Documents Confirm DOJ Gave PROMIS Software to a Phantom Israeli Spy

Newly released Justice Department documents confirm what several Inslaw witnesses have been saying for decades, that a copy of Inslaw’s PROMIS software was given to Israel. While some of these documents were provided to the House Judiciary Committee investigating the Inslaw affair, others were withheld. These records reveal several critical points in the Inslaw affair. Previous records and admissions acknowledged the fact that the software was given to Israel, but new records put that fact into context. According to a Department of Justice (DOJ) memo, the man they claim they gave the software to wasn’t actually in the country at the time. The DOJ later asserted that the records on the two Israelis mysteriously disappeared, leaving behind only a few memos and vague memories. These facts lend a great deal of credence to the statements from Bill Hamilton and others that the phantom Israeli they met was none other than Israeli spymaster Rafi Eitan.

Phantom Israeli Men Hired By DOJ

In 1982, two Israelis arrived in the United States and went to the Justice Department. According to Bob Roeder, then administrator for the DOJ’s Office of Legal Policy (OLP), the two went to the OLP as part of a prior arrangement that he was unaware of. Instructions came down from Deputy Attorney General Edward Schmults, the number two man in the DOJ, to hire them as “experts.” They were employed and given a GS-15 salary, the highest tier possible before the “executive level” which is reserved for the civilian equivalent of military generals.


The search efforts went well beyond this, contacting multiple offices and executives and searching record systems that stretched back decades. DOJ’s bottom line was that “records must have been created re these two because they were on the DOJ payroll. But they can’t be found.”


According to a DOJ memo, one of the Israelis, Dr. Joseph Ben Orr, said that there were actually four of them in the program. “Mr. Haskel who was involved in the land registry; Mr. Gubberman who was also employed by OLP; and a third individual whose name he could not recall who worked for the Solicitor General.” For the purposes of this examination, however, Haskel and Gubberman will be excused from scrutiny. The two phantom Israeli men are the primary concern. While he has been identified in government documents and journalistic accounts, Dr. Joseph Ben Orr is a phantom. According to critical government records, he was in two places at once.

The Mysterious Ben Orr

The obvious explanation for the phantom Israeli is that one of the men who claimed to be Dr. Ben Orr was someone else. Although the allegations have been denied by the DOJ, Bill Hamilton and others have identified Ben Orr as being Rafi Eitan. Ari Ben Menashe, a former Mossad officer, also confirmed this. Eventually, Rafi Eitan admitted that this was true to Gordon Thomas. Thomas wrote about the admission in his book and memorialized it in an affidavit, but the DOJ still denied the allegations. According to them, the man they gave the tape of PROMIS software to was Ben Orr. One of the memos not provided to the House Judiciary Committee, however, reveals that Ben Orr was out of the country.

According to Jack Rugh, he had received instructions from C. Madison “Brick” Brewer to provide a copy of PROMIS to Dr. Ben Orr, “a representative of the Government of Israel.” The documents suggest that the instruction was issued between April 22, 1983 and May 6, 1983. On the sixth, he declared that he had made a copy of the software and would provide it “to Dr. Orr before he leaves the United States for Israel on May 16.” On May 12th, Rugh provided a package of PROMIS software and documentation to Brewer who provided it to Ben Orr. When the Justice Department interviewed Dr. Ben Orr in 1993, however, a crucial fact was revealed. According to his passport, he was out of the country during this period.


The memo this fact was recorded in does not seem to have been provided to the House Judiciary.

Dr. Ben Orr had reportedly visited Inslaw in February 1983, when he was still in the country, but the man identified in a photo lineup by Inslaw employees wasn’t Ben Orr. The phantom Israeli was actually Rafi Eitan. He had been “impressed with the power of PROMIS (Prosecutors Management Information Systems), which had recently been updated by Inslaw to run on powerful 32-bit VAX computers from Digital Equipment Corp.” Yet he never returned and never bought the software. Instead, he received a copy directly from the Justice Department.

Incredibly, when the DOJ reached the real Dr. Ben Orr in late 1993, he claimed to still have the tape. He knew where to find it and seemed to expect it would still be readable. According to one of the DOJ memos, he would be making a trip to the United States in February 1994 and was willing to bring the tape with him. This apparently never happened. A cover sheet dated March 16th instructs Neil MacNeil at the American consulate to give a letter to Dr. Ben Orr upon receiving the tape. The attached letter happened to waive any and all claims the DOJ might have against him.


The Coverup Crumbles

Despite attempts to deny the fact that Rafi Eitan received a copy of PROMIS and to discredit those making the claims, these documents offer the first bit of corroborating evidence from the government. More details have yet to be sussed out from government documents, but the wall of silence has been breached. More information will follow as the declassification effort continues.


You can read the memos below.


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