PROFITS OF WAR -- INSIDE THE SECRET U.S.-ISRAELI ARMS NETWORK
DURING 1983 ISRAEL experienced a political upheaval that would ultimately change the lives of many around the world. It began with Prime Minister Menachem Begin's refusal to shake hands with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Three days before Kohl was due to arrive in Israel, Begin resigned. He wanted nothing to do with a nation that was associated with the deaths of so many Jews in the war.
But it wasn't only Kohl's visit that brought about Begin's resignation. Begin believed that he personally had let down the nation over the Lebanese war. Former Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, he said, had disappointed him. Sharon's step-by-step invasion had dragged the cabinet deeper and deeper into the war and had brought about a national crisis in Israel and a public relations disaster abroad.
Then on September 16 and 17, 1982, came the massacres at Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut. Despite his well-known libel suit in New York, Sharon, it now seems clear, was aware in advance that something was going to happen. And he knew what would be the result if the Lebanese Christian militias -- the Phalangists -- were let into the camps. Pierre Gemayel, the father of murdered Bashir Gemayel, leader of the Christian forces and president-elect of Lebanon who had been killed in a huge bomb blast a number of days earlier, had sent a letter to Sharon, a close friend. Gemayel, who modeled his Phalangist movement on that of Generalissimo Francisco Franco's, wrote to tell him that he would take revenge for his son's death. Many Palestinians would die. The letter came to Ben-Gurion Airport one evening in a Phalangist diplomatic pouch, which was brought to their Jerusalem office. A courier rushed the letter to the ERD duty officer, who opened it and made a number of copies. He called Sagi's office and reached Hebroni, who was duty officer that night. The original was sent by pneumatic tube to Hebroni, who read it and called Sagi at home. Hebroni made copies for the office and had the original delivered by hand to Sharon's office, where it was placed on his desk.
The evening after the letter arrived, I was walking down the street in Tel Aviv with a colleague who, like me, was aware of the letter's contents. At the time, I was about to leave for England and Ireland to oversee the movement of more weapons to Iran.
"This guy's talking about a massacre," said my friend. "It won't happen. Don't you think we would prevent something like that?"
Sharon's face flashed through my mind. I knew what a wild card he was. "No," I said, "I don't."
Three days later Israeli troops let the Phalangist forces into Sabra and Shatila. I had already arrived in London, and it was the Jewish New Year when the shocking news of the massacre flashed around the world. The next day I saw the pictures on TV in my Belfast hotel room. I wanted to vomit. The massacre could have been prevented.
A commission of inquiry headed by Supreme Court Justice Yitzhak Kahan found that while the Israeli government was not involved, it was warned in advance that a tragedy like that could happen and took no action to prevent it. Worse, it had sealed off the area as a military operations zone, preventing the Palestinians from escaping. Although the full report of the commission remains highly classified, many of us in ERD saw it; the members clearly believed that Sharon had seen the warning letter.
As a result of the inquiry, three months after the massacre, my boss, Maj. Gen. Sagi, was thrown out of office. Sharon was forced to resign as defense minister, to be replaced by Moshe Arens, the Israeli ambassador to the United States. But interestingly, Sagi's chief of staff, Moshe Hebroni, was allowed to spend three months as head of branch in the External Relations Department -- time enough to wipe out any stray documentation that might implicate him and his boss in the massacres.
When the new prime minister, Likud's Yitzhak Shamir, took office in 1983, he immediately cleaned house, especially in the intelligence community, of which he had been a member for many years. Several members of the Joint Committee were forced out, including senior member David Kimche. This shakeup left Rafi Eitan essentially running the Joint Committee.
Eitan and Shamir had been close for years. Both were tough Mossad veterans who had resigned from the intelligence service in the early 1970s when they realized they were not going to get any top jobs under Labor Party rule. When Likud finally came to power, Begin decided to use Eitan, a man with considerable backbone, to give substance to the largely powerless job of counterterrorism adviser.
A generally honest man, Eitan, like many of his generation, saw the world in black and white, never grey. He was supremely committed to Israel's survival and to stamping out terrorists with no pity whatsoever. While he despised the PLO and wanted nothing more than to exterminate them, he, along with Shamir, had opposed the Camp David agreements because he felt they left the Palestinian issue unresolved. A pragmatist, he was convinced there would be no real peace until a solution to that problem was found.
With Shamir as prime minister and Eitan running the Joint Committee, our efforts to arm Iran against Iraq did not abate. If anything, we were even more aggressive. At the same time, Eitan maintained his obsessive interest in wiping out terrorism.
One of Eitan's pet projects was an anti-terrorist scheme involving a sinister, Big Brother-like computer program named Promis. It was through Eitan that I became involved in it. This was not Joint Committee work, per se, but many of the same people who worked on our arms-to-Iran operation worked on Promis also. The most prominent of these was British media baron Robert Maxwell, who made a fortune out of it. Through some of his companies, the Israelis and the Americans were eventually able to tap into the secrets of numerous intelligence networks around the world -- including Britain, Canada, Australia, and many others -- and set into motion the arrest, torture, and murder of thousands of innocent people in the name of "antiterrorism."
The frightening story of the Promis program begins in the United States in the late 1960s when communications expert William Hamilton, who had spent time in Vietnam during the war setting up listening posts to monitor the communist forces, was assigned to a research and development unit of the U.S. National Security Agency. Fluent in Vietnamese, Hamilton helped create a computerized Vietnamese-English dictionary for the intelligence agency. While working there, Hamilton also started work on an extremely sophisticated database program that could interface with data banks in other computers. By the early 1970s, he was well on the way with his research and realized he had a keg of dynamite in his hands.
The program he was developing would have the ability to track the movements of vast numbers of people around the world. Dissidents or citizens who needed to be kept under watch would be hard put to move freely again without Big Brother keeping an eye on their activities.
When Hamilton saw that the program he was building had so much potential, he resigned from the National Security Agency and took over a non-profit corporation called Inslaw, established to develop a software program for legal purposes. The Inslaw program would be able to cross-check various court actions and, through cross-referencing, find a common denominator. For example, if a wanted person moved to a new state and established a new identity before being arrested, the program would search out aspects of his life and cases he had been involved in and match them up. Hamilton put his knowledge to use in Inslaw, and when his bosses at NSA found out, they were not at all happy. Their argument was that as an employee of the agency, he had no right to take knowledge gleaned there to another organization.
By 1981 Hamilton came up with an enhanced program. What he had actually done was given birth to a monster. Inslaw was turned into a profit-making organization, and Hamilton copyrighted his enhanced version.
Believing that Inslaw was invaluable for law-enforcement agencies, Hamilton sent Promis to the Justice Department in 1981, offering them leasing rights; the more they used it, the more profit Inslaw would make. The Hamilton program was sent to the NSA for study, but in time, through arrangements made with Attorney General Edwin Meese III, Hamilton got his program back. The Justice Department declined to lease the program from Inslaw, and, it soon transpired, they were using "their own" Promis. So was the NSA. 
The US. government had its own plans for Promis. Some American officials thought the Israelis might be able to sell it to intelligence agencies around the world, so in 1982, Earl Brian approached Rafi Eitan. After studying the program, Eitan had a brilliant idea.
He called me in to see him. "We can use this program to stamp out terrorism by keeping track of everyone," he said. "But not only that. We can find out what our enemies know, too." I stared at him for a moment. Suddenly I realized what he was talking about. "Ben zona ata tso dekl" -- Son of a bitch, you're right! I exclaimed. All we had to do was "bug" the program when it was sold to our enemies.
It would work like this: A nation's spy organization would buy Promis and have it installed in its computers at headquarters. Using a modem, the spy network would then tap into the computers of such services as the telephone company, the water board, other utility commissions, credit card companies, etc. Promis would then search for specific information. For example, if a person suddenly started using more water and more electricity and making more phone calls than usual, it might be suspected he had guests staying with him. Promis would then start searching for the records of his friends and associates, and if it was found that one had stopped using electricity and water, it might be assumed, based on other records stored in Promis, that the missing person was staying with the subject of the investigation. This would be enough to have him watched if, for example, he had been involved in previous conspiracies. Promis would search through its records and produce details of those conspiracies, even though the person might have been operating under a different name in the past -- the program was sophisticated enough to find a detail that would reveal his true identity.
This information might also be of interest to Israel, which is where the trap door would come into play. By dialing into the central computer of any foreign intelligence agency using Promis, an Israeli agent with a modem need only type in certain secret code words to gain access. Then he could ask for information on the person and get it all on his computer screen.
According to computer experts I have spoken to in Israel, the trap door is undetectable. Nations receiving Promis might wonder if there was any trickery by Israel, but they would not be able to find anything -- especially as it was experts provided by Israel who installed the program.
Rafi Eitan did not want to risk having a trap door developed in Israel. Word might leak back that the Israelis had been bugging software and then handing it out to others. He didn't even suggest that the NSA develop the trap door because he had a great sense of national pride. As far as he was concerned, it was Israel's idea and would remain so. Yet it still had to be kept secret. Eitan decided it would be best if a computer whiz could be found outside the country.
I knew just the man for the job. Yehuda Ben-Hanan ran a small computer company of his own called Software and Engineering Consultants, based in Chatsworth, California. I had grown up with him, but I didn't want him to know that I was scouting him for a possible job. I had to sound him out, to find out if he was a blabbermouth.
When I called on him, I told him I was in California on holiday and had decided to look him up. We chatted about our days as kids, and he introduced me to his wife, a Brazilian Jew. I decided he was right for the job -- he was not conspiracy- minded, and it was unlikely his suspicions would be aroused. Five days after I left, he was approached by an Israeli man who hired him to build an external access to a program. Yehuda wasn't told what the program was all about. He was simply given blueprints and set about his work for a $5,000 fee.
With the trap door in place, Rafi Eitan selected Jordan as the nation on which it would be tested. Earl Brian made the sale through his company, Hadron. Brian accurately represented it as a program that would help stamp out the Palestinian dissidents who had long been a thorn in the side of King Hussein. A team of Hadron computer experts went to Amman and began setting up Promis software for Jordanian military intelligence. They also hooked it up with the various computers that had already been sold to Jordan by IBM in the late 1970s. These computers were linked to the water company, the telephone company, and every other public utility.
The Hadron team did one more thing. They hooked the Promis program to a small computer attached to a telephone line in an apartment in Amman. That apartment was occupied by a businessman who had close connections with Mossad. From his home, he was able to dial up various public services, as well as the military, and use Promis to find out everything about everybody -- as well as to tap into Jordan's military secrets. Because of his business as an importer-exporter, he often had an excuse to fly to Vienna. He would take the New York-bound Aliya Royal Jordanian Airlines flight from Amman and get off in Vienna. There, he would pass computer disks loaded with information to a Mossad contact.
So what Israel and the Americans learned was that the system was workable. The two countries also found out that the Jordanians had a tracking system of their own which was being used against Palestinian movements. Israel and the U.S. were laughing. The Jordanians tracked the Palestinians, our man tapped into their information, and we knew as much about the whereabouts of one terrorist or another as the Jordanians did.
The Americans came up with the idea of selling this valuable program to governments and their intelligence networks all over the world. But first they had to produce their own version of Promis with the secret trap door. The Americans handed a copy of their program to Wackenhut, a Florida-based company that worked for the U.S. intelligence community. The company also had a computer development unit located on the Cabazon Indian Reservation in southern California. The Indian reservation was used by Wackenhut, which was contracted by the technical services division of the CIA, for developing special equipment such as special-purpose electronics, anti-terrorist devices, etc., as well as hallucinogenic drugs. It was done on an Indian reservation because there was no state jurisdiction and the federal authorities who would have jurisdiction turned a blind eye to the operation.
It was here that the trap door was built into the U.S. version of Promis, based on Israeli information.
The CIA group that was to use Promis had not handed the program back to the NSA to have the trap door fitted by them for the simple reason that they didn't want the NSA to know about it -- interagency competition was fierce. Only this small CIA group, headed by Robert Gates -- who was to become head of the Central Intelligence Agency in October 1991 -- was in on the secret. So we now had a small group in Israel and a small group in the U.S. that knew about the trap door.
The next step for both Israel and the United States was to find a neutral company through which the doctored Promis program could be sold. It was agreed that the head of the company had to be a man who could be trusted to keep intelligence secrets, who had contacts with both Western and East Bloc countries and who had a respected businessman's image. The man they came up with was Robert Maxwell.
Robert Maxwell, whose body now lies in Judaism's most revered burial ground on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem's walled city, formed his ties with Israel in the early 1960s when a meeting was arranged for him with Yitzhak Shamir, who was then in Mossad operations in Europe. Shamir's was an important role, soliciting information from all the European-based agencies employed by Mossad. The rendezvous with Maxwell was arranged through the Mapam (United Workers) Party in Israel, which was part of the labor movement and had close connections with Maxwell's leftwing colleagues in the British Labor Party.
The two men were brought together by Aviezer Ya'ari, a kibbutz member and one of the ideological leaders of Mapam. Uppermost in Ya'ari's mind was making contact with the Soviets, so it was a natural move to put Shamir in touch with Maxwell, who had intelligence links with the Soviets beginning in World War II. Shamir's past as a Stern Gang terrorist appeared to make this an unlikely pairing, but Mossad was keen to make any connections it could with the KGB, and the belief in Tel Aviv was that Maxwell, for all his pride in faithfully serving in the British Army, remained on good terms with "friends" in the East Bloc.
Maxwell, who had been elected a British Labor MP in 1964, and Shamir shared an antipathy for the Americans, and were to become friends of heart and spirit.
Rafi Eitan knew of Maxwell's long association with Shamir and with Israel, so he suggested that the British mogul would be the perfect front for selling Promis. The approach to Maxwell, on Israeli prompting, was made in 1984 by Sen. John Tower, an old friend of the publisher's, who was close to the then vice president, George Bush -- in fact, many years before, Tower had helped Bush get into Congress. Always interested in military and intelligence affairs, Tower had served as chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. According to Maxwell, when Bush was head of the CIA in 1976, Tower approached Maxwell to connect him and Bush secretly on a person-to-person basis with various Soviet intelligence people. When Maxwell delivered, Tower became his friend for life. With the relationship strengthening over the years, Tower subsequently was appointed a director of Maxwell's Macmillan publishing company in the U.S.
Tower's approach to Maxwell to use his network of companies to market Promis was made on behalf of the CIA group headed by Gates. But it was Rafi Eitan who mapped out the workings of Promis for Maxwell at a discreet meeting between the two men in Paris in 1984. I do not know whether Maxwell was made aware of the trap door and how Israel and the U.S. could use this to gain external access to the computers of whatever agencies were using the program. But Maxwell would have been made perfectly aware of the general uses of Promis and how intelligence services could keep tabs on anyone about whom they had cause to be suspicious.
Maxwell agreed he was in a perfect position to market Promis for the Americans and the Israelis. After all, his Berlitz language schools were located all around the world. All he needed to do was set up or buy computer companies through Berlitz Holdings. This would distance him personally from the massive spy project.
A perfect company for Maxwell to take over already existed. Israeli-owned, Degem was a computer business located in Israel, Guatemala, and Transkei, the Bantustan "homeland" controlled by South Africa. The Transkei connection is particularly interesting.
Menachem Begin, Israel's prime minister from 1977 to 1983, had a long-time friend, Yaacov Meridor, who was running various businesses with South Africa through Transkei. A minister without portfolio in Begin's government, he was raking in a fortune in commissions from whatever country wanted to beat the boycott on South Africa by dealing through Transkei. Everything had to go through Meridor or a company he owned. One of these companies was Degem, which was actually controlled by Israel's military intelligence and was providing computer services to the South Africans and to Guatemala.
Poor Meridor became unstuck -- and opened the door for Maxwell -- when he was caught up in a huge scandal. Along with a Texan, Joe Peeples, and a Romanian expatriate who claimed to be an energy professor, Meridor drew up a blueprint for using the sun as a source of energy to generate vast amounts of electricity. Although this was theoretically feasible, the Meridor blueprint went far beyond the realm of possibility. However, he and his pals succeeded in selling the idea to the wealthy Hunt brothers of Texas for $2 million. For this price, the Hunts were told they had the rights to sell the scheme in the U.S. Meanwhile, Meridor decided that he would seek a huge loan from the Israeli Treasury, but he slipped up badly. He went on TV and told the nation that he was working on a solar energy system with which Israel would never have to use oil or coal for electricity again. All he needed was a little financial backing.
Expecting the money to come pouring in, Meridor was stopped in his tracks when a scientist from the Weizman Institute went on TV three days later and declared the whole thing a fraud. Joe Peeples, who was not able to give the $2 million back to the Hunts, was jailed for fraud. The Romanian, who had not received any of the money, went free. Meridor lost his job as a cabinet minister -- and his credibility. His Transkei operations were another casualty. And then along came Maxwell who, knowing exactly what he was buying it for, sank his money into Degem.
After the initial success with Promis against the Jordanians, and following Maxwell's agreement to buy into Degem, Promis was put to use in the most horrible way in a number of countries. One egregious example was Guatemala. Pesach Ben-Or, a representative for Eagle, a well-connected Israeli arms-dealing company, had been helping the military regime there set up a computer tracking system to fight the leftist insurgency. But it proved to be inadequate.
In 1984 Israeli intelligence came to an arrangement with the man who was calling himself El Jefe de la Nacion -- the Chief of the Nation -- General Oscar Mejia Victores. He agreed to allow a warehouse to be used for storing weapons coming secretly out of the U.S. en route to Iran and to allow planes carrying arms from Poland to the Sandinista government in Nicaragua to fly over Guatemala and even land there on occasions. The Israelis, with a wink and a nod from the Americans, had been selling certain arms from Poland to the Sandinistas in their fight against the contras. Of course, there were other factions in the U.S. and Israel -- including the Oliver North group -- who supplied weapons to the contras.
The price Israel had to pay for this agreement was that the Eagle company, run by Pesach Ben-Or in Guatemala and his associate Mike Harari in Panama, and overseen by Ariel Sharon, would continue selling weapons to the Guatemalan government. On top of that, Israel would install a very sophisticated computer program that would help the military stamp out insurgents. The Mossad chief in Israel, Nachum Admoni, told Sharon not to interfere with the computer program, and in turn the intelligence community would not interrupt Eagle's unofficial sale of arms to the Guatemalan military. It was a case of everyone scratching everyone else's back.
In setting up Promis in Guatemala, Israel employed the services of Manfred Herrmann, a German expatriate in his 60s, who owned an automobile spare-parts company in Guatemala City known as Sedra. It was agreed that Herrmann would represent Israel's arms-running company, Ora, in Guatemala, while his partner, Baldur K. Kleine, would be the representative in Maitland, Florida, from where he would coordinate all our activities in Central America. Shortly after Maxwell took over Degem, Rafi Eitan asked Earl Brian to meet Kleine in Maitland and give him Promis with the trap door in place.
After Kleine passed the program over to Herrmann, I also provided Herrmann with the Israeli version. If the Americans were going to tap into Guatemala, so were we. Because we were running arms through the country, it was in our interests to keep a general watch on things. However, we soon realized that Guatemala just did not have the computer equipment or skilled operators necessary. For Promis to work, everything in the water company and the electric company had to be computerized. Not only that, lists of identification numbers would have to be updated and a new census conducted. With so much information then available and with suspicious characters going into a central computer, Israel and the U.S. would be able to break in to the central system and learn everything the Guatemalan government knew.
Israel turned to Honeywell, the Israeli franchise of which was owned by Medan Computers Ltd. All the technicians working for Medan were military intelligence reservists and experts on computers. Those at the top were made aware of the Promis program, although they did not know about the trap door. When Medan pointed out that their computers would not be suitable, we arranged for them to act as brokers for IBM equipment in Guatemala.
In that same year, 1984, Guatemala was swept up in a campaign led by El Jefe himself to bring the nation into the computer age. TV, radio, and newspapers lauded the move. Computers, it was said, would give jobs to everybody. Common people would no longer have to live in the Dark Ages. Photographs were produced, showing lines of young women sitting behind computers. It was compelling stuff. Every soldier in the army, many of whom could hardly read or write, was taught to use a keyboard. Maxwell's Degem, through Herrmann's Sedra company, moved into offices, railway stations, and airports, and even set up terminals at the most remote roadblocks.
The venture, from the intelligence point of view, was a major success. Suspected dissidents couldn't move anywhere without Big Brother watching them. Even if they traveled under a false name, various characteristics, such as height, hair color, age, were fed into roadside terminals and Promis searched through its database looking for a common denominator. It would be able to tell an army commander that a certain dissident who was in the north three days before had caught a train, then a bus, stayed at a friend's house, and was now on the road under a different name. That's how frightening the system was. By late 1985 virtually all dissidents -- and an unknown number of unidentified innocents -- had been rounded up. In a country whose rulers had no patience for such people, 20,000 government opponents either died or disappeared.
And how was it all funded? In 1985 Guatemala started to be used heavily as a drug transit point to the United States from South America. Mejia, the Chief of the Nation, was, in fact, a much bigger drug boss than Noriega. Massive amounts of drugs were shipped into the United States, and part of the revenue went back to Guatemala to help finance the Promis operation. This would all have been impossible without the wink and the nod that the CIA gave.
In Transkei, Degem was of immense help to the white South African regime. Promis was trap-doored because the Israelis were interested in a number of people in South Africa. Promis, in effect, was a killing machine used against black revolutionary groups, including the African National Congress. Almost 12,000 activists were affected by the beginning of 1986 -- picked up, disappeared, or maimed in "black-on-black" violence. "Kushi kills Kushi" became a well-known term in Israeli intelligence circles with Chief Gatsha Buthelesi's black death squads doing the dirty work.
It was a simple operation: As a result of Maxwell buying Degem, Promis was installed in the Transkei. It pulled in information on dissidents, and death lists were drawn up and handed over to Buthelesi and his group, who went out on the rampage to finish them off.
At one point a planned strike by black miners was stopped when Promis was used to find the instigators. They all disappeared as Promis tracked them down through their required identity passes. Of course the South African security network just loved it. The computer, which had become their ally, had links to the computer in the military compound in Pretoria, and although it was the Israeli version that was being used, the information went straight to the American Embassy for one very simple reason. The embassy has a common wall with the military compound, so it was nothing to string a wire between the two establishments.
The hypocrisy of it all was that Robert Maxwell was officially against any relations with racist South Africa, and his Daily Mirror, which he had bought in 1984 for £113 million, had championed one-man, one-vote, regardless of race. Yet under cover of his Degem company he was actually helping the South African government in a way they had never been helped before. If he had said no to Israel, no doubt some other company would have been used to get Promis going, but at least Maxwell's conscience would have been clear.
Promis was sold all over the world. With their respective intelligence connections, Earl Brian's Hadron and Maxwell's Degem engaged in friendly competition, wiring the world for intelligence purposes. The Americans, through Hadron, sold Promis to a number of countries, including Britain, Australia, South Korea, Iraq, and Canada. Many of the secrets of those nations' intelligence agencies were read through the Promis trap door by the Americans. Moreover, the CIA was making a fortune hawking Promis software. Up to 1989 they had made at least $40 million from that venture alone.
The Israelis, through Degem, sold Promis to the East Bloc and other countries, including Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Nicaragua. An abridged version of Promis, including the trap door, was also sold by Degem to Credit Suisse in 1985. The Likud Party, which had control over Israel's intelligence network, was very interested in knowing which Israelis might have opened accounts there. After finding out who had lodged rake-off money there, the party could approach the individuals and ask for a "donation" -- or threaten exposure.
Maxwell's Degem even sold Promis to the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. The path had been cleared for Degem to get into the Soviet Union -- in 1986 and 1987, a computer company, TransCapital Corporation, of Norwalk, Connecticut, had been allowed to export high-tech IBM computers to the Soviet Union, even though there was a general ban on selling such equipment to the East Bloc. But the CIA's Robert Gates had lifted the barriers. When the Soviets expressed a desire to have Promis, Degem technicians fitted it to the IBM computers, complete with the tell-all trap door. In early 1991, before the coup against Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet military intelligence, GRU, was still using Promis. So whether he knew about the trap door or not, Maxwell gave the Americans a direct line into Soviet military intelligence.
I believe that one of the reasons I was arrested in 1989 on a trumped-up arms charge was that I, on behalf of the Israeli government, threatened to expose what the Americans were doing with Promis if they continued their support of chemical weapons being supplied to Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
Leigh Ratiner, the attorney who was representing Inslaw and the Hamiltons on behalf of his Washington firm, Dickstein and Shapiro, also had something strange happen to him when he began to find out about the real use of Promis. Suddenly, he was called in by his senior partners and told they wanted him to leave the case and the firm, and they started negotiating his severance agreement. Ratiner received $120,000 a year for five years, provided he agreed not to practice law during that period. Ratiner, who was always puzzled by the abrupt dismissal from a firm he had been with for ten years, assumed that the Inslaw case was the reason, but was not sure why. Some time after his dismissal, he saw a memo from his old firm's files which reported that, a week before he was called on the carpet, an assistant attorney general had been talking to one of the firm's partners and had advised that they ought to get rid of Ratiner. That was all Ratiner learned.
He did not know what I knew. A few weeks before Ratiner's dismissal I had seen a cable that came in to the Joint Committee from the United States. It requested that a $600,000 transfer from the CIA-Israeli slush fund be made to Earl Brian's firm, Hadron. The money, the cable said, was to be transferred by Brian to Leonard Garment's law firm, Dickstein and Shapiro, to be used to get one of the Inslaw lawyers, Leigh Ratiner, off the case. Ratiner, it seems, was removed for doing too good a job for Inslaw.
1. Hamilton and his wife Nancy sued the Justice Department, charging that Justice stole the enhanced Promis program from Inslaw and gave it to NSA. Justice claimed it did get a program from Inslaw but returned it unused. NSA said it developed its own enhanced program and gave it to other intelligence agencies, but not to the Justice Department. Since the stalling by the Justice Department had thrown Inslaw into bankruptcy proceedings, the Hamiltons pursued their legal remedies in Bankruptcy Court. The lower courts upheld their claims against the Justice Department, but an appellate court ruled that Bankruptcy Court was the incorrect venue for such claims, requiring them to refile the suit in District Court. A congressional investigation into the matter has also been slowly proceeding.