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[] 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

Jerry Seper

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," 
he said.

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 
government's favor.

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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