Saturday, February 25, 2006

Data Mining and You: From Promis to Able Danger


Here is an article in the Canadian media about a 1980s data mining software program called PROMIS that was reportedly used by law enforcement and allegedly stolen from its owner INSLAW by the DOJ.

Maybe this story is all a pack of lies. Who knows.

I don’t know what the truth is about this complicated PROMIS/INSLAW controversy, but I notice some things.

For example, I notice that there is a lot of “conspiracy theory” stuff on the Internet about how this early data mining software called PROMIS (made by INSLAW) was allegedly stolen by some people in the Department of Justice and ended up with CIA turncoat Robert Hanssen, the Soviets, the Russian mafia, Osama Bin Laden, Saddam, China, etc.

Here is what David Dastych, a journalist and reportedly a former employee of the communist-era Polish intelligence and the American CIA, alleges in a Canadian paper (see his biography posted at the end of this article):

The history of this world-famous computer software goes back a quarter of a century, and its applications by intelligence, organized crime and terrorist organizations began almost from the start. The software helped the United States win the Cold War against the Soviet Union, but it also served the Russian mafia, Saddam Hussein’s regime, Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda, and an unspecified number of foreign spies and criminals. As far back as 1985, when the late British media tycoon and top [Israeli] Mossad spy, Robert Maxwell, revealed the software’s "trap door" secret to Chinese Military Intelligence (PLA-2), while selling them a copy of PROMIS for $ 9 million, the powerful software was turned against the United States. The Soviet KGB purchased PROMIS from Robert Maxwell, but they also [later] received a copy (together with the Trojan Horse secret) from Robert Hanssen, a spy planted in a most sensitive office of the FBI. The Soviets and their East European allies, including Poland, used PROMIS to spy on the U.S. State Department and 170 American Embassies and Consulates all over the world. This practice may have continued as late as 1997, and the post-communist intelligence agencies of Russia and other countries, including Polish Military Intelligence (WSI), may have been able to retrieve information from U.S. Government agencies, because as many as 64 of them [are believed to have] used modified versions of PROMIS. Using the same PROMIS software, purchased from Russia, Saddam Hussein and members of his regime could shift huge sums of money undetected through the banking system. Some of these funds are still supporting the anti-Coalition insurrection in Iraq and terrorists. In the mid-1990s, 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.

Some PROMIS/INSLAW Internet conspiracy theories even involve Cabazon Indians.

I happened to notice that the faux Indian Ward Churchill is interested in ABLE DANGER, a now-defunct, secret Pentagon data mining program.
[See page 2 of this story.]

The link between the faux Indian Ward Churchill and data mining is a little like the the old story about Promis/Inslaw, which seems to have resurfaced in the Canadian news. According to journalists, Canadian Mounties reportedly investigated PROMIS/INSLAW a lot, but I still haven't seen any official comment about this from the Canadians.

According to Congressional testimony and Congressman Curt Weldon, the Pentagon data mining program called ABLE DANGER picked up the 9-11 terrorist M. Atta and some other 9-11 terrorists before the attack.

A computer expert who worked on Able Danger, J.D. Smith, is identified by LTC Anthony Shaffer in his Congressional testimony as a "retired Indian policeman," but the word "Indian" is now said to be a typo. Mr. Smith, it is now claimed, is just a retired Indiana policeman whose work resulted in the establishment of a new form of intelligence collection---and the identification of Mohammed Atta and several other of the 9-11 terrorist as having links to Al Qaeda leadership a full year in advance of the attacks." [page 15]

I went to a conference and personally asked Shaffer's lawyer Mark Zaid and Congressman Weldon's aid about Shaffer's claim in the official Congressional testimony that J.D. Smith is an Indian. I was interested in this Indian angle because the fake Indian Ward Churchill attended a conference on ABLE DANGER and because the old INSLAW story also supposedly involved Cabazon Indians.

Zaid and Congressman Weldon's aid said that Shaffer must have meant Indiana. My impression is that they were confused by my question. They looked at each other for guidance. I don't think they knew one way or the other. They were surprised and flustered, I thought.

I said that the record should be corrected, but Mr. Zaid and Congressman Weldon's aid said that Congressional testimony can't be corrected. Still, it should be possible to put out an official clarification in writing to clear up a typo.

I am pretty skeptical of "tinfoil" Internet conspiracy theories about my government, but it is possible that putting out all these confusing and apocryphal conspiracy stories about Promis/Inslaw on disreputable conspiracist sites may a kind of diversion from the truth.

The motives and actors that inspire the deluge of conspiracy theories, if they are lies, would be interesting to know, too.

I don’t know the truth, and I am not smart enough to figure it out; but I am noticing the “Indian” angle to the data mining ABLE DANGER story just as there was a Cabazon Indian angle to the PROMIS/INSLAW story.

On the Internet I am being called a moron and a lunatic by some pro-terrorist Ward Churchill shills or sock-puppets at Try-works They even write:

"We can't stop chuckling at that wacky Snapple. Here's hoping he manages to break his neck sharpening a pencil one of these days."

That’s proof positive I must be crazy, huh? I mean, Ward Churchill wrote in a Soviet-sponsored publication that FBI-backed death squads killed 342 Indians. Then, when this ludicrous lie turned out to be impossible to document, Churchill resurrected the dead Pine Ridge Indians and announced to the world that they were only assaulted.

I guess that when Ward Churchill is not walking on thin ice for being a plagiarist, he is walking on water for resurrecting dead Indians.

Not only that, Ward Churchill or his sockpuppets are issuing unsolicited on-line death threats and psychiatric diagnoses about anti-Churchill dissidents at

This proves that Ward Churchill is boilerplate normal, right?

Just ask that crazy Canadian Indian Leah Kelly.

Oh, wait! You can't. She slipped on a pencil and got run over by a car. They found her dead in the road with a BAL of .35 The driver says she was lying in the road and he didn't see her in time. [See my previous post about Leah Kelly.]

People with a .35 BAL are very, very drunk.

Biography of David M. Dastych:

Dastych is "a veteran international journalist and a former intelligence operative (of the Polish Intelligence and the CIA). In the 1970’s and 1980’s, he had frequent contacts with Palestinian terrorist groups, with the Saddam Hussein regime’s diplomatic, intelligence and commercial personnel, as well as with Soviet officials, diplomats and intelligence operatives(some of them serving in Iraq and other Arab countries). Arrested by the then Polish Communist Security Service (SB) in 1987, condemned by a secret Communist Military Court to 8 years in special prison wards for allegedly working for the CIA, Japanese Prime Minister’s Intelligence Service and for conspiring against the Warsaw Pact, he was released by virtue of general amnesty on February 28, 1990, after the regime change in Poland. Soon after the release, he resumed his journalist and business activity, cooperating with American diplomacy and intelligence and with Israeli diplomats and nuclear experts. Traveling extensively under the cover of businessman and tour-operator, he collected ample evidence of the illegal trade in nuclear materials, weapon parts and technology between Russia and other post-USSR states and Arab and Muslim countries, through a variety of intelligence, military and mafia channels. His activity covered Central and Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Russia, China, Israel and several Middle East countries."


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