News Release Archive - 2004

Arafat

NADIA HIJAB
Hijab is executive director of the Palestine Center in Washington. She said today: “Yasser Arafat has two main achievements. He forged a unified voice for the Palestinian people who suffered three different fates after Israel was created — exile and refugee camps, Israeli occupation, and Israeli rule. He also put the question of Palestine back on the map in 1968 — 20 years after the creation of Israel — and kept it there. But he was also the leader who signed over a dozen peace agreements with Israel but was powerless to achieve peace based on an end to the occupation and a state alongside Israel. By 2002, as Palestinian institutions and military were destroyed during the Israeli reoccupation of Palestinian towns in the West Bank and Gaza, he served as a convenient scapegoat for a peace process bankrupted by Israeli settlement-building policies and U.S. neglect.”
More Information

NASEER ARURI
Author of the book The Obstruction of Peace, Aruri is chancellor professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. He said today: “In Arafat’s absence, we cannot underestimate Israel’s propensity to foment disorder and chaos in the occupied territories in order to support its spurious claims that Palestinians cannot govern themselves. In fact, the Palestinians in the occupied territories have already demonstrated a visible political maturity by pursuing decentralization since Arafat’s absence from the helm.”
More Information

JOSH RUEBNER
Grassroots advocacy coordinator for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Rubner said today: “President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon both used President Arafat as an excuse to continue Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian lands. With that pretext removed, it’s time to hold President Bush to his purported commitment to supporting freedom and democracy in the Middle East. Palestinians have been denied self-determination for decades.”
More Information

RAMZY BAROUD
Currently in Qatar, Baroud is author of the recent article “Life Without Arafat.” He is editor-in-chief of PalestineChronicle.com and head of the research and studies department at Al-Jazeera.net English.
More Information
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Is the U.S. Committing War Crimes in Iraq?

MARJORIE COHN
Professor of law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and author of the article “Aggressive War: Supreme International Crime,” Cohn said today: “Between 10,000 and 15,000 U.S. troops with warplanes and artillery have begun to invade the Iraqi city of Fallujah. To ‘soften up’ the rebels, American forces dropped five 500-pound bombs on ‘insurgent targets.’ The Americans destroyed the Nazzal Emergency Hospital in the center of town. They stormed and occupied the Fallujah General Hospital, and have not agreed to allow doctors and ambulances to go inside the main part of the city to help the wounded, in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions….”
More Information

MICHAEL MANDEL
Mandel is a professor of law at Osgoode Hall Law School in Canada and author of the book How America Gets Away With Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against Humanity. He said today: “According to international law, America’s war on Iraq constitutes the supreme international crime. If the Nuremberg Tribunal were reconstituted tomorrow, the president and his whole administration would stand charged. … The full-scale assault on a major population center like Fallujah, coming more than a year and a half into the war, only proves its madness and criminality.”
More Information

CONN HALLINAN
Hallinan is a policy analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus and a lecturer in journalism at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He said today: “On Oct. 8, U.S. fighter bombers carried out what the Pentagon called a ‘precision strike’ against ‘terrorist leaders’ in Fallujah, a sprawling city of 300,000 west of Baghdad. For the past two months Fallujah has been the target of a bombing campaign. According to the New York Times, the attack wounded 17 people, nine of whom were women and children. The victims were apparently from a wedding party that had just dispersed. The Times went on to quote a ‘senior Pentagon official’ who said, ‘We know what the strike was supposed to hit and we hit it. If a wedding party was going on, well, it was in concert with a meeting of a top Zarqawi lieutenant.’ … But according to Article 50 of the [Geneva] Conventions, ‘The presence within the civilian population of individuals who do not come within the definition of civilians does not deprive the population of its civilian character.’ In short, the attack violated the [Geneva] Conventions. … A ‘Pentagon official’ also told the Times: ‘If there are civilians dying in connection with these attacks, and with the destruction, the locals at some point have to make a decision. Do they want to harbor the insurgents and suffer the consequences that come with that?’ In other words, terrify the civilian population into cooperating, a strategy that Article 51 [of the Geneva Conventions] explicitly forbids: ‘Acts or threats of violence, the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population, are prohibited.'”
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Fallujah

RAHUL MAHAJAN
Currently in New York City, Mahajan said today: “I was in Fallujah during the attack in April, and reported on the closure of the Fallujah General Hospital as well as the closure of the al-Sadr Teaching Hospital in Najaf. This time, U.S. forces have gone a step further. Not only did a bomb destroy the Nazzal Emergency Hospital, but Fallujah General Hospital was a primary initial target in this assault. It has been occupied and largely kept from functioning by U.S. soldiers; they have also turned it into a military target by attacking resistance fighters from nearby positions. An unnamed American officer justified it by saying that doctors’ and administrators’ reports of civilian casualties during the last assault made the hospital a ‘center of propaganda.’ When I was there, the stream of casualties I saw coming into one minor clinic during a few hours was fully consistent with the doctors’ claims — as was the evidence from the graves that journalists saw later on. This time around, one of the targets of the assault is information; as little as possible about civilian casualties is to be allowed out to the world. This is a shameless violation of the laws of war and a sign that much worse can be expected once the United States achieves ‘information dominance.’ Estimates are that the last assault killed 900-1,000 people; this time, the toll could be many times as high.” Mahajan is author of the book Full Spectrum Dominance: U.S. Power in Iraq and Beyond.
More Information

AS’AD ABUKHALIL
Professor of political science at California State University at Stanislaus and visiting professor at University of California at Berkeley, AbuKhalil said today: “It must be a mere coincidence that the battle of Fallujah began days after Bush’s victory. … We are to believe all are terrorists in Iraq now, except those who are working for the occupation forces. Fallujah will open a battle well outside the city, and well outside Iraq: the entire Arab/Muslim public opinion has been watching developments carefully and cautiously, hoping for a defeat of Bush. But now they will see the scenes of carnage on live TV contrasted with the celebratory ambiance in Washington, D.C. An army of 150,000 is pitted against some 2,500 insurgents. That will pass in U.S. homes as military heroism and bravery.”
More Information

DAHR JAMAIL
An independent journalist, Jamail is now in Baghdad and is posting stories to the above web page.
More Information

ANAS SHALLAL
A business owner in the Washington area, Shallal is founder of Iraqi-Americans for Peaceful Alternatives.

JAMES JENNINGS
President of Conscience International, Jennings is just back from a humanitarian aid project in Darfur, and is also coordinator of the Fallujah-Najaf Defense Committee. He worked alongside Margaret Hassan in Iraq on children’s health projects. He said today: “Darfur burns while our ‘compassionate conservative’ president bombs Iraq. After loudly proclaiming Darfur a genocide and telling the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, ‘We are doing all we can,’ the Bush administration’s good cop, Secretary of State Colin Powell, in effect admitted in his September 9 testimony that the amount spent in one year on aid to Sudan is about the same as operations in Iraq cost in one day. Look at the figures: FY ’04 aid to Darfur was $211 million. For FY ’05 U.S. aid to Darfur is estimated to be $299 million. But military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are chewing up money at the rate of $2 billion a week. Meanwhile, 1.5 million human beings are sitting on the ground in huts made of sticks and grass, being viciously attacked by horse-and-camel-mounted Janjaweed militias, with many malnourished or dying of malaria, and the Bush administration says ‘We are doing all we can.’ ‘Compassionate conservatives’ evidently like to throw nice-sounding slogans around and cry crocodile tears, while they in fact devour the poor and unfortunate.”
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Electronic Machines with No Paper Trail Questioned

THOM HARTMANN
Hartmann is author of the recent article “The Ultimate Felony Against Democracy — Privatizing the Vote” and the book Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights. He said today: “Why are we allowing corporations to exclusively handle our vote, in a secret and totally invisible way? … Particularly a private corporation founded, in one case, by a family that believes the Bible should replace the Constitution; in another case run by one of Ohio’s top Republicans; and in another case partly owned by Saudi investors? … About two years ago, I wrote a story ‘If You Want To Win An Election, Just Control The Voting Machines,’ that exposed how Senator Chuck Hagel had, before stepping down and running for the U.S. Senate in Nebraska, been the head of the voting machine company (now ES&S) that had just computerized Nebraska’s vote. The Washington Post (1/13/97) said Hagel’s ‘Senate victory against an incumbent Democratic governor was the major Republican upset in the November election.’ Hagel was the first Republican in 24 years to win a Senate seat in Nebraska, nearly all on unauditable machines he had just sold the state.”
More Information

Hartmann added: “Congressman Rush Holt introduced a bill into Congress requiring a voter-verified paper ballot be produced by all electronic voting machines, and it’s been co-sponsored by a majority of the members of the House of Representatives. The two-year battle fought by Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay to keep it from coming to a vote, thus insuring that there will be no possible audit of the votes of about a third of the 2004 electorate…”

GREG PALAST
Investigative journalist Palast said today: “Although the exit polls show that most voters in Ohio punched cards for Kerry-Edwards, thousands of these votes were simply not recorded. This was predictable and it was predicted. … And not all votes spoil equally. Most of those votes, say every official report, come from African-American and minority precincts. We saw this in Florida in 2000. Exit polls showed Gore with a plurality of at least 50,000, but it didn’t match the official count. That’s because the official, Secretary of State Katherine Harris, excluded 179,855 spoiled votes. … Whose cards [in 2000] were discarded? Expert statisticians investigating spoilage for the government calculated that 54 percent of the ballots thrown in the dumpster were cast by black folks. CNN said George Bush took New Mexico [in 2004] by 11,620 votes. Again, the network total added up to that miraculous, and non-existent, ‘100 percent’ of ballots cast. … New Mexico reported in the last race a spoilage rate of 2.68 percent, votes lost almost entirely in Hispanic, Native American and poor precincts — Democratic turf. From Tuesday’s vote, assuming the same ballot-loss rate, we can expect to see 18,000 ballots in the spoilage bin. Spoilage has a very Democratic look in New Mexico. Hispanic voters in the Enchanted State, who voted more than two to one for Kerry, are five times as likely to have their vote spoil as a white voter.”
More Information
The report from the U.S. Civil Rights Commission

BEV HARRIS
Harris is the executive director of Black Box Voting. She said today: “[Black Box Voting will be presenting] the first in a series of public records requests, to obtain internal computer logs and other documents from 3,000 individual counties and townships. Networks called the election before anyone bothered to perform even the most rudimentary audit.”
More Information

Background information:

On Nov. 3, the Associated Press reported the story “Computer Scientists Cautious of E-Voting” which included the following interviews with computer scientists: “Many acknowledged that the hardware performed well. But software errors may have changed results, [computer scientists] said. The vast majority of touch screens in the United States do not produce paper records. And that means, critics say, that the machines could alter or delete ballots without anyone noticing. … ‘What has most concerned scientists are problems that are not observable, so the fact that no major problems were observed says nothing about the system,’ said David Jefferson, a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. … Avi Rubin, one of the nation’s leading critics of e-voting, said he was relieved and encouraged that the machines didn’t fail en masse on Election Day. But Rubin, who worked in Maryland as a poll judge Tuesday, still supports major changes in election technology — including requirements that the machines produce paper records, and that independent researchers be permitted to examine their software for problems. ‘I’ve been saying all along that my biggest fear is that someone would program a machine to give a wrong answer,’ said Rubin, a Johns Hopkins computer scientist. ‘If that were to happen, the machine would still work fine — we just wouldn’t know it.'”
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Was the Ohio Election Honest and Fair?

TERESA FEDOR
Ohio State Senator Teresa Fedor said today: “There was trouble with our elections in Ohio at every stage. It’s been a battle getting people registered to vote, getting to the ballot on voting day and getting that vote to count. There is a pattern of voter suppression; that’s why I called for [Ohio Secretary of State] Blackwell’s resignation more than a month ago. Blackwell, while claiming to run an unbiased elections process, was also the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio. Additionally, he was the spokesperson for the anti-business, anti-family constitutional amendment ‘Issue 1,’ and a failed initiative to repeal a crucial sales-tax revenue source for the state. Blackwell learned his moves from the Katherine Harris playbook of Florida 2000, and we won’t stand for it.”

BILL MOSS
Executive vice president of HBCU Connect, which works to connect historically black colleges and universities, Moss said today: “I stayed in line two and a half hours. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. There were fewer voting machines in the highly concentrated black areas, creating the long lines so as to frustrate the voters. But we knew the Republicans — many of whom became Republicans because they opposed equal rights for blacks — would try to drive down black turnout. … [Ohio Secretary of State] Blackwell was confusing things by raising issues like the paper weight of cards.”

SUSAN TRUITT
Co-founder of the Citizens Alliance for Secure Elections, Truitt said today: “Seven counties in Ohio have electronic voting machines and none of them have paper trails. That alone raises issues of accuracy and integrity as to how we can verify the count. A recount without a paper trail is meaningless; you just get a regurgitation of the data. Last year, Blackwell tried to get the entire state to buy new machines without a paper trail. The exit polls, virtually the only check we have against tampering with a vote without a paper trail, had shown Kerry with a lead. … A poll worker told me this morning that there were no tapes of the results posted on some machines; on other machines the posted count was zero, which obviously shouldn’t be the case.”
More Information

DAN WALLACH
Wallach is an assistant professor of Computer Science at Rice University in Houston specializing in building secure and robust software systems for the Internet. Along with colleagues at Johns Hopkins, Wallach co-authored a groundbreaking study that revealed significant flaws in electronic voting systems. He appeared on an Institute for Public Accuracy news release in June entitled “Electronic Voting — Danger for Democracy.”
More Information
More Information

BOB FITRAKIS
An attorney who monitored the election with the Election Protection Coalition, Fitrakis said today: “There were far fewer machines in the inner-city districts than in the suburbs. I documented at least a dozen people leaving because the lines were so long in African-American areas. Blackwell did a great deal of suppressing before the election — like attempting to refuse to process voter registration forms. The absentee ballots were misleading in Franklin County. Kerry was the third line down, but you had to punch number four to vote for him. Bush was getting both his votes as well as Kerry’s.”

HARVEY WASSERMAN
Senior editor of FreePress.org, an Ohio-based web site, and co-author with Fitrakis of the recent article “Twelve Ways Bush is Now Stealing the Ohio Vote,” Wasserman said today: “There was a huge fight around ensuring that the electronic voting machines had paper trails and there was resistance by the secretary of state, so there is no paper trail. There were some victories to ensure a paper trial — by 2006. There were limited numbers of voting machines in African-American districts. Some people had to wait up to eight hours, far more than in predominantly white areas.”
More Information

BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT:

On November 9, 2003, the New York Times reported: “In mid-August, Walden W. O’Dell, the chief executive of Diebold Inc., sat down at his computer to compose a letter inviting 100 wealthy and politically inclined friends to a Republican Party fund-raiser, to be held at his home in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. ‘I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year,’ wrote Mr. O’Dell, whose company is based in Canton, Ohio. That is hardly unusual for Mr. O’Dell. A longtime Republican, he is a member of President Bush’s ‘Rangers and Pioneers,’ an elite group of loyalists who have raised at least $100,000 each for the 2004 race. But it is not the only way that Mr. O’Dell is involved in the election process. Through Diebold Election Systems, a subsidiary in McKinney, Tex., his company is among the country’s biggest suppliers of paperless, touch-screen voting machines. Judging from Federal Election Commission data, at least 8 million people will cast their ballots using Diebold machines next November. … Some people find Mr. O’Dell’s pairing of interests — as voting-machine magnate and devoted Republican fund-raiser — troubling.”
More Information

On November 3, 2004, Reuters reported: “Voters across the United States reported problems with electronic touch-screen systems on Tuesday in what critics said could be a sign that the machines used by one-third of the population were prone to error…. ”
More Information

On October 24, 2004, the Palm Beach Post reported: “A federal judge on Monday rejected U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler’s claim that paperless electronic voting violates the constitutional rights of Floridians….”

On November 3, 2004, Thomas Crampton wrote in the International Herald Tribune: “The global implications of the U.S. election are undeniable, but international monitors at a polling station in southern Florida said Tuesday that voting procedures being used in the extremely close contest fell short in many ways of the best global practices….”
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Election Day Turmoil

RALPH G. NEAS
People for the American Way Foundation President Neas said: “The Election Protection ‘Nerve Center’ at People For the American Way Foundation’s Washington, D.C. headquarters, continues to operate as a voter assistance and coalition information clearinghouse, with 34 computers and 55 telephone lines. … On Election Day, information will pour into the Nerve Center from the field offices and legal command centers around the country. Reporters are free to call the Nerve Center at (866) 204-1941 or People For the American Way Foundation at (202) 467-4999 to get the latest information.”
More Information
More Information

CHELLIE PINGREE
Common Cause, a national non-partisan advocacy organization, announced today that it will provide information, updated throughout Election Day, on voting trouble spots in key states, based on a voter alert line and on-the-ground monitoring. Common Cause Election Day media briefings are scheduled for 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET to inform reporters, producers and editors about information coming in from voters on the voter alert line nationally and on-the-ground polling station volunteers in states that may include Ohio, Florida, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Colorado and Pennsylvania. Common Cause will have both aggregate data and anecdotal information. Call in number is (800) 247-9979. Ask for the Election Day Monitoring call. Chellie Pingree is the president of Common Cause.
More Information

MILES RAPOPORT
Rapoport is the president of Demos, a non-partisan, non-profit organization and former Secretary of the State of Connecticut. He said today: “As the election approaches, chilling reports continue to surface of major efforts to prevent people from voting. Legions of partisan ‘challengers’ are being readied for the polls tomorrow; misinformation has been spread on polling dates and locations; and tens of thousands of new Ohio registrants are being challenged. All appear to be organized campaigns. … But it’s not too late to avoid disaster. Even at this late hour many election officials are taking steps to maximize access, and minimize disruptions at polling places. All should follow that lead.”
More Information

SHEILA CROWLEY
President of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Crowley said today: “We are concerned that challenges of voters will effectively suppress the vote of homeless people and other poor people. We have evidence that homeless and poor people are way over represented among those who have been challenged in Ohio and quite likely Pennsylvania.”
More Information

ROB RICHIE
Richie is the executive director of the Center for Voting and Democracy, which has just released a report “Election Night as it Happens: East to West.” He said today: “We are tracking the election as polls close state by state. No matter what happens, we need to take the necessary steps to modernize our elections and make them fair for all of us.”
More Information

STEVEN HILL
Hill is senior analyst with the Center for Voting and Democracy and author of the book Fixing Elections: The Failure of America’s Winner Take All Politics, just out in paperback.
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Study Finds 100,000 “Excess” Civilian Deaths Since Iraq Invasion

The leading medical journal The Lancet has just published a study on civilian mortality in Iraq since the invasion.

LES ROBERTS
Co-author of the report, Dr. Roberts is an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He said today: “Making conservative assumptions, we think that about 100,000 excess deaths or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths, and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths. We have shown that the collection of public-health information is possible even during periods of extreme violence. Our results need further verification and should lead to changes to reduce non-combatant deaths from air strikes.”

Roberts added:

* “Violence was the primary cause of death after the invasion; violent deaths were widespread, reported in 15 of 33 clusters surveyed, and were mainly attributed to coalition forces (predominantly air strikes). Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children. The risk of death from violence in the period after the invasion was 58 times higher than in the period before the war. The major causes of death before the invasion were heart attack, stroke, and chronic illness.”

* “We did the survey to investigate the effect of the Iraq war on civilian deaths by comparing mortality during the 14.6 months before the March 2003 invasion with the 17.8 months after it. We interviewed a total of 988 households from 33 randomly selected neighborhoods of Iraq; in those households reporting deaths since January 2002, the date, cause, and circumstances of violent deaths were recorded.”

* “Overall, the risk of death was 2.5 times greater after the invasion, although the risk was 1.5 times higher if mortality around Fallujah (where two-thirds of violent deaths were reported) is excluded. The investigators estimate that a 1.5 times increase in deaths equates to an excess of 98,000 deaths relating to the Iraq conflict, although this estimate would be much greater if Fallujah data is included.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

* Provisional Ballots * Instant Runoff Voting Implemented in San Francisco * Voter Rights * The Right to Cast a Vote That Counts

MILES RAPOPORT
Rapoport is the president of Demos, a non-partisan, non-profit organization. He said today: “The question of whether to accept provisional ballots cast at the wrong polling place pits voter access not against the worthy goal of fraud prevention, but instead against more mundane concerns of administrative convenience. As a former secretary of state, I certainly sympathize with the difficulty of administering elections, especially when voter interest is high. But election officials must not let the challenges of a full Election Day workload get in the way of one of their core duties: facilitating ballot access to all eligible voters and promoting fair and transparent elections. … There will be millions of new voters going to the polls on Tuesday. It’s inevitable that some may be confused about which polling place to go to, but that is no excuse to rob people of their right to vote.” [The Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has declared that Ohio and Michigan are not required under the Help America Vote Act to count provisional ballots cast by eligible voters who appear at the wrong polling place. In Florida and in many other states election officials have said that provisional ballots can be used only by voters who are at the right precinct but not on the registration list. Some litigation on the issue is currently underway.] More Information

ROB RICHIE
Richie is the executive director of the Center for Voting and Democracy. He said today: “American citizens care deeply about their right to vote. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for how their government provides and protects that right. Florida and Ohio will toss out all ‘provisional ballots’ cast by registered voters who were not informed they were in the wrong polling place. A Nevada state judge rejected a lawsuit seeking to re-open voter registration for citizens whose registrations were torn up by a partisan voter registration firm rather than submitted. Most voters in Ohio will use the thoroughly discredited punchcard system, while many others around the nation will vote on new ‘touchscreen’ systems developed by private companies with proprietary software that is poorly tested and regulated and lacks a voter verifiable paper trail. Against all international norms, states collectively have stripped voting rights from nearly 5 million American citizens due to felony convictions.”
More Information

STEVEN HILL
Hill is senior analyst with the Center for Voting and Democracy. He was co-author of the San Francisco ballot measure for instant runoff voting, and led the effort to pass and implement the city’s IRV charter amendment. He said today: “On November 2, San Francisco will elect seven seats on the Board of Supervisors using a method called instant runoff voting (IRV). Instant runoff voting, which has been used for decades in other nations like Ireland and Australia, simulates a series of runoff elections but in a single election. … With IRV, voters rank their first, second and third choice candidates for each race. If your first choice gets eliminated from the ‘instant runoff,’ your vote goes to your second choice candidate. So voters are liberated to vote for the candidates they really like, no more ‘lesser of two evils’ dilemmas. … To understand the national implications of instant runoff voting, think back to the 2000 presidential election. If the nearly hundred thousand Ralph Nader voters in Florida could have ranked a second candidate as their runoff choice, there’s no question that tens of thousands would have ranked Al Gore … who would have been the recipient of all those runoff votes, won the state of Florida and its electoral votes. … IRV also offers something for those tired of polarized politics and mudslinging campaigns. Whether at local or national levels, IRV encourages coalition-building between candidates. … Already in most of San Francisco’s seven supervisorial races we have seen less mudslinging, more coalition-building and issue-based campaigning than in previous years.”
More Information

KATHARINE FULLENKAMP
Fullenkamp is a law student volunteering with Just Democracy, a national network of law students, organized in chapters based at law schools, mobilizing to be present at local polling places to act as resources for voters and poll workers on Election Day. She said today: “Like almost everyone in the country, I stayed up late in 2000, trying to find out who my next president would be. As I started hearing of all the problems that had led to voter confusion and vote loss, I began to get angry. We’d been a democracy for over 200 years, but still hadn’t figured out something as fundamental as conducting elections? While most of the stories focused on Florida, I was mostly concerned about the stories I was hearing from my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri — polls closing, votes getting tossed, people having to stand in line for hours, polling sites closing at the last minute because of partisan poll workers not showing up, etc. … However, as the next presidential election neared I began to grow more concerned about the lack of progress I had seen in St. Louis to prevent these problems from happening again. The Help America Vote Act, especially provisional balloting, seems to create more confusion than it alleviates. During the midterm election, I was almost prevented from voting myself since someone had marked that I was voting absentee when it was my sister who had requested a ballot.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

* Disappeared Weapons * Iraqi WMDs

The 380 tons of high explosives missing from al Qaqaa in Iraq have become an issue in the waning days of the presidential campaign. The New York Times reports the explosives were there when U.S. soldiers arrived, but when local Iraqis asked the soldiers to guard them, they “were told this was not the soldiers’ responsibility.” KSTP-TV in Minneapolis/St. Paul reports that one of its film crews “in Iraq shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein was in the area where tons of explosives disappeared, and may have videotaped some of those weapons.”
More Information

IMAD KHADDURI
A former nuclear scientist with the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission, Khadduri wrote the new book Iraq’s Nuclear Mirage. Starting before the invasion of Iraq, he wrote a series of articles questioning the Bush administration’s assertions regarding Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capacity. He said today: “I am familiar with the facility at al Qaqaa. I dealt with people there when Iraq still had a nuclear program in the late 1980s. Iraq had no nuclear program after the Gulf War and it’s ridiculous that the Bush administration got away with claiming that it did. Some are claiming that this shows that Iraq did in fact have weapons of mass destruction, but these explosives are conventional and are quite easily available on the global market. They are quite likely being used as explosives by the resistance. All this highlights that disarmament was hardly driving U.S. actions, contrary to the rhetoric we hear. This facility was being monitored by the IAEA before the invasion — since these conventional weapons could be useful in building nuclear weapons — and doors had IAEA seals on them which were apparently broken by U.S. forces. The U.S. ignored IAEA warnings about this facility. This also ominously occurred at another nuclear site, at the Nuclear Research Center at Tuwaitha, 20 km east of Baghdad. There were nuclear burial mounds there that contained hundreds of tons of yellow cake, unprocessed natural uranium, and other nuclear waste accumulated over 30 years of research and development. The U.S. military broke open the IAEA-locked mounds, probably got some of the U.S. soldiers contaminated, and then left the mound open to looters. That facility was in fact looted by villagers of three or four surrounding villages who needed the barrels that contained the yellow cake and caused serious radioactive contamination in these villages, which is harmful to civilians. But since they are Iraqi, and not American, the issue did not warrant that much attention, then.”
More Information

STEVEN KULL
Kull is director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes, which just released a study of public attitudes on Iraq. Kull said today: “There is now a consensus among the American public that if Iraq did not have WMD and was not providing substantial support to al Qaeda, the U.S. should not have gone to war with Iraq. Seventy-four percent overall have this view, including 58 percent of Bush supporters and 92 percent of Kerry supporters. A majority also rejects the argument that the U.S. should have gone to war with Iraq because Saddam Hussein had the intention to acquire WMD. Overall, support for the decision to go to war has eroded slightly since August, so that a majority of 51 percent now says that it was the wrong decision, and 46 percent say it was the right decision. It may seem contradictory that three-quarters of Americans say that the U.S. should not have gone to war if Iraq did not have WMD or was not providing support to al Qaeda, while nearly half still say the war was the right decision. However, support for the decision is sustained by persisting beliefs among half of Americans that Iraq provided substantial support to al Qaeda, and had WMD, or at least a major WMD program. Despite the widely-publicized conclusions of the Duelfer report, 49 percent of Americans continue to believe Iraq had actual WMD (27 percent) or a major WMD program (22 percent), and 52 percent believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda.”

JONATHAN SCHWARZ
Author of the article “What We Think About When We Think About Iraq: How So Many Americans Can Be So Wrong About WMD,” Schwarz said today: “Given the continuing dishonesty of the Bush administration and others, it’s no wonder many Americans continue to believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The latest distortion is that the al Qaqaa explosives were WMD. Although highly dangerous, they were not. In the election season, it’s vital that citizens get accurate information about this issue.”
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

New Evidence of Voter Blacklist in Florida?

ION SANCHO
Sancho, the Supervisor of Elections for Leon County in Florida, said today: “The possibility of a statewide program to ‘challenge’ African-American voters in Florida on Election Day raises the specter of obstruction, chaos, and ultimately, voter disenfranchisement. During a recent interview, investigative journalist Greg Palast showed me a list of hundreds of African-American citizens registered to vote in Jacksonville. He told me the list came from the Republican Party.”

Sancho added: “Florida has a seldom-used voter challenge provision in its elections laws, allowing partisan poll watchers to challenge voters coming in to vote. In the 16 years I have been conducting elections in Leon County this provision has never been used. My fear is that this outdated provision in Florida may not be properly applied and [will] prevent legal voters from voting. Before a challenge is brought, the poll watcher must provide specific reasons or evidence for the challenge. While conducting training classes for the Democratic and Republican poll watchers, I instructed them that no challenge would be accepted in Leon County without tangible evidence. But this provision of Florida law is seldom used and may not be applied properly by stressed-out precinct workers on Election Day. I fear that a coordinated effort to racially target voters in Florida could overwhelm the resources we have at our voting precincts, shutting down the voting process for thousands of voters.”
More Information

GREG PALAST
Journalist Palast said today: “A secret document obtained from inside Bush campaign headquarters in Florida suggests a plan — apparently in violation of U.S. law — to disrupt voting in the state’s African-American voting districts. Two emails, prepared for the executive director of the Bush campaign in Florida and the campaign’s national research director in Washington, D.C., contain a 15-page so-called ‘caging list.’ It lists 1,886 names and addresses of voters in predominantly black and traditionally Democrat areas of Jacksonville, Florida. Such racial profiling in challenging voters is a direct violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act. At least 50 persons on the list are in the military, most stationed at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville. They now face challenge because some, like Randall Prausa of Atlantic Beach, have been shipped overseas.”

Palast added: “This appears to be part of a massive Republican campaign to intimidate black voters. And indeed, we also discovered surveillance teams filming black voters, wrongful purging of black voters from voter rolls and fraudulent registration forms — all orchestrated by Republican officials or party functionaries. While vote fraud is not the monopoly of one party, we are uncovering a pattern of targeting the African-American community by the Bush-Cheney campaign.”

On October 26, the BBC News website reported the following by Palast: “The list of Jacksonville voters covers an area with a majority of black residents. … An elections supervisor in Tallahassee, when shown the list, told [BBC] Newsnight: ‘The only possible reason why they would keep such a thing is to challenge voters on Election Day.’ … When asked by Newsnight for an explanation of the list, Republican spokespersons claim the list merely records returned mail from either fundraising solicitations or returned letters sent to newly registered voters to verify their addresses for purposes of mailing campaign literature. Republican state campaign spokeswoman Mindy Tucker Fletcher stated the list was not put together ‘in order to create’ a challenge list, but refused to say it would not be used in that manner. Rather, she did acknowledge that the party’s poll workers will be instructed to challenge voters, ‘Where it’s stated in the law.’ There was no explanation as to why such clerical matters would be sent to top officials of the Bush campaign in Florida and Washington.”
More Information
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167