PROMIS (Prosecutor's Management Information System)
The Prosecutor's Management Information System (PROMIS) is a database system developed by Inslaw Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based, information technology company.
PROMIS was first developed by Inslaw during the 1970s under contracts and grants from the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA). These guarantees gave the government licenses to use the early versions of PROMIS but not to modify them, or to create derivative works, or to distribute PROMIS outside the federal government. By 1982, because of strong disagreements over a fee-incentive, Modification 12 Agreement to the original contract, the United States Department of Justice and Inslaw Inc. became involved in a widely-publicized and protracted lawsuit ( Inslaw Inc. v. United States Government)
Designed as a case-management system for prosecutors, PROMIS has the ability to track people. "Every use of PROMIS in the court system is tracking people," said Inslaw President Bill Hamilton. "You can rotate the file by case, defendant, arresting officer, judge, defense lawyer, and it's tracking all the names of all the people in all the cases."
What this means is that PROMIS can provide a complete rundown of all federal cases in which a lawyer has been involved, or all the cases in which a lawyer has represented defendant A, or all the cases in which a lawyer has represented white-collar criminals, at which stage in each of the cases the lawyer agreed to a plea bargain, and so on. Based on this information, PROMIS can help a prosecutor determine when a plea will be taken in a particular type of case.
But the real power of PROMIS, according to Hamilton, is that with a staggering 570,000 lines of computer code, PROMIS can integrate innumerable databases without requiring any reprogramming. In essence, PROMIS can turn blind data into information. And anyone in government will tell you that information, when wielded with finesse, begets power. Converted to use by intelligence agencies, as has been alleged in interviews by ex-CIA and Israeli Mossad agents, PROMIS can be a powerful tracking device capable of monitoring intelligence operations, agents and targets, instead of legal cases.
PROMIS has the ability to combine disparate databases, and to track people by their involvement with the legal system.
Imagine you are in charge of the legal arm of the most powerful government on the face of the globe, but your internal information systems are mired in the archaic technology of the 1960s. There's a Department of Justice database, a CIA database, an Attorney's General database, an IRS database, and so on, but none of them can share information. That makes tracking multiple offenders pretty darn difficult, and building cases against them a long and bureaucratic task. Along comes a computer program that can integrate all these databases. Working from either huge mainframe computer systems or smaller networks powered by the progenitors of today's PCs, PROMIS, from its first "test drive" in the late 1970's, was able to do one thing that no other program had ever been able to do. It was able to simultaneously read and integrate any number of different computer programs or data bases simultaneously, regardless of the language in which the original programs had been written or the operating system or platforms on which that data base was then currently installed.
Inslaw, Inc. was a small, Washington, D.C.-based, information technology company. In the mid-1970s, Inslaw developed for the United States Department of Justice a highly efficient, people-tracking, software program known as: Prosecutor's Management Information System
(PROMIS). Inslaw's principal owners, William Anthony Hamilton and his wife, Nancy Burke Hamilton, later sued the United States Government (acting as principal to the Department of Justice) for not complying with the terms of the PROMIS contract and for refusing to pay for an enhanced version of PROMIS once delivered. This allegation of software piracy led to three trials in separate federal courts and two congressional hearings.
During ensuing investigations, the Department of Justice was accused of deliberately attempting to drive Inslaw into Chapter 7 liquidation; and of distributing and selling stolen software for covert intelligence operations of foreign governments such as Canada, Israel, Singapore, Iraq, Egypt, and Jordan; and of becoming directly involved in murder.
Later developments implied that derivative versions of Enhanced PROMIS sold on the black market may have become the high-tech tools of worldwide terrorists such as Osama Bin Laden and international money launderers and thieves.
Inslaw, once called the Institute for Law and Social Research
, was a non-profit business created in 1974 by William Anthony Hamilton, a former analyst with the National Security Agency and onetime contract employee of the CIA. Inslaw's original software product, PROMIS, was a database designed to handle papers and documents generated by law enforcement agencies and courts. PROMIS was a people-tracking program
which had the power to integrate innumerable databases regardless of their languages, or regardless of their operating platforms. "Every use of PROMIS in the court system is tracking people," explained Hamilton. "You can rotate the file by case, defendant, arresting officer, judge, defense lawyer, and it's tracking all the names of all the people in all the cases."
PROMIS was funded almost entirely by government funds; therefore versions created prior to January 1978 were in the public domain. On January 1, 1978, amendments to the Copyright Act of 1976 took effect, automatically conferring upon Inslaw as the author of PROMIS five exclusive software copyright rights, none of which could be waived except by explicit, written waiver. The federal government negotiated licenses to use but not to modify or to distribute outside the federal government some but not all versions of PROMIS created after the January 1978 effective-date of the copyright amendments. In 1981, after Congress liquidated the Justice Department's Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) (which had been the primary source of funds for Inslaw's development of Promis), the company became known as Inslaw, Inc., a for-profit corporation created to further develop and market PROMIS and other PROMIS-derivative software product(s).
The newly created corporation made significant improvements to the original software. The resulting product came to be known alternately as PROMIS '82 or Enhanced PROMIS, a 32-bit architecture VAX 11/780 version.
In 1981, Edwin Meese, then an adviser to President Ronald Reagan, announced an $800 million budget in an effort to overhaul the computer systems of the Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and other law enforcement agencies. The following year, the Department of Justice awarded Inslaw a $9.6 million, three-year, cost-plus-incentive-fee contract to implement a pilot program in 22 of the largest Offices of the United States Attorneys using the older 16-bit architecture Prime version (as in Wang, or IBM), which the government had a license to use.
While PROMIS could have gone a long way toward correcting the Department's longstanding need for a standardized case-management system, the contract between Inslaw and Justice quickly became embroiled for over two decades in bitter controversy. The conflict centered on whether or not the Justice Department owed Inslaw license fees for the new, 32-bit architecture VAX version if the government substituted that version for the older 16-bit Prime version which had been the subject of the original contract.
In February 1983, an Israeli government official scheduled a meeting with Inslaw through the Justice Department's contract agent, Peter Videnieks. The purpose of that meeting was for a PROMIS briefing and demonstration; the Israeli Ministry of Justice intended to computerize its own prosecution offices. Although it was believed that the Israeli government official was a prosecuting attorney, it was later discovered upon closer examination that the official was really Rafi Eitan, "Director of LAKAM, a super-secret agency within the Israeli Ministry of Defense responsible for collecting scientific and technical intelligence information from other countries through espionage." Herein is where Inslaw's case becomes convoluted.
Following the Israeli meeting, the Justice Department obtained Inslaw's new, 32-bit, Enhanced PROMIS from Inslaw at the start of the second year of their implementation contract by modifying that contract and by promising to negotiate the payment of license fees. One month later, the U.S. government began to find fault with some of Inslaw's services, and with negotiated billing rates. The government then began to withhold unilaterally each month increasing amounts of payments due Inslaw for implementation services. The Justice Department agent responsible for making payments was a former, fired Inslaw employee, C. Madison Brewer. Brewer would later claim in federal court that everything he did regarding Inslaw was approved by Deputy Attorney General D. Lowell Jensen. Brewer was aided in his new DoJ job by Peter Videnieks. Videnieks was fresh from the Customs Service where he oversaw contracts between that agency and Hadron, Inc., a company controlled by Edwin Meese and Reagan-crony Earl Brian. Hadron, a closely held government systems consulting firm, was to figure prominently in the forthcoming scandal. Both Brewer and Videnieks had obtained their positions under suspicious circumstances. Furthermore, before moving over to the Justice Department and taking charge of the PROMIS program in September 1981, Videnieks had administered three contracts between the Customs Service and Hadron. Hadron was in the business of integrating information-managing systems such as PROMIS into federal agencies.
Simultaneously with the withholding of payments in the 1983 Modification 12 agreement, the government then substituted the enhanced VAX version of PROMIS for the old Prime version originally specified in the contract. However, the government failed to negotiate the payment of license fees as promised, claiming that Inslaw had failed to prove to the government's satisfaction that Inslaw had developed the enhanced version with private, non-government funds and that the enhanced version was not otherwise required to be delivered to the government under any of its contracts with Inslaw—that is, Inslaw had provided it voluntarily.
Yet beneath the surface of this background was a belief that the primary focus of certain top-level individuals within the DoJ was to perpetuate international, covert intelligence operations—for example, to enable Israeli signal intelligence to surreptitiously access the computerized Jordanian dossiers on Palestinians.
Enhanced PROMIS was eventually installed in a total of forty-four federal prosecutors' offices following the Modification 12 agreement.
According to affidavits filed by William Hamilton, as the contract details were modified, Hamilton then received a phone call from Dominic Laiti, chief executive of Hadron. Laiti wanted to buy Inslaw. Hamilton refused. According to Hamilton's affidavits, Laiti then warned him that Hadron had friends in government and if Inslaw did not want to sell willingly, Inslaw could be coerced.
By February 1985, the government had withheld payment of almost $1.8 million for Inslaw's implementation services, plus millions of dollars in Old PROMIS license fees. Inslaw filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Meanwhile, the government began highly suspicious activities to force Inslaw into Chapter 7 liquidation
In his court cases, William Hamilton was represented by several attorneys, one of whom was lawyer Elliot Richardson, formerly the United States Attorney General under President Richard Nixon.
Two different federal bankruptcy courts made fully litigated findings of fact in the late-eighties ruling that the Justice Department "took, converted, and stole" the PROMIS installed in U.S. Attorneys' Offices "through trickery, fraud, and deceit," and then attempted "unlawfully and without justification" to force Inslaw out of business so that it would be unable to seek restitution through the courts.
Three months after the initial verdict, George F. Bason, Jr., the federal judge presiding over the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Columbia, was denied reappointment to a new 14-year term on the bench by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the appointing authority. His replacement, S. Martin Teel, took over shortly after Judge Bason announced his oral findings of malfeasance against Inslaw by the Justice Department; Teel had been the Justice Department Tax Division attorney who had argued unsuccessfully before Judge Bason for the forced liquidation of Inslaw. Leigh Ratiner (of Dickstein, Shapiro and Morin, which was the 10th largest firm in Washington at the time) was fired in October 1986; he had been the lead counsel for Inslaw and had filed the suit against the Justice Department in federal bankruptcy court. His firing came reportedly amidst "back channel" discussions involving: the DoJ, his law firm's senior partner, and the Government of Israel; moreover, there were rumors that the Mossad had arranged a payment of $600,000 to Ratiner's former firm as a separation settlement.
Then, in September 1991, the House Judiciary Committee issued the result of a three-year investigation. House Report 102-857 Inslaw: Investigative Report confirmed the Justice Department's theft of PROMIS. The report was issued after the Justice Department convinced the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on a jurisdictional technicality to set aside the decisions of the first two federal bankruptcy courts. The House Committee also reported investigative leads indicating that friends of the Reagan White House had been allowed to sell and to distribute Enhanced PROMIS both domestically and overseas for their personal financial gain and in support of the intelligence and foreign policy objectives of the United States. The report even went so far as to recommend specifically further investigations of both former-Attorney General Edwin Meese and businessman, Earl Brian, for their possible involvement in illegally providing or selling PROMIS "to foreign governments including Canada, Israel, Singapore, Iraq, Egypt, and Jordan." The Democratic Majority called upon the Attorney General Dick Thornburgh to compensate Inslaw immediately for the harm that the government had "egregiously" inflicted on Inslaw. The Republican Minority dissented. The Committee was divided along party lines 21–13. Attorney General Thornburgh ignored the recommendations, and reneged on agreements made with the committee.
On November 13, 1991, newly appointed, Attorney General William Barr, appointed a retired federal judge, Nicholas J. Bua, as Special Counsel to advise him on the allegations that high-ranking officials had acted improperly for personal gain to bankrupt Inslaw.
By June 1993, a 267-page Bua Report was released, clearing Justice officials of any impropriety. Inslaw's attorney, Elliot Richardson immediately wrote Inslaw's 130-page Rebuttal with evidence suggesting Bua's report was riddled with errors and falsehoods. On September 27, 1994, Attorney General Janet Reno released a 187-page review concluding "that there is no credible evidence that Department officials conspired to steal computer software developed by Inslaw, Inc. or that the company is entitled to additional government payments." Yet, according to Wired Magazine, "Reno's report was released the same day [that] the House Judiciary Committee passed HR 4862, a bill which would have bound the U.S. Court of Federal Claims legally to independently investigate the Inslaw case—thus circumventing the Department of Justice's claims of innocence;" however, HR 4862 was defeated by a partisan committee-vote later that night before it was set to go before the full House.
The following May, the United States Senate asked the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to determine if the United States owed Inslaw compensation for the government's use of PROMIS. On July 31, 1997, Judge Christine Miller, the hearing officer for the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled that all of the versions of PROMIS were in the public domain and that the government had therefore always been free to do whatever it wished with PROMIS. The following year, the appellate authority, a three-judge Review Panel of the same court, upheld Miller's ruling; yet, it also determined that Inslaw had never granted the government a license to "modify PROMIS to create derivative software" although Inslaw was automatically vested with the exclusive copyright rights to PROMIS. The Review Panel then held that the United States would be liable to Inslaw for copyright infringement damages if the government had created any unauthorized derivatives from PROMIS, but noted that Inslaw "had failed to prove in court that the government had done so;" moreover, the Board held that the issue of "derivative works" was "of no consequence." Inslaw challenged this interpretation but the Review Panel refused Inslaw's request to reopen discovery. In August 1998, Chief Judge Lorin Smith of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims sent an Advisory Report to the Senate, noting that the court had not found that the United States owes Inslaw compensation for the government's use of PROMIS, and enclosing the decision of the hearing officer and the decision of the Review Panel.
On the other hand, according to William Hamilton, the government flatly denied during all court proceedings what it later admitted, i.e. that agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other U.S. intelligence agencies used a PROMIS-derivative to keep track of their classified information.
In early 1999, the British journalist and author, Gordon Thomas, published an authorized history of the Israeli Mossad titled Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad. The book quotes detailed admissions by the former long-time deputy-director of the Mossad, Rafi Eitan, about the partnership between Israeli and U.S. intelligence in selling to foreign intelligence agencies in excess of $500 million worth of licenses to a trojan horse version of PROMIS, in order to spy on them.
In 2001, the Washington Times and Fox News each quoted federal law enforcement officials familiar with debriefing former FBI Agent Robert Hanssen as claiming that the convicted spy had stolen copies of a PROMIS-derivative for his Soviet KGB handlers.
They further alleged that the software was used within the FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies to track internal intelligence, and was used by intelligence operatives to track international interbank transactions. These reports further stated that Osama bin Laden later bought copies of the same Promis-derivative on the Russian black market (blat) for $2 million. It was believed then that al-Qaeda used the software to penetrate database systems to move funds throughout the banking system, and to evade detection by U.S. law enforcement.
In May 2006, a former aide in the Office of the Vice President of the United States pleaded guilty to passing top-secret classified information to plotters trying to overthrow the president of the Philippines. Leandro Aragoncillo, an FBI intelligence analyst at the time of his arrest, was believed to have operated his deception using archaic database software manipulated by the FBI in order to evade the 1995 finding of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims with regard to Inslaw's rights to derivative works.
The 9-11 Commission called attention to the fact that the FBI did not install the current version of its case management software, called the ACS (Automated Case Support) system, until October 1995 and to the fact that ACS was obsolete from the time the FBI developed it in the mid-1990s because it was based on "1980s technology". Although the 9-11 Commission offered no explanation for why the FBI used obsolete technology to develop its ACS case management software in 1995, the apparent explanation is that the FBI simply renamed its 1980s technology case management software, which was called FOIMS and was based on PROMIS, and translated it in October 1995 into a different computer programming language in order to obstruct a court hearing that the U.S. Senate had ordered earlier that year. The Senate had ordered the court in May 1995 to determine whether the United States owes Inslaw compensation for the government's use of PROMIS, and the court, in turn, ordered outside software experts to compare the FBI's software with PROMIS, but the FBI modified its software and told the court that it no longer retained the unmodified first 11 years (1985 through 1995) of its own case management software.
In 2006, there were further allegations of the misuse of PROMIS. Writing in the Canada Free Press, the former Polish CIA operative and now international journalist, David Dastych alleged that "Chinese Military Intelligence (PLA-2) organized their own hackers department, which [exploited] PROMIS [database systems] [in the] Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories to steal U.S. nuclear secrets"; however, the prima facie value of that allegation was lost in a realization that the U.S. Government could not convict the suspected 2001 spy.
The U.S. Government has never paid Inslaw Inc. for any of these unauthorized uses of PROMIS.
"Inslaw deserves to be compensated," wrote nationally syndicated columnist, Michelle Malkin, in The Washington Times. "More importantly, the American people deserve to know the truth: Did government greed and bureaucratic hubris lead to a wholesale sellout of our national security?"
While investigating elements of this story, journalist Danny Casolaro died in what was twice ruled a suicide. Prior to his death, Casolaro had warned friends if they were ever told he had committed suicide not to believe it, and to know he had been murdered. Many have argued that his death was suspicious, deserving closer scrutiny; some have argued further, believing his death was a murder, committed to hide whatever Casolaro had uncovered. "I believe he was murdered," wrote former Attorney General Elliot Richardson in the New York Times, " but even if that is no more than a possibility, it is a possibility with such sinister implications as to demand a serious effort to discover the truth." Kenn Thomas and Jim Keith discuss this in their book, The Octopus: Secret Government and the Death of Danny Casolaro. Writing on behalf of a majority opinion in House Report 102-857, Committee Chairman, Jack Brooks (D-TX) wrote, "As long as the possibility exists that Danny Casolaro died as a result of his investigation into the INSLAW matter, it is imperative that further investigation be conducted."
Michael Riconoscuito was a gifted child: When he was just 10 years old, Michael wired his parents' neighborhood with a working private telephone system that undercut Ma Bell; in the eighth grade, he won a science fair with a model for a three-dimensional sonar system. By the time he was a teenager, he had won so many science fairs with exhibits of laser technology that he was invited to be a summer research assistant at Stanford University's prestigious Cooper Vapor Laser Laboratory. Dr. Arthur Schalow , a Nobel laureate, remembers him — "You don't forget a 16-year-old youngster who shows up with his own argon laser."
Riconosciuto is an electronics, computer expert who was convicted on seven drug-related charges in early 1992. He is not set to be released until 2017. Riconosciuto professed a defense centered on the Inslaw Affair (a legal case in which the U.S. Government was charged with illegal use of computer software). Riconosciuto claimed to have reprogrammed Inslaw's case-management program (PROMIS) with a secret "back-door" to allow clandestine tracking of individuals. Riconosciuto stated that had been threatened by a justice department official. Riconosciuto provided an Affidavit detailing threats to a House Select Committee investigating the Inslaw Affair.
On March 21, 1991, Riconosciuto filed an affidavit before a House judiciary committee investigating the bankruptcy case of Inslaw Inc. v. United States Government. Riconosciuto was under suspicion at the time for illegally modifying a people-tracking, case-management, software program that had been developed for the Department of Justice by Washington, D.C.-based Inslaw Inc.. Riconosciuto declared that he had been under the direction of Earl Brian, who was then a controlling shareholder and director of Hadron, Inc..
Hadron was a competitor to Inslaw and was also a government consulting firm with several contracts with the Department of Defense and the CIA.
Riconosciuto further declared that Peter Videnieks, the contract manager overseeing the Inslaw contract for the management division of the DoJ, had stolen the PROMIS software and had given it to Earl Brian who "spearheaded" a plan for the "implementation of PROMIS in law enforcement and intelligence agencies worldwide."
Riconosciuto claimed that Videnieks during a telephone conversation threatened Riconosciuto with DoJ reprisals if Riconosciuto should testify before the House Investigating Committee. According to Riconosciuto's claims, Videnieks said that there would be indictments brought against Riconosciuto and his father in connection with a criminal operation of a savings and loan institution in California; furthermore, Riconosciuto's wife would immediately loose a long and protracted child custody case against her former husband; and lastly, Riconosciuto would be prosecuted for perjury. Riconosciuto claimed to have made a tape recording of that conversation.
Within eight days of this declaration, Riconosciuto was arrested for conspiracy to manufacture, conspiracy to distribute, possession with intent to distribute, and with distribution—a total of ten counts related to methamphetamine and methadone.
During his trial, Riconosciuto accused the Drug Enforcement Agency of stealing two copies of his tape. Then later he claimed a third was tossed by him into a Washington State swamp.
In addition to his claims of a government "frame up" related to Inslaw, Riconosciuto maintained that the chemical laboratory on his property was in use for the extraction of precious metals such as platinum in a highly-specialized mining operation.READ MORE ABOUT RICONOSCIUTO HERE:
Danny Casolaro, an aspiring novelist, freelance writer and investigative reporter looking into the theft of Project PROMIS software, a program capable of tracking down anyone anywhere in the world, died in August 1991, a reported suicide. Casolaro was also investigating Pine Gap, Area 51 and governmental bioengineering. His manuscript – tentatively entitled The Octopus and which would reveal a web of conspiracy involving everything from PROMIS to BCCI to Iran-Contra to the JFK assassination to the October Surprise – was missing from his room and has never been found.
For Casolaro, the Octopus presented a complex web of intrigue involving PROMIS; the inter-connection of various police services, intelligence agencies and organised criminal groups; and a large number of parapolitical operators, weapons brokers and deal-makers. All of this continues to have an impact on the post-9/11 world, with PROMIS figuring in many contemporary stories.
From a well-to-do family (his father, a doctor, had invested well in Northern Virginia real estate), he was 44 years old, divorced, and living comfortably on a five-acre estate in Fairfax County, Virginia – home to the CIA.
In the first week of August, Casolaro told friends and acquaintances that he was going to West Virginia too meet a source who would provide a key piece of evidence he needed to complete his investigation. He drove to Martinsburg, West Virginia, on Thursday, August 8, and checked into room 517 of the Sheraton Hotel. Two days later, at 12:51 p.m., hotel employees found his naked body in a bathtub full of bloody water. The time of death has been estimated at about 9.00 am. Both arms and wrists had been slashed a total of at least 12 times; one of the cuts went so deep that it had severed a tendon.
The hotel management called the Martinsburg police who brought along the local coroner, Sandra Brining, a registered nurse. Ms. Brining ruled the death a suicide, took small blood and urine samples, and released the body to the Brown Funeral Home. Without authorization from officials or Casolaro's next of kin, the funeral home embalmed the body as a "courtesy to the family", according to Brining's statement at an August 15 press conference in Martinsburg.
Martinsburg police notified the next of kin, Dr. Anthony Casolaro, also of Fairfax, of his brother's death on Monday, August 12. Casolaro says that police explanations for the delay, like the hasty, unauthorized and illegal embalming, seemed either extraordinarily inefficient or highly suspicious.READ MORE HERE About Casolaro:
All about PROMIShttp://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/pandora/052401_promis.html
The Inslaw "Octupus" article from Wired back in 1993http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/1.01/inslaw.html?topic=&topic_set=
"The INSLAW Affair" Part 1
"The INSLAW Affair" Part 2
"The INSLAW Affair" Part 3
CNN 1992 Newsclip of INSLAW
KESQ News Channel 3 Coachella Valley covers PROMIS Murders
Danny Casolaro-Unsolved Mysteries part 1
Danny Casolaro-Unsolved Mysteries part 2Youtube Channel of the daughter of one of the INSLAW affair victims:
CasolaroProject YouTube Channel
INSLAW Website, not updated since 1999http://www.inslawinc.com/
Video about PROMIS:
The Octopus: Secret Government and the Death of Danny Casolaro PAPERBACK BOOK:http://www.amazon.com/Octopus-Secret-Government-Death-Casolaro/dp/0922915911
I reposted the Wikipedia entries of INSLAW and PROMIS, up above, in case they ever get deleted.