Speaking from an IT standpoint, the stories I saw didn't make any logical sense. They sounded like something made up by someone who wasn't familiar
Let me state my objections, and you can research those points along with others. My source is here:
"The software delivered to the Russian handlers and later sent to bin Laden, according to sources, is believed to be an upgraded version of a program
known as Promis - developed in the 1980s by a Washington firm, Inslaw, Inc., to give attorneys the ability to keep tabs on their caseloads.
This would be some sort of relational database. The data would include who was on what case and provide scheduling as well.
But then we get THIS description of it, which is a completely different piece of software:
The History of "Promis[e]"
Promise software resembles what we know as NCIC, which is software used by police agencies in the U.S., which creates a database with the ability to
track or identify individuals. In 1983 under the Reagan administration, Earl Brian, representing the UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, contacted
Bill Hamilton, owner of "Inslaw". The Justice Department contracted Inslaw to create and later modify the software so that it could be used by
Intelligence agencies and another version to be used by financial institutions such as BCCI
And this is a completely DIFFERENT software with different functions. It is a large databasing application.
A purported document from the House Judiciary Committee describes the lawyer caseload database:
Niether of them is very special. Anybody can program this kind of thing. There's no real reason to take an existing system and modify it. To
modify it, you need to go through and change all the data structure names and reroute the logic and confirm the business rules and re-design the
reports and check the data interfaces. Doing it from an existing system (unless it was using the same databases) is a nightmare.
Been there. Got involved in the coding of that kinda thing. It's faster to do it from scratch.
So we have two different "confirmed" descriptions of the software. That, in itself, is quite suspicious. And yes, reporters have been known to do
news stories on things that turned out to be complete lies.
Second "man, that's so WRONG!" point to me is that modifying this software somehow gives bin Laden "the ability to monitor U.S. efforts to track
him down, federal law-enforcement officials say. It also gives him access to databases on specific targets of his choosing and the ability to monitor
electronic-banking transactions, easing money-laundering operations for himself or others, according to sources."
How, pray tell, could caseload software give anyone the ability to monitor electronic banking transactions? You have to actually connect to
individual banking groups and get their reports directly. And they have been known to change their software.
As with the rest of the information, we're talking huge databases. Massive databases. Massive *secured* databases that require some confirmation
and security policies to get into.
All they have to do to keep bin Laden out is to send out a message "we're changing the passwords and we're demanding verification before we grant
your new password." His connection is then toast. No data.
Another quote from the Rense site:
"There is a central locator system to track members of the National Command Authority 24/7. If that is a database created with Promis and if
anyone had access you could do it."
If... if... if. That's not a smoking gun, that's a speculation about a water pistol. PROMIS is not a new kind of programming language or database.
It's a fully-blown program. So that's kind of like saying "wow... if my Ford pickup truck put together a tour bus, we could get our band on
So I'm not buying it. Speaking as an IT person, the stories I see are full of holes. I do think someone in the Justice department tried to run off
with the nice caseload software and I do think there were lawsuits and other issues. But I don't think this caseload software is any more powerful
than the Federal Assisted Housing Program that I coded in Dataflex back in 1984. My software was used for a long time, it did exactly what it needed
to do, it caught housing frauds and other scams -- but you couldn't tweak it in any way to ... oh... access municipal finance systems and cook their
books or get into NCIC and give the names of all the officers.
The speculaton that it is some sort of all-purpose translator of everything is at odds with the description and the notion that it can connect to Air
Force 1 seems silly. The only documents that describe PROMIS as some sort of superengineered massive codecracker and information retriever are the
ones from the more speculative conspiracy sites.
As I said, all they have to do is change the passwords.
[Edited on 27-5-2004 by Byrd]