NEW YORK -- Monday, May 7, 2007
Voting rights attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has called for prison time for the new US Attorney for Arkansas, Timothy Griffin and investigation of Griffin's former boss, Karl Rove, chief political advisor to President Bush.
"Timothy Griffin," said Kennedy,"who is the new US attorney in Arkansas, was actually the mastermind behind the voter fraud efforts by the Bush Administration to disenfranchise over a million voters through 'caging' techniques - which are illegal."
[Hear Kennedy on Griffin, Rove and 'caging lists' below or here ]
Kennedy based his demand on the revelations by BBC reporter Greg Palast in the new edition of his book, "Armed Madhouse." On one page of the book, Palast reproduces a copy of a confidential Bush-Cheney campaign email, dated August 26, 2004, in which Griffin directs Republican operatives to use the 'caging' lists.
This is one of the emails subpoenaed by Congress but supposedly "lost" by Rove's office. Palast obtained 500 of these, fifty with 'caging' lists attached.
'Caging' lists are "absolutely illegal" under the Voting Rights Act, noted Kennedy on his Air America program, Ring of Fire. The 1965 law makes it a felony crime to challenge voters when race is a factor in the targeting. African-American voters comprised the bulk of the 70,000 voters 'caged' in a single state, Florida.
Palast wrote in his book, "Here's how the scheme worked. The Bush campaign mailed out letters," particularly targeting African-American soldiers sent overseas. When the letters sent to the home addresses of the soldiers came back "undeliverable" because the servicemen were in Baghdad or elsewhere, the Republican Party would, "challenge the voter's registration and thereby prevent their absentee ballots being counted."
The Republicans successfully challenged "at least one million" votes of minority voters in the 2004 election.
Kennedy, a voting rights attorney, fumed, "What he [Griffin] did was absolutely illegal and he should be in jail. Instead [Griffin] was rewarded with the US Attorney's office."
"They [Griffin, Rove and their confederates at the RNC] knew it was illegal."
Kennedy has called on the Senate and House Judiciary Committees to expand their investigations of the firing of US Attorneys to include a probe of their replacements, especially Griffin, as well as Rove's knowledge of the caging operation.
In preparation for just such an investigation, Kyle Sampson, former aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, wrote a confidential email, dated December 19, 2006 outlining a strategy to stall Congress' from questioning the propriety of the Griffin appointment. “We should gum this to death," wrote Sampson, "Ask the senators to give Tim a chance . . . then we can tell them we'll look for other candidates, ask them for recommendations, evaluate the recommendations, interview their candidates, and otherwise run out the clock. All of this should be done in 'good faith,' of course."
Sampson has since resigned.
Palast said, "Just as Rove is known as 'Bush's brain,' Griffin is 'Rove's Brain.' I'm flattered by his 'review.'"
Palast first reported on the caging list operation for BBC Television's premier current affairs show, Newsnight, in 2004. In a February 7, 2007 email obtained by subpoena from Rove's office, Griffin boasted that, "No [US] national media picked up" the BBC story. Griffin attached an excerpt of Armed Madhouse.
Griffin sent his remarks to Monica Goodling, Senior Counsel to Attorney General Gonzales, who has since resigned and invoked the Fifth Amendment rather than answer Congressional questions.
Griffin and Rove refused several requests from Palast and BBC to respond to charges of illegal, racial 'caging' of voters. However, a Republican spokeswoman, while admitting the lists could be used to challenge soldiers' votes, said that was 'not the purpose' for gathering the lists.
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, ARMED MADHOUSE: From Baghdad to New Orleans -- Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House GONE WILD.
To see Palast's reports for BBC, obtain more information on Armed Madhouse or the prosecutor firing scandal, or to request an interview with Palast, go to www.GregPalast.com
Hear Kennedy on Griffin, Rove and on Palast's book -- "a masterpiece," says RFK: download this recent segment of "Ring of Fire" at www.GregPalast.com Palast will return to speak with Kennedy and his Air America co-host, attorney Mike Papantonio, this weekend. Check Air America listings.