Tuesday, November 16, 2004

More on the lockdown of Warren County 

From http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/11/10/1536254

AMY GOODMAN: Can you summarize your piece in today's Cincinnati Enquirer?
ERICA SOLVIG: Well, the story that ran today is reiterating the County Commissioner’s stance of Homeland Security concerns. They say, as you have already mentioned, that the county was facing a terrorist threat that ranked 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. We talked to several officials with the homeland security department as well as the FBI. They knew of no increased terrorism concerns in Warren County in particular, and just, again, raising the continuing concerns regarding Homeland Security and being locked out of the building. The primary focus of all of the articles has been on, you know, the First Amendment issues and the open government issues that are raised when the public and the media are locked out of the process.
AMY GOODMAN: You have interviewed a number of people for your pieces; among them was a news director at a local TV station?
ERICA SOLVIG: That's correct.
AMY GOODMAN: What did he say?
ERICA SOLVIG: He called this a red herring. Bob Moreford, the News Director at channel 9, CWPO TV, the ABC affiliate here said he had never seen anything like it, and WCPO as well as the Associated Press and the Inquirer all received the same response when they tried to get into the building on election night, and that was being locked out. Moreford said that he considered it a red herring. He continued to say, “That’s something that's put up when you don't know what else to put up to keep us out.”
AMY GOODMAN: We're taking a look at Keith Olbermann's blog from MSNBC. He was quoting the statement given out by Warren County Commissioner Pat South to MSNBC. You have also been quoting her a great deal. It's quite a remarkable quote. It says, “About three weeks prior to elections, our emergency services department had been receiving quite a few pieces of correspondence from the office of Homeland Security on the upcoming elections. These memos were sent out statewide, not just to Warren County, and they included a lot of planning tools and resources to use for Election Day security.” Pat South went on to say, “In a face-to-face meeting between the FBI and our director of Emergency Services, we were informed that on a scale from 1 to 10, the tri-state area of southwest Ohio was ranked at a high 8 to a low 9, in terms of security risk. Warren County in particular was rated at 10, 10 being the top highest risk. Pursuant to the Ohio-revised code, we followed the law to the letter that basically says no one is allowed within 100 feet of a polling place except for voters, and that after the polls closed, the only people allowed in the Board of Elections area where votes are being counted are the Board of Election members, judges, clerks, poll challengers, police, and that no one other than those people can be there while tabulation is taking place.” And yet, Erica Solvig, now the Department of Homeland Security and FBI are denying that they ever talked about a security risk here?
ERICA SOLVIG: They're saying that they were not aware of any increased security risk in Warren County on Election Day. The county has declined to give us the agent's name who told them this, because they haven't talked to this agent - this is an FBI agent - anytime recently. But the Homeland Security officials that we have talked to in the area, as well as the FBI, are unaware of any increased security risk on Election Day. Again, the primary concern was being locked out of a public building on a night when the entire nation was watching, waiting for the results