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Forget Dubai -- worry about Smartmatic instead


Sarge

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Do we even make anything anymore?

And people here want to keep shoveling jobs out of the country :doh:

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/opinion/14194451.htm

Forget Dubai -- worry about Smartmatic instead

BY RICHARD BRAND

rmb381@nyu.edu

The greater threat to our nation's security comes not from Dubai and its pro-Western government, but from Venezuela, where software engineers with links to the leftist, anti-American regime of Hugo Chávez are programming electronic voting machines that will soon power U.S. elections.

Congress spent two weeks overreacting to news that Dubai Ports World would operate several American ports, including Miami's, but a better target for their hysteria would be the acquisition by Smartmatic International of California-based Sequoia Voting Systems, whose machines serve millions of U.S. voters. That Smartmatic -- which has been accused by Venezuela's opposition of helping Chávez rig elections in his favor -- now controls a major U.S. e-voting firm should give pause to anybody who thinks that replacing our antiquated butterfly ballots and hanging chads will restore Americans' faith in our electoral process.

Consider the lack of confidence Venezuelans have in their voting system. Anti-Chávez groups have such little faith in Smartmatic's machines that they refuse to run candidates in elections anymore as reports surface of fraud and irregularities from Chávez's 2004 victory in a recall referendum. Yet somehow Smartmatic International and its Venezuelan owners were able to purchase Sequoia last year without the deal receiving any scrutiny from federal regulators -- including the Treasury Department's Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), which is tasked with determining whether foreign takeovers pose security risks.

CFIUS generally investigates such transactions only when the parties voluntarily submit themselves to review -- which Smartmatic did not do. But it retains the authority to initiate an investigation when it suspects a takeover compromises national security.

Smartmatic has a brief but controversial history. The company was started in Caracas during the late 1990s by engineers Antonio Mugica and Alfredo Anzola. They worked out of downtown Caracas providing small-scale technology services to Latin American banks. Despite having no election experience, the tiny company rocketed from obscurity in 2004 after it was awarded a $100 million contract by the Chávez-dominated National Electoral Council to replace Venezuela's electronic voting machines for the recall vote.

When the council announced the deal, it disingenuously described Smartmatic as a Florida company, though Smartmatic's main operations were in Caracas and the firm had incorporated only a small office in Boca Raton. It then emerged that Smartmatic's ''partner'' in the deal, Bizta Corp., also directed by Anzola and Mugica, was partly owned by the Venezuelan government through a series of intermediary shell corporations. Venezuela initially denied its investment but eventually sold its stake.

When the vote finally came, exit polls by New York's Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates showed Chávez had been defeated 59 to 41 percent; however, when official tallies were announced, the numbers flipped to 58-42 in favor of Chávez. Venezuela's electoral council briefly posted machine-by-machine tallies on the Internet but removed them as mathematicians from MIT, Harvard and other universities began questioning suspicious patterns in the results.

Flush with cash from its Venezuelan adventures, Smartmatic International incorporated in Delaware last year and purchased Sequoia, announcing the deal as a merger between two U.S. companies.

Smartmatic says the recall vote was clean and that it is independent of the Chávez government. Responding to my inquiries, Smartmatic-Sequoias sent a written statement: ``Sequoia's products consist only of voting devices and systems, all of which must be federally and state tested and certified prior to use in an election. As Sequoia's products do not have military, defense or national security applications, they do not fall within the parameters of the matters governed by CFIUS.''

In fact, Smartmatic International is owned by a Netherlands corporation, which is in turn owned by a Curacao corporation, which is in turn held by a number of Curacao trusts controlled by proxy holders who represent unnamed investors, almost certainly among them Venezuelans Mugica and Anzola and possibly others.

Why Smartmatic has chosen yet again to abuse the corporate form apparently to conceal the nationality and identity of its true owners is a question that should worry anyone who votes using one of its machines. Congress panicked upon hearing that our ports would be run by an American ally, Dubai, but never asked whether America's actual enemies in Venezuela have been able to acquire influence in our electoral process.

Richard Brand is a second-year law student at New York University and a former staff writer for The Miami Herald.

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You socialist :silly:

BTW Sarge, you do realize that Americans feel the same way about an American company called Diebold right?

Yeah, but the very people on this board that advocate shipping jobs overseas are the same ones that still cry about vote machines

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i believe that the outsoursing of jobs to other countries actually increases the number of domestic jobs. cheap labor from other countries lowers cost, and raises profit. the more money the american companies make, the more they expand, the more they expand, the more people they employ.

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i believe that the outsoursing of jobs to other countries actually increases the number of domestic jobs. cheap labor from other countries lowers cost, and raises profit. the more money the american companies make, the more they expand, the more they expand, the more people they employ.

Till they figure out they don't need the US in the equation ;)

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In fact, Smartmatic International is owned by a Netherlands corporation, which is in turn owned by a Curacao corporation, which is in turn held by a number of Curacao trusts controlled by proxy holders who represent unnamed investors, almost certainly among them Venezuelans Mugica and Anzola and possibly others.

One of those "unnamed investors" would not happen to be The Carlyle Group by any chance, would it?

There are so many more Bushies in the wings, you gotta wonder if this is how the Bush Dynasty intends to perpetuate their monarchy...

Time to follow the $.

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Sarge,

I too would like to know if the economy is doing well or poorly?

Depends on who you talk to. My stocks have been doing just fine, but I went defense/energy heavy after 9/11/01.

Dems think it sucks overall

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Depends on who you talk to. My stocks have been doing just fine, but I went defense/energy heavy after 9/11/01.

Dems think it sucks overall

So do you think the democrats are for outsourcing? They are not, the republicans are.

I also think outsourcing is a good idea, you are advocating a isolatory system, the geinie is already out of the bottle, you can't put him back in. . .but you are wrong about which party is for what.

You are on the side of the democrats in this argument, and I am on the side of the republicans. . .to a point.

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Folks, the article is about a (possibly. It's not proven.) Communist-controlled company running the voting machines in the US.

It took exactly one post to create a thread about outsourcing and globilization.

Now, as to the original subject:

I haven't heard of Venezuella being named a member of the Axis of Evil. Haven't heard of us declaring war on them. (Although I'll admit that we're not exactly happy with them right now.) I have no problems with someone associated with their country owning a business.

The fact that this company has supposedly been bought by a Venezuellan company doesn't seem like a big threat to National Security to me.

The fact that electronic voting machines don't have a verifiable paper trail does.

If our elections can be rigged by Chaves, then they can be rigged by Rove. (Or Daley, if you'd rather have a Democratic boogyman.) The problem isn't Chaves. It's a system that can be rigged.

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