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Allegations Regarding Vince Foster, the NSA, and Banking Transactions Spying, Part XII

by J. Orlin Grabbe

Did you every think of having your own country? Consider the advantages. No export controls. You could manufacture your own armaments. Do biological warfare research. Even build casinos. Hey, do whatever you wanted!

You could also avoid those pesky ITAR restrictions. Cryptology software is classified as a munition by the U.S. State Department. This designation is found in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. So software products that use cryptography can't be exported without State Department permission. (The State Department, however, turns all such decisions over to the National Security Agency [NSA].)

For convenience, locate your country in the middle of California. And run an interstate freeway right through it! Say Interstate 10, which goes from Los Angeles to Phoenix.

A dream? No, consider it done. It's called the Cabazon Indian nation, located near Indio, California. This little nation of two dozen individuals is very entrepreneurial. They've set up the Cabazon Arms Corporation, the Cabazon Security Corporation, the Cabazon Trading Company, the Cabazon Gas & Oil Corporation--lots of interesting companies come and go in this nation.

Maybe you could make a deal with them, and set up your own ventures! But you'll find someone got there ahead of you. Namely, a private security firm called Wackenhut. Wackenhut is a funny outfit. Among other things, it provides security to nuclear installations and to U.S. military bases, jobs previously held by the U.S. Marine Corps.. And its officers have included an amazing number of ex-CIA or NSA people. Bill Casey was an outside counsel to Wackenhut. Admiral Stansfield Turner, whose Saturday Night massacre in 1977 provided Wackenhut with a number of ex-CIA employees, has served on the Board of Directors, as has ex-Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci. One Vice President of Wackenhut, Robert Chasen, had been CIA head of station and Vice President of ITT during the time of Allende.

Have these people, too, considered the advantages of having their own country? Yes, it seems they have. They seem to have taken over the Cabazon Indian nation. And they don't want any competition from you, thank you.

But the corporate rulers are very good to this little tribe. They've put everyone in a medical and drug treatment program! And they are very strict about seeing that each person shows up regularly to take their medicine!

It was at the Cabazon Indian nation that modifications were first made to the PROMIS software for installation of a surreptitious surveillance mechanism. (Another modification would take place in Little Rock, Arkansas, to tailor the PROMIS software for use by banks.)

The modifications were made by a guy called Michael Riconosciuto. Riconosciuto was a bright guy who, at age 16, showed up at Stanford's Cooper Vapor Laser Laboratory, having built his own argon laser. His family were friends of Richard Nixon. Riconosciuto became an expert on explosives and software. In an affidavit he states:

"1. During the early 1980's, I served as the Director of Research for a joint venture between the Wackenhut Corporation of Coral Gables, Florida, and the Cabazon Band of Indians in Indio, California. The joint venture was located on the Cabazon reservation. . . .

"3. The Cabazon Band of Indians are a sovereign nation. The sovereign immunity that is accorded the Cabazons as a consequence of this fact made it feasible to pursue on the reservation the development and/or manufacture of materials whose development or manufacture would be subject to stringent controls off the reservation. As a minority group, the Cabazon Indians also provided the Wackenhut Corporation with an enhanced ability to obtain federal contracts through the 8A Set Aside Program, and in connection with Government-owned contractor-operated (GOCO) facilities. . . .

"6. Among the frequent visitors to the Wackenhut-Cabazon joint venture were Peter Videnieks of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and a close associate of Videnieks by the name of Earl W. Brian. Brian is a private businessman who lives in Maryland and who has maintained close business ties with the U.S. intelligence community for many years. . . .

"7. In connection with my work for Wackenhut, I engaged in some software development and modification work in 1983 and 1984 on the proprietary PROMIS computer software product. The copy of PROMIS on which I worked came from the Department of Justice. Earl W. Brian made it available to me through Wackenhut after acquiring it from Peter Videnieks, who was then a Department of Justice contracting official with responsibility for the PROMIS software. I performed the modifications to PROMIS in Indio, California; Silver Spring, Maryland; and Miami, Florida. . . .

"8. The purpose of the PROMIS software modifications that I made in 1983 and 1984 was to support a plan for the implementation of PROMIS in law enforcement and intelligence agencies worldwide. Earl W. Brian was spearheading the plan for this worldwide use of the PROMIS computer software. . . .

"11. In February 1991, I had a telephone conversation with Peter Videnieks, then still employed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Videnieks attempted during this telephone conversation to persuade me not to cooperate with an independent investigation of the government's piracy of INSLAW's proprietary PROMIS software being conducted by the Committee on the Judiciary of the U.S. House of Representatives. . . .

"13. Videnieks also outlined specific punishments that I could expect to receive from the U.S. Department of Justice if I cooperate with the House Judiciary Committee's investigation." (Affidavit of Michael J. Riconosciuto, March 21, 1991.)

Michael Riconosciuto's ties to the National Security Agency are illustrated in the testimony of Robert Nichols:

"Robert Nichols told . . . about an incident in the early 1980's when a colonel from the NSA Headquarters at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, allegedly flew out to the Cabazon Reservation for the day for the single purpose of assuring that FBI agents, investigating a triple homicide of the Vice Chairman of the Cabazon Tribe and two associates, did not attempt to probe the classified U.S. government work being performed under the auspices of the Wackenhut-Cabazon Joint Venture.

"Robert Nichols also told . . . about having accompanied Michael Riconosciuto on a visit to a classified NSA contractor facility in the Silicon Valley and to have observed Riconosciuto's apparently unrestricted and unescorted access to both the contractor's employees and to offices within the contractor facility that were prominently marked as off-limits to any unescorted visitors.

"Robert Nichols also told . . . about frequent alleged telephone conversations at the Wackenhut-Cabazon Joint Venture between Michael Riconosciuto and Bobby Inman. Bobby Inman served in the early 1980's consecutively as Director of the National Security Agency and Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency" ("Inslaw's Analysis and Rebuttal of the Bua Report, Memorandum in Response to the March 1993 Report of Special Counsel Nicholas J. Bua to the Attorney General of the United States Responding to the Allegations of INSLAW, Inc." --hereafter Bua Rebuttal).

The modified software was marketed around the world by Earl Brian, one-time owner of Financial News Network (sold to NBC), UPI, and the Hadron Corporation. Brian was a friend of Ronald Reagan's Attorney General Ed Meese:

According to Ari Ben-Menasche, Brian marketed the PROMIS software to Israel in conjunction with Robert McFarlane, Reagan's National Security Advisor:

"3. In 1982, the Israeli Prime Minister's Anti-Terrorism Advisor was Mr. Rafael Eitan.

"4. In a meeting that took place in December 1982 in Mr. Eitan's office in the Kirya in Tel Aviv, Israel, Mr. Eitan told me that he had received earlier that year in the United States, from Mr. Earl W. Brian and Mr. Robert McFarlane, PROMIS computer software for the limited use of the IDF's Signals Intelligence Unit for intelligence purposes only. Mr. Eitan stated on this occasion, and on earlier occasions as well, that he had special relationships with both Mr. Brian and Mr. McFarlane." (Affidavit of Ari Ben-Menashe, March 21, 1991).

According to Richard Babayan, Brian also made a sales presentation (and later sale) to Iraq, in conjunction with Richard Secord,

"2. . . . I attended a meeting in Baghdad, Iraq, in October or November, 1987, with Mr. Abu Mohammed of Entezamat, an intelligence and security organ of the Government of Iraq. Mr. Abu Mohammed is a senior ranking official of Entezamat and a person with whom I had had extensive dealings over the previous three years

"3. During the aforementioned meeting with Mr. Abu Mohammed, I was informed that Dr. Earl W. Brian of the United States had recently completed a sales presentation to the Government of Iraq regarding the PROMIS computer software. Furthermore, it is my understanding that others present at Dr. Brian's PROMIS sales presentation were General Richard Secord, of the United States, and Mr. Abu Mohammed.

"4. In early to mid-1988, in the course of subsequent visits to Baghdad, Iraq, I was informed that Dr. Earl W. Brian had, in fact, provided the PROMIS computer software to the Government of Iraq through a transaction that took place under the umbrella of Mr. Sarkis Saghanalian, an individual who has had extensive business dealings with the Government of Iraq since the late 1970's in the fields of military hardware and software. (Affidavit of Richard H. Babayan, March 22, 1991.)

The sale of the PROMIS software was the one of the principal topics that Danny Casolaro was investigating at the time of his death either late Friday, August 9, or early Saturday, August 10, 1991. On Saturday around noon he was found dead in his room, Room 517, at the Sheraton Martinsburg Inn in Virginia.

According to an affidavit signed by a friend of Casalaro on March 15, 1994 (hereafter F Affidavit), Casolaro had documents received from an NSA employee named Alan Standorf that were classified "top secret" and "SCI".

SCI, or Sensitive Compartmented Information, is a more restrictive classification than Top Secret. "Sensitive Compartmented Information is data about sophisticated technical systems for collecting intelligence and information collected by those systems" (NFIB Security Committee, "Sensitive Compartmented Information: Characteristics and Security Requirements," June 1984).

"The systems that generate SCI are imaging and signals intelligence satellites; aircraft such as the U-2 and RC-135; submarines involved in Special Navy reconnaissance missions; and ground stations involved in the interception of foreign signals. Information about imaging and signals intelligence satellites also falls into the SCI category" (Jeffrey T. Richelson, The U.S. Intelligence Community, Westview Press, 1995).

By its nature SCI-type information could reveal the characteristics of the systems that collect the information, which makes such these systems vulnerable to countermeasures. Countermeasures could destroy the ability to collect this type of information in the first place. Or the mechanism, once known to the other side, could be used by the other side to feed disinformation into the collected data.

One variety of SCI information is produced by the Defense Mapping Agency:

". . . 80 percent of DMA's [the Defense Mapping Agency's] 9,500 employees hold Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) clearances. SCI data is employed in producing the data that allow the targeting of cruise missiles by Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM). Such data are also required for precise specification of target location in the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) and for accurate target- ing of U.S. warheads" (Richelson).

Another variety may be found at the NSA:

"The NSA's COMSEC responsibilities also include ensuring communications security for strategic weapons systems such as the Minuteman missile so as to prevent unauthorized intrusion, interference, or jamming. In addition, the NSA is responsible for developing the codes by which the President must identify himself in order to authorize a nuclear strike" (Richelson).

Casolaro had other documents related to BCCI and the sale of PROMIS, according to the F Affidavit:

--Casolaro had documents proving that the PROMIS software was modified by Michael Riconosciuto.

--Casolaro had copies of wire transfers of money from accounts held at the World Bank and BCCI and paid to Earl Brian at shell companies in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland.

--Casolaro had copies of checks drawn on BCCI accounts and paid to shell accounts held by Richard Secord and Earl Brian.

--Casolaro had copies of documents of arms, gold, and software shipments cleared for export by Peter Videnieks at U.S. Customs.

--Casolaro had a document that Casolaro alleged showed the involvement of Bobby Inman and Robert McFarlane in the sale of PROMIS to Israel.

--Casolaro had meetings in Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania with a number of individuals of Arabic origin, including Iman Mashhad.

--Casolaro had documents showing shipments to and from Pakistan by air that were approved by William Casey, and related documents with notes from Peter Videnieks.

--Casolaro had documents related to "First American Bankshares" [Financial General Bankshares = First American ?] showing monies paid to officials in Justice and Treasury.

On August 9, the last day of his life, Danny Casolaro said he had arranged a meeting with Peter Videnieks and Robert Altman to trade them documents for further documents regarding the sale of the modified PROMIS software. (Robert Altman--see Part X in this series--has served as an attorney to Bert Lance, and as the president of BCCI-controlled First American.)

Casolaro picked up two packages of documents he had given to a friend for safe-keeping. The exchange was to take place at a meeting said to have been arranged by a covert intelligence operative of the U.S. Army Special Forces named Joseph Cuellar.

"Danny had told me that meeting had been arranged by Joseph Cuellar. That he was to meet with someone from Sen. Byrds office and from the I.R.S., plus Peter Videnieks and Robert Altman. He was to exchange some documents that was to their interest in order to get more info on Promis. He had told me that Altman only agreed after he was told papers would be sent to Robert Morgenthau" (F Affidavit)

Some background on Casolaro's relationship with Joseph Cuellar is detailed in the Bua Rebuttal:

"Casolaro also told the Hamiltons [Mr. and Mrs. Bill Hamilton of INSLAW] about a series of meetings he had had during the final months of his life with a covert intelligence operative of the U.S. Army Special Forces whose name is Joseph Cuellar. According to Casolar, Cuellar, during a purportedly chance encounter at Casolaro's neighborhood pub in mid-July 1991, asked Casolaro what line of work he was in and, upon hearing Casolaro describe his journalistic investigation of the INSLAW case, asserted that he knew all about INSLAW because Peter Videnieks was one of his closest friends. According to Casolaro, Cuellar also stated that his ex-wife worked for Ms. Barbara Videnieks in Senator Byrd's office. Casolaro told the Hamiltons that Cuellar had later persuaded Peter Videnieks to meet Casolaro and discuss the INSLAW case with him." (Bua Rebuttal)

The next day after picking up two packages of documents for the meeting with Videniecks and Altman, Danny Casolaro was found dead in his hotel room at the Sheraton. Several days later a friend of Casolaro's who had attended two meetings between Casolaro and Cuellar received a phone call from Cuellar:

"Lynn Knowles, a friend of Casolaro's, attended at least two of the meetings between Casolaro and Cuellar . . . [Lynn Knowles said] that she and Cuellar had spoken by telephone several days after Casolaro's death and that Cuellar said the following to Knowles, in words or substance:

'What Danny Casolaro was investigating is a business. If you don't want to end up like Danny or like the journalist [Anson Ng] who died a horiffic death in Guatemala, you'll stay out of this. Anyone who asks too many questions will end up dead.'" (Bua Rebuttal)

Well, I don't want too ask too many questions myself, Mr. Cuellar, so I'll ask just this one: Did you, in conspiracy with Peter Videnieks and Robert Altman, murder Danny Casolaro?

[To be continued]