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CIA-DOD Contractor Justifies MD. E-Voting System

Excerpted from the Progressive Review's Undernews news headlines service

Undernews: Coverage Of The SAIC Diebold Report


TOM STUCKEY ASSOCIATED PRESS - Maryland will go ahead with plans to buy $55.6 million worth of electronic voting machines, relying on a consultant's report that state officials say shows numerous potential security problems can be fixed before the presidential primary next March. "We remain very confident in this voting system," James "Chip" DiPaula, state budget secretary said Wednesday. He said Diebold Election Systems of North Canton, Ohio, has already incorporated three new security features to correct problems that critics of the touch-screen machines say made them vulnerable to massive election fraud. Other "vulnerabilities" cited by the consultant, Science Application International Corp., will be corrected by security procedures to be implemented by state and local election boards, DiPaula said. . . The report did not satisfy Avi Rubin, an associate professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University, whose study released in July prompted national debate over the security of electronic voting systems. Rubin, lead researcher on the report, said at the time that the Diebold system was so flawed it could be easily manipulated. . . David Dill, a Stanford University computer science professor, said he still has concerns about the machines, including the possibility that a malicious code could be inserted by a programmer at Diebold. . . Thomas W. Swidarski, president of Diebold Election Systems, said the SAIC study "verifies that the Diebold voting station provides an unprecedented level of election security."

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LESLIE WAYNE, NY TIMES - Mercenaries, as they were once known, are thriving - only this time they are called private military contractors, and some are even subsidiaries of Fortune 500 companies. The Pentagon cannot go to war without them. Often run by retired military officers, including three- and four-star generals, private military contractors are the new business face of war. Blurring the line between military and civilian, they provide stand-ins for active soldiers in everything from logistical support to battlefield training and military advice at home and abroad. . .

Motivated as much by profits as politics, these companies - about 35 all told in the United States - need the government's permission to be in business. A few are somewhat familiar names, like Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of the Halliburton Company that operates for the government in Cuba and Central Asia. Others have more cryptic names, like DynCorp; Vinnell, a subsidiary of TRW; SAIC; ICI of Oregon; and Logicon, a unit of Northrop Grumman. One of the best known, MPRI, boasts of having "more generals per square foot than in the Pentagon."

SCOOP, NEW ZEALAND - On the board of the Enterprise Solutions Division of the Information Technology Association of America - a lobbying organization bidding to provide a $200,000+ public opinion manipulation campaign on electronic voting - is a senior vice president of SAIC, the company tasked with investigating the security of the Diebold voting machine technology in the states of Maryland and Ohio. The revelation that Ronald J Knecht, Senior Vice President, SAIC, and a former defense intelligence chief, is connected to the proposed voting machine whitewash push seems certain to fuel public concerns about the number of conflicts on interest in the voting machine industry.

WASHINGTON POST - [Stephen Hatfill] took a consulting job with the behemoth government contractor Science Applications International Corp., better known as SAIC. With a sprawling campus in McLean, it did work for a multitude of federal agencies. Many projects were classified, and SAIC's tight relationship with the CIA had led to a standing one-liner: "What is SAIC spelled backwards?"

At SAIC, Hatfill designed and taught bioterror preparedness courses, but his responsibilities also included "black," or classified, biowarfare projects. One of Hatfill's major roles was working with the Joint Special Operations Command, which handled U.S. military counter-terrorism operations. At Fort Bragg, N.C., Hatfill led grueling training for Army commandos preparing for covert missions to find and destroy weapons of mass destruction, according to friends and former colleagues. He conducted counter-terrorism training for Defense Intelligence agents and did a "super job," says DIA spokesman Don Black.

Hatfill designed programs and training equipment for Navy SEALs, and SAIC colleagues say he often sat at his desk designing mock bioterror training devices, including a backpack that could be used by enemies to spray germs on the battlefield. He trained CIA agents in counter-proliferation, and shuttled to U.S. embassies abroad to teach bioterrorism preparedness.

ST PETERSBURG TIMES, RUSSIA - The American vote-count is controlled by three major corporate players - Diebold, ES&S, and Sequoia - with a fourth, Science Applications International Corporation, coming on strong. These companies - all of them hardwired into the Bushist Party power grid - have been given billions of dollars by the Bush regime to complete a sweeping computerization of voting machines nationwide by the 2004 election. These glitch-riddled systems - many using "touch-screen" technology that leaves no paper trail at all - are almost laughably open to manipulation, according to corporate whistleblowers and computer scientists at Stanford, John Hopkins and other universities.

The technology had a trial run in the 2002 mid-term elections. In Georgia, serviced by new Diebold systems, a popular Democratic governor and senator were both unseated in what the media called "amazing" upsets, with results showing vote swings of up to 16 percent from the last pre-ballot polls. In computerized Minnesota, former vice president Walter Mondale - a replacement for popular incumbent Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash days before the vote - was also defeated in a large last-second vote swing. Convenient "glitches" in Florida saw an untold number of votes intended for the Democratic candidate registering instead for Governor Jeb "L'il Brother" Bush. A Florida Democrat who lost a similarly "glitched" local election went to court to have the computers examined - but the case was thrown out by a judge who ruled that the innards of America's voting machines are the "trade secrets" of the private companies who make them. . .

At Diebold - whose corporate chief, Wally O'Dell, a top Bush fundraiser, has publicly committed himself to "delivering" his home state's votes to Bush next year - the election division is run by Bob Urosevich. Bob's brother, Todd, is a top executive at "rival" ES&S. The brothers were originally staked in the vote-count business by Howard Ahmanson, a member of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing "steering group" stacked with Bushist faithful.

Ahmanson is also one of the bagmen behind the extremist "Christian Reconstructionist" movement, which openly advocates a theocratic takeover of American democracy, placing the entire society under the "dominion" of "Christ the King." . . . Ahmanson also has major holdings in ES&S, whose former CEO is Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. When Hagel ran for office, his own company counted the votes; needless to say, his initial victory was reported as "an amazing upset." Hagel still has a million-dollar stake in the parent company of ES&S. In Florida, Jeb Bush's first choice for a running mate in his 1998 gubernatorial race was ES&S lobbyist Sandra Mortham, who made a mint installing the machines that counted Jeb's votes.

Sequoia also has a colorful history, most recently in Louisiana, where it was the center of a massive corruption case that sent top state officials to jail for bribery, most of it funneled through mob-connected front firms. Sequoia executives were also indicted, but escaped trial after giving immunized testimony against state officials. The UK-owned company's corporate parent is private equity firm Madison Dearborn - a partner of the Carlyle Group, where George Bush I makes millions trolling the world for war pork, privatizations and sweetheart deals with government insiders.

Meanwhile, the shadowy defense contractor SAIC has jumped into the vote-counting game, both directly and through spin-offs by its top brass, including Admiral Bill Owens - former military aide to Dick Cheney and Carlyle honcho Frank Carlucci - and ex-CIA chief Robert Gates.

The mad rush to install unverifiable computer voting is driven by the Help America Vote Act, signed by Bush last year. The chief lobbying group pushing for HAVA was a consortium of arms dealers - those disinterested corporate citizens - including Northup-Grumman and Lockheed-Martin. The bill also mandates that all states adopt the computerized "ineligible voter purge" system which Jeb used to eliminate 91,000 eligible black voters from the Florida rolls in 2000. The Republican-run private company that accomplished this electoral miracle, Choice Point, is bagging the lion's share of the new Bush-ordered purge contracts.

GUERILLA NEWS - [David] Kay has also been involved with one of the nation's major defense contractors, serving as a Senior Vice President for the San Diego-based Science Applications International Corporation. The company's Web site proudly describes itself as "the nation's largest employee-owned research and engineering company, providing information technology, systems integration and eSolutions to commercial and government customers." According to a mid-August report by Katrin Dauenhauer and Jim Lobe in Asia Times, "Of the six billion dollars it [SAIC] earned in revenue last year, about two thirds came from the U.S. Treasury, mostly from the defense budget."

SAIC, heavily involved with homeland security projects, has already acquired several reconstruction contracts in Iraq, and Kay and a number of other former company employees are firmly planted in country. The company "has been running the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council since the body was established by the Pentagon in February," Dauenhauer and Lobe reported. "SAIC is also a subcontractor under Vinnell Corporation, another big defense contractor that has long been in charge of training for the Saudi National Guard, hired to reconstitute and train a new Iraqi army." And SAIC is also running the recently established Iraqi Media Network project, whose charge was to "was to put together a new information ministry, complete with television, radio and a newspaper, and the content that would make all three attractive to average Iraqis."

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