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Hackers vs. Politicians, Part I

by J. Orlin Grabbe


The following article, "The Still Before the Storm," by James Norman, details how a group of "Fifth Column" hackers have initiated a campaign to clean up political corruption, resulting so far in the announced retirement of over thirty politicians (who have received packages of information detailing their financial shenanigans). Norman calls this group "CIA computer hackers", though in fact the group is totally outside government. (One member is ex-NSA, an agency that member now despises, and another member is ex-CIA.) But, anyway, as Norman notes:

". . . the Fifth Column has managed to penetrate Swiss and other foreign banks to quietly withdraw what is now an astounding $2.5 billion in illicit money from coded accounts they have identified as belonging to government figures.

"Starting in 1991, this five-man Fifth Column team has been using its own Cray supercomputer to break into foreign bank computers, download vast libraries of data and trace this money to a wide range of illegal activities, from kickbacks on drug and arms deals to insider trading profits, software piracy and the sale of state secrets. Oh yes, don't forget tax evasion."

What I like about the Fifth Column campaign is that it simply asks politicians to live by their own rules. If they want to launder money themselves, then they should get rid of the money-laundering statutes and let the rest of us have the same privileges. If they don't want to pay taxes, then let them get rid of the tax laws. If they want to continue the insane "war on drugs," then they shouldn't be taking payoffs from drug lords. (It is amazing how non-authoritarian people become if forced to practice what they preach.)

This article is an introduction to the politically possibilities of hacking. Hackers Versus Politicians, Part II, will present a brief how-to for the enterprising hacker to (legally) prepare his or her own background report on any given politician (sorry, Senator Exon has already received an envelope). Let's face it: journalists are too technically incompetent to do the job.


This is the entire text of the James Norman article from the December 1995 issue of Media Bypass magazine.

THE STILL BEFORE THE STORM

by James Norman

By all appearances, things are business as usual in Washington. There is the traditional budget bickering this time of the year, the partisan sniping and the backstabbing among Republican presidential hopefuls angling for pole position next year. Meanwhile, President Clinton and his ambitious wife manage to hold a comfortable approval rating in the polls, enjoy favorable press and seemingly have managed to shrug off persistent "Whitewater" allegations that have dogged his presidency.

But don't be lulled by the mainstream media, which has been hard at work pooh-poohing these corruption charges and doubts about the official "suicide" of former White House Deputy Counsel Vincent W. Foster. This is just the eerie still before a storm. A hurricane lurks just over the horizon. Thunderheads are gathering and looming darker. Distant lightning can be seen but not yet heard. Straws are starting to blow in the wind.

This government may be on the threshold of upheaval unprecedented since the Civil War. That is the cryptic message coming from multiple well-connected sources close to the intelligence community, who say big things are quietly afoot that could fundamentally shuffle this country's political deck. And that may be just fine with Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who sources say is quietly maneuvering to use this impending turmoil not just to "re-engineer government" but to purge both political parties and effect what amounts to a bloodless coupe d'etat.

Swept away will be not only a raft of big-name Democratic senators and congressmen, but also many prominent, old-line Republicans who have been feeding at the trough of corruption for years. It won't stop with politicians, either. Prominent Wall Streeters, bureaucrats, military officers and a slew of intelligence bigshots are also said to be about to take a fall. Well over 300 names are said to be involved in the scandal.

"Apocalypse soon!" predicts P.P. Willie.

P.P. Willie is actually a dog. But it is also the pen name for a legendary World War II military intelligence veteran, now living in St. Petersburg, Fla., who writes for a semi-weekly newsletter called WASHINGTON REPORT. It is a pithy, irreverent Capitol gossip sheet with a penchant for pink paper. But it is read with considerable interest by its 5,000 subscribers - mostly in Washington and overseas - because Willie is known to be well-connected within the intelligent community. In the past he has been uncannily accurate about goings-on in the spook world. And times there now are very troubled.

Willie's latest:

"Remember reading about TEA POT DOME? How about WATERGATE? Then came IRAN-CONTRA. Not bad. All the past WASHINGTON political SCANDALS are ITTY BITTY compared to one that should surface next year, about early spring.

"You don't suppose a few GOOD GUYS in the CIA, FBI, IRS, and NSA (they are not many, but they exist) are fed up with tucking their tails and running in the face of WHITE HOUSE pressure? What if they went public with TRUE DOCUMENTED stories of ESPIONAGE, MURDER, TAX EVASION, DRUG DEALING, MILLIONS OF DOLLARS STASHED IN OFFSHORE BANK ACCOUNTS AND OTHER BIG TIME HANKY PANKY at the very TIP TOP of the WASHINGTON manure pile? The MAJOR MEDIA would not want to embarrass the LIBERAL DARLINGS. But WHAT IF A LONDON newspaper and PINK newsletter broke the story? Talk RADIO would then spread the word across the nation...The odds are this scandal will break. We hear it's a DONE DEAL."

Whispers of such a spilling of the beans are being heard from multiple, separate intelligence sources. Specifically, as reported in the August and October editions of MEDIA BYPASS, a small, vigilante team of CIA computer hackers dubbed the Fifth Column has managed to penetrate Swiss and other foreign banks to quietly withdraw what is now an astounding $2.5 billion in illicit money from coded accounts they have identified as belonging to government figures.

Starting in 1991, this five-man Fifth Column team has been using its own Cray supercomputer to break into foreign bank computers, download vast libraries of data and trace this money to a wide range of illegal activities, from kickbacks on drug and arms deals to insider trading profits, software piracy and the sale of state secrets. Oh yes, don't forget tax evasion.

The money has been moved to a U.S. Treasury holding account at several Federal Reserve Banks, escrowed for use by the CIA if and only if the CIA gets rid of its own bad apples. How could the government hide that much money, denying under Freedom of Information Act requests that it even exists? Just ask the National Reconnaissance Office, the government's spy satellite agency, which recently fessed up to having $1.7 billion stashed in secret accounts.

More important then the money, however, are the NAMES. Who had these accounts? Are they still in office? Who has the list and the proof? Are they using this information to extort political blackmail? Will the bad guys be able to buy their way out of exposure? One thing is certain: Whoever controls this phantom roster of corrupt politicians and money men has this government's private parts in a tightening vise. One man who may know is Charles S. Hayes, an irascible Kentucky computer salvage dealer and recently-retired CIA contractor believed to be part of, or closely involved with, this Fifth Column.

Hayes, corroborating P.P. Willie's report, does declare that all the names will come out. Eventually. "When we get good and ready," Hayes says. The Powers That Be can do little to stop him. Any move against the three remaining Fifth Column compatriots (one has died and another is disabled) would be certain to unleash the information in a flood.

At least one big name has already been revealed: Vince Foster. Multiple sources say one of Foster's several Swiss accounts was raided just before his death of $2.73 million in proceeds from the sale of sensitive codes and other secrets to Israel's Mossad. Which may explain why the government is so anxious to portray Foster's death as a simple suicide. In reality, it could be the loose thread that unravels a massive tapestry of corruption.

That suicide cover story is rapidly fraying, despite intense efforts by the White House and Washington establishment to hold it together. For instance, credible independent handwriting analysts concluded in late October that Foster's supposed suicide note is a forgery. Indeed, there are a number of recent tell-tale events that suggest that something very big is at hand. Among them:

This Fifth Column team apparently began its work in the late 1980s. Their primary assignment was to break into foreign intelligence agency databases by a variety of physical and electronic means. But the main means of entry was via secret "back doors" programmed into the modified "PROMIS" tracking software which our government, under the direction of CIA spymaster William Casey, managed to market all over the globe, even to our enemies.

This initial phase of the computer spy effort succeeded in downloading data from more than 50 foreign intelligence services, including the KGB, the Mossad and most of Europe's spy agencies, according to various CIA-related sources. Contrary to boastful claims by the FBI, this is apparently how Russian mole Aldrich Ames was identified as a double agent more than two years before his dramatic arrest in February 1994. This is also how the CIA found out Foster was working for the Mossad, after learning that someone in our government was delivering highly sensitive computer codes to the Israelis; Foster had been a long-time handler of sensitive computer spy deals and covert money-laundering for the NSA (MEDIA BYPASS, Aug. 1995). Found along with Foster's name in the Mossad data base was that of Hillary Clinton, whose name also cropped up as an operative for at least two other European intelligence services, as yet unidentified.

At the time of his death, MEDIA BYPASS has previously reported, Foster was under close counter-espionage surveillance involving members of the CIA, FBI, Secret Service as well as an IRS team. Two good sources say they have heard that Saudi Arabia also had agents surveilling Foster. He knew he was being investigated and was apparently under pressure to cop a plea to prevent the probe from bringing down others in the White House. The FBI apparently also knew that Foster's life was in danger: According to two reliable intelligence sources, on the day of his death, FBI agents used a pair of bomb-sniffing dogs to inspect Foster's Honda in the White House parking lot - and probably planted a transponder on the car so they could track the movements.

White House videotapes of the parking lot, which would have shown that inspection, have allegedly disappeared, according to this intelligence source. But sources say the surveillance teams have still photos and videotapes of Foster's activities on the afternoon he died, July 20, 1993, showing him entering an apartment. It is here that Foster was apparently killed, after a sexual encounter with a brownish-blond woman photographed leaving the apartment afterwards. Also photographed, these sources say, was the hit squad, apparently "assets" contracted by the Mossad but not including any agents of the Mossad itself. Foster's body was apparently rolled up in a rug and deposited at Fort Marcy Park - which is still closed to visitors as the FBI supposedly searches for the bullet that killed him.

Doggedly, the White House and offical Washington, aided by a blinded mainstream press, continue to claim it was just a suicide, despite the seriously flawed and widely discredited report to that effect by original Whitewater Special Counsel Robert Fiske, and a cursory Senate inquiry.

Sources say it is the continuing coverup, now more than two years after Foster's death, and the brazen nature of Foster's assassination, that has soured CIA professionals and has prompted them to consider going public with what they know. Adding to their frustration was the resignation of reform-minded CIA director James Woollsey last year and his replacement by John Deutch.

Deutch's job appears to be to keep a lid on things and to protect the Clintons and the massive, ongoing illegal drug and arms trade that provides the agency with billions of dollars in revenue completely out of view of Congress and government watchdogs.

Deutch's recent attempt to use the Aldrich Ames case as a club to attack the CIA and its past directors has brought the agency's simmering revolt to a boil. "Deutch had better watch his altitude and attitude," said one veteran CIA man. "He'd better get off his soapbox before he gets indicted himself."

Rumors of CIA involvement in drug trafficking go back to before the Vietnam war, with heroin trade from Laos' Golden Triangle. But in the late '70s or early '80s, the agency virtually took over and nationalized the wholesale importation of cocaine into this country through obscure airfields like the one at Mena, Ark., on the grounds that it was the only way to control the drug trade. In other words: "If you can't lick them, join them." The operation was soon generating vastly more money than ever imagined - which has come back to line the pockets of top government officials from the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations. The money-laundering operations have likewise drawn in major banks and brokerage houses. By some accounts, the revenues still run upwards of $7 billion a year.

Details of government involvement in this society- wrecking drug trade are now emerging from various sources. Bits and pieces emerged during the Iran-Contra and Iraqgate hearings of the 1980s, which produced a million pages of documents but only a handful of indictments, and fewer convictions. Perhaps the biggest fish caught was Reagan Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, charged with lying to Congress. He was pardoned by President George Bush just as Bush was leaving office in 1992. Curiously, Weinberger's right-hand-man through most of that period was would-be presidential contender Gen. Colin Powell, who Weinberger had brought up to be a top military advisor, out of Casey's intelligence empire where he is said to have served with the NSA and to have been intimately familiar with the drug and arms flow.

There is also a growing court record of sworn testimony in the wrongful prosecution case of former CIA contract pilot Terry Reed. Reed claims in his book, "Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA," that Bill Clinton, while governor of Arkansas, was well aware of the drug trafficking there but played along with the game to earn himself the status of an "approved" candidate for the presidency. With that would come plenty of financing.

Another source now openly discussing the massive drug business is retired Navy Lt. Commander Alexander Martin. Martin was, in effect, the chief accountant for the Reagan/Bush drug operations run by Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, through an obscure arm of the White House National Security Council called the Natinal Programs Office. In a radio interview with talk show host Tom Valentine last July, Martin spoke not only of drugs and money, but death. "Out of roughly 5,000 of us who were originally involved in Iran-Contra, approximately 400, since 1986, have committed suicide, died accidently or died of natural causes. In over half those deaths, official death certificates were never issued. In 187 circumstances, the bodies were cremated before the families were notified." Martin then said he was lying low.

Not low enough. In late October, Martin was arrested and jailed without bond in Broward County, Fla., for supposed violation of his probation on a 1990 bad-check charge. Such small-time charges are a common device used to squelch and discredit former players in this government-run drug and arms racket.

Corruption. Most Americans like to think their government is somehow immune to the kinds of bribery and abuse of public power rampant in "Third World" countries. The emerging reality is that the exact opposite is true. The more wealth and power at stake, the greater the incentive to subvert and corrupt. Sources say the dark truths predicted to be unveiled by P.P. Willie will be utterly damning.

END OF JAMES NORMAN ARTICLE FOR DEC 1995
MEDIA BYPASS [Transcribed and first posted to Internet
by Ken Cook]