Washblog

Michael Connell, Rove's IT Consultant, Dies In Plane Crash

On the national election integrity front, one of the big stories all summer long pertained to Stephen Spoonamore, a Republican computer security expert and Michael Connell, Karl Rove's IT guru consultant.  

The big story in the alternative press right now is Connell's "untimely" death in a small plane crash.  

Below the fold is an update and summary of this unfolding story.

UPDATE:

Yesterday on Thom Hartmann's radio show he interviewed Cliff Arnebeck, the attorney building the case against Karl Rove for the stolen 2004 election.  Arnebeck described it as a racketeering/conspiracy case.  Arnebeck is the attorney in an ongoing federal civil lawsuit of King Lincoln Bronzeville Neighborhood Association v. Blackwell, a case stemming from the 2004 Ohio election.  Arnebeck asserts that in Ohio, and elsewhere, the GOP, in a grand plan concocted by GOP strategists, among them Karl Rove, sought to corrupt elections by erecting a virtually undetectable cyber system that would tilt close elections to Republicans.

The interview was about Mike Connell, the Rove IT guru who designed the system and who died 12/19/08 in a suspicious airplane crash.

BACKGROUND:

First, Steven Spoonamore is a Republican and a expert in electronic data security and digital network architecture. He came to Arnebeck about his concern that elections are being stolen through high-tech means. Spoonamore told Arnebeck that he suspects that a "man in the middle" system was set up by Republican operatives. The person who set up these systems was a GOP operative and IT expert by the name of Mike Connell. [Ed]Spoonamore told Arnebeck that he(Spoonamore) believes this MIM system may have been used to rig the 2004 election and other elections.

Spoonamore has worked extensively with large banks and credit card companies.  He has stated that in banking, a MIM system would be a huge red flag of possible fraud and embezzlement transactions.  Once a MIM is discovered, an investigation would immediately take place.  Essentially he is saying, if he came across network architecture in a bank like that used in the 2004 Ohio election, he would immediately launch a fraud investigation.  It is a classic embezzlement set up called "man in the middle."   In this scenario a "rogue computer" is set up in the middle of the data transmission path between two legitimate computers. The rogue computer then manipulates the incoming data before sending it on to the ultimate, legitimate destination.

Ohio's Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell hired Mike Connell's wife's company GovTech to set up an official election website.  This website was hosted on Smartech servers located in TN.

SUBSTANCE OF SPOONAMORE DEPOSTION:

Referring to Ohio's electronic vote data transmissions systems, Spoonamore stated: "It is relatively simple to establish the security of the transmissions, whether sent by fax, or by electronic transmission, by reviewing the network architecture as operated on election night, and review the session logs of the secretary of state's central tabulation computer to determine the IP address and times of communication by other machines to the Secretary. The variable nature of the story of what occurred, and lack of documentation available, would be cause to launch an immediate fraud investigation in any of my banking clients."  

The vote tabulation and reporting system as initially designed in Ohio, was supposed to allow each county central tabulator (Computer A) to add up local information (polling place/precinct data) locally, and then via a lightly encrypted system, send the information to the Sec. of State's (SOS) statewide tabulator (Computer B) where all the county information is tabulated for the final results. This system, while using public Internet capacity, could be compromised at the county level (Computer A could be hacked) or in the transmission of any one county to the SOS central state tabulator (Computer A talking to Computer B).  However, it would only be possible to compromise the vote on a statewide basis by a compromise at the SOS level tabulator (Computer B is hacked).  Alternately, in Ohio 2004, Spoonamore was told that this process was replaced at the last minute by fax transmitted results.

The Ohio vote tabulation and reporting system, as modified at the direction of Mr. Blackwell, sent election night data to an outside server located in TN and then back to the SOS server in Ohio, thus allowing the introduction of a single computer in the middle of the pathway. This computer located at a company principally managing IT Systems for GOP campaign and political operations (Smartech; Computer C) received all information from each county computer (Computer A) BEFORE it was sent onward to Computer B. This centralized collection of all incoming statewide tabulations would make it extremely easy for a single operator, or a preprogrammed single "force balancing computer" to change the results in any way desired by the team controlling Computer C (the "rogue computer"); in this case GOP partisan operatives. Again, if this out of state system had ANY digital access to the Secretary of States system it would be cause for immediate investigation by any of my banking clients.  

If scenario #2 described above is true, Computer C, was placed functionally in a central control position in the network and could easily have updated instructions for various tabulators at the county level (Computers A) to change their results at the county level. If this had happened, in order to cover up this fact, the hard drives of the county level tabulators would have to be pulled and destroyed, as they would have digital evidence of this hacking from Computer C. The fact that TRIAD, the election vendor in Ohio in charge of the county level computers, pulled out hard drives and destroyed them in advance of the 2004 Green Party Recount in Ohio is a clear signal something was deliberately amiss with the county tabulators (Computers A).  

In the case of Ohio 2004, the only purpose I can conceive for sending all county vote tabulations to a GOP managed Man-in-the-Middle site in Chattanooga BEFORE sending the results onward to the Sec. of State, would be to hack the vote at the MIM.  
Mike [Mike Connell] clearly agrees that the electronic voting systems in the US are not secure. He further made a statement that he is afraid that systems he put in place may have been exploited for this purpose by some of the more ruthless partisans of the GOP.  
Mr. Connell builds front end applications, user interfaces and web sites. Knowing his team and their skills, I find it unlikely they would be the vote thieves directly. I believe however he knows who is doing that work, and has likely turned a blind eye to this activity. Mr. Connell is a devout Catholic. He has admitted to me that in his zeal to 'save the unborn' he may have helped others who have compromised elections. He was clearly uncomfortable when I asked directly about Ohio 2004.  

CONNELL DIES IN PLANE CRASH 12/19 - FUTURE DEPOSITIONS WERE PLANNED:

First, it is worth noting that given Connell's extensive connection with the Bush family, Rove and McCain, that the mainstream media has failed to mention the crash or Connell's death.  

Mike Connell was a Republican operative that worked with Rove and the Bush family for many years.  He has been dubbed the "High IQ Forest Gump" because he has been "at the scene of the crime" for numerous questionable elections since 2000. Connell's firm was also responsible for creating the alternate email and communication systems used by Karl Rove and others to avoid the White House public systems. He is also said to have installed the existing Congressional computer networks for high-security House and Senate committees such as Judiciary and Intelligence.

Arnebeck was able to get a court order to have Connell deposed.  The deposition occurred on Monday November 3, 2008, the day before the 2008 Presidential election.  So far the deposition has not been released publicly.  Additional depositions were planned.  Arnebeck had requested both state and federal protection for Connell, which was not heeded.  

In the days preceding Connell's deposition, Rove was stating that McCaine would win 10 battleground states, and that the public should not pay attention to the polls. McCain was stating that he guaranteed he would win with a surge in the wee hours of the night (just like 2004).  Following Connell's deposition, in the late afternoon on Monday, Nov 3, Rove changed his position - on his blog he said Obama would win by an "electoral landslide" even in the states he had previously predicted McCain would win.  Many believe Connell's deposition caused Rove to cease the plan to steal the 2008 election.  According to Arnebeck (as he stated in a recent radio interview) a reliable source told him that Rove, Connell and others met on the weekend before the election to discuss the risks of following through with their plan.  They allegedly stated that if the polls showed the margin between Obama and McCaine was 3% or less, they would shift votes.  Obama's numbers were showing 4% or better, so the plan to rig the election was dropped.

Larissa Alexandrovna, an investigative reporter for www.Rawstory.com, has been reporting on these events.  Connell was one of her formerly undisclosed sources.  Following Connell's death Larissa reported that Connell had been ready to talk and was frightened.  

If you have not been following this case, I recommend going back and reading the reports.  Blackbox Voting discovered MIM systems in several other states.   The belief amongst the Ohio election fraud attorneys and other national election integrity researchers and activists, is that there had been a plan to steal the 2008 election but, thanks to the work of Arnebeck, Velvet Revolution, BlackBoxVoting, other activists, and Connell's deposition, Rove's plan to subvert the election was thwarted.  

The 2008 election was very different from 2004.  The public is now much more aware of the ongoing efforts by certain members within the GOP to suppress votes (to make every election close or to win the election outright) and then shift votes in order to "win" elections. This made stealing the 2008 election riskier than the 2004.  Furthermore, Obama was at least making some efforts to thwart the vote suppression aspects of the scheme, which was not done in 2004.

Below are some links covering this case.  I recommend that you go to www.bradblog.com and search for "spoonamore" and "mike Connell" and "Arnebeck" for more information and links.

** Local note:  When Karl Rove visited Seattle for a fundraiser following the 2006 mid-term elections, he said a curious thing.  At a fundraiser that was secretly video taped Rove was talking about how the Democrats took back Congress.  He stated that "if only we had shifted 3000 more votes" the GOP would have remained in control. His choice of words, "shifted" versus "won," is curious.

I am including a few links, but for those seeking more detail, I recommend Googling "Stephen Spoonamore" and "Michael Connel".  I also recommend using these names for searches on Bradblog and at Rawstory.com.

Ohio Newscast.

Connell Warned.

Connell Subpoenaed.

MIM in Ohio.

MIM in other states.

Spoonamore article.

Spoonamore deposition.

Rove & McCain predict win.

[Fixed the hyperlinks. 12/28 8:29pm] [ED: Spoonamore stated that he thought MIM was used in 2004, not Connell. 12/29 9:34 pm]

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I heard about this on Democracy Now a few months ago.  When I relate the story to people, many do not believe me.

This article breaks it down in detail.

I hope people 'get it' that it takes more than just registering a few more voters.  I think the Obama campaign did.  Certainly Osgood did.  Hopefully, we can force Sam Reed to.

Thanks for putting this together.

by ktkeller on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 07:14:35 PM PST

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Here is some information from several sources.

In an article posted at Rawstory, Curtis Randy Cole, Connell's friend and former colleague, states that he does not believe there was sabotage because Connell never mentioned any threats or fears. When he [Cole]first heard of the crash he thought "bad weather" or "icing of the wings." According to the article, "[f]or Cole, something went wrong and for him the weather was the most likely culprit."

According to Rawstory, an Akron Beacon Journal report stated there was a deterioration of weather conditions at the time of Connell's approach to the airport.

Rawstory sought to obtain the same weather reports available to pilots & flight traffic controllers. According to Rawstory, "FAA official Liz Corey refused to disclose hourly observations of "Quality Controlled Local Climatological Data" taken from the recording station at the Akron-Canton Regional Airport where Connell's single engine Piper Saratoga was estimated to arrive at 5:46PM EST, citing jurisdictional issues. She referred questions to the NTSB."

Rawstory was able to obtain climate data from the National Climate Data Center. According to this data, visibility was 9-10 miles in broken cloud cover and temperatures hovered just above freezing, "contradicting the 1 mile claim in the Akron Beacon Journal."

An article published in the UK states "He [Connell]suffered massive traumatic injuries over his entire body," said Harry Campbell, the local coroner's chief investigator. "His death was instantaneous."

Also, check out video footage of the burning wreckage taken by nearby residents. Their video is posted on Bradblog. They arrived before emergency personnel.  In the video, no one expresses any concern for the likelihood  that a person was in the plane and probably  burning in the wreckage.  When emergency personnel arrived, even they did not appear to be concerned that a person may be burning up in the flames. (note: I could not get the link to Bradblog to work, so please go directly to www.bradblog.com if you wish to view the video footage)

Also check out a segment about Connell from the documentary "Free For All."

Rawstory Article.

UK Article.

Free For All.

by raincity calling on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 11:38:38 AM PST

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I looked up each of the sites and what I have listed in the links, tried them out off of another document, and they work.  However when I post them at Washblog they don't work.  I am not a technical person so when I looked at how I have them defined in my post, it looks ok to me.  I don't know how to fix it.

by raincity calling on Sat Dec 27, 2008 at 11:40:46 AM PST

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Hi, OpEdNews.Com contributor/editor here. This would be the first time I've heard the claim:

"Connell told Spoonamore that he (Connell) believes this MIM system may have been used to rig the 2004 election and other elections."

Can you share the sourcing for this - is this paraphrased, where are the Spoonamore quotes that this is derived from?

Thanks, Gus

by amerigus on Mon Dec 29, 2008 at 07:49:27 PM PST

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  • mistatement by raincity calling, 12/29/2008 09:23:45 PM PST (none / 0)
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