Saturday, November 06, 2004

The Exit Poll Anomaly and Cyber Warfare


These charts show the difference between exit polls and final tally in states with paper ballots (L) and with electonic voting (R)


ROBERT PARRY, CONSORTIUM NEWS - Theoretically at least, it is conceivable that sophisticated CIA-style computer hacking – known as “cyber-warfare” – could have let George W. Bush’s campaign transform a three-percentage-point defeat, as measured by exit polls, into an official victory of about the same margin.

Whether such a scheme is feasible, however, is another matter, since it would require penetration of hundreds of local computer systems across the country, presumably from a single remote location. The known CIA successes in cyber-war have come from targeting a specific bank account or from shutting down an adversary’s computer system, not from altering data simultaneously in a large number of computers.

To achieve that kind of result, cyber-war experts say, a preprogrammed “kernel of brain” would have to be inserted into election computers beforehand or teams of hackers would be needed to penetrate the lightly protected systems, targeting touch-screen systems without a paper backup for verifying the numbers.

Though there's still no proof of such a cyber-attack, suspicions are growing that the U.S. presidential election results were manipulated to some degree. Voting analyses of some precincts in Florida and Ohio have found surprisingly high percentages for Bush. Others have noted that the large turnout among young voters and the obvious enthusiasm of John Kerry’s voters would have suggested a better showing for the Democrat.

But the most perplexing fact is that exit polls into the evening of Nov. 2 showed Kerry rolling to a clear victory nationally and carrying most of the battleground states, including Florida and Ohio, whose totals would have ensured Kerry’s victory in the Electoral College.

Significantly, polls also showed Republicans carrying the bulk of the tight Senate races. However, when the official results were tallied, the presidential exit polls proved wrong while the Senate polls proved right.

Explanations from the architects of the exit-poll sampling system also sound specious. Their report said Kerry voters were simply more willing than Bush voters to answer the exit pollsters’ questions. But this “chattiness thesis” seems more like a post-facto excuse than a serious argument.

Another explanation from some pundits was that the exit polls were adjusted by late in the day to rectify pro-Kerry exaggerations from the earlier samples. But that is not what happened. As the New York Times reported, “The presumption of a Kerry victory built a head of steam late in the day, when the national survey showed the senator with a statistically significant lead, one falling outside the survey’s margin of error.” . . .

By the mid-1990s, cyber-war - “ also known as "information warfare" - “ was such a hot topic within the U.S. military that the Pentagon produced a breezy 13-page booklet called "Information Warfare for Dummies.". . . Indirectly, the booklet acknowledged secret U.S. capabilities in these areas. . . The primer also gave some hints about the disruptive strategies in the U.S. arsenal. "Network penetrations" include "insertion of malicious code (viruses, worms, etc.), theft of information, manipulation of information, denial of service," the primer said.

The booklet also recognized the sensitivity of the topic. "Due to the moral, ethical and legal questions raised by hacking, the military likes to keep a low profile on this issue," the primer explained.

Despite the Pentagon's nervousness, the booklet said the cyber-war tactics do have advantages over other military operations. "The intrusions can be carried out remotely, transcending the boundaries of time and space," the manual said. "They also offer the prospect of 'plausible deniability' or repudiation."

1 Comments:

At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Larry Hime said...

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