9. INSLAW SOFTWARE THEFT: CONSPIRACY AT THE JUSTICE
In an ongoing legal battle the Inslaw Corp. charges
that the U.S. Department of Justice robbed it of its computer software program,
conspired to send the company into bankruptcy, and then initiated a cover-up.
Inslaw software in question, called Promis, was a potential gold mine. A case-management
and criminal-tracking program, the software can also be used to track complex
covert operations. For this reason, Promis had sales appeal to both law-enforcement
agencies and the international intelligence community. In March 1982 Inslaw won
a $10 million, three-year contract with the Justice Department, but Justice reneged,
withholding nearly $2 million. Consequently, Inslaw sought refuge in Chapter 11
bankruptcy and proceeded to sue Justice.
In September 1987, federal bankruptcy
judge George Bason found that the Justice Department used "trickery, fraud
and deceit" to take Inslaw's property, and in February 1988, Bason awarded
Inslaw $8 million. Not quite one month later, Judge Bason was denied reappointment
to the bench. In the past four years, only four of 136 federal bankruptcy judges
have been denied reappointment. Incredibly, Bason was replaced by S. Martin Teel,
one of the Justice Department attorneys who unsuccessfully argued the Inslaw case
before him. Justice immediately appealed Bason's ruling, but in November 1989
a federal district court upheld Bason's ruling. Nevertheless, last spring the
U.S. Court of Appeals set aside that ruling on the grounds that the bankruptcy
court lacked jurisdiction.
Earlier this year the case took a new twist. Based on a number of sources
from inside and outside of the Justice Department, Inslaw's owners went
public with allegations that the Reagan Justice Department, turned the
stolen software over to businessman and arms dealer Earl Brian, a friend
of both Edwin Meese and Reagan, who served in Reagan's cabinet when
he was governor of California. Inslaw alleges that its software was
given to Brian as a payback for Brian's help in arranging the now infamous
"October Surprise" deal. Brian is the owner of Infotechnology,
Inc., which controls the bankrupt Financial News Network and United
Press International -- not to mention Hadron, Inc., which coincidentally,
failed in its attempt at a hostile take over of Inslaw. Meanwhile, three
different sources have stated in sworn affidavits that Earl Brian brokered
the Promis software on a world-wide basis. And according to Inslaw owner
Bill Hamilton, his software has been illegally sold to at least 15 different
to Inslaw's attorney, former Attorney General Elliot Richardson, "Evidence
to support the more serious accusations came from 30 people, including Justice
Department sources." Additionally, the files of the Justice Department's
chief litigating attorney on the case have disappeared.
SSU CENSORED RESEARCHER:
MARK LOWENTHAL L
SOURCE: IN THESE TIMES, 2040 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, IL 60647,
DATE: May 29-June 11, 1991
TITLE: "Software Pirates"
AUTHOR: Joel Bleifuss
SOURCE: RANDOM LENGTHS, P.O. Box 731, San Pedro, CA 90733,
DATE: October 3-16, 1991
TITLE: "Software To Die For"
AUTHOR: James Ridgeway
COMMENTS: Investigative journalist Joel Bleifuss said that although
the Inslaw case has received national coverage after his In These Times
article, the "coverage has been woefully inadequate. The media
has largely ignored the Inslaw allegations involving the October Surprise,
Robert Gates, the disappearance of Justice Department files, the stonewalling
by former Attorney General Thornburgh, the connivance of Earl Brian,
and the apparent rigging of the judicial process."
feels the public would benefit from a fuller investigation of the Inslaw case
because "it raises important questions about the integrity of the judicial
process and -- if the allegations concerning Inslaw's connection to the October
Surprise hold true -- the sanctity of our electoral system."
also has some chilling thoughts about the consequences of the limited coverage
given the issue. "First, the mass media's refusal to put its vast resources
to use investigating the Inslaw case, sends the message that such allegations
have no merit. This serves to delegitimize the work of reporters in the alternative
press. Second, the mass media's failure to take seriously what in this case is
a well-documented example of official malfeasance, sends a message to mainstream
journalists that they will not advance their careers by investigating government
misdeeds. Consequently such investigations do not take place and elected officials
are, by implication, free to commit such crimes with impunity.
13, 1992, in a little publicized ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to reinstate
a $7.8 million judgment won earlier by Inslaw in its long-running dispute with
the Justice Department.)