or extremist elements, and to 
persuade particular groups that the coup is not a threat to them. The first 
aim will be achieved by manipulating national symbols and by asserting our 
belief in the prevailing pieties…53

     As Luttwak further explains, marginalizing whatever resistance might 
oppose the coup is equally important.  By the same token, creating a sense 
of isolation and futility among oppositional elements is vital to prevent 
any possible unification against the coup.

…[N]ews of any resistance against us would act as a powerful stimulant to 
further resistance by breaking down this feeling of isolation. We must 
therefore make every effort to withhold such news. If there is in fact some 
resistance and if its intensity and locale are such as to make it difficult 
to conceal from particular segments of the public, we should admit its 
existence; but we should strongly emphasize that it is isolated, the product 
of the obstinancy of a few misguided or dishonest individuals who are not 
affiliated to any party or group of significant membership.54

     An example of the use of this tactic can be found in the way in which 
the conservative press dealt with Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Miami riot.  
Following the "Congress Gang" attacks, the GOP propaganda machine first 
tried to claim the protests had been completely spontaneous. When their 
cover was blown by the press, the party’s pundits and columnists used 
identical propaganda points to deflect criticism and minimize the 
intimidation.  While the exact words varied somewhat, the startling 
uniformity of their semantics strongly suggests a coordinated effort.
     Within 24 hours after the Miami violence, Paul Gigot used his column in 
the Wall Street Journal to praise the action as a "burgher rebellion" by 
otherwise mild-mannered "50-year-old white lawyers" who had been pushed over 
the edge by the Dems.  "If Al Gore loses his brazen attempt to win on the 
dimples," Gigot wrote, "one reason will be that he finally convinced enough 
Republicans to fight like Democrats."55  The clear implication is that it is 
the Democrats who are the true violent thugs.
     The most popular tactic featured classic Reagan-era "Big Lie" assaults 
on Jesse Jackson.  First his role in organizing a Nov. 9 demonstration was 
derided as "outside agitation" (a classic Cold War ploy), then he was 
falsely accused of instigating violence that never occurred.
      "Jesse Jackson and his minions have now arrived on the scene like 
malignant cancer cells attracted to a growing tumor," L. Jean Lewis said in 
one column.  "To have them openly encourage rumors of civil rights 
violations and propagate deliberate unrest is bordering on sedition."56  In 
Lewis’ world, it’s treason for Jackson to speak to a crowd, but just a 
harmless protest for the Republicans to punch people and throw bricks. It 
should be noted that Lewis served as an investigator for the RTC following 
the S&L scandal during the ‘80s (which also featured CIA involvement).  Her 
findings provided the basis for the overblown Whitewater scandal, that she 
in turn helped perpetuate through her columns.
      Ann Coulter, a self-described "bomb thrower", took the rhetoric even 
further. "Jesse Jackson is presiding over rioting in the streets," she 
wrote.  "Maybe [Janet Reno] could send in a SWAT team to gun down 
President-elect George W. Bush."57  Not only are Democrats thugs, Coulter 
implies, but they want to assassinate their rival!
      But there was no "rioting" by Democrats.  No Republicans were ever 
physically attacked by hired goons, nor were bricks thrown through any of 
their windows.  Furthermore, Jackson never claimed that the demonstrations 
were spontaneous or entirely local.  But by using multiple "journalists" to 
paint Jackson and others as nothing but "outsiders" fomenting "sedition" and 
"rioting", the GOP was able to create the impression of a marginalized and 
silly opposition while simultaneously making it appear as though these were 
conclusions reached independently by sage observers.

___END PART 2 ___
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