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: Weâ€™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 Gonzalesâ€™s former chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, worked with White House officials on two letters that misled Congress on the appointment and also Roveâ€™s role in that. Greg?
GREG PALAST: Well, yeah. They were covering up the fact that Tim Griffin was Roveâ€™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 wouldnâ€™t start handcuffing Hispanic voters on false voter charges. They also know that itâ€™s a slippery slope, because they know that I have 500 of the so-called missing emails.
In fact, thatâ€™s one of the points that â€” in one of their internal emails, which was actually subpoenaed by the committee, theyâ€™re complaining about that guy, the British reporter â€” thatâ€™s Greg Palast. As you realize, Amy, Iâ€™m American. But, of course, my reports are exiled to BBC Britain, and then they come back here through Democracy Now!, bless you. But theyâ€™re saying that these reports about Griffinâ€™s role have not been picked up in the US media, in the US national media. And theyâ€™re kind of right. I mean, this material has not come through the US media.
They donâ€™t want Griffinâ€™s role opened up, because once they have the role of Griffin in the firings opened up, theyâ€™ll ask why that happened. They will find and discover these emails, and, in fact, now that theyâ€™re public, will turn them over to the Conyers committee, and then theyâ€™ll find out that Griffin was deeply involved in the removal of legal voters. And now youâ€™re getting into potential felony area. Thatâ€™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 votersâ€™ votes or to challenge their votes. One way to challenge voters was to say that they were stealing someone elseâ€™s identity. Someone is voting for Amy Goodman. Well, they say, the solution is to create ID cards. The problem is we canâ€™t find anyone anywhere who has committed this crime of stealing Amy Goodmanâ€™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, Roveâ€™s assistant, wanted Iglesias to do â€” 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 someoneâ€™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 wouldnâ€™t do it. So itâ€™s all about trying to create a hysteria about fraudulent voting.
There are 120 million people that voted, and I canâ€™t find an actual case out of 120 of a prosecution that â€” a real prosecution of any single voter for voter identity theft. There is like five cases in the country involving some minor offices. Thatâ€™s it. So itâ€™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, theyâ€™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 isnâ€™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 didnâ€™t even know that they lost their vote. So all of this is being covered up.
And so, they cannot now â€” they donâ€™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 â€” by the way, heâ€™s back in the military â€” Captain Iglesias was saying, if you can show this chain of intent, that itâ€™s all about the voting and heâ€™s being punished for not bringing these false prosecutions, he says, thatâ€™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 didnâ€™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. Heâ€™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.