After agreeing initially to give critical information in a vote-rigging case in Ohio, Connell, for whatever reasons, apparently had a change of heart and hesitated. Given the potential disastrous consequences of defying his former bosses, it is perhaps understandable that he should have second thoughts.
Back in Ohio courts, King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell was an ongoing case filed on August 31, 2006 and dragged on and on. The former Ohio Secretary of State Blackwell the defendant, was accused of "having conspired to deprive and continue to deprive Ohioans of their right to vote and have, in fact, deprived and continue to deprive Ohioans of their right to vote by, in a selective and discriminatory manner, unfairly allocate election resources (such as voting machines), institute a system of provisional ballots, purge voter registrations, and broke the bi-partisan chain of custody ballots."
It has since been alleged that at several points on election night, the Ohio secretary of state’s official Web site, which was responsible for reporting the results, was being hosted by a server in a basement in Chattanooga, Tennessee.Blackwell had hired a company called GDC Limited to run the IT systems, which had subcontracted the job to Michael Connell’s company, GovTech. Connell had in turn sub-contracted SMARTech, an IT firm based in Chattanooga, to act, it was claimed, as a backup server.“By looking at the URLs on the Web site, we discovered that there were three points on election night when SMARTech’s computers took over from the secretary of state,” says Arnebeck [ the prosecuting attorney of the case]. “It is during that period that we believe votes were manipulated.”
It is worth a moment to stop and take a closer look at Clifford Arnebeck. Like Stephen Spoonamore, the IT specialist that investigated the technical aspects of the electronic vote rigging, Arnebeck was also a Republican and had, in the past, even done some volunteer work for the Republican Party. The son of a postal worker, Arnebeck attended Wesleyan College and Harvard Law School. In 1990 he challenged incumbent Congressman Chalmers Wylie in the GOP primary, but lost badly. Since that time, he became involved in groups that sought to reform the system, including setting term limits and methods for insuring honest elections. And like Spoonamore, Arnebeck saw this issue not as a partisan one but of an ethical issue.
Meanwhile in the summer of 2008, with the presidential election heating up, for Mike Connell, the noose was obviously tightening and events were beginning to take a life of their own. In an attempt to extricate himself from the world of politics, he had sold two of his businesses, including GovTech. He reportedly returned to his religious roots, attending Catholic Mass much more often.
The OhioNewsBureau reported in July of 2004, Attorney Arnebeck asked Nancy H. Rogers, the former dean of the law school at The Ohio State University and interim Attorney General, was asked to provide immunity protection services to Connell.
This request was prompted by information from a confidential source that Karl Rove had threatened that if Mike Connell didn't "take the fall" for cyber-rigging the 2004 election in Ohio, his wife, Heather, would be sued for lobbying law violations.
Clearly the White House was anxious about Connell's testimony and what it would undoubtedly reveal. Meanwhile, the question on everybody's mind was whether Connell would remain loyal to his bosses and possibly perjure himself or would he reveal all that he knew.
Even the attorneys prosecuting the case were unsure what he would do. Throughout the fall of 2008, his plane was being tracked by Arnebeck and his associates so they could serve him with a subpoena.
On October 8, 2008, the axe fell. Connell was served with his subpoena at College Park Airfield outside Washington, D.C. Under the terms of the supoena, he was ordered to produce all documents related to the case.
Connell was defiant when challenged. He responded by hiring three high-powered GOP-connected attorneys, including Bill Todd, former counsel to Bush/Cheney '04. Connell's attorneys filed a motion to quash the subpoena and an affidavit stating that his information is confidential.
Convinced that Connell had the vital information n the case, Arnebeck attempted to secure a court order to enforce the subpoena. The judge agreed and, on October 31, Mr. Connell, appearing before a federal judge in Ohio was ordered to testify under oath at a deposition on November 3rd, the day before the presidential election.
"A Really Nice Christmas Present"
What became of the Connell's sworn deposition? (Even online references are not easy to find.) It was a two-hour closed-door session in Cleveland. A report of the hearing comes from Ohio News. At the hearing, Connell was relaxed but not especially cooperative. Justice Solomon Oliver of the Northern District Court carefully limited the range of the questions that Arnebeck could ask.
For example, threats allegedly made by Rove were off-limits. Connell's lawyers were adamant that the suit was nothing more than a witch hunt. According to reporter John Michael Spinelli, the unimpressed judge advised the prosecution:
That day, the day to ask Connell follow-up questions, would never come. Within six weeks, Mike Connell would be dead.. and silent. It surely must have been a relief to many inside the White House."I understand the theories, some of the theories of this case, and I understand some of the emotion around this 2004 election and other elections, but you are not going to win your case for 2004 with this deposition, not right now. And so I am just trying to be clear, you are not going to pack two and a half years of litigation into this deposition." He warned Arnebeck to stick to the issues discussed and not make up for lost time in a case that has very little to show for itself so far. "I can't say that any more strongly than I'm saying that to you now. So you are going to have to be reasonable, and you are going to have to stop at some point. There may be a day when you can come back, and there may be a day when you can follow up."
As quoted in Simon Worrall's excellent article The Mysterious Death of Bush's Cyber-Guru, Connell’s younger sister, Shannon, says:
Mike had been deposed, but he hadn’t been called as a witness yet,” she says of the possibility that her brother was murdered. “He was incredibly loyal to the people he worked for, but he would never have lied under oath. For want of a better expression, I think they played him. His death would have been a really nice Christmas present for Rove and Cheney."
The Velvet Revolution Theory
Two weeks prior to the election of 2008, when it was still uncertain what Connell would or would not reveal in his deposition, Rove had been proclaiming that John McCain could win the ten deciding states and become president. McCain was
confidently telling everyone that he would win with a surge in the wee hours of election night. McCain said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he can “guarantee” a win on Nov. 4 in a squeaker victory that won’t be clear until late that night. Of course, there's nothing particularly unusual or suspicious about a candidate having a strong sense of self-confidence, even when all the projections show him or her trailing behind.Velvet Revolution has its own theory about what happened next.
Michael Connell was forced to appear before Solomon Oliver, a Clinton appointed Afro-American federal Judge in Cleveland. After Attorney Cliff Arnebeck accused Connell in open court of rigging elections for Karl Rove, the judge ordered Connell to submit to a sworn deposition 18 hours before the polls were to open. On Monday at noon, Connell was placed under oath and grilled about election fraud, Man in the Middle attacks, Trojan horse manipulations and threats from Rove.And guess what happened? Connell didn't know a thing! He had no knowledge of any secret steps to change the vote-counts, in any past elections--or in the election to come. He stonewalled like a champion, denying everything.
It was a remarkable performance; but what was even more remarkable was the abrupt reversal, just hours later, by Karl Rove. Rove wrote on his blog late Monday that Obama would win by a landslide--even in those states he had previously predicted McCain would win.In other words, Rove pulled the plug, because he felt the heat, and knew that using Connell to rig this election too would be too risky.
The most intriguing question isn't whether Connell helped to steal the elections of 2004 or whether he was silenced for threatening to reveal what he knew. The most interesting question isn't who or how it was done.
The most interesting question for future historians might be this: did the threat that Connell's deposition posed (and subsequent possible subpoenas) cause the power elite inside the upper echelons of the Republican party to have a re-think of their plan for the 2008 elections. And related to that question, what would have been the national reaction if McCain had won by the same slim margin that carried Bush to re-election back in 2004.
It is hard to know but if the Velvet Revolution's theory is true, then it is possible that the Republican administration had already made plans for widespread civil unrest as a result of the election result. Paul Joseph Watson, writing for Prison Planet, wrote back in September 2008,
U.S. troops returning from duty in Iraq will be carrying out homeland patrols in America from October 1st in complete violation of Posse Comitatus for the purposes of helping with “civil unrest and crowd control” – which could include dealing with unruly Americans after a complete economic collapse.
The article goes on the cite an Army Times report:
This shocking admission was calmly reported on September 8th by the Army Times website, which reports that from the beginning of next month the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team “Will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.”The article notes that the deployment “marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.”The purpose of the unit’s patrols includes helping “with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.”
Of course, this is speculation built upon speculation. Some have theorized that this troop deployment was in preparation for some kind of terrorist attack which might have been used to swing the election. Others have also postulated that the deployment of troops for crowd control was related to the economic meltdown and was used to intimidate the legislative branch into passing the unprecedented Bush bailout known as TARP, The Troubled Asset Relief Program, which cost the U.S. taxpayers as much as $300 billion.
Perhaps it served many purposes. We may, of course, never know the reasons behind the move or whether it is in any way related.
If, however, The Velvet Revolution theory is true, then, in the end, Connell's apparently worthless deposition, the only testimony he would ever give -- would have at least served one noble purpose.
It helped to put a truly democratically-elected president in the White House.
The final installment of this series will cover the crash investigation, it flaws and will lay out the case for a conspiracy in the death of Connell.
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