Viewpoint: Some profited as others grieved

Viewpoint: Some profited as others grieved

By Joe Baker

Some profited as others grieved

By Joe Baker

Senior Editor

America’s intelligence network may have tripped over some purloined technology. Back in October, Fox News reported former FBI agent Robert Hanssen, a convicted spy, had furnished Russian mobsters with a software program called Promis.

From the Russian’s hands, Promis (Prosecutor’s Management Information System) reportedly went to one Osama bin Laden. That was the central point in a story in the Washington Times last June but not widely reported in other U.S. media.

The government has been denying for the last 17 years that it stole the software from the Washington-based Inslaw Corp. Now it has been forced to admit it has discontinued use of the Promis program. Denials came from the CIA, FBI and the Justice Department while under oath in open court.

What’s the big deal about Promis? Simply that it would give bin Laden the ability to keep on top of U.S. efforts to track him down. So far we haven’t found him. It also allows him to monitor electronic-banking transactions, making money laundering easier for his al-Qaeda organization.

William Hamilton, CEO of Inslaw, in his lawsuits, charged that the Reagan administration and various of its members, including Edward Meese, stole the software, adapted it for intelligence and financial uses, and raked in millions of dollars selling it to governments in Israel, Britain, Canada, Germany and other countries friendly to the U.S.

Allegedly, after the CIA incorporated a “back door” in the software, Israel reportedly used its lifelong Mossad agent, Robert Maxwell, to sell the software to countries hostile to the U.S., then secretly retrieved valuable intelligence information.

If bin Laden does indeed have Promis software, that could explain the threatening messages received by President Bush aboard Air Force One on Sept. 11. He would have been able to access a top secret database and reach the president’s jet. It also could explain why Vice-President Cheney was quickly whisked out of sight.

Osama bin Laden and his henchmen had ample time to get sensitive top secret intelligence data from Britain and Germany. That data, in turn, may have compromised U.S. systems.

Now the plot begins to get even murkier. Systematics, an Arkansas technical and financial firm owned by billionaire Jackson Stephens, the same Stephens known to be a

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close buddy of William Clinton and tightly connected with the infamous BCCI bank, is believed to have been the primary developer of Promis for financial and intelligence purposes. Attorneys connected to Systematics and Promis include Hillary Clinton, Web Hubbell and the late Vince Foster.

In January 1988, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court issued findings of fact that the Justice Department “took, converted, stole” the 32-bit version of the software “through trickery, fraud and deceit,” then tried to force Inslaw out of business. The court then gave a permanent injunction against any further dissemination of Promis by the government.

At least one version of the software went to Martin Marietta, now Lockheed-Martin, today the nation’s second-largest defense contractor. Until late last year, Lynn Cheney, the vice-president’s wife, sat on Lockheed’s board of directors..

It has been previously reported by From The Wilderness publications that the CIA used Promis to track stock transactions real time. On Oct. 9, FTW broke the story of insider trading linked to attacks on the World Trade Center.

It revolved around a large number of “put” options on United and American Airlines not long before the attacks. The purchases had been documented by the Israeli Herzliyya Institute for Counterterrorism.

Put options are a bet by the holder that the price of a specific stock will drop abruptly. The seller enters a time-specific contract with a buyer. He doesn’t have to own the actual shares at the time the contract is purchased. If a holder had such a contract on American Airlines stock, say for $100 a share on Friday and the stock drops to half that amount on Wednesday, the holder can buy the stock, sell it on Friday, and double his money. The one on the other end of the contract (the call) is obligated to buy the shares at the agreed-upon price.

Most of these transactions were handled by A.B. Brown (Alex Brown), the investment arm of the mammoth Deutschebank/AB Brown. Until 1998 that operation was headed by A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard, now executive director of the CIA. He is just one of a long list of CIA connections to stock trading and the financial markets.

Weeks before the WTC attacks, a key executive at Deutschebank, who is an American, was convicted of conspiracy to launder drug money to buy U.S. weapons in league with two Pakistanis who also wanted to get their hands on nuclear bomb components for use by Islamic terrorists, according to FTW.

CIA press spokesman Tom Crispell denied the CIA was monitoring stock option trading before 9/11. “That would be illegal,” Crispell said. “We only operate outside the United States,” he added.

Extensive reporting in the media has confirmed investors at Deutschebank/AB Brown and other financial houses may have enjoyed handsome profits from prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks. Confirmation that U.S. intelligence agencies were monitoring these trades before the attacks would have tremendous implications for the families of the WTC victims.

In March of last year, CIA Director George Tenet told the Senate that bin Laden’s al Qaeda network was “embracing the opportunities offered by recent leaps in information technology.” There are wide reports that investigators are carefully examining the insider trading with profits reported to be in the tens of millions of dollars.

As Krongard left Deutschebank in 1988 to join the CIA, the big banking firm absorbed Banker’s Trust. Banker’s Trust had drawn previous criticism from the U.S. Senate for money laundering. Krongard was named executive director of the CIA in March of this year.

Reports in the Asian Wall Street Journal and The Guardian state investigators are probing Deutschebank’s alleged links to Saudi terrorist bank accounts and $2.5 million in unclaimed profits from United Airlines put options.

No member of Congress has seen fit to question publicly whether wealthy terrorist-linked Saudis took part in the private operations of Deutschebank/AB Brown. Neither has any congressman shown any public interest in asking Krongard whether or not the CIA did any pre-attack stock trade monitoring using Promis software at any of its locations.

U.S. Treasury Department official Rob Nichols agrees that substantial and unresolved conflict of interest questions remain. Krongard is still charged with overseeing investigation of his former firm and its private banking operations.

Der Spiegel, the German news weekly, disclosed Deutschebank handled accounts for the bin Laden family worth about $100 million. They were part of 10 accounts suspected of being linked to terrorists or terrorist activities. The accounts were later turned over to German authorities after the 9/11 attacks.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into this whole mess. It already has asked Deutschebank for information on the put-call contracts. Press spokesman John Nester, however, had a little trouble explaining the job description of New York Stock Exchange Executive Vice President for Enforcement, David P. Doherty.

Doherty, it seems, is a retired general counsel of the CIA.

The full story of this tangled web can be found on It is being publicized in a three-part series by reporter Tom Flocco and is well worth the reading.

We think it is high time Congress quit hiding under its benches and demand some hard and fast answers about all of this. It certainly has the appearance of long-term, slipshod and negligent response to basic governmental responsibility for internal security and safety, and, for thousands of grieving families, victims of terrorism, it adds insult to injury.

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