On January 23, right after a phone call from Donald Trump, Juan Guaidó, former speaker of Venezuela's National Assembly, declared himself president. No voting. When you have official recognition from The Donald, who needs elections? ...more
While pundits are falling all over themselves spewing about the "civility" of the patrician George H. W. Bush, l must honor the memory those 50 men who were buried alive in a gold field in Africa so Bush Sr. could cash in.
To me, this is the most important story of my career â€” and almost ended it when Bush's gold mining company sued my ...more
You made fun of me when I suggested that President Barack Obama would nominate a confessed bank scammer, a loan-sharking mortgage predator, to his cabinet.Â But thar she blows!
Today, Obama has named Penny Pritzker Secretary of Commerce. As the President says, It’s a milestone:Â the first female fraudster to hold that post. No longer will criminal bankers have to lobby the administration – because now they’ll have one of their own in the Cabinet.
The following is taken from the Chapter, “Penny’s from Heaven?” you’ll find in my bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits.Â [Get a copy, I’ll sign it, and you send it to the President.]
We never heard of this guy Barack Obama until 2004. Less than three years before taking the presidency, he was in the Illinois state senate, a swamp of scammers, backhanders, and party machine tools – not a stellar launch pad for the White House. And then, one day, state Sen. Barack Obama was visited by his fairy godmother. Her name is Penny Pritzker.
Pritzker’s net worth is listed in Forbes as $1.8 billion, which is one hell of a heavy magic wand in the world of politics. Her wand would have been heavier, and her net worth higher, except that in 2001, the federal government fined her and her family $460 million for the predatory, deceitful, racist tactics and practices of Superior, the bank-and-loan-shark operation she ran on the South Side of Chicago.
Superior was the first of the deregulated go-go banks to go bust – at the time, the costliest failure ever. US taxpayers lost nearly half a billion dollars. Superior’s depositors lost millions and poor folk in Sen. Obama’s South Side district lost their homes.
Penny did not like paying $460 million. No, not one bit. What she needed …more
I still get a thrill whenever I get my hands on a confidential memo with “The White House, Washington” appearing on the letterhead. Even whenâ€”like the one I’m looking at nowâ€”it’s about a snoozy topic: This week’s G-20 summit.
The 6-page letter from the White House, dated September 3, was sent to the 20 heads of state that will meet this Thursday in Pittsburgh. After some initial diplo-blather, our President’s “sherpa” for the summit, Michael Froman, does a little victory dance, announcing that the recession has been defeated. “Global equity markets have risen 35 percent since the end of March,” writes Froman. In other words, the stock market is up and all’s well.
Fired US Prosecutor levels new charges against GOP operatives.
Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for Huffington Post
Virtually the entire mainstream electronic media drank ACORN Kool-Aid this month brewed up by the Republican National Committee. Almost no one seriously challenged John McCain’s comical assertions that ACORN, a grassroots voter registration group, “is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”
While the Republicans had the distracted media searching for links between Obama and ACORN, RNC operatives were busily completing one of the most massive voter suppression and purging efforts in American history, stealing hundreds of thousands of Democratic votes across the embattled swing states and striving to arrange chaos and endless lines at the voting booths next week.
First the facts about ACORN. Months ago, we obtained, as part of our investigation for Rolling Stone magazine, the Republican’s list the GOP alleged were the very worst cases of vote and registration fraud by ACORN and similar groups. We went through the names the GOP asserted were “obviously, undeniably and clearly fraudulent” voter registrations.
First, there was Melissa Tais, a dubious ACORN registrant. Her two voter registration forms show, admittedly, suspiciously different signatures. Republicans suggested Melissa was part of a massive fraud to allow Democrats to vote twice.
They were wrong. Ms. Tais, a Cerrillos, New Mexico, waitress, told us she had signed one form on a table and one form holding the paper in her hand. Hence, a second, wobbly signature.
Then there was Patricia White, who Republicans claimed was a fictitious voter. When we filmed her at home in Albuquerque, she seemed real enough.
And so on, through the entire GOP list — not one fraud. And these were their best cases out of the five million “illegal voters” who Republican leaders claim have infiltrated America’s voting rolls.
The overblown histrionics about ACORN do not surprise those of us who have been watching the RNC’s election manipulation antics. For eight years White House operatives have been trying to gin up press stories about voter fraud. David Iglesias of New Mexico was one of seven U.S. Attorneys fired by the White House for their refusal to bring voter fraud prosecutions. “We took over 100 complaints,” from the GOP, he told us, “We investigated for almost 2 years, I didn’t find one prosecutable voter fraud case in the entire state of New Mexico.”
Iglesias, a McCain supporter, has, for the first time, leveled a new and serious charge: Despite finding none of the 200 voters guilty, he says the White House nevertheless ordered him to illegally prosecute baseless cases against innocent citizens, just to gin up voter fraud publicity. His refusal, he says, cost him his job. “They were looking for politicized — for improperly politicized US attorneys to file bogus voter fraud cases.”
Read the rest of the article at HuffingtonPost.com
Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. are authors of an investigation of vote suppression in the current Rolling Stone, and a comic book voter guide, “Steal Back Your Vote,” both available for download at StealBackYourVote.org. …more
Posted July 9, 2003
This excerpt is taken from Greg Palast’s book The Best Democracy Money Can Buy available from www.gregpalast.com
George W. could not have amassed this pile if his surname were Jones or Smith. While other candidates begged, pleaded and wheedled for donations, the Bushes added a creative, lucrative new twist to the money chase that contenders couldn’t imitate: “Poppy” Bush’s postâ€“White House work. It laid the foundation for Dubya’s campaign kitty corpulence and, not incidentally, raised the family’s net worth by several hundred percent.
In 1998, for example, the former president and famed Desert Stormtrooper-in-Chief wrote to the oil minister of Kuwait on behalf of Chevron Oil Corporation. Bush says, honestly, that he “had no stake in the Chevron operation.” True, but following this selfless use of his influence, the oil company put $657,000 into the Republican Party coffers.
That year Bush pÃ¨re created a storm in Argentina when he lobbied his close political ally, President Carlos Menem, to grant a gambling license to Mirage Casino Corporation. Once again, the senior Bush wrote that he had no personal interest in the deal. However, Bush fils made out quite nicely: After the casino fiap, Mirage dropped $449,000 into the Republican Party war chest.
Much of Bush’s loot, reports the Center for Responsive Politics, came in the form of “bundled” and “soft” money. That’s the squishy stuff corporations use to ooze around U.S. law, which prohibits any direct donations from corporations.
Not all of the elder Bush’s work is voluntary. His single talk to the board of Global Crossing, the telecom start-up, earned him stock worth $13 million when the company went public. Global Crossing’s employees also kicked in another million for the younger Bush’s run. (We’ll meet Global Crossing again in Chapter 3.)
And while the Bush family steadfastly believes that ex-felons should not have the right to vote for president, they have no objection to ex-cons putting presidents on their payroll. In 1996, despite pleas by U.S. church leaders, Poppy Bush gave several speeches (he charges $100,000 per talk) sponsored by organizations run by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, cult leader, tax cheatâ€”and formerly the guest of the U.S. federal prison system. Some of the loot for the Republican effort in the 1997â€“2000 election cycles came from an outfit called Barrick Corporation.
The sum, while over $100,000, is comparatively small change for the GOP, yet it seemed quite a gesture for a corporation based in Canada. Technically, the funds came from those associated with the Canadian’s U.S. unit, Barrick Gold Strike.
They could well afford it. In the final days of the Bush (Senior) administration, the Interior Department made an extraordinary but little noticed change in procedures under the 1872 Mining Law, the gold rushâ€“era act that permitted those whiskered small-time prospectors with their tin pans and mules to stake claims on their tiny plots. The department initiated an expedited procedure for mining companies that allowed Barrick to swiftly lay claim to the largest gold find in America. In the terminology of the law, Barrick could “perfect its patent” on the estimated $10 billion in oreâ€”for which Barrick paid the U.S. Treasury a little under $10,000. Eureka!
Barrick, of course, had to put up cash for the initial property rights and the cost of digging out the booty (and the cost of donations, in smaller amounts, to support Nevada’s Democratic senator, Harry Reid). Still, the shift in rules paid off big time: According to experts at the Mineral Policy Center of Washington, DC, Barrick savedâ€”and the U.S. taxpayer lostâ€”a cool billion or so. Upon taking office, Bill Clinton’s new interior secretary, Bruce Babbitt, called Barrick’s claim the “biggest gold heist since the days of Butch Cassidy.” Nevertheless, because the company followed the fast-track process laid out for them under Bush, this corporate Goldfinger had Babbitt by the legal nuggets. Clinton had no choice but to give them the gold mine while the public got the shaft.
Barrick says it had no contact whatsoever with the president at the time of the rules change. There was always a place in Barrick’s heart for the older Bushâ€”and a place on its payroll. In 1995, Barrick hired the former president as Honorary Senior Advisor to the Toronto company’s International Advisory Board. Bush joined at the suggestion of former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney, who, like Bush, had been ignominiously booted from office. I was a bit surprised that the president had signed on. When Bush was voted out of the White House, he vowed never to lobby or join a corporate board. The chairman of Barrick openly boasts that granting the title “Senior Advisor” was a sly maneuver to help Bush tiptoe around this promise.
I was curious: What does one do with a used president? Barrick vehemently denies that it appointed Bush “in order to procure him to make contact with other world leaders whom he knows, or who could be of considerable assistance” to the company. Yet, in September 1996, Bush wrote a letter to help convince Indonesian dictator Suharto to give Barrick a new, hot gold-mining concession.
Bush’s letter seemed to do the trick. Suharto took away 68 percent of the world’s largest goldfield from the finder of the ore and handed it to Barrick. However, Bush’s lobbying magic isn’t invincible. Jim Bob Moffett, a tough old Louisiana swamp dog who heads Freeport-McMoRan, Barrick’s American rival, met privately with Suharto. When Suharto emerged from their meeting, the kleptocrat announced that Freeport would replace Bush’s Canadians. (Barrick lucked out: The huge ore deposit turned out to be a hoax. When the con was uncovered, Jim Bob’s associates invited geologist Mike de Guzman, who “discovered” the gold, to talk about the error of his ways. Unfortunately, on the way to the meeting, de Guzman fell out of a helicopter.)
Who is this “Barrick” to whom our former president would lease out the reflected prestige of the Oval Office? I could not find a Joe Barrick in the Canadian phone book. Rather, the company as it operates today was founded by one Peter Munk. The entrepreneur first came to public notice in Canada in the 1960s as a central figure in an insider trading scandal. Munk had dumped his stock in a stereo-making factory he controlled just before it went belly up, leaving other investors and government holding the bag. He was never charged, but, notes Canada’s Maclean’s magazine, the venture and stock sale “cost Munk his business and his reputation.” Yet today, Munk’s net worth is estimated at $350 million, including homes on two continents and his own island.
How did he go from busted stereo maker to demi-billionaire goldbug? The answer: Adnan Khashoggi, the Saudi arms dealer, the “bag man” in the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostage scandals. The man who sent guns to the ayatolla teamed up with Munk on hotel ventures and, ultimately, put up the cash to buy Barrick in 1983, then a tiny company with an “unperfected” claim on the Nevada mine. You may recall that Bush pardoned the coconspirators who helped Khashoggi arm the Axis of Evil, making charges against the sheik all but impossible. (Bush pardoned the conspirators not as a favor to Khashoggi, but to himself.)
Khashoggi got out of Barrick just after the Iran-Contra scandal broke, long before 1995, when Bush was invited in. By that time, Munk’s reputation was restored, at least in his own mind, in part by massive donations to the University of Toronto. Following this act of philanthropy, the university awarded Munkâ€“adviser Bush an honorary degree. Several students were arrested protesting what appeared to them as a cash-for-honors deal.
Mr. Munk’s president-for-hire did not pay the cost of his rental in Indonesia. The return on Barrick’s investment in politicians would have to come from Africa.
Mobutu Sese Seko, the late dictator of the Congo (Zaire), was one of the undisputed master criminals of the last century having looted hundreds of millions of dollars from his national treasuryâ€” and a golfing buddy of the senior Bush. That old link from the links probably did not hurt Barrick in successfully seeking an eighty-thousand-acre gold-mining concession from the Congolese cutthroat. Bush himself did not lobby the deal for Barrick. It wasn’t that the former president was squeamish about using the authority of his former posts to cut deals with a despot. Rather, at the time Bush was reportedly helping Adolf Lundin, Barrick’s sometime industry rival. Africa specialist Patrick Smith of London disclosed that Bush called Mobutu in 1996 to help cinch a deal for Lundin for a mine distant from Barrick’s.
Rebellion against Mobutu made the mine site unusable, though not for the company’s lack of trying. In testimony in hearings convened by the minority leader of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Human Rights, expert Wayne Madsen alleged that Barrick, to curry favor with both sides, indirectly funded both and thereby inadvertently helped continue the bloody conflict. The allegation, by respected journalist Wayne Madsen, has not been substantiated: The truth is lost somewhere in the jungle, where congressional investigators will never tread.
Though Barrick struck out in Indonesia and the Congo, the big payoff came from the other side of the continent. The company’s president bragged to shareholders that the prestige of the Mulroney-Bush advisory board was instrumental in obtaining one of the biggest goldfields in East Africa at Bulyanhulu, Tanzania. Barrick, according to its president, had hungered for that concessionâ€”holding an estimated $3 billion in bullionâ€”since the mid-1990s, when it first developed its contacts with managers at Sutton Resources, another Canadian company, which held digging rights from the government. (See footnote 1.) Enriched by the Nevada venture, Barrick could, and eventually would, buy up Sutton. But in 1996, there was a problem with any takeover of Sutton: Tens of thousands of small-time prospectors, “jewelry miners,” so called because of their minuscule finds, already lived and worked on the land. These poor African diggers held legal claim stakes to their tiny mine shafts on the property. If they stayed, the concession was worthless.
In August 1996, Sutton’s bulldozers, backed by military police firing weapons, rolled across the goldfield, smashing down worker housing, crushing their mining equipment and filling in their pits. Several thousand miners and their families were chased off the property. But not all of them. About fifty miners were still in their mine shafts, buried alive.
Buried alive. It’s not on Bush’s resume, nor on Barrick’s Web site. You wouldn’t expect it to be. But then, you haven’t found it in America’s newspapers either.
There are two plausible explanations for this silence. First, it never happened; the tale of the live burials is a complete fabrication of a bunch of greedy, lying Black Africans trying to shake down Sutton Resources (since 1999, a Barrick subsidiary). That’s what Barrick says after conducting its own diligence investigation and relying on local and national investigations by the Tanzanian government. And the company’s view is backed by the World Bank. See Chapter 8 of my book “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy” for more on this.
There’s another explanation: Barrick threatens and sues newspapers and human rights organizations that dare to breathe a word of the allegationsâ€”even if Barrick’s denials are expressed. I know: They sued my papers, the Observer and Guardian. Barrick even sent a letter to the internationally respected human rights lawyer Tundu Lissu, a fellow at the World Resources Institute in Washington, DC, outlining its suit against the Observer and warning that it would take “all necessary steps” to protect its reputation should the Institute repeat any of the allegations. Barrick’s threats are the least of Lissu’s problems. For supplying me with evidenceâ€”photos of a corpse of a man allegedly killed by police during the clearance of the mine site, notarized witness statements, even a police video of workers seeking bodies from the mine pitsâ€”and for Lissu’s demanding investigation of the killings, his law partners in Dar es Salaam have been arrested and Lissu charged by the Tanzanian government with sedition.
In 1997, while Bush was on the board (he quit in 1999), Mother Jones magazine named Barrick’s chairman Munk one of America’s “10 Little Piggies”â€”quite an honor for a Canadianâ€”for allegedly poisoning the West’s water supply with the tons of cyanide Barrick uses to melt mountains of ore.
Notably, one of the first acts of the junior Bush’s Interior Department in 2001 was to indicate it would reverse Clinton administration rules requiring gold extractors to limit the size of waste dumps and to permit new mines even if they were likely to cause “substantial, irreparable harm.” The New York Times ran a long, front-page story on this rule-relaxing windfall for Nevada goldmining companies, but nowhere did the Times mention the name of the owner of the largest gold mine in Nevada, Barrick, nor its recent payroller, the president’s father.
 Barrick has responded to every allegation reported in my first report on the company in a manner certain to get my attention: The company and its chairman sued my papers, Guardian and the Observer. While I have a distaste for retort by tort, I have incorporated their legitimate concerns to ensure their views are acknowledged in Chapter 8 of my book “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy”
 A bit of confusion here: Barrick swore to my paper that the alleged killings “related to a time years before [Barrick] had any connection whatsoever with the company to which the report referred.” Yet Barrick’s president and CEO, Randall Oliphant, told Barrick’s shareholders that prior to their acquisition of Sutton, “we followed the progress at Bully (i.e., Bulyanhulu) for five years, remaining in close contact with the senior management team.” That would connect them to the mine in 1994. The mining company wants me to report their version of events. Okay, here’s both of them.
Greg Palast is an investigative reporter for BBC television and author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (Penguin/Plume 2003). You can read more of Greg’s writings and order the book at www.gregpalast.com.
The â€˜Boo ainâ€™t no N.O.
Plus: George Bush, Flame Retard
What color is your disaster? It makes a difference. A life and death difference.
Population of San Diego fire evacuation zone: 500,000
Population of the New Orleans flood evacuation zone: 500,000
White folk as a % of evacuees, San Diego: 66%
Black folk as % of evacuees, New Orleans: 67%
Size counts, too. Size of your wallet, that is:
Evacuees in San Diego, in poverty: 9%
Evacuees in New Orleans, in poverty: 27%
The numbers would be even uglier, though more revealing, if I included evacuees of the celebrity fire in Malibu.
The President didnâ€™t do a photo-strafing of the scene from 1700 feet this time. Instead, we have the photo op of George, feet on the ground, hanging with Arnold the Action Man. (However, Iâ€™m informed that the President was a bit disappointed that he didnâ€™t get to wear one of those neat fireman hats like Rudi G got at Ground Zero.)
In 2005, while the bodies were still being fished out of flooded homes in New Orleans, Republican Congressman Richard Baker praised The Lord for his mercy. â€œWe finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldnâ€™t do it, but God did,â€ he said about the removal of the poor from the project near the French Quarter much coveted by speculators.
But as this weekâ€™s flames spread, no Republican Congressman cried, â€œBurn baby burn!â€ to praise the Lord for cleaning up them â€˜Boo, the sin-and-surf playground of Hollywood luvvies.
In New Orleans, Godâ€™s covenant with real estate developers has been very profitable. Over 70,000 families
A special investigative report from inside Iraq
Monday, September 17, 2007- Did you see George all choked up? In his surreal TV talk on Thursday, he got all emotional over the killing by Al Qaeda of Sheik Abu Risha, the leader of the new Sunni alliance with the US against the insurgents in Anbar Province, Iraq.
Bush shook Abu Risha’s hand two weeks ago for the cameras. Bush can shake his hand again, but not the rest of him: Abu Risha was blown away just hours before Bush was to go on the air to praise his new friend.
Here’s what you need to know that NPR won’t tell you.
1. Sheik Abu Risha wasn’t a sheik.
2. He wasn’t killed by Al Qaeda.
3. The new alliance with former insurgents in Anbar is as fake as the sheik – and a murderous deceit.
How do I know this? You can see the film – of “Sheik” Abu Risha, of the guys who likely whacked him and of their other victims.
Just in case you think I’ve lost my mind and put my butt in insane danger to get this footage, don’t worry. I was safe and dry in Budapest. It was my brilliant new cameraman, Rick Rowley, who went to Iraq to get the story on his own.
Rick’s “the future of TV news,” says BBC. He’s also completely out of control. Despite our pleas, …more
From the film commercially released this week based on the investigation for Democracy Now! – the story you won’t get on CNN:
“They don’t want no poor niggers back in – that’s the bottom line.”
â€œBy midnight the White House knew – but the state police didn’t know.”
“Stop that camera, we’ve called security.”
“This is criminal negligence for which people go to jail.”
“It is a prison set-up. I’ve never been to the bottom
of the barrel until I came here.”
From the film, Big Easy to Big Empty: The Untold Story of the Drowning of New Orleans, an investigation by Greg Palast for Democracy Now! Re-released this week in DVD including exclusive interviews by Palast and Amy Goodman of heroes and villains – the deep horror, the dark humor and the no-bullshit truth you won’t get on CNN.
Get a copy of the DVD here, watch an excerpt here, watch the hour-long broadcast on Link TV tonight, and read the new chapter on New Orleans in Armed Madhouse click here to buy, or hear it read here.
It’s been two years. And America’s media is about to have another tear-gasm over New Orleans. Maybe Anderson Cooper will weep again. The big networks will float into the moldering corpse of the city and give you uplifting stories about rebuilding and hope.
Now, let’s cut through the cry-baby crap. Here’s what happened two years ago – and what’s happening now.
This is what an inside source told me. And it makes me sick:
“By midnight on Monday, the White House knew. Monday night I was at the state Emergency Operations Center and nobody was aware that the levees had breeched. Nobody.”
The charge is devastating: That, on August 29, 2005,
August 20th, 2007
So it’s that time of year again. The time when the Weather Channel is abuzz with warnings of new disasters in the Gulf Coast, the experts once again start talking about Global Warming’s effect on hurricanes, and finally Anderson Cooper and the rest of the tearful network elite make their trip to the Big Easy. Clad in their linen suits they will talk to the people, sympathize with them, and show all the progress the has occurred in the past two years. Happy stories sell.
There will be little or no discussion of why there was no evacuation plan, why the White House never did tell the locals about the levee breaches or why are people still two years later living in Guantanamo-like camps. We can be sure that the words ‘right to return‘ won’t pass the lips of the talking heads.
It’s stories like that that get reporters in trouble, you lose access, you lose your precious seat in the press conference. Well we find press conferences boring, and we never get called on anyway. The last time we were in Louisiana, Homeland Security was called on us… so we figure we must be doing something right.
You can read a full review of Palast’s writings on New Orleans and Katrina here. Also you can see a clip from the film Big Easy to Big Empty, listen to podcasts and read excerpts from Armed Madhouse.
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 â€¦ 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 Orleansâ€”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 andâ€”you got to love thisâ€”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 vacationâ€”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 outâ€”and Griffin himself has observedâ€”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?” Griffinâ€”who is now in job talks with the Fred Thompson campaignâ€”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 rÃ©sumÃ©.
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 Houseâ€”not the Justice Departmentâ€”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.
Dahlia Lithwick is a Slate senior editor.
Article URL: http://www.slate.com/id/2167284/
Special to the BRADBLOG
May 24, 2007
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
Palast is the author of Armed Madhouse, released last week in a new, expanded edition, in paperback – the newest addition to the New York Times list of non-fiction bestsellers.
(This post has been podcasted please look at the bottom of article to download.)
Before his untimely death in a plane crash, Commerce Secretary Ron Brown said, “I’m not Hillary’s mother-f****** tour guide!”
That wasn’t a nice thing for a member of the President’s cabinet to say about the First Lady, now my Senator, Hillary Clinton.
And it’s probably not polite for me to bring it up now. But if I don’t, surely the Karl Rovarians will – if Senator Mrs. Clinton nails the Presidential nomination. …more
Media Lap Dogs Don’t Dig DeepA changed news culture has let several important investigative stories slip through the cracks
IN AN E-MAIL uncovered and released by the House Judiciary Committee last month, Tim Griffin, once Karl Rove's right-hand man, gloated that "no [U.S.] national press picked up" a BBC Television story reporting that the Rove team had developed an elaborate scheme to ...more
The Department of Homeland Security, after a five-year hunt for Osama, finally brought charges against... Greg Palast.
As America crawled toward the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attack, Homeland Security charged me and my US producer Matt Pascarella with violating the anti-terror laws. Don't you feel safer?
And I confess: we're guilty. ...more
Yeah, whether they like it or not. You know, Karl Rove's team wrote an email complaining about 'that British reporter', but in their dreams they could keep me out. I'm an American and they're well, un-American... ...more