One of the issues with the investigations into the Inslaw affair, and many other alleged government scandals, is that the agencies involved retain control now on over which records that are searched, but the questions that are answered. In some investigations, like the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee on Assassinations, those looking into various allegations are denied the proper context that they need to know what’s relevant and what questions to ask. In cases like Inslaw, the agencies’ responses are full of non-denial denials and the searches that are performed are inadequate.
One Central Intelligence Agency memo in particular highlights some of the problems with the investigations into the Inslaw affair and the case of the stolen PROMIS software, showing that the Agency was offered a copy of PROMIS as early as 1981.
Details from the memo also confirm that this PROMIS software is the “wholly unrelated” Project Management Integrated System distributed by Strategic Software Planning Corporation and Digital Planning, Inc. that the CIA claims is the only PROMIS software they have used. Unlike the Project Management Integrated System software and the PROMIS software used by NSA, which is also unrelated to Inslaw’s software as will be explored in detail later, this software is listed as being used for criminal justice, general tracking and information processing.
This is significant for several reasons. First, none of these records appear to have been searched by the Agency during any of the investigations. The Agency claims not to have bought the stolen software, a defense which is undermined by the government’s claim to own the software while offering it to the CIA. It undermines the search and statements made by the Department of Justice regarding distribution of the software.
In its repeated statements to Congress, the CIA claimed not to have bought the software. This memo, however, shows that the Agency was offered the PROMIS software along with a list of other pieces of government owned software and the hardware necessary to run them. The status as “government owned” doesn’t exclude the Inslaw software. The original version of PROMIS was developed under government contract, and much of the original software theft allegations revolved around whether Inslaw or the U.S. Government owned specific versions of PROMIS. Since the CIA neither disclosed this nor appears to have searched those records, it’s unknown if they acquired an initial copy of the software this way. Regardless, it brings into question their claims to have fully cooperated and searched every reasonable record and Agency component as they didn’t search their software requisition records.
The DOJ also repeatedly stated that, aside from a notable exception, they didn’t provide copies of PROMIS to anyone else or distribute it to other agencies. These memos, however, show that the software was being distributed through the federal government from the beginning, making versions of the software readily acquirable for anyone in the government to review or toy around with prior to Earl Brian and Edwin Meese’s apparent scheme to defraud Inslaw while allegedly modifying and distributing the software through the U.S. and overseas.
By themselves, the memos do not indicate that the software was ever requested by anyone at the CIA or the National Security Agency. Documents from additional FOIAs filed by MuckRock will explore the issue further. In the meantime, you can read the memo and attached documents below:
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