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News ::
Defense Contractors, DARPA, and the Illegal Government Program to Squelch Dissen (english)
16 Oct 2002
My personal experience with an illegal government program to wage cyber warfare against American dissidents.
Defense Contractors, DARPA, and the Illegal Government Program to Squelch
Dissent
Author: Stephen DeVoy
October 15, 2002

Our management team met shortly after 9/11. Zeal for the taste of money could
be seen in the eyes of our CEO. The terror attacks would likely fuel US
Government requests for our technology. We stood to profit greatly. Well,
perhaps "we" is an overstatement. Our CEO stood to profit greatly.
The WTC was still smoldering. Yet, the promise of profits and personal gain
lit up the room. There was talk of massive government investment in spook
technologies. Our corporation represented itself to the Department of Defense as
a cutting edge artificial intelligence software firm. Calls were coming in from
the DoD, CIA, and various commercial fronts for the NSA.
We talked of knowledge bases focused on representing individual terrorists.
We discussed Electronic Evidence and Link Detection (EELD), where automated
systems would assist US Government spooks in their efforts to sift through all
communications and databases, piecing together networks of personal
relationships and signs that plots where underway.
One interesting proposition had already come in. After a discussion where our
manager of Human Resources commented about the "ethical depravity" of
Muslims and her belief that Muslims believed it ethical to lie to non-Muslims
while maintaining oaths and truth with fellow Muslims. Of course, we've seen
this kind of anti-Semitism before, only the target was the Hebrews and the time
was NAZI Germany.
The interesting proposition, from a US Intelligence agency, was to build a
team of cyber warriors whose job it would be to harass and interfere with the
networked activities of "America's Enemies." Under development, at
that time, in our corporation was a new product ostensibly designed to assist
with maintaining network security. This product employs a knowledge base and an
inference engine to deduce network security weaknesses. It was never lost on our
corporation that this system could be used in reverse - as an aid to attacking
networks.
We had a discussion about this project. All second tier managers were against
the idea. If we were to sell a product targeted at network defense, it could tarnish
our image if word ever got out that our product was used to attack
networks. Despite the promise of easy money, I was surprised when our CEO
opposed the project - or did he? In any case, the decision was made, at least
publicly, not to pursue the project.
As the Director of the Programming Department, I was in a position to review
any programming projects. To the best of my knowledge, we never began such a
program - or did we? Immediately after 9/11, I was in solidarity with our
nation's course in the new war. Insufficient time had passed to objectively
analyze the events of 9/11. I was outraged by the death of so many innocent
Americans. In fact, 9/11 seemed to have hit me, emotionally, more deeply than my
coworkers. I could see no joy in profiting from the loss of life, but I did
believe that we could play a positive role in helping to defend the United
States. I was the only employee at my corporation who displayed an American flag
on the wall of my office during that period. I took some heat for it as well.
Various foreign employees did not like seeing that flag on my wall. They didn't
harass me. They merely pointed out how strange it was to them to see someone
displaying a flag on their office wall. Americans have less experience with
fascism than do Europeans. I did not understand their objections then, but I do
understand now.
Some signs did strike me that something was amiss. One week after 9/11, I
wrote this article: Is This the Dawn of an
Orwellian Police State? In time, as Mr. Ashcroft attacked
one civil right after another, violated the human rights of detainees, and led a
campaign to destroy our liberty, my assessment of the situation changed. I am
the product of a generation bombarded with propaganda concerning Hitler's
regime. Like many in my generation, we were programmed to never permit another
Hitler to rise. I have always believed that it is one's duty to sound the alarm
when a society begins to slide into political oppression. Upon concluding that
we were not only on the road to fascism, but already there, I purchased the
domain names "www.stop-fascism.org"; and "www.breakyourchains.org.";
For a few weeks, I did nothing with these domains. I participated in various
forums hosted by MSNBC. In time, these forums became the hunting ground for
individuals that spent their time hunting down vocal opponents of the Bush
Regime, collecting personal information about them, archiving their messages and
IP addresses, and following through with relentless cyber stalking. One
individual engaged in the activity was traced back to the corporation Cryptek.
Cryptek specializes in network security for agencies such as the NSA. In fact,
Cryptek is an NSA asset.
Suddenly, one day, MSNBC announced that it would be shutting down its forums.
The reason provided pointed to financial concerns at MSNBC. I found this hard to
believe. Their forums were very popular and they must have profited from the
advertising. Many of us suspected that MSNBC had caved into government pressure
to close down this avenue of political discussion and news exchange. In the last
days of the MSNBC forums, many participants went to VoyForums and created their
own forums, most inviting other posters on MSNBC to join these new forums.
Quickly it became clear that the Voy forum known as the Cheese Board had
become a success. Many former MSNBC posters went there and joined. I was one of
them. Without the guidance of professional forum administrators, however, things
got very bad. Almost immediately some individuals began posting pornography and
threatening other posters. VoyForums responded by shutting the Cheese Board
down, only days into its operation. The Cheese Board was reconstructed, once
again, and some degree of control was imposed upon it by its administrator.
Despite the urging of many participants, the forum administrator insisted upon
including IP addresses within all messages posted. This assisted greatly the
cyber stalkers, including the individual posting from a Cryptek IP address. Soon
there were threats to dis-employ individuals who posted messages critical of the
Bush Regime.
As the harassment increased, I decided to work on my new domain, www.stop-fascism.org, as well as create my own forum on VoyForums. My forum was
dedicated to permitting all political speech. I hoped it would become a safe
haven for dissidents. Shortly after creating the forum, all hell broke loose.
The first strategy employed by the cyber terrorists was to deface the forum
with pornography, in violation of VoyForums' TOS. I did my best to keep the
offending material off, but could not observe the forum 24 hours per day. I soon
began to receive anonymous emails demanding that I shut down the forum. Most of
these demands came with material supporting Israel or denouncing me as an
anti-Semite. The primary assailant, at this time, used the online name
"Schooner." He posted from Maryland using an IP address leased by the
Baltimore County Public Library (note, the IP address was lent by the BCPL to
another party. The BCPL refuses to divulge the identity of the user of said IP).
When the site defacement failed to intimidate me, I began receiving death
threats. Interlaced with these threats were threats to my employment. The
harassers knew where I worked and what kind of services my company provided.
Some death threats promised death within a matter of hours. At one point, to
protect my family, I had to gather them together at midnight and drive down to
San Antonio, from Austin, to spend the night in a hotel sufficiently far from
home that my location would have been difficult to detect. Since we were under a
death threat, and the assailants knew where I worked, I decided to spend the
entire next day with my family, rather than go to work. I emailed our director
of Human Resources, explaining the situation and asking her to keep it
confidential. She informed me that she would inform the president of our
corporation whether I approved or not. When the president of the company emailed
me, he showed complete disinterest in my predicament. He was sarcastic in
pointing out that the time absent must be billed to my vacation account.
Immediately following this event, my employer began treating me with
disrespect. In one case he accosted me as I was leaving the office after my
normal day's work and harassed me for not working later. He began to make
changes in the reporting structure of those reporting to me, without consulting
me. The threats continued. In time, the threats became more and more specific
with respect to the time of my "defeat" coming closer and closer. One
day I received the threat, "Soon, very soon." The same day I was
called into the corporate president's office and told that my position as
director of the programming department had been eliminated. When the change was
announced, all non-management employees were shocked. I had a reputation for
producing quality code rapidly. I had worked hard to improve the quality of life
at the corporation. In a very short time, I went from superstar to nothing.
This change in position happened in early May. However, the observable
situation behind the change is interesting. Two days before, my boss, a former
director within DARPA, had suddenly announced, quite unexpectedly, his intention
to leave the corporation and return to DARPA. He lived in the Baltimore area and
spent less than half of his time in our Austin office. The balance of his time
was spend in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. This is the same
geographical location from which most of the threats originated. At that time, I
did not suspect him, but looking back on some of the posts this individual made,
it is clear that he was well connected with the national security industry. The
cyber terrorist mentioned, in one of his posts, that he traveled often. He used
the name "Schooner," which, interestingly, my aforementioned ex-boss
attributed to John Poindexter (his Navy nickname) in a meeting.
One might attempt to attribute such connections as paranoia. What could John
Poindexter have to do with this? Yes, it seem striking enough that any high
ranking DARPA official would harass someone, but the infamous John Poindexter?
That does seem to be pushing the envelope of possibility. But does it?
In April of 2001, I attended a kick-off meeting for the EELD project at John
Poindexter's office in Arlington, Virginia. John Poindexter chaired the meeting
and I met him personally several times over a two day period. My ex-boss, Dave G., was very familiar with John Poindexter. There is an interesting Cryptek
connection as well. Cryptek is a subgroup of the Technology Advancement Group
(TAG). TAG and Cycorp, my former employer, were simultaneously involved in
projects for the Defense Information Services Agency (DISA). DISA is the most
frequent military visitor to my websites. In fact, DISA visits my website nearly
every day. There was a period, as well, where DARPA became a frequent visitor to
my site. During this period, the third most frequently visited page was our page
on John Poindexter.
From an early point in the harassment, I noticed that most of it was coming
from locations around the world with a heavy US Naval presence. The harassment
decreased, for a while, when I blocked military visitors from my forum. My
original theory was that someone in the Department of Defense had contacted my
employer. My employer responded by demoting me and then smearing my work. While
I believed it possible that Dave G. was Schooner, I was far from certain of
it. I intimated this belief to no more than three coworkers, all sworn to
secrecy. None of them believed that Mr. G. would do such a thing. They
convinced me to discard this possibility. I never mentioned on the Net my belief
that Mr. G. could be Schooner.
Now, let's return to events at the office. In the meeting where Mr. Lenat
informed me that I would be demoted, he told me that I was an outstanding
programmer. He promised me that I could choose to work on any project that I
wished. Immediately after this meeting, Michael Witbrock, another director at
Cycorp, came to my office looking very satisfied. He told me that I would be
working on his project. When I informed him that Mr. Lenat stated that I could
choose my own project, he insisted that this was not so. A subsequent encounter
with Mr. Lenat, in Cycorp's dining area, affirmed Mr. Lenat's intention that I
choose whatever project I wished, only this time, it would be after Mr. Witbrock
had me on his project for a period of two months. Interestingly, Mr. Lenat told
me to start transferring my knowledge of my current project to another
individual. This set off an alarm in my mind. Perhaps I was promised the choice
of any project only because the day would never come that I would work on said
project.
I consulted other managers at Cycorp concerning the circumstances of my
change in status. All of them reported a sequence of statements by Mr. Lenat
that were outright lies. For example, Mr. Lenat told the various other managers
that he had already talked to me about the changes in the days before my fateful
meeting with him. In fact, he had not. Mr. Lenat told them that I was happy with
the changes and not to talk with me about them. Given that Mr. Lenat did not
speak with me about any of this beforehand, and given the fact that even if he
had I would not have been happy, Mr. Lenat's statements were lies. What could
motivate him to harm me in this way? Clearly, something unrelated to the quality
of my work was the cause.
Just over one month after this change in status, Mr. Lenat summoned me to the
conference room, where I found Lenat and Witbrock waiting. Mr. Lenat handed me a
letter stating that I was being dismissed from the corporation due to my lack of
productivity and my coding style. Given that virtually everyone at Cycorp
considered me to be an excellent programmer and that Mr. Lenat himself had told
me only one month earlier that I was an outstanding programmer, this assessment
of my work was yet another lie (isn't there a word for people who lie
habitually?). If I was such a poor programmer, why did I rise to the position of
Director of the Programming Department in only eight months? I questioned Mr.
Lenat on his claims. He asserted I was hired for a senior position and not that
as I was no longer in a senior position he could not justify my salary. I was
already underpaid at Cycorp, even for the position of programmer. This
assessment, once again, was dishonest. Mr. Lenat claimed to have done an
evaluation of my performance and concluded that I should be dismissed. As the
chairperson of the committee that created Cycorp's evaluation procedures, I
know that they were not followed. If they were followed, all employees would
have been invited to comment on my work and I would have received a self
evaluation form. None of this happened. Mr. Lenat hand picked individuals to
evaluate me, individuals that from day one of my employment at Cycorp viewed me
as a rival and attempted to thwart my work. He did not even inform the
individuals that knew my code and that had used my software that an evaluation
was underway. Thus, Mr. Lenat orchestrated and manipulated my evaluation in
order to create the legal paperwork he needed to justify his unjust termination
of my employment. In effect, Mr. Lenat was firing me for an unstated reason and
took steps to cover his ass.
Recently, my forums came under attack again with renewed vigor. Only this
time, the attackers made some mistakes. This time they attempted to discredit my
ability to program, claimed I never earned a degree in Computer Science (which I
did, in fact, earn in May of 1985 from the University of Massachusetts at
Boston). As I baited them with speculation about who might be behind the
harassment, the harassers asked me if I would blame "Dave" again.
This, I found, convincing as proof that Cycorp was involved in the harassment. I
mentioned my suspicions about Dave G. to only a few people, all from Cycorp,
and in person. Whoever posted these messages had intimate knowledge of Cycorp.
In fact, I believe that the poster must be from Cycorp.
Unlike most Net harassment, the harassment I have suffered has been extremely
personal. My wife has been insulted. My daughter has been insulted. Attempts
have been made to defame my abilities as a programmer (which would help Lenat
back up his ass covering footwork). At this point, I am absolutely convinced
that this harassment involves Cycorp.
The evidence, however, does not stop there. An individual posting under the
name HAL (see Lenat's HAL's Legacy), posted some intentional hints as to his
identity. His hints included the following: "Swordfish" and "You
do play chess, don't you." Shortly after starting to work at Cycorp, an
individual at Cycorp invited me to his home, grilled Swordfish, and asked me
this question. This was both the last time I had swordfish and the last time
anyone asked me if I played chess. Moreover, the working of the inquiry was
posted verbatim as it had been asked in person. This individual is a gun
fanatic (to the point of bringing his "scope" to work in order to show
it off). Many of the threats included claims that I would be shot. As well, this
individual sought reasons to visit my wife while I worked at Cycorp. Naturally,
I prevented him from doing so without my presence. At one point he even told me
that there was a friend whose wife he liked. He wanted my advice!
In another sequence of posts, the harasser claimed to have access to my
personnel records. He even quoted the approximate start date of my employment
(which he might have found online, so I don't count this item for much). This
individual was one of the three to whom I intimated by suspicions about Dave G.
One could try to dismiss this as the simple case of one individual at Cycorp
harassing me, but the evidence, I believe, points to knowledge by the
corporation itself of the harassment. For example, upon seeing the posts that
mentioned Dave G. (later there were posts signed "DG"), I
concluded that Cycorp was involved. I sent an email concerning this belief to
three managers at Cycorp whom I trust. None of them responded. I pointed out to
their system admin, by email, that the individual who likes to show off his
gun-scope had an Internet appliance in his office (his personal property) by
which he could connect to the Internet over the telephone, thus avoiding their
detection if he was, in fact, the harasser. Again, I never received a response.
Many of the posts have had the tone and style of various individuals at
Cycorp. When you know someone well, you learn to identify their wording and
manner. I can only conclude that Cycorp has played an active role in this
harassment. When one considers the fact that this harassment includes death
threats, defamation, personal insults against members of my family, and other
vile statements; one must take this seriously.
Given that I have documented the involvement of Cryptek and Cycorp, frequent
visits to my websites by DISA and DARPA, and the disclosure of private
information, I think it is clear that I am being harassed by the Department of
Defense through it's private contractors. I have received endless statements and
denunciations claiming that I'm anti-American, unpatriotic, "an Arab
lover," a communist, and sexual slurs. Claims of access to my personnel
records at Cycorp have been posted. This brings me back to the beginning of this
essay.
Shortly after 9/11 we were approached by an intelligence agency of the United
States Government seeking to employ cyber terrorists against "America's
enemies." Apparently someone did accept the contract.
See also:
http://www.stop-fascism.org/squelch_dissent.htm
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