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Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review. Palast also directed the U.S. government's largest racketeering case in history, winning a $4.3 billion jury award. He also conducted the investigation of fraud charges in the Exxon Valdez grounding.
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore. And welcome to this edition of The Palast Report with Greg Palast, who's an investigative journalist. And he joins us now from New York City.Greg works for the BBC. He writes for The Nation and Rolling Stone. He's the author of the bestselling book Billionaires & Ballot Bandits.Thanks for joining us again.GREG PALAST, BBC INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Glad to be with you again.JAY: So you've been continuing your work on the pipeline bringing tar sands oil down to Texas.PALAST: Yes, I've been slithering through that gooey tube and pulled out another little porker that was stuck in the pipe named--this one is a guy named Tim Griffin, Congressman Tim Griffin. And he is one of the most important congressmen in America that you've never heard of--and you're not supposed to.JAY: Why?PALAST: Timmy Griffin used to work for a guy named Karl Rove, known as "Bush's brain". And one of the things that the brain decided to do was that since Bush couldn't get elected by the voters, he has to be elected by voter manipulation. If you remember, of course, I reported, as we mentioned again last week, that Bush won Florida by having his brother, the governor, remove thousands of black voters from the voter rolls there. And that gave him the 500 votes he needed to seize the White House.In 2004, the game continued with a new, sophisticated twist called caging. But what does this have to do with the pipeline and some guy named Griffin? The answer is: caging is a system, is a very sophisticated system for swiping tens of thousands of votes. What you do is you send letters to voters that you know are not living at their voting address. And when the letters come back undeliverable 'cause you said do not forward, you challenge the voters as a fraudulent voter.Thousands of these letters went to African-American and Hispanic voters at the naval air station in Florida, Jacksonville, Florida. Now, those letters came back. Those voters' ballots, when they sent in their absentee ballots, were challenged as fraudulent voters, our men in uniform. Go to Iraq, lose your vote, mission accomplished.JAY: These letters were returned because these soldiers were overseas and had left their base.PALAST: Yeah. Basically, you know, we talked to the wife of one serviceman, Randall Prausa. He was stationed overseas. He's a legal voter. And his vote was challenged as--that he was a fraudulent voter 'cause he wasn't living at his home address. It's the naval air base. If you are a soldier under fire under your Humvee, you're allowed to vote, believe it or not, Mr. Rove, Mr. Bush, Mr. Griffin.JAY: Yeah, get us back to Griffin.PALAST: He sent out the caging list from his computer. And I was able to get these little nasty hit lists of voters that they didn't like because Griffin is not the sharpest knife in the drawer and he sent the emails not to GeorgeBush.com and the honchos there doing the evil deeds to these soldier voters; he sent them to GeorgeBush.org, which happened to be a site owned by a friend of mine. And they came into my office, our investigative--the Palast Investigative Fund, and our investigations team went to work and pretty soon discovered that these voters are being challenged and chosen because of their race. I then took it to a civil rights attorney named Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the dean of the law school at Pace University, and he said, quote, "Griffin should be in jail, and so should Rove." That's a quote from the son of the attorney general who wrote the law that would put them in jail, the Voting Rights Act of '65.Now, how do we get to the XL Pipeline? Well, this gentleman, Mr.&nbps;Griffin, was appointed--given that he just committed several felony crimes, of course he was appointed a federal prosecutor by George Bush at the request of his boss, Rove. What the Bush administration was great at was taking their top felons and making them the prosecutors, which is like making the mafia--turning over the police department to them.So when we exposed Griffin's--what Kennedy called criminal activity--I'm not a criminal lawyer; he is--what he called criminal activity, when we exposed that, Griffin immediately had to resign his post. Well, you'd think that's the end of Griffin. In fact, I have a little film of Griffin in tears. He says, that British reporter--I'm known as a British reporter 'cause I report for BBC--that British reporter did this to me! Oh! I'm done with public life! It was so sad to see Timmy go.But he didn't go. He waited a couple of years, and then he suddenly pops up running for Congress from Arkansas. Now, how does a guy with this record end up running for Congress? There's only one way to do it: on a big old pipeline of money, $167,000 from two guys named Koch, the Koch brothers Charles and David. They paid--they came up with $167,000 for an unknown, tainted candidate and washed him right into Congress.~~~TIM GRIFFIN, U.S. CONGRESSMAN (R-AR): I rise in support of the Keystone XL Pipeline, as well as the underlying bill. The plot here is for jobs, American jobs. It's a no-brainer. Like most Arkansans, I support this pro-jobs project that will strengthen our national security by making us less dependent on Middle Eastern oil. Arkansas families and businesses are hurting due to high gas prices, and the Keystone Pipeline will bring an additional 1 million barrels of oil per day into the United States.~~~PALAST: They wanted their pipeline extended. And Tim Griffin is put on the Ways and Means Committee, even though he's barely a freshman--very powerful post--because of the Koch-Rove connection, where they will have a very important and key role in approving or disapproving the Keystone XL Pipeline. So Griffin became the sponsor of the bill to jam through this filth tube for the Koch brothers.They want that, by the way--if you remember my prior commentaries, the Koch brothers need the XL pipeline because it ends at their refinery in Texas and they need that oil for their refinery. It's going to save them $33 a barrel, make them $2 billion a year. So $167,000--.JAY: One of the points you made about Griffin is that he actually doesn't have any direct interest in the pipeline. The pipeline doesn't run through his state. They don't have a refinery.PALAST: Well, he has a lot to do with it, which is he has Koch money and they need the pipe. But he's Little Rock, Arkansas. Unless they put some weird little new kink in the pipe, it don't go [incompr.] it doesn't go through Little Rock. Little Rock has nothing to do with getting the oil. It doesn't sell the oil to the pipeline. It has nothing to do with the pipeline. His district has nothing to do with that pipeline except the money from his biggest funders. And that's how Washington gets greased. So the filthiest thing about the XL pipeline is not just the tar sands, which will raise the entire planet's temperature by a full degree all by itself, that tar that will be burnt; but the greasiest, most polluting part of the pipeline is the pollution in the political system in Washington.JAY: Thanks for joining us, Greg.PALAST: You're welcome.JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
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