The Justice Department went big game hunting and bagged a teeny-weeny scapegoat. Â More like a scape-kid, really.
Today, Justice arrested former BP engineer Kurt Mix for destroying evidence in the Deepwater Horizon blow-out.
I once ran a Justice Department racketeering case and damned if I would have ‘cuffed some poor schmuck like Mixâ€“â€“especially when there’s hot, smoking guns showing greater crimes by BP higher ups.
Last week, I released evidence we uncovered that BP top executives concealed evidence of a prior blow-out. Â Had they not covered up the 2008 blow-out in then Caspian Sea, then the Deepwater Horizon probably would not have blown out two years later in 2010. [Watch the film and read the stories.]
I urge you to read the affidavit of FBI agent Barbara O’Donnell which the government filed in arresting Mix. Â His crime is deleting texts from his phone indicating that the blown-out Macondo well was gushing over 15,000 barrels of oil a day, not 5,000 as BP told the public and government. Â If true, it’s a crime, destruction of evidence. Â But Mix is a minnow. Â What about the sharks? Â The texts were obviously sent to someone (named only “SUPERVISOR” by the FBI). Â If “Supervisor” knew, then undoubtedly so did BP managers higher up. Â Presumably, even CEO Tony Hayward would have gotten the message on his racing yacht.
Destruction of evidence is not nice, but concealment of evidence and fraud by corporate bigs, is the bigger crime. Â I hope, I assume, I demand that we find out what Supervisor’s supervisors knew and when they knew itâ€“â€“and didn’t tell us.
And far, far, far more important: Â when is the Justice Department going to go after the greater wrongdoing? Let’s begin with the cover-upÂ before the spill that the drilling methods used on the Deepwater Horizon had led to a blow-out nearly two years earlier.
Let’s face it: Â to go after the bigger crime means going after the entire industry. Â The earlier blow-out was concealed by BP as well as its partners Exxon and Chevron and, by the US State Department under Condoleezza Rice. Â [If you want to get that story, please check out Part II: Â BP Covered Up Prior Oil Spill at Ecowatch.org.]
One point in Mr. Mix’s defense. Â During my investigation of the Deepwater Horizon, I found that employees who provide evidence against BP find their careers floating face down in the Gulf.
BP and other oil companies punish troublemakers by writing “NRB” on their record. Â That means “Not Required Back”â€“â€“and the worker is banned from the offshore rigs. Â No doubt, Mr. Mix thought long and hard about what would happen to his career if his texts came to light. Â Not an excuse for crime, but it’s a fact. Â It’s the guys on top putting on this kind of pressure that should be doing the perp walk: Â the Big Bad BP Wolves, not their mixxed-up scapegoat.
Re-prints permitted with credit to Greg Palast
Greg Palast is the author of Vulturesâ€™ Picnic, which centers on his investigation of BP, bribery and corruption in the oil industry. Palast’s, reports can be seen on BBC-TV and Britainâ€™s Channel 4.
You can read Vultures’ Picnic, “Chapter 1: Goldfinger,” or download it, at no charge: click here.
That’s hardly the kind of endorsement a candidate for Congress expects. But that is the conclusion of voting rights attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. after digging into the evidence of Congressional candidate Tim Griffin’s role in directing the Republican National Committee’s racially biased attack on voters known as “caging.”
A brutal mano-a-mano race in Arkansas’ Second District has become a showdown between Sarah Palin’s banner carrier Griffin (funded by SarahPAC) and Democrat Joyce Elliott who has drawn homeboy Bill Clinton back to Little Rock.
The ex-President, in Arkansas this week, was especially worked up about Griffin’s caging list vote suppression scheme. (Our Good Ol’ Boy in Chief told me back in 2008 he would bust out the story, and it only took him two years to do the right thing, a personal best for Bill.) …more
Since everyone seems to have an opinion about the mosque near Ground Zero (and President Obama has two), I’d like to ask you all a couple of questions:
Given that white Christian supremacist Tim McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma City Federal Building, shouldn’t we ban white churches from Oklahoma?
As New York City’s indigenous Lenape Natives died at Ground Zero by the thousands when overrun by Christian colonists, shouldn’t we ban Christian churches from their sacred ground?
If a mosque near Ground Zero is bad, then why not ban all Muslims from downtown New York? For this to work, should we require all Muslims in the city to wear yellow crescents?
My office was in the WTC towers, which will now be rebuilt with all the upscale shops I remember. So, Mrs. Palin, are you saying it’s OK for Muslims to shop at Ground Zero as long as they don’t pray there?
The new tower will have the old one’s Off-Track Betting windows and bars with after-work “happy hours.” So here’s a solution to make everyone happy: Why not camouflage the mosque as a place to gamble and get into your secretary’s panties?
How about disguising it as a discount fashion shop: Kate Mosque? Or as a Disney retail outlet: Mickey Mosque?
Jamie Kilstein has suggested to me that we ban Burger Kings from Ground Zero in honor of the victims of heart disease. But Jamie, the BKs are memorials to remind us that in the eyes of God, all of us â€” no matter what religion â€” are just hamburger meat. …more
With the Gulf Coast dying of oil poisoning, there’s no space in the press for British Petroleum’s latest spill, just this week: over 100,000 gallons, at its Alaska pipeline operation.Â A hundred thousand used to be a lot.Â Still is.
On Tuesday, Pump Station 9, at Delta Junction on the 800-mile pipeline, busted.Â Thousands of barrels began spewing an explosive cocktail of hydrocarbons after “procedures weren’t properly implemented” by BP operators, say state inspectors. “Procedures weren’t properly implemented” is, it seems, BP’s company motto.
Few Americans know that BP owns the controlling stake in the trans-Alaska pipeline; but, unlike with the Deepwater Horizon, BP keeps its Limey name off the Big Pipe.
There’s another reason to keep their name off the Pipe:Â their management of the pipe stinks.Â It’s corroded, it’s undermanned and “basic maintenance” is a term BP never heard of.
How does BP get away with it?Â The same way the Godfather got away with it:Â bad things happen to folks who blow the whistle. BP has a habit of hunting down and destroying the careers of those who warn of pipeline problems. …more
For the two weeks before tickle-and-grope charges busted open on him, and before his resignation from Congress, our BBC Television investigations team was hunting for Representative Eric Massa.
We wanted to know what he had hidden in his drawers. Not his knickers, which have captivated America’s peep-show media, but Massa’s file drawers where he keeps his dirtier secrets.
Frankly, I don’t give a rat’s ass about Massa’s creepy little peccadilloes. But I care an awful lot about creeps that quietly backed him.
Massa plays himself as a two-fisted Progressive Democrat, telling the President to jam his fake health care bill where the Rahm don’t shine, and he gave the Iraq war his middle finger. I mean, the guy was on Rachel Maddow.
That’s the television Massa. But what about the Congressman Massa? And why was he ducking us?
I specifically wanted to ask the New York Congressman about Paul Singer: “Swift Boat” Singer, the guy who funded the vile attacks on Presidential Candidate John Kerry. “Swift Boat” Singer â€” reportedly the biggest funder of the Republican Party in New York. Our information was that the demi-billionaire Singer was backing Massa.
Singer’s nickname isn’t really Swift Boat. It’s “The Vulture.”
Singer is a speculator, the predator-in-chief of the flock of financiers, collectively known as “vultures,” who buy up the right to collect on old loans made to the world’s poorest nations. Vultures use law suits, political muscle, and in some cases, bribery …more
“However, the Republican cry of ‘Vote Fraud!’ has become the cover for purges and challenges to legal voters by the millions. I even tracked down and filmed some of these so-called fraudulent voters handed me from a GOP list. Every one was a legal voter.”
— Greg Palast, Intrepid Investigative Reporter and Author
* * *
Greg Palast and BuzzFlash go back to the election of 2000. At that time, large progressive political news sites were hard to come by â€“ and there was only one investigative reporter who was able to unravel the theft of the Florida election: Greg Palast.
Greg didnâ€™t just expose the mugging of democracy. As a University of Chicago trained researcher, he was able to detail how Katherine Harris used an outside vendor to create caging lists that prevented legitimate voters from casting their ballots. In fact, Greg has a laptop presentation that actually shows you the lists that Harrisâ€™s office worked from in keeping minorities from voting.
Of course, Gregâ€™s investigation on vote theft â€“ which has branched out widely in the intervening years â€“ is persuasive and thorough enough for the BBC and British newspapers, but not for the corporate press in America! We kid you not.
To this day, Palast is effectively banned from reaching the mainstream American voter because television stations and big papers are owned by companies that donâ€™t want to rock the vote. It might hurt their tax cuts or efforts to deregulate media ownership.
BuzzFlash thought that now would be a good time to revisit with our most interviewed expert on BuzzFlash, Greg Palast. After all, we have an election coming up.
* * *
BuzzFlash: You have been investigating the coordinated and vigorous GOP effort to suppress and steal votes since the theft of the election in 2000. You and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. just did a BBC Documentary on what nefarious voter suppression tactics the Republicans have in store for us in 2008. Can you summarize some of the methods that the GOP are using to disenfranchise non-Republican voters prior to the election, to prevent them from voting during the election, and to keep their votes from being counted after the polls close?
Greg Palast: It’s ugly. Consider:
– In the swing state of Colorado, we found that the Republican Secretary of State wiped out 19.4% – one in five – voter names in an unnoticed mass purge.
– In swing-state New Mexico, in the February caucus, one in nine Democrats found their names missing from the voter rolls supplied by the State. The elections supervisor of San Miguel County – whose own name was missing from the rolls – has no confidence the state contractors will fix it. Our statistical analysis showed there was a direct relationship between your name and your race and income. The poor and the dark were disappeared.
– In Indiana, you heard about 10 nuns who lost their vote because their ID – drivers’ licenses – had expired (they were all over eighty). But what about the others? We’ve calculated that 143,000 others were turned away – disproportionately Blacks and new voters.
And so on and so on.
BuzzFlash: BuzzFlash has been covering one public relations effort by the Republican National Committee to create a false context for claiming voter fraud. In short, they have been attacking a national community organizing group called ACORN with news releases, lawsuits, surrogate assaults, etc., falsely claiming (as they did in 2004 and 2006) that ACORN is engaged in the massive illegal registration of primarily minority voters. Can you explain the significance of the ACORN slander by the RNC?
Greg Palast: As RFK and I report, there are only about SIX voters found guilty of federal voting fraud in a year. SiX! Out of 178 million registered voters.
So the GOP (and Fox and CNN) are running stories about ACORN signing up zillions of illegal voters. Yep, there are a handful of phony names – but ‘Mary Poppins’ has never shown up to vote.
However, the Republican cry of ‘Vote Fraud!’ has become the cover for purges and challenges to legal voters by the millions.
I even tracked down and filmed some of these so-called fraudulent voters handed me from a GOP list. Every one was a legal voter.
Tell us a bit about the site and downloadable comic book that you launched with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on how to prevent the theft of millions of votes by the Republicans, yet again in 2008. The website is: http://www.stealbackyourvote.com.
Greg Palast: Our Rolling Stone report that’s out this week is all about how they’ve stolen so many legitimate votes. The comic book, which includes the Rolling Stone findings also includes the SEVEN WAYS TO STEAL IT BACK.
And the whole thing is illustrated brilliantly by comic crazies Ted Rall, Lukas Ketner and Troubletown’s Lloyd Dangle. I loved doing it.
You can download the whole comic book for a penny or more (donate more please) at StealBackYourVote.org. And better yet, you can order bunches of the comic book there as well (and see the short movies). Cool eh?
BuzzFlash: Can you briefly explain the role of ProsecutorGate at the DOJ in efforts to suppress the Democratic vote in 2006? How did this fit in with Karl Roveâ€™s grand voter suppression and theft plan?
Greg Palast: You betcha! Fired prosecutor David Iglesias told us something astonishing: He said that he was fired because he refused to arrest innocent citizens for voter fraud that didnâ€™t happen. That’s obstruction of justice. It was all about creating a hysteria over fraudulent voters that didnâ€™t exist.
This is what Iglesias basically said: “They wanted some splashy pre-election indictments [Rove and the RNC] that would scare these alleged hordes of illegal voters away.” Only the voters were legal.
BuzzFlash: Isnâ€™t there one bright spot? You cut your teeth on GOP voter disenfranchisement with brilliant reporting on how the Bush campaign team, Jeb Bush, and Katherine Harris prevented tens of thousands of valid minority voters from voting through a scheme to use an outside vendor, ChoicePoint, to create an inaccurate list of felons who could not vote in 2000 in Florida. Hasnâ€™t the current GOP governor, Charlie Crist, had the right to vote of ex-felons restored?
Greg Palast: Crist is a duplicitous phony. On the one hand, he pretends they’ll let ex-cons vote as in almost every state. On the other hand less than a handful of the half million ex-cons in the state have been able to get through the insane rigamarole required to actually register. In most states ex-cons can vote like anyone else.
BuzzFlash: As a follow up, from a practical matter, donâ€™t the Republicans have to be within a certain striking distance to steal the election. If Obama keeps trending up, or ends up with a double-digit popular vote victory, how could the GOP steal the election? After all, if Nader werenâ€™t on the ballot in Florida â€“ despite all the nefarious Republican voter suppression and theft â€“ Al Gore would be president, right?
Greg Palast: That’s what RFK and I say: you can’t steal ALL the votes ALL the time.
BuzzFlash: Okay, itâ€™s less than a month before the election, what can anyone do to halt another theft of the White House?
Greg Palast: Go to STEALBACKYOURVOTE.ORG. Get the comic book. Now was that so difficult?*
BuzzFlash: For 8 years, youâ€™ve been covering this issue. Some others have joined you over time and itâ€™s a bit of a movement, albeit still relatively small. But, as in 2000, not much has changed with the corporate media. They are still pretty much ignoring the clear evidence of a coordinated GOP effort to keep non-Republicans from voting and to steal votes wherever they can. Is there any reason to think that they might awaken to their journalistic responsibility to report on the mugging of democracy?
Greg Palast: Zero. That’s why we have BuzzFlash. Bless you.
[*In brief, Palast advises voters to vote early; do not mail in your ballot; check on your registration in advance to make sure there is not a glitch; don’t vote a provisional ballot; volunteer on election day; go to the polls with someone for mutual support; and use the resources that you can get at stealbackyourvote.org.]
[BuzzFlash Afternote: The GOP assault on the right of every American to vote is so widespread that we can barely touch upon it in one interview.Â Of course, there is the whole additional issue of electronic voting theft, for example.Â The Republican effort to disenfranchise legitimate voters is a vast criminal enterprise.]
The White House knew [the levees broke] because the Army Corps of Engineers sent them photographs. Again, I want to emphasize that the White House had the photographs of the levees breaking, and didn’t tell state and local officials who had stopped the evacuation because the hurricane missed New Orleans. Everyone thought they dodged a bullet, but the White House didn’t tell anybody the levees broke and were drowning the city. — Greg Palast
Greg Palast is just unstoppable, and after you watch his remarkable new DVD, “Big Easy to Big Empty: The Drowning of New Orleans,” you’ll understand why. …more
Greg Palast is scrappy, intrepid, and indefatigable when he scents a scandal that needs to be uncovered. And as a result of these admirable characteristics in a journalist, he is unemployable by a news company in America.
That is why he works for the BBC and London-based newspapers.
In America today, you generally get in “career trouble” if you are a journalist and you reveal secrets about the Bush Administration. But that doesn’t stop Palast, even if his paycheck has to come from abroad.
Palast, a BuzzFlash favorite, was the first reporter to expose the vast scale of the manipulation of the Florida presidential vote in 2000 — and he hasn’t stopped unearthing the details of how democracy is being undermined since then.
With his trademark fedora, Palast is a journalistic combination of Sam Spade and Joe Friday. He wants nothing but the facts — and he won’t be stopped until he’s gotten to the bottom of a cover-up.
Palast follows the muckraking dictum long-forgotten by the affluent media moguls and “star” celebrity “reporters” in the U.S.: to afflict the comfortable, and to comfort the afflicted.
Except, in this case, his mission is to save democracy by exposing those persons who would steal it from us.
Greg Palast, ninja investigative reporter, you are this week’s BuzzFlash “Wings of Justice Award” winner. May you never stop pursuing the truth.
* * *
Nominated by: Robert Muschlitz of Micanopy, Florida
And the GOP 4-step Recipe to ‘Blackwell’ the USA in 2008 Abracadabra: Three million votes vanish
A Buzzflash Exclusive
[Heads up! Catch Robert Kennedy Jr., Mike Papantonio and Greg Palast this next Saturday, June 10th, on Air America’s ‘Ring of Fire’ on the shoplifting of the last election & and the next one.]
This is a fact: On November 2, 2004, in the State of Ohio, 239,127 votes for President of the United States were dumped, rejected, blocked, lost and left to rot uncounted.
And not just anyone’s vote. Dive into the electoral dumpster and these “spoiled” votes have a very dark color indeed.
In another life, I taught statistics. And these statistics stank: the raw data tells us that if you are a Black voter, the chance of you losing your vote to technical errors in voting machinery is 900% higher than if you were a white voter.
Any guesses as to whom those African-Americans chose for president on those junked ballots? Check Ohio’s racial demographics, do the numbers, and there it is: Kerry won Ohio. And that, too, is a fact. A fact that could not get reported in the USA.
But the shoplifting of those votes in Ohio was just the tip of the theft-berg. November 2, 2004 was a national ballot-box bonfire. In total, over three million votes (3,600,380 to be exact) were castâ€”marked, punched, pulledâ€”YET NEVER COUNTED. I’m not talking about the Ukraine or Uganda. I’m talking about the United States of America “with liberty and justice for all.”
Well, not “all.” The nine-to-one Black-to-White ballot spoilage rate is a national statisticâ€”not just an Ohio trick. Last year, I flew to New Mexico to investigate the 33,981 cast but not counted ballots of that state in the 2004 race. George Bush “won” New Mexico by 5,988 votes. Or did he? I calculated that, of the all the ballots rejected and “spoiled,” 89% were cast by voters of color. Who won New Mexico? Kerry wonâ€”or he would have, if they had counted the ballots.
But they didn’t count them. And that was deliberate. It’s in the plan. It’s the program. And the program for 2008 is simple. Two million ballots were cast but not counted in the 2000 race. (Over half, 54%, were cast by African-American.) In 2004, the GOP kicked it up to THREE million. Get ready, these guys aim high: “four in ’06” and “five in ’08” looks to be their game plan.
How will they pile up five million un-voters in 2008? Let’s start with the three million “disappeared” of 2004:
Step 1: “Spoiling” ballotsâ€”1,389,231 of them. In the vote-count game, these are called “undervotes” and “overvotes.” You can recognize these lost ballots by their hanging chads, punch cards without punches (an Ohio specialty), paper ballots eaten by scanners, and touch screens that didn’t know you touched them.
Step 2: Rejecting “provisional ballots”– 1,090,729 in this pile. Voters finding themselves at the “wrong” precinct, or wrongly “scrubbed” from voter rolls get these back-of-the-bus ballots first inaugurated in 2002. In ’04, provisional ballots were passed out like candy to voters in the poorest precincts. They handed them outâ€”then threw them awayâ€”one million dumped in all. In Ohio, Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell changed state rules, allowing him to toss out the ballots of legal voters who cast ballots in the wrong precinct although these citizens were told their vote would count after confirming their registration.
Step 3: Not counting absentee ballotsâ€”526,420 of them. At least, that’s what we figure from official stats. But it’s anyone’s guess how many mailed-in votes were dumped. (However, in one case, in Palm Beach, Florida, Jeb Bush’s candidate for Elections Supervisor, Theresa LaPore, counted more absentee votes than absentee ballots mailed in. Not the brightest bulb in the vote-fix biz, that Theresa.)
Step 4: Scrub’m, Purge’m, Block’m. These are the voters who never got to vote at all. This group includes those who found their registrations were never entered on the voter rolls. In Ohio, about one-fourth of those registered by Jesse Jackson’s 2004 voter drive, found their registrations delayed beyond the election date or lost.
Add to this un-voter group, those who were wrongly “scrubbed” from registries as “felons.” For example, there was Bernice Kines, purged in Florida in 2004 because she was convicted of a felony on July 31, 2009. I repeat: 2009. There was something especially odd about the Ohio felon purge: ex-cons are ALLOWED to vote in that state, Mr. Blackwell.
How many lost their chance to vote by scrubbing, purging and blocking? That’s anyone’s guess, but one million would not be an unfair estimateâ€”and that’s not included in the 3.6 million tally of ballots uncounted.
Was it deliberate? Oh my God, yes. I’d like you to take a look at the “caging” lists the Republican National Committee concocted to challenge voters with “suspect” addresses. It included page after page of African-American soldiers, shipped overseas. Mission accomplished, Mr. President?
And there’s some new tricks for these old dogs. For the 2006 and 2008, the GOP is pushing new Voter ID requirements. Your signature won’t be good enough anymore.
What’s wrong with the new ID laws? This: in the 2004 election, 300,000 voters were turned away from the polls for “wrong” ID. For example, in the “Little Texas” counties in New Mexico, if your voter registration included a middle initial but your driver’s license had none, you were kicked out of the polling station. Funny, but they only seemed to ask Hispanic voters. We should see the number of voters rejected for ID to quintuple by 2008 based on the new “voting reform” laws recently passed in several states.
Also, coming to a polling station near you: more caging lists, scrub lists, ID challenge lists and more. Exactly why do you think they are compiling those “War on Terror” and War on Immigration databases? Behind the 2000 felon purge lists and behind the 2004 caging lists were databases from the same companies that now have those homeland security contracts. Are they saving us from Osamaâ€”or from Democrats?
********** BBC investigative reporter Greg Palast is author of ARMED MADHOUSE: Who’s Afraid of Osama Wolf?, The Scheme to Steal ‘O8, No Child’s Behind Left and other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class Warâ€”out Tuesday. Or order it at www.ArmedMadhouse.com
Also, check Bradblog.com and AirAmericaRadio.com for the audio of Janeane Garofalo, Brad Friedman and Randi Rhodes reading “Kerry Won” and other sections of Armed Madhouse.
Then belly up to the beast: Join Greg Palast and the Reverend Jesse Jackson (in Chicago), Amy Goodman (in New York), Bob Fitrakis (in Columbus) and others for the 24-city US/UK Armed Madhouse Class War Boot Camp meetings. They begin this Monday, sponsored by Ohio Citizens Alliance for Secure Elections, Operation PUSH, Oregon Voter Action, Activist San Diego and Pacifica Radio. For dates and locations, go to www.GregPalast.com
Last Wednesday morning Corrine Brown watched an advanced copy of our new DVD, Bush Family Fortunes, including the details on how the Republican party stole the election in 2000. After seeing these facts, Congresswoman Corrine Brown, a black woman w/ a height end sense of justice, walked over to the capital on Thursday and put on the record the facts she had seen. ...more
Greg Palast, an investigative reporter for the BBC and the Observer (sister paper of the Guardian), is well-known among BuzzFlash readers for his expose on how Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris disenfranchised black voters in Florida. Based in London (because tenacious investigative reporters are not valued in the U.S. media, he Says) Greg is thorough, cynical and fearless. In March, BuzzFlash.com will be featuring Greg's new investigative reporting book, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy."Greg Palast takes no prisoners. Here's Greg as quoted in news release by the Institute for Public Accuracy: "The California blackouts are a simple case of greed run amokï¿½Ä¶. The big winners in this monstrosity are Enron -- the largest career contributor to George W. Bush -- and other energy companies who have strangled the market. ...more