By Bob Fitrakis

In 2001, Michael L. Connell of GovTech Solutions, L.L.C., a notoriously partisan GOP operative and Bush family confidant, was selected to re-organize the Capitol Hill IT network. Under the guise of selecting a female-owned IT company (Connells wife Heather is listed as the owner), former Congressman and convicted felon Bob Ney reportedly arranged for Connell to be the man behind the firewall for the U.S. House of Representatives. Connells role and activities need to be investigated by putting Connell under oath and examining how arguably one of the countrys most zealously partisan IT specialists managed to land the contract and be allowed access to this electronic communication system.

Initially, Connells forays into partisan politics had very public ups and downs. Connell got his big break in 1987 as a staff member for former CIA Director and Vice President George H.W. Bushs successful campaign for president. He programmed and developed an advanced delegate tracking system for Republican National Convention in 1988. With no presidential campaign in 1990, Connell emerged in partisan politics, this time in a well-publicized scandal. On November 11, 1990, Senator Dan Coats (R-IN) fired Connell for his role in a push polling scheme that Coats denounced as clearly unethical. Next, Connell resurfaced as a congressional staffer and mouthpiece as U.S. Rep. Martin R. Hokes (R-OH) Communication Director in 1993-4.

In 1996 election year, Connells back at partisan campaign IT activity. His newly formed New Media Communications began providing design makeovers and software for Republican candidates and organizations in Ohio and Illinois. Public records reflect that he specifically worked on implementing databases and web services for John Bohners (R-OH) Freedom Project PAC, John Kasichs (R-OH) Pioneer PAC, and Dick Armey’s (R-TX) Majority Leaders Fund. Also during this period he did computer work for right-wing ideologue David Horowitzs Center for the Study of Popular Culture and the website

Tom Brazatis of the Cleveland Plain Dealer described Connell as an Internet consultant in 1998 for the winning campaigns of governors Bob Taft in Ohio and Jeb Bush in Florida. The article stated that Connell told the Plain Dealer that he had been hired to do special internet projects for George W. Bush. Connell declined to be more specific, noted the Plain Dealers 2000 article.

After Jeb Bush won the governors office, Connell received various Florida IT contracts from the governors office, Florida Department of Education and Community Affairs, and did computer work for the Florida Republican Party. A few months after Bushs 1998 Florida victory, New Media Communications merged with GOP lobbyist and operative Thomas J. Synhorst and formed DCI/New Media L.L.C. in Richfield, Ohio. Synhorst is listed as a co-founder of GovTech. Connell designed,, and during that election cycle.

Im loyal to my friends and Im loyal to the Bush family read a Connell quote in Inside Business magazine, November 2, 1999.

Crains Cleveland Business reported when Connell created GovTech Solutions in 2001 he told them he had decided to roll out a separate company for its political work because government and corporations are ëtwo animals different enough to have it make sense. Connell told Crains that his GovTech Solutions is the only private-sector company to gain permission from HIR [House Information Resources] to place its servers behind the firewall

One has to wonder about the implications of the premier partisan campaign IT man, steadfastly loyal to the countrys most well-known security-industrial complex and CIA family, serving as the man behind the U.S. Congress firewall.

According to the Federal Election Commission, Connells company New Media Communications received more than $800,000 from the Bush-Cheney Re-Election Campaign between January 2003 and October 2004. During the same period New Media Communications brought in $1.2 million in contracts from Republican congressional candidates, political parties, and the National Rifle Association, according to the Akron Beacon Journal on November 24, 2004.

SourceWatch notes that Connell developed the websites for the House Intelligence, Judiciary, Financial Services, Ways and Means, and Administration Committees. According to SourceWatch, Connell teamed up with R. Rebecca Donatelli, Chair of the D.C.-based Campaign Solutions, to form Connell Donatelli Inc. (CD Inc.) as a specialized online advertising agency in July 2004. One of CD, Inc.s first activities was to become the registrant, administrator and tech organizer for the anti-Kerry group Swiftboat Veterans for Truths website

Connell also handled the IT system work for the Bush-Cheney Re-election Campaign and worked for Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell in designing the system that allowed the real time outsourcing of Ohios presidential vote count to a Chattanooga, Tennessee server site. The blog ePluribus Media deserves great credit for breaking this key story. The Tennessee servers at the old Pioneer Bank building was a massive repository of Republican and conservative websites.

An article about Connells partisan IT activities in George W. Bushs hometown newspaper, the Crawford, Texas Lone Star Iconoclast, invokes the specter of the Watergate scandal. It notes that Theres Ohio in 2004 when his [Connells] company (SmartTech) ran election results through his computers before releasing them to Ken Blackwells Secretary of State office.

The Iconoclast pointed out in that December 18, 2007 article entitled Plumbers 2.0 that top Bush operatives, including Karl Rove, emailed plans for dismissing eight U.S. attorneys using the accounts set up by Connell and As ePluribus Media put it, In the virtual worlds of computer security, networking and email, the lines separating the inner workings of the current government in Washington D.C. and the outer world of partisan politics exist only in theory.

The IT cyberstructures created by Connell remain in place for the 2008 election. On February 22, 2008, the Akron Beacon Journal reported Connells team helped develop the John McCain for President website, just as it helped create the website for the last two Bush presidential campaigns.

While the Republicans tell us to pay no attention to the man behind the congressional firewall, that hes just another government contractor, Connell is thinking long-term. When asked by Campaign and Elections magazine in June 2004 what he wished to be doing in ten years, he replied that his goal was to be in a senior position in the campaign to elect Rick Santorum president of the United States. He also cited among his political heroes, Saint Paul because he . . . leveraged Roman citizenship to fuel the expansion of the early church and he cited George W. Bush because he had the courage to publicly share his faith.

Bob Fitrakis has a Ph.D. in political science and was an election observer in the Ohio 2004 general election and Ohio’s 2008 primary. Originally published by The Free Press at

by Bob Fitrakis

Uh oh, Umberto. This is getting all too predictable. Sunday’s Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that everybody’s favorite suspected minority front company, Banks Carbone Construction, is purchasing liability insurance through the Fedeli Group.

Umberto Fedeli, chair of the Ohio Turnpike Commission, is the sole owner of the Fedeli Group Insurance Company. Now, just ’cause the selling of over-priced insurance as a condition of getting contracts and business is a standard organized crime scheme, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions here. You see, that would be “anti-Italian.” Just ask Governor George Voinovich, who appointed Fedeli to the Turnpike Commission in 1991.

Recall again that the Guv’s original choice, Carmen Parise-a known Mafia associate and loan shark-withdrew from consideration after his shady past was made public. Up stepped Umberto. A former organized crime contract launderer and confidential source previously told Columbus Alive about Fedeli’s alleged ties to Youngstown and Cleveland Mafia families in an attempt to dissuade the paper from further reporting on Fedeli. A sporting sort, the source said, “Let me know if you’re going to keep reporting on this so I can make book on how long you live.”

Anyway, since becoming Turnpike chair in 1992, Fedeli has steadfastly refused to disclose his insurance agency clients who do business with the turnpike, nor will he say how much cash he’s raking in from these accounts. Fedeli failed to reveal on his required 1995 financial disclosure statement that both Banks Carbone and Ralph C. Tyler PEPS Inc., an engineering firm, began purchasing his liability insurance just before they got a piece of the turnpike $650 million project to add a lane each way between Youngstown and Toledo.

As previously reported in this column, another turnpike contractor, S.E. Johnson Companies, received a $32 million turnpike construction contract earlier this year. You can guess who they switched their insurance to in July. You’re in good hands with Umberto!

More on McGreevy

Poor Mr. McGreevy. He just wants to run as Mr. Clean Government-type against dirty ol’ “Mean Gene” Watts and Mary Jo Kilroy. But questions keep popping up about theft charges that Assistant County Prosecutor Dianne Kurilchick dismissed.

Franklin County Court of Common Pleas documents indicate that instead of representing the “people’s interest,” Kurilchick seemed to act more like McGreevy’s personal defense counsel. McGreevy, perhaps believing his own political propaganda, wanted to act as his own counsel. Instead of going in for the easy kill, Kurilchick repeatedly had the trial delayed and then sought “diversion” for McGreevy. The diversion plan is open to first-time felony offenders usually requiring restitution and community service for later expunging of the record.

According to a Common Pleas judge, McGreevy was found “unfit” for the diversion program because of his “attitude.” The fearless county prosecutor’s office dismissed the felony theft indictment against McGreevy on June 18,1996 so that he can conveniently run his ever-so ethical and clean campaign for state senate.

In dismissing the case, Mike Miller’s office cited the following reason: “state believes this is an unauthorized use of property, not theft.” McGreevy was miffed that a subcontractor hadn’t performed the work he was allegedly paid for, thus Mr. Clean lifted the man’s tools from his vehicle at a local eatery. Maybe if McGreevy wins his campaign as an Independent for state senate he can vote to send a public contract to Banks Carbone and they can finish the construction project for him.

Derailing the Mobile Chernobyl

The list of local municipalities passing resolutions in opposition to a multi-state nuclear waste dump in Ohio keeps growing. It’s damn near a full-blown movement. So far resolutions have been passed by Cleveland, Cincinnati, Bedford Heights, Brook Park, Woodmere, Brooklyn, Strongsville, Oakwood, and Painesville Township.

Let’s see. Cleveland. . . Cincinnati. . . what big city starting with a “C” is missing? Maybe the roll-over-and-play-dead lapdogs on the Columbus City Council are waiting for cues from Mr. “All Environmental Laws Are Unfunded Mandates” Mayor. Yep, maybe “Landfill” Lashutka has a cozy little site in mind in Franklin County for the radioactive waste dump. After all, he’s opposed to recycling because there’s LOTS of room left in those landfills. And there’s all those friendly waste haulers who make illegal donations to Ohio politicians who need work! And maybe Banks Carbone could build the nuke dump, too! And Umberto Fedeli could sell the insurance! That’s the ticket.

Oh, I forgot. Nuclear accidents are uninsurable. Sorry, Umberto.

At a press conference this morning in Columbus, Ohio, Cliff Arnebeck, lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the case of King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell, announced that he is filing a motion to “lift the stay in the case [and] proceed with targeted discovery in order to help protect the integrity of the 2008 election.”

Arnebeck will also “be providing copies of document hold notices to the U.S .Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and the U.S. Justice Department for Karl Rove emails from the White House.”

This case has the potential to put some of the most powerful people in the country in jail, according to Arnebeck, as he was joined by a well-respected, life-long Republican computer security expert who charged that the red flags seen during Ohio’s 2004 Presidential Election would have been cause for “a fraud investigation in a bank, but it doesn’t when it comes to our vote.”

“This entire system is being programmed in secret by programmers who have no oversight by anybody,” the expert charged, as Arnebeck detailed allegations of complicity by a number of powerful GOP operatives and companies who had unique access both to the election results as reported in 2004, as well as to U.S. House and Senate computer networks even today.

The presser was attended by some of the corporate-controlled media, including the head of the Ohio AP bureau, the Columbus Dispatch, and IndyMedia. Listening in by phone were ABC News, our friends from RAW STORY, and me, your humble blogger. I recorded the presser, so I have no links for the quotes in this post, but I transcribed them word-for-word and can vouch for their accuracy.

One of the more delightful and interesting quotes comes from Arnebeck, concerning what he expects to discover as the stay is lifted: “[W]e anticipate Mr. Rove will be identified as having engaged in a corrupt, ongoing pattern of corrupt activities specifically affecting the situation here in Ohio”…

According to Arnebeck, his expert witness, Stephen Spoonamore, “works for credit card companies chasing data thieves, identity thieves around the globe, and also consults with government agencies including the Secret Service, the Pentagon, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in criminal matters. [He’s] really one of the top, and in fact the top private cop in the world on the subject of data security.”

First, some background. The King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell case was filed on August 31, 2006. At issue was “whether the rights, privileges, and immunities guaranteed to Plaintiffs by the Civil Rights Act, and the First, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution have been violated by the past and ongoing conduct of Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell in connection with past elections in Ohio.”

A stay was previously entered into on joint motion of the parties, Ohio’s Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and the plaintiffs, to support settlement discussions in the case. “At one point,” Arnebeck noted this morning, “this was interrupted when the Secretary wanted to bring all the ballots that had been ordered preserved by Judge Marbley, bring them in to one location. When the ballots came in, there was significant omissions and reports of the destruction of some of the ballots.”

The BRAD BLOG reported previously on some of some of the ballots missing from 56 of Ohio’s 88 counties, despite the federal court order.

Arnebeck explained that part of the reason for the stay, at the time, was to allow the Ohio Attorney General to proceed first, as provided in Ohio House Bill 3 which states, in part:

…the attorney general may initiate criminal proceedings for election fraud under section 3599.42 of the Revised Code which results from a violation of any provision of Title XXXV of the Revised Code, other than Chapter 3517. of the Revised Code, involving voting, an initiative or referendum petition process, or the conducting of an election, by presenting evidence of criminal violations in question to the prosecuting attorney of any county in which the violations may be prosecuted. If the prosecuting attorney does not prosecute the violations within a reasonable time or requests the attorney general to do so, the attorney general may proceed with the prosecution of the violations with all of the rights, privileges, and powers conferred by law on a prosecuting attorney, including, but not limited to, the power to appear before a grand jury and to interrogate witnesses before a grand jury.
Arnebeck said that the Attorney General’s office said they were ready to begin the investigation of the 2004 presidential election in Ohio, and Arnebeck said he submitted a great deal of material to them, including “Bob’s [Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman’s] book on what happened in Ohio, documentation of the exit poll discrepancy, [and] John Conyers’ report to the Congress which was the factual basis for the challenge to the electoral votes of the Ohio vote in January of 2005.”

About a month later, the Attorney General’s office contacted Arnebeck and asked him, “Who do you want to indict?”

Arnebeck explained that the AG’s “concept of looking at this from a criminal standpoint was not to convene a grand jury and cast the net broadly and use the grand jury process to investigate and narrow the focus into the question of who may have tampered with those votes. But rather they wanted us to come to them with a more focused case.”

Arnebeck then informed the AG that they were going to file the motion to lift the stay so that the plaintiffs “could proceed with the civil case in order to collect discovery to do that” and create a more focused case.

Fitrakis, who was also at today’s presser, said that early on they went to Washington and met with the House Judiciary staff who agreed to come to Ohio in early March of 2007. Fitrakis informed Ohio’s then-Attorney General Mark Dann’s office, but the office never got back to them.

Arnebeck also explained that he met with Conyers within the last two weeks. He made the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee aware of what they have: new resources and information, and the assistance of Spoonamore to help the state of Ohio, the Congress, and the court understand what needs to be done to help secure the 2008 election.

Also, Arnebeck has sent out document “hold” notices. A hold notice is, essentially, a letter sent to the parties of a lawsuit informing them of their legal obligation to hold on to (and not destroy) all relevant documents, including electronic documents such as emails, pending the outcome of the suit.

Hold letters have been sent to the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, asking them to hold documents relating to their activities to use corporate money to influence the Ohio Supreme Court elections. Another hold letter was sent to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey asking that he advise the federal government to hold emails from Karl Rove.

Arnebeck said “We think [Rove] is an individual who has been at the center of both the use of corporate money to attack state Attorneys General and their elections and candidates for the Supreme Court and their elections in the states, and also in the manipulation of the election process.

“We expressed concern about the reports that Mr. Rove destroyed his emails and suggested that we want the duplicates that should exist [be put] under the control of the Secret Service and be sure that those are retained, as well as those on the receiving end in the Justice Department and elsewhere, that those documents are retained for purposes of this litigation, in which we anticipate Mr. Rove will be identified as having engaged in a corrupt, ongoing pattern of corrupt activities specifically affecting the situation here in Ohio.”

Arnebeck said they are prepared “to go after the issues of election integrity in a very targeted way, as opposed to a casting of a fishing net. We’re able to do some ‘rifle shots.'”

Along those lines, Arnebeck plans to subpoena and depose GOP operative Michael (Mike) L. Connell, who as described by SourceWatch, is….

Chief Political Strategist and CEO of New Media Communications, Inc., a Republican website development and internet services firm based in Richfield, OH.

New Media’s GOP clients are a “‘Who’s Who’ of Republican politics”, having provided campaign web services and Internet strategy for Bush-Cheney 2000/2004, as well as Republicans such as Dick Armey, Spencer Abraham for Senate 2000, Heather Wilson for Congress 2000/2002/2004, Rick Santorum for Senate 2000/2006, and John Thune for Senate 2002/2004 to name just a few. New Media also designed for the Republican National Committee, for the Republican Governors Association, and between two and three dozen state GOP sites.

According to Arnebeck, Connell “[D]esigns websites and he manages the information technology. Interestingly, he’s done this for the Bush campaign of 2000 and the Bush campaign of 2004. Simultaneously, he was doing IT work for the State of Florida in 2000, and for the office of the [Ohio] Secretary of State in 2004.

“And just think of this: here’s a person who is an instrument of a major presidential campaign simultaneously setting up the hosting of the votes in the Ohio election.”

Arnebeck added: “We’re not saying that he [Connell] did anything wrong in the sense of his conduct, but we’re saying that these conflicting roles raise some issues.”

According to Arnebeck, “Mr. Connell also worked with the various front groups for the US Chamber, tobacco industry front groups, and starting in 2000 after the New Hampshire primary, there was an unleashing of a variety of these Washington-based lobbying groups that created these phony grass-roots groups that attack candidates, supposedly independently. We believe there is clear evidence of a coordinated campaign in which Mr. Rove is involved, in which Mr. Connell is an instrument. And this emphasizes his value of a witness in bringing some of this together.”

Indeed, Arnebeck believes that Connell’s role in the suit, at least at first, will be that of a witness. “He, by virtue of his involvement in a variety of these roles that we’re concerned with — as a witness, he can provide a perspective. He’s the one person who can bring a great deal of information together to better inform folks of what happened and what some of the vulnerabilities are and where some of the data security breaches may have occurred.”

One of the more frightening aspects of Connell’s work is that his company, Gov Tech Solutions, was the first private company to be allowed to put servers behind the firewall of the Congressional computer systems. This led to him creating and managing several powerful Committee IT networks, including those for the House Intelligence Committee, the Ways and Means Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Ethics Committee, and the House Committee on Rules. Of course, it is completely possible that the firewall could have been created with secret security gaps that can be exploited to hack into any congressional computer. If that has happened, every computer in any senate or congressional office is subject to hacking by Bush/Republican operatives.

Currently, Connell is running the IT operations for the McCain campaign. Isn’t that a comforting thought…

Expert advisor Stephen Spoonamore, who among other things designs and runs computer programs to analyze and detect fraudulent financial activity for the world’s leading credit card companies, said, “You cannot secure electronic voting. You set up a bunch of grandmothers to put together a bunch of computers once every two years, basically those machines are architected in such a manner to maximize their capacity [for] fraud.

“In the 2004 election, from my perspective, on any of the programs we run for any of my credit card clients, the results from the 14 counties, those are the sort of results that would instantaneously launch a credit card fraud investigation or a banking settlement investigation.”

Spoonamore’s reference to the “14 counties” refers to the so-called “Connelly Anomaly” in which down-ticket candidates got more votes than John Kerry. The name comes from the candidacy of C. Ellen Connelly, an African-American woman who was running for the Ohio Supreme Court in 2004. She was endorsed by pro-choice and civil rights groups, and was relatively unknown to Ohio voters, in addition to being vastly outspent by her opponent in the campaign. Yet, somehow Connelly got scores of thousands more votes than did John Kerry at the very top of the ticket.

Arnebeck said that “if you adjust for the [Connelly] anomaly or that situation, it’s enough votes to have changed the outcome of the election. So the focus of our efforts, in cooperation with the Secretary of State, would be to find out who is responsible for that.”

He targeted the Rapp family and the Triad Voting Systems company, who ran the tabulators in a number of Ohio counties in 2004, as those who need to be closely investigated.

“If it’s the Rapp family and the programming of the [Triad] tabulators,” Arnebeck stated, “we need to know that so that the Rapp family will be closely monitored, if not put in jail, before the 2008 election.”

Spoonamore continued, “I am extremely confident in [our] analysis of the 2004 election anomalies because of the way the tabulators were programmed, and all were programmed by the Rapp family on Triad systems. So in my opinion, there should be an investigation launched into exactly what happened.

“There was an enormous number of strange activities in which Triad and the Rapp family were running around the state taking hard drives out of computers, putting in new hard drives, and posting poll results. And the reason all this was going on, I’m quite confident, was that the hard drives they were pulling out had fraudulent coding. Simple as that.”

“Certainly if that happened at one of our banks, you could be arrested.”

Spoonamore has told Arnebeck and the plaintiffs that there is a clear pattern of fraud. He said the Ohio 2004 election was “a frighteningly un-auditable system.”

“When, in the Green Party recount, all of the sudden [people are] driving around the state pulling and swapping hard drives, they should have been in handcuffs that day,” argued Spoonamore.

Arnebeck noted that Triad Voting Systems “has never been interrogated under oath in either a civil or a criminal context, to the best of our knowledge. There was an FBI investigation launched at the request of John Conyers, and very shortly a letter coming back from the FBI stating that they had found no problem. But it was very minimal and it appears to have been a politicized investigation, not a normal serious investigation by the FBI.”

Spoonamore said that he knows the key FBI cyber investigation people “quite well, and they were certainly never involved [in the investigation Conyers requested], there was no hardware ever involved. So whatever investigation was launched, it was topical, but they never examined the equipment.”

When the stay on the King Lincoln case is lifted, Arnebeck intends to depose Connell, key members of the Rapp family, and says that he will make Spoonamore available as an expert witness and advisor. After discovery, they will amend their complaint as needed and “focus on corrective actions that are necessary for the protection of the 2008 election.”

More quotes from today’s presser…

Spoonamore on vote counting: “What happens at the end of the day, all those votes are thrown into a magic box with one troll inside, the troll jumps out and says ‘Here are your results! Ta-Da!!’ That’s it. There’s no validation of the code, there’s no authentication.

“With the Connelly Anomaly, if that was in a banking environment, instantaneously — instantaneously! — the entire system inside that box would be frozen. Any programmer who reviewed any of that code would be alerted, all the executives assisting in that process would be alerted, the hard drives would be frozen in place, extracted and immediately placed in forensic analysis. ‘Cause somebody did something major.”

Spoonamore again: “None of us [the American people] really want to confront the fact that there appears to be an extremely coordinated effort by a very small group of people to rig elections and take control of the executive branch.”

“You can spend all day every day looking at this stuff and saying, ‘Well that would certainly launch a fraud investigation in a bank, but it doesn’t when it comes to our vote.’ Why?”

When asked by a reporter to respond to the fact that both Democratic and Republican Secretaries of State and elected officials will say that our elections are run on a bi-partisan system, Spoonamore responded, “No it’s not. It’s not a bi-partisan system. This entire system is being programmed in secret by programmers who have no oversight by anybody. In my opinion, both sides [Democrats and Republicans] have no friggin’ clue what they’re talking about.”

“The person who programs the code inside the machine will decide the results.”

Spoonamore was asked, “Are you a Republican?” And his priceless response was “Yes, I’ve been a life-long member of the Republican party. Sadly.” That prompted a burst of laughter from all assembled.

When a reporter asked Cliff Arnebeck what specifically he alleges Karl Rove did, Arnebeck said, “Karl Rove was involved in the Bush campaign for president in 2000. Our understanding is when they lost the New Hampshire primary, they were quite concerned and they made a decision to take the gloves off. Mr. Rove contact[ed] people with whom he had worked with in the industry, Grover Norquist and others, on behalf of the tobacco industry.

“At the time, the tobacco industry was fighting the Clinton administration $260 billion class action RICO case. That industry alone had a tremendous incentive to do whatever was necessary to kill that lawsuit. And George Bush, on Rove’s recommendation, positioned himself as a reformer with results. Not meaning the McCain reform with campaign finance reform, but the Bush reform in Texas where they changed the composition of the Texas Supreme Court to be business-friendly and to effectively immunize corporations from meaningful tort liability.

“They turned these groups loose in South Carolina, they won South Carolina with a lot of independent expenditures and dirty tricks.

“Rove was the architect of a strategy to, in effect, undo the rule of law, turn business loose, free of government regulation.

“We certainly want to take his [Rove’s] deposition. His deposition has never been taken. Mr. Conyers is currently seeking his deposition in regard to what he did…in terms of going after Governor Siegelman in Alabama. And Mr. Rove is currently evading the congressional subpoena for his testimony.”

Cross-posted at Velvet Revolution and at The BRAD BLOG.

Ohio Attorney Files Motion to Lift Stay in Ohio Case of King Lincoln Bronzeville v Blackwell:

“Oil, Smoke & Mirrors”
an independent 50 minute documentary on peak oil, 9/11
and the war on terror
Tuesday, July 22, 2008 – 7:30pm
Drexel East Theater, 2254 E. Main St., Bexley
Sponsored by the Free Press, Central Ohio Green Education Fund and the Drexel East

“I heartily recommend this documentary. It should be watched by every citizen of the U.S.“
Dale Allen Pfeiffer. Author “Eating Fossil Fuels”

“Oil Smoke & Mirrors” offers a sobering critique of our perceived recent history, of our present global circumstances, and of our shared future in light of imminent, under-reported and mis-represented energy production constraints. Through a series of impressively candid, informed and articulate interviews, this film argues that the bizzare events surrounding the 9/11 attacks, and the equally bizzare prosecution of the so-called “war on terror”, can be more credibly understood in the wider context of an imminent and critical divergence between available global oil aupply and and global oil demand. The picture “Oil, Smoke & Mirrors” paints is one of a tragically hyper-mediated global-political culture, which, for whatever reason, demonstrably disassociates itself from the values it claims to represent. While the ideas presented in this film can at first seem daunting, it’s ultimate assertion is that these challenges can indeed be met and surpassed, if, but only if, we can find the courage to perceive them.


Thursday, July 17, 2008 – 7:30pm
“GasHole” movie at the Drexel Grandview
1247 Grandview Avenue
PROPORTION TO GAS COSTS.” — Rob Nelson, Variety
Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  “GasHole” narrated by Peter Gallagher coming to The Drexel Grandview
in Columbus on July17th for One Show Only!
This timely, hot-button film takes an intense look at oil prices and
the future of alternative fuels. The film has a special screening event
at The Drexel Grandview on Thursday, July 17th, at 7:30pm with a Q & A
session with the filmmakers to follow the screening. Tickets are $10.00
for general & $8.00 for Seniors/Students/Military.
To see the trailer, PR Photos, TV Appearances, Radio Interviews, etc.
Location: Drexel Grandview, 1247 Grandview Ave.
Phone: 614) 486-6114
Website: GasHole Movie


Saturday, July 12 at 6:30pm

Socialize and network with progressive friends!

1000 E. Main Street, firehouse #11
Parking in rear or at Salvation Army next door
Sponsored by the Free Press and the Central Ohio Green Education Fund

Undercover Air
Is the CIA back in business at Rickenbacker International?
by Bob Fitrakis

Are we a big ol’ lucky dog of a city, or what? I couldn’t be more excited about Saturday’s Business section front-page story in the Dispatch. The lead told us: “Rickenbacker International Airport will begin receiving cargo shipments from Malaysia as a result of service added by Evergreen International Airlines.”

Thank God we finally got somebody to replace the former Southern Air Transport (SAT) after the company went bankrupt amidst allegations that its pilots and planes were used in CIA drug-running operations.

Evergreen began racing “time-sensitive cargo” from Kuala Lumpur to Rickenbacker on Sunday. They’re aiding some of our best corporate citizens “…such as The Limited and Eddie Bauer,” according to the Dispatch, where no doubt garments are made in state-of-the-art cheery facilities by well-paid Third World employees. I was so excited I took a few minutes to research Evergreen’s history.

Evergreen, originally based in McMinnville, Oregon, expanded from a small helicopter in the 1960s “to a major international airline with secret government contracts” according to the Portland, Oregon Free Press. The Oregonian reported that “Evergreen Airline Company, Evergreen International Airlines, Inc., was built on remnants of two older airlines—one a wholly owned CIA proprietary, or front company, and the other a virtual branch of the U.S. Forest Service that for years secretly had helped the CIA recruit paramilitary personnel.”

In 1975, after a series of embarrassing revelations during Senator Frank Church’s investigation of the CIA, the “company” liquidated Intermountain Aviation Inc. of Marana, Arizona near Tucson. Intermountain’s assets were purchased by two Oregon companies that the CIA selected: Evergreen and Rosenbalm Aviation Inc. But Evergreen was the big winner. One of the CIA’s top aviation officers, the legendary covert ops expert George Doole worked for Evergreen as a director. Prior to this, Doole managed all of the CIA’s proprietary airlines. The CIA selected Evergreen to take over the agency’s airbase at Marana. An investigation by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Oregonian documented that “The CIA offered Intermountain’s substantial Arizona assets only to Evergreen.”

What followed was a decade of privileged treatment and government contracts to the airline. Evergreen purchased the CIA’s Arizona assets at a fraction of their real worth. An Arthur Andersen and Co. financial statement indicates that Evergreen’s assets nearly doubled from $25 million to more than $45 million one year after the deal. Evergreen’s revenues rose from $8-10 million range in 1975 to $77.9 million by 1979, according to U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board documents.

The Washington Post reported on Evergreen’s CIA connection in 1980 after it was chosen to fly the former Shah of Iran from Panama to Cairo.

In 1984, CBS News reported that the CIA was using a “network of private companies” to fly military weapons to Central America to support the Contra rebels trying to overthrow the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. CBS named both Southern Air and Evergreen Air as involved in the arms shipments. The day after the broadcast, the Washington Post reported that “Private airlines, including Evergreen, were owned by the CIA during the Vietnam War, but the agency has said that the airline has since been sold.”

The New York Times jumped in a day later with the following lead: “The Central Intelligence Agency is using small private airlines to fly guns and other military supplies to United States-backed forces in Central America, and false flight plans are sometimes filed to cover up the shipments….” The Times mentioned Evergreen Air by name.

When Doole died on March 9, 1985, the Times reported that Evergreen International Aviation in Marana placed a bronze plaque on the wall acknowledging Doole’s more than 20-year service with the CIA. Like Rickenbacker, the huge airfield formerly operated by the CIA was now owned by the county government (Pinal County, AZ). The plaque noted that Doole was “founder, chief executive officer & board of directors of Air America, Inc., Air Asia Company Ltd., Civil Air Transport Company Ltd.” Air America’s planes were used, according to U.S. Intelligence documents, to facilitate the transportation of opium from Laos to U.S. military bases in the Philippines and Thailand during the Vietnam War. The airline’s nickname was “Opium Air.”

Following the incident when Sandinistas shot down a Southern Air Transport C-123K cargo plane that led to the Iran-Contra arms and drug-running scandal, the Washington Post reported that SAT President William G. Langton had been previously associated with Evergreen International Airlines. The Oregonian investigative report came out in 1988 revealing how well Evergreen Airlines was doing. But by 1994, the airline had defaulted on $125 million in junk bonds, according to the Portland Free Press.

In 1997, Evergreen was caught up in a huge scandal when scores of former military planes were diverted to covert CIA operations under the guise of “firefighting.” The Free Press reported that Evergreen International Airlines was involved in the covert activities. Gary Eitel, a decorated Vietnam combat pilot and law-enforcement officer, found employment at Evergreen and “observed that card-carrying CIA personnel were on Evergreen property acting as Evergreen employees.”

In last Saturday’s paper, the Dispatch’s last sentence stated that: “Still, Rickenbacker officials are hoping for even more cargo activity, and [Jeff] Clark said Evergreen is in the process of determining whether it will operate additional flights from Columbus to South America.”

Columbia may be a good place to start for those “time-sensitive” deliveries, eh?

by Bob Fitrakis

They’re here. Yes, indeed. New evidence published in this week’s issue of The Nation directly links Columbus’s own Southern Air Transport to the Contra cocaine network reputedly protected by the Central Intelligence Agency.
In December 1985, Robert Perry, now the director of The Nation Institute’s Investigative Unit, co-wrote the first news story about Contra drug trafficking for the Associated Press. After the October 5, 1986 crash in Nicaragua of a Southern Air Transport aircraft that was carrying arms to the U.S.-backed Contras, Perry flew to Nicaragua and copied down the entries in the crashed plane’s flight logs. The entries made by co-pilot Wallace “Buzz” Sawyer, who, along with two others, died in the crash, indicated that Sawyer flew a Southern Air L-382 from Miami to Barranquilla, Colombia on October 2, 4, and 6, 1985.

In 1986, Wanda Palacio broke with Colombia’s Medellin Cartel and became an FBI informant. According to The Nation, Palacio also informed Massachusetts Senator John Kerry that she had witnessed cocaine being loaded onto Southern Air Transport (SAT) planes, an admitted CIA-owned airline from 1960-’73, then under contract to the Pentagon. On September 26, 1986, Senator Kerry hand-delivered an 11-page statement from Palacio to William Weld, then an assistant attorney general at the Justice Department. Palacio asserts that she was with cocaine kingpin Jorge Ochoa at the airport in Barranquilla in ’83 as a cocaine shipment was loaded onto a SAT plane, according to The Nation. She claims that Ochoa told her it was “a CIA plane and that he was exchanging guns for drugs.”

Palacio claims in early October 1985 she again witnessed Ochoa’s aides loading an SAT plane with cocaine. She also confirmed to Kerry staffers that Sawyer was one of the SAT pilots she saw loading cocaine in Barranquilla in early October. SAT officials admitted that Sawyer flew their planes, but steadfastly deny involvement in cocaine smuggling. Not that we would expect them to admit it. On August 7, 1987 in a Senate deposition, Palacio stated that “the FBI stopped working with me all of the sudden because of this Southern Air Transport deal…Justice doesn’t want to hear me.”

With the CIA-Contra drug connection now national news after the publication of Gary Webb’s series in the San Jose Mercury News, and recently reprinted in the Dispatch, questions need to be asked about the use of taxpayer’s money to bring the infamous Southern Air Transport to Rickenbacker Air Base. Webb documents how the Contra cocaine network spread crack into the inner cities of Cincinnati and Dayton. Evidence suggests that there was clearly a Colombian cocaine connection in Columbus in the late ’80s and early ’90s. In 1990, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department under Earl Smith made the single largest drug bust in its history when they confiscated 48 pounds of cocaine from Fernando Solar.

Solar, according to Smith, led the Sheriff’s Department to New York and an apartment building where vehicles were being compartmentalized for drug trafficking. They issued a warrant for one Carlos Wagner. Wagner was later detained by U.S. Customs Agents who confiscated half a million dollars from him and allowed him to return to Colombia. He was later arrested in Houston when he re-entered the U.S. Wagner turned out to be a “mule,” Smith says, for Colombian drug dealer Rudolphio Trahiellio in San Francisco.

In 1992, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department played a vital role in Trahiello’s arrest in cracking one of the largest drug rings in the U.S. Solar, Wagner and Trahiello are reportedly in prison, but Southern Air Transport remains at Rickenbacker Air Base, courtesy of Ohio taxpayer’s dollars. Why?

Buck up In the September 4 Columbus Alive, I wrote a news article entitled “The High Price of Bucking the System” about the firing of Voinovich administration official Joe Gilyard. Gilyard, former director of the Office of Criminal Justice Services, repeatedly claimed that Voinovich Company lobbyist Phil Hamilton continually pressured him to illegally release money for Voinovich Company projects. When I asked him why there was so much pressure, Gilyard claimed that “Pauly Voinovich and [the governor’s former chief of staff and former Voinovich Companies vice president] Paul Mifsud were in a hurry to repay money to a savings and loan they had busted out.”

Gilyard offered no substantiation. But, a Cleveland Plain Dealer article dated September 8, 1994 provides additional insight. Seems Pauly defaulted on a $6.8 million construction loan for a housing project in 1990, just before Gilyard was appointed. The lender was Columbus-based Mid-America Federal Savings & Loan, which later failed and was taken over by the Resolution Trust Company. Dale Bissonette, a former chief financial officer of the Voinovich Company, pleaded guilty to bank fraud in connection with the case. Good thing we got Pauly V building the Franklin County jail for $2 million-oops! forgot the overruns-$9 million. Gilyard was fired; Voinovich is at large in Franklin County. Stop him before he builds again.