CIA expert claims Chávez rigged 2004 Venezuela vote

Hugo Chávez

Hugo Chávez

In a development that will undoubtedly worsen relations between Washington and Caracas, a CIA expert has accused Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez of rigging the 2004 recall referendum. Speaking before the US Election Assistance Commission in Orlando, Florida, CIA cybersecurity specialist Steve Stigall said that all networked election systems are inherently insecure, and gave the 2004 Venezuelan referendum as an example. Stigall claimed that president Chávez fixed the referendum results through the Venezuelan government’s control of the electronic ballot systems firm that oversaw the voting. He also pointed to a programming analysis of the voting systems by a group of anti-Chávez mathematicians, who allegedly discovered “a very subtle algorithm that appeared to adjust the vote in Chavez’s favor”. In the August 2004 Venezuelan recall referendum, Venezuelan voters were asked whether Hugo Chávez should be recalled from office. According to the official results, nearly 60% of voters rejected the proposal. Stigall, who noted that “he wasn’t speaking for the CIA and wouldn’t address US voting systems”, refused to “elaborate [on the allegations] in an open, unclassified forum”. His comments, however, are expected to fuel the already tense relationship between the United States and Venezuela. Only last month, Caracas announced the arrest of five active duty soldiers for allegedly conspiring to storm the presidential palace and overthrow the government. President Chávez said the country’s General Counterintelligence Office apprehended the soldiers, after intercepting messages they exchanged with “a soldier on the run in the US [and] protected by the US government”.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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