In an article today, "The Next Assault on American Sovereignty," I argued that permitting the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to monitor the forthcoming U.S. elections amounts to "significant step toward the erosion of American sovereignty." While unhappy with the Bush administration for letting this go through, I hold thirteen House Democrats responsible for initiating the invitation to the OSCE. A reader points out it was not they but the State Department, in a June 8, 2004 letter that began the process. She also notes that in January 2003, the OSCE published (in Warsaw) a 16-page "election assessment mission report" that evaluates the November 2002 U.S. elections. (August 16, 2004)
Aug. 17, 2004 update: I have been asked for the names of the thirteen House Democrats and these follow:
Corrine Brown of Florida
Julia Carson of Indiana
William Lacy Clay of Missouri
Joseph Crowley of New York,
Elijah Cummings of Maryland
Danny K. Davis of Illinois
Raul Grijalva of Arizona
Michael M. Honda of California
Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas
Brenda Lee of California
Carolyn Maloney of New York
Jerrold Nadler of New York
Edolphus Towns of New York
Aug. 26, 2004 update: The American Policy Center reports that Alcee Hastings, the impeached former judge who now serves as a Democratic member of congress from Florida, is the president of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the election monitoring arm that will oversee the U.S. elections. APC's president, Tom DeWeese, comments:
The outrage just got more outrageous. Not only has the State Department invited a team of unaccountable, foreign bureaucrats to meddle in our free elections, but these meddlers are headed by one of the most corrupt individuals in the U.S. Congress. While they're at it, why doesn't the State Department invite O.J. Simpson to head up the FBI crime lab?
Hastings represents Broward County, ground zero of the Election 2000 re-count, and is hardly an impartial observer. The Associated Press quotes him: "Any way we cut it, these people [the Bush Administration] are going to try and steal this election." As president of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Hastings is in position to influence the outcome of the 2004 election. DeWeese goes on to say:
By caving to the demands of 13 leftist Congressmen that international election observers monitor the November 2 presidential election, the Bush Administration is not only shooting U.S. sovereignty, but shooting itself in the foot.
Sep. 17, 2004 update: Canada's Globe and Mail reports that Alcee Hastings' spokesman said he has recused himself from the U.S. observation team, and that Swiss parliamentarian Barbara Haering will lead the mission. Also, we learn that the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly will be coming to the United States after having spent October witnessing elections in Belarus, Ukraine and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
In addition, a left-wing organization called Global Exchange (described as an "anti-capitalist, anti-corporate attack group [that] generally opposes United States policy on any issue") has initiated a project called Fair Election to "bring a multi-national, independent, non-partisan, and non-governmental team of skilled election monitors to the United States to examine and report on the U.S. electoral process within the framework of international election standards."
Sep. 29, 2004 update: The busybodies have begun their work. A five-person OSCE team visited on Sep. 7-10 and has now published a 11-page preliminary report predicting problems in the Nov. 2 elections (for example, "the nationwide replacement of voting equipment, inspired by the disputes witnessed during the 2000 elections, primarily in Florida, may potentially become a source of even greater controversy during the forthcoming elections") and then offering solutions to resolve them. Thank you so much, OSCE.
Oct. 11, 2004 update: Seven far-left American groups have petitioned the United Nations' Economic and Social Council to provide international observers for the forthcoming presidential election. The groups are the Economic Human Rights Project, Independent Progressive Politics Network, Michigan Welfare Rights Union, National Welfare Rights Union, the North Shore Massachusetts chapter of the Alliance for Democracy Seacoast Peace Response, and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
Oct. 19, 2004 update: Leave it to the wits who lead Iran's Basij militia to point out the absurdity of this situation. Agence France-Presse informs us that these guardians of Iran's revolution wrote to UN secretary general Kofi Annan asking if Tehran may send observers to the US presidential election in November. A Basij official, Said Toutunshian, drolly told an Iran newspaper that "the presence of observers from the Islamic republic of Iran, the most democratic regime in the world, is necessary to guarantee the smooth running of the American elections."
Oct. 21, 2004 update: The left-wing group Global Exchange (described above, Sep. 17 update) did in fact send a group of twenty meddlers, Reuters reports, and they found much to criticize. Unsurprisingly, some local election officials gave this self-appointed group the cold shoulder, not allowing them access to polling places and vote-counting centers on election day. To which, Brigalia Bam, chairperson of South Africa's independent electoral commission, huffed: "We hope voters in the United States will feel confidence with the presence of international observers and realize they are part of a world community."
Nov. 15, 2004 update: The Nov. 2 elections came and went – and perhaps I shouldn't have been so worried about the OSCE team. At least that's the strongly implied message of Matt Labash's very amusing article in the Weekly Standard, "Who Will Observe the Observers? Monitoring the U.S. elections with Bjørn, Galymzhan, the Kazakhs, and the Romanians." Labash accompanied 7 of the 60 non-American observers (yes, for the entire United States, 60 of them – meaning about one foreigner per two million voters) as they "observed" the process in North Carolina.
Orientation for the ordeal ahead
consisted of two days' worth of grueling educational seminars by the likes of Common Cause and the Federal Election Commission. An OSCE official told me, "The Kazakhs were here for about 10 minutes, then they took off. Most of them don't speak English." In fairness to the Kazakhs, I do speak English, and I couldn't take any more than 15 minutes.
(Labash could not grasp the names of the four Kazakhs, so he calls them the Stans.) The classroom portion of the preparations over, the group was
dragged around to the offices of various political hacks. At Kerry-Edwards headquarters, Stans One and Two raided the candy jar for dum-dums, while Stan Three pointed to a picture of John Kerry, exclaiming, "Vietnam! Vietnam!" But mostly, as we were dragged to presentations by lawyers and board-of-election types, the day was an indistinguishable blur—hours of boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer ennui. Several of the speakers seemed to have no idea the Kazakhs couldn't speak English, until GN would periodically start translating. The Stans would then put their heads together, bat the ball around among themselves, then come up with a question that called their fraud-spotting powers of observation into question. Usually along the lines of: How many Democratic senators are running for John Edwards's seat in South Carolina? Or, Why are there no political signs visible? (Raleigh's roadways are adorned with almost nothing but political signs, not that they could read them.)
The OSCE itself, in what Labash calls "Soviet-style efficiency," was responsible for at least some of the group's ineffectiveness, including the fact that there was only "one scheduled stop at an actual polling place." And their presence there was more symbolic than real. After watching people vote for about 45 minutes, everything is going just fine – except that "the Stans are creeping people out by videotaping them, perhaps for souvenirs. The OSCE delegation, it seems, provides the state's only example of voter intimidation."
That's it, work done, and some of the group set off to the beach and the rest got soused.
Aug. 1, 2005 update: The title of the lead story in the August 2005 issue of Harper's magazine, "None Dare Call It Stolen: Ohio, the Election, and America's servile press," sums up its conspiracist thesis. In the middle of it, Mark Crispin Miller provides an inadvertently cheerful piece of information. He reports that Ken Blackwell, Ohio' secretary of state,
kept foreign monitors away from the Ohio polls. Having been formally invited by the State Department on June 9, observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe … had come to witness and report on the election. The mission's two-man teams had been approved to monitor the process in eleven states – but the observers in Ohio were prevented from watching the opening of the polling places, the counting of the ballots, and, in same cases, the election itself.
The two Danes assigned to Ohio went to Blackwell, but he refused them letters of approval, citing an Ohio law that bans loitering outside the polls. So, the unlucky Danes had to monitor from a distance of 100 feet from the polling places.
Aug. 28, 2006 update: The OSCE role in 2004 bordered on the farcical, but David Horowitz and Richard Poe, authors of The Shadow Party: How George Soros, Hillary Clinton and Sixties Radicals Seized Control of the Democratic Party, see a far more ominous potential role for it in the 2008 elections, as Poe explains in an interview. The topic is the "Shadow Party," their term for a George Soros-led effort by the far-left to usurp the Democratic Party.
Soros' velvet revolutions always follow the same pattern. The rebels wait for an election, then precipitate a crisis by charging voter fraud.
We believe the Shadow Party may attempt something similar in the USA. If they fail to win legitimately in 2008, they will likely cry voter fraud, fomenting an electoral crisis a la 2000. This time, however, they may press for international arbitration, possibly under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. This group actually monitored our elections in 2004. Its ties with Soros – and with the Democratic Party – are extremely cordial, to say the least.
In normal times, Americans would never accept foreign arbitration of an election, but a destabilized America, demoralized by military defeat, discouraged by the fall of a president, and alarmed by orchestrated unrest in the streets, might just go along with any plan that promised to restore order.
Oct. 10, 2008 update: "OSCE begins monitoring of US elections" reads the press release. Sure enough, new elections, new monitoring by the OSCE's Warsaw-based "Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights" (ODIHR). It today "opened a limited election observation mission to monitor the 4 November elections in the United States of America." Of course, what the ODIHR of the OSCE calls a LEOM arrives duly invited:
The deployment of the mission follows an invitation from the United States government. As a participating State of the OSCE, the United States has committed itself to conducting elections in line with OSCE standards and inviting international election observers. The ODIHR mission, headed by Ambassador Audrey Glover of the United Kingdom, includes a core team of 13 international experts with the head office in Washington, D.C., and 48 long-term observers deployed in teams of two around the country. The observers are drawn from 20 OSCE participating States.
It all sounds so helpful:
The mission will assess the upcoming elections in the context of OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections, as well as national legislation. The observers will focus mainly on federal legislation and its implementation, election reform issues, the election campaign and the media, electronic voting, access of observers, and other issues including voter registration, voter identification, and voting rights.