“What I’ve experienced in the last six months is the ugly side of the American dream.”
Last month, David Iglesias and I were looking out at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island where his dad had entered the US from Panama decades ago. It was a hard moment for the military lawyer who, immediately after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales fired Iglesias as US Attorney for New Mexico, returned to active military duty as a Naval Reserve JAG.
Captain Iglesias, cool and circumspect, added something I didn’t expect:
“They misjudged my character, I mean they really thought I was just going to roll over and give them what they wanted and when I didn’t, that I’d go away quietly but I just couldn’t do that. You know US Attorneys and the Justice Department have a history of not taking into consideration partisan politics. That should not be a factor. And what they tried to do is just wrong and illegal and unethical.”
When a federal prosecutor says something is illegal, it’s not just small talk. And the illegality wasn’t small. It’s called, “obstruction of justice,” and it’s a felony crime.
Specifically, Attorney General Gonzales, Iglesias told me, wanted him to bring what the prosecutor called “bogus voter fraud” cases. In effect, US Attorney Iglesias was under pressure from the boss to charge citizens with crimes they didn’t commit. Saddam did that. Stalin did that. But Iglesias would NOT do that – even at the behest of the Attorney General. Today, Captain Iglesias, reached by phone, told me, “I’m not going to file any bogus prosecutions.”
But it wasn’t just Gonzales whose acts were “unethical, wrong and illegal.”
It was Gonzales’ boss.
Iglesias says, “The evidence shows right now, is that [Republican Senator Pete] Domenici complained …more
It is about Election Theft – both Past and Future. It is about Rewarding… And Protecting… The Thieves. It is also about our letting it – or not letting it – happen. It is about the Press – Investigating and Reporting. It is about Paying Attention – or not.
Then it is about being Responsible for what we’ve Learned – and doing something.
After all, what if the actual recipient of the most votes in either of the last two …more
Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law Hearing on: The Continuing Investigation into the U.S. Attorneys Controversy and Related Matters
McNulty: … and the second has to do with the caging issue. And there it’s a rather simple issue of where she’s challenging my testimony. Senator Schumer asked me about an allegation involving Tim Griffin and a practice known as caging. And I said that I was aware of an article on that subject. But I didn’t and here is my quote ‘I didn’t know anything about it personally’, and that’s perfectly true. I didn’t know anything about it personally. The night before my hearing I was given an article and a short explanation and I did not have an opportunity to read those things, I knew about the existence of the issue, and I therefore did not wanna testify about a matter that I did not know about personally. And I just said that at the time.
Rep. Conyers: Thank you Madam Chair. Now you never, did you just say you didn’t know anything about caging?
McNulty: What I said was that when I was asked that question at the Senate hearing, all I knew about the subject was that there was an article
Rep. Conyers: Was that article by Greg Palast about African American soldiers scrubbed by secret GOP hit lists? Dated June 16, 2006? Was that it as you recall?
McNulty: That’s the article I’m referring to. …more
Sens. Kennedy and Whitehouse Send Letter to DoJ Inspector General’s Office Seeking Probe into RNC Voter Supression Tactics Inquiry Into What Justice Officials Knew About Griffin’s Vote Caging Activities When He Was Named as US Attorney for Arkansas
Tim Griffin, formerly right hand man to Karl Rove, resigned Thursday as US Attorney for Arkansas hours after BBC Television ‘Newsnight’ reported that Congressman John Conyers requested the network’s evidence on Griffin’s involvement in ‘caging voters.’ Greg Palast, reporting for BBC Newsnight, obtained a series of confidential emails from the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign. In these emails, Griffin, then the GOP Deputy Communications Director, transmitted so-called ‘caging lists’ of voters to state party leaders.
Experts have concluded the caging lists were designed for a mass challenge of voters’ right to cast ballots. The caging lists were heavily weighted with minority voters including homeless individuals, students and soldiers sent overseas.
Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee investigating the firing of US Attorneys, met Thursday evening in New York with Palast. After reviewing key …more
By Dahlia Lithwick | Slate Posted Thursday, May 31, 2007, at 6:24 PM ET
Last week, in her testimony before the House judiciary committee, Monica Goodling referred several times to “vote caging” possibly done by Arkansas’ soon to be ex-interim, never-confirmed U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin. Yet Goodling was questioned about this almost not at all, nor did the media do much more than report the words of the former liaison between the White House and Alberto Gonzales (why a “liaison” is required between two institutions with no boundaries between them is incomprehensible, but perhaps another story). Meanwhile, liberal talk radio, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and the blogosphere went nuts. So, which is it: Is vote caging the most under reported part of this U.S. attorneys scandal or the most over-hyped?
One of the reasons the mainstream news reports (including mine) barley touched the vote-caging story was that nobody had any idea what Goodling was talking about. “Vote caging, what’s that?” we e-mailed each other at Slate. The confusion seemed to extend to Goodling herself. The subject came up in her testimony about former Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty. In saying he had not been forthright with the House judiciary committee in his testimony on the firing of the U.S. attorneys, she cited three areas, one of which was McNulty’s failure “to disclose that he had some knowledge of allegations that Tim Griffin had been involved in ‘vote caging’ in the president’s 2004 campaign,” when he spoke to Congress.
Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., asked Goodling to “explain what caging is,” clarifying that she was unfamiliar with the term. Goodling fumbled around, muttered something about, “it’s a direct-mail term, that people who do direct mail, when, when they separate addresses that may be good versus addresses that may be bad,” then made sure to end with, “I don’t … I believe that Mr. Griffin doesn’t believe that he, that he did anything wrong there and there, there actually is a very good reason for it, for a very good explanation.” Which explanation Goodling did not then provide.
To recap, Goodling told the judiciary committee that: 1) Griffin was possibly involved in caging; 2) he doesn’t believe he did anything wrong (she is less certain, it seems); and 3) McNulty lied under oath when he downplayed his knowledge of these allegations to the committee.
That would suggest that vote caging is a big deal. Is it?
Vote caging is an illegal trick to suppress minority voters (who tend to vote Democrat) by getting them knocked off the voter rolls if they fail to answer registered mail sent to homes they aren’t living at (because they are, say, at college or at war). The Republican National Committee reportedly stopped the practice following a consent decree in a 1986 case. Google the term and you’ll quickly arrive at the Wizard of Oz of caging, Greg Palast, investigative reporter and author of the wickedly funny Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans—Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild. Palast started reporting allegations of Republican vote caging for the BBC’s Newsnight in 2004. He’s been almost alone on the story since then. Palast contends, both in Armed Madhouse and widely through the liberal blogosphere, that vote caging, an illegal voter-suppression scheme, happened in Florida in 2004 this way:
The Bush-Cheney operatives sent hundreds of thousands of letters marked “Do not forward” to voters’ homes. Letters returned (“caged”) were used as evidence to block these voters’ right to cast a ballot on grounds they were registered at phony addresses. Who were the evil fakers? Homeless men, students on vacation and—you got to love this—American soldiers. Oh yeah: most of them are Black voters.
Why weren’t these African-American voters home when the Republican letters arrived? The homeless men were on park benches, the students were on vacation—and the soldiers were overseas.
Palast supplies evidence linking Tim Griffin, then-research director for the RNC, to this caging plot; specifically, a series of confidential e-mails to Republican Party muckety-mucks with the suggestive heading “RE: caging.” The e-mails were accidentally sent to a George Bush parody site. They also contained suggestively named spreadsheets, headed “caging” as well. The names on the lists are what Palast’s researchers deemed to be homeless men and soldiers deployed in Iraq. Here are the e-mails.
As Palast points out—and Griffin himself has observed—the American media barely touched this story, and Griffin has yet to explain the e-mails or the lists. He did tell The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer last March that “caging is not a derogatory term. … [I]t’s a direct-mail term. It derives from caging categories of mail in steel shelves and files.” Still, that hardly explains why he was allegedly caging only transient African-American voters in those shelves or files, which would likely violate the Voting Rights Act.
Palast is surely not above overstatement. He is one of many who have repeated the claim that, “In an Aug. 24 e-mail, the Justice Department’s Monica Goodling wrote to Sampson, that Griffin’s nomination would face opposition in Congress because he was involved ‘in massive Republican projects in Florida and elsewhere by which Republicans challenged tens of thousand of absentee votes. Coincidentally, many of those challenged votes were in black precincts.’ ” Goodling wrote no such thing. That quote is from an article circulated by Goodling on Aug. 24. It’s an unfair smear of both Griffin and Goodling (both of whom have proven amply capable of smearing themselves).
Still, Palast’s vote-caging claims are hardly unbelievable. Republicans have been systematically trying to suppress minority votes for decades, most recently calling it pushback for rampant liberal voter fraud. Our own former Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist was alleged to have mastered the art. And while bouncing voters from the rolls on the basis of their race violates federal law, it’s not beyond imagining that eager young “loyal Bushies” aren’t all that bothered by federal laws, especially if there’s a way to bend rather than overtly break them.
From the point of view of the ongoing DoJ scandal, perhaps what’s most urgent about the vote-caging claims is that they go a long, long way toward explaining why Karl Rove and Harriet Miers were so determined to get Griffin seated in the Arkansas U.S. Attorney’s office, and to do so without a confirmation hearing. If, as the Justice Department has continued to insist, Griffin was eminently qualified for the position, why did he need to be spared the hearing at all costs? And once it became clear that he would undergo a hearing, why did Griffin sideline himself with the colorful observation that undergoing Senate confirmation would be “like volunteering to stand in front of a firing squad in the middle of a three-ring circus?” Griffin—who is now in job talks with the Fred Thompson campaign—sure looks like a guy hiding something, and if vote caging is that something, it becomes even more interesting that the White House was pushing him forward.
Why did Goodling choose to shine a beacon on the vote-caging allegations in her perfectly rehearsed, highly coached testimony last week? Having slaved to secure Griffin’s U.S. attorney post, why raise the allegations against him and then subtly distance herself from him, if there is nothing to see here? Professor Rick Hasen of Loyola Law School, who wrote earlier this month about voter fraud, is my personal voting-law guru. (Everyone needs one.) When I asked him whether the mainstream media were making a mistake in blowing off the vote-caging story, he said Goodling’s mention of it “makes me suspect that there’s something there worth investigating by the MSM, even if you don’t buy into the grand conspiracy theories.”
If the media have fallen down on this story, how much more so has Congress? Nobody tried to press Goodling about what McNulty allegedly knew and withheld from Congress in regard to Griffin’s alleged vote-caging schemes. I’d be interested in the answer. I’d also like to hear what Griffin himself has to say about those lists the BBC has. If the RNC was paying good money to send registered mail to homeless black men in Florida, there must have been a reason for it. Griffin, after all, has left his Arkansas post and is looking for work. (Tim, if Sen. Thompson is a no-go, I need a babysitter next Saturday!) I bet he’d like nothing better than to clear his name and remove the taint of voter suppression from his résumé.
I’d also like to hear from Karl and Harriet about why Griffin’s elevation to the Arkansas job was so important, yet his confirmation so fraught. If Palast is right, Griffin and vote caging open the door to explaining the White House involvement in the U.S. attorneys purge. And the White House—not the Justice Department—has always been the least-understood part of this story. So, let’s bake up some of those warm, crusty subpoenas. Last week was the first time most of us heard about vote caging. It shouldn’t be the last.
This Monica revealed something hotter — much hotter — than a stained blue dress. In her opening testimony yesterday before the House Judiciary Committee, Monica Goodling, the blonde-ling underling to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Department of Justice Liaison to the White House, dropped The Big One….And the Committee members didn’t even know it. Goodling testified that Gonzales’ Deputy AG, Paul McNulty, perjured himself, lying to the committee in earlier testimony. The lie: McNulty denied Monica had told him about Tim Griffin’s “involvement in ‘caging’ voters” in 2004. Huh?? Tim Griffin? “Caging”???
The perplexed committee members hadn’t a clue — and asked no substantive questions about it thereafter. Karl Rove is still smiling. If the members had gotten the clue, and asked the right questions, they would have found “the keys to the kingdom,” they thought they were looking for. They dangled right in front of their perplexed faces.
The keys: the missing emails — and missing link — that could send Griffin and his boss, Rove, to the slammer for a long, long time.
Kingdom enough for ya?
But what’s ‘caging’ and why is it such a dreadful secret that lawyer McNulty put his license to practice and his freedom on the line to cover Tim Griffin’s involvement in it? Because it’s a felony. And a big one.
Our BBC team broke the story at the top of the nightly news everywhere on the planet – except the USA – only because America’s news networks simply refused to cover this evidence of the electoral coup d’etat that chose our President in 2004.
Here’s how caging worked, and along with Griffin’s thoughtful emails themselves you’ll understand it all in no time.
The Bush-Cheney operatives sent hundreds of thousands of letters marked “Do not forward” to voters’ homes. Letters returned (“caged”) were used as evidence to block these voters’ right to cast a ballot on grounds they were registered at phony addresses. Who were the evil fakers? Homeless men, students on vacation and — you got to love this — American soldiers. Oh yeah: most of them are Black voters.
Why weren’t these African-American voters home when the Republican letters arrived? The homeless men were on park benches, the students were on vacation — and the soldiers were overseas. Go to Baghdad, lose your vote. Mission Accomplished.
How do I know? I have the caging lists…
I have them because they are attached to the emails Rove insists can’t be found. I have the emails. 500 of them — sent to our team at BBC after the Rove-bots accidentally sent them to a web domain owned by our friend John Wooden.
Here’s what you need to know — and the Committee would have discovered, if only they’d asked:
1. ‘Caging’ voters is a crime, a go-to-jail felony. 2. Griffin wasn’t “involved” in the caging, Ms. Goodling. Griffin, Rove’s right-hand man (right-hand claw), was directing the illegal purge and challenge campaign. How do I know? It’s in the email I got. Thanks. And it’s posted below. 3. On December 7, 2006, the ragin’, cagin’ Griffin was named, on Rove’s personal demand, US Attorney for Arkansas. Perpetrator became prosecutor.
The committee was perplexed about Monica’s panicked admission and accusations about the caging list because the US press never covered it. That’s because, as Griffin wrote to Goodling in yet another email (dated February 6 of this year, and also posted below), their caging operation only made the news on BBC London: busted open, Griffin bitched, by that “British reporter,” Greg Palast.
There’s no pride in this. Our BBC team broke the story at the top of the nightly news everywhere on the planet — except the USA — only because America’s news networks simply refused to cover this evidence of the electoral coup d’etat that chose our President in 2004.
And now, not bothering to understand the astonishing revelation in Goodling’s confessional, they are missing the real story behind the firing of the US attorneys. It’s not about removing prosecutors disloyal to Bush, it’s about replacing those who refused to aid the theft of the vote in 2004 with those prepared to burgle it again in 2008.
Now that they have the keys, let’s see if they can put them in the right door. The clock is ticking ladies and gents…
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. For more info, or to hear Brad Friedman, Ed Asner and other troublemakers read from Armed Madhouse, go to www.GregPalast.com
Saturday morning, when most sensible folks were unfurling flags or taking their setters and children for a Memorial Day frisbee toss on the beach, someone using the nom d’puter of “DRATIONAL” was in his big sister’s bedroom furiously typing, “Greg Palast is Dangerous!” on her iMac.
Drat is quite right: I am dangerous, though not for the reasons in Drat’s screed.
So while the twins are off with the dog, let me respond between bites of this bagel, beginning with this immutable distinction:
There’s two kinds of illiterates in this world: those who can’t read, for whom I’m entirely sympathetic — and those who CAN read but WON’T, for whom I have no sympathy whatsoever.
Drat is of the latter. He (she/them/it?) has mounted a full-scale assault on the seven-year-long effort of my BBC and Guardian team investigating systematic suppression of the minority vote by the Republican Party and our latest revelation: ‘caging voters.’ His “evidence” is 100% limited to snippets of my conversations on talk radio or phone interviews, second-hand reports on websites and some musings of one of my good researchers, Zach Roberts, posted to this site.
Nowhere does he suggest he’s bothered reading the one hundred-page description of the attack on voters, including caging, in the new edition of Armed Madhouse. Shame that. Law professor Robert F. Kennedy Jr., using the book as a source, verified by his own corroborative work, found the matter therein convincing enough to call for putting Rove’s right hand man, Tim Griffin, “in prison, not in office.”
Picking up a book won’t hurt you, Mr. Drat, at least until Patriot Act IV goes into effect.
Drat also fails to consult the obvious and original source of the BBC report: the BBC. On the website is an elucidating exchange between the Republican Party and BBC producer, Meirion Jones — who placed his substantial reputation, and that of the British Broadcasting Corporation, on the line in the defense of our ‘caging’ story based on his complete and close-up knowledge of the facts.
As a former statistician, I’m a bit disconcerted to make this back of the envelope calculation: about ten times as many people will read the posting of Drat written in his jammies one night as have read Armed Madhouse. The book, unlike the blogette, is based on the work of many diligent souls over three years on three continents.
Such is the world. I won’t complain. But the speed of slanders is so fleet, and the work of our investigation so vital, I want to explain our methods in summary, not as a replacement for reading the book, but as a supplementary guide to our team’s work and professional process.
The prime criticism: Drat cannot comprehend how, from the one email and “caging” list shown on my website, we can conclude their was a massive, illegal GOP conspiracy to wipe out the votes of hundreds of thousands of legal, minority voters.
Answer: you can’t. We didn’t. Sorry, Mr. Drat, but an investigation of this type requires more than a desultory evening of noodling on the ‘Net.
When, just after midnight on October 8, 2004, researcher Oliver Shykles sent me the first ‘caging’ memo passed to us from John Wooden, I thought the prankster was pulling our leg, or the emails and lists were just the usual campaign nonsense and blather. Take a look at the confidential Griffin memo, “Subject: caging,” on page 207 of the book. He doesn’t say much, Mr. Griffin, except, “Total as of today is 1834” with the list attached. Names and addresses of voters. Nothing more.
Mr. Drat: that’s not where our investigation ends, but where it BEGINS.
A producer from ’60 Minutes’ had recently come to our office and looked at similar voter lists and said, “My god, it would take you HUNDREDS OF HOURS and you’d have to make HUNDREDS OF CALLS to figure out what this is.” I asked our chief investigator Ms. von Eckardt when she’d last slept. “Sunday.” It was Tuesday.
She began the calling of the ‘caged’ — by now reaching over 50,000 in Florida alone — from the missives we received, while investigators Shykles and Pascarella enlisted the work of volunteers and experts in mapping and analyzing the list against the ‘felon’ purge lists and other data we had, including physical visits to the addresses.
The list was looking very dark indeed, Black precincts, black voters, most with a peculiarity: voters unlikely to live at their home addresses. On a couple of lists (of more than 50), were soldiers including serviceman Randy Prausa. Prausa’s wife, reached by phone, admitted he did not live as his voting registration address: he’d been shipped overseas.
Hmm. We went to the experts, including Ion Sancho, the dean of Florida elections supervisors, and voting rights lawyer Ralph Neas among others. “It could only be a challenge list,” Sancho told us, and by the racial bent of it, “A potential violation of the Voting Rights Act,” said Neas. A felony crime.
As the evidence mounted, BBC authorized us to ask about the emails from the best source: their author, Mr. Griffin, right hand man to Karl Rove. I intended to ask, “Lose something, Mr. Griffin?”
So with our crew from London, we set off to Washington — and were told to scram by the Rove man. We also flew to Tallahassee to confront one of the recipients, the Chairman of the state’s Bush-Cheney campaign. We were blocked at the doorway on our scheduled interview by a duo of PR flaks. They gave us a menu of contradictory answers. The lists were potential donors, one said. Oh, OK. But what about this: the ones registered at the homeless shelter? That failed, we were told the lists were just clerical stuff: “These are newly registered voters we mailed to, where the letter came back — bad addresses.”
Wait. Cleaning up the junk-mail list required confidential missives between Rove’s top man and the chairmen of the state campaigns? I suggested these were, in fact, challenge lists.
The flack-catcher — you have to see her photo holding the lists at page 203 of the book — then said something that combined brilliance and bullshit in two phrases: “This is not a challenge list. That’s not what it’s SET UP to do.”
Her words were crafty. If the lists were USED for challenges (and she admitted they would do that), that’s legal. But if the lists were compiled FOR THE PURPOSE OF targeting these voters, mostly African-American, that’s a crime. A big-time crime.
And she knew it. And most important, Tim Griffin knew it. In fact, the emails show he directed it. And where is Mr. Griffin today? US Attorney for Arkansas, replacement for one of the prosecutors fired six months ago.
Did Rove know that Griffin knew? This was Rove’s right hand man; the campaign was under Rove’s guidance; the caging op cost millions and involved the state chairmen and top planners of the campaign. I think a grand jury should ask; or at least a Congressional Committee. That Griffin knew was grim enough; criminal enough.
And that’s what Monica Goodling dumped before the House Judiciary Committee this past week. She said her superiors lied about their knowledge of Griffin’s knowledge of “caging voters.” She said that only after taking the Fifth and obtaining a grant of immunity.
Goodling didn’t need to take the Fifth to admit she’d looked at someone’s party registration before choosing them for a Justice Department post. But she knew that “caging voters,” and her crew’s knowledge of it and Griffin’s role, required immunity if she hoped to stay out of the pokey.
Because there’s more. Emails that Griffin and Goodling did cough up to the committee tighten the noose around their own necks.
It is both much fun and grandly ironic that one of the self-incriminating emails is Griffin’s complaint to Goodling about that “British reporter … Greg Palast,” including two dated February 5 of this year. One includes a link to an excerpt from Armed Madhouse and a PDF of a blog based on it. (Well, at least someone’s reading the book.)
In this email and others, Griffin pulls the pin out of the grenade — and swallows it. Rather than continue the party line that the ‘caging’ lists were not created to challenge voters, he says, “The real story is this: There were thousands of reported illegal/fake voter registrations around the country, so some of the Republican State Parties mailed letters welcoming new voters to the newly registered voters. … The Republican State Parties ultimately wanted to show that thousands of fraudulent registrations had been completed.”
Uh, oh. Griffin’s now admitted the costly mailings were part of a scheme to hunt down “fraudulent” voters. That conflicts with the official version told us on camera and mailed to BBC TV (posted on the network’s website).
Further, in an August email exchange between Goodling and Gonzales Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson, Goodling strategizes about how to get around a press report that, “…in the Senate confirmation process, [Griffin is] likely to endure some questioning about his role in massive Republican projects in Florida and elsewhere by which Republicans challenged tens of thousands of absentee votes. Coincidentally, many of those challenged votes were concentrated in black precincts.”
“Coincidentally,” my arse. Only 13% of Florida’s registered voters are African-American.
Well, that’s being picky. The key thing is that Griffin’s moaning email of February 5 combined with the others shows that Griffin knew, indeed directed, the ‘caging’ operation; that it was aimed at challenging voters who, disproportionately, are Black.
I have no doubt that when Goodling showed these incredibly ill-considered emails to her lawyer, he said, “Monica, looks like you’re taking the Fifth.”
And note: Griffin’s sending this email to Goodling while he’s a sitting US prosecutor. How dumb can you get? This dumb: He adds, “The Republican State Parties wanted to show that thousands of fraudulent voter registrations had been completed. They ultimately did.”
Oh, no they didn’t. And that brings us full circle: to the prosecutor firings. None of the honest US Attorneys found a single “fraudulent voter” in the hundreds of thousands that were challenged as a result of ‘caging.’ US Attorney for New Mexico David Iglesias went on a wild goose chase through 150 cases until the FBI told him to stop wasting their time. He brought no charges — and got the axe from Goodling, Griffin and Rove. Bud Cummins too: not one “fraudulent voter” charged in Arkansas. He also got the heave-ho — and Griffin stepped in himself to take over the hunt for Black voters.
I am writing this on Memorial Day, looking at a list of soldiers on Griffin’s caging list. ‘Coincidentally’ loaded with African-Americans. Coincidentally. Mission Accomplished, Mr. President.
And now back to ‘Drat.’ Karl Rove’s cousin Denny the Rat? I don’t know. I don’t care. He wants all the emails. Sure. There’s several dozen that say, “Caging list” with over 50,000 names. Then what, Mr. Drat? You’ll have to get out of your PJs and do what we did: challenge the Bush-Cheney campaign directly, make hundreds of calls, do a demographic analysis with the experts, endure vicious attacks by the Rove-bots, dismissal by the US press and ignorance of Democratic politicians.
I went through criticisms like Drats when I had the list of so-called “felons” purged from the voter rolls by Katherine Harris in 2000. The same damn griping came from Republican trogs and Internet poseurs: we want the whole list, all your raw data; how do you know these are innocent voters etc. Yes, I made mistakes. My initial investigation disclosed my team’s report that “15%” of the 56,000 so-called felons were innocent. I was wrong. After People for the American Way filed a suit based on our discovery, the state’s contractor, ChoicePoint, admitted it had no solid evidence on 97% of the accused, 97,000 citizens in total. And the state Attorney General told me that there were, out of the thousands disenfranchised, maybe SIX illegal voters. In the end, he charged none.
But Griffin is now in position to bring charges against the voters that Cummins found innocent.
Will that happen? Indeed, the ‘caging’ game of 2004, unchecked, looks like practice for 2008. The voters challenged, ‘coincidentally’ Black, remain subject to challenge today and for next year’s election.
Why haven’t I turned over the evidence to Congressional committees? Who said they’d accept it? Bobby Kennedy’s tried to get their attention. The Congressional White Caucus is pointedly uninterested. I’m told, “Griffin’s just an interim appointment.”
Yes, “interim” through the 2008 election.
Well, as a journalist, it’s not my job to save the Democratic Party from itself.
It is not true, as Mr./Ms. Drat says, that I’ve accused the Democrats of wanting to use Rove’s caging tactics. Democrats have not run a mass challenge operation since the Jim Crow era. However, the party does act like an abused spouse, a group of enablers who evidence symptoms of “beaten party syndrome.”
Nothing I can do about that.
My conversation with the Drats of this world must end here. If you want to debate me, first read my book. If you want to criticize my methods, make sure your method includes some on-the-ground investigative work.
Otherwise, let me spend my one weekend off this month with my kids before I fly off to Washington, Michigan and London where, for BBC, I’ll be meeting with the Justice Department, Chairman Conyers and others — on an investigation even more important than ‘caging,’ persecuted prosecutors, or anything Mr. Drat can imagine … something, Mr. Drat that makes me very dangerous indeed to this regime.
Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, the newly expanded edition of, “Armed Madhouse: from Baghdad to New Orleans — Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild.” Www.GregPalast.com
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’ …more
On a single day, December 7, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales demanded the resignations of 8 United States Attorneys. What was really the purpose of the firings – and who was behind it? Investigative journalist Greg Palast reports.
AMY GOODMAN: Perhaps the most well known of these US attorneys is ousted New Mexico prosecutor David Iglesias. His case has been at the center of the political firestorm. Investigative journalist Greg Palast has been closely following this story. He files this report. TOM CRUISE: Your honor, I’d like to ask for a recess. I’d like an answer to the question, Judge.
J.A. PRESTON: The court will wait for an answer.
GREG PALAST: This past December 7 was not the first time United States prosecutor David Iglesias had been brutally cut loose. In the 1992 film A Few Good Men, Tom Cruise plays David Iglesias, the true story of the young military defense lawyer fighting to uncover the truth.
TOM CRUISE: I want the truth!
JACK NICHOLSON: You can’t handle the truth!
GREG PALAST: Greg Palast.
DAVID IGLESIAS: Greg, hi. David Iglesias.
GREG PALAST: Hey, how are you, Captain?
DAVID IGLESIAS: Hey, I’m doing just fine. Thank you.
GREG PALAST: So can you handle the truth or not?
DAVID IGLESIAS: Absolutely.
GREG PALAST: Captain Iglesias, the US prosecutor, knew something was very wrong when, just a week before the 2006 midterm elections, he received a strange and threatening call to his home. It was his state’s senior senator, the powerful Republican leader Pete Domenici on the line, pushing Iglesias to file criminal charges against a Democrat before the election.
DAVID IGLESIAS: I’m sitting in my bedroom, and here’s the killer point, Greg. He says, “Are these going to get filed before November?” And I said I didn’t think so. And the line goes dead. In other words, our senior senator hung up on me. A terribly inappropriate call.
GREG PALAST: Inappropriate, certainly. Obstruction of justice, possibly.
DAVID IGLESIAS: He basically wanted to know: are you going to file these cases that can help Heather out? That was the subtext. I felt terrible after that phone call.
GREG PALAST: By “helping Heather,” he meant Congresswoman Heather Wilson, then candidate Heather Wilson. The race was a dead heat. Domenici wanted him to bust a Democrat to help Wilson. Still, Iglesias tried to be the loyal party man, even covering up the threatening call.
Did you report this phone call to anyone at the time?
DAVID IGLESIAS: I did not, and I should have. There is a requirement under the US attorney’s manual for us to report that kind of contact from a member of Congress. I didn’t do that.
GREG PALAST: But that act of loyalty wasn’t good enough for Karl Rove, the President’s political advisor. Rove flew to New Mexico just before the election and got an earful of complaints about Iglesias from state party chiefs. Rove reported to President Bush, who personally put the heat on Attorney General Gonzales. Iglesias was stunned.
DAVID IGLESIAS: I had no idea that a few local yokels in New Mexico would have enough stroke to get the President to complain.
GREG PALAST: There was more than failing to help the Wilson campaign. In the 2004 presidential election, Republican operatives blocked a quarter-million new voters nationwide from voting on grounds they brought the wrong IDs to the poles. To justify this massive blockade, Republican officials wanted Iglesias to arrest some voters to create a high publicity show trial. Iglesias went along with the game. Just before the 2004 election, he held a press conference announcing the creation of a vote fraud task force. But the prosecutor drew the line at arresting innocent voters.
DAVID IGLESIAS: They were telling Rove that I wasn’t doing their bidding. I wasn’t filing these voter fraud cases.
GREG PALAST: The evidence fellow Republicans gave him was junk. He refused to bring a single prosecution.
DAVID IGLESIAS: It was the old throwing pasta at the wall trick, that he’s throwing up pasta. Something’s got to stick, and it didn’t.
GREG PALAST: For failing to bring the voting cases, Iglesias paid with his job.
DAVID IGLESIAS: They wanted a political operative who happened to be a US attorney, and when they got somebody who actually took his oath to the Constitution seriously, they were appalled and they wanted me out of there. The two strikes against me was, I was not political, I didn’t help them out on their bogus voter fraud prosecutions.
GREG PALAST: Rove personally ordered his removal. As a prosecutor, Iglesias says that if missing emails prove the firing was punishment for failure to bring bogus charges, Mr. Rove himself is in legal trouble.
DAVID IGLESIAS: If his intent was, look what happened with Iglesias, if that was his intent, he’s in big trouble. That is obstruction of justice, one classic example.
GREG PALAST: Iglesias believes the real reasons for the firings are in what are called the missing emails, emails sent by the Rove team using Republican Party campaign computers, which Rove claims can’t be retrieved. But not all the missing emails are missing. We have 500 of them. Apparently the Rove team misaddressed their emails, and late one night they all ended up in our inboxes in our offices in New York City.
And as Iglesias predicted, they reveal a story the party would rather keep buried. Voting rights attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., reviewed the evidence in our cache of emails and concluded:
ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR.: They ought to be in jail for doing this, because they knew it was illegal, and they did it anyway.
GREG PALAST: What is it that was so obviously illegal that law professor Kennedy thought they deserved prison time? The evidence that shook him was attached to fifty of the secret emails, something that GOP party chiefs called caging lists, thousands of names of voters. Notably, the majority were African American. Kennedy explained how caging worked.
ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR.: Caging is an illegal way of getting rid of black votes. You get a list of all the black voters. Then you send a letter to their homes. And if the person doesn’t sign it at the homes, the letter then is returned to the Republican National Committee. They then direct the state attorney general, who is friendly to them, who’s Republican, to remove that voter from the list on the alleged basis that that voter does not live in the address that they designated as their address on the voting application form.
GREG PALAST: In all, the Republican Party challenged nearly three million voters, a mass attack on minority voting rights virtually unreported in the US press.
ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR.: So they disenfranchised millions of black voters who don’t even know that they’ve been disenfranchised.
GREG PALAST: Page after page of voters with this address, Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, hundreds, thousands of soldiers and sailors targeted to lose their vote. Go to Baghdad, lose your vote.
And what does this have to do with the prosecutor firings? Take a look at the name at the top of the secret missing email: Tim Griffin. This is the man in charge of the allegedly illegal caging operation. He is research director for the Republican National Committee, special assistant to Karl Rove, and as of December 7 Karl Rove’s personal pick for US attorney for the state of Arkansas. Is this a case of the perpetrator becomes the prosecutor? For Democracy Now! this is Greg Palast.
JACK NICHOLSON: We use words like honor, code, loyalty.
GREG PALAST: Is Tom Cruise going to play you in this follow-up?
DAVID IGLESIAS: He’s more handsome, but I’m quite a bit taller, so I’ve got that on him.
AMY GOODMAN: And that was the excerpt of A Few Good Men from Greg Palast’s piece. Greg Palast, investigative journalist, his latest book just out on paperback called Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans, Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild. Greg Palast joins us in the studio now.
Greg, I just want to start where you left off and started this film: A Few Good Men. I don’t think most people understand this about David Iglesias.
GREG PALAST: Yes, well, Iglesias was the guy played by Tom Cruise in the film A Few Good Men, which is a real story about how a young military attorney stood up to military brass to uncover the truth. And somehow they thought that this — you know, this Tom —
AMY GOODMAN: This was the hazing of a young man, a soldier, who was killed.
GREG PALAST: Yeah, who was killed. And it was covered up. And, you know, he just wanted to get to the truth. That was David Iglesias. Now, here he is again, you know, standing up to the brass. I mean, one of the things we have to be very careful of is — you know, I’m not going to say he’s a man for all season — he went along just before the 2004 election and held a big splashy press conference, saying, “Yes, I’m going to go and look for voter fraud,” that there are — you know, it looks like there may be thousands of fraudulent voters.
Understand what this is about. This is to create a hysteria so they could pass legislation which would require voters to show up with ID. A quarter-million voters were turned away for having the wrong ID, but no one was arrested. So Karl Rove and his assistant Tim Griffin are in a panic. You’re turning away thousands of voters, you’re not arresting any. So he’s asking Iglesias, demanding Iglesias — and now we know a half dozen others, almost everyone that was fired — they demand that they just grab people. That’s where Iglesias drew the line in the sand. He said a press conference is one thing, which he probably shouldn’t have done, but literally handcuffing innocent voters for show trials — and then, of course, then you drop the case later — that is one thing he absolutely was not going to do. He was going to give up his job.
He also made the mistake — when he got calls from Senator Pete Domenici asking for inside information, pushing him to arrest Democrats a week before the midterm election of 2006, that was another attempt at what could be obstruction of justice. The US code for US attorneys requires that he turn in Senator Domenici, which he admits he didn’t do. And now he regrets that, but he said, “You know, I want the evidence out there anyway, even if it shows that I failed to act.”
AMY GOODMAN: And Healther Wilson, of course, also called, and Heather Wilson at the time in an extremely close race for her political life as a congress member from New Mexico.
GREG PALAST: Well, in fact, from my investigation, she didn’t win. There was voter fraud, and that the majority of the votes went to the Democrats.
Another thing is that Iglesias did not, unfortunately, investigate the other side of the coin, which is this massive denial of votes, systematic by Republican operatives. Now, what we have and what we showed in the film is that when I was investigating for BBC and for Democracy Now! back in 2004, we got 500 of the so-called missing emails of Karl Rove. They were, you know — Karl Rove, people think he’s an evil genius, but that’s only about half right. I mean, he’s not necessarily the sharpest knife in the drawer, and he and his guys were mistyping their email addresses, sent them to georgewbush.org, instead of dotcom, which is an email domain owned by friends of ours, who shot them right to us.
We went through the 500, and what we found were this massive plan to deny the right to vote — I mean, extraordinarily targeting African American soldiers sent overseas. They’d send them a letter to their home address. The letter would come back. They say, “Gee, they don’t live there. They shouldn’t be allowed to vote.” Their absentee ballot would come in from overseas, and it would be challenged. They would lose their vote. They wouldn’t even know it. Now, when we showed this to several voting rights attorneys, including, as you heard, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. — now, he was really shaken up. That’s when he said these guys should be in jail. So this is the other side of this whole issue involving the prosecutors.
And who did this? Who was in charge of this? It wasn’t Rove personally. He had put Tim Griffin in charge. Griffin is the guy who, with Rove, picked out the US attorneys to be fired and then had himself named by Rove — had himself named by Rove to the spot as US attorney for Arkansas. So what we may have here is a case of the perpetrator of voter fraud becoming the prosecutor. I mean, it is — and what this is all about — in fact, I have an internal Tim Griffin email — what this is all about is, he says it’s all about the votes. This is about the 2008 election, a panic to get their people in place for 2008 to create hysteria about voter ID, knock out minority voters, especially Hispanic, and to put in their people who are experienced in knocking out voters.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to go more into this after break. We’re talking to Greg Palast. His book just came out on paperback. It’s called Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Greg Palast, investigative journalist, author of Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans. Investigative journalist Murray Waas reported last week the Bush administration has withheld emails showing senior White House and Justice Department officials collaborated to conceal the role of White House strategist Karl Rove in installing his former deputy, Timothy Griffin as US attorney in Arkansas. The emails show that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s former chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, worked with White House officials on two letters that misled Congress on the appointment and also Rove’s role in that. Greg?
GREG PALAST: Well, yeah. They were covering up the fact that Tim Griffin was Rove’s right-hand man. And you have to understand, Rove, as the political director at the White House, was deeply involved in targeting and taking out the US attorneys who were recalcitrant and wouldn’t start handcuffing Hispanic voters on false voter charges. They also know that it’s a slippery slope, because they know that I have 500 of the so-called missing emails.
In fact, that’s one of the points that — in one of their internal emails, which was actually subpoenaed by the committee, they’re complaining about that guy, the British reporter — that’s Greg Palast. As you realize, Amy, I’m American. But, of course, my reports are exiled to BBC Britain, and then they come back here through Democracy Now!, bless you. But they’re saying that these reports about Griffin’s role have not been picked up in the US media, in the US national media. And they’re kind of right. I mean, this material has not come through the US media.
They don’t want Griffin’s role opened up, because once they have the role of Griffin in the firings opened up, they’ll ask why that happened. They will find and discover these emails, and, in fact, now that they’re public, will turn them over to the Conyers committee, and then they’ll find out that Griffin was deeply involved in the removal of legal voters. And now you’re getting into potential felony area. That’s a very serious business. So they want to stop the slippery slope of bringing in Griffin and revealing the entire chain of emails, not just his involvement in the firings, but what led up to it, and that brings us to the emails that you just saw on our report.
AMY GOODMAN: In this whole scandal, we keep hearing about voter fraud, voter fraud. But can you explain what is being talked about here with this aggressive effort to restrict, particularly people of color, voting in battleground states?
GREG PALAST: What happened is that the Republican Party was running a massive campaign directed by Karl Rove and, we know, Tim Griffin, from the written emails, to block voters’ votes or to challenge their votes. One way to challenge voters was to say that they were stealing someone else’s identity. Someone is voting for Amy Goodman. Well, they say, the solution is to create ID cards. The problem is we can’t find anyone anywhere who has committed this crime of stealing Amy Goodman’s name to vote. People are not willing to go to jail to vote in some school board election or even for the presidency.
What Griffin, Rove’s assistant, wanted Iglesias to do — they gave them 110 names. They wanted them, for example, to arrest some guy named, say, roughly, if I remember, like Juan Gonzalez, and say he voted twice, stealing someone’s ID. Well, in New Mexico there may be two guys named Juan Gonzalez. So Iglesias just thought this was absolute junk, absolute junk stuff, and he wouldn’t do it. So it’s all about trying to create a hysteria about fraudulent voting.
There are 120 million people that voted, and I can’t find an actual case out of 120 of a prosecution that — a real prosecution of any single voter for voter identity theft. There is like five cases in the country involving some minor offices. That’s it. So it’s a complete false prosecution set-up, kind of like the Soviet Union: just grab people, put them on show trials, maybe let them go later, maybe they languish in jail.
On the other side, they’re covering up their own program, programmatic challenge of voters, which is not covered in the US press. Three million people were challenged. By the way, this isn’t, you know, from the Democracy Now! black helicopter. This is from the raw data of the United States Election Assistance Commission: three million challenges. These votes were basically lost. Over a million votes were lost. Half a million absentee ballots were thrown out, and many, many of those were votes of African American and Hispanic soldiers that went to Iraq, got their ballots challenged under this Karl Rove-Tim Griffin scheme, and they lost their vote. And they didn’t even know that they lost their vote. So all of this is being covered up.
And so, they cannot now — they don’t want to open up the whole story of Tim Griffin, how he became US attorney, what his role was, because it goes all the way back. And what David Iglesias was saying, US attorney, now captain — by the way, he’s back in the military — Captain Iglesias was saying, if you can show this chain of intent, that it’s all about the voting and he’s being punished for not bringing these false prosecutions, he says, that’s an obstruction of justice charge that can be brought against Karl Rove.
And, by the way, one little sidelight on that is that Captain Iglesias, one of the excuses that they try to give for firing him, Amy, was that he was absent for too many days from office. They didn’t mention that he was absent because he was on active duty in the US Naval Reserve. He is now, by the way, bringing the very first claim ever. You cannot fire someone for doing their duty in the US Naval Reserve. He’s now filing a charge against the commander-in-chief, George Bush, for attempting to fire him for simply showing up for active duty.
AMY GOODMAN: The Arkansas Leader reported enterprising reporters examining Griffin’s fanciful resume discovered his blistering record as a prosecutor was nothing more than paper shuffling in short stints in the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps and federal prosecutor offices. He had never taken a single case to trial. His career had consisted almost altogether of political hatchet work.
GREG PALAST: Well, you have to look at what’s going on here. You’ve replaced Iglesias, who is, you know, the Tom Cruise lawyer who has real experience as a prosecutor, as a trial lawyer from the military. They remove him, and they put in a paper shuffler — worse, someone who is actually shuffling voters’ papers that he shouldn’t be shuffling. You saw the kind of emotional reaction of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., voting rights attorney. He was the most emotional, because you have to imagine — remember that his father, his late father, was the predecessor to Alberto Gonzales. Imagine, we’ve gone from Robert F, Kennedy, Sr., to Roberto Gonzales.
AMY GOODMAN: Alberto.
GREG PALAST: Yeah. And you can, you know — from Kennedy’s, this was very an emotional issue. To see the office that his father used to protect civil rights being used deliberately to attack civil rights is a very serious business. But, again, here he is saying, and Iglesias is suggesting now with this evidence, that it rises now to obstruction of justice.
AMY GOODMAN: And, interestingly, McClatchy Newspapers reporting, as part of the strategy, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has sought to roll back policies to protect minority voting rights. On virtually every significant decision affecting election balloting since 2001, the division’s voting rights section has come down on the side of Republicans.
GREG PALAST: Well, even worse, what’s not covered there is that they covered up the active attack on legal voters. I mean, you’re talking — the caging lists that we have, in the 500 sheets, the 500 emails, we have 70,000 names. That’s one state. This was a multimillion-dollar, gold-plated attack operation on the right of minority voters to vote. And, obviously, Griffin knew it, because he was in charge of it. So you actually have the guys who are supposed to be protecting voters are either actively covering up or even actively participating in knocking out legal voters. I mean, it’s like the mob has grabbed the police department. That’s the problem, by the way, with voter fraud — with real voter fraud, not the phony stuff of grabbing the Juan Gonzalezes of New Mexico — if you win, you’ve now grabbed the apparatus of protection and enforcement. It’s the perfect crime.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to leave it there. I want to thank you very much, Greg Palast, for joining us. Greg, an investigative journalist, latest book just out in paperbook called Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans, Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild.