"Democracy Is Under Attack -
Let's Take it Back"
Harlem, USA - July 31, 2003
© Copyright 2003, From The Wilderness Publications, www.copvcia.com. All Rights Reserved. May be reprinted, distributed
or posted on an Internet web site for non-profit purposes only.
[As the credibility of the US government unravels across the board, former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, now
completely vindicated in her open questions about the government's account of 9/11, is making her presence felt throughout
America. Currently in the midst of a lawsuit that may well see her returned to Congress with full seniority, she has become a living
reminder for politicians around the country that there are questions to be answered and that undefeated and dedicated voices
with growing strength on the political battlefield are not afraid to demand full accountability.
The truth never disappears.
In a recent speech in Harlem, McKinney offered some sobering and very direct observations about race relations in America,
9/11, civil liberties, independent media, From The Wilderness and our national ad campaign which is encountering stiff,
unethical, and unconstitutional resistance from major publications which seem to be continually resetting the height of the bar we
must clear in order to get the ads run. To clarify one point: While papers like The Boston Globe and The Atlanta Journal
Constitution have refused to run the ad after checks were written to the brokerage firm and AFTER the papers had approved the
it, no check has yet been written for The New York Times. The Times has simply reneged on a prior approval and agreement to
run the ad. Each time FTW passes a new test, another one mysteriously appears. The powers that be are afraid of these ads. Yet
they have seen nothing compared to the price they will pay when the stench of censorship becomes so blatant and obvious that the
people realize that the most precious right of every American has been taken away.
Such censorship is not going unnoticed. The right of free speech and equal access is not one that can be violated without a
reaction. – MCR, August 5, 2003]
How proud I am to stand at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem USA!
Thank you Reverend Butts, Bob, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Sonia Sanchez, Ralph Carter, Hakim, the Coalition of Artists and Activists, and
all who worked hard to put this rally together. And thank you for inviting me.
How appropriate that we gather here at this Church, with all its rich history of proud resistance and indignant defiance of a social order that
relegated the giants of their day to second class citizenship.
And what an honor for me, to stand among the giants of our day, if only for a moment, and see America's landscape from their gaze.
What this rally means, is that America's vista has now become as ravaged in its pristine hillside villas as it has always been for those of us
behind the cities' shadows.
Our people are dying.
On the streets of America our people are dying.
Gathered tonight in this room are people from all walks of life; and for that reason, this is a very dangerous meeting for the powers that be.
They would like to see us divided.
I'm not just saying that. They wrote that in their COINTELPRO papers; about how they would keep blacks separated from each other,
and separated from Africans, and separated from other people of color, and most importantly, separated from progressive activist whites.
They wrote that they would discredit black activists so they would lose favor within their community and within our American community.
They also wrote that they would replace authentic black leaders with what they called "clean Negroes" whom they had groomed to be
more loyal to them than to us. Those aren't my words, they're their words.
Well, they were silly enough to write it down, and we were smart enough to read it. So we're not fooled.
But the Coalition of Artists and Activists has come together to show us that now is the time for us to get busy. And take our country back.
I, for one, can say that I am tired of burying innocent black and Latino people who die at the hands of this unjust system.
New Yorkers have buried too many loved ones and shed too many tears.
But sadly, every major city in America can probably call a roll: Ousmane Zongo, Alberta Spruill, Patrick Dorismond, Amadou Diallo; and
those are just the names I know.
Not too far from here, the streets of Benton Harbor, Michigan exploded because they got tired of adding names to their roll. It wasn't
enough that Terrance Shurn and Arthur Patterson, young adults, were on the list, but those names only topped off 16-year old Eric
McGinnis and 7-year old Trent Patterson, who had also made the list.
I read that the NAACP called for calm and dialogue.
I'm sorry, but I can't be calm if my baby is going to be shot or hurt by out-of-control police.
I can't be calm when I drive through sections of Atlanta that look more like Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo than America.
I cannot be calm.
Dialogue must be followed by swift and deliberate action to root out racism at its very core. From a California gas station to a Mississippi
Lockheed plant; from Cincinnati, Ohio to Benton Harbor, Michigan; to New York City, New York. And in Belle Glade, Florida where a
young black man was found hanging from a tree, with his hands tied behind his back and the authorities call it suicide. In the 21st Century,
America's trees still bear Strange Fruit.
How much injustice can any community absorb before an eruption of extraordinary proportions occurs?
And yes, we have our list in Georgia, too.
And so, placing troops in Cincinnati Ohio or in Benton Harbor to restore calm and "protect property" is about as helpful for the resolution of
the problems of Ohio, or Michigan, or for that matter Black America as it is to place US troops in Liberia to resolve the problems on West
Africa's oil-rich shore.
Or, for that matter, in the hot, oil-rich desert sands of Iraq.
And while the South Bend Tribune blared on its editorial page that Benton Harbor rioters must be held accountable, who will blare, if not
us, that America must be held accountable for the sick and depraved conditions under which millions of our people now live.
Moreover, since that newspaper called for "accountability," I wonder, have I ever seen that word in the corporate press when describing
the Bush Administration?
Now it is a fact that it was the Ashcroft Justice Department that gave law enforcement officials authority to use the no-knock warrant, like
the one that resulted in the death of Mrs. Spruill.
But, I'm wondering where are the no-knock warrants for the Carlyle Group, Enron, DynCorp, Halliburton, Worldcom, HealthSouth, all the
off-shore companies that fled our country to avoid paying taxes yet continue to get billions in federal contracts?
Where are their no-knock warrants?
And further, on this matter of accountability.
George Tenet recently "fell on the sword" as they say and took responsibility for the 16 untrue words that happened to find their way into
George Bush's State of the Union Address.
But who among this Administration will take responsibility for the tragic events of September 11th and the tremendous intelligence failures
that cost the lives of thousands of people who live and work in New York City?
Interestingly, I was the one who called for an investigation of September 11th asking the fully appropriate question, What did the Bush
Administration know and when did it know it, about the tragic events of September 11th?
Both President Bush and Vice President Cheney asked Tom Daschle not to investigate what went wrong on September 11th. An
Australian newspaper ran the headline, "Bosses so lax, agents felt they were spies." They were describing our FBI.
"Bosses so lax, agents felt they were spies."
To this day that I know of no one in any decision-making position in the whole of this Administration has accepted responsibility for failing
the American people. Instead, from this Administration we have obstruction, obfuscation, dissembling, and deception.
And yet, the one who did her homework, and told the truth to the American people, that our investment of trillions of dollars in the defense
and intelligence infrastructures of our country should not have all failed simultaneously four times on a single day and since they did, we
deserve to know why they did. . .
Well, that's the person who got fired.
Meanwhile, George Bush and Dick Cheney, who remain in office, have the nerve to launch two simultaneous wars, at least one that is
against international law; award no bid contracts to their friends in the defense industry; erode our Constitution and our Bill of Rights; put
Paul Wolfowitz in charge of military tribunals (that same travesty of justice that we have excoriated other countries for in the past); put a
felon, convicted of lying to Congress, in charge of our privacy; and lie about the rescue of Jessica Lynch, as well as the landing of
America's top gun—George W.--on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, which supposedly was out at sea, but that was really in San
And this all comes after they stole the Presidency on the uncounted chads of black and Latino voters in a scheme that was orchestrated at
Republicans rewarded Katherine Harris with a Congressional seat.
In Georgia, 48,000 Republicans crossed over and voted in the Democratic Primary for the black woman Republican that they had drafted
to run in my Democratic Primary. Georgia and national Democrats failed to protect the integrity of their own primary. Terry McAuliffe
crows today about protecting Gray Davis from any Democratic challenge in a primary, but where was he when he could have protected
this black loyal Democratic woman from a known Republican shill acting for the Bush Administration?
And it's not enough for this Administration to accept responsibility for failing the American people. So too must the corporate media.
Including the New York Times.
As you may know, I'm involved with Mike Ruppert of From the Wilderness in a national campaign that is placing anti-Bush ads in
newspapers all across the country. Sadly, many newspapers are saying no to the paid ad or are giving us a hard time after they've
accepted the money. The New York Times is no exception.
At the top of the ad is a cartoon. It features the big corporate media being "played" from behind the curtain by the great big, huge, Wizard.
Like in the Wizard of Oz. But there, ever so small, at the bottom of the cartoon, is Toto, the little dog, pulling open the curtain and exposing
the truth about the big, corporate media—kinda like BAI does here. And the alternative media do all over our country. Well, in the
cartoon, Toto is the alternative media--getting the truth out to the people.
The text mentions oil, missing money from DoD and HUD accounts, the impeachment clause of the Constitution, the lawsuit that has been
filed against the crossover voting in my election, and a special message from me.
My special message in the ad is this:
"Beware the Land of Oz. For it is only in the land of Oz that a handful of vainglorious men could send hundreds of thousands of young
soldiers off to fight in an illegal war. And only in the Land of Oz can The Grand Wizard erode basic civil rights and call it enhanced
security. And where but in Oz could a felon, convicted of lying in public, be put in charge of Total Information Awareness? 75 million
Americans had no health insurance in 2001 or 2002. Unemployment is at an 8-year high. Meanwhile, at the Wizard's court, men of dubious
reputation gorge themselves at the people's expense. Expose the Grand Wizard; this is our America, not Oz."
Now, just a few days ago, I received a message through the ad agency placing the ad that before The New York Times will run it, I need
to prove that what I say about Oz is true. Can you believe. . . The New York Times is fact-checking cartoons now?
Or is it just this cartoon?
They didn't bother to fact-check their story about me that's recounted in Greg Palast's book, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy."
They just printed lies about me in an effort to make sure that a black Republican woman from New York City who is anti-affirmative
action and anti-reparations would sit at the table of the Congressional Black Caucus and represent you in Washington, DC.
In 1776, it was King George III who drove the titans of the American colony to write our Declaration of Independence. They wrote that
there are certain unalienable rights and that it is the responsibility of government to protect, preserve, and promote these rights. However,
in the words of its signers,
"when a long train of abuses and usurpations, . . . evinces a design to reduce [a people to life] under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is
their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."
And with that, a rebellion became a revolution.
My mother didn't want me to give this speech tonight. I'm sure it's hard for her to read the terrible things the corporate press and
right-wing activists write about me.
In today's America, she's right. I will probably get in trouble for what I've said to you tonight. But it won't be the first time I get in trouble
for telling the truth. And I'll continue to tell the truth. As I have said before, I won't sit down and I won't shut up.
I agree with Dead Prez: We need a revolution!
And it needs to start with us.
Thank you so much for inviting me to be with you tonight.
Hiroshima Mayor Lashes Out at Bush on Atomic Bombing Anniversary
The Agence France Presse
Wednesday 06 August 2003
HIROSHIMA, Japan - Hiroshima's mayor lashed out at the United States' nuclear weapons
policy during ceremonies marking the 58th anniversary of the city's atomic bombing, which
caused the deaths of over 230,000 people.
Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba said the United States worshipped nuclear weapons as "God" and
blamed it for jeopardizing the global nuclear non-proliferation regime.
"The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the central international agreement guiding the
elimination of nuclear weapons, is on the verge of collapse," Akiba said Wednesday in an
address to some 40,000 people.
"The chief cause is US nuclear policy that, by openly declaring the possibility of a pre-emptive
nuclear first strike and calling for resumed research into mini-nukes and other so-called 'useable
nuclear weapons,' appears to worship nuclear weapons as God," he said.
The mayor also slammed as unjust the US-led war on Iraq, which he blamed for killing innocent
civilians. "The weapons of mass destruction that served as the excuse for the war have yet to be
found," he said.
Akiba strongly urged US President George W. Bush and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il to
personally visit Hiroshima and "confront the reality of nuclear war".
As the clock clicked onto 8:15 am (2315 GMT Tuesday), the exact time the United States
dropped the bomb on August 6, 1945, those at the ceremony at Hiroshima's Peace Memorial
Park bowed their heads for a minute's silence in memory of the victims of the attack.
During the 45-minute ceremony, officials added 5,050 names to the register of victims who died
immediately or from the after-effects of radiation exposure in the bombing, bringing the total toll
to 231,920, an official said.
The Hiroshima bombing was followed by the dropping of a second atomic bomb on the city of
Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, which killed another estimated 74,000 people.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told the service that Japan would stick by its pacifist
constitution and its non-nuclear principles because the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
"can never be repeated."
This year's ceremony came ahead of six-nation talks over North Korea's nuclear weapons
development program, which Pyongyang agreed to last week.
Koizumi told reporters after the ceremony that North Korea's abduction of Japanese nationals
would be a high priority at the talks.
"At the six-nation talks, obviously, nuclear weapons will be the focus, but for Japan, the
abduction issue is just as important," he said.
"We will naturally have close cooperation with the United States and South Korea, but we must
make efforts to have China and Russia understand our position as well," he said.
Last week, North Korea said it would accept six-way talks to include North and South Korea,
Russia, Japan, China and the United States to end the nuclear crisis that began in October last
Washington had accused the Stalinist state of reneging on a 1994 bilateral nuclear freeze
accord by running a clandestine nuclear program based on enriched uranium.
(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and
'We Don't Feel Like Heroes Anymore'
By Pfc. Isaac Kindblade
Tuesday 05 August 2003
I am a private first class in the Army's 671st Engineer Company out of Portland. I just wanted to
let you know a little bit of what we are up to, maybe so that you can have another opinion of
what's going on over here in Iraq.
We have been in country since Feb. 14 and were a part of the Third Infantry Division's march into
Baghdad. In fact, as a result of some serious miscommunications, we were the front line of the
charge on two very distinct occasions.
We haven't been a huge part of the war. We are bridge builders, and we were here in the event
that the Iraqis blew up the bridges on their retreat. They didn't, so we didn't have to do much.
We were scheduled for 13 missions at the start of the war. We did three or four bridge-related
missions. We fill in where we are needed, whether it be guarding enemy prisoners of war,
operating traffic control points, patrols on the Tigris River or guard duty of police stations. Our
primary mission at this point is transportation, because we happen to drive very large trucks.
A lot is being said about poor morale. That seems to be the case all over the place. It's hot,
we've been here for a long time, it's dangerous, we haven't had any real down time in months and
we don't know when we're going home.
I think a big aspect has been the people here. When the war had just ended, we were the
liberators, and all the people loved us. Convoys were like one long parade. Somewhere down the
line, we became an occupation force in their eyes. We don't feel like heroes anymore.
We are doing the best we can, trying to get this place back on its feet so we can go home --
making friends with the locals and trying to enforce peace and stability.
A lot is made of our military's might. Our Abrams tanks, our Apache helicopters, computers,
satellites, this and that. All that stuff is great, but it's essentially useless in peacekeeping ops. It
is up to the soldiers on the ground armed with M-16s and a precious few words of Arabic.
The task is daunting, and the conditions are frightening. We can't help but think of "Black Hawk
Down" when we're in Baghdad surrounded by swarms of people. Soldiers are being attacked,
injured and killed every day. The rules of engagement are crippling. We are outnumbered. We are
exhausted. We are in over our heads.
The president says, "Bring 'em on." The generals say we don't need more troops. Well, they're
not over here.
It would take a group of supermen to do what's been asked of us. Maybe people back home
think we are. Hell, maybe we are. I'm 20, and I can't help but think that serving in a war is a rite of
passage, earning my generation a place in the history books.
I'm honored to be over here, and I realize that this is the experience of a lifetime. All the same,
we are ready to come home.
Pfc. Isaac Kindblade of Cornelius enlisted in the Army at age 17 before his graduation from
Valley Catholic High School in Beaverton.
Iraqi Shiite Voices Rise Against US
Anger at Perceived Disrespect Replaces Gratitude
By Hannah Allam
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Tuesday 05 August 2003
KUFAH, Iraq - Iraqi mothers raise their children with an ancient superstition against handling the
white drapes that Muslims wear to the grave. These days, however, the burial shrouds are slung
across shoulders and waved high in the air by thousands of Shiite men as a chilling symbol of
their willingness to die rather than succumb to the U.S.-led occupation of their homeland.
Iraq's majority Shiite Muslims, who suffered for decades under Saddam Hussein's Sunni
Muslim-dominated regime, initially expressed gratitude to the American military for toppling the
dictator and restoring their right to worship. In turn, they were awarded most of the seats on the
25-member interim governing body that U.S. administrators assembled last month.
But recent U.S. raids on religious centers, the reported arrests of Shiite scholars, the stationing
of troops near shrines and other perceived cultural missteps have turned America's most powerful
Iraqi ally into the greatest potential threat to the U.S. effort to rebuild the country and reshape the
"We are now carrying burial shrouds always to remind us of death," said Sheik Raysan al
Assadi, the keeper of the oldest mosque in the Shiite holy city of Kufah, south of Baghdad. "We
must be ready to sacrifice our lives if Americans attack our religion or traditions."
Followers of Muqtada al-Sadr wear images of his father, Mohammed Sadek al-Sadr, on their
white burial shrouds. (Detroit Free Press Photo/Mandi Wright)
The most worrisome scenario for America is that Shiite resentment, especially if it's armed and
financed by neighboring Iran, could merge with Iraqi nationalism and with secular anger at the
failure to restore order and basic services into an Iraqi version of the 1979 revolution that toppled
the shah of Iran, who had been a longtime U.S. ally.
A second danger is that rising Shiite anger could fracture Iraq, a nation that in the past has been
unified only by force, into a Shiite south, a Sunni Muslim center and a Kurdish north. That would
encourage Iran, Iraq's Arab neighbors and Turkey to intervene to protect their interests.
Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the U.S. ground commander in Iraq, has acknowledged that
religious extremists are emerging suspects in attacks that have killed dozens of American service
members since President Bush declared major combat over May 1.
The most worrisome figure for American officials is Moqtada al Sadr, a fiery young Shiite cleric
whose father was a venerated ayatollah who was murdered by Saddam's regime in 1998.
Sadr, said to be his 20s, seeks to make Iraq a Shiite theocracy like Iran, and he called recently
for forming a religious army to protect Iraqis from what he described as brutal American forces.
Sadr's speeches regularly draw thousands, but Iraqis don't agree on whether his followers truly
believe in him or show up out of respect for his father.
"Moqtada al Sadr does not represent most Shiites," said Ahmed Sabah, 22, who sells scarves
around the corner from Sadr's headquarters in the southern holy city of Najaf. "He's too young to
lead us. He doesn't yet have the wisdom of a leader."
A spokesman for U.S.-led forces in Iraq, speaking on the condition of anonymity, called Sadr a
rabble-rouser angling for political gain. The spokesman said Sadr was walking a thin line between
freedom of speech and incitement to violence, a charge invoked by U.S. officials who shut down
an anti-American newspaper in Baghdad last month.
"As long as he does not create an armed militia, he's welcome to collect support around him,"
the spokesman said.
All signs indicate that Sadr plans to form a full-fledged Shiite army, though some of his
assistants admitted they're having difficulty gathering weapons and signing up volunteers. So far,
mosque records show, about 10,000 men have registered for service in the "Mehdi" army, named
after a Shiite imam who vanished hundreds of years ago and is expected to return to slay infidels.
American Lt. Col. Chris Conlin, the commander of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, which controls
Najaf, said his Marines had enjoyed good cooperation with local leaders from the moment they
arrived three months ago. Unlike many other Iraqi cities, Najaf has electric power 24 hours a day,
and a $48 million project is under way to overhaul the power plant. Conlin said that even Sadr's
group was friendly until U.S. civilian administrator L. Paul Bremer appointed an interim Governing
Council that didn't include Sadr.
"I think what really happened is that Sadr is upset because he's not on the Governing Council,"
Conlin said. "And in an act of desperation, he went to the pulpit and preached this idea of creating
an Islamic army for jihad."
Cloaked in a white burial shroud, Sadr appeared before about 7,000 people in Kufah on Aug. 1
and delivered a blistering sermon in which he urged men to join his army instead of the new Iraqi
military overseen by American troops. He joined in chants of "No to America" but stopped short of
urging attacks on the U.S. military.
"When people joined the Iraqi army established by the United States, they wronged themselves
and they wronged Muslims," Sadr told the cheering crowd. "They joined for money, but material
things are not more important than ethics and morals. I pray that they will leave this army and
follow God's order."
Sadr may be the loudest voice calling for Shiite resistance, but the two most respected Shiite
clerics also are expressing growing hostility toward the American presence.
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who occupies the highest Shiite post in the world, advocates a
strict separation of religion and politics. He refused an invitation to meet with Bremer in a move
that made clear his position on U.S. forces in Iraq.
The other key cleric, Mohammed Baqir al Hakim, has advocated a secular government through
his Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and has a brother on the Governing
Council. Many Iraqi and American officials are concerned about Hakim's ties to Iran, where he
spent the past 20 years in exile.
U.S. officials accused Hakim's group of creating false identification for Iraqis streaming in from
Iran, and conducted three raids on SCIRI offices. Ghaleb Zanji, the editor of the group's Al Adala
daily newspaper, said the only weapons that American troops found in the raids were two rifles
that were properly licensed to employees. Zanji said the troops seized computers, notebooks and
photos, hampering publication of the newspaper.
U.S. officials wouldn't comment on the raids or the four people who reportedly were detained
during one of the operations.
"We don't know how to act with them; we don't know what they're thinking," Zanji said. "We
know for a fact we're on the Governing Council, we know freedom of the press is guaranteed in
America, but we didn't know the Americans have two standards. It's freedom for the United States
and injustice here. They're unpredictable in their behavior, so they have lost the support of most
The spokesman for U.S.-led forces disagreed that most Shiites harbor anti-American feelings.
He said they were still basking in the ability to practice their religion openly, which Saddam
brutally oppressed. Bremer and top U.S. military officers meet regularly with religious leaders and
have begun multimillion-dollar reconstruction projects in Shiite holy cities.
"We don't feel threatened at all by the Shiites. They are enjoying political and religious freedom,
and working with us on the Governing Council," the spokesman said. "These people are coming
out into the light and blinking at the brightness that's out there."
Images of revered imams now are mass-produced on key chains, posters, T-shirts and jewelry
that used to depict Saddam. But alongside those wares, street vendors hawk grainy, bootlegged
videos of Shiite demonstrations against U.S.-led forces, and worshipers sprinkling perfumed water
pour into Iraq's shrines to pray for an Islamic government and for the Americans' swift departure.
Before Saddam's ouster, 32-year-old Emad Sadq hid rare Shiite texts from the dictator's
security forces in his gold shop in Baghdad, which stayed open until midnight. Now Sadq tucks
his jewels away at dusk for fear of thieves but leaves religious writings in a pile near his cash
Sadq gathers with other Shiite shopkeepers in the evenings to sip tea and debate whether they
were safer under Saddam. He and his friends said they were happy to be rid of the leader but that
they resented the Americans, whose presence had brought satellite dishes, revealing clothing
and other ostensible threats to their religion. Like most Shiites, Sadq said, he'll wait for guidance
from al Hauza, a religious authority made up of the most esteemed Shiite scholars, before
deciding whether to join resistance efforts.
"The Americans have technology, yes, but they lack morals," Sadq said. "We are not against
Western civilization and development, but we should take the good things only. We don't want the
bad, immoral parts of their culture. The biggest danger now is the killing of the soul, not the
More Calls to Vet Voting Machines
By Louise Witt
Monday 04 August 2003
A recent report that showed touch-screen voting machines could be vulnerable to hackers
spurred the National Association of Secretaries of State, a majority of whose members are in
charge of their states' elections, to consider whether the standards for the machines should be
beefed up to prevent tampering.
Voting machine standards weren't on the agenda at the association's annual meeting, held in
late July in Portland, Maine. But after the study by Johns Hopkins University researchers was
publicly released, the group discussed asking the National Institute of Standards and
Technology, or NIST, the government's standards-setting organization, to prepare a white paper
on security standards for the new generation of computerized voting machines.
No decision was made, said Kay Albowicz, a representative for the Washington, D.C., group.
NIST, a nonregulatory agency based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, works with industry to develop
and apply technology, measurements and standards.
Computer scientists have raised concerns about the security of computerized voting machines
for the past few years, but they haven't been able to gather much support from election officials,
who remain confident that the systems are basically secure from tampering and breakdowns.
The Johns Hopkins study is the first piece of evidence that current touch-screen technology
could be seriously flawed.
While stressing that more studies will have to be conducted to find out just how vulnerable
these are, "there is a sense that in the past (critics of computerized machines) were part of the
black box crowd and conspiracy theorists," Albowicz said. "No one is saying that now."
Aviel Rubin, technical director of the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute, led a team of
three computer scientists to examine source code for touch-screen voting machines made by
Diebold. More than 40,000 Diebold voting machines are in use in 37 states. Most use
touch-screen technology, while the rest use optical-scanning equipment, said Mike Jacobsen, a
The code was downloaded earlier this year from a company FTP site. The site isn't public, but
it's also not secure. Diebold's field representatives used the site to fix the company's voting
machines. Diebold has since pulled the source code off the Internet. The company's employees
now carry discs.
Jacobsen confirmed that the source code Rubin's team examined was last used in November
2002 general elections in Georgia, Maryland and in counties in California and Kansas.
Within a half-hour of examining the code, Rubin's team found its first red flag. The password
was embedded in the source code. "You learn (not to do) that in security 101," said Tadayoshi
Kohno, one of the report's co-authors. "The designers didn't follow standard engineering
Other "stunning flaws" Rubin said the team found in Diebold's source code included voter smart
cards that could be manipulated to cast more than one vote, software that could be reconfigured
by malicious company workers or election officials to alter voters' ballot choices without their
knowledge and machines that could be electronically broken into through remote access.
"The people who wrote this code didn't have very good security training," Rubin said. "They
didn't use encryption."
When asked if the source code contained the passwords to the system, Jacobsen said, "I can't
say. The flaws that the researchers found were found in a very controlled, clinical environment
and weren't subject to the stringent auditing and security processes, including the logic and
accuracy testing." Jacobsen said he believed Wylie Laboratories tested Diebold's software.
David Dill, a professor of computer science at Stanford University and a member of the
California Secretary of State's Ad Hoc Touch Screen Task Force, said Rubin's report confirms
what he and other computer scientists have believed for years: Electronic machines are
vulnerable and there needs to be a backup system to verify voters' ballots.
The ad hoc task force recommended a voter-verifiable audit trail. One solution could be a
machine that generates paper receipts behind a glass barrier showing voters that their votes have
been properly cast. The receipts later could be used for recounts.
"I think it's been obvious that (these machines) can be hacked and Aviel shows that they can
be hacked," Dill said. "They've blown up all the arguments that the present machines are OK and
the process will solve all these problems."
Mary Kiffmeyer, Minnesota's Secretary of State and the new National Association of
Secretaries of State president, said there shouldn't be a "rush to judgment" to condemn the
current technology used in touch-screen voting machines.
She pointed out that Georgia used new touch-screen machines in its 2002 elections without
incident. But she said the association will push for the federal government to release additional
funding from the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA, to study what standards should be in place.
"Standards are being revised as new equipment comes along," she said. "We need to speed
up the process and focus on (the standards) as we are rapidly making decisions about our
Congress passed HAVA in 2002 in response to the November 2000 presidential election
debacle, with its hanging chads, butterfly ballots and messy voter-registration records and
Congress authorized $3.9 billion for HAVA to replace outdated punch-card and lever voting
machines, to improve voter education, to provide better ballot booth access for the disabled and
to modernize statewide voter-registration databases.
Congress also appropriated $1.5 billion for HAVA in the fiscal year ending in September. Of
that, the federal government gave states $649.5 million to buy new voting machines and to
improve their electoral administration. Another $830 million is waiting to be dispersed as soon as
an election commission is established. Congress appropriated only $500 million for fiscal 2004.
Penelope Bonsall, director of the Federal Election Commission's Office of Election
Administration, said the president has named the commission's four members, but they have not
been officially nominated. Congress is now in recess and won't be able to approve the
commission until it returns in September.
The 2006 deadline for states to comply with HAVA looms. Even though new standards may be
needed for computerized machines, states and local governments are rushing to buy equipment.
At the end of 2002, 19.6 percent of votes nationwide were recorded on touch-screen equipment,
up from 3.9 percent in 1992, according to the Federal Election Commission. Another 31.6
percent were recorded using optical-scanning equipment. Georgia had all new machines in place
for its elections in 2002. Maryland just placed a $55 million order with Diebold for 11,000
machines -- the state will have all new machines. Maryland first bought Diebold machines in
Some computer scientists say HAVA's deadline should be extended to give the government
more time to establish better standards for new computerized voting machines. Rebecca
Mercuri, a research fellow at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and
president of Notable Software, a consulting firm in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, says that in the
absence of new standards, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, of which she is
a member, has formed a committee to create standards for the machines. One of the
committee's concerns is a voter-verified audit trail.
Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) introduced a bill, H.R. 2239, in May to amend HAVA to require
computerized voting machines to provide voter-verified audit trails. So far, his bill has 26
sponsors and it's unlikely to get out of the Committee on House Administration.
"As the computer scientists at Johns Hopkins recently reported, these new machines are
vulnerable to massive fraud," Holt said in a statement. "Unless Congress acts to pass legislation
that would make sure that all computer voting machines have a paper record that voters can
verify when they cast their ballots, voters and election officials will have no way of knowing
whether the computers are counting votes properly."
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