Michael Riconosciuto, a computer expert, filed an affidavit before a House judiciary committee investigating the bankruptcy case of Inslaw Inc. v. US Government (see 1974 entry for INSLAW). Riconosciuto testified that he was working under the direction of CEO Earl Brian of Hadron Inc., a government consulting firm and Inslaw competitor, and that Peter Videnieks, the contract manager overseeing the Inslaw contract for 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 to have reprogrammed Inslaw’s case-management program (PROMIS) with a secret “back-door” to allow clandestine tracking of individuals. 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 lose 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.
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.”
Octopus PROMIS: The Conspiracy Against INSLAW Software, And The Murders To Cover Up A Scandal Bigger Than Watergate
By Aaron Kesel
This article has been months in the making working with several sources to tell the tales buried in history of “The Octopus” — the INSLAW PROMIS software scandal and those killed in the wake of its tentacles. For the first time ever, new details will be revealed on the decade-old murders of two journalists: a CIA intelligence operative, an NSA whistleblower; and the imprisonment of another CIA whistleblower, in this series aptly titled: “Octopus PROMIS.”
This series will explore the theft of a sophisticated computer software, assassinations, cover-ups involving the DOJ and CIA and compartmentalized commercialized treason against the American people by the hidden underbelly dark world of intelligence. A conglomerate cabal accountable to absolutely no one, known today as the Deep State formed “within the highest councils of government” as Senator Daniel Inyoue said, during the hearings on the infamously known scandal Iran-Contra.
The Story Of INSLAW PROMIS Software
PROMIS is said to be the forerunner to the NSA’s PRISM software that was disclosed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. PROMIS has also been forked into various different softwares over the years used for a myriad of applicable uses within government, which this writer will discuss later.
PROMIS stands for Prosecutor’s Management Information System and was software first used by the U.S. Department of Justice, and later numerous intelligence agencies domestic and foreign. The software was stolen from Bill and Nancy Hamilton of INSLAW corporation, and then bugged by Earl Brian (who was at the time one of President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush’s envoys to Iran,) and Rafi Eitan, whom was director of Israeli intelligence agency LAKEM. PROMIS was then distributed to allies and enemies alike backdoored with Signal Intelligence (SIGNIT) surveillance technology accessible to U.S. and Israeli intelligence services remotely through encrypted telecommunication signals, according to sources.
This was done primarily through Brian’s company Hadron, and Systematics Inc run by Jackson Stephens, as well as by Mossad-linked super spy media mogul Robert Maxwell who was also said to have been involved with the Russians then-Soviets, at the time. Besides Hadron and Systematics Inc, there were others involved in the theft and sale of the software including the following individuals — Adnan Khashoggi, Richard Armitage, and Manucher Ghorbanifar to name a few, according to a letter sent to then United States Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division William F. Weld discussing conspiracy to sell PROMIS to Sheik Klahid Bin Malfouz as a “gift.”
The letter doesn’t only show that the DOJ was involved in the plot against INSLAW as early as May 1st 1985, more specifically it shows conspiracy with CIA-linked persons of interest that were all involved with the famous Iran-Contra debacle.
In 1999, British BBC journalist and author, Gordon Thomas, published an authorized history of the Israeli Mossad entitled Gideon’s Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad in which he included very detailed admissions by Rafi Eitan about his initial meeting with Earl Brian in Iran in the 1970s.
Earl Brian disclosed his determination to find a way to profit personally from the sale of INSLAW, Inc.’s PROMIS software; Brian’s subsequent success was in getting the Reagan Administration to give copies of PROMIS to Rafi Eitan. Eitan then recruited British publisher Robert Maxwell to sell copies of PROMIS equipped with a Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) “back-door” to the intelligence and law enforcement agencies of friendly and adversarial governments worldwide. This was so that Israel and the NSA could steal other countries’ intelligence secrets. Maxwell succeeded in the sale of more than half a billion dollars of unauthorized, copyright-infringing versions of PROMIS, while the amount of sold copies by Khashoggi, Armitage, Ghorbanifar, Eitan and likely others are unknown.
Gordon Thomas interviewed Rafi Eitan because he had served as the Mossad’s Deputy Director for Covert Operations for almost a quarter of a century. Eitan would become the Director of LAKEM Scientific and Technical Intelligence Agency in the Israeli Ministry of Defense early during the first term of the Reagan Administration around the same time that Eitan had obtained PROMIS software, then recruited Robert Maxwell, and began selling the software to make his profit.
INSLAW Counsel Elliot Richardson passed away on the last day of 1999. In 2000, INSLAW obtained two sworn statements, (which are included in the documents provided) from Gordon Thomas on the circumstances and content of Rafi Eitan’s disclosures regarding Earl Brian and PROMIS. INSLAW also prepared a lengthy memorandum (approximately 45 pages) of evidence the company had pieced together over the years which appeared to corroborate significant elements of Rafi Eitan’s PROMIS admissions to Gordon Thomas. (DOCUMENTS)
Further, according to testimony of former Mossad agent Ari Ben-Menashe, Brian provided a copy of PROMIS to Israel’s military intelligence through Rafi Eitan, who used the alias Joseph Ben-Orr. Israel then contacted an Israeli American programmer, Michael Riconosciuto, who modified the software at Cabazon Indian Reservation near Indio, California. CIA and Israeli intelligence operatives then proceeded to sell the stolen copies and work together to build a more sophisticated version of Main Core, which this author will discuss in a future article in more detail, but will briefly touch on the subject in the third section of this story.
Brian first attempted to buy out INSLAW and PROMIS and then use the company to sell the bugged version of the software. However, his venture was unsuccesful and blocked, so he then turned to Attorney General at the time Edwin Meese whose Justice Department refused to make payments to INSLAW, despite stipulation under a $9.9 million contract with the government for the company to install PROMIS as the Justice Department’s case management software in 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices. In other words, using the software entirely for free, which INSLAW and the Hamiltons have claimed for decades was theft from the company.
Meese’s role in that decision may have been influenced by his own personal friendship with Brian, and the fact that his wife was a major investor in Brian’s businesses. Ironically, the first refused payment to INSLAW was one month after the Hamiltons refused to sell the company to Meese’s friend Brian. Meese, like Brian, was allegedly connected to affairs such as Iran-Contra and Reagan’s October Surprise.
The DOJ stopped paying the Hamiltons in 1983, claiming they weren’t fulfilling their obligations on the contract, and eventually INSLAW went bankrupt and sued the Justice Department. A key fact that most miss is that person assigned by the Department to manage the contract, C. Madison Brewer, had previously been fired by INSLAW for unknown reasons. Just one month after the contract was signed, Brewer (a disgruntled employee) recommended that the DOJ terminate the agreement even though INSLAW was performing its duties without a single failed delivery.
As a result, INSLAW hired former Attorney General Elliot Richardson as their attorney. Richardson filed a civil suit claiming that the company had been the victim of a conspiracy by the Justice Department.
In 1987 a federal judge, George F. Bason Jr, for the bankruptcy court ordered the government to pay INSLAW $6.8 million; the order was later overturned on a technicality. The court also found that the DOJ run by Meese “took, converted, stole” the software through “trickery, fraud and deceit.”
The DOJ withheld documents on the INSLAW affair from Congress, then appointed Nicholas John Bua as Special Counsel to address the matter with an independent investigation.
Meese wasn’t the only corrupt DOJ head according to Rodney Stich in Defrauding America, “by misusing the power of their office…three U.S. attorney generals in the Reagan-Bush administrations, Edwin Meese, Richard Thornburgh, and Vice President George H.W. Bush’s man William Barr, misappropriated, or aided and abetted, the theft of the software called PROMIS.”
However, Stich missed mentioning an official of the DOJ William F. Weld whom the letter above implicates in the conspiracy to steal and resell PROMIS software.
The scandal became too noisy after several Congressional investigations concluded wrongdoing by the Justice Department and called for the appointment of a special prosecutor, who ended up being former CIA operative and current Attorney General under President Donald Trump, William Barr.
Barr previously served under the Bush administration as Assistant Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General, and Attorney General.
“I started off in Washington at the Central Intelligence Agency and went to law school at night while I was working at CIA,” William Barr said during an oral history event in 2001.
As a former AG, Barr got to work helping aid the cover-up of INSLAW, just as he did for the CIA protecting the agency from Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) and BNL investigations, the Church Committee as a part of the CIA’s Office of Legislative Council (OLC) from 1973 to 1977, and ongoing scandals today walking through a revolving door.
Barr appointed a former Justice Department crony Nicholas Bua to conduct an “investigation” of the INSLAW matter, and then report back to him. The special counsel would be selected by Barr; would be subservient to him; and would report to him. Barr could then ignore the recommendations if, in the remote possibility the special counsel did not cooperate in the expected cover-up.
After INSLAW owner Bill Hamilton distributed a report on the INSLAW scandal to each member of the House Judiciary Committee dismissing Bua’s report, Congressmen Jack Brooks (D-TX) and Charlie Rose (D-NC) tried to enact a bill that would force an investigation of the Justice Department and the death of journalist Danny Casolaro, as well as pay reparations to the owners of INSLAW. Among the allegations of criminal statutes the bill and Committee accused the DOJ of included:
- `18 U.S.C. Sec. 371–Conspiracy to commit an offense.
- `18 U.S.C. Sec. 654–Officer or employee of the United States converting the property of another.
- `18 U.S.C. Sec. 1341–Fraud.
- `18 U.S.C. Sec. 1343–Wire fraud.
- `18 U.S.C. Sec. 1505–Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies and committees.
- `18 U.S.C. Sec. 1512–Tampering with a witness.
- `18 U.S.C. Sec. 1513–Retaliation against a witness.
- `18 U.S.C. Sec. 1621–Perjury.
- `18 U.S.C. Sec. 1951–Interference with commerce by threats or violence (RICO).
- `18 U.S.C. Sec. 1961 et seq: Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations.
- `18 U.S.C. Sec. 2314–Transportation of stolen goods, securities, moneys.
- `18 U.S.C. Sec. 2315–Receiving stolen goods.
The bill, H.R. 4862 was introduced in the House on July 29, 1994, but died without any action by the Democratic leadership in the waning days of the 103rd Congress.
There is also the fact that one week after giving an affidavit to INSLAW regarding the PROMIS software in 1991, CIA spook Riconosciuto was arrested on trumped-up drug charges that he had built a meth lab. The Assistant U.S. Attorney prosecuting the case attempted to cover up Riconosciuto’s intelligence background by claiming to the jury the CIA agent and programmer was “delusional.” (More on Riconosciuto and his importance later.)
Riconosciuto had been introduced to Hamilton by Jeff Steinberg, a longtime top aide in the Lyndon LaRouche organization in May of 1980. Riconosciuto stated that he was involved with the October Surprise, asserting “that he and Earl Brian had traveled to Iran in 1980 and had paid $40 million to Iranian officials to persuade them not to let the hostages go before the presidential election.”
After the two met, Riconosciuto was later introduced to Casolaro who began his investigation into the Octopus in the 1990s. Casolaro dubbed Riconosciuto “Danger Man” for many reasons that will be made apparent in this series, if the former CIA agent being still locked up in an unknown prison for whistleblowing various truths isn’t evidence enough.
In 1992, one year later the U.S. Supreme Court denied an application made by INSLAW, to hear its case. The application had been filed the previous year (see October 9, 1991), as INSLAW sought to overturn an adverse ruling by an appeals court in its dispute with the Justice Department.
Attempts To Settle INSLAW Case Stonewalled By CIA And DOJ In Modern Day
In 1998, a U.S. Federal Court ruled that INSLAW owned the copyright to PROMIS software, and that if the U.S. Government had used PROMIS illegally, then royalties should be paid to the company. However, that effort has been consistently stalled and INSLAW has never received a single penny in royalties.
As the story goes from a source, three years later in March 2001, then CIA Director George Tenet was arranged to read two affidavits together with INSLAW’s summary of the corroborative evidence (provided in the document dump) that had been obtained. After reading the documentation, Tenet made a phone call to a mutual friend of Hamiltons and said in that conversation that if the information was accurate, what the government had done to the Hamilton family “was unconscionable” and the “INSLAW case needed to be settled.”
Tenet further stated that he did not understand why Attorney General John Ashcroft was failing to settle the INSLAW case but that he was prepared, if necessary, to settle the CIA’s part of the case. Tenet also allegedly added that he had ordered the CIA General Counsel to report to him by Wednesday the following week on the matter of the CIA’s legal liability to INSLAW for payment of compensatory damages.
One week later, however, CIA Director Tenet again called that same friend to inform that the CIA General Counsel had advised him not to become involved in the INSLAW Affair. This may be because, we now know, that a memo shows that the Agency was offered a government copy of PROMIS as early as 1981, thanks to a FOIA request by Michael Best who wrote:
This is despite the CIA denying in repeated statements to Congress, to not have bought the software. This memo, however, shows that the Agency was offered the PROMIS software along with a list of other pieces of government owned software and the hardware necessary to run them. Since CIA didn’t disclose this or search those records, it’s unknown if they acquired an initial copy of the software this way. Even if it did not, it undermines their claims to have fully cooperated and searched every reasonable record and Agency component as they didn’t search their software requisition records.
The Department of Justice also repeatedly stated that, aside from a notable exception, they didn’t provide copies of PROMIS to anyone else or distribute it throughout the government. These memos, however, show that the software was being offered throughout the federal government from the beginning, making versions of the software readily acquirable for anyone in the government to review or toy around with prior to Earl Brian and Edwin Meese’s scheme to defraud INSLAW while modifying (i.e. inserting backdoors) and distributing the software through the U.S. and overseas.
Not long thereafter during the same spring of 2001, Bill Hamilton contacted retired four-star Admiral Daniel Murphy for the first time since 1991, when they had first met through Elliot Richardson former Secretary of Defense under President Nixon. Murphy had served under Richardson as his Military Adviser so he was considered trusted and loyal by INSLAW’s lawyer.
Murphy later served as Deputy Director of the CIA during the Ford Administration; as Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence during the Carter Administration; and as Chief of Staff to Vice President Bush during the first term of the Reagan Administration (when the Reagan Administration’s misappropriation of PROMIS for intelligence projects began).
After hearing Hamilton’s account of the abrupt turn around by CIA Director Tenet regarding his willingness to settle the CIA’s part of the INSLAW Affair, and reading the two sworn statements of Gordon Thomas along with the INSLAW memorandum summarizing evidence corroborative of significant elements of Rafi Eitan’s PROMIS-related admissions, Admiral Murphy vowed to help INSLAW.
Admiral Murphy said:
The INSLAW summary of evidence is carefully and responsibly written as though a good lawyer wrote it. It leaves no doubt about what transpired and the INSLAW case needs to be settled but INSLAW first needs to find another outstanding lawyer like Elliot Richardson because government officials will regard it as their patriotic duty to look INSLAW’s lawyer in the eyes and lie.
According to sources, in August 2001 Murphy introduced Hamilton to former FBI Director and former CIA Director William Webster believing the man could help. The three then met for three hours discussing the INSLAW case. Three days later, Webster phoned Murphy declining to take on INSLAW as a client because he stated “that he was not confident that the George W. Bush would be willing to settle the INSLAW case.”
In 2001, the FBI arrested an FBI Agent, Robert Hanssen, who was accused for almost two decades of spying for the Soviet Union and, after its fall, later for Russia, NY Times reported.
However, in June 2001, the Washington Times published a front-page article reporting that sources familiar with the government’s then-ongoing security debriefing of Robert Hanssen had leaked to the Washington Times the fact that Hanssen, a computer software-savy FBI agent, had sold the Soviet KGB copies of various versions of INSLAW’s PROMIS software that the U.S. Government had misappropriated for intelligence applications, including the FBI’s PROMIS-derivative FOIMS investigative case management system and database systems used by other U.S. intelligence and defense entities.
Soon after the FBI’s arrest of Robert Hanssen, Attorney General John Ashcroft appointed none other than William Webster to conduct a security review of the FBI on the account of Hanssen’s two decades of espionage against the United States.
In September 2001 Admiral Murphy met with C. Boyden Gray, who agreed to represent INSLAW in seeking a settlement. When Murphy was Chief of Staff to Vice President Bush, he hired Gray as the Vice President’s legal counsel and after serving as legal counsel to Vice President Bush for the two terms of the Reagan Administration, Gray became White House Counsel under President George H.W. Bush.
In a separate telephone conversation with Hamilton at the approximate time as the meeting with Gray, Admiral Murphy told Hamilton he had been thinking about what was told to him months earlier regarding the reactions of CIA Director George Tenet in March 2001. Admiral Murphy replied that he had a “hunch” that there was “another PROMIS application INSLAW had not yet discovered, and that the additional PROMIS application involves something so seriously wrong that money alone cannot cure the problem.” Murphy added that the government might never compensate INSLAW unless and until the Company “discovered that additional use of PROMIS.”
Murphy then stated that he was confident that Hamilton would figure out the additional PROMIS use and volunteered to serve as INSLAW’s “intelligence guru,” as well as attend Gray’s meetings with government officials to “keep them honest.” Murphy further told Hamilton what he expected to say to Attorney General Ashcroft when he and Gray met with Ashcroft; “John, let’s cut the crap. This case needs to be settled and here is how to settle it.”
Unfortunately, in late September 2001, Admiral Murphy died unexpectedly. Then the George W. Bush Administration stonewalled INSLAW Counsel Gray for the next two years, the same way previous Republican and Democratic administrations blocked INSLAW Counsel Elliot Richardson prior.