Truth in exile 

U.S. reporter breaks Bush blockbusters -- on English TV

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McKinney, meanwhile, chaired congressional hearings that had launched a probe of Barrick's activities in the Congo, where the firm was accused of, as Palast says, "stoking the civil war." McKinney was also fighting to protect the life of a whistleblower in the Tanzania episode.

So, who were the black leaders that helped torpedo McKinney? "Andy Young and Vernon Jordan," replies Palast. "No one has held them accountable." (McKinney did not respond to e-mail messages.)

Palast is most famous for his reporting on the Florida election meltdown in 2000. "It's the story they couldn't do in America," Palast told me. The election story got a shot of juice at the March 23 Academy Awards ceremonies, when Michael Moore correctly described the Bush presidency as "fictitious" and said the invasion of Iraq was "for fictitious reasons."

The self-righteous, flag-wrapped rabid right got a royal wedgie.

One of the truths the neocons and the radio ignorance brigade most fear is that, in a real sense, George Bush is a fictitious president. I sure as hell feel that people shouldn't get over it. Our nation was robbed of its democracy in November 2000. Our right to chose our leader was usurped, a far greater sin by a billion fold than Bill Clinton diddling Monica.

Here's the background on what Moore told the Oscar ceremony -- and on what Palast uncovered.

First, I'm not talking about hanging chads or butterfly ballots. The American media's least reported Huge Story of the decade -- ignoring the largely unreported fabrications used to justify the Iraq invasion -- was the intentional disenfranchisement of 57,700 Florida voters by Jeb Bush and Chief Elections Subverter Katherine Harris.

Palast reported his accounts for the BBC, English newspapers and progressive American journals such as The Nation.

The Bush-Harris shit list supposedly tagged people who had been convicted of felonies and, therefore, were ineligible to vote in Florida. Yet, included among the 57,700 names were people listed as being "convicted" in 2007. That isn't a typo. Perhaps the Bushies had seen a sneak preview of Minority Report and were nailing people of future crimes. Palast found 325 time-traveling bandits on the Bush-Harris list.

More serious -- an analysis of the 57,700 names showed 90.2 percent were innocent of any crime that could have kept them from voting. Most on the list were black and Hispanic, and most were Democrats. BBC researchers projected that Al Gore lost 22,000 votes as a result of the bogus purge -- plenty of margin for him to have won Florida and the presidency.

Later, Palast turned up another scrub list, about 40,000 names of people who had been convicted of crimes but who had had their rights restored -- Bush-Harris had axed them also, which was patently illegal. Most would have undoubtedly voted Democratic.

The purge list was compiled by an Atlanta-based company, ChoicePoint, that is closely tied to Republican circles. Palast exposed that ChoicePoint failed to do even basic checking of the list -- despite charging taxpayers curiously high fees topping $4 million.

Palast, in his book, states:

"Was ChoicePoint paid to get it wrong? Every single failure -- to verify by phone, to sample and test, to cross-check against other databases -- worked in one direction: to increase the number of falsely accused voters."

Eventually a ChoicePoint official testified to a congressional committee -- not that you read about it in your daily newspaper -- that "ChoicePoint told state officials that the rules for creating the list would mean a significant number of people who were not ... a felon would be included in the list."

According to Palast, when ChoicePoint tried to draw Bush-Harris attention to the problem, the company was told to forget about it.

If you followed the vote scandal that led to Bush's coup, the last press report you probably remember came about two months after 9-11. Newspapers, with their own media consolidation agenda before the Bush administration, clearly were angst-ridden at the thought of offending the appointed president. Add to that the spike in Bush's post-9-11 popularity, and what should have been a milestone in precision journalism became, instead, a spectacle of media slavishness. A media consortium concluded that even had the recount been concluded, Bush would have won. The radically Republican Tampa Tribune editorial page, for example, crowed on Nov. 14, 2001: "Exhaustive media ballot recount confirms Bush victory over Gore."

Actually that story, too, was false. Only by a highly selective set of rules could the lapdog media construct a model where Bush won. But, far more important, the media consortium focused on the ballot-chad issues -- and totally ignored the more than 90,000 voters denied their right to vote.



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