International Monitoring of U.S. Election Called 'Frightening'
Roch Hammond,
Monday, Aug. 9, 2004
The State Department's invitation for an Austrian human rights group to monitor this year's U.S. presidential election is a "frightening" development and "an absolute threat" to America's independence and sovereignty, according to the head of a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C.

Tom DeWeese, president of American Policy Center, said he was especially angry that the Bush administration would reach out to Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is based in Vienna, Austria.
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"Bush continues to give conservatives the rhetoric of sovereignty, independence and strength of the United States, and he continues to give the [opposite] actions," DeWeese told "It's just outrageous this administration would allow this to happen."
The spokesman for U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, was equally critical of the State Department's reported invitation. "It's exactly the type of entanglement that results from our continued insistence on being a member of the U.N. and having an interventionist foreign policy," said Jeff Deist, press secretary for Paul, a Republican who once ran for president as a Libertarian candidate.

Paul believes that the United Nations and other international organizations are illegitimate and threaten American sovereignty.

"We're all supposed to accept this growing notion of world government ... that's obviously the opposite of sovereignty," Deist said, adding that "a lot of Americans are going to take offense" with the decision.

OSCE is "the largest regional security organization in the world with 55 participating States from Europe, Central Asia and North America," according to the group's website. "It is active in early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation" the website states.

OSCE's observers will arrive in the U.S. from its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. It will be the first time such a team has been present for a U.S. presidential election, though the OSCE monitored mid-term elections in 2002, and the California gubernatorial election last year.

An official with the State Department said on background that OSCE's mission was "more of an assessment" designed to verify election results. "The OSCE-participating states all agreed, including the U.S., in 1990 to allow each other to observe elections," the official said.

However, the State Department's invitation coincides with lingering Democrat charges that George W. Bush and Florida Republicans stole the 2000 presidential race by preventing many African Americans from casting ballots. Bush's eventual 537-vote winning margin in Florida allowed him to gain the state's 25 electoral votes and the presidency.

Earlier this summer, 13 Democrat members of the U.S. House sent a letter to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan requesting that the agency monitor this year's presidential election between Bush and Democrat John Kerry.

The spokesman for Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., who was among those who signed the letter to Annan, said the State Department's invitation to OSCE "represents a good first step."

Stuart Chapman, press secretary for Lee, said the U.S. should set an example for other countries by allowing an independent group to monitor the balloting.

"We bill ourselves as the greatest democracy, so therefore we should have applied to our own situation what we send out and promote and claim that we are to the rest of the world," Chapman said. "There clearly was a demonstrated, systematic effort to ensure that the votes of certain people were not counted in the last election."