by Brent McMillan, Political Director, Green Party of the United States
For many years, Greens and others within the U.S. have raised serious concerns about the credibility of U.S. elections and have hoped to gain international support to pursue these issues. This past fall, I had an opportunity to attempt to do just that.
On August 22, 2008 I received an invitation from Congressman Alcee Hastings from Florida, Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE, otherwise known as the United States Helsinki Commission). I was asked to participate in a seminar being organized on Capitol Hill for parliamentarians who are members of the Parliamentary Assembly (PA) of the 56-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on the then upcoming U.S. elections. The sessions were held in Washington DC on September 22 and 23, 2008.
Leading parliamentarians from throughout Europe and Central Asia attended the non-partisan event, aimed at providing them with a deeper understanding of the American electoral process.
From the CSCE website: “The United States Helsinki Commission is an independent government agency created by Congress to monitor and encourage compliance with commitments on human rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law, as well as economics and security in the 56 countries that signed the Helsinki Final Act” in 1975.†
The OSCE is the largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization in the world. It is an ad hoc organization under the United Nations Charter (Chap. VIII), and is concerned with early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation. Its 56 member states make up most of the Northern Hemisphere.
The night before I made the presentation, I spent some time on the phone with Green Party member Tim White from Orcas Island, Washington going over the details of a high tech fraud, VoteHere, a division of Dategrity. It prints a unique bar code on every ballot and pre-links it to the voters name before they receive the ballot in the mail, just like Zimbabwe, opening the door to voter intimidation. Greens in San Juan County in Washington State filed a lawsuit against this product. In the process they learned that Robert Gates, then former director of the CIA, served on the technical advisory board for developing the product.
The presentation was made in the same room where the McCarthy Army hearings were held, Room 311 of the Cannon House Office Building. It was an honor to stand in the same room and make a presentation where Edward R. Murrow took on Senator Joseph McCarthy.
After the presentation I met out in the hall with Andreas Nothelle, Special Representative from the OSCE PA Liaison Office in Vienna. He had been an election observer in the U.S. in 2004. He appreciated what I had to say and said it mirrored what he had witnessed here in the previous presidential cycle. He encouraged me to send reports to the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
The ODIHR is the oldest of the OSCE institutions. It was established in 1990 and is based in Warsaw, Poland. It is active throughout the OSCE area in the fields of election observation, democratic development, human rights, tolerance and non-discrimination, and rule of law.
Tom Munsey from the Green Party of San Juan County posted the video of the presentation online within a couple of hours of the presentation. (Munsey and his wife Wilma are old friends and have been very supportive over the years.)
On October 2, 2008 I received an invitation from Joao Sores, President of the OSCE PA and Head of the Election Observation Mission to the U.S. to make another presentation to the OSCE PA observers and to take questions from the floor before they deployed to the different states November 1 – 4. The presentation took place on October 31 at the University of California Washington Center in Washington, DC.
The night before the presentation I spent some time on the phone with Bob Fitrakis. Fitrakis was the Green Party’s 2006 Gubernatorial Candidate in Ohio. He and Cliff Arnebeck are the attorneys for a civil rights lawsuit, The King-Lincoln-Bronzeville Neighborhood Association vs. Blackwell, against the State of Ohio. The suit aims to expose and dismantle the GOP’s ‘Man-in-the-Middle’ computer system set up by Karl Rove to steal Ohio’s election. It appears that the highest ranks of the Republican Party, including White House counselor Karl Rove, a handful of the party’s most tech-savvy computer gurus, and the former Ohio Secretary of State created, owned and operated the vote-counting system that reported George W. Bush’s re-election to the presidency.†
Michael Connell, Rove’s information technology advisor, was served a subpoena to testify as a key witness. He had been instrumental in nearly every aspect of the activity Rove put together in the conspiracy that started in 2000.
Fitrakis also mentioned Triad, a Republican-connected company in Ohio that was involved in the state-by-state assaults on computerized registration lists.
When I arrived at the event on the 31st, I was surprised to discover I was in the keynote position for my presentation. I had thought I would be part of a forum. I’m glad I didn’t know, otherwise I might have been really nervous just thinking about it. As it happened so fast, I didn’t have time to think about it.
When I took my seat at the front of the room, Soares took the seat to my right and another parliamentarian, took the seat to my left. Clearly, I was warmly received. Soares confided in me before I began that he had been struck by what I had said in September and that is why he had personally invited me back. Also in his opinion, the fact that I was a former Republican and had never been a Democrat only lent further credibility to what I had said.
After my presentation and a question and answer session, I spent some time in the lobby talking with parliamentarians one on one.
On Sunday, November 2, a federal judge ordered Michael Connell to appear for an under-oath deposition on Monday, November 3 in Ohio, the day before the election. Cliff Arnebeck, the plaintiff’s lead attorney in the case, had sent an email to Attorney General Michael Mukasy on July 24, 2008, stating in part:
“We have been confidentially informed by a source we believe to be credible that Karl Rove has threatened Connell, a principal witness we have identified in our King Lincoln case in federal court in Columbus, Ohio, that if he does not agree to ‘take the fall’ for election fraud in Ohio, his wife Heather will be prosecuted for supposed lobby law violations.”
Any information gathered about allegations that Connell had been the victim of witness intimidation by Rove and/or Rove’s associates was placed under seal, and the deposition was limited to two hours.
Immediately after the deposition, Rove announced on his website that Barack Obama would win the national election by a landslide. I will probably never know if my address to the OSCE PA election observers had an impact on this election. But if it didÖ..
Michael Connell, an expert pilot, died in a plane crash before there was a chance to get him back up on a witness stand.
On December 19th, Connell, an expert pilot, died in a plane crash before there was a chance to get him back up on a witness stand. The plane crash was ruled †’accidental’ by the NTSB, but Connell himself made the media aware before his death that he thought his life was in danger.
To Learn More:
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
September 23, 2008 U.S. Election Seminar address to the PA of the OSCE
The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
Text of Brent McMillan’s presentation to OSCE PA Observers October 31, 2008 Election Briefing
Rove suggests landscape favors Obama
NTSB Releases Preliminary Report On Connell Crash