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Good Night and Good Luck

Those times are back again.

Whether or not you or your parents were born and or have lived in the US they can tell you about it: the dark years. The McCarthy years. When the voice of Edward R Murrow spoke out. Those times are back again.

Tuesday 7 November 2006 the US - or about half of them - go to the polls in one of the most important elections for the entire planet in recent years. The reign of the Idiot Prince has but two more years before it runs out; the alternates are increasingly coming out of the woodwork to challenge the neocons in the establishment; but a company providing polling machines may be destined to bend the course of destiny and people rule.

Ariel Feldman and Alex Halderman, under the wing of the noted Ed Felten, have obtained a Diebold polling machine and proven election results can be hijacked. Diebold machines are not new to the election scene in the US; the fact that they use Microsoft technology to 'secure' election results is not new either; but what Feldman, Halderman, and Felten have done is show how easy it is to completely compromise both these new polling machines and overall election results.

It takes less than one minute realtime to hack a Diebold machine and from that point the compromise can pass to any other machine that comes into contact with it. Even breaking through the lock that's supposed to secure the machine is child's play: it takes less than ten seconds.

George Orwell gave his readers a fait accompli in 1984: Big Brother were in power but no one knew how they got there. Orwell gave his readers a jump from 1948 in one fell swoop. And although ENIAC existed at the time, there was no way he could have envisioned the path taken today.

Knowing entire elections can be rigged brings a new spectre to things: tomorrow people will not know they are effectively living in a dictatorship; they will simply assume everyone voted differently from what they did. And even if they find few who voted for that 'other' candidate they'll assume all is on the 'up and up'.

Ten seconds to break in - unless you have a key and are 'on the take'; less than one minute realtime to completely rig election results.

The neocons won't try rigging every polling booth in the country, even though it's certain the idea's been tossed about in subdued murmurs in their salons of power. They'll move to the marginal constituencies - to areas that could go either way. They'll measure nationwide polls and see where they can make the most difference.

People already suspect they've done this in the last national election in the US.

Is it inconceivable that Diebold are working with the neocons to solidify power in the US capital?

Is it more conceivable that a massive conspiracy of stupidity is in play whereby the most sensitive data in their country is entrusted to a technology that would have Upton Sinclair throwing up?

Or have Diebold specifically chosen Microsoft technology precisely because they know how easy it will be to compromise?

Judging from the pictures of the machine in operation the Diebold software engineers aren't exactly educated: in at least two places you would seem to see them misspelling the word 'memory' (as 'memroy'). That's a pretty big blooper considering this machine's made its way out into the public and is on display on television and elsewhere.

Are they all just idiots? Or are the mid-term election results in the US already decided before the estimated 50% of all registered voters go to the polls?

All the rest of the planet can say to them on the eve of this election is 'good night and good luck'.

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