Author harassed with Patriot Act

The Secret Service has turned its tender attentions to Bev Harris, author and operator of the Web site BlackBox Harris says the government appears to be using the Patriot Act in a bid to get her files and membership list, a clear cut civil rights violation.

It is illegal for any government agency to demand a group’s membership lists. Neither can leaks to journalists be probed by seizing the reporter’s computer. Harris said the federal harassment of her operation began after internal memos of the Diebold Corp. were leaked on the Internet and in the press.

The CEO of Diebold is a personal friend and heavy contributor of George W. Bush and the Republican Party. He has publicly stated he intends to deliver Ohio’s vote to Bush in November. After the Diebold memos became public knowledge, Harris’ Web site was shut down.

Harris commented: “…around the time of the California recall election, I started getting solicited to accept VoteHere software. I didn’t bite, because it was obvious that this was an entrapment attempt.

“OK, a word about VoteHere: This is the company that has no visible means of support. It doesn’t seem to sell anything. Its board is heavily infested with defense industry types—a former CIA director (Robert Gates, now heads George Bush School of Government); it had Admiral Bill Owens, a member of the Defense Policy Board with Perle and Wolfowitz, a very close friend of Cheney; currently headed by former Washington Secretary of State Ralph Munro,” Harris said.

In July 2003, VoteHere announced it would be releasing its software for review. The release had been planned for release in September. It never happened; only a bunch of literature about its product appeared. The “company” did release part of its code later amid much fanfare. Harris said about the end of the first week of October, she received an e-mail stating “click this link” for VoteHere software.

“Now who would fall for that?” she said. “Why would anyone in their right mind grab the stuff in some clandestine manner when it was being released into the open momentarily? And this is a company that never sells anything. Who gives a s— anyway, what its software does?”

Harris said the people behind the software are trying to peddle another alternative to a voter-verified paper ballot. She called it “an idiotic solution where we turn over auditing of the vote to a handful of cryptographers who work for a private company with defense industry ties. No one I know thinks that is even a viable concept, so why would we care to examine the software these cryptographers make up?”

In Winnebago County, we already turn over the actual counting of the vote to a private company whose affiliations are not disclosed and which answers to no one. They just take the paycheck and go home.

Harris said in January of this year, VoteHere put out a press release claiming its Web site was “hacked” the previous October and blamed it on activists. She published an article voicing strong doubts that the whole story had been presented.

Since then, she said, she has been interviewed by the Secret Service about five times concerning the alleged hacking. Harris said the agents spend little time on that incident; they want to know mostly about the Diebold memos, but claim they aren’t investigating that.

Hacker crimes are now assigned to a new division, the CyberCrimes division, according to organization under the Patriot Act. The Secret Service handles the investigation.

Harris said: “…let me tell you what they want from me now. They want the logs of my Web site with all the forum messages, and the IP (Internet Provider) addresses. That’s right. All of them. A giant fishing expedition for every communication of everyone interested in the voting issue. This has nothing to do with a VoteHere “hack” investigation, and I have refused to turn it over.”

Now the Secret Service has contacted Harris and told her they plan to subpoena her and take her before a grand jury. Harris says they still aren’t going to get her membership lists unless they confiscate her computer. Harris said her attorney tells her that might be what the feds have in mind.

Bear in mind, all of this takes place without judicial oversight; no court orders, no warrants, just the guys in the dark suits and shades doing whatever they please to obtain whatever they want. Civil liberties be damned.


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