Rove/Griffin Implicated in “Caging” of US Soldiers in Iraq

This is just beyond nauseating — journalist Greg Palast has copies of emails sent by Tim Griffin (now appointed US Attorney for Arkansas), at the direction of Karl Rove, to get hundreds of thousands of voters removed from voting lists. They did this by an illegal process called “caging” — they sent address verification letters to primarily African-American voters, many of them soldiers serving in Iraq. Because they were in Iraq and planning to vote by absentee ballot, they were not home to reply to the verification letters. Then, when they sent in their absentee ballots, their votes were challenged and disqualified. From an interview with Greg Palast, in which Robert F. Kennedy is also quoted, denouncing the illegal behavior of the Republicans involved:

[…] AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Greg Palast, investigative journalist, author of Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans. Investigative journalist Murray Waas reported last week the Bush administration has withheld emails showing senior White House and Justice Department officials collaborated to conceal the role of White House strategist Karl Rove in installing his former deputy, Timothy Griffin as US attorney in Arkansas. The emails show that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s former chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, worked with White House officials on two letters that misled Congress on the appointment and also Rove’s role in that. Greg?

GREG PALAST: Well, yeah. They were covering up the fact that Tim Griffin was Rove’s right-hand man. And you have to understand, Rove, as the political director at the White House, was deeply involved in targeting and taking out the US attorneys who were recalcitrant and wouldn’t start handcuffing Hispanic voters on false voter charges. They also know that it’s a slippery slope, because they know that I have 500 of the so-called missing emails.

In fact, that’s one of the points that — in one of their internal emails, which was actually subpoenaed by the committee, they’re complaining about that guy, the British reporter — that’s Greg Palast. As you realize, Amy, I’m American. But, of course, my reports are exiled to BBC Britain, and then they come back here through Democracy Now!, bless you. But they’re saying that these reports about Griffin’s role have not been picked up in the US media, in the US national media. And they’re kind of right. I mean, this material has not come through the US media.

They don’t want Griffin’s role opened up, because once they have the role of Griffin in the firings opened up, they’ll ask why that happened. They will find and discover these emails, and, in fact, now that they’re public, will turn them over to the Conyers committee, and then they’ll find out that Griffin was deeply involved in the removal of legal voters. And now you’re getting into potential felony area. That’s a very serious business. So they want to stop the slippery slope of bringing in Griffin and revealing the entire chain of emails, not just his involvement in the firings, but what led up to it, and that brings us to the emails that you just saw on our report.

AMY GOODMAN: In this whole scandal, we keep hearing about voter fraud, voter fraud. But can you explain what is being talked about here with this aggressive effort to restrict, particularly people of color, voting in battleground states?

GREG PALAST: What happened is that the Republican Party was running a massive campaign directed by Karl Rove and, we know, Tim Griffin, from the written emails, to block voters’ votes or to challenge their votes. One way to challenge voters was to say that they were stealing someone else’s identity. Someone is voting for Amy Goodman. Well, they say, the solution is to create ID cards. The problem is we can’t find anyone anywhere who has committed this crime of stealing Amy Goodman’s name to vote. People are not willing to go to jail to vote in some school board election or even for the presidency.

What Griffin, Rove’s assistant, wanted Iglesias to do — they gave them 110 names. They wanted them, for example, to arrest some guy named, say, roughly, if I remember, like Juan Gonzalez, and say he voted twice, stealing someone’s ID. Well, in New Mexico there may be two guys named Juan Gonzalez. So Iglesias just thought this was absolute junk, absolute junk stuff, and he wouldn’t do it. So it’s all about trying to create a hysteria about fraudulent voting.

There are 120 million people that voted, and I can’t find an actual case out of 120 of a prosecution that — a real prosecution of any single voter for voter identity theft. There is like five cases in the country involving some minor offices. That’s it. So it’s a complete false prosecution set-up, kind of like the Soviet Union: just grab people, put them on show trials, maybe let them go later, maybe they languish in jail.

On the other side, they’re covering up their own program, programmatic challenge of voters, which is not covered in the US press. Three million people were challenged. By the way, this isn’t, you know, from the Democracy Now! black helicopter. This is from the raw data of the United States Election Assistance Commission: three million challenges. These votes were basically lost. Over a million votes were lost. Half a million absentee ballots were thrown out, and many, many of those were votes of African American and Hispanic soldiers that went to Iraq, got their ballots challenged under this Karl Rove-Tim Griffin scheme, and they lost their vote. And they didn’t even know that they lost their vote. So all of this is being covered up.

And so, they cannot now — they don’t want to open up the whole story of Tim Griffin, how he became US attorney, what his role was, because it goes all the way back. And what David Iglesias was saying, US attorney, now captain — by the way, he’s back in the military — Captain Iglesias was saying, if you can show this chain of intent, that it’s all about the voting and he’s being punished for not bringing these false prosecutions, he says, that’s an obstruction of justice charge that can be brought against Karl Rove.

And, by the way, one little sidelight on that is that Captain Iglesias, one of the excuses that they try to give for firing him, Amy, was that he was absent for too many days from office. They didn’t mention that he was absent because he was on active duty in the US Naval Reserve. He is now, by the way, bringing the very first claim ever. You cannot fire someone for doing their duty in the US Naval Reserve. He’s now filing a charge against the commander-in-chief, George Bush, for attempting to fire him for simply showing up for active duty. […] [full text and video of interview]

So while a large number of soldiers, primarily African-American, were in Iraq, serving their country, risking life and limb, Karl Rove was scheming with Timothy Griffin to disqualify them from their constitutional right to vote. How’s that for supporting the troops?

Some days it might seem like — this whole attorney firing thing — perhaps we should let it go and focus on dealing with the looming energy crisis or fixing the broken health care policies — things that will have more of a day-to-day impact on the lives of Americans. And then I see something like the interview referenced above, and I realize that the attorney firings are about the day-to-day lives of Americans — particularly the right to vote. More needs to be done to uncover the potentially illegal actions of the Bush-Rove White House in the attorney firings, so that we can restore some sense of integrity to the idea of participatory democracy in this country.

10 thoughts on “Rove/Griffin Implicated in “Caging” of US Soldiers in Iraq

  1. I am just so sick of the Republican attitude that makes them think they can just do what they want- and we little people should learn our place. It is as if the rest of us are caddies at their country club….

  2. I suggest befor jumping on the Iglesias bandwagon, and risk being tossed off, a more objective set of sources (and less political) than Ms Goodman and Mr. Palast should be consulted. Mr. Iglesias New Mexico record was indeed the subject of concern for the very bipartisan New Mexico delegation in Congress, Democrat and Republican alike–just a suggestion.

  3. One other statistical issue of note should be considered. The current U.S. force is very democratic in terms of ethnic and racial distribution. I think you will find that most of the force is actually caucasian (in an anthropological sense), with a fair representation of other groups that reflects the population as a whole. This is NOT a minority force.

  4. The point isn’t that it’s a minority force. The point is that minorities within the force were targeted.

    And the military is becoming less attractive to both African-Americans and Hispanics, per separate reports I’ve read on MSNBC and Reuters.

  5. Unfortuantely the “unattractiveness” you cite is a bit more complex. For example, New Mexico, Texas and Arizona have historically had significant Latino and Native American military participation. This is in part a denograhicm partly cultural phenomenon, and in part economic, but it also reflects a higher educational level for Southwesterners of Hispanic heritage compared to the Latino population elsewhere. Urbanized Hispanic populations are challenged interms of High School graduation percentages and the same comparisons apply to African-Americans within the age group concerned.

    The record of New Mexico Hispanics in the military is very long and distinguished. You may recall the amazing number of Hispanic and other New Mexicans so brutally treated by the Japanese on the Bataan Death March. You may also recall the contributions of the Navajo code talkers.

    Thus, the issue is not so much one of “popularity” as it is meeting the necesary criteria for enlistment either out of High School or via ROTC, National Guard or Reserve programs.

  6. Mr Wolberg, I really don’t want to have another go-round with you on this. I didn’t respond to your last comment when we were debating recruiting because I thought it had gone far enough.

    Why is it so hard to believe that the military has become less attractive because of the war? I looked at the recruiting stats on the DoD website; they’ve been having problems with numbers. I was wrong about the HS diploma, but the numbers on the site were through Q3 2006.

    There is no “proof” that you or I can offer to explain what’s in the minds of young people who do or don’t enlist. It’s obviously an individual choice in every instance, but the fact of the matter is that the war is becoming less popular. Given that–which I realize you may not be prepared to do–why is it hard to believe that minorities are finding the military a less attractive option?

    Also, you have a tendency to argue from analogy. That’s fine, as far as it goes. The problem is that this is not WWII. It is not perceived by the general population as an existential threat. The president doesn’t view it as such, or he would have done something to mobilize the country. Like a draft.

    But the bottom line is that I have heard reports from reputable news sources that minority–and overall–recruitment are down. You can believe this or not. It is not within my capacity to prove this given that the definitive source is 6 months or more out of date.

    Other than that, you have a lot of perceptive comments on various threads, and I’ve enjoyed reading them. Thank you for sharing them with the community, and please continue to do so.

  7. Thank you for your comments. Without discussion, there is no real evolution of thought. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I have definitive and multiple examples of the caliber and quality of our young people who serve in the military today. One can of course mine the DOD web site, and all the others, read the right wing or left wing press, etc., but actually meeting the kids that serve and the folks, men and women, who lead them is a much better teacher. I would sugegst seeking out that opportunity, whether you are a veteran or have children, or relatives who serve. My information is not based on news sources old, recent or new, although as you must suspect, I have more than a passing interest in history.

    Unfortunately, I do not understand what “an existential threat” means–I never found Sartre threatening and I am still pondering his relationship, if any, to Popper. I do know what real threats are or may be. It is my experience, perhaps because of where I am, that there is a palpable sense that we are engaged in serious business on a worldwide scale with some very nast people. The history of these people (there is that word history again) is that they do not tolerate the concept of freedom well, and who are driven by beliefs that are less saluatory than the Western notions of freedom.

    I also suggest that history really matters, whether it is political history, cultural history or military history. I even think we can learn from the American Presidents who looked bad things in the eye and acted: Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, etc. I don’t know if you read scripture, but Eclesiastes was right, there is nothing new under the sun.

  8. It is interesting that you mention Eisenhower, Mr. Wolberg. He has become a hero of mine. He did not even believe the Korean War was necessary, if you read his “At Ease.” He said, and I quote loosely, ‘A preventive war is an impossibility. I don’t believe there is such a thing, and frankly I wouldn’t even listen seriously to anyone who came and talked to me about such a thing.’ ‘There is no such thing as absolute security, but we can bankrupt ourselves both economically and morally in the vain attempt to reach that illusory goal through arms alone.’ ‘Total, unilateral ,disarmament is the imperative of our time.’ And, of course, he warned that the influence and interests of the military industrial complex would come to determine foreign policy.

    Sure, there are a lot of nasty people out there, but IF anyone were justified in launching a “preventive” war, it surely would have been Iraq before we invaded, or Iran now. Of course they don’t have the kind of power to do it that we do. But certainly they have the power to commit acts of terrorism.

    Eisenhower is also my hero because under him the richest among us were taxed at 91% and corporations at 52%, and against Republican pressure Ike refused to support lowering those rates. He and Smedley Butler would have taken Bush and Cheney into a closet and beat the crap out of those two sniveling chickenhawk cowards thinking they were two of the “domestic enemies” it was their sworn duty to defend this country against.

    Why are we in danger. Could our exploitive foreign policy have anything to do with it! General Shoup resigned his commission because he did not believe the Vietnam War was worth one soldier’s life. He said, ‘If we had and would keep our dirty dollar crooked fingers out of the business of these nations full of poor exploited people, they would arrive at a solution of their own.

    I am pasting, here, excerpts from some of the last entries in the Baghdad Girl’s Blog. I suggest you also read her entry from May 7, 2004.

    We used to be an example of “something better.” George Bush has taken that away from us. John McCain has said that in so many words. ‘It is not about who they are, it is about who WE are.’ And IF we are going to fall to “their” level, these nasty people you refer to, let us at LEAST have the grace to stop pretending we are the great benefactors. IF the wellbeing of the Iraqi people had been our primary concern instead of looking out for American interests, perhaps things would be different now, but there is a new report saying Bush ignored two intelligence briefings that told him we were likely to get what we now have in Iraq. It is interesting what some of his ex commanders on the ground have said, too.

    Anyway, this is what I am pasting from “River Bend.” The entries for the last couple of years have been mostly a journal of despair.

    Friday, December 29, 2006

    End of Another Year…
    You know your country is in trouble when:
    1. The UN has to open a special branch just to keep track of the chaos and bloodshed, UNAMI.
    2. Abovementioned branch cannot be run from your country.
    3. The politicians who worked to put your country in this sorry state can no longer be found inside of, or anywhere near, its borders.
    4. The only thing the US and Iran can agree about is the deteriorating state of your nation.
    5. An 8-year war and 13-year blockade are looking like the country’s ‘Golden Years’.
    6. Your country is purportedly ‘selling’ 2 million barrels of oil a day, but you are standing in line for 4 hours for black market gasoline for the generator.
    7. For every 5 hours of no electricity, you get one hour of public electricity and then the government announces it’s going to cut back on providing that hour.
    8. Politicians who supported the war spend tv time debating whether it is ‘sectarian bloodshed’ or ‘civil war’.
    9. People consider themselves lucky if they can actually identify the corpse of the relative that’s been missing for two weeks.

    A day in the life of the average Iraqi has been reduced to identifying corpses, avoiding car bombs and attempting to keep track of which family members have been detained, which ones have been exiled and which ones have been abducted…

    The people the Bush administration chose to support and promote were openly and publicly terrible- from the conman and embezzler Chalabi, to the terrorist Jaffari, to the militia man Maliki. The decisions, like disbanding the Iraqi army, abolishing the original constitution, and allowing militias to take over Iraqi security were too damaging to be anything but intentional…

    I’m certain only raving idiots still believe this war and occupation were about WMD or an actual fear of Saddam.

    Al Qaeda? That’s laughable. Bush has effectively created more terrorists in Iraq these last 4 years than Osama could have created in 10 different terrorist camps in the distant hills of Afghanistan. There’s no way to describe the loss we’ve experienced with this war and occupation….Iran seems to be the only gainer… I am sad. Not simply sad for the state of the country, but for the state of our humanity, as Iraqis. We’ve all lost some of the compassion and civility that I felt made us special four years ago. I take myself as an example. Nearly four years ago, I cringed every time I heard about the death of an American soldier. They were occupiers, but they were humans also and the knowledge that they were being killed in my country gave me sleepless nights… Had I not chronicled those feelings of agitation in this very blog, I wouldn’t believe them now. Today, they simply represent numbers. 3000 Americans dead over nearly four years? Really? That’s the number of dead Iraqis in less than a month. The Americans had families? Too bad. So do we. So do the corpses in the streets and the ones waiting for identification in the morgue.
    Is the American soldier that died today in Anbar more important than a cousin I have who was shot last month on the night of his engagement to a woman he’s wanted to marry for the last six years? I don’t think so.

    Just because Americans die in smaller numbers, it doesn’t make them more significant, does it?

    Thursday, April 26, 2007

    The Great Wall of Segregation…
    …let no one say the Americans are not building anything. According to plans the Iraqi puppets and Americans cooked up, it will ‘protect’ A’adhamiya, a residential/mercantile area that the current Iraqi government and their death squads couldn’t empty of Sunnis.

    The wall, of course, will protect no one. I sometimes wonder if this is how the concentration camps began in Europe…The Nazi government probably said, “Oh look- we’re just going to protect the Jews with this little wall here- it will be difficult for people to get into their special area to hurt them!” And yet, it will also be difficult to get out.

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