Monday, May 15, 2006

Greg Palast on the NSA's DataMining: "It's to Rig the 2008 Election"

It's not the only reason, but it's one of Bush's (and Republicans') objectives in using the NSA to spy on American citizens and collect this data. Another reason, reported today on ABC News, is to spy on the media. All are without warrants and oversight by the courts or Congress, or review.
Greg Palast, investigative journalist with the BBC was on this morning's Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman, and discussed (among other subjects, most notably the Iraq war and Bush's real motives) what he has learned about the NSA's various programs that spy on American citizens. [The NSA has, by a conservative estimate, at least 6-7 clandestine programs up and running and spying on American citizens.]:
GREG PALAST: Yeah. Well, for those who, you know, know my background, I came to the U.S. attention when I broke a story that before the 2000 election, Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris knocked off tens of thousands of black voters off the voter rolls of Florida, and this is what gave the election to George Bush in 2000. It was fixed by knocking off of these black voters. There’s a chapter in the new book --

AMY GOODMAN: You broke this on BBC.

GREG PALAST: Yeah, I broke this on BBC, and to get in the United States, we got Michael Moore to put on a chicken suit and report it here as a joke. And then, thank you very much, Amy, for bringing it across the water and breaking through the electronic Berlin Wall. By the way, all of these stories are stories developed out of BBC and Guardian that basically are blacked out, except for here on Democracy Now! That's very important, because these are the stories that they don't want you to have for good reason. And they don't want you to have it, because -- I then followed up with 2004. Now, it’s accepted 2000 pretty much was fixed. Well, there’s a chapter, “Kerry won.” 2004 was fixed. And the way it was done is that 3.6 million votes were cast and never counted in the United States. That's very important to know. This isn’t Greg Palast conspiracy nut stuff.

AMY GOODMAN: Say the number again.

GREG PALAST: 3.6 million ballots cast, never counted. And that's because they call these spoiled votes or rejected provisional ballots, 1.9 million so-called provisional ballots, and then, most of those don't get counted. And so, whose votes don't get counted? If it was random, it wouldn’t matter. In other words, if these were votes where the machine doesn't record it properly, hanging chads, extra marks on a paper ballot, you had the wrong address on your absentee ballot, etc.

Three million ballots. Whose ballots? If you're a black person, the chance your ballot will be technically invalidated is 900% higher than if you're a white voter. Hispanic voter, 500% higher than if you're a white voter. Native Americans, it’s like 2,000% higher than if you're a white voter. The overwhelming majority -- and I went to the state of New Mexico, which supposedly Bush won by 5,000 votes, 89% of the ballots were cast out of minority precincts that were thrown away. Kerry won New Mexico. You go into the dumpster, and it’s black votes, 155,000 black votes that were chucked away in Ohio. Kerry won those votes. He won Ohio.


GREG PALAST: And ‘08, so what's happening is there is no fix of the system. In other words, just like black folk get bad schools and bad hospitals, they get the bad voting machines, which are going to kill those votes. But they're not satisfied with just letting the ballots be thrown away. They're going to move it along. And one of the things I discovered is the Republican Party has something called “caging lists,” which came to our -- you know, just like you had Friday, the way the Yes Men capture material by using false websites, so through a false website we were able to capture Republican Party internal missives, through

And so, what happened was is that they sent us a bunch of lists of literally tens of thousands of names of voters and addresses. We were wondering what the heck this was. It turns out these were almost all African American voters, who they were prepared to challenge in 2004, and they did, to say that these people shouldn't vote, because their addresses are suspect. And you'll see in the book that in the lists of thousands of black voters that they were challenging over their address were thousands of black soldiers who were sent to Iraq; go to Baghdad, and the Republican Party challenges your vote.

And that’s the beginning, and because there's been really no action taken, they're accelerating the system now. And the next thing that they’re going after is the Hispanic vote. So when we saw two million votes cast/not counted in 2000, nearly four million votes cast/not counted in 2004, you're going see that number massively increase in challenges to voters in 2008. And that's what's going back to this database story with the National Security Agency.

AMY GOODMAN: We have 30 seconds.

GREG PALAST: So, you have to say, “Why are they collecting this data?” The answer is 2008. It's ultimately all about the elections.

For the first time in our history (that we're aware of), we have a President who openly proclaims that he is above the law. On his authority alone, he has the CIA kidnap people off the streets in other countries, flown to secret locations outside of the U.S. (underground prisons) where agents of the American government have tortured and murdered them. All without any due process of a judicial system - not the U.S. courts, not any international world courts. This President has also had American citizens arrested and shipped out of the U.S., where they have been denied their Constitutional rights.

Echelon is one of the programs that the NSA has been using to spy. We know now that these tools have been turned on American citizens who have committed no crimes. On groups that Bush and Cheney find to be "suspicious." The founding fathers created a Bill of Rights to protect the citizen from just these sorts of abuses. It obviously isn't enough. As Defense Tech reported:
A few current and former signals intelligence guys have been checking in since this NSA domestic spying story broke. Their reactions range between midly creeped out and completely pissed off.

All of the sigint specialists emphasized repeatedly that keeping tabs on Americans is way beyond the bounds of what they ordinarily do -- no matter what the conspiracy crowd may think.

"It's drilled into you from minute one that you should not ever, ever, ever, under any fucking circumstances turn this massive apparatus on an American citizen," one source says. "You do a lot of weird shit. But at least you don't fuck with your own people."

Another, who's generally very pro-Administration, emphasized that the operation at least started with people that had Al-Qaeda connections -- with some mass-spying master list. As the Times, in its original story, noted:

The C.I.A. seized the terrorists' computers, cellphones and personal phone directories, said the officials familiar with the program. The N.S.A. surveillance was intended to exploit those numbers and addresses as quickly as possible, they said....In addition to eavesdropping on those numbers and reading e-mail messages to and from the Qaeda figures, the N.S.A. began monitoring others linked to them, creating an expanding chain. While most of the numbers and addresses were overseas, hundreds were in the United States, the officials said....Since 2002, the agency has been conducting some warrantless eavesdropping on people in the United States who are linked, even if indirectly, to suspected terrorists through the chain of phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

But this call chain could very well have grown out of control, the source admits. Suddenly, people ten and twelve degrees of separation away from Osama may have been targeted.

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