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DeLay’s defense

Well, it’s pretty clear that Tom DeLay has been listening to the damage control experts, isn’t it? He’s got his attack points down, and he’s got a little wind at his back now, thanks in part to the efforts of his defense attorney and in part to the nature of the latest indictment plus recent comments by the first grand jury’s foreman. I don’t think those things will amount to much in the long run, barring a ruling in favor of the defense on the motion to dismiss the indictments, which I also don’t think will happen, but DeLay doesn’t need much to work with to be effective.

Though he’s talking about a different subject, I think Josh Marshall raises a point that’s worth considering as the DeLay Defense sets up its perimeter.

We tend to think that the real key to a scandalee’s fate is how many mobilize against him or her. Usually, though, the key issue is whether and how quickly they can find some committed group to mount a defense. If that happens, and quickly, a scandal equilibrium can be reached, and an embattled pol can often withstand merciless attacks and revelations. With no true base of support, however, a career can rapidly collapse even if the opposition itself isn’t all that intense.

Obviously, DeLay has a sizeable base of support at this time. Very few people on his side of the aisle have said anything (on the record, at least) against him, and the activists are firmly in his corner. What I’m wondering is whether or not anyone prominent – say, Ken Mehlman or Roy Blunt – will take a turn on the talk show circuit to aid in DeLay’s defense, or if the only person out there on TV doing the talking points thing will continue to be just DeLay himself.

What I’m getting at is that the more time, energy, and especially money that DeLay has to spend on himself, the less he can spread around to other Congressfolk. That’s been the basis for the loyalty he’s built up over the years. How far will it go before more self-involved concerns take over? If he’s not making deposits in campaign bank accounts, how much personal capital does DeLay have to withdraw? How much will that change if the Abramoff investigations start to go south for him? That feels like a pretty big wild card to me, and as the Chron article notes, it’s not something he has direct control over.

There is one bit of good news for DeLay – his buddy Tom Craddick appears to be officially off the hook for any indictments that may be remaining for Ronnie Earle to pursue.

Roy Minton of Austin, said Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle relayed the news to him last week.

“He called me … and said, ‘It’s good news.’ I said, ‘What’s ya got, Buddy?’ And he said, ‘We’re not going to indict Craddick.'”

A spokesman for Earle, Rudy Magallanes, refused to comment.

I continue to be slightly puzzled by this, just based on past revelations of what Craddick knew and when he knew it, but that’s the way it goes.

Finally, look for Chris Bell to give a detailed proposal on ethics reform in Texas tomorrow. Lord knows we could use some of that.

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One Comment

  1. Prove Our Democracy with Paper Ballots says:

    Thanks again to Chris Bell for his focus on ethics. It was great when he said “Everyone but the scoundrel wants fair elections we can all trust.” This should be your theme: “Fair Elections We Can All Trust.” Fair election must include Paper Ballot evidence.

    Following is an update by Bev Harris and BlackBox Voting and more documentation of the BradBlog piece.

    Posted on Friday, September 16, 2005 – 07:41 am:

    What’s important, what’s new

    David Bear quotes important

    The David Bear quotes are quite important. I hope Brad has Bear on tape. Of particular importance are Bear’s lies about modem connections to GEMS.

    Unnamed insider is a weak source

    The unnamed insider is not particularly important unless he can be named or information corroborated. Let’s examine what information the unnamed insider provided that wasn’t already provided by other Diebold insiders.

    Already provided, in writing, by other Diebold insiders

    The Diebold memos have written confirmation of the back door from Ken Clark, one of Diebold’s chief programmers, dated Oct. 2001, proving the programmers knew. You can find this in Chapter 13, Black Box Voting book, along with a followup memo from Nel Finberg, also in 2001, proving that the company (then Global Election Systems) chose to do nothing.

    Diebold had a fiduciary duty to know

    Diebold acquired Global Election Systems in January 2002, but acquisition talks and due diligence was under way as early as June 2001. The memos from Ken Clark and Nel Finberg were in Oct. 2001. Since there is a clear paper trail inside the company about this problem, the Diebold acquisition team absolutely should have known all about this BEFORE they even bought the company.

    When an acquisition is done by a public company, an investment banking firm is brought in to do a very thorough examination of the software before the purchase can go through. Usually, company employees are urged to watch what they write in memos, because these can be opened up to the due diligence team. Yet, the employees wrote candidly of the problems. Diebold either did not do its due diligence properly, or wanted to keep the flaws in place.

    Other documentation: Proof of modem connection to GEMS

    The Diebold logs themselves, obtained by Black Box Voting in public records requests, prove that the GEMS tabulator is hooked up to modems in most locations. In fact, the transmission times are logged, hundreds of them.

    The Windows Event logs obtained by Black Box Voting also show remote activity.

    There is no reason to doubt the unnamed Diebold source, because everything he/she says can be verified with internal documentation and hard data from GEMS audit logs. However, there is not much new in the “unnamed source” statements, because named sources within Diebold had already confirmed the problems, in writing, earlier.

    By the way, there is no evidence in the memos that Diebold ordered any clean-up of the software after it acquired Global Election Systems. Thus, the due diligence process done by Diebold either was negligent or Diebold wanted to keep the flaws intact.

    David Bear knew about vulnerabilities in 2004

    David Bear was asked about these vulnerabilities several times by the mainstream press before the election in 2004. In fact, Diebold issued a formal rebuttal statement to the Black Box Voting report about the back door.

    Diebold told the New York Times a demonstration of the problem was “a magic show.”

    Other back doors were also known to Diebold before the election

    Note that the “undocumented back door” refers only to the MS Access hack. A more dangerous hack is the Visual Basic script attack (which can also be done with a Java script). The VB script back door was demonstrated by Dr. Herbert Thompson in Washington D.C. at the National Press Club on Sept. 23, 2004, before the election, and Diebold knew about it because they were asked to respond by Scripps News Service, the New York Times, and many other media outlets.

    Proof of concept for attacking GEMS with a script was done with a real Diebold GEMS central tabulator, in a real Florida elections office, by Dr. Herbert Thompson on Feb. 14, 2005 and again on May 2, 2005.

    What’s news in the Bradblog story, what’s not

    What’s new in Brad’s story is the David Bear quotes, and hopefully he tape recorded Bear’s statements.

    The unnamed insider is also new but because there is no name, is not proof of anything.

    The information from the unnamed insider, with the exception of the Diebold behavior towards employees, is not new and was documented in fall 2004.

    The reports of Diebold retribution towards employees who brought up the problem are interesting, and match exactly the kinds of reports we get when we interview Diebold employees.

    Bradblog mixes together remote access with the back door. Actually, these are two completely different exploits, and while it is true that if you combine them, you’ll get remote access into a GEMS back door, Brad doesn’t make this clear.

    Black Box Voting examined remote access attacks using a real Diebold GEMS system in Florida. The upshot of that is that remote access uses a proprietary protocol in the optical scan locations, requiring more sophistication to penetrate, but certainly crackable for a determined hacker. The touch-screen locations use a very high risk RAS protocol, and this was documented by Black Box Voting in Oct. 2004, and reported to the authorities.