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Columbus Donating Member (123 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-18-05 11:34 AM
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Florida, Ohio, Baghdad

"We usually only print Ohio related stories. We might or might not be violating our own policy with this one: GET OUT THE VOTE By SEYMOUR M. HERSH Did Washington try to manipulate Iraqs election?

The January 30th election in Iraq was publicly perceived as a political triumph for George W. Bush and a vindication of his decision to overturn the regime of Saddam Hussein. More than eight million Iraqis defied the threats of the insurgency and came out to vote for provincial councils and a national assembly. Many of them spent hours waiting patiently in line, knowing that they were risking their lives. Images of smiling Iraqis waving purple index fingers, signifying that they had voted, were transmitted around the world. Even some of the Presidents harshest critics acknowledged that he might have been right: democracy, as he defined it, could take hold in the Middle East. The fact that very few Sunnis, who were dominant under Saddam Hussein, chose to vote was seen within the Administration as a temporary setback. The sense of victory faded, however, amid a continued political stalemate, increased violence, and a hardening of religious divides. After three months of bitter sectarian infighting, a government was finally formed. It is struggling to fulfill its primary task: to draft a new constitution by mid-August.

Whether the election could sustain its promise had been in question from the beginning. The Administration was confronted with a basic dilemma: The likely winner of a direct and open election would be a Shiite religious party. The Shiites were bitter opponents of Saddams regime, and suffered under it, but many Shiite religious and political leaders are allied, to varying degrees, with the mullahs of Iran. As the election neared, the Administration repeatedly sought waysincluding covert actionto manipulate the outcome and reduce the religious Shiite influence. Not everything went as planned.

A former senior intelligence official told me, The election clock was running down, and people were panicking. The polls showed that the Shiites were going to run off with the store. The Administration had to do something. How?

By then, the men in charge of the C.I.A. were dying to help out, and make sure the election went the right way, the recently retired C.I.A. official recalled. It was known inside the intelligence community, he added, that the Iranians and others were providing under-the-table assistance to various factions. The concern, he said, was that the bad guys would win.

Under federal law, a finding must be submitted to the House and Senate intelligence committees or, in exceptional cases, only to the intelligence committee chairs and ranking members and the Republican and Democratic leaders of Congress. At least one Democrat, Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, strongly protested any interference in the Iraqi election. (An account of the dispute was published in Time last October.) The recently retired C.I.A. official recounted angrily, She threatened to blow the whole thing up in the press by going public. The White House folded to Pelosi. And, for a time, she brought it to a halt. Pelosi would not confirm or deny this account, except, in an e-mail from her spokesman, to vigorously deny that she had threatened to go public. She added, I have never threatened to make any classified information public. Thats against the law. (The White House did not respond to requests for comment.)

The essence of Pelosis objection, the recently retired high-level C.I.A. official said, was: Did we have eleven hundred Americans diethe number of U.S. combat deaths as of last Septemberso they could have a rigged election?

Sometime after last Novembers Presidential election, I was told by past and present intelligence and military officials, the Bush Administration decided to override Pelosis objections and covertly intervene in the Iraqi election. A former national-security official told me that he had learned of the effort from people who worked the beatthose involved in the operation. It was necessary, he added, because they couldnt afford to have a disaster. and

On Election Day, voters had been handed ballots for the national assembly and for the provincial councils. Allawis slate ran provincial lists in only eight provinces and received a total of 177,678 provincial votes in those areas. In the same provinces, Allawis national list received a total of 452,629 votesalmost three times the number of provincial votes.

Most election experts I spoke to found the deviation surprising and difficult to explain. The State Department official, however, said that Allawi had no organized campaign in the provinces, and the people he was running with locally had no appeal. The official then raised questions about possible irregularities in the Shiite vote. Opinion polls consistently showed that Dawa candidates were beating the SCIRI party by two to one, he said. In the actual election, in some provinces SCIRI beat Dawa two to one. Allawis results, he said, may not be a unique skewingSCIRI may have done it, too.

A few weeks after the election, a European intelligence official, having acknowledged that he had heard allegations of voter fraud, told me, The question will be: How will the elections be perceived in Iraq? As legitimate and fair? Or not?
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Botany Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-18-05 11:42 AM
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1. But I saw the purple thumbs.
Bush and company in election fraud? I am shocked!

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Chi Donating Member (921 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-18-05 11:42 AM
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2. Just read something similar...
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