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Stealing Mexico


By Greg Palast

Friday 30 June 2006
Bush team helps ruling party "Floridize" Mexican
presidential election.

George Bush's operatives have plans to jigger with
the upcoming elections. I'm not talking about the
November '06 vote in the USA (though they have plans
for that, too). I'm talking about the election this
Sunday in Mexico for their Presidency.

It begins with an FBI document marked,
"Counterterrorism" and "Foreign Intelligence
Collection" and "Secret." Date: "9/17/2001," six days
after the attack on the World Trade towers. It's nice
to know the feds got right on the ball, if a little

What does this have to do with jiggering Mexico's
election? Hold that thought.

This document is what's called a "guidance" memo
for using a private contractor to provide databases on
dangerous foreigners. Good idea. We know the 19
hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the
Persian Gulf Emirates. So you'd think the
"Intelligence Collection" would be aimed at getting
info on the guys in the Gulf.

No so. When we received the document, we obtained
as well its classified appendix. The target nations
for "foreign counterterrorism investigation" were
nowhere near the Persian Gulf. Every one was in Latin
America - Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico and a handful
of others.

Latin America?! Was there a terror cell about to
cross into San Diego with exploding enchiladas?

All the target nations had one thing in common
besides a lack of terrorists: each had a left-leaning
presidential candidate or a left-leaning president in
office. In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez, bete noir
of the Bush Administration, was facing a recall vote.
In Mexico, the anti-Bush Mayor of Mexico City, Andres
Manuel Lopez Obrador was (and is) leading the race for
the Presidency.

Most provocative is the contractor to whom this
no-bid contract was handed: ChoicePoint Inc. of
Alpharetta, Georgia. ChoicePoint is the database
company that created a list for Governor Jeb Bush of
Florida of voters to scrub from voter rolls before the
2000 election. ChoicePoint's list (94,000 names in
all) contained few felons. Most of those on the list
were guilty of no crime except Voting While Black. The
disenfranchisement of these voters cost Al Gore the

Having chosen our President for us, our
President's men chose ChoicePoint for this sweet War
on Terror database gathering. The use of the
Venezuela's and Mexico's voter registry files to fight
terror is not visible - but the use of the lists to
manipulate elections is as obvious as the make-up on
Katherine Harris' cheeks.

In Venezuela, leading up to the August 2004 vote
on whether to re-call President Chavez, I saw his
opposition pouring over the voter rolls in laptops,
claiming the right to challenge voters as Jeb's crew
did to voters in Florida. It turns out this operation
was partly funded by the International Republican
Institute of Washington, an arm of the GOP. Where did
they get the voter info from?

In that case, access to Venezuela's voter rolls
didn't help the Republican-assisted drive against
Chavez, who won by a crushing plurality.

In Mexico this Sunday, we can expect to see the
same: challenges of Obrador voters in a race, the
polls say, is too close to call. Not that Mexico's
rulers need lessons from the Bush Administration on
how to mess with elections.

In 1988, the candidate for Obrador's Party of the
Democratic Revolution (PDR), who opinion polls showed
as a certain winner, somehow came up short against the
incumbent party of the ruling elite. Some of the
electoral tricks were far from subtle. In the state of
Guerrero, the PDR was leading on official tally sheets
by 359,369. Oddly, the official final count was
309,202 for the ruling party, only 182,874 for the
PDR. Challenging the vote would have been dangerous.
Two top officials of Obrador's party were assassinated
during the campaign.

Crucial to the surprise victory of the ruling
party was the introduction of computer voting machines
and the centralization of voter databases. Observer
Andrew Reding of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs
reported that ruling party operatives had special
access codes denied the opposition.

Whether the US "War on Terror" lists will find a
use in Sunday's election, we cannot know. But the use
of American government resources to interfere in
south-of-the-border campaigns is an open secret. The
GOP's International Republican Institute has run
training sessions for the PAN youth wing, funded by US
taxpayers through the "National Endowment for

Foreign - that is, American - interference in
political campaigns is a crime. That didn't stop Team
Bush. However, when the theft of its citizen files was
discovered, Argentina threatened to arrest ChoicePoint
contractors until the company returned the tapes - and
Mexico's attorney general did in fact arrest the
ChoicePoint data thieves to avoid his party from
looking too much the stooge of its Washington patron.
Whether George Bush gave back his copy, no one will

Wholesale theft is expected on Sunday in forms
both subtle and brutal. How the US' purloined
"counterterrorism" lists will be used, we don't know.
We are certain however, that the Administration did
not siphon off these Latin voter files to fight a War
on Terror. It appears, rather, part of the Bush
Administration's and GOP's hemispheric War on
Democracy - along a battle line which runs from
Florida to Ohio to Juarez.

For as-it-happens reporting on the Mexican
election, check for dispatches from
our team investigator Special Correspondent Matt
Pascarella with video journalist Rick Rowley in Mexico

Special thanks to the Electronic Privacy
Information Center, Washington. DC, which received and
passed on to our team the FBI ChoicePoint files and
other foreign intelligence documentation.

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times
bestseller, ARMED MADHOUSE: Who's Afraid of Osama
Wolf?, China Floats Bush Sinks, the Scheme to Steal
'08, No Child's Behind Left and Other Dispatches From
the Front Lines of the Class War.

Get your copy of Palast’s new book, Armed
Madhouse, at