In 1967, a satire was published under the title "Report From Iron Mountain on the Possibility and Desirability of Peace." This analysis soberly reflected, in think-tank style, on the importance to society of waging war. Leonard Lewin, who pretended that the secret report was leaked and did not claim authorship until five years later, argued forcefully that war provides a type of social and psychological glue, without which society cannot function.
"Roughly speaking," Lewin writes, "the presumed power of the 'enemy' sufficient to warrant an individual sense of allegiance to a society must be proportionate to the size and complexity of the society. Today, of course, that power must be one of unprecedented magnitude and frightfulness." Lewin's tongue-in-cheek premise is that before peace breaks out, it becomes urgent to find substitutes for war.
They say that life imitates art. Almost 30 years later, Lewin's claim of authorship is lost amid the general enthusiasm over the manuscript. Dog-eared copies of "Report from Iron Mountain" are passed around by patriots and militia groups as if it were the secret plan from above. This provides liberal critics of "conspiracism" a good chuckle or two. But it's not at all clear who will laugh last. As a predictor of the capacity of elites to manage public opinion, and to deal with stubborn fringe groups, populists can do worse than to study this 100-page volume.
Already there's an effort underway to replace the Cold War in the hearts and minds of Middle America. The ruling class has to do something. Patriots in camo were easily managed when they had commies to kick around. After these patriots struck out "Communism" on the their enemies list, next up was "Council on Foreign Relations" and similar organizations. This is proving temporarily inconvenient for the global managers.
One Cold War substitute might be Information Warfare. Novelist Tom Clancy, a hard-line conservative and close pal of Bob Woodward (media elites with spook connections transcend party politics), has the evil Japanese planting a stock-exchange software bomb in "Debt of Honor" (1994). Dain Gary, manager of the Pentagon-funded Computer Emergency Response Team in Pittsburgh, remarks at a conference sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, that there are universities in Bulgaria that teach how to create more effective viruses. A cover story in Time magazine touts "cyberwar," the latest Pentagon fad. "Hackers are even better than communists," says one Washington activist who deals with civil rights and electronic privacy issues.
Much of the Time story describes game-playing scenarios that are currently popular at military think tanks. Designed to simulate future capabilities, these games serve to identify potential vulnerabilities in U.S. communications and information systems. As soon as this issue of Time appeared, however, one reporter recommended it as confirmation of his own story (see sidebar). Until recently a senior editor at Forbes, this reporter gave up the good life in exchange for a fan club on Internet conspiracy newsgroups. His story relies on spooky sources who see infowar -- in the form of CIA hackers sucking out Swiss bank accounts -- as something that's been going on for two years now. Life imitates art.
Military professionals recognize that information technology is leading to new modes of warfare. One Pentagon general described the 1989 operation in Panama, when the command centers were "noisy places where a lot of people ran around and there were little sticky things that were put on acetate maps," and compared these to the Haiti operation, when commands were issued over video links. Between Panama and Haiti, the Gulf War's smart bombs with nose cameras popularized infowar on the battlefield. Even Tom Clancy's fans were impressed.
Defense industries, feeling the squeeze of shrinking budgets, are also climbing on board. As the leader in information technology, as well as the cop on the international beat, America finds itself with a new opportunity to spend billions on defense. The hacker gap has replaced the missile gap, and operations security (OPSEC) is suddenly the hottest field for think tanks and consultants that do business with the government. The six-year-old OPSEC Professionals Society increased their membership by sixty percent in 1994. Even the U.S. Secret Service has an OPSEC department.
Rand Corporation has their cyberwar screed posted on the Internet. In their essay, the new MTR (military technology revolution) homes in on, among other things, the problem with WMD (weapons of mass destruction). "Topsight" (seeing the big picture) is required. Colin Powell is quoted (Byte, July 1992) about how "battlespace" includes an "infosphere," and personal computers were "force multipliers" in the Gulf War. Mitre Corporation, another beltway bandit, has a Web page that presents their Information Security Technical Center. They help clients with Internet and database security issues, such as "multilevel secure distributed data management, security for federations of autonomous database systems, secure object-oriented data management, and integrity protection and separation of duty."
When punk hackers in Germany dialed into Mitre's computer lines in 1986 and used them to romp around other defense-related computer systems on the Internet, it cost Mitre thousands of dollars in telephone bills. Their security experts said it couldn't be true. Almost a decade later, after at least two books and countless newspaper articles, we now know that if hacker hype didn't exist, it would have to be created. Every corporation should leave holes for hackers; it gives reporters something to write about and it's good for the security business. The proclamations of self-identity from OPSEC professionals seem hazy at best; without hackers, they'd have nothing at all.
The Pentagon has their Defense Information Systems Agency, which spares no effort to publicize the Defense Department's vulnerability to hackers. They assign their own hackers to break into the Department's Internet computers (which carry unclassified information only), and 88 percent of the time, they get in. When they do, 96 percent of the time they are undetected. One estimate of the cost of fixing it is between $15 billion and $18 billion. And infowar stories rarely fail to mention that according to Defense officials, a group of Dutch hackers offered to help Iraq during the Gulf War, by fouling up the Pentagon's logistics communications -- 25 percent of which were uncoded and sent on the Internet. The next time, rumor has it, Saddam isn't likely to refuse the offer.
No one is better at getting his name into print than OPSEC consultant Winn Schwartau, author of "Terminal Compromise," an infowar novel that isn't worth the cost of a free download from CompuServe. Schwartau also wrote "Information Warfare: Chaos on the Electronic Superhighway" (New York: Thunder's Mouth, 1994), described by a reviewer as 400 pages in which the author "tells us what he's going to tell us, tells us, and then tells us what he's told us." At a conference in September 1995, Schwartau told of American hackers he had met, who for patriotic reasons were upset over French economic spying. Schwartau said that they planned to hack into the Paris subway and big French companies in retaliation, but then were scared off by the FBI.
Schwartau goes on to claim that he installs offensive, as well as defensive, information weapon systems. "They're indispensable. Installing an offensive system is the only way to get to know the aggressive methods that you need to protect yourself against." This must be what the experts call a cybernetic feedback loop. Or perhaps it's just one consultant's gravy train.
Despite the hype, there are important historical trends behind the interest in information warfare. French military authorities, for example, suspect that unidentified hackers broke into their navy system in July and, according to Reuters on September 20, "tapped into the data on the acoustic signatures of hundreds of French and allied ships." President Jacques Chirac ordered a major investigation. While American and British liaison officers, who provided information on their own vessels, were furious at the French and suspected the Russians, some French officers suspect that the Americans were testing French security.
The electronic transfer of funds is another area that highlights our growing dependency on high-tech. "We're more vulnerable than any other nation on earth," the director of the National Security Agency, John McConnell, told a seminar in June. He pointed to banks, global financial markets, and the Federal Reserve. Citibank, which electronically transfers some $500 billion daily, recently worked with the FBI and authorities in several other countries to sting a group of Russian hackers. Before they were caught, they managed to transfer $400,000 from Citibank to accounts in the U.S., Finland, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Russia, and Switzerland.
Outgoing CIA deputy director William Studeman recently told another conference that "massive networking makes the U.S. the world's most vulnerable target for information warfare," and said that our systems could be targeted by drug traffickers, organized crime, computer vandals, disgruntled employees, or paid professionals. Studeman pointed out that "denial of service" -- jamming with overload, for example -- can be as effective as actually breaking in, and is frequently easier. Potential near-term targets might include telecommunications, power and utility distribution, stock exchanges, the banking system, air traffic control, the Internal Revenue Service, and Social Security. Current CIA director John Deutch announced in June that he was putting together some interagency working groups to look into information warfare.
Some of this interest in network vulnerability has been transferred to other areas. Former CIA director Robert Gates said in March 1993 that "the U.S. intelligence community does not and will not engage in industrial espionage." Several months later, CIA director James Woolsey wanted to be "quite clear" about this: "The CIA is not going to be in the business that a number of our friends' and allies' intelligence services are in -- spying on foreign corporations for the benefit of domestic business."
Although professionals once insisted on a distinction between business intelligence (the collection of business and competitive information through legal and ethical methods), and industrial or economic espionage (the clandestine collection of sensitive, restricted or classified information), this distinction is rarely mentioned these days. A softening of position has occurred in just the last year. Moreover, the major problem with this distinction is that there's a massive gray area between these two extremes, and that's where the action is.
Two examples of this gray area come from U.S. intelligence, where there is new activity and concern over economic spying. The U.S. currently has a program to tap into international satellite communications to collect financial data. This program is designed to detect instances of bribery of foreign officials by foreign companies. Since such bribery is illegal for U.S. companies, the playing field is leveled when the CIA can blow the whistle on foreign companies through diplomatic channels. Mike Jensen of NBC News (11 May 1995) reported enthusiastically that "the analysis is done at CIA headquarters, where a new era in spying has quietly begun." A number of large contracts have been won for U.S. firms with this technique. This is uncomfortably close to the use of blackmail to stop bribery.
The other example is the proposed escalation of counterintelligence efforts against economic spying. In August the White House released a report produced by the National Counterintelligence Center, which identified efforts by allied governments to spy on the U.S. in the areas of biotechnology, aerospace, telecommunications, computer software and hardware, advanced transportation and engine technology, advanced materials and coatings such as stealth materials, energy research, defense and armaments, and manufacturing processes.
The CIA has put the number of foreign countries involved at around twenty. Among the methods used by foreign economic spies are recruiting company insiders, computer intrusions and telephone intercepts, and office or hotel-room break-ins and thefts. But anyone who has read a spy novel knows that the line between counterintelligence and intelligence can seldom be drawn cleanly; the same assets and activities are required for both.
"The Pentagon has drafted a classified document asking the White House to draw up a national infowar strategy," writes Neil Munro in the Washington Post. "If the request is approved by the Defense Department and accepted by President Clinton, senior officials from the Pentagon, the intelligence agencies, the FBI, Secret Service, State Department, U.S. Information Agency and Commerce Department would develop the infowar strategy for the president's approval." According to Munro, the author of "The Quick and Dead: Electronic Combat and Modern War" (St. Martins Press, 1991), defense officials feel hamstrung by the American libertarian tradition, which limits their ability to protect private-sector networks.
The Pentagon is worried that an offensive capability in infowar doesn't require much capital. "It's the great equalizer," says Alvin Toffler. "That's why poor countries are going to go for this." Former Pentagon communications chief Donald Latham adds that "a few very smart guys with computer workstations and modems could endanger lives and cause great economic disruption." For those with capital, WMD (weapons of mass destruction) becomes the great temptation. Even here, the proliferation of information is the chief culprit, according to Carl Builder of the Rand Corporation. At one time Builder was responsible for the security of all nuclear materials in civilian hands in the U.S. He worries about the fact that the flow of information into and out of a nation can no longer be controlled:
The materials for nuclear devices are increasingly in commerce, and all that lies between the taking of those materials and making nuclear devices is information. I was so concerned about this when I was responsible for nuclear safeguards that we called in some nuclear bomb makers and they told us hair-raising recipes: "If you really want to make a crude nuclear explosive, here is how you could do it, and do it very simply on your kitchen table, with materials that are available in the hardware store."
At a minimum, it provides new opportunities to feed post-Cold War paranoia. In the Pentagon game scenario described by Time magazine, ATM networks go berserk in Georgia, and people across the country start panic withdrawals. In real life it gets even better. On 22 November 1994, Robert Hager reported breathlessly on NBC News about hacker intrusions into Pentagon computers. Just in case some kindly old ladies failed to grasp the gravity of the situation, Hager's voice-over gratuitously added that hackers broke into one nameless hospital's records and reversed the results of a dozen pap smears. Patients who may have had ovarian cancer, Hager claimed, were told instead that they were okay. If the Pentagon suddenly tells us that Bulgarian hackers are the reason why the ATMs and card-swipe machines in Peoria aren't working, will this be the new call to arms, the modern equivalent to Pearl Harbor?
It's not even clear that we're getting something in return for our increasing insecurity. "We see computers everywhere but in the productivity statistics," notes MIT economist Robert Solow. A neo- Luddite tendency is emerging, represented by writers such as Theodore Roszak, Kirkpatrick Sale, and John Zerzan. Sale recently smashed a computer with a sledgehammer in front of 1,500 people at New York City's Town Hall. Zerzan doesn't own a computer on philosophical grounds. (Perhaps it's just as well. Once while I was tripping with him in 1974, Zerzan remarked that his stereo wasn't working. I instantly discovered that his cables were plugged into the wrong jacks, and presto, we had rock and roll.)
The ambivalence of the information age is a theme that also runs through the works of Jacques Ellul. He worries that the hype about the wonderful decentralization and democratization of the new technology, and the insistence that we must adapt to it, is a form of "ideological terrorism." Alvin Toffler, a cheerleader for the information age if ever there was one, also expresses reservations about the "fragility" of knowledge (small bits can make a huge difference), the "analysis paralysis" of information overload, and the power of the media over a nation's political life.
As more people feel marginalized by information technology, confusion over its significance and capabilities, as well as paranoia and concern over its effects, are bound to increase. New surveillance technologies alone will do this if nothing else does. In Britain, the government promotes and supports the installation of closed-circuit television cameras in public places. Today these cameras feature night vision, computer-assisted operation, motion-detection capability, and bullet-proof casing. Many of them can read a cigarette pack at 100 meters.
Communications surveillance technology is even more worrisome. FinCEN, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, enjoyed some media hoopla under their first director, Brian Bruh, who used to give interviews. No one is talking now under director Stanley Morris, and their mission is quietly expanding. FinCEN collects and tracks financial data, and then uses modeling techniques to detect money laundering and organized crime. This year President Clinton expanded their brief to include security- clearance investigations. An interagency effort, FinCEN has over 200 employees from the IRS, FBI, Secret Service, DEA, NSC, NSA, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and they work closely with the BATF, CIA, and DIA. Their dozens of databases function as a vacuum cleaner for financial information, including currency transaction reports from banks, credit reports, computerized real estate records, and the like.
Most likely this is only the beginning. In 1991 the FDIC was asked to blueprint a plan that would monitor every single bank account in the U.S. The FDIC wasn't enthusiastic, but they did determine that it would cost only $30 million to build and $20 million per year to operate. Congress dumped the idea in June 1993 because of concerns about privacy. Due to the recent hype over domestic terrorism, however, the CIA and other agencies have expressed renewed interest in the concept. Although the CIA and NSA are not supposed to be involved in the surveillance of U.S. citizens, the interagency approach represented by FinCEN, which allows constituent agencies to roam unsupervised through their data, appears to have obviated this prohibition.
The Clipper Chip, about which so much has been written, is currently on hold but not forgotten. On 30 March 1995, FBI director Louis Freeh testified before a House subcommittee that "powerful encryption is becoming commonplace," and "this, as much as any issue, jeopardizes the public safety and national security of this country. Drug cartels, terrorists, and kidnappers will use telephones and other communications media with impunity knowing that their conversations are immune from our most valued investigative technique." In August, the Electronic Privacy Information Center received hundreds of FBI documents under the FOIA showing that more than two years ago, despite their assurances that Clipper would be voluntary, federal agencies had already concluded that Clipper would only succeed if alternative security techniques are outlawed.
While U.S. intelligence agencies want a monopoly on encryption, Congress and some lobbying groups are nervous about the new cyber-savvy populism. Internet-phobe Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) tacked an amendment to the Senate's terrorism bill which prohibits the distribution of "information relating to explosive materials for a criminal purpose." The amendment passed by unanimous consent and the entire bill passed the Senate 91-8, but is currently stalled in the House. Another Senator, Jim Exon (D-NE), reintroduced the Communications Decency Act in February because "American children are subjected to pornography and smut on the Internet."
Last December the Simon Wiesenthal Center asked the Prodigy online service to stop "hate groups" from posting messages, and wants the federal government to police the Internet in a similar manner. The Anti-Defamation League's Tom Halpern says that the ADL is "undertaking efforts to monitor the activities of Muslim extremists and others on the Internet. When evidence arises that a posting constitutes or encourages illegal activities, naturally we'd bring it to the attention of law enforcement."
To fan the flames of incipient Internet repression, it's always useful to run a front-page story about Subcomandante Marcos and his laptop, which he carries in a backpack and plugs into the lighter socket of an old pickup truck. "When federal police raided alleged Zapatista safe houses in Mexico City and the southern state of Veracruz last week, they found as many computer diskettes as bullets," writes Tod Robberson for the Washington Post from San Cristobal. In January, the story goes, Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo "became acquainted with the power [of] the Internet when [he] announced the start of a military offensive aimed at capturing the ski-masked Zapatista leader." Within hours, Zedillo's fax machine "broke or was eventually turned off," as "cyber-peaceniks" sent out urgent requests on the Internet for a fax campaign. The hundreds of faxes caused Zedillo to call back his troops.
If that doesn't make Congress nervous, another cover story in Time should do the trick. An undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University named Martin Rimm spied on the personal directories and downloading habits of 3,000 students, staff, and faculty to compile a survey on computer pornography. Rimm's study was published in a law journal, was the centerpiece in the Time cover story, enjoyed exposure on the ABC News program Nightline, and was entered into the Congressional Record by Charles Grassley (R-IA). Now a campus committee is considering the ethics of the spying, which is apparently considered an internal campus matter. But Time came as close as they ever do to a retraction for a different reason: the methodology of the study was so poor that the data did not support the conclusions. Carnegie Mellon, by the way, is the same university that hosts the Pentagon's Computer Emergency Response Team -- whose manager brought us the Bulgarian virus story.
The most consistent horror story is that the Internet is dangerous for business. The Computer Security Institute in San Francisco, in their 1995 Internet Security Survey, reports that one out of every five Net sites has suffered a security breach. Thirty percent of the intrusions occurred after a firewall, which is designed to guard the site, was installed. There is a bright side: CSI estimates that sales of anti- hacker software will grow from $1.1 billion in 1995 to $16.2 billion in year 2000. What they don't mention is that by then you'll also need a driver's license to cruise the superhighway.
The only mystery is why anyone would feel that new laws are needed to rein in the Net. America Online cooperated with a two-year FBI investigation into computer child pornography, and more than 120 homes were raided and searched in August. (Adult pornography falls under the "community standards" interpretation of the First Amendment, but the Supreme Court has ruled in the past that child porn is always illegal.) And all it would take to get a warrant to monitor the Internet backbone would be to complain about Bulgarian viruses to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Between 1979 and 1994, this secret court approved a total of 8,130 surveillance actions submitted to it by federal agencies, and has yet to deny even one application.
Apparently there's more to information warfare than hackers and Pentagon buzz words, overpaid OPSEC consultants, economic intelligence, and surveillance of financial networks. Something else could be going on here, and Alvin Toffler offers a clue:
The shift to third-wave information warfare is ... ultimately a battle for control of the information flows of the world. In the Gulf War you saw classic examples of the use of propaganda and perception management.... [In Washington] you had a young woman appear before television cameras and talk about babies being ripped out of incubators in Kuwait.... It later turned out that she was related to the Kuwaiti embassy and that she was really apparently following a script. In the era of information warfare, all of that is going to become far more important and be managed with far more sophistication.
Just when the stakes are highest, our major reporters, pundits, and political representatives are least helpful. Their one-liners are too predictable, they are too easily manipulated by forces they should be trying to expose, and apart from endless analyses of the nuances of presidential party politics, or what the jurors are thinking at the O.J. trial, they have little to say about issues that matter. Millions of ordinary people are sensing this, and are looking toward alternative media such as zines, the Internet, and talk radio.
We could all use some help. Academia has been out to lunch for years; there's little point in wasting much time there. The populist right and the incredible shrinking left, much to the delight of the elites who manipulate them both, still waste their time attacking each other. Small wonder that the neo-Luddites are nervous, the militias suspicious, and the authorities would like to monitor everyone. Welcome to the wonderful Information Age.
1. Leonard C. Lewin, Report from Iron Mountain on the Possibility and Desirability of Peace (New York: Dell Publishing / Delta, 1967), p. 44.
2. Robert Tomsho, "Though Called a Hoax, 'Iron Mountain' Report Guides Some Militias," Wall Street Journal, 9 May 1995, p. A5.
3. Pat Cooper, "Organized Crime Hackers Jeopardize Security of U.S.," Defense News, 3-9 October 1994, p.18. Mr. Gary failed to respond to a 23 November 1994 letter from Public Information Research requesting more information on virus courses at Bulgarian universities.
4. Douglas Waller, "Onward Cyber Soldiers," Time, 21 August 1995, pp. 38-46.
5. A quotation from this reporter: "These feats turn out to be kids' stuff compared to the government's 'infowar' capabilities, touted in a recent Time cover story." James R. Norman, "Ye Shall Know the Truth ... and the Truth Shall Get You Fired," Media Bypass, October 1995, p. 18.
6. An official definition of OPSEC is contained in National Security Decision Directive No. 298, dated 22 January 1988: "OPSEC is a systematic and proved process by which the U.S. Government and its supporting contractors can deny to potential adversaries information about capabilities and intentions by identifying, controlling, and protecting generally unclassified evidence of the planning and execution of sensitive Government activities." It appears to be the flip side of freedom of information and the public's right to know. On the OPSEC Professionals Society, see OPS News, December 1994. They are located at 7519 Ridge Road, Frederick MD 21702-3519, Tel: 301-663-1418, Fax: 301-371-8955. Some literature and back issues are available on the OPSEC/Infowar section of the National Computer Security Association forum on CompuServe (GO NCSA).
7. John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt (International Policy Department, Rand Corporation), "Cyberwar is Coming!", 1993. From the military section of the WELL gopher server; originally published in Comparative Strategy, Volume 12, No. 2, pp. 141-65.
8. Katie Hafner and John Markoff, Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier (New York: Simon & Schuster / Touchstone, 1992), pp. 181-2, 186; Clifford Stoll, The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage (New York: Pocket Books, 1990), pp. 119-35.
9. John J. Fialka, "Pentagon Studies Art of `Information Warfare' to Reduce its Systems' Vulnerability to Hackers," Wall Street Journal, 3 July 1995, p. A12.
10. David Nicholson, "Doing Battle in Cyberspace," Washington Post, 5 July 1994, p. C2.
11. "Dawn of the Infowar Era," Intelligence Newsletter, Paris, France, 14 September 1995, No. 271, pp. 1, 8.
12. Fialka, p. A12.
13. Jerry Kronenberg, United Press International, 19 August 1995; Dan Blake, Associated Press, 19 August 1995.
14. Jim Wolf, Reuter News Service, 18 May 1995.
15. "CIA Chief Reviews Rights Issue," Associated Press, 21 June 1995.
16. Jack Anderson and Michael Binstein, "CIA's Hottest Question," Washington Post, 14 March 1993, p. C7.
17. Bill Gertz, "CIA Chief Rejects Industrial Spying," Washington Times, 24 November 1993, p. A3.
18. John F. Quinn, "Commercial Intelligence Gathering: JETRO and the Japanese Experience," Fifth National OPSEC Conference, 2-5 May 1994.
19. Bill Gertz, "Economic Spying in U.S. Is Done by Allies, Report Says," Washington Times, 9 August 1995, p. A3.
20. Neil Munro, "The Pentagon's New Nightmare: An Electronic Pearl Harbor," Washington Post, 16 July 1995, p. C3.
21. Waller, p. 43.
22. Carl Builder is mentioned in Alvin and Heidi Toffler, War and Anti-War (New York: Little, Brown, 1993), pp. 197-8, 202-3. The quotation is from a transcript of The I-Bomb, a documentary produced for BBC Horizon by Broadcasting Support Services. Produced by Kate O'Sullivan and edited by Peter Millson.
23. Walter B. Wriston, "Technology and Sovereignty," Foreign Affairs, Winter 1988/1989, pp. 63-75; Walter B. Wriston, Risk and Other Four-Letter Words (New York: Harper & Row, 1986).
24. Waller, p. 46.
25. Don L. Boroughs, et al., "Desktop Dilemma," U.S. News and World Report, 24 December 1990, pp. 46-8.
26. Theodore Roszak, The Cult of Information: A Neo-Luddite Treatise on High Tech, Artificial Intelligence, and the True Art of Thinking (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994).
27. Kevin Kelly interviews Kirkpatrick Sale, "Interview with the Luddite," Wired, June 1995, pp. 166-168, 211-6.
28. Kenneth B. Noble, "Prominent Anarchist Finds Unsought Ally in Serial Bomber," New York Times, 7 May 1995, p. 12.
29. Jacques Ellul, The Technological Bluff (Grand Rapids MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1990), pp. 76, 384-7.
30. Alvin and Heidi Toffler, War and Anti-War (New York: Little, Brown, 1993), pp. 148, 158-9, 208-10.
31. Electronic Privacy Information Center, EPIC Alert, 24 September 1995. (EPIC, 666 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Suite 301, Washington DC 20003, Tel: 202-544-9240, Fax: 202-547-5482)
32. Anthony L. Kimery, "Big Brother Wants to Look Into Your Bank Account," Wired, December 1993, pp. 90-3, 134; J. Michael Springmann, "FinCEN -- American Financial Intelligence Service," Unclassified (Association of National Security Alumni), Summer 1995, p. 6.
33. "Banking Secrecy Under Threat," Intelligence Newsletter, Paris, France, No. 270, 31 August 1995, p. 3.
34. Electronic Privacy Information Center, "Wiretap Update," 18 April 1995.
35. EPIC Press Release, 16 August 1995.
36. Jim Exon, "Letter to the Editor," Washington Post, 9 March 1995, p. A20.
37. "Group Protests On-Line Hate," Associated Press, 14 December 1994.
38. Mike Mokrzycki, "Militants Turn to Cyberspace," Associated Press, 16 April 1995.
39. Tod Robberson, "Mexican Rebels Using a High-Tech Weapon," Washington Post, 20 February 1995, p. A1.
40. Peter H. Lewis, "Computer Smut Study Prompts New Concerns," New York Times, 16 July 1995, p. 11.
41. John Edwards, "Organization Warns of Net Perils," CompuServe Online News, 21 September 1995.
42. "FBI Lures Computer Pedophiles," Associated Press, 14 September 1995.
43. Steven Aftergood, "Secret Court Increased Surveillance in 1994," Secrecy & Government Bulletin, September 1995. (Federation of American Scientists, 307 Massachusetts Ave. NE, Washington DC 20002, Tel: 202-675-1012)
44. Alvin Toffler, from a transcript of The I-Bomb, a documentary
produced for BBC Horizon by Broadcasting Support Services.
Produced by Kate O'Sullivan and edited by Peter Millson.
In the opening scene of the movie The Net, released last summer, a government official tells his chauffeur to "take the Parkway" this time. At the park he puts a gun in his mouth and commits suicide. As the movie develops, a Bill Gates look-alike is encouraging everyone to install his "Gatekeeper" security software, recommended to avoid the mysterious computer glitches that are threatening important systems around the country.
But a Trojan horse is embedded in Gatekeeper that allows his people to secretly alter data on the computers that use it. The heroine, an innocent hacker-type recluse, downloads some software that could reveal the secret. Suddenly she discovers that she has a new identity, complete with a criminal record, and she's wanted by the police. It turns out later that the Vince Foster character in the beginning of the movie had his computer test altered to show incorrectly that he had AIDS. Thus the main opposition to the government's proposal to install Gatekeeper in all their agencies was conveniently eliminated.
Scene two, take one: hold on to your hat -- this time it's for real. A senior editor at Forbes, James R. Norman, is working on a story about Inslaw, Inc. He discovers that another senior editor has a father, Harry Wechsler, who is a former CIA officer and now heads a company called Boston Systematics. This connection leads to Israel, then from Israel back to the famous PROMIS software by Inslaw, then to a different Systematics, Inc. in Little Rock, a firm that sells banking software all over the world. Jackson Stephens was behind the Little Rock Systematics, and once tried to buy into the American end of BCCI.
This second Systematics uses the Rose Law Firm, and Vince Foster, according to Norman, is their liaison with the National Security Agency. This brings us back to PROMIS, which the NSA, through Systematics, is installing all over the world. PROMIS has a back door that is used by the CIA to shift secret funds to their proprietaries, and by the NSA to secretly monitor financial transactions.
Meanwhile, back at Langley, a small group of CIA hackers with a Cray finds Foster's name in a Mossad database. This database points them to Foster's Swiss bank account, where the hackers simulate a withdrawal and suck out $2.73 million. Foster is about to go to Switzerland again, but discovers that the account is empty. He finds out that he's under investigation for spying for Israel and gets depressed. Either he commits suicide or is murdered -- Norman doesn't know which.
The CIA hackers, who call themselves the "Fifth Column," proceed to clean out the offshore accounts of some 200 leading lights of the Republican and Democratic parties, for a total of more than $2 billion. All of this is unauthorized hacking, but it all goes back into the U.S. Treasury. Luckily for the hackers, the guilty parties aren't in a position to complain. Eventually Jim Norman is on the case, and Forbes is set to publish his story. At the last minute the story is spiked. Norman thinks he knows the reason: Caspar Weinberger, publisher emeritus at Forbes, is one of those who had his Swiss account emptied.
Over several months, Norman feeds the story by bits and pieces into an Internet newsgroup. J. Orlin Grabbe, a confederate of Norman's, contributes some new morsels during this period. One is that the NSA binders that Foster kept in Bernie Nussbaum's safe were presidential authentication codes for the use of nuclear weapons. Grabbe suggests that Israel, by getting this information from Foster, was able to become a virtual nuclear power by hacking their way into the U.S. arsenal. Norman is invited to leave Forbes in August. His "Fostergate" story that never ran in Forbes, plus a follow-up story on a key source of his (former CIA operative Charles S. Hayes), are published in the August and October issues of "Media Bypass" magazine.
While this was developing on the Internet, Susan Schmidt of the Washington Post wrote a page-one article (4 July 1995) that mentioned the Norman story and other Vince Foster theories. She added that Systematics, Inc. in Little Rock (now called ALLTEL) had previously denied every aspect of Norman's story and then hired a libel lawyer. And Richard Mellon Scaife was financing some of the effort behind the drive to open up the Foster investigation. For Schmidt and the Post, all this is evidence that conspiracy theorists are wacko.
Most of those who have been actively pushing the Foster case, such as Ambrose Evans-Pritchard and Reed Irvine, are merely interested in showing that either Foster committed suicide and then the body was moved to the park, or he was murdered. Although it's true that Foster made trips to Switzerland on occasion, the theory that he was an Israeli spy is not considered credible by them.
Norman and Grabbe may have the best of intentions. But it's also possible that they are relying on disinformation sources. A friend of Grabbe's in this caper is Jack Wheeler, a right-wing adventurer who writes for "Strategic Investment," a newsletter with Scaife links that has been pushing the Foster matter. Wheeler considers himself one of the fathers of the "Reagan Doctrine," which he credits with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since 1966 he has been friends with Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), a former Reagan speechwriter. During the 1980s, Wheeler supported all manner of anti-communist insurgencies, including RENAMO of Mozambique -- a brutal creation of South Africa's apartheid government. In one Internet post dated 8 July 1995, Grabbe writes the following: "I recalled the words of my friend Jack Wheeler, who told me: `We created a doctrine to do in the Soviet empire. And it worked. It's now time to do in the Washington empire.'" This suggests that one influence on Grabbe is the well-connected Wheeler, who may be motivated by an agenda.
If the Norman-Grabbe episode proves anything, it shows that it's inadvisable to deal with today's flood of information at face value. From both ends of the process -- the information producer with possible hidden agendas, and the Internet consumer seeking reinforcement for political prejudices -- the entire linkup is dicey at best. Moreover, some on the Internet hide behind anonymity. Both Norman (since early July) and Grabbe sign their names to their posts, but several of their boosters use first names only or even pseudonyms.
For the information age to work at all, the power of access it offers must be coupled with new responsibilities. Otherwise it will surely collapse of its own weight, with the little guy under all the rubble. There's more riding on this than a plot turn in a Hollywood movie.
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