[Email Reply]

Part 37: Allegations Regarding Vince Foster, the NSA, and Banking Transactions Spying

by J. Orlin Grabbe


Shortly after finishing The End of Ordinary Money, Part II, I received phone calls from Jim Norman of Forbes Magazine, Bill Hamilton of Inslaw, and Gregory Wierzynski, Assistant Staff Director of the House Committee on Banking and Financial Services. They were all interested in my references to money-laundering activities in Arkansas financial institutions, as well as to the use of the stolen PROMIS software in tracking financial transactions.

Jim Norman was a Senior Editor at Forbes Magazine whose article entitled Fostergate had been killed by Malcolm S. ("Steve") Forbes. Forbes had done so at the urging of Caspar Weinberger, the former Reagan Secretary of Defense who was Chairman of the Board of Forbes, Inc. Norman was interested in my references to an NSA project to spy on banking transfers, because he had information that Vince Foster, a Rose Law Firm partner, oversaw such a project at Jackson Stephens' software firm Systematics. He also wanted to get Fostergate published elsewhere, and I promised to bring it to public attention through the Internet. Not all of the material in the article was familiar to me, but those parts that were had merit-- and in any case I didn't believe in military censorship of information presented in civilian financial publications. (I discovered soon enough, however, that most of the senior staff of Forbes Magazine had ties to the intelligence community, so perhaps Norman's experience was not all that uncommon.)

Bill Hamilton of Inslaw had been pursuing a case for years to collect from the U.S. government the value of Inslaw's PROMIS software that had been stolen by the U.S. Department of Justice. In its original form, the PROMIS system was used for federal case management. Another version had been converted for intelligence use in tracking agents, operations, and movements. A CIA agent named Michael Riconosciuto had worked on this version, and--in connection with Bobby Inman of the National Security Agency--had created code that would cause the computer hardware to give off signals, disguised as noise, when the program was running. (The standing waves emitted can be modeled by mathematical functions called "Walsh functions".) The program was then marketed around the world by another CIA agent named Earl Brian, who set up a company for that purpose. One of Earl Brian's sales, made to the government of Brazil, was observed by another CIA agent named Chuck Hayes. Hayes had testified to this sale before a Chicago grand jury, but his testimony had been redacted under the National Security Act. These software sales were not only profitable to Brian's company, but they also allowed U.S. intelligence agencies to access the intelligence data of the foreign country running the software. The signals given off by the computer hardware could picked up by nearby vans or, often, by satellite.

Another modification of the software had shown up at the World Bank in 1983, where it was being used to track wire transfers, apparently in connection with a money-laundering operation that went from BCCI London through the World Bank and into Caribbean institutions. This was of considerable interest to me, because I had learned in banking circles that the NSA was spying on banking transactions, and that this apparently included domestic financial transactions in certain instances. Gradually I had learned that the NSA seemed to be working through a Little Rock-based company called Systematics, which was controlled by Jackson Stephens, a principal financial backer of Bill Clinton, and a person connected with the BCCI purchase of First American Bank in Washington, D.C. In early 1995 I published on the Internet a bibliography of Systematics' banking deals, and in that context mentioned the name of Web Hubbell as being associated with the NSA project--but I did not yet know of Vince Foster's greater involvement. This bibliography had apparently been used by Norman and also by others pursuing the same story.

Gregory Wierzynski was interested in money laundering. When I met with him and Stephen Ganis, Counsel to the House Committee on Banking and Financial Services, they were interested in any information I knew of that connected Vince Foster to money- laundering in Arkansas. I told them I had no non-public information, and gave them a copy of Fostergate, which Jim Norman had sent to me only a few days before. "Why would Steve Forbes kill it?" Wierzynski wanted to know. He knew Steve Forbes because Forbes, like Wierzynski, had once served as head of Radio Free Europe. As time passed, I became increasingly convinced that Wierzynski was more involved in covering up than in actual investigation. (Wierzynski's boss, Jim Leach, was overheard saying to Newt Gingrich about the investigation, "If we don't do something, this thing is going to get out of hand." This gave me little confidence Leach was going to conduct an aggressive search for the truth.) As best I could tell, Wierzynski had been booted out of the Pentagon after his son was caught hacking into Defense Department computers.

Shortly after this meeting in June 1995, however, I began my series of Vince Foster posts ("Allegations Regarding Vince Foster, the National Security Agency, and Banking Transactions Spying") on the Internet, and sent copies along to the House Comittee on Banking and Financial Services. A few days later Jim Leach wrote to the Director of the National Security Agency asking about the allegations:

"July 11, 1995

"Vice Admiral John McConnell, USN
"Director, National Security Agency
"Ft. George Mead, MD 20755

"Dear Admiral McConnell:

"I am writing to seek your agency's help in verifying or laying to rest various allegations of money laundering in Arkansas in the late 1980s. For that purpose, I would request a briefing from NSA's Inspector General on Friday, July 14 before 1:00 p.m.; if that is not possible, sometime on Monday, July 17, would also be convenient.

"The reports I have in mind have appeared in the general press and, sometimes in sensational form, in more narrow- gauged outlets, including the Internet. They speak of secret foreign bank accounts held by prominent people in Arkansas, special software to monitor bank transfers, and similar tales. I would like to determine whether there is any substance at all to these stories.

"Specifically, I would like your Inspector General to tell me whether the Agency:

"(1) knows of any secret bank accounts held by U.S. citizens domiciled in Arkansas at any time between 1988 and now;

"(2) is aware, directly or indirectly, of any efforts by computer hackers, U.S.-government related or otherwise, to penetrate banks for the purpose of monitoring accounts and transactions;

"(3) knows of or has participated, directly or indirectly, in efforts to sell software--notably versions of a program in use at the Justice Department called PROMIS--or clandestinely produced devices to foreign banks for the purpose of collecting economic intelligence and information about illicit money transfers;

"(4) is cognizant of any attempts by Systematics Inc, an Arkansas-based electronic data processor that is now a division of Alltell [Alltel], to monitor or engage in the laundering of drug money or proceeds of other illegal activities, notably those conducted through Mena, Arkansas;

"(5) can produce information about Charles Hayes, a businessman in Nancy, Kentucky, who claims to have been a CIA operative in Latin and Central America, among other places;

"(6) knew of or was involved in, directly or indirectly, any covert activities by the U.S. government or any private parties (the so-called "private benefactors") in or around Mena in the late 1980s;

"(7) had any contractual or other relationship with the late Adler Barriman "Barry" Seal in the 1980s or knew about his activities in connection with Mena.

"I would appreciate your help in shedding light on these matters.

"Sincerely,
"James A. Leach
"Chairman"

(to be continued)

November 11, 1996
Web Page: http://www.aci.net/kalliste/