Scoop Links: Hacking Democracy Doco On HBO Tonight

Published: Thu 2 Nov 2006 02:57 PM
Scoop Links: Hacking Democracy Doco On HBO Tonight
Compilation by Scoop Co-Editor Alastair Thompson

Click Image For Hacking Democracy Homepage
"In 2002, Seattle grandmother and writer Bev Harris asked officials in her county why they had acquired electronic touch screen systems for their elections…. In the course of her research, which unearthed hundreds of reported incidents of mishandled voting information, Harris stumbled across an "online library" of the Diebold Corporation, discovering a treasure trove of information about the inner-workings of the company's voting system.
Harris brought this proprietary "secret" information to computer security expert Dr. Avi Rubin of Johns Hopkins University [Scoop Editor's Note: VIA A SOFTWARE RELEASE ANNOUNCED ON SCOOP.CO.NZ - Sludge Report #154 – Bigger Than Watergate!], who determined that the software lacked the necessary security features to prevent tampering. "
- Hacking Democracy Homepage
Bloomberg - Diebold Demands HBO Cancel Documentary on Voting MachinesHBO - Hacking Democracy - An Interview with Bev Harris and Russell Michaels on the documentary to air November 2.BradBlog - Diebold Fumbles Attempt to Stop HBO Airing of 'Hacking Democracy'!Computerworld - Review: Hacks, lies and videotape
Diebold Demands HBO Cancel Documentary on Voting Machines
Film saying they can be manipulated "inaccurate."
By Michael Janofsky
Wednesday 01 November 2006
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Diebold Inc. insisted that cable network HBO cancel a documentary that questions the integrity of its voting machines, calling the program inaccurate and unfair.
The program, "Hacking Democracy," is scheduled to debut Thursday, five days before the 2006 U.S. midterm elections. The film claims that Diebold voting machines aren't tamper-proof and can be manipulated to change voting results.
"Hacking Democracy" is "replete with material examples of inaccurate reporting," Diebold Election System President David Byrd said in a letter to HBO President and Chief Executive Chris Albrecht posted on Diebold's Web site. Short of pulling the film, Monday's letter asks for disclaimers to be aired and for HBO to post Diebold's response on its Web site.
According to Byrd's letter, inaccuracies in the film include the assertion that Diebold, whose election systems unit is based in Allen, Texas, tabulated more than 40 percent of the votes cast in the 2000 presidential election.
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Hacking Democracy
An Interview with Bev Harris and Russell Michaels on the documentary to air November 2.
Wednesday 01 November 2006
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HBO: How did you come to the project, Bev?
Bev Harris: Well, I became interested because of a story I'd written which raised some questions in my mind, and the more I started looking into the questions, and getting answers, and seeing that the answers were the wrong answers, the more interested in it I became. And, that has continued. Literally, every rock you turn over there's something underneath it that you don't really want to see. And this is our election system today.
Some of the things I found, almost on the first day, were corporate records and disclosure documents. So we really weren't looking at anything that someone could spin because we were looking at public records, and actual files. I realized very early on that the thing to do would be to publish the actual documents, publish actual videotapes. Publish things that can't be spun. It doesn't matter if someone listens to me. The records tell the truth.
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Diebold Fumbles Attempt to Stop HBO Airing of 'Hacking Democracy'!
In Hilarious Statement, Company Claims Documentary — Which They Haven't Seen — Has Facts Wrong…But They're Referring to a Completely Different Documentary!
Feature Article on Film Should Be Published by ComputerWorld Tomorrow…
I've written a feature article for ComputerWorld on HBO's upcoming Hacking Democracy, the superb documentary on the many insidious lies of Diebold scheduled for airing beginning Nov. 2nd. We posted a preview article on the film's release several weeks ago. That article should be posted in full Wednesday morning if the continuing delays are worked out (CW had said they'd hoped to publish it Monday).
In the meantime, Diebold seems to be embarrassing itself yet again by issuing a statement calling for HBO to pull the documentary, or at least run disclaimers before, after and throughout the film. I've seen it. If I were them, I'd try to do everything I could to keep America from seeing the film, as well.
"Truth and accurate reporting are the biggest casualties of the film," Diebold Election System President David Byrd is quoted as saying in the media release.
But ironically, as The Hollywood Reporter is reporting tonight, Byrd has not only never seen the film, but his claims that the film is "Riddled With Errors and Slipshod Reporting" apparently refer to a completely different film!
Confusing a different film called VoterGate with the short film called VoterGate, which was an early version of the film now known as Hacking Democracy, Byrd writes a two page letter [PDF] to HBO refuting several points in the other film!
While Diebold's letter from Byrd claims that the film is "so egregious that HBO should pull the documentary," the letter itself is not only riddled with errors and slipshod reporting, it also makes a sad attempt at playing the partisan card, which Diebold has been trying to deny for years! Note this graf…
"Hacking Democracy" is directed by the directors of "VoterGate" and contains much of the same material. "VoterGate" was produced with special thanks to Susan Sarandon and The Streisand Foundation.
Never mind that the VoterGate Diebold refers to is the wrong VoterGate, but what the hell do either Susan Sarandon or The Streisand Foundation have to do with Diebold's claim that the film is inaccurate?
Not disingenuous enough for you? Byrd has more…
Harri Hursti is shown attacking a Diebold machine in Florida. But his "attack" proved later to be a complete sham. Hursti was invited by California Secretary of State's office to demonstrate his supposed ability to "hack" a Diebold optical scan system. He declined…
Of course, we know that Byrd never saw the Hursti Hack in Hacking Democracy (it hadn't occurred by the time either VoterGate film was released), the disingenuous claim that it "proved later to be a complete sham" is itself a complete sham:
Not only did the California Secretary of State's own technical advisory board at UC Berkley write that "Harri Hursti's attack does work" and that it was "definitely real" in their report [PDF] on the hack, but they also found "more serious vulnerabilities…that go well beyond what Mr. Hursti demonstrated, and yet require no more access to the voting system than he had. These vulnerabilities are consequences of bugs–16 in all."
We would later learn that the invitation to which Diebold refers, from the CA SoS "inviting" Hursti to try his hack out in California, was drafted by a Diebold employee and disinformation operative by the name of Rob Pelletier, and sent to Hursi on CA SoS stationery!
As revealed by this investigative report [PDF] released over the Summer by (one of the film's main subjects) entitled "The Diebold Pursuasion Machine," it appears that Pelletier drafted the letter for CA SoS McPherson's office. The "invitation" would later come to be regarded as a "setup" using special Diebold machines and designed for Hursti to fail.
In the same report, it was revealed that Diebold employee Pelletier had been spreading disinformation under several phony names at various Internet sites, as well as here at BRAD BLOG as a commenter using the name "Wally O'Diebold."
As Barney Gimble wrote yesterday in a terrific piece on the history of Diebold in Fortune, about a "five-step plan guaranteed to make an obscure company absolutely notorious":
First get into a business you don't understand, selling to customers who barely understand it either. Then roll out your product without adequate testing. Don't hire enough skilled people. When people notice problems, deny, obfuscate and ignore. Finally, blame your critics when it all blows up in your face.
Hey Diebold: It's blowing up in your face. Stop blaming the critics. You're just making a continuous jackass out of yourselves. And, trust me, you've got far worse problems coming your way that you ought to be worrying about.
Review: Hacks, lies and videotape
Election integrity advocate Brad Friedman looks at HBO's Hacking Democracy
November 01, 2006 (Computerworld) -- I believe in full transparency. So allow me to disclose to you that I didn't come toHacking Democracy, HBO's new documentary on e-voting in America, with an unbiased perspective on the electronic voting machines that an unprecedented number of Americans will encounter at the polls in next week's general elections.
In fact, I'm one of those who have been labeled "conspiracy theorist" or "technophobe," despite years of experience as a computer programmer. Where do labels like those come from? Well, to quote the film:
"It makes me cry. I'm sorry but it does. ... There are people out there who are giving their lives to make sure our elections are secure. They're being called conspiracy theorists and technophobes. And these vendors are lying and saying that everything's all right and it's not all right."
-- Susan Pynchon, election integrity activist from the Florida Fair Elections Coalition, after serving as an eyewitness to the first known hack of a Diebold optical-scan voting machine, December 2005
My name is Brad Friedman, and I run When I began two years ago what has become an odyssey of investigative reporting on e-voting problems, I was completely naive -- clueless about the realities that had already set in for our crumbling democracy. Dozens of whistleblower and scientific reports, more than a handful of hacks, uncountable demonstrable lies by American voting machine vendors and elections officials, and thousands of blog items and articles later, I am anything but unbiased, or naive, or clueless. After viewing Hacking Democracy, I hope that more of the American public will share my horror at what's happening.
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*** ENDS ***
The Scoop Editor
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Scoop is NZ's largest independent news source; respected widely in media, political, business and academic circles for being the place on the internet for publishing "what was really said", and for the quality of its analysis of issues.

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