Thursday, March 22, 2007

GwB43: The White House, vote theft, and the email trail

GWB43 is the name of an internet server owned by the Republican National Committee.

Oddly enough, communications revealed in the course of the Great U.S. Attorney Purge document dump reveal that key figures within the administration used such email addresses as

The White House has its own internal email system, ending in the .gov suffix, as mandated by the Presidential Records Act. As Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) notes:
CREW has learned that to fulfill its statutory obligations under the PRA, the White House email system automatically copies all messages created by staff and sends them to the White House Office of Records Management for archiving. It appears that the White House deliberately bypassed the automatic archiving function of its own email system that was designed to ensure compliance with the PRA.
So why are White House personnel using private email addresses to bypass this system?

A not-unrelated question: Did Patrick Fitzgerald know about this bypass when he subpoenaed White House emails pursuant to the Plamegate investigation? I doubt that he did. If he had, Scooter might not have been the only one brought to trial.

This story by Joseph Hughes and Melissa McEwan compiles statements by George Bush, Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Michael Chertoff and Alberto Gonzales, all of whom have claimed that they do not use email for business. Oddly, Rice made this claim at the same time let slip that she had used email to communicate with Richard Clarke.

Dubya's stated reasoning for not entering the computer age is both disconcerting and hilariously inarticulate:
"I tend not to e-mail - not only tend not to e-mail, I don't e-mail, uh, because of, uh, the different record requests that could happen to a president. I don't want to receive e-mails, 'cause, you know, there's no telling what somebody would e-mail me and it would show up as, uh, you know, part of some kind of a story that - and I wouldn't be able to say, 'Well, I didn't read the e-mail' - 'But I sent it your address; how can you say you didn't?' So, in other words, I'm very cautious about e-mailing."
All very amusing, but can we really believe that in the modern age these people do not use the most convenient messaging system available?

Or could it be that all these people recall how Ollie North was tripped up by the discovery of certain emails?

If the Bush White House used GWB43 to route around history, we must ask a question straight out of the Parsifal legends: What is GWB43 and who does it serve?

The answer takes us into the dark mysteries of the 2004 election in Ohio...

(To read the rest, click "Permalink" below)

Here (with a hat tip to Jackstraw45 of DU) is the WHOIS info on GWB43:
Domain Name: GWB43.COM

Administrative Contact, Technical Contact:
Republican National Committee dns@RNCHQ.ORG
310 First Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
999 999 9999 fax: 999 999 9999

Record expires on 16-Jan-2008.
Record created on 16-Jan-2004.
Database last updated on 21-Mar-2007 17:45:46 EDT.

Domain servers in listed order:

""? Odd name, that.

We learn that this same Tennessee-based hosting service -- Smartech -- played a mysterious role in the 2004 election in Ohio. From a November 7, 2006 story by luaptifer at Daily Kos:
Ohio's election results are hosted on the same servers by the partisan companies that run websites like and many of the familiar Republican group sites.
More (also see here):
SOS Blackwell also neglected to inform that he outsourced Election Night hosting services to the provider of Internet operations for the Republican National Committee, SMARTech Corp. It's clear that most of the IP address space allocated to Smartechcorp, if it has a domain name, is operated by the RNC or its functionaries and allies.
SMARTECH lists the following corporate address: SMARTECH CORPORATION PO BOX 11181 Chattanooga TN US 37401 Their web page is here. They offer internet hosting, streaming media and so forth.

This firm handles everything Republican:
On August 22, 2004, SMARTech Corp ( announced that it would be "hosting" the Republican National Convention in New York City, providing "convention speeches, video-on-demand 'streams' and live shots of events through powerful Web servers, most of which are at Smartech’s headquarters in downtown Chattanooga." The announcement stated that the "company also hosts the Bush-Cheney campaign Web site, at, and the national committee’s site,"
Smartech shows up in this interesting information technology story from 2004, which outlines a still-unsolved mystery. If the reader will forgive a digression...

During election season, web surfers from outside the United States were not able to access Bush's Web site,, even though surfers within U.S. borders had no problem doing so. Why this oddity, and who was responsible? The site used network management technology from Akamai Technologies Inc. to restrict access. An Akamai spokesman referred all questions to the hosting company, Smartech. Yet Smartech's president said "All we do is host the site. I have no control over what's being done outside our servers."

That strange business probably has no link to the decision made by Ohio's notorious Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell, to route election night results through RNC servers. I mention the matter here because the conundrum gnaws at me. I can think of no legitimate -- or illegitimate -- reason why anyone within the party would want to restrict foreigners from looking at

(Incidentally, the name Akamai has turned up in these pages before: Defense pseudo-contractor Brent Wilkes named several of his fake companies Akamai. However, there is a real -- and quite legitimate -- company called Akamai, based in Mountain View, California.)

So, what does it mean that Ken Blackwell used Smartech for Ohio's election night hosting services? One might, after all, expect a Republican to give state business to a Republican-friendly company. As one observer remarked, this decision seems, at first glance, akin to an Irish drinker going to an Irish pub.

However, one does not need to exercise much imagination to see how anyone using the net for nefarious purposes would want a "friendly" hosting company handling ultra-sensitive duties. Hosting companies keep records of who does what. If you are using computers to do something you don't want the world to know about, you don't want those records available to just anyone.

As the controversy over the 2004 elections gathered steam, Karl Rove made a joke about fixing the election returns from a computer in the White House basement. This remark always struck me as the sort of "joke" that the guy in Rope might have uttered: "Yeah, sure, I strangled my friend for no good reason and hid his body in the cupboard! Now seriously, how about that drink...?"

The point is that the Diebold tabulators -- the "mother machines" as Teresa Kerry once put it -- were online. A D.U. commenter offers what I consider interesting speculation (paragraph breaks added for readability):
I might be talking out of my ass here, but from what I can remember, Blackwell had direct access to the Diebold tabulator from his office so he could "authorize" the results. That tabulator had links to the machines throughout the state.

Updating the election results was live, but I bet the tabulator server and the election results host server are different - one would be Diebold and the other SMARTECH. Running the tabulator on the same host server as the election results would have been too compromising.

But, there had to be an ftp (or something) link between the tabulator and the election results host for the updating. That would have been configured either by the tabulator company (Diebold) or the RNC. If badly configured, this could have allowed open access to the tabulator results from anyone with admin access to the RNC owned SMARTECH host. This would have given Blackwell plausible deniability. "Just let our techies configure that uplink there...).

If the SMARTECH host server was used in this way, it's illegal because political parties aren't allowed to access raw election data. Only checking the server log would tell whether the election server was used to look at raw tabulator data. Of course, if it was actually used to manipulate data, that would be election fraud. manipulation of election data could easily have been done at the tabulator level or via access to the voting machines. Both are criminal acts. Because the servers were used in an election, they would be auditable material.

It would have needed one man or woman to steal Ohio, together with fudged recounts. That much appears clear. One man or woman.
"Auditable material." Of course, an audit presumes access to the correct information.

Now, I must stress the speculative nature of all this. I have no evidence that Smartech is anything other than an honest, responsibly-run firm.

Here is a list of domains that share mailservers and nameservers with gwb43. On the mailserver list, we find domains connected to Bush, Newt Gingrich, and (Blackwell was the party chief in Ohio.) Most of the sites are either Republican or far-right Christian.


New American Patriot said...

You, my friend, are amazing.

I doff my hat in the deepest respect for your brilliant muckraking skills.

Anonymous said...

Wow...amazing post. Here's something odd. May mean nothing, but...I thought I'd try to at least find out what Akamai means. Then I got to the last two paragraphs (especially the very last graph) of this Wiki entry:

Akamai Technologies

Akamai Technologies, Inc. is a company that provides a distributed computing platform for global Internet content caching and application delivery, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The company was founded by then-MIT graduate student Daniel Lewin, along with MIT Applied Mathematics professor Tom Leighton and MIT Sloan School of Management students Jonathan Seelig and Preetish Nijhawan. Leighton still serves as Akamai's Chief Scientist. Akamai is a Hawaiian word meaning "intelligent" or "clever." Beyond the name, the company has no ties with Hawaii.

Akamai's customers include Musician's Friend, E*TRADE, American Express, Yahoo!, AOL Radio, Symantec,, Google, Microsoft, FedEx, BBC News website, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Xerox, iVillage, Apple Inc., Music Television (MTV), the United States Geological Survey, the White House, Reuters,, Guitar Center, Friendster, iTunes, REI, and XM Satellite Radio. A list of more customers can be found on Akamai's website

Arabic news network Al-Jazeera was a customer from March 28, 2003, until April 2, 2003, when Akamai decided to end the brief relationship.

Co-founder Daniel Lewin was killed aboard American Airlines Flight 11 during the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Anonymous said...

AKAMAI reversed is: I am AKA (also known as)

Me thinks you have found a big stinking smoking gun.

Anonymous said...

"""? Odd name, that."

Winnie the Pooh fans will know that "The Piglet lived in a very grand house in the middle of a beech-tree, and the beech-tree was in the middle of the forest, and the Piglet lived in the middle of the house. Next to his house was a piece of broken board which had: "TRESPASSERS W" on it."

Piglet claims it is short for Trespassers Will, and that that (his grandfather's name) was short for "Trespassers William."

But a quick look at the other names you link shows no other Hundred Acre Wood whimsy on the server (and Pooh didn't do the stuff that the monstrous Scooter Libby's fictional bears were trained to do).

"Trespassing" and "W"
are not two things I feel good about seeing together in anything related to Dubya's election.

The passage after the name explanation turns to a different question: "Hallo!" said Piglet, "what are you doing?" "Hunting," said Pooh. "Hunting what?"
"Tracking something," said Winnie-the-Pooh very mysteriously. "Tracking what?" said Piglet, coming closer "That's just what I ask myself. I ask myself, What?" "What do you think you'll answer?" "I shall have to wait until I catch up with it," said Winnie-the-Pooh.

I think there something more than a Woozle here. Good work, everyone.

Anonymous said...

By the way, Trespassers W is a reference to a sign under which Piglet lived in his tree.

Apparently the -ill be Prosecuted portion of the sign had broken off.

Thus, Piglet lived under the name of Trespassers W.

Anonymous said...

The registrant of GWB43.COM used a false telephone number, 999 999 9999.

Take a look at the provisions of the Fraudulent Online Identity Sanctions Act. This was signed into law on 23 Dec 2004 as part of the Intellectual Property Protection in Courts Administration Act.

I wouldn't be surprised if contracts were breached somewhere along the line too, e.g. perhaps between the registrar and ICANN?


Anonymous said...

oh, goody!! this is just too juicy. this is what shakespeare's sister was talking about yesterday: (thanks to CD for the H/T),
though the depths joe has plumbed here were only briefly touched, by comparison. as ever.

joe, so glad you're back in the saddle. we really need you out here.

Anonymous said...

Joe, having read your excellent blog for some years now, I have to pitch in with some congratulations. I am in the graphics trade. Also web stuff. This post offers real food for thought - great stuff. These goons might just be stupid enough to leave this kind of trail. Unbelievable really when you consider the money at stake...but yes they are greedy and dumb too. Ruthless they may be. But this particular story has the absolute smell of scandal. Tip the hat Joe. What you do with your blog every day, is significant and would be sorely missed. Glad for your new found commitment. BTW Akamai is just the server setup - nothing more.

Anonymous said...

This business has gotten me pulling together a bunch of old items relating to Ed Gillespie, the RNC, and the 2004 campaign. I just posted a longish summary of this at DU, and I'm not going to repeat it all here.

However, Creative Response Concepts (and its connections to everything from the Swiftboaters to the CBS memos story) figures prominently.

So does Bob Ney, in his roles with both the Committee on House Adminstration and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

And so do a variety of bit players in the RNC's propaganda division -- one of whom, Timothy Griffin, has now surfaced in the attorney firings scandal.

It's becoming more and more apparent that the RNC in 2004 was election theft central -- and that the current activities (which began in early 2005) are concerned with both covering up the last theft and laying the groundwork for the next one.

Anonymous said...

Leave Akamai alone, waste of time.

Q) Why smartech? Why Chattanooga?
A) Easy: Mercer Reynolds. Love those pioneering rangers.

He invests in NextLec which I believe Smartech is/was a part of through Airnet.

Anonymous said...

Joseph, this is looking a lot like Wilkes to me, that is, the inductive narrative style. Don't give up, this looks very useful. I will join you in assuming that everyone involved is just fine and dandy.

However, for heuristic purposes, lets take a hypothetical. You're in the parallel universe in a country almost exactly like ours and you want to steal an election. How do you do it: You look at: what states are really valuable-now and in the past; your resources in those places of value; your logistical plans - can you execute in those states.

Then you take your goals and apply available technology. It's all about machines, which you can have switch votes, and networked tabulators, centralized tabulators. You get the "servicing" personnel to make sure that the pre-programmed vote switching software driven machines are put in place. Then you use a safe haven ISP as an operations base that will allow your mischief to take place without a lot of record keeping that can't be cleansed.

This is the core - the machines do their thing. You've got a safe haven ISP network provider, and you have the traditional techniques: over registering in favorable voting areas, voter suppression, voter disenfranchisement, and all around psy ops to keep the oppositions vote away.

Voila, you win the election. Who knows if this hypothetical applies? But it's fascinating isn't it?

Michael Collins

Anonymous said...


Congratulations Joe! I think this story has legs. It a great analysis as well as a pulling together of the research going on elsewhere -- connecting the dots, creating the forest from the trees.

This is exactly the promise of the so called blogosphere for progressive, citizen-driven politics and journalism: you pull together stuff from DU and then DUers propogate it on their greatest page, energizing hundreds of further researchers. This is exactly what the mainstream media cannot do and doesn't want us to do.

This shows why you MUST NOT end Cannonfire, and indeed should become a prominent "journal" writer at DU or Kos, so you get an even wider readership.

HamdenRice from DU

Sarah said...

Hi Joseph,

I'm a researcher at Harper's Magazine in New York, and I'm wondering if you would have time to chat with me about the architectural map of the servers used in the 2004 Ohio election. The map was recently released, and testimony and affadavits have shown that it could indicate election fraud.

Thanks, and I hope to speak with you soon!