Texas to Florida: White House-linked clandestine operation paid for "vote switching" software
By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer
December 6, 2004`”The manipulation of computer voting machines in the recent presidential election and the funding of programmers who were involved in the operation are tied to an intricate web of shady off-shore financial trusts and companies, shady espionage operatives, Republican Party politicians close to the Bush family, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) contract vehicles.
An exhaustive investigation has turned up a link between current Florida Republican Representative Tom Feeney, a customized Windows-based program to suppress Democratic votes on touch screen voting machines, a Florida computer services company with whom Feeney worked as a general counsel and registered lobbyist while he was Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, and top level officials of the Bush administration.
According to a notarized affidavit signed by Clint Curtis, while he was employed by the NASA Kennedy Space Center contractor, Yang Enterprises, Inc., during 2000, Feeney solicited him to write a program to "control the vote." At the time, Curtis was of the opinion that the program was to be used for preventing fraud in the in the 2002 election in Palm Beach County, Florida. His mind was changed, however, when the true intentions of Feeney became clear: the computer program was going to be used to suppress the Democratic vote in counties with large Democratic registrations.
According to Curtis, Feeney and other top brass at Yang Enterprises, a company located in a three-story building in Oviedo, Florida, wanted the prototype written in Visual Basic 5 (VB.5) in Microsoft Windows and the end-product designed to be portable across different Unix-based vote tabulation systems and to be "undetectable" to voters and election supervisors.
Yang, an engineering and computer services company subcontracted to NASA prime contractors like Lockheed Martin, was founded in 1986 by Dr. Tyng-Lin (Tim) Yang. Granted minority-owned "Section 8A" and woman-owned preferential status by the U.S. government, Yang's clients also include the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT). Yang's President, Li-Woan (Lee) Yang, is Tim Yang's wife. Feeney was the registered agent for another Yang company, Y & H Greens, Inc., a company that was dissolved in 1988 and operated from the Yangs' residence on Merritt Island. The Yangs also serve as co-trustees for an entity called Yang of Merritt Island, Ltd., founded on January 31, 2000, and also run from their residence.
In the autumn of 1999, Curtis, who served as a sort of technology adviser for Yang, first became aware of Feeney's interest in election rigging. Curtis said at one meeting, Feeney "bragged that he could reduce the minority vote and deliver the election to 'George.'" At the same meeting, according to Curtis, Feeney said he had "implemented a list that would eliminate thousands of voters that would vote for Democratic candidates" and that "a proper placement of police patrols could further reduce the black vote by as much as 25 percent."
Feeney's desire to manipulate the vote would be manifested in his home base of Volusia County in the 2000 presidential election. According to The Washington Post, at 10 p.m. on election night, Al Gore was leading Bush in Volusia County by 83,000 to 62,000 votes. One-half hour later, Gore's vote total had been reduced by 16,000 to 67,000 and an obscure Socialist candidate saw a sudden surge to 10,000 votes in a precinct with only 600 voters. The information on the Volusia optical scanner voting anomalies came from a leaked internal Diebold memorandum. In the end, Bush won Florida and the White House by a mere 537 votes in the most controversial U.S. presidential election in history.
Feeney had long been a voice in Florida GOP politics. He was gubernatorial candidate Jeb Bush's running mate in 1994, a race in which Democratic incumbent Lawton Chiles defeated Bush. Chiles once referred to Feeney as "the David Duke of Florida politics."
In 2002, Feeney asked Curtis if he could develop a touch screen voting machine "flip flop" program. According to Curtis, Feeney asked him, "Can you write a program to flip votes around on touch screen machines?" Curtis said Feeney wanted the program to merely reduce votes in heavily Democratic areas and flip Republican votes to 51 percent and keep Democrat votes to 49 percent. Curtis added that Feeney "did not want to win by a lot." In return, Curtis said Feeney offered him "big jobs." Curtis's main tasks at Yang were to develop the Florida DOT's Electronic Document Management System. He also worked on the Project Pipeline Information System at another one of Yang's major clients, Exxon Mobil's Coral Gables facility.
Curtis said he developed the voting program and eventually handed off his prototype to Feeney. The program was also reviewed by Curtis's senior coder, Hai Lin (Henry) Nee, who according to Florida Department of Transportation sources, was an illegal alien working in the United States. According Curtis, not only did Nee review the vote switching program code but he constantly downloaded sensitive data to his computer from NASA's computers. Nee, according to Curtis, moonlighted at an Orlando company called Azure Systems, described by The Orlando Sentinel as a "three person engineering firm" and one of a number of companies linked to Ting Ih-Hsu, a former Lockheed Martin employee. At the same time Nee was reviewing Yang's vote switching program, he was also being investigated by U.S. federal investigators for illegally shipping Hellfire missile parts to China. Oddly, although U.S. law enforcement agents had put Nee and his associates under surveillance for illegal exports of technology to China in 1999, he and his colleagues were not arrested until March of this year.
Curtis claimed that Yang's corporate bosses stressed that the company had "unlimited" sources of money that came "mostly" from China. According to Florida DOT employees, House Speaker Feeney pressured their agency to give money to Yang for nonexistent software. The sources also revealed that Feeney was aware that Yang was employing a number of illegal aliens on State of Florida and federal contracts.
Feeney's ties to Yang paralleled similar close ties to NASA. Feeney's wife Ellen has worked as an engineer for NASA's Kennedy Space Center since 1985. Jeb Bush ensured that Florida's 24th Congressional District was redrawn so that Feeney would have an easy time in his 2002 race against Democratic opponent Harry Jacobs. According to Florida state officials, who spoke on the condition anonymity, 500 Yang employees at the Kennedy Space Center were paid for their time when they agreed to picket against Jacobs. In addition, NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe, according to the same sources, lobbied extensively for Feeney within NASA. In addition, O'Keefe and his close friend and former Pentagon boss, Vice President Dick Cheney, made campaign appearances for Feeney at the Kennedy Space Center.
Feeney's close ties to Jeb Bush and Cheney paid off. In 2002, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in a race that also saw the re-election of Jeb Bush. Early in "vote switch's" development stages, Feeney had told Curtis that he wanted the program "made to control Palm Beach" in 2002. Palm Beach County's Election Supervisor was still the controversial Theresa LePore, nicknamed "Madam Butterfly," who designed the infamous "butterfly ballots" in the 2000 election. LePore had once been an employee of Saudi multi-billionaire Adnan Khashoggi, a Saudi link that is tied to a huge multi-billion tranche of money distributed throughout off-shore trusts, accounts, and corporations with interlocking directorships that are controlled by Bush interests in Houston. It was this Bush-controlled money cache, originating in the East, and known in Houston by the name "Five Star" and other cryptonyms that was, according to U.S. intelligence insiders, used to fund the rigging of the 2004 election.
When he arrived in Congress, Feeney was given a seat on the House Science and Technology Committee, which oversees NASA's operations. Feeney was also appointed to the important House Finance and Judiciary Committees. He was also given a clean bill of ethical health by Florida's Ethics Commission, a panel that has a Republican majority.
After Feeney's ascension to Congress, Yang's questionable billing activities with its Florida DOT contract came to the attention of Ray C. Lemme, a seasoned senior investigator with the Florida DOT Inspector General's Office and a combat veteran of the Vietnam War. Lemme had a lot of evidence to suspect that Yang was overbilling the DOT for "millions." After discovering Yang's dirty laundry, Curtis went to work for the DOT. Mavis Georgalis, the DOT's contracting officer for the Yang contract, was also aware of improprieties with the contract. As a result of pressure from the Florida State House, both Curtis and Georgalis were eventually fired by the DOT because of their complaints about the Yang contract. Someone was obviously trying to send Curtis a message when, on August 14, 2002, he discovered that someone poisoned his pet Pomeranian dog, Emily. Lemme was forced to stop his official investigation of Yang for similar reasons. However, he decided to continue an "unofficial" investigation of Yang and its practices on the side. It was a fateful decision.
According to DOT employees familiar with the Yang case, Lemme was aware that it was Jeb Bush who personally shut down his investigation of Yang. Lemme also leaked details concerning his investigation to the Daytona Beach News Journal. The investigator had previously requested a full audit of the Yang contract with the DOT, a request that was denied. Lemme also became aware of something else outside the framework of the DOT contract`”that Yang had been involved in producing a prototype vote switching program for use with touch screen voting machines and that Tom Feeney was in on the scam. The last time Clint Curtis spoke to Lemme, he remembers the silver haired investigator excited about where his case was leading. Lemme told Curtis that the cover up of Yang was coming from "as high up as I could imagine" and that he had "proof" that was "shocking."
On Sunday, June 29, 2003, evidence indicates that Lemme drove from Tallahassee to Valdosta, Georgia, the home of Moody Air Force Base. A motel receipt indicated that Lemme checked in at the Knight's Inn off Interstate 75 at 6:49 p.m. Lemme's wife said that her husband left home for work on Monday, June 30, at 5:15 a.m., an hour earlier than usual. According to a Leon County Sheriff's report, Lemme's wife said she received a voice message after she returned home at 6:45 p.m. on Monday. The message was from her husband's supervisor, Bob Clift, who informed her that earlier in the day, at 6:15 a.m., Lemme called into work, left a message, and said he would not be coming to work that day. Clift said he was checking up on Ray Lemme. Mrs. Lemme called Clift and told him that her husband was not at home. Mrs. Lemme told police that her husband was working on a "big case." Mrs. Lemme filed a missing person report with the Leon County, Sheriff's Office. Clift later determined that Ray Lemme made his earlier call to work at 6:15 a.m., one hour after he supposedly left his home for work, from a pay phone at the junction of Interstate 10 and Highway 1 in Jefferson County, Florida. Shortly after 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, July 1, the maid assigned to clean Lemme's room`”132`”received no answer when she knocked. The door was locked. There was no response when the maid called the room's telephone. The hotel manager then called the police.
The following is from the Valdosta Police Detective Report filed by Detective Craig Spencer and dated July 1, 2003: "On July 1, 2003 at approximately 1330 hours, I received a page advising me to be en route to Knights Inn at 2110 West Hill Avenue in reference to an unattended death." When Spencer and other police officers and detectives arrived at the motel, the manager told them that the occupant of Room 132, Ray Lemme, was to have checked out by 11a.m. The officers yelled through the slightly ajar door but received no answer and they discovered the upper swing latch was locked. The officers used a special tool provided by the motel to open the swing latch lock. Spencer said that one of the officers entered the room and found a suicide note and then proceeded to the bathroom where Lemme was found dead in the bathtub. Police also discovered that the inside of Lemmes's left elbow`”the cubital tunnel`”was slashed. There were spurts of blood on the wall but no blood found on the floor. A belt possibly used as a tourniquet and a double- edged straight razor blade were found on the side of the tub. A bath towel was unfolded and neatly placed on the floor next to the tub.
Later on July 1, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Laboratory in Moultrie informed the Valdosta Police that based on the "suicide" details, no autopsy would be performed on Lemme. Unlike Florida, Georgia does not perform mandatory autopsies. A doctor, with 25 years' clinical experience, who was interviewed for this story claimed that the circumstances of Lemme's death appeared to him to be a classic "mob hit." If the Leon County Sheriff missing person report is to be believed, it is clear that someone other than Lemme checked into the Valdosta motel on Sunday evening using his name. Clearly, the Leon County Sheriff's report contains a number of details that directly conflict with facts found in the Valdosta Police report. In addition, the Lowndes County, Georgia, Coroner's report fails to indicate an estimated time of death based on a full medical examination`”it surmised that the time of death was the same time as indicated on the suicide note: 8:10 a.m. on July 1.
An empty manila folder and a blank legal pad notebook were found on the hotel room's desk along with an undated and unsigned suicide note written on lined paper, which lacked any identifiable fingerprints, from Lemme's day planner. The note merely contained the time 8:10 a.m. with the following notation: "I love my family (family underlined once) with all my heart. I am sorry. I am depressed and in pain. Mary Ann (Lemme's wife), I love you." ("I love you" underlined twice). It was certainly not indicative of a person who was ecstatic that he was finally going to nail a long investigation that involved vote rigging, overbilling, and fraud abetted by the very top political leadership in Tallahassee. Interestingly, the last number on Lemme's pager (an 850 960-XXXX) ended with the number "911." It is also interesting that Lemme's watch, when discovered by the police, was stopped at 12:34 p.m. on June 30`“a possible indication that Lemme was trying to convey the time of a possible in extremis situation. Also, Lemme's Florida driver's license was in his room while his wallet was in the glove box of his car, which was parked in front of the room. Two motel receipts were found in Lemme's room by the police. One was a check-in receipt dated June 29 and timed at 6:44 p.m. The other was a receipt, without a notation of check-in or check-out, dated June 30 and timed at 6:54 a.m. A witness told police that Lemme's car was parked in front of his room on the afternoon of June 30.
Sergeant Eugene Bell of the Valdosta Police Department interviewed a 39-year old female guest who was staying in Room 236 over the weekend. She and her daughter noticed three men standing in the parking lot across from Lemme's room at 8 a.m. on the morning of July 1. The behavior of the men made the guest suspicious enough that the woman initially believed the men were engaged in a drug deal. According to the police report, the camera used to photograph the crime scene was later discovered to have a defect in the flash memory card. The defect resulted in no usable photographs being submitted with the official police report.
Lemme was no stranger to Florida politics. His wife, Mary Ann, worked as a secretary for Martha Walters Barnett, a partner with the politically-connected Holland & Knight law firm in Tallahassee, where she specializes in campaign finance and election law and government contracts. Another Holland & Knight partner, Ginny Myrick, was appointed by Jeb Bush as the vice chair of the Florida Community Trust, a state land acquisition and grant program. Although officially a bipartisan law firm, even Democrats working for Holland & Knight largely support Jeb Bush. In addition, Bill McBride, Bush's Democratic opponent in the 2002 gubernatorial race and a Holland & Knight partner who had defeated former Attorney General Janet Reno in the Democratic primary amid reports of voting irregularities from around the state, commented that his race against Bush "may be the Democrats' race to lose."
The NASA connection to the money trail that is linked to the development of the vote switching program is of particular note. When the first sketchy details of the vote switching operation emerged, a Houston-controlled money tranche associated with an offshore entity called Five Star Trust, registered in the Isle of Man, was reported by high-level intelligence sources familiar with past Bush-related covert activities to be behind the operation. Five Star has been connected by these informed sources to have originated in 1983, when deposed Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Saudi billionaire Adnan Khashoggi, and then-Vice President George H. W. Bush were allegedly looking for a repository for an estimated $3 billion in looted Philippine gold and gems. Since that time, Five Star's accounts are said to funnel more funds from Saudi Arabia as well as cash reserves hidden away in offshore artificial shells by Enron before it collapsed. What is not yet certain is whether Sean O'Keefe, the NASA administrator and close Cheney friend who supported Feeney's and Yang's activities in Florida, facilitated the transfer of Five Star funds from Houston to Cape Canaveral using contract vehicles of both the Johnson and Kennedy Space Centers to disburse the funds to the principal players. A NASA insider in Texas said he has long suspected large amounts of money have been moved into the United States and that these transfers involved NASA and Saudi and Chinese money sources.
There is additional information that the election rigging principals connected to the State of Florida and Jeb Bush may have also tried to use contractors tied closely to state contracts to parlay the touch screen software into Maine, which has proportional distribution of its electoral votes by congressional district, and Ohio, the key state in 2004. The information was provided by insiders in Tallahassee who are close to offices involved in procurement by the state government.
Sources close to U.S. intelligence pointed to a $29.6 million check supposedly issued on October 22, 2004, by Laurentian Bank in Montreal, Canada, that was rumored by intelligence circles to have been used to pay for the technicians who developed the software to rig the election. The computer voting machine technicians and maintenance personnel involved with the rigging were reported to have included Russians, Mexicans, and Brazilians.
According to Laurentian Bank, the check, a U.S. dollar "money order," is a bogus instrument tied to Nigerian scamming activities. Laurentian Bank said that a U.S. dollar money order would never be for amounts over $1,000 and any higher amount would be in the form of a bank draft that would require the signature of two senior bank officers. In addition, the bank would never use a cell phone number (514-588-5569) on their checks. The payer on the "check," Equity Financial Trust of Toronto, is said by the Canadian Fraud Office to be involved with Nigerian scammers. In fact, the Canadian Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions reports that Equity Financial Trust, Toronto, Ontario "may be violating provisions of the Bank Act (Canada) or other Canadian financial institution regulations" and "may also be conducting unauthorized banking transactions in the United States."
The payee on the "check," Five Star Investments, Ltd., once registered on the Isle of Man, is a Lexington, Kentucky-based entity tied to Marion "J.R." Horn, convicted in 2002 by Judge Joseph M. Hood of the U.S. District Court for Eastern Kentucky for wire fraud. He was also ordered to serve time in Buckner Federal Penitentiary, North Carolina for a "mental study." He eventually served an unusually light 18-month sentence while on parole for another fraud case. When interviewed by a researcher for this article, Horn expressed surprise that the check his lawyer in Nassau was waiting to clear a bank in New York, was, in fact, a fake. According to CIA documents obtained from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Five Star Trust may have, in fact, had a past relationship with Horn. According to Offshorebusiness.com, Five Star Trust has been linked with an "illegal" bank.
The connection of Enron money and Nigerian scammers to Five Star is intriguing because of a September 23, 2004, Houston Chronicle report that said Enron was involved in an off-the-books deal to invest in Nigerian power generation barges. Tina Trinkle, a former Merrill Lynch banker, said she was asked not to do the normal background checks for such a business deal.
A former Justice Department prosecutor who investigated the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) said that the bogus check and those responsible for it are typical "feints" used to mask actual clandestine money movements from law enforcement investigators. In addition, the former prosecutor said the purported check lacked the necessary SWIFT codes in the numbers found at the bottom of the check to facilitate the movement of money through international financial networks. He said that in his experience as a prosecutor, the name "Five Star Trust" came up in relation to the covert activities of the Nugan Hand Bank, a CIA-connected activity that was involved in covert activities in Australia and South East Asia.
Five Star entities, active and dissolved, have been discovered in the Isle of Man, the island of Nevis, the Bahamas, Florida, Kentucky, and Texas. Other Five Star-related entities stored large sums of money in the Cook Islands, according to U.S. intelligence sources, and these funds were directly linked to Khashoggi and BCCI. Khashoggi also approached top Nigerian leaders in 1982 to set up a company there that would deal exclusively in minerals. According to knowledgeable insiders, Khashoggi used a company called Triad to hammer out lucrative international deals on precious minerals. In 1994, Five Star Investments, Ltd., the entity tied to Horn, attempted to buy International Standards Group ISG), Ltd., a consulting company based in Boca Raton, Florida. According to the Palm Beach Post, Horn was the person who proposed the acquisition. ISG was also the target of a bid by UMI, Inc., a mortgage banker based in Coral Gables, Florida. The Palm Beach Post was never able to determine the source of UMI's cash.
Phony checks are not the only telltale signs associated with some of the various Five Star entities. Another bogus document, a bogus UN customs declaration for a shipment to a "Counter Terrorist Unit" in Lagos, Nigeria, was also obtained in the investigation of this story
Horn has had a running battle with the CIA over allegations that he is owed money for his past activities on behalf of the agency. Although Horn has produced a number of dubious documents to support his claims, one of the names mentioned in documents filed in U.S. court in Washington, DC is that of E. Warren Goss, an actual attorney in Boulder, Colorado. It has not been established if E. Warren Goss has any family connection to Porter Goss, the current CIA director.
In a September 17, 2003, declaration by Marilyn A. Dorn, Information Review Officer in the Directorate of Operations at the CIA, in response to Horn's Freedom of Information Act request, it was determined that the agency had no records containing the names "Five Star Trust" or a reported subsidiary, "U.S. Mortgage and Trust (Bahamas)." Dorn reported that no records containing references to either entity were discovered but that two documents, cables`”"field traffic consisting of one and a half pages and eight partial lines of message text, respectively, dating from the early 1980s"`”were responsive to Horn's request. It is interesting that the CIA admits the time frame because the genesis of Five Star Trust was 1983, when, according to U.S. intelligence insiders, then-Vice President Bush authorized a Boeing 747 with a special "carriage" to airlift several tons of gold bars from Clark Air Force base in the Philippines to LaGuardia Airport in New York.
The gold bars were then transported to the International Diamond Exchange Vaults near Rockefeller Center. A CIA proprietary firm called Oceaneering International of Houston was reportedly involved in airlifting some of the gold from the Philippines, in addition to sealifting the remainder to Oregon. After George W. Bush's victory in 2000, the last of the gold in New York was moved to UBS Bank in Zurich. Marcos and Khashoggi set about to create Five Star Trust in 1983 as a means to create a vehicle to use the Philippine wealth to create and funnel fungible assets. In 1989, Five Star Trust was officially established in the Isle of Man by a Houston-based attorney who was a close friend of the Bush family.
The CIA's explanation of its decision to withhold the release the two cables was partly based on the use of cryptonyms`“artificial words used as substitutes for the actual name or identity of a "person, organization, or project." The CIA statement continues: "when obtained and matched with other information, a cryptonym possesses a great deal of meaning for those who are able to fit it into the proper cognitive framework." The denial of Horn's FOIA request also stated that the two responsive documents could "reveal the existence or location of covert CIA field installations in multiple foreign countries." In addition, the CIA stated that release of the documents in question would "reveal specific and sensitive subjects in which the CIA is or was interested." Finally, disclosure of the requested documents was denied because of "foreign relations." The agency emphasized that, "in carrying out its legally authorized intelligence activities, the CIA engages in activities that if known by foreign nations, could reasonably be expected to cause serious damage to U.S. relations with affected or interested nations."
The story of this corruption is nothing new. What is new is the purpose. The use of this old and covert tranche of money for a special Bush operation to deny the American people their right to a free and fair vote was not the typical illegal sale of arms to a terrorist nation, the overthrow of a foreign government, or the payment of bribes to foreign potentates. It was a high crime in every constitutional sense. The target was the American political system and not just in 2004 but also in 2003, 2002, and 2000. The scandal goes right up to the White House and the Governor's Mansion in Tallahassee. It involves an extremely crooked Florida national politician and other Florida state government officials. And, as with all modern American political scandals, we have at least one dead body, a number of whistleblowers and anonymous "Deep Throats," powerful but corrupt politicians, counterfeit and real documents, con men, and a money trail tied to off-shore foreign bank accounts.
People may wonder why a group of intelligence insiders would come forward to a non-major media outlet with such tantalizing information at this time. The corporate-beholden media cannot be trusted to report such a news story. A common theme from all the intelligence and ex-intelligence officials with whom I have communicated is that George W. Bush made a major mistake in attacking and purging the clandestine service of the CIA. The "agency," which extends far beyond the confines of Langley, Virginia, is having its revenge. It has willingly exposed a portion of a traditional clandestine CIA money route to expose the vote scam that was used to ensure Bush's election.
The clues, for example, the bogus check, were conveyed to us as exactly that`”clues. Those markers pointed to the illegal nature of the covert money flows. The connections between NASA contracts, Texas, and Florida were additional clues to one of the major sources of the money used for the vote rigging. There were a number of roads that led to the same destination. But that is the nature of covert intelligence. Some patriotic and brave people, who have served in silence for a number of decades, have chosen their country over a corrupt family and administration. It is now time for the constitutional process to begin. Rectification of the criminal conspiracy that denied John Kerry and John Edwards the White House must begin in Ohio, and extend to Florida, California, Texas, Georgia, and other states where votes were flipped by computers from the Kerry to the Bush column. Past elections must also be investigated and those who were done in by this fraud, namely, people like Max Cleland, Gray Davis, Al Gore, and others must also have their day in court.
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and syndicated columnist. He is the author of "Jaded Tasks: Big Oil, Black Ops & Brass Plateshttp://www.onlinejournal.com/Special_Reports/120604Madsen/120604madsen.html