Given the amount of distraction and ginned up hysteria being caused by the corona virus story, I have to admit I'm a bit surprised that any other news is being reported at all. In fact, I'm actually thinking of changing this website's motto from "high octane speculation" to "all the news except corona virus." It's a "coincidentally convenient" thing to have around especially when one doesn't want to report, or talk about, other stuff like this story spotted by K. M. (to whom a thank you for bringing it to our attention):
Now, do you remember the PROMIS-Inslaw story from the Reagan era? Inslaw was a company founded by Bill Hamilton, a former NSA employee, to develop software that was capable of reading databases in almost any computer language, no mean feat, even today. But in the 1980s, a boon to a federal government which, when it computerized, wasn't paying too much attention to the software systems its various agencies were buying and operating. Developed for the Department of Justice, Hamilton's software, PROMIS, stood for PROsecutor's Management Information Software, and was designed to be able to track cases through the federal justice system, in all offices, regardless of what languages the Department of Justice's field office computers were using. It was able to compile databases from almost anything, and that, of course, made it a target for greedy covert operators, who recognized its adaptability to be able to compile databases and searches on almost anything. Appropriately, Attorney General Ed Meece's Department of Justice stole the software, which, according to the story, was quickly modified by the US intelligence "community" which added secret "back doors", and then promptly sold the bugged software to foreign nations, thus gaining entre into their secret databases and cyber archives. Along the way, the story was further embellished, with claims that its original programmers had also programmed in their own "back door viruses" unbeknownst to Inslaw itself, in a fashion recalling the Person of Interest character Harold Finch, who had created the ultimate database computer compiler for the government's war on terror. Finch's partner programmed a back door into the program, allowing private access to "the Machine's
With that in mind, the following paragraphs from this article should sound rather familiar, and make the hair's of the back of one's neck stand on end:
The former acting inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security was indicted for alleged fraud and theft, according to the Department of Justice.
Charles Edwards, 59, served as the acting inspector general for the agency between 2011 and 2013 as part of former President Barack Obama’s administration.
Edwards, of Maryland, and 54-year-old Virginia resident Murali Yamazula Venkata were both charged with wire fraud conspiracy to commit theft of government property, conspiracy to defraud the United States, aggravated identity theft, and theft of government property. Additionally, Venkata, a former subordinate of Edwards, is accused of destroying records, said the Justice Department.
The pair were accused of hatching and executing “a scheme to defraud the U.S. government by stealing confidential and proprietary software from [Homeland Security’s] Office of Inspector General,” said the Justice Department in a news release on Friday, adding that “sensitive government databases containing personal identifying information” of Homeland Security and U.S. Postal Service employees were accessed and stolen.
Then, according to the release, Edwards’s firm Delta Business Solutions “could later sell an enhanced version of” of the software to the U.S. Department of Agriculture “at a profit.”
Let that sink in a moment: the Department of Homeland Security (or as we like to refer to it here, the Reichsicherheithauptamt, version 2.0), a central and crucial component of the US intelligence and counter-intelligence "community", has had software stolen from its inspector general's office, allegedly by an acting inspector general himself, who apparently intended to "re-sell" the software back to other departments of the federal swamp, which could pay for the "purchase" and never have to render any accounting, thank you FASAB56. Now, if this sounds to you a little bit like the PROMIS story, then join the club, because that's the way it looks and smells to me as well. A little back door here, a little back door there, and voila, as the article points out, you have the names, addresses and so on of federal government employees. Indeed, one has to wonder if the software itself was not some updated version of PROMIS to begin with. (My bet? It was.)
There's another nasty implication here that comes from indulging in a little high octane speculation. The article presents the story as if the former acting inspector general of the Reichsicherheithauptamt (version 2.0) was just out for a quick buck along with an associate. This raises all sorts of nasty questions about the vetting and screening of personnel within the agency. But there's an even deeper implication. What if he was not, but rather, an agent for someone else? Or what if, recognizing the potential gold mine that theft of the software represented, he had contacted some foreign government or external entity to make a sale?
So in other words, there are some very disturbing questions hovering over this story: (1) Who vetted this man and what were the standards? (2) Is the software some highly updated version of PROMIS, or something completely new? (3) Is this man genuinely a free agent, out for a quick buck, or does he in reality work for someone else, or did he approach some foreign power, or external corporate entity, to make the sale of the software?
Put this way, I suspect there's a lot more to this story than we're being told. And for my part, I incline to the view that this may have been the latest chapter in the PROMIS saga.
See you on the flip side...