Cover-ups and withholding ballot information: same old Republican tricks

By Carla Binion


December 12, 2000 | Sociologist Max Weber once said that the first line of defense of any bureaucracy is the withholding of information. George W. Bush's team includes some of his dad's cronies, such as James Baker, George Schultz, and Richard Thornberg. None of them are strangers to withholding information as a means of defending corruption.

It makes sense that the Bush team now argues against counting the ballots. They have long favored secrecy over disclosure.

George H. W. Bush was CIA Director in the mid-1970s. The CIA, and George W.'s dad, are no strangers to rigged elections—in Third World countries.

In 1984, when Manuel Noriega chose Nicolas Barletta to be Panama's president, the Reagan/Bush administration knew the election was rigged, that ballot boxes were stuffed, and that documents were falsified. (Imperial Alibis, Stephen R. Shalom, South End Press, 1993.)

Under Reagan/Bush, the U. S. government funneled money to Barletta's campaign. Following the vote fraud, U. S. aid to Panama grew from $12 million to $75 million. After the "election," Reagan invited Barletta to the White House to congratulate him on his win. (Imperial Alibis.)

Secretary of State George Schultz, adviser to George W. in Campaign 2000, attended Barletta's inauguration and lauded Panama's "democratization." (Unreliable Sources, Norman Solomon and Martin A. Lee, Carol Publishing Group, 1992.)

Bush team adviser and daddy-Bush crony, James Baker, said recently that the team is not trying to "run out the clock" regarding ballot counting. However, Baker was part of the Reagan administration when the Reagan/Bush crew used delay tactics to evade responsibility for Iran-contra.

Remember how George H. W. Bush got away with his Iran-contra misdeeds? Reagan's attorney general, Richard Thornburgh (another current member of George W.'s team), claimed that certain Iran-contra evidence—including names and locations that had already been published in the press—were government secrets too sensitive to reveal in court. Independent prosecutor Lawrence Walsh called them "fictional secrets." In addition, the Reagan-Bush team stonewalled endlessly. They delayed releasing critical records to the court and hid personal notes. (Blank Check, Tim Weiner, 1990.)

Journalist Tim Weiner says that by hiding key evidence behind a cloak of government secrecy "the Justice Department drove a stake into the heart of the criminal cases against North, Poindexter and Secord. It effectively prevented the independent prosecutor appointed to try the cases from functioning independently." (Blank Check, Weiner.)

George H. W. Bush participated in a cover-up again after he became president by arbitrarily pardoning his cronies. CNN political analyst William Schneider said Bush pardoned his political allies "for illegal activities in which he himself may have been implicated." (Lawrence Walsh, Firewall, 1997.)

Recently Supreme Court members (some appointed by George W.'s dad) stopped the ballot recount. Reagan appointee, Justice Antonin Scalia, said counting the votes might harm Bush by "casting a cloud" on his legitimacy.

That is not the first time in recent history that the Supreme Court ruled against the public's right to know. When Public Citizen filed a Freedom of Information Act request to examine a domestic CIA operation, MKULTRA, the CIA refused to release the documents. In 1985, the Supreme Court ruled for the CIA. The Court held that "Congress vested in the Director of Central Intelligence very broad authority to protect all sources of intelligence information from disclosure." (A Culture of Secrecy, Athan G. Theoharis, University Press of Kansas, 1998.)

A Bush win will always appear illegitimate unless the votes are counted. The public already knows enough about the Bush team's history, tactics and values to raise questions about the candidate's legitimacy. For example:

 (1) We know that certain Bush team members have no particular respect for the law, considering their participation in, and cover-up of, their Iran-contra involvement.

 (2) We know that some Bush team members (and certain members of the CIA) have little love for democracy—at least not for democracy in Third World countries.

The question is, do those members of the Bush team respect American election law and American democracy? Do they see any difference between elections and democracy in the Third World and in our own? And, one more question that has been asked repeatedly but never answered honestly—why doesn't the Bush team want the ballots recounted unless they are afraid Gore won?

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