November 6, 1991
Former Attorney General
Demands Inslaw Probe
By Paul DeRienzo
Former Attorney General Elliot Richardson is calling for a special prosecutor
to investigate the alleged theft of a legal software system by the federal
Richardson, who is representing Inslaw, Inc., the software’s developer
says there is stronger evidence of President Bush‘s involvement
in this case than there was of Richard Nixon’s in the early days
of the Watergate investigation.
The program, called PROMIS, is a case management system designed for use
by public prosecution agencies. Inslaw is suing the federal government,
charging that the justice Department stole the software and altered it
(Guardian, Sept. 11). Several witnesses have testified that the modified
software was sold to the governments of 88 countries, including Israel,
Iraq and Canada.
In an October interview on Undercurrents, a New, York-based investigative
radio program, Richardson said PROMIS’ powers to track thousands
of individuals as their cases wound through the courts were "capabilities
that would lend themselves very well to keeping track of the same kind
of information in context of intelligence gathering and espionage."
According to Richard-son, that makes it "plausible" that the
software was sold to the intelligence agencies of several foreign countries.
He says, "People I’ve talked to in the world of intelligence
have confirmed the allegations of the informants.
Inslaw President Bill Hamilton told the Guardian that the Canadian government
initially admitted to him that they had installed PROMIS at more than
900 sites, but when, he tried to get confirmation, officials said the
software was actually from another-vendor.
Richardson says another motive for providing PROMIS to other countries,
according to his intelligence sources, is that the United States would
be able to use its knowledge of the program and of which countries were
using it to better "interpret the electronic signals picked up from
those intelligence agencies."
However, Richardson also admits that he holds no direct evidence beyond
the testimony of the informants that, PROMIS was sold to other countries.
"We have never yet seen a tape which conclusively establishes that
another country has it," he said-but insists the allegations are
"plausible enough" to require a-special prosecutor "to
maintain the integrity" of the investigation.
Richardson, now, in private practice in Washington, is probably best remembered
for resigning as attorney general in 1973 after refusing Nixon’s
order to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox.
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