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Huffington Post: Clarence Thomas Should Be Investigated For Nondisclosure, Democratic Lawmakers Say

-by Jennifer Bendry

September 29, 2011- Democratic lawmakers on Thursday called for a federal investigation into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' failure to report hundreds of thousands of dollars on annual financial disclosure forms.

Led by House Rules Committee ranking member Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), 20 House Democrats sent a letter to the Judicial Conference of the United States — the entity that frames guidelines for the administration of federal courts — requesting that the conference refer the matter of Thomas' non-compliance with the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to the Department of Justice.

The letter outlines how, throughout his 20-year tenure on the Supreme Court, Thomas routinely checked a box titled "none" on his annual financial disclosure forms, indicating that his wife had received no income. But in reality, the letter states, she earned nearly $700,000 from the Heritage Foundation from 2003 to 2007 alone.

Slaughter called it "absurd" to suggest that Thomas may not have known how to fill out the forms.

"It is reasonable, in every sense of the word, to believe that a member of the highest court in the land should know how to properly disclose almost $700,000 worth of income," Slaughter said in a statement. "To not be able to do so is suspicious, and according to law, requires further investigation. To accept Justice Thomas’s explanation without doing the required due diligence would be irresponsible."

The letter also cites a June report in The New York Times indicating Thomas may have regularly benefited from the use of a private yacht and airplane owned by real estate magnate Harlan Crowe and failed to disclose the travel as a gift or travel reimbursement.

Current law requires the Judicial Conference to refer to the Attorney General any judge the conference "has reasonable cause to believe has willfully failed to file a report or has willfully falsified or willfully failed to file information required to be reported."

Slaughter's press statement also notes that the Heritage Foundation was a prominent opponent of the Affordable Care Act, an issue the Supreme Court is expected to rule on by next summer.

FULL STORY HERE:

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Press Release: Slaughter, 19 Colleagues, Call for Investigation into Justice Thomas’s Non-Disclosure

Under Law, Judicial Conference Must Refer Issue to US Attorney General

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee, together with 19 Members of Congress, today sent a letter to the Judicial Conference, requesting that the Conference follow the law and refer the matter of Justice Clarence Thomas's non-compliance with the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to the Department of Justice. Throughout his entire tenure on the Supreme Court, Justice Thomas has checked a box titled "none" on his annual financial disclosure forms, indicating that his wife had received no income, despite the fact that his wife had in fact earned nearly $700,000 from the Heritage Foundation from 2003-2007 alone.

Slaughter said, "To believe that Justice Thomas didn't know how to fill out a basic disclosure form is absurd. It is reasonable, in every sense of the word, to believe that a member of the highest court in the land should know how to properly disclose almost $700,000 worth of income. To not be able to do so is suspicious, and according to law, requires further investigation. To accept Justice Thomas's explanation without doing the required due diligence would be irresponsible."

Section 104(b) of the Ethics in Government Act requires the Judicial Conference to refer to the Attorney General of the United States any judge who the Conference "has reasonable cause to believe has willfully failed to file a report or has willfully falsified or willfully failed to file information required to be reported."

If the Judicial Conference finds reasonable cause to believe that Justice Thomas has "willfully falsified or willfully failed to file information to be reported," it must, pursuant to §104, refer the case to the Attorney General for further determination of possible criminal or civil legal sanctions.

Throughout his entire tenure on the Supreme Court, Justice Thomas checked a box titled "none" on his annual financial disclosure forms, indicating that his wife had received no income, despite the fact that his wife had in fact earned nearly $700,000 from the Heritage Foundation from 2003-2007 alone. The Heritage Foundation was a prominent opponent of the Affordable Care Act, an issue that is expected to be considered by the Supreme Court in the near future.

Slaughter said, "The Attorney General would be the appropriate person to investigate the issue of non-disclosure, and that is why my colleagues and I are making this request today. I cannot determine guilt or innocence, but I can request that the government do our due diligence in investigating a situation that strikes me, and many other Members of Congress, as suspicious."

The full text of the letter is below.

September 29, 2011

James C. Duff

Secretary to the Judicial Conference of the United States

Administrative Office of the United States Courts

Suite 2-301

One Columbus Circle, N.E.

Washington, DC 20544

Dear Mr. Duff:

Widespread reporting, including a recent report in The New York Times titled "Friendship of Justice and Magnate Puts Focus on Ethics," raise grave concerns about the failure of Justice Clarence Thomas to meet various disclosure requirements under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978. Based upon the multiple public reports, Justice Thomas's actions may constitute a willful failure to disclose, which would warrant a referral by the Judicial Conference to the Department of Justice, so that appropriate civil or criminal actions can be taken.

Due to the simplicity of the disclosure requirements, along with Justice Thomas's high level of legal training and experience, it is reasonable to infer that his failure to disclose his wife's income for two decades was willful, and the Judicial Conference has a non-discretionary duty to refer this case to the Department of Justice.

Throughout his entire tenure on the Supreme Court, Justice Thomas checked a box titled "none" on his annual financial disclosure forms, indicating that his wife had received no income, despite the fact that his wife had in fact earned nearly $700,000 from the Heritage Foundation from 2003-2007 alone.

Furthermore, an investigation conducted by The New York Times has revealed that Justice Thomas may have, on several occasions, benefited from use of a private yacht and airplane owned by Harlan Crow, and again failed to disclose this travel as a gift or travel reimbursement on his federal disclosure forms as required by the Ethics in Government Act of 1978.

Justice Thomas's failure to disclose his wife's income for his entire tenure on the federal bench and indications that he may have failed to file additional disclosure regarding his travels require the Judicial Conference to refer this matter to the Department of Justice.

Section 104(b) of the Ethics Act requires the Judicial Conference to refer to the Attorney General of the United States any judge who the Conference "has reasonable cause to believe has willfully failed to file a report or has willfully falsified or willfully failed to file information required to be reported." If the Judicial Conference finds reasonable cause to believe that Justice Thomas has "willfully falsified or willfully failed to file information to be reported," it must, pursuant to §104, refer the case to the Attorney General for further determination of possible criminal or civil legal sanctions.

Particularly as questions surrounding the integrity and fairness of the Supreme Court continue to grow, it is vital that the Judicial Conference actively pursue any suspicious actions by Supreme Court Justices. While we continue to advocate for the creation of binding ethical standards for the Supreme Court, it is important the Judicial Conference exercise its current powers to ensure that Supreme Court Justices are held accountable to the current law.

As a result, we respectfully request that the Judicial Conference follow the law and refer the matter of Justice Thomas's non-compliance with the Ethics in Government Act to the Department of Justice. We eagerly await your reply.


Sincerely,

Rep. Louise Slaughter

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr

Rep. Gwen Moore

Rep. Mike Honda

Rep. Earl Blumenauer

Rep. Christopher Murphy

Rep. John Garamendi

Rep. Pete Stark

Rep. Raul Grijalva

Rep. John Olver

Rep. Jan Schakowsky

Rep. Donna Edwards

Rep. Jackie Speier

Rep. Paul Tonko

Rep. Bob Filner

Rep. Peter Welch

Rep. John Conyers

Rep. Keith Ellison

Rep. Anna Eshoo

Rep. Ed Perlmutter

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Brad Blog: National Security Lab Hacks Diebold Touch-Screen Voting Machine by Remote Control With $26 in Computer Parts

Hack team leader: 'Can do similar things on pretty much every e-voting machine'…

-By Brad Friedman

September 27, 2011- The Vulnerability Assessment Team (VAT) at the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois has managed to hack a Diebold Accuvote touch-screen voting machine in what I describe at my exclusive today at Salon as perhaps "one of the most disturbing e-voting machine hacks to date."

As noted by the computer scientists and security experts at Argonne's VAT, largely all that's needed to accomplish this hack is about $26 and an 8th grade science education.

"This is a national security issue," VAT team leader Roger Johnston told me, echoing what I've been reporting other computer scientists and security experts telling me for years. "It should really be handled by the Department of Homeland Security."

Johnston should know. While the VAT folks have been dabbling in the security (or lack thereof) of e-voting systems in their spare time of late, most of the work they do is related to issues like nuclear safeguards and non-proliferation.

What makes this hack so troubling — and different from those which have come before it — is that it doesn't require any actual changes to, or even knowledge of, the voting system software or its memory card programming. It's not a cyberattack. It's a "Man-in-the-middle" attack where a tiny, $10.50 piece of electronics is inserted into the system between the voter and the main circuit board of the voting system allowing for complete control over the touch-screen system and the entire voting process along with it.

Add an optional $15 radio frequency remote control device, and votes can be changed, without the knowledge of the voter, from up to half a mile away. Without the remote, the attack can be turned on and off at certain times, or by other triggers. The voter would have no idea that their votes have been changed after they've already approved them as "correct" on the various confirmation screens, and even on the so-called "paper-trail" (on e-voting machines which offer them — though VAT has learned how to manipulate those as well, see photo at right.)

The inserted chip can later be removed after the election without there being any way to ever know that someone had completely manipulated the system. But since election officials rarely — if ever — examine the inside of their voting machines, it doesn't much matter, in truth.

"The level of sophistication it took to develop the circuit board" used in the attack "was that of basically an 8th grade science shop," says Argonne's John Warner. "Anybody with an electronics workbench could put this together."

The team, he says, had no knowledge of the voting machine's computer circuit diagram or owner's manual when they devised the attack. Moreover, VAT team leader Roger Johnston told me they believe they "can do similar things on pretty much every electronic voting machine." Indeed, in 2009, with little fanfare, they were able to carry out a similar manipulation of a Seqouia AVC Advantage e-voting system (as used across most of the state of New Jersey, for example). You can see that video demo here.

The team at Argonne has shared their demo video of the new Diebold Accuvote hack exclusively with The BRAD BLOG, as posted below. But please go check out the full details over at Salon (where we've embedded the video as well). The full details are chilling — particularly as about 20% to 30% of U.S. voters are still set to use Diebold touch-screen systems, and others very similar to it, across the nation in the 2012 election cycle, no matter how many years The BRAD BLOG has been desperately trying to illustrate that these systems are simply antethetical to American democracy.

Among the states where voters will use these systems on Election Day in 2012, according to VerifiedVoting.org: Georgia, Maryland, Utah, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Missouri, Texas and many more.

Almost five years ago to the day, I broke the story of Princeton's landmark Diebold Virus Hack in another exclusive for Salon. So while I'm delighted to break the news of this new type of hack over there today, it's somewhat frustrating that it's even necessary at this point, as we head into yet another Presidential election cycle having changed so little despite all that we've learned. Nonetheless, please go check out my story over there today.

* * *

Beyond that, the video demonstration itself from Argonne, of the remote hack of a Diebold Accuvote touch-screen system follows below…

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Salon: Diebold voting machines can be hacked by remote control

Exclusive: A laboratory shows how an e-voting machine used by a third of all voters can be easily manipulated

-By Brad Friedman

September 27, 2011- It could be one of the most disturbing e-voting machine hacks to date.

Voting machines used by as many as a quarter of American voters heading to the polls in 2012 can be hacked with just $10.50 in parts and an 8th grade science education, according to computer science and security experts at the Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. The experts say the newly developed hack could change voting results while leaving absolutely no trace of the manipulation behind.

"We believe these man-in-the-middle attacks are potentially possible on a wide variety of electronic voting machines," said Roger Johnston, leader of the assessment team "We think we can do similar things on pretty much every electronic voting machine."

The Argonne Lab, run by the Department of Energy, has the mission of conducting scientific research to meet national needs. The Diebold Accuvote voting system used in the study was loaned to the lab's scientists by VelvetRevolution.us, of which the Brad Blog is a co-founder. Velvet Revolution received the machine from a former Diebold contractor

Previous lab demonstrations of e-voting system hacks, such as Princeton's demonstration of a viral cyber attack on a Diebold touch-screen system — as I wrote for Salon back in 2006 — relied on cyber attacks to change the results of elections. Such attacks, according to the team at Argonne, require more coding skills and knowledge of the voting system software than is needed for the attack on the Diebold system.

Indeed, the Argonne team's attack required no modification, reprogramming, or even knowledge, of the voting machine's proprietary source code. It was carried out by inserting a piece of inexpensive "alien electronics" into the machine.

The Argonne team's demonstration of the attack on a Diebold Accuvote machine is seen in a short new video shared exclusively with the Brad Blog [posted below]. The team successfully demonstrated a similar attack on a touch-screen system made by Sequoia Voting Systems in 2009.

The new findings of the Vulnerability Assessment Team echo long-ignored concerns about e-voting vulnerabilities issued by other computer scientists and security experts, the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (an arm of the Department of Homeland Security), and even a long-ignored presentation by a CIA official given to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

"This is a national security issue," says Johnston. "It should really be handled by the Department of Homeland Security."

FULL STORY HERE: