Medical Alert:
Washington Post Goes Blind –
Misses ‘Caging’ Story

Greg Palast

Greg Palast replies to Froomkin

June 20th, 2007

Last week, someone named “Dan Froomkin,” on the Washington Post website, huffed and puffed and tried to blow down BBC’s exposure of voter ‘caging’ – a GOP trick for challenging legitimate ballots.

‘Caging’ lists of tens of thousands of voters were secretly sent to Republican state honchos before the 2004 election by Tim Griffin, Karl Rove’s former deputy.

Mr. Griffin resigned his post as US Attorney for Arkansas the day after I reported, for BBC Television Newsnight, that Congressman John Conyers was seeking our network’s information about Mr. Griffin and ‘caging.’

I doubt that a flimsy story of no merit would have motivated Mr. Griffin to hop onto the unemployment line.

So what got the Post-man’s knickers in a twist? His bleating cry is that he’s only seen one ‘caging’ list from Greg Palast and no one has explained what it really means. The Post-er boy says,

All I’ve seen since then, however, has been increasingly heated speculation. What I was hoping for then, and still hope for to this day, is that someone would do some more reporting and find out more about how the list was collected, for what purpose, and whether anything was ever done about it?

Yes, it’s true: The Washington Post has not done one lick of reporting on the matter. However, “someone” has done “more reporting”: Myself and the Beeb team. The fact that Mr. Froomkin (if that is his real name) has neither bothered to read nor view our additional material says a lot about his journalism, not ours.

(Mr. Froomkin also wrote a similar review of Hamlet in which he averred, “This guy Shakespeare’s written ‘To be or not to be’ and I think he ought to write a play instead of a just a couple of couplets.”)

My dear Mr. Froomkin: I first call your attention to the book, Armed Madhouse, which contains a whole chapter on the matter including the not inconsequential matter that we eventually recovered not one caging list but more than 50 with 70,000 names in one state alone; that we spent hundreds of hours analyzing the demographics of the lists including calls to the ‘caged’ and reviewing the documentation with experts; and that we received several windy and contradictory explanations from the Bush-Cheney campaign.

Furthermore, we now have, care of the emails obtained by subpoenas issued by the House Judiciary Committee, confidential screeds by Mr. Griffin himself giving yet new (and incriminating) explanations of the caging lists. Mr. Griffin’s ill-considered missives corroborate BBC’s initial findings including his unintended admission that the lists were compiled to hunt “fraudulent” voters (something the GOP vigorously denied to our network).

This goes to the heart of the US Attorney firings. As confirmed by my interviews with former prosecutor David Iglesias and his office (whom we first contacted two years ago), the pressure was on from the GOP to indict “fraudulent” voters to justify these wholesale attacks on the right to vote. Iglesias told me the 150 cases handed him were “bogus.”

EJ Dionne of the Post has excoriated his fellow American journalists for failing to catch the big story of the 2000 election: the wrongful purging of Black voters in Florida as felons. The ‘purging’ story, which our team uncovered, is unfortunately all too similar to the ‘caging’ story – both in content and in the US press’ cussed refusal to report it.

But that’s no reason not to read our dispatches from overseas. However, I must in sympathy acknowledge that Mr. Froomkin has no room on his desk for Armed Madhouse – because his office is filled to the ceiling with remaindered copies of his boss’ magnum opus, “Bush at War.”

-Greg Palast

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Greg Palast, author of the New York Times bestseller ARMED MADHOUSE, has been reporting on vote suppression in the US for BBC Television Newsnight and for the Guardian of London.