Memo reveals CIA was offered PROMIS software in 1981

One of the problems with the investigations into the Inslaw affair, and many other government scandals, is that the agencies involved have too much control over the records that are searched and the questions that are asked and answered. In some cases, like the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee on Assassinations, those investigating are denied the proper context that they need to know what’s relevant and what questions to ask. In other cases, like Debategate, the Congressional investigators are denied the ability to search the records at all; instead they are only given what the people being investigated decide to turn over. In cases like Inslaw, the agencies’ responses are full of non-denial denials and the searches performed are woefully, and often deliberately inadequate.

One CIA memo in particular highlights some of the problems with the investigations into the Inslaw affair and the stolen PROMIS software. The memo shows that the Agency was offered a government 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 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 the NSA claims is also unrelated to Inslaw’s software), this software is listed as being used for criminal justice, general tracking and information processing.

This is significant for several reasons:

  1. None of these records were searched by the Agency during any of the investigations.
  2. The Agency claims not to have bought the stolen software, a defense which is undermined both by the allegations that it was stolen and the government’s claim to own the software while offering it to CIA.
  3. It undermines the search and statements made by the Department of Justice regarding distribution of the software.

In its repeated statements to Congress, 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. Since CIA didn’t disclose this or search those records, it’s unknown if they acquired an initial copy of the software this way. Even if it did not, it undermines their claims to have fully cooperated and searched every reasonable record and Agency component as they didn’t search their software requisition records.

The Department of Justice also repeatedly stated that, aside from a notable exception, they didn’t provide copies of PROMIS to anyone else or distribute it throughout the government. These memos, however, show that the software was being offered throughout 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 scheme to defraud Inslaw while modifying (i.e. inserting backdoors) and distributing the software through the U.S. and overseas.

Albeit small, this is yet one more piece of evidence demonstrating the problems with the integrity of original inquiries and investigations. How many more need to be found before an honest and thorough investigation can conducted?

You can read the memo and attached documents below:


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