The tragic and suspicious death of Karl Rove's election thief in chief should send
a clear message to Al Franken and other key liberals: don't be riding in any small private planes.
Death by air crash now seems to be the favored means of ridding the Rovian right of troublesome characters.
The most recent is Michael Connell, who died Friday night when his private plane crashed near his northern Ohio home. Connell was the information techology whiz kid who helped Rove steal the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, along with a few in between -- possibly including the 2002 senatorial campaign in Minnesota that followed the death of Paul Wellstone.
Connell was an expert pilot whose plane crashed in clear weather. He held virtually all the secrets to how George W. Bush was foisted on the American people -- and the world -- for eight horrifying years. By manipulating computerized results in Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004 Connell made history. By some accounts, he was about to tell the attorneys in the on-going King-Lincoln-Bronzeville federal civil rights lawsuit how he did it. He also approached expressed a willingness to appear under oath before Congress. But now he is dead.
Current cover stories include the possibility that his plane ran out of fuel. But its crash was accompanied by a very large fireball explosion that burned for more than ten minutes. A trooper on the scene immediately identified Connell, but newspaper accounts say his body was charred beyond recognition.
Connell told various sources that he was being threatened by Rove. He canceled at least two previous flights due to mechanical failure. A father of four, his decision to fly from a highly restricted airport in Maryland remains a mystery. Connell reportedly did contract work for security-industrial agencies, like the CIA. Connell also openly acknowledged that he was the first IT contractor to move his servers behind the firewall of the US House of Representatives where he oversaw the websites of the House Judiciary Committee, Intelligence Committee, Ways and Means Committee, and Administrative Committee, arguably the four most powerful committees in the House.
He now joins such critical players as Paul Wellstone, Mel Carnahan, Ron Brown, Mickey Leland, John Tower, John F. Kennedy, Jr., and many more critical public figures who have died in small plane crashes at questionable moments.
In all cases there are non-nefarious potential explanations for their deaths. Conspiracy theories can, indeed, be frivolous.
But so can their out-of-hand dismissal by coincidence theorists. Both Wellstone and Carnahan died two weeks before critical Senatorial elections they were favored
to win in a divided Senate. In 2000, Carnahan's Missouri seat was taken by his wife, who subsequently lost it.
Wellstone, the leading liberal light in the US Senate, had been personally threatened by Dick Cheney for opposing the Iraq war. Wellstone's plane crashed under dubious circumstances, carrying himself, his wife and daughter. In an extremely questionable outcome, Norm Coleman got his seat.
Coleman was hand-picked by Karl Rove to run against Wellstone. His ensuing victory over stand-in candidate Walter Mondale was the highly unlikely outcome of a messy, manipulated election that coincided with equally dubious senatorial vote counts in Georgia and Colorado.
Al Franken may now be poised to take back the Wellstone seat for the Democratic Party. As an Air America talk host, he repeatedly mocked those who were investigating the theft of the 2004 election.
But he now owes the possibility of being elected to the diligent work of election protection activists who have fought all these years for fair, open and reliable vote counts. Had former Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell been in charge of this year's Minnesota election, Franken would not even be in the running.
Ironically, a brutal right-wing hate campaign is now being waged against Franken, charging him with election theft. Among other things, it claims he "went to Hollywood" for money to steal his way into the Senate.
Were it not for the deaths of so many others before him, such talk could be dismissed out of hand.
But under the circumstances, we would strongly urge Al Franken not to be flying in any small planes.
Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election
protection, including HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA'S 2004 ELECTION..., and
AS GOES OHIO, available at www.freepress.org, where this article was
first published. They are attorney and plaintiff in the King-Lincoln
civil rights lawsuit pursuing Michael Connell.