Earlier in the week I published a piece about ANONYMOUS' claim of hacking Karl Rove's ORCA. The piece included a situation summary of the "HACKTIVIST" group's claim that was written by an associate: Benjamin T. Moore. As I was developing a follow-up piece, I was alerted of an even more descriptive piece from Mr. Moore. I am posting Mr. Moore's piece, with permission, from The Whirling Wind.com.
Any information related to the ANONYMUOS claims will involve a bit of reading. Your reading is the output of much work by the writer in putting together a cogent treatise about ORCA, hacking into the system, and how, if true, the actions may have impacted our lives. Therefore, the following is not a short read. As is always the case with The Progressive Influence, read a bit and comeback for additional reading. This piece is one such piece!
Benjamin T. Moore
by Benjamin T. Moore, Jr.
How Anonymous Saved America and the World
Those of us who’ve been paying attention to our electoral process have noticed some very disturbing trends and subsequent anomalies. I am probably giving some indication of my age, but I grew up in the era of real voting booths, curtains, tabs and levers.
I remember as a child holding my mother’s hand in a voting booth and watching her flip the little tabs and then pull the lever which opened the curtains and registered her vote. My personal belief is that all parents should take their children to vote with them. It is good training and exposes them at an early age to the most important of our civic responsibilities.
I am not a technophobe. I fully appreciate progress and the role technology plays. Our population is growing, more and more people are voting and we still expect to know the outcomes of our elections on election night. The notion that we could count these votes by hand and still have timely results has become an unreachable proposition.
Using computers to record and count the votes makes receiving timely results easy. If properly deployed, you could know the final count from any precinct the moment the last person in line votes. Computers are machines, they’re non-partisan and they’re extremely efficient crunching numbers.. or are they?
The facts are, computers have vulnerabilities too. For one, they will do whatever they’re programmed to do. If the person programming them is partisan, computers can be programmed to return partisan results. Computers can also be hacked. They can be given a virus which rewrites their code. I can look at another human being and tell if something is wrong with them. They may appear feverish, sluggish, their speech may be slurred, their eyes may be red. There are thousands of subtle signs we pick up allowing us to know that one of our fellow human beings is just not right. Computers? Not so much.
A computer can be programmed to switch votes to any candidate a programmer, hacker or virus writer chooses and the persons casting their votes would be none the wiser. In many jurisdictions which have now gone to all electronic voting, they have also passed laws mandating the destruction of the paper trail. Those places that use paper ballots where you darken in a circle beside your choice, feed them into an optical scanner, many of those jurisdictions have passed laws mandating the immediate destruction of the paper ballots. The question is why?
In the words of Joseph Stalin, “those who vote decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything.” The way things work today is, you cast your vote either using a “touch screen” computer system or a paper ballot you’ve filled out and fed through an optical scanner. At the end of voting those electronic votes are sent over the Internet to a central computer where the votes from all the precincts are tabulated and the election results are published.
Sounds simple enough. However, there are problems. As I’ve pointed out, what if some or all of the precinct computers… or, for that matter, the main frame computer doing the final tabulations gets hacked or gets a virus? What if the data is intercepted and changed while being transmitted to the central computer?
Manufacturers of these voting systems have gone to great lengths to assure the public of the security of their systems. They have lied! Bev Harris of Black Box Voting.Org has gone to great lengths to highlight and document these problems. No matter whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Conservative, Liberal, Libertarian or Independent, your vote matters and your vote should count. Our democracy is no stronger than the confidence our citizens have in our electoral process. How difficult is hacking some of our voting machines? Would you believe me if I told you it was so easy a Chimpanzee could do it?
If this disturbs you? It damn well should! What Baxter the Chimp just did was edit or alter the audit log on a Diebold GEMS voting system. Why is this important? According to Diebold for one, this is supposed to be impossible. Clearly a flat out lie. For two, this is one of their security selling points. They claim that should anyone attempt to alter the results of the votes, it would be caught in their audit log. Thus if you could edit the audit log, you can go in and change votes at will, then go back to the audit log and delete any evidence that you’d done anything. Think, stealing the “Hope Diamond” and replacing it with a cubic zirconium replica. The guards, the people filing by the display case would never know the difference.
The Man In The Middle Attack
Suppose you and I were working for an advertising agency and we were competing for the same client. However, unbeknown to you, I had hacked both the email account of the client and your email account. Not only could I read the mail going back and forth between you, I could intercept it and change it.
Imagine if the client sent an e-mail inviting you to a lunch meeting at “Joe’s Bistro” at 1pm. I intercept his e-mail and change the time to 3pm. You get an email you believe to be from the client inviting you to a luncheon meeting at 3pm. I show up at 1pm, close the deal and steal the client. You show up at 3pm and of course, the client is not there. This is a minor variant of the “Man In The Middle” attack. It is very powerful and difficult to detect.
Now let’s apply this to electronic voting. Suppose I have a server set up in… I don’t know, let’s say Tennessee. I hack into your voting system and reroute all precinct votes to my server in Tennessee where I massage them and then send them on to your “voting central” computers. You believe you’re getting them directly from your precincts when in truth, they’re coming from my servers in Tennessee.
The beauty of this approach is, I don’t have to hack any of your voting machines. I merely have to hack into your network or your routers. In so doing, I’ve compromised all the computers in your network from a safe distance and if I do it right, I’m going to be difficult to detect and trace. Has anything like this ever happened? As it turns out, yes it has. There is evidence it happened in 2004. Thom Hartmann gives a very clear presentation on his radio program.
Those of us who remember watching the election returns back in 2004, may recall that fateful night when it appeared that Kerry was winning. Then suddenly the numbers shifted and the news agencies calling the election simply attributed the sudden change in numbers, to uncounted precincts dumping their numbers all at once. We had no idea that the servers had gone offline for better than 60 seconds. Some of us, had we known, may have become suspicious back then.
Did Karl Rove Try To Steal The 2012 Elections?
I thought about this one long and hard… well, for about 10 minutes, before the evidence convinced me. I was not at all surprised by the election results because I do not get my news from Fox News, and I follow Nate Silver’s 538 blog. Nate has been the most accurate pollster out there for the past several election cycles. If I know this, Karl Rove and the rest of the Republican political strategist certainly know it as well. This brings me to my first point.
Come to find out, on the night of the election, Mitt Romney had not even prepared a concession speech. Yes, I know everybody believes they will win, however prudence demands that we prepare for all eventualities. You cannot become successful in business and rise to the top of the corporate arena without understanding fully how to implement a “Plan B” in the event your first plan doesn’t pan out.
It bothered me that Mitt Romney was so sure of winning what in his own words, he admitted would be an extremely close race, yet he did not prepare a concession speech. This really surprised me. Did he know something, none of the rest of us knew?
When I saw Karl Rove begin stuttering and disputing the election results for Ohio, this clinched it for me. There were two things to note about this. The first is, Mr. Rove seemed to have no problem with the returns in Florida or any of the other States for that matter. Why Ohio? As it turns out, President Obama could have lost both Ohio and Florida and still won the election. Given these facts, why would Mr. Rove nearly lose his composure over Ohio? If everything is fair and in the hands of the voters, why would you dispute the results unless, you believed you had some form of control over those results? Perhaps the truth is finally coming out?
Enter The Hacker Group Anonymous
There exists a group of elite hackers who goes by the name “Anonymous.” Nobody knows who they are. They seem to be distributed world wide so nobody knows where they are. The term “Hacktivist” was invented for Anonymous. It is beyond the scope of this piece to regale you with tales of their exploits, but suffice it to say, they’ve got skillz!
It seems that they have been watching our political system and in particular our elections. On October 22, 2012 a message to Karl Rove and his compadres from Anonymous, was posted on YouTube. Either Karl didn’t see it or didn’t take it seriously.
After the election, the following letter was released, presumably from the group, “Anonymous.”
Our Elections Affect The World
Whom we elect to the office of President of these United States, affects the World. Is there any doubt had Al Gore prevailed and George W. Bush not been appointed President by a U.S. Supreme Court, stacked by his daddy or if John Kerry had been elected, that our world would be different? With intelligent, competent leadership from a United States President, we would not have had an economic meltdown. Our housing market would not have crashed, causing world wide repercussions.
The integrity of our electoral process is not just of concern to each United States Citizen, our election outcomes also affect the rest of the world. Did Anonymous protect our elections? Personally, I believe they did. They identified the problem in advance, – October 22, 2012 – they posted a YouTube video announcing their intentions to prevent any attempted election fraud.
We know the night of the election, Mitt Romney and his wife Ann were nearly in “shell shock.” If I didn’t know that Mormons abstain from liquor, I would have bet that Ann Romney had one drink too many. I base this on the way she was moving when she finally joined Mitt on stage that night. She had that doe in the headlights look in her eyes.
Mitt had the foresight to have his transition website up and running, but no concession speech? Really? That showed a supreme amount of confidence in what should have been an unknowable outcome. When you add in Karl Rove’s reaction to losing Ohio, it all fits the claims of Anonymous. Karl Rove thought he was flipping a coin with two heads. He was smug as he called “heads.” When the coin came up tails, you could have bought him for a penny.
I am not a religious man, but in this instance I will have to say, “thank God for Anonymous.” I’m glad they were flying cyber- cover for this election. In a democracy, we say that people get the government they deserve. That is only true if their elections are untainted. Getting a government I deserve, I can live with. Getting a government given to me, is intolerable.