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., http://protectourelections.org/index.php?q=docs)
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., http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/12-mysterious-death-of-mike-connell%E2%80%94karl-roves-election-thief/
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.
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 scientists, Argonne Laboratories experts, GOP 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.