After a long, complicated birth, my investigative feature into the hacking of the Ohio 04 election – and with it the American Presidency – and the possible murder of Republican IT expert, Michael Connell, has just been published in the US in Maxim magazine. It took nearly a year to unravel this compelling, and complicated story. Often, to use a metaphor from the world of IT, the truth seemed to be hidden behind impenetrable firewalls.

The initial impulse for the story was a human, not a political, one. My girlfriend found a piece on the Web about Connell’s widow, Heather, and showed it to me. The image of a woman waiting for a plane that crashes; her grief and anger, reminded us of a character in a Greek tragedy; and so I began to look into the story.

I would like to stress that I went into it with no particular political agenda, considerable skepticism and my eyes wide open. The liberal-left bloggers who were driving this story on the Internet regarded Connell as a Mephistolean character barely endowed with humanity. My first rule was to take everything they said with a large pinch of salt. I was interested in the real person behind the story: not the evil, cartoon character portrayed on the web. But the further I delved into the story, the more I became convinced that the Ohio 04 election – and with it the White House – had been stolen by cyber fraud. Connell’s role is not clear, though it is a point of fact that his company had set up the IT systems that were in place on election night in Ohio; and that the same company had a contractual relationship with SmarTech in Chatanooga, which was running a so-called Mirror Site – and therefore had access to the results as they streamed in – on election night. But if he was involved, I believe he was the pawn of more powerful forces: an essentially decent man who may have done bad things for reasons he thought were honourable, or because he was coerced. It is also possible that he was entirely innocent of any wrongdoing and his plane crash was merely an accident. All we have is unanswered questions.

As to whether Connell was murdered, my opinion is irrelevant. The only opinion that counts is the opinion of law enforcement experts; and that requires a proper, criminal investigation into the election and the circumstances of Connell’s plane crash. I hope my article will precipitate such an investigation and help bring the perpetrators of whatever crimes were committed to justice. But right up to the final re-writes of the story, six weeks ago, new information kept emerging, which suggested that cyberfraud may well have been the lesser of the crimes committed. Notably, a strange – and chilling  – document, which was sent to the FBI and five other people, including Heather Connell. It purported to be a report by a black ops agent tasked with sabotaging Connell’s plane. It is impossible to know the veracity of the document. Sources I have spoken to from the intell. community have said that the fact it was sent to the FBI suggests it could be genuine – because to try and pull a hoax on the FBI is to invite the wrath of God. If it IS a hoax, you have to imagine a truly insane person sitting in a laboratory-like space wearing a hair net and plastic gloves, as he or she, creates six envelopes, ensuring that no speck of DNA or fingerprint will be on them. Who would go to such trouble if they did not have genuine information they wished to share ?

I will be posting more news and information about the article as c0verage in other media takes off – I am in talks with TV and film, both in the UK & USA – but for the moment I would like to sign off by thanking my editor at Maxim, David Swanson, without whose belief in the story and assiduous editing, Cybergate would never have appeared ( several mainstream publications declined to run the story on the basis that it was too much of a ‘conspiracy theory’). I would also like to thank Robert Kennedy Jr. for sparing an hour of his time last summer to talk on the phone from Hyannisport ( sadly, his uncle, Edward Kennedy, died later that day). My most heartfelt thanks, though, go to members of the Connell family, above all to Heather Connell and her sister-in-law, Shannon, who gave so generously of their time and insights at a very difficult moment in their lives. If anything I have said in the article compounds their grief, I am truly sorry. Any errors of fact are also mine, and mine alone.

Watch this space ….

About sworrall

Writer with @Natgeo; author of The Poet and The Murderer; and the forthcoming Starcrossed: A Romeo And Juliet Story in Hitler's Paris (2022)