January 23, 2004
Today's Paul Krugman column: Democracy at Risk. He spells out, to a wider audience than has been keeping tabs thus far, about the risks and dangers of Diebold's touch-screen voting machines. He gives a shoutout to the problems here in Georgia, which uses these machines - which I'm supposed to use this election year to allegedly record my vote in the upcoming election?!? You can't even get a printout that confirms your vote - we can get printouts at ATMs but not from the e-voting machine? How messed up is that?
Zephoria suggests that we get around having to use Diebold (or other) electronic voting machines by registering for absentee paper ballots, which I'm strongly considering.
And lest I sound paranoid:
Infiltration of Files Seen as Extensive: Senate Panel's GOP Staff Pried on Democrats [1/22/03, Charlie Savage, The Boston Globe]
Republican staff members of the US Senate Judiciary Commitee infiltrated opposition computer files for a year, monitoring secret strategy memos and periodically passing on copies to the media, Senate officials told The Globe.
From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the GOP committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them to access restricted Democratic communications without a password. Trolling through hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking points and accounts of private meetings discussing which judicial nominees Democrats would fight -- and with what tactics.
The office of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms William Pickle has already launched an investigation into how excerpts from 15 Democratic memos showed up in the pages of the conservative-leaning newspapers and were posted to a website last November.
Senate Inquiry Into Memos That Went Astray Nears End [1/23/03, Neil A. Lewis, NYT]
Manuel C. Miranda, a former Republican Judiciary Committee staff member, whose name appeared as a recipient of one of the Democratic e-mail messages and who has been questioned by Mr. Pickle's investigators, said in an interview Thursday that he knew how the documents were obtained by Republicans. He said that a junior member on the staff of Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, had discovered a flaw in the computer system that allowed him to read some of the Democratic computer traffic.
Mr. Miranda, who is now a senior staff aide to Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Republican leader, said that the junior aide was reading the Democratic documents from about May 2002 until the early fall of 2002. The aide, who has since left the Senate, passed some of those memorandums to Mr. Miranda and other Hatch staff members, Mr. Miranda said.
"Those documents that I did read were, in my view, not obtained in any way that was improper, unlawful or unethical," he said. He described them as "inadvertent disclosures that came to me as a result of some negligence on the part of the Democrats' technology staff." His only obligation, he said, was to see that the Democrats were told that the computer system had a flaw that allowed Republican aides to read some of their memorandums.
"I knew our people had told their people about it," Mr. Miranda said. "Once I knew that, I had no further obligation."
He described the junior staff aide as someone who had a great deal of time on his hands, and he said most of the documents the aide gave him were of little value.
"There was no systematic surveillance, no hacking, no stealing and no violation of any Senate rules," he said.
Sure, this isn't political espionage. It's not political insider trading. The ends justify the means, yadda yadda.