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Romney’s ORCA Project And How It May Have Been Targeted By The Protectors

Crossposted from Occupy For Accountability

Two weeks ago we published a letter we received at our whistleblower Post Office Box from a shadowy group of cyber sleuths called “The Protectors.”  In short, the letter stated that the group installed a firewall on servers that were going to be used by Karl Rove to manipulate election results.  Moreover, the letter stated that the group also caused the catastrophic failure of Team Romney’s ORCA get out the vote project.

At the time, we questioned whether these were two separate attacks and whether the ORCA attack, if separate, would be moral and legal.  We have gathered additional information and have concluded that ORCA and the digital manipulation scheme were most likely two prongs of Karl Rove’s plan to rig election results and that The Protectors’ firewalls may have caused the failure of ORCA and was therefore more than likely legally justified.

Karl Rove’s Close Relationship With Smartech

Although The Protectors letter did not mention where the servers it targeted were located, past history makes it likely that one or more of those servers was controlled by Smartech Corporation. This conclusion is based on the fact that Karl Rove has a very close relationship with Smartech and Smartech was apparently used by Mr. Rove to manipulate the 2004 Ohio election results.

Mitt Romney And The RNC Team Up With Smartech in 2012 For GOTV

Mitt Romney and the RNC spent months creating a new GOTV project using digital applications and swarms of volunteers.  Initially, this was not publicly called ORCA but rather was merely announced in July as a GOTV canvassing project that would be able to contact hundreds of thousands of voters in swing states.

According to published accounts, this was a “joint” project of the RNC and Romney Election Team that would be “stress tested” every month until the November 6 election. Id.  “The GOP will run these Saturday tests once a month.  The information is used as the campaign progresses to guide decisions such as where to deploy volunteers, where to focus early-voting turnout efforts, and which areas have the most undecided voters.” Id.

Smartech Hosts All The RNC And GOP Servers

Smartech is a Republican controlled operation and hosts the most important online GOP servers, campaigns, and websites. The entire Smartech Master Server List shows that it now hosts 28 RNC related servers/domains, 89 GOP related servers/domains, three Romney related servers/domains and many other high-powered Republican servers such as the Koch Brothers’ Americans For Prosperity, and

Smartech Hosts The GOP Data Center (Formerly Called Voter Vault)

In 2008, John McCain used Smartech’s Voter Vault data system to run its GOTV call centers.

“The GOP Voter Vault uses a point system that can tabulate if you’re a likely Republican or Democratic voter using certain demographic canvassing criteria. It’s especially useful in determining if you might be easily persuaded either way politically, based on a sophisticated scoring structure.”

Smartech later changed the Voter Vault name to the “GOP Data Center” and bragged that it included data on more than 165 million registered voters.

The Protectors’ Firewall Likely Interfered With The ORCA Project

If, in fact, Karl Rove intended to manipulate the votes in three states through some sort of digital man in the middle attack as he allegedly did in 2004, then he had to know from what precincts and counties he could add votes without it looking suspicious.  The best way to do this would be through the use of a GOTV scheme where volunteers would upload data in real time as Project ORCA was designed to do.  However, in order to provide the best data, the information would have to be tied to a voter registration database such as the GOP Data Center hosted by Smartech.

If, in fact, The Protectors were inside the Smartech servers and knew the entire GOP digital architecture, then they understood that ORCA was not merely a GOTV program but part of Karl Rove’s illegal scheme to manipulate the election. Therefore, they may have installed some type of firewall on the ORCA Project that caused it to fail.  That firewall may have been placed on the GOP Data Center servers thereby making it difficult for volunteers on the ground to get the necessary data to process their information.  This could have resulted in crashes, error messages, lack of access and system overloads from repeated attempts to access the system.


If The Protectors stopped Karl Rove from committing the crime of electoral fraud, as their letter states, and if Project ORCA was part of the scheme to commit that crime, as the above potentially suggests, then The Protectors seem to have acted from a moral high ground that may have justified their conduct.  Moreover, their actions probably cannot be considered a crime because they had no intent to commit a crime.  Instead, they may have actually stopped a crime.  This is analogous to a Good Samaritan who uses force to save a child from being kidnapped.  If that force were used absent the kidnapping, it would be considered a crime.  However, since that force was used to stop a crime, it is considered justified. We will continue to monitor this issue and report on anything new that we run across.

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Karl Rove Loses Election After Being Checkmated By Cyber Sleuths?

Crossposted from Occupy For Accountability

Last month, we offered a million dollar reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone who rigged a federal election on November 6th.  We urged computer experts to contact us with information about any election manipulation of the tabulation results.

We Received A Letter

On November 12th, we received a letter from “The Protectors,” apparently a group of white hat cyber sleuths, mentioning our reward and stating that two months ago, they began monitoring the “digital traffic of one Karl Rove, a disrespecter of the Rule of Law, knowing that he claimed to be Kingmaker while grifting vast wealth from barons who gladly handed him gold to anoint another King while looking the other way.”

“The Protectors” said that they had identified the digital structure of Rove’s operation and of ORCA, a Republican get out the vote software application.  After finding open “doors” in the systems, they created a “password protected firewall” called “The Great Oz,” and installed it on servers that Rove planned to use on election night to re-route and change election results “from three states.” 

The letter indicated that “ORCA Killer” was launched at 10am EST and “The Great Oz” at 8pm EST on November 6th. “The Protectors” watched as ORCA crashed and failed throughout Election Day.  They watched as Rove’s computer techs tried 105 times to penetrate “The Great Oz” using different means and passwords. 

Finally, they issued the following warning to Mr. Rove: don’t do it again or they would turn over the evidence to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

We are not in a position to vouch for the contents of this letter any more than we can vouch for the video by Anonymous warning Karl Rove not to rig the election.  However, we can analyze that content under the prism of Mr. Rove’s history and facts over the past few weeks.  We do so in the hope that this will lead to an investigation of Mr. Rove’s entire operation ala General David Petraeus.  In that spirit, we provided this information to the FBI prior to publication, and followed up after publication.  For years, we have campaigned for a complete investigation of Mr. Rove, and we have provided extensive legal memos and evidence to the FBI to support such an investigation.  (See e.g.,

We urge others who have information to about election tampering or other criminal violations by Mr. Rove, including violations of campaign finance laws, to provide that evidence to the FBI.  We also urge people who gave money to Mr. Rove and his organizations to contact the FBI if they were misled, promised things that did not happen, or were otherwise defrauded.  

Rove’s Background And Election Night Meltdown

Karl Rove has a history of rigging elections going back several decades, including in 2004 when he orchestrated a man-in-the-middle attack to change the votes from Ohio.  See e.g.,

In 2012, Mr. Rove’s SuperPacs raised and spent hundreds of millions on behalf of GOP candidates.  He courted billionaires and promised them that his candidates would win.

Days before the 2012 election, Mr. Rove predicted a strong Romney win.  His spinners lionized him in articles that portrayed him as invincible.

On election night, Mr. Rove worked the three states that held the key to the election – Ohio, Florida and Virginia.  But when he tried to access the Ohio election website, he kept getting error messages.

Finally, immediately after Ohio was called for President Obama around 11:30 EST, Mr. Rove appeared on FOX News to dispute the call, saying the election there is far from settled and the call was “premature.”

Fox News’s Chris Wallace said the Romney campaign does "not believe Ohio is in the Obama camp,” noting that he got an email from a top Romney aide who said the campaign disagrees with the network’s call. He then asked Rove if he believed Ohio has been settled.

“No, I don’t,” Rove said.

“I think this is premature,” he added. “We’ve got a quarter of the vote. Now remember, here is the thing about Ohio. A third of the vote or more is cast early and is won overwhelmingly by the Democrats. It’s counted first and then you count the election day and the question is, by the time you finish counting the election day does it overcome that early advantage that Democrats have built up in early voting, particularly in Cuyahoga County.”

Rove said the network needs to be “careful about calling things when we have like 991 votes separating the two candidates and a quarter of the vote yet to count. Even if they have made it on the basis of select precincts, I’d be very cautious about intruding in this process.

The Failure Of ORCA On Election Day

The Rove/Romney coalition created Project Orca, which was supposed to enable poll watchers to record voter names on their smart phones, by listening for names as voters checked in. This would give the campaign real-time turnout data, so they could redirect GOTV resources throughout the day where it was most needed. They recruited 37,000 swing state volunteers for this.

According to various sources, however, ORCA totally failed on Election Day: PIN numbers and passwords did not work, reset tools failed, customer support was ineffective and unavailable, Comcast shut down access for fear of a DDOS attack, and the system crashed and had trouble re-booting. “At one point during Election Day, the system had malfunctioned so badly that desperate volunteers wondered if the program had been hacked.” Id.

Anonymous Warned Rove Prior To The Election

Two weeks prior to the November 6th election, the hactivist group Anonymous posted a video warning Karl Rove not to rig the election.

They told Mr. Rove that he was being watched and that if he attempted to rig the election, he would be stopped.  That video went viral in just days.

The Letter From “The Protectors”

The letter we received just days after the election ties together all the information set forth above about the digital difficulties faced by Karl Rove and the GOP on November 6th.

·         Karl Rove’s digital architecture surrounding the election was identified and compromised by cyber sleuths in a way that denied him the ability to manipulate election results;

·         Project Orca was not secure and had numerous flaws that were exploited to ensure failure;

·         Karl Rove was focused on three states—Ohio, Virginia and Florida;

·         “Orca Killer” was launched early in the day resulting in failures starting in the morning;

·         “The Great Oz” was launched at 8pm, just as polls closed on the East Coast;

·         The Ohio Secretary of State results were inaccessible to Mr. Rove after 8pm;

·         Mr. Rove disputed the call for Ohio, and told FOX News that it was “premature” as he kept trying to access the results;

·         Mr. Rove, Mitt Romney, the GOP, its billionaires, and its talking heads were all “convinced” up to the last minute that Mr. Romney would win, some even saying “by a landslide;”

·         Prior to the election, Anonymous warned Mr. Rove that it had identified his digital structure and was watching for any manipulations;

·         Mr. Romney and the GOP leadership were “shell shocked” when President Obama won the election.

The Upshot Of All This

Apparently, “The Protectors” were able to completely thwart Karl Rove’s attempts to manipulate this election by employing a firewall to stop man-in-the-middle tabulation attacks and improper transfers of tabulation data.  Moreover, apparently, they were able to pinpoint and exploit flaws and structural weaknesses in Project Orca that caused a cascading of problems and subsequent catastrophic failure.  Apparently, there was some connection between Mr. Rove and Project Orca, and they were probably both plugged into the same voter database.

Lessons Learned And Our Position

At VR, we have spent the past decade exposing flaws in the election process, especially the use of electronic voting, secret software and cyber attacks on tabulation systems.  Princeton computer scientistsArgonne Laboratories expertsGOP insiders, and even the CIA  have shown that electronic election manipulation is both possible and occurring.

Based on our experience and the supporting evidence, we take the letter from “The Protectors” at face value.  Karl Rove had the means, motive, experience and opportunity to do whatever it took to win the election for his clients.  If he, in fact, intended to use improper and illegal means to digitally manipulate the election, and white hat cyber sleuths who stopped it discovered that, then that is a good thing.  We hope that those cyber sleuths will provide that evidence to the FBI, post it publicly or send it to us to do so.

One thing that is not clear from the letter is the relationship between the cyber manipulation and Project Orca.  Were they both part of Karl Rove’s scheme?  Were they using the overlapping servers or databases?  Did “The Great Oz” automatically cause problems for Project Orca?  Did Mr. Rove plan to use the data from “Project Orca” to help the cyber manipulation scheme succeed?  We would like to know the answers to these questions so we can more fully understand the legal and moral implications of “Orca Killer.” 

As far as lessons learned, we are hopeful that those who have been skeptical and opposed to greater security in elections will now get on board in a bipartisan manner to, as President Obama said, “fix” the broken election system.  We are hopeful that billionaires, SuperPacs and politicians will see, as governments in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere have seen, that a few dedicated cyber sleuths can protect democracy from corrupt power brokers by thwarting electoral crimes. We are hopeful that everyone will see Karl Rove for what he is – a scammer who can’t win without cheating and manipulating election results. 

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CNN: DOJ sends voting rights monitors, observers to 23 states

-By Terry Frieden 

November 2, 2012- Washington (CNN) – The Justice Department Friday announced that it is dispatching more than 780 federal observers and monitors to 23 states to watch for potential problems which would violate voting rights protected by federal law.

The Justice Department said it was sending observers to 51 jurisdictions in those states to help enforce federal voting rights laws which protect ballot access.

In addition to concern about discrimination based on languages and ethnicity, the federal officials will be ensuring voters with disabilities are accommodated, and ensuring that no procedures are used to subject voters to different procedures on the basis of race, color or national origin.

Many of the locations being targeted for the 2012 general election have appeared on similar lists for past elections. Justice officials say the federal monitors will maintain low profile positions, and will not be involved in the voting process unless problems arise.

The total of 780 officials is about the same size as the contingent sent to watch the 2008 presidential election.

Jon Greenbaum, Chief Counsel for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, says his organization is generally pleased with the locations selected for federal monitoring. The organization successfully pushed, for example, for monitors to be sent to Maricopa County, Arizona because of potential problems for Hispanic voters, and the group noted potential for discrimination against black voters in Alabama and Mississippi counties.

Historic incidents of discrimination against Native American voters prompted observers to be sent to Shannon County, South Dakota, and Sandoval County, New Mexico, Greenbaum said. In Chicago, several ethnic minorities have suffered incidents in the past, including lack of poll workers who spoke Chinese, South Asian, or other minority languages. A growing Muslim population in Detroit and Hamtramck, Michigan also had caused issues for native Arab and Middle Eastern language speakers at polling places, Greenbaum said.

The trained federal observers will be watching over voting procedures at polling locations in Russell County, Alabama; Maricopa County, Arizona; Alameda and Riverside Counties in California; Randolph County in Georgia; East Carroll Parish, Louisiana; Paola County, Mississippi; Colfax County, Nebraska; Sandoval, County, New Mexico; Orange County, New York; Cuyahoga and Lorain Counties in Ohio; Williamsburg County, South Carolina; Shannon County, South Dakota; and Dallas, Fort Bend, and Jefferson Counties in Texas.

In addition Justice Department lawyers are being sent to Mobile County, Alabama; Pima County, Arizona; The city of Denver and Arapahoe County, Colorado; Duval, Hendry, Hillsborough, Lee, Miami-Dade, Orange and Osceola counties in Florida.


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Reader Supported News: A Hostile Takeover of Our Country

-By Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

October 29, 2012- American democracy is under assault.

In one super-PAC alone, Karl Rove and the Enron grifter Ed Gillespie, have assembled $200 million from big polluters and Wall Street moguls to buy the 2012 election.

Two of the Koch Brothers, Charles and David, pledged $130 million to elect candidates who favor unrestrained corporate profiteering.

The senators and congressmen they fund and elect are not representing the United States-they are representing Koch and its oil industry cronies, Big Pharma, and the Wall Street banksters currently mounting a hostile takeover of our government.

I have no problem characterizing these corporate-centric super-PACs as treasonous. We are now in a free fall toward old-fashioned oligarchy; noxious, thieving and tyrannical.

The most corporate-friendly Supreme Court since the Gilded Age had declared in its notorious Citizens United decision that corporations are people and that money is speech. Those who have the most money now have the loudest voices in our democracy while poor Americans are mute.

And the money is talking; in 97 percent of federal elections over the past two decades, the best-funded candidates were victorious.

America, the world's proud template for democracy and a robust middle class, is now listing toward oligarchy and corporate kleptocracy.

America today is looking more and more like a colonial economy, with a system increasingly tilted toward enriching the wealthy 1 percent and serving the mercantile needs of multinational corporations with little allegiance to our country.

These radical forces already dominate the national press, with Fox News and talk radio snugly in the pocket of the corporate Right.

This is the first time in American history that corporate and media interests have been so clearly and so perilously aligned.

With the media in their hands, and unlimited money, the final strategy of Rove, Koch, the Chamber of Commerce, and others of that ilk is to permanently cripple representative democracy by stopping Americans from voting.