No Comment — December 22, 2008, 10:54 am

A Troubling Black Box Death

Michael Connell was well-known to those who follow the “black box” voting drama. A voting technology expert from Akron, Ohio, Connell faithfully served the Republican Party, and in particular its chief electoral guru, Karl Rove–faithfully, that is, up until a few months ago. Under subpoena and court order, Connell was compelled to testify about his role in managing the 2004 election tabulations in Ohio. In that race, Connell both served as information technology consultant to the Bush-Cheney campaign and, under contract with the state of Ohio, managed the vote tabulation from servers he maintained in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He emerged as the focal witness in the current controversy over voting machine manipulation in Ohio. In 2004 exit polls put Kerry on top, but official results in black box districts, strongly at variance with the exit polls, gave the state, and the race, to Bush. After Connell was reportedly threatened by Karl Rove, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the litigation appealed to Attorney General Mukasey for protection late last summer. Now Connell is dead, the victim of a crash on the approach of his plane to the Akron airport on Friday. The Akron Beacon Journal reports:

Mr. Connell, founder and chief executive of New Media Communications in Richfield, died instantly when the single-prop airplane he was piloting crashed into a vacant house about three miles short of the Akron-Canton Airport. State Highway Patrol Lt. Eric Sheppard said Mr. Connell’s plane was in communication with the airport control tower just before the crash, but he could not detail whether the radio transmissions were calls for help. “We have no reason to believe at this point it was anything other than an unfortunate crash,” Sheppard said.

Connell had recently come into public view in connection with a lawsuit raising allegations of vote fraud in 2004:

…the lawsuit alleges that by 9 p.m. on Election Night 2004, the results were switched from the state server to one set up by Connell’s, in the former Pioneer Bank Building in Chattanooga, Tenn. It is alleged the same server was used to bundle and remove White House e-mails regarding the 2005 federal prosecutor firing scandal. Mr. Connell tried to fight the subpoena, but a judge ruled against it and he gave a deposition on Nov. 3. It was through the fight over the subpoena that attorneys who brought the case learned that Mr. Connell and his wife had allegedly been threatened with federal prosecution by Rove.

Bob Fitrakis, one of the Columbus attorneys who filed the lawsuit, a former Green Party candidate for president and a political blogger known for his conspiracy theories on election stealing in Ohio, said word of Mr. Connell’s death ”sent a chill down my spine.”

Larisa Alexandrovna also links Connell to another important technology controversy: the “disappearance” of millions of emails connected with Karl Rove from the White House servers. The emails had been repeatedly subpoenaed and the White House had claimed they were “lost,” a response which few are buying.

Mike Connell set-up the alternate email and communications system for the White House. He was responsible for creating the system that hosted the infamous GWB43.com accounts that Karl Rove and others used. When asked by Congress to provide these emails, the White House said that they were destroyed. But in reality, what Connell is alleged to have done is move these files to other servers after having allegedly scrubbed the files from all “known” Karl Rove accounts.

Connell may very well have died as a result of an innocent accident, but the circumstances are such that some observers will never believe that. He will be viewed as “the man who knew too much.”

NYU professor and Harper’s Magazine contributor Mark Crispin Miller discusses the case on today’s Democracy Now.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

March 2016

Save Our Public Universities

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Rogue Agency

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Mad Magazines

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Killer Bunny in the Sky

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Bird in a Cage

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Hidden Rivers of Brooklyn

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Save Our Public Universities·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Whether and how we educate people is still a direct reflection of the degree of freedom we expect them to have, or want them to have.”
Photograph (crop) by Thomas Allen
Article
New Movies·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Force Awakens criticizes American imperialism while also celebrating the revolutionary spirit that founded this country. When the movie needs to bridge the two points of view, it shifts to aerial combat, a default setting that mirrors the war on terror all too well.”
Still © Lucasfilm
Article
Isn’t It Romantic?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“He had paid for much of her schooling, something he cannot help but mention, since the aftermath of any failed relationship brings an ungenerous and impossible impulse to claw back one’s misspent resources.”
Illustration by Shonagh Rae
Article
The Trouble with Iowa·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“It seems to defy reason that this anachronistic farm state — a demographic outlier, with no major cities and just 3 million people, nine out of ten of them white — should play such an outsized role in American politics.”
Photograph (detail) © Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Article
Rule, Britannica·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“This is the strange magic of an arrangement of all the world’s knowledge in alphabetical order: any search for anything passes through things that have nothing in common with it but an initial letter.”
Artwork by Brian Dettmer. Courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W., New York City.

Number of people who attended the World Grits Festival, held in St. George, South Carolina, last spring:

60,000

The brown bears of Greece continued chewing through telephone poles.

In Peru, a 51-year-old activist became the first former sex worker to run for the national legislature. “I’m going to put order,” she said, “in that big brothel which is Congress.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Two Christmas Mornings of the Great War

By

Civilization masks us with a screen, from ourselves and from one another, with thin depth of unreality. We habitually live — do we not? — in a world self-created, half established, of false values arbitrarily upheld, largely inspired by misconception, misapprehension, wrong perspective, and defective proportion, misapplication.

Subscribe Today