BURLINGTON– Could sophisticated CIA-style “cyber-warfare” have helped George W. Bush change a three percent defeat, as measured by exit polls, into a victory of about the same margin? Yes, at least in theory. But it would require hacking into multiple local computer systems, presumably from a remote location. Best proxy site
There is as yet no solid proof that such a cyber-attack occurred on Nov. 2. But suspicions are mounting that the U.S. presidential election results were manipulated to some extent. Voting analyses of selected precincts in Florida and Ohio have found surprisingly high percentages for Bush, and critics say that spoiled ballots and provisional votes, both disproportionally affecting minorities, made the difference in at least two states.
Into the evening of Election Day, exit polls showed Kerry rolling to a clear victory nationally and carrying most of the battleground states, including Florida and Ohio. Winning either would have ensured his victory in the Electoral College.
Polls also showed Republicans carrying the bulk of the tight Senate races. When the official results were tallied, however, the presidential exit polls proved wrong while the Senate polls were correct.
As suspicions about the integrity of the election grew, Sen. John McCain tried to quell talk of mischief in the Florida and Ohio with a Nov, 4 appearance on the Tonight Show.
Exit polling showed Kerry with a 3 percent lead over Bush in Florida and 4 percent edge in Ohio. He ended up losing Florida by 5.2 percent and 2.5 percent in Ohio. That makes the spread between the Florida poll and results 8.2 percent, more than double the standard error rate. In Ohio, the difference is 6.5 percent, also beyond the usual variation.
In Florida’s Baker County, with 12,887 registered voters, 69.3 percent of the Democrats and 24.3 percent of them Republicans, the vote was only 2,180 for Kerry and 7,738 for Bush, the opposite of what is seen everywhere else in the country where registered Democrats largely voted for Kerry, Hartmann reports.
In Dixie County, with 4,988 registered voters, 77.5 percent of them Democrats and a mere 15 percent registered as Republicans, only 1,959 people voted for Kerry, but 4,433 voted for Bush.
The pattern repeated elsewhere, but only in the smaller counties. On Nov. 5, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann took note of the obvious: all the voting machine irregularities being uncovered seemed to favor Bush. But that was the exception. Most media focused instead on why the exit polling system failed.
Skeptics have dismissed the exit polls as flawed and said that they may have influenced the narrative of election coverage, but couldn’t affect the outcome.
To explain the difference, architects of the exit poll sampling system said Kerry voters were simply more willing to answer the questions. Called the “chattiness thesis,” this answer has been ridiculed as a post-facto excuse.
In an article for Tom Paine.com called “Kerry Won,” journalist Greg Palast claims, “Although the exit polls show that most voters in Ohio punched cards for Kerry-Edwards, thousands of these votes were simply not recorded.” But Palast thinks the election was decided not by hackers but by “spoilage,” the small part of the vote that is voided and thrown away.
In Ohio, as in Florida four years ago, most “spoiled” votes were cast on punch cards. Whose cards were they? Palast writes, “Expert statisticians investigating spoilage for the government calculated that 54 percent of the ballots thrown in the dumpster were cast by black folks.”
Other factors that may have affected the outcome include the legal challenges brought by Republicans in several states and a large number of provisional ballots. Taken together, they could bring the full count more into line with the exit poll results. Palast has identified similar voting irregularities in New Mexico.
Writing for Common Dreams. Thom Hartmann reports that Jeff Fisher, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida’s 16th District claimed to have solid evidence that the Florida election was manipulated through information warfare.
Since the mid-1990s, “information warfare” has been a hot topic within the U.S. military. The Pentagon has even produced a 13-page booklet, “Information Warfare for Dummies.”
Indirectly, the booklet acknowledges secret U.S. capabilities in these areas. It also recognized the sensitivity of the topic. “Due to the moral, ethical and legal questions raised by hacking, the military likes to keep a low profile on this issue,” the primer explains.
The booklet says the cyber-war tactics do have advantages over other military operations. “The intrusions can be carried out remotely, transcending the boundaries of time and space,” the manual says. “They also offer the prospect of ‘plausible deniability’ or repudiation.
The CIA has reportedly succeeded in pursuing some aspects of cyber-warfare, including targeting specific bank accounts and shutting down computer systems. But stealing an election is considerably more difficult, requiring the alteration of data in many computers.
According to Robert Parry, writing for Consortium News, ”a preprogrammed ‘kernel of the brain’ would have to be inserted into election computers beforehand, or teams of hackers would be needed to penetrate the lightly protected systems, targeting touch-screen systems without a paper backup for verifying the numbers. unblock sites