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[infowar.de] WT 06.09.01: Firm says stolen software helped bin Laden plot 9/11
The Washington Times
Firm says stolen software helped bin Laden plot 9/11
Published January 6, 2003
The head of a computer firm wants the independent commission named to
investigate September 11 intelligence failures to review accusations that
his software-tracking program, which he says the Justice Department stole,
was diverted to Osama bin Laden.
William H. Hamilton, president of Inslaw Inc., said the commission â?"
headed by former New Jersey Gov. David H. Kean â?" should focus on the
validity of published reports saying bin Laden penetrated classified
computer files before the attacks to evade detection and monitor the
activities of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
The 10-member Commission on Terrorist Attacks will have the authority to
subpoena witnesses and documents in an effort to determine whether
intelligence lapses by the FBI, CIA and other agencies contributed to the
deadly success of the September 11 attacks.
"Bin Laden reportedly bought the U.S. intelligence community's version of
the Promis database software on the Russian black market, after former FBI
Agent Robert P. Hanssen had stolen it for the Russians, and used Promis in
computer-based espionage against the United States," Mr. Hamilton said in a
two-page fact sheet.
"The national commission may wish to examine whether the Justice
Department's misappropriation of Promis was, at a minimum, linked
indirectly to pre-September 11 performance problems of U.S. intelligence,"
Law enforcement authorities said Hanssen gave secret U.S. software to his
Russian handlers that later went to bin Laden, allowing him to monitor U.S.
investigations of his al Qaeda terrorist network.
The Washington Times reported last year that an upgraded version of the
Promis software was routed to bin Laden after Hanssen, who is now serving
life in prison for his espionage activities, had sold it to Russia for $2
The software not only would have given bin Laden the ability to monitor
U.S. efforts to track him down, the authorities said, but also could have
given 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.
The government has denied using the Promis software or that Hanssen
delivered it to the Russians, but charged in a criminal complaint against
the former FBI agent that he made extensive use of the bureau's
computerized case management systems â?" Field Office Information
Management Systems (FOIMS) and Community On-Line Intelligence Systems
(COINS) â?" as part of his activities.
The government also said Hanssen gave his handlers a technical manual on
the U.S. intelligence community's secure network for online access to
intelligence databases. Law enforcement authorities said FOIMS and COINS
are believed to be upgraded versions of the Promis software.
Mr. Hamilton said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III acknowledged to Inslaw
attorney C. Boyden Gray in late 2001 that the FBI system was based on "the
Inslaw software," a fact the bureau had vigorously denied for more than a
decade. He said Mr. Mueller referred further inquiries to the Justice
Department, although a requested meeting never was scheduled.
"The national commission will need to overcome resistance from the Justice
Department, remarkable for both its ferocity and tenacity, to any inquiry
that might even imply the existence of the department's improprieties
regarding Promis," Mr. Hamilton said.
He said federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the
FBI, later denied under oath that they had used the program, but the
government did "an abrupt about face" a month after the September 11
attacks following news reports that bin Laden might have used the Promis
Mr. Hamilton said the FBI confirmed on Oct. 16, 2001, that the government
had used Promis to track classified information in federal law enforcement
and intelligence agencies.
Inslaw battled the Justice Department for more than a decade over a $10
million, three-year contract to install the Promis program. A federal court
initially ruled the department had used "trickery, fraud and deceit" to
steal the Promis program, but that ruling later was overturned in the
The House Judiciary Committee, after a three-year investigation, also found
in 1992 that there was "strong evidence" the Justice Department had
conspired to steal the Promis program.
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