Bin Laden's Magic Carpet - Secret U.S. PROMIS Software
FBI/Justice Claims of Discontinued Use Leave Questions Unanswered
Britain and Germany in the Lurch?
Did bin Laden Use It To Break White House Codes And Threaten Air Force One?
Michael C. Ruppert
[© Copyright 2001, Michael C. Ruppert and From The Wilderness Publications, www.copvcia.com. All Rights Reserved. May be recopied or distributed for non-profit purposes only. May NOT be posted on any commercial or ".com" website without prior written authorization. Violations subject to legal action.]
FTW, October 26, 2001 - 1300 PDT (UPDATED Nov. 16, 2001) - An October 16 FOX News report by correspondent Carl Cameron indicating that convicted spy, former FBI Agent Robert Hanssen, had provided a highly secret computer software program called Promis to Russian organized crime figures - who in turn reportedly sold it to Osama bin Laden - may signal a potential intelligence disaster for the United States. Admissions by the FBI and Justice in the FOX story that they have discontinued use of the software are most certainly a legal disaster for a government that has been engaged in a 16-year battle with the software's creator, William Hamilton, CEO of the Inslaw Corporation. Over those 16 years, in response to lawsuits filed by Hamilton charging that the government had stolen the software from Inslaw, the FBI, the CIA and the Department of Justice have denied, in court and under oath, ever using the software.
Bin Laden's reported possession of Promis software was clearly reported in a June 15, 2001 story by Washington Times reporter Jerry Seper. That story went unnoticed by the major media. In it Seper wrote, "The software delivered to the Russian handlers and later sent to bin Laden, according to sources, is believed to be an upgraded version of a program known as Promis - developed in the 1980s by a Washington firm, Inslaw, Inc., to give attorneys the ability to keep tabs on their caseloads. It would give bin Laden the ability to monitor U.S. efforts to track him down, federal law-enforcement officials say. It also gives him access to databases on specific targets of his choosing and the ability to monitor electronic-banking transactions, easing money-laundering operations for himself or others, according to sources."
In a series of excellent stories by The Times, and as confirmed by parts of the FOX broadcast, it appears that Hanssen, who was arrested in February, in order to escape the death penalty this summer, agreed to provide the FBI and other intelligence agencies with a full accounting of his sale of Promis overseas. Reports state that almost until the moment of his capture, Hanssen was charged with "repairing" and upgrading versions of the software used by Britain and Germany.
On October 17, two different spokespersons at the FBI's Office of Public Affairs told FTW, "The FBI has discontinued use of the Promis software." The spokespersons declined to give their names.
On October 24, Department of Justice spokesperson Loren Pfeifle declined to answer any questions about where, when or how Promis had been used and would say only, "I can only confirm that the DoJ has discontinued use of the program."
INSLAW had two limited contracts to provide Promis to Justice in 1982 and 1983. Neither application had anything to do with tracking terrorist activities. Hamilton's suits charged that Reagan Administration officials, including Edwin Meese, pirated the software, modified it for intelligence and financial uses and made millions by selling it to the governments of Israel, Canada, Great Britain, Germany and other friendly nations. After the installation of a CIA-created "back door" into the program, Israel, using its lifelong Mossad agent Robert Maxwell, reportedly sold the software to "unfriendly" nations and then secretly retrieved priceless intelligence data.
The statements of FBI and Justice sources in the FOX story on October 16 have made Hamilton's case. They also give but the barest hint of the security breaches that may now be helping the most wanted man in the world. Bin Laden's reported possession of Promis may also explain the alleged threatening messages that were received by President Bush while aboard Air Force One on September 11th.
A mild uproar erupted in the days after the WTC attacks when Presidential aide Carl Rove indicated that threatening calls had been placed to Air Force One just hours after the attacks while President Bush was onboard. Some journalists excoriated Rove for suggested that bin Laden might have a mole in the White House who could have given him the secure codes to reach the aircraft in flight.
Bin Laden's possession of Promis would provide a possible explanation. According to Hamilton, under the right circumstances, Promis could have enabled the threatening calls to be made. "I have no way of knowing whether any Promis-related base has dial-up access to Air Force One. But if that happens, and if you have Promis, it's a straightforward thing to do. But one would still need to have access to the targeting computer.
"There is a central locator system to track members of the National Command Authority 24/7. If that is a database created with Promis and if anyone had access you could do it."
Such a penetration using Promis might also explain why Vice President Dick Cheney was hurriedly whisked out of sight and reportedly taken to a secure underground facility, where he reportedly works to this day. Cheney's prolonged absences from the public eye would also be explained by such a breach of security.
Numerous news stories, books and investigative reports, including a September 2000 story in FTW (Vol. III, No.7), spanning nearly two decades, have established that Promis holds unique abilities to track terrorists. The software has also, according to numerous sources including Hamilton, been modified with artificial intelligence and developed in parallel for the world's banking systems to track money movements, stock trades and other financial dealings. Systematics - since purchased by Alltel - an Arkansas financial and technical firm headed by billionaire Jackson Stephens, has often been reported as the primary developer of Promis for financial intelligence use. Systematics through its various evolutions had been a primary supplier of software used in inter-bank and international money transfers for many years. Attorneys who have been connected to Systematics and Promis include Webster Hubbell, Hillary Clinton and the late Vince Foster.
If true, and if claims by the FBI and the Department of Justice that they have "recently" discontinued the use of Promis are accurate, the likelihood than bin Laden may have compromised the systems the U.S. government and its allies use to track him is high. Additional information in the FOX broadcast indicating that Britain stopped using the software just three months ago and that Germany stopped using the software just weeks ago are equally disturbing. These are mission-critical systems requiring years of development. What has replaced them? And even if the U.S. government has replaced the software given to its allies with newer programs - several of which FTW knows to be in existence - the FOX report clearly implies that bin Laden and Associates have had ample time to get highly secret intelligence data from both Britain and Germany. Those systems might, in turn, have compromised U.S. systems. The WTC attacks had - by all reckoning - been in the works for years, and bin Laden would certainly have known that the U.S. would be looking for him afterwards.
WHAT IS PROMIS AND WHAT DOES IT DO?
PROMIS stands for Prosecutor's Management Information System.
In the late 1970s the legal system of the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) was comprised of more than thirty semi-autonomous regional U.S. Attorneys (USA) offices. Each had a computer system to track case management for prosecutions, investigations, and civil litigations. The problem was that they used as many as seven different programming languages. This made the transmission and sharing of information between offices virtually impossible. The computers in the USA's office in San Francisco could not read files sent from the USA in New York.
The genius of Hamilton and Inslaw was to create a software program that could access files in any number of databases and programming languages and translate and then unify them into one consistent file. Promis was the Rosetta stone of computer languages.
Inslaw won a $10 million, three-year contract in March 1982 to install a 16-bit architecture version of Promis, which the government had the right to use but not the right to modify without paying license fees to Inslaw, on government computers in the 22 largest U.S. Attorneys' Offices. In April 1983, the second year of the three-year contract, the government modified Inslaw's contract in order to obtain delivery of a 32-bit architecture version of Promis, which the government could not even use without paying license fees. In modifying the contract, the government promised to pay license fees if it decided to substitute the 32-bit version for the 16-bit version. In May 1983, the month following Inslaw's delivery of the 32-bit version of Promis, the government reneged on its contractual agreement to pay license fees and simultaneously began to find fault with Inslaw's implementation services as justification for withholding services payments.
The Justice Department thereafter withheld $1.77 million in services payments forcing Inslaw to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February 1985.
In January 1988, following several weeks of trial in 1987, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court issued fully litigated findings of fact that the Justice Department "took, converted, stole" the 32-bit version of Promis "through trickery, fraud and deceit," implemented the 32-bit version of Promis in the 44 largest U.S. Attorneys Offices, and then tried to force INSLAW out of business in order to incapacitate INSLAW from litigating the Justice Department's theft of Promis. The Bankruptcy Court imposed a compulsory license on the 44 largest U.S. Attorneys Offices for the perpetual use of the 32-bit version of Promis and issued a permanent injunction against any further dissemination of Promis by the government except under license from Inslaw.
Subsequent appeals by the government saw the original rulings overturned on legal, not factual, grounds. Legal actions in the case continue to this day.
Hamilton told FTW that none of the uses described above had anything to do with any licensing agreements for the software's use to track terrorists, intelligence matters or worldwide financial transactions.
The paper tracking of the refinements in Promis after the legal dispute erupted between INSLAW and the Reagan administration, verifies that at least one version of Promis was given to Martin Marietta, now Lockheed-Martin, which is now the nation's second largest defense contractor. Until late 2000, Lynne Cheney, the wife of Vice President Dick Cheney sat on Lockheed's board of directors. Research conducted by many investigative journalists has indicated that Promis has spread widely throughout the defense contractor network. FTW has received multiple reports of Promis use by companies and institutions like DynCorp, Raytheon, Boeing, SAIC and the Harvard Endowment as well as by government agencies such as the Financial Criminal Enforcement Network (FINCEN) and the U.S. Treasury.
Here's how powerful the software is.
Approximately two weeks after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the History Channel aired a documentary entitled "The History of Terrorism." In that documentary, a law enforcement officer described some of the methods used to track terrorist movements. He stated that "computers" were able to track such things as credit card purchases, entry and exits visas, telephone and utility usage etc. It was implied that these diverse data base files could be integrated into one unified table. He gave an example that through the use of such a system it would be possible to determine that if a suspected terrorist entered the country and was going to hide out, that by monitoring the water and electrical consumption of all possible suspects in a given cell, it would be possible to determine where the terrorist was hiding out by seeing whose utility use increased. Conversely, it would be possible to determine if a terrorist was on the move if his utility consumption declined or his local shopping patterns were interrupted. Aren't those "club" cards from your supermarket handy?
This is but the barest glimpse of what Promis can do. Mated with artificial intelligence it is capable of analyzing not only an individual's, but also a community's entire life, in real time. It is also capable of issuing warnings when irregularities appear and of predicting future movements based upon past behavior.
In the financial arena Promis is even more formidable. Not only is it capable of predicting movements in financial markets and tracking trades in real time. It has been reported, on a number of occasions, to have been used, via the "back door" to enter secret bank accounts, including accounts in Switzerland and then remove the money in those accounts without being traced. Court documents filed in the various INSLAW trials include documentation of this ability as well as affidavits and declarations from Israeli intelligence officers and assets.
The one essential weakness of Promis is that it must be physically installed on a targeted computer for it to be effective. Hence, if Osama bin Laden is able to penetrate a U.S. Government system it must mean that Promis is there.
FTW has previously reported that the CIA uses Promis to track stock trades in real time. Thus, as described in FTW stories on insider trading directly connected to the September 11 attacks, the Agency had the ability to determine that immediate impending attacks were planned against both American and United Air Lines. The Israeli Herzliyya Institute for Counterterrorism was able to publish a detailed accounting of the trades within days of the attacks and their report underscores the connection between counterterrorist efforts and the monitoring of financial markets. [See FTW
Vol. IV, No 7 - Oct. 15, 2001] Suspicions of CIA advance knowledge of the attacks were heightened when FTW disclosed that the current Executive Director of the CIA, A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard was, until 1998, the CEO of A.B. Brown, the company which handled many of the suspicious trades.
All of these abilities were a given when this writer met with members of the RCMP National Security Investigation Section in the summer of 2000. Our meetings were reported in the Toronto Star and are described in the previously referenced issue of FTW. A key question that lingered after the meetings with the RCMP was how many versions of the software had the CIA and the U.S. government given out and might they not have been also using a back door against "friendly" nations for economic motives to give advantage to U.S. companies. It was not a question that the RCMP dismissed as unlikely.
In another mind boggling development, on November 10 The Calgary Sun reported: U.S. police said many of the suspected al-Qaida terrorists were nabbed through the use of a state-of-the-art computer software program called Promis The system interfaces with any database and can provide information on credit card, banking, pension, tax, criminal and immigration records. Police can input an alleged terrorist name or credit card and the software will provide details of the person's movements through purchases or phone records." After so many years of denials these public confirmations that Promis is widely in use must come as a relief to Hamilton who now can walk into court and reopen his case. But they also indicate that newer generations of software have likely replaced the legendary program that has been connected with so much death, intrigue and mystery.
The FOX story reported that Osama bin Laden once boasted that his youth "knew the wrinkles of the world's financial markets like the back of their hands and that his money would never be frozen." He may be right. And an administration so lost in covering up criminal conduct - no less than the conduct of the ones which preceded it -- while trying to fight a war at the same time -- might find itself doubly wounded by the software of Bill Hamilton and Inslaw.
- The Washington Times - Search Archives for "Promis"
- Insight Magazine - a four part series by investigative reporter Kelly O'Meara located at http://www.insightmag.com/archive/200101307.shtml. If the link is broken, do an archive search from their main web page at www.insightmagazine.com.
- "The Last Circle" - An online e-book by Carol Marshall located at http://www.lycaeum.org/books/books/last_circle/.
- "Trail of The Octopus" - by Lester Coleman, 1993, Bloomsbury Publishing, London. This book is almost impossible to find and FTW is unable to direct readers to a good source for obtaining it.
- The Inslaw Affair - http://www.webcom.com/~pinknoiz/covert/inslaw.html. Includes Congressional testimony supporting Inslaw and a record of court proceedings.
- FTW: Vol. IV, No 7 - Oct. 15, 2001 -