Gary Stock: UnBlinking



UnBlinking

  Q: What's the best thing about the internet?

A: No matter how far you go, something intriguing awaits one link further along!

Determining whether each next link is relevant, legitimate, or authoritative... that's the challenge!

UnBlinking refers to my rather bad habit of surfing until I reach the end of the internet, so to speak. Just keep clicking and linking, and never look away -- no matter how bizarre the path! The end of the internet often leads back to its beginning in peculiar ways.


Why the FBI heart the Internet

Friday, 2001-02-23

UnBlinking has wandered some of the links the FBI will follow in the case of Robert Philip Hanssen. Hanssen now stands accused in a remarkable case of Spy v Counterspy, which reminds us that the internet is watching... and that it remembers.

[Usability note: All links here open into the same target window. The story is rather complete without clicking away. (However, with no 'link' it's just 'UnBing' :-) If you find a citation of interest, click away, then slide that new target window to one side. As those sites load, you can continue UnBlinking here. To comment, please use QuickTopic.]

Many pages regarding the Hanssen affair are solid journalism, such as FBI traitor suspect had mad C skillz by Kevin Poulsen at The Register:
"...FBI computer logs showed that Hanssen continuously ego-surfed the Bureau's Automated Case Support System (ACS), performing incriminating searches on his own name, address, and key words like "DEAD DROP AND WASHINGTON."
(A rare opportunity to plug my last gig at EgoSurf) If you have skillz, it might also seem a bit mad to search for things like 'DEAD DROP' in a system you must presume is logging all activity.

Back on course, William Knowles of c4i.org went data mining using the new Google Deja Usenet Archive. Knowles reveals those findings in his Internet Security Newsletter at Security Focus. It turns out that Hanssen has offered help to others than the old KGB:

Hi, I upgrade my 770x to Windows 2000 professional. Everything works fine. Then...

Is anyone out there using the Kodak PalmPix with pilot-xfer for linux? How do you...

Is there a way to interface an eTrex GPS with my IIIxe?...

Anyone using your pilot under linux? How do you get it to sync? During the config...
Unless of course, these messages are code, to the Kremlin, and the whole wireless industry is just a cover for spies to... OK, well, Hanssen also seeks assistance:
I have installed the Palm OS. It works fine, but the default Applications launch screen...

I have a Palm IIIx which I upgraded the OS on to 3.5.2. When I did, I still got...

Let's hope whoever replied isn't charged with conspiracy (given the lawyer-per-person ratio in D.C., it may be an empty hope). The UnBlinking trail turns more interesting when Declan McCullagh of Wired describes Old Spy, New Tricks:

"WASHINGTON -- Robert Philip Hanssen is not only an accused spy who federal agents say is responsible for one of the most serious breaches of national security in years.

He's also allegedly a geek...

The conservative news site World Net Daily on Wednesday reported that Hanssen is a Linux user and used e-mail addresses including hanssen@nova.org and hanssen@orion.clark.net, both local Internet service providers..."
The WorldNetDaily article Suspected mole's computers seized by Paul Sperry will inform, and certainly amuse:
"...Hanssen is known to be "highly skilled in the use of computers and computer programming," according to the FBI's search warrant request.

In fact, he maintains his own computer server and is a registered Linux user, WorldNetDaily has learned."
A Registered Linux User! Haven't we warned you about returning those warranty postcards? (I leave the puns among 'PCMCIA-card' and 'card-carrying' for another day.) Well, maybe there's something to it, according to Linux Counter. Of course, the LI guys may just have a good sense of humor.

From time to time, each of us presumes guilt by association. It's human nature. However, I nonetheless pooh-pooh worldnewdaily's next sequelae non-sequitur, though I do enjoy the tacit implications:

"...Linux is an open-source software operating system, meaning the basic code is available free to anyone. Unlike Microsoft Windows, programmers can modify it.

Linux is mostly used to run servers, but IBM now offers it on its laptops.

As of March 1, 1997, Hanssen owned an IBM Thinkpad 365E, according to Electronic Oasis Consulting Inc.

The government listed a laptop as one of the computers it wanted to search in Hanssen's home..."
What more proof would the FBI need? Linux, laptop... he must be guilty! However, the article iterates better bits:
"Hanson has accessed the Internet from his home computer through a low-cost provider called Northern Virginia Internet Access Cooperation, using the e-mail account hanssen@nova.org. He also has an address at hanssen@orion.clark.net."
If indeed Hanssen is the fellow from Orion (perhaps codenamed Spock?), we'll ask AltaVista, which directs us to a James Bond shrine including:
Robert P. Hanssen - 10/28/99 12:54:51
My Email:hanssen@orion.clark.net
Age: 55
Where are you From: Chicago
Favorite Bond: Sean Connery
Favorite Bond Film: From Russia with Love (in its time)
Perhaps a little too on the nose, eh? Now, did his last snippet mean "a great film, considering the epoch in which it was made," or "a great country, back in the days when Men were Manly and Russia was Russian"? If, on the other hand, he's actually hanssen@nova.org, he's quite a philosopher who offered up a review at Amazon:
A Critique of Modernism for Our Times, April 2, 1997

Reviewer: hanssen@nova.org

Etienne Gilson brilliantly plumbs the depths of Thomistic Realism, and false Thomisms as well, in this answer to Kantian modernism. The volume, exquisitely translated, is 'must reading' for any student entering the modern university. This book brings the essential elements of philosophy into view as a cohesive, readily understandable, and erudite structure, and does so rigorously in the best tradition of St. Thomas. If you must read only one book on philosophy or if you want to make philosophy you life's work, read this book first.
On this topic, quite seriously, UnBlinking would recommend The Thomist, offering abstracts of great clarity dating back as far as 1939. Click over to Vol. 1 (1939) and read at least:
Humility according to St. Thomas
The Roots of Obligation
Social Unity and the Individual
Truly wonderful writing on profound topics, such as moral virtue, moral authority, moral society... clearly much grist for the media mill. Someone at the FBI is at this moment reading those articles, one after another, trying to conjure up the psychological profile of the next counterspy. And trying to figure out how Saint Thomas Aquinas figures in it all.

(OK... back to our usual UnBlinking blend of sarcasm and patience.) Again, if this fellow is hanssen@orion.clark.net, AltaVista tells us he appears in recent posts to the American Firearms Traders Board. You may find the mutual acronymity of AFTB and BATF mildly amusing.

At AFTB, AltaVista's index notwithstanding, we find no mention of our special Robert in the past year. But, wait... a search of the AFTB site (for either keyword 'hanssen' or 'orion') returns exactly one article, about a Colt AR-15. Specifically, a Colt AR-15 created prior to a federal ban on certain weapon capabilities:

Re: Pre-ban AR-15/Car-15     2KB     01/18/2001     13:45:33
Just one problem: the URL is no longer available--though it's only forty days old. Removed perhaps by the person who posted it? or by...? So, we make another search for this very topic (Pre-ban AR-15/Car-15).

Actually, eight postings were made on this thread! However, all those in Re: 00000051.htm are also missing from the site! Perhaps the FBI stopped over to visit AFTB with a warrant and a webmaster?

The AFTB home page tells us to "Visualize Freedom™" By the way, weapons discussed must be MADE IN THE U.S.A.--as pointed out three times on that one page! Its site parent, YankeeDog is helpful:

"Yes! We Ship Internationally "
How convenient for the GRU! YankeeDog lists other items which (depending upon your political persuasion) you either like to see, or fear seeing, adjacent to one another:
American Bowie Knifes | Blackpowder Beauties
Shooting Tests | Firearms Trader Board | Optics & Accessories
United States Constitution | Patriot Chat Room | Hot Links
and among those hot links, an equally interesting consortium including:
American
Blackpowder
Goverment
Hackers
Knives
online news
Category 4
Web Masters
"Idaho"
Firearms trading might predictably elicit a certain degree of controversy:
"TWO MEN ARE ARRESTED IN INTERNET GUN SCHEME"
and, as a helpful interested party points out:
"The webboard to which the news item alludes is the "American Firearms Traders Board", http://www.yankeedog.com/firearmstraders/_disc4/0000000a.htm The advertisement dates from April 1st, 1998.

I have sent them a cc, although they were probably the first to know about this unhappy event..."
AFTB were understandably displeased at the publicity, given that the troubling article may not have been entirely accurate. They conclude (as you may, by following the thread) that the original report missed some telling facts. However, wondering what lurks within the overall (it's huge, 616K) message archive we discover that there are many, many gun clubs, and that the FT Meade club needs members:
If you, or someone you know, is an active or retired military, DOD civilian, NSA or DIA employee, you are eligible to join the Fort Meade Rifle and Pistol Club. Dues are only $20 per year and we have 9 ranges from 50 to 600 yards. We have IPSC, Swiss Rifle, WWII, Cowboy, Class 3 and Counter Sniper shoots. If you meet the above criteria, please e mail me for details.
It's interesting that 'No Such Agency' employees, among others, are welcomed--but not specifically FBI agents. Could that suggest that NSA gun owners knew better than to consort with FBI counterspies, or that NSA spies knew that FBI gun owners were counter-counterspies, or...

At this point I must conclude I have come full circle, UnBlinking from the top of the internet to the bottom, and back again.

Looks like the FBI has their work cut out for them.

UnBlinking update: Hanssen quite a webster Monday, 2001-02-26

I've now read more about Hanssen than anyone should have to--ever. If you'd like to skim the high points, here are links to the most data-dense sources.

Original source of many specifics echoed throughout the media (as though a trial will matter now... but, it worked for OJ :-)

AFFIDAVIT IN SUPPORT OF CRIMINAL COMPLAINT, ARREST WARRANT AND SEARCH WARRANTS : UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. ROBERT PHILIP HANSSEN, a/k/a "B", a/k/a "Ramon Garcia", a/k/a "Jim Baker", a/k/a "G. Robertson"
Stefan A. Pluta, Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation
16th day of February, 2001

First pass through Hanssen's life; requisite surprise from neighbors:

Friends Recall Regular Guy, Secret Room
By Tom Jackman and David A. Vise, Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, February 21, 2001; Page A01

Deeper digs at Hanssen's roots; divergent perspectives from acquaintances:

A Question of Why
By Carol Morello and William Claiborne, Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, February 25, 2001; Page A01

Re: the beauty of 20-20 hindsight; launch of the formal "He was crazy" phase:

Spy Suspect: In the End, a Soul Lost and Lonely
By Richard T. Cooper, Megan Garvey, Times Staff Writers
Sunday, February 25, 2001

Humorous and/or paranoid and/or savvy commentary from the technical trenches.

Spying and Technology: Robert Philip Hanssen
SlashDot, hosted by michael on Thursday February 22, @04:21AM

Mere online coincidence? The former Director of CIA and Director of FBI while Hanssen did his business was also a 'Web-ster' :-) Yes, even a tiny pun can set off UnBlinking; here's what I gathered before coming to my senses.

Hon. William H. Webster; U. S. attorney and U. S. District Court judge, Eastern District of Missouri; U. S. Court of Appeals judge, Eighth Circuit. Began as FBI Director 23 Feb 1978 until moving to CIA (FBI Director William S. Sessions' sessions began 02 Nov 1987). Webster was CIA director 26 May 1987 through 31 Aug 1991.

Webster was Chairman of the Global Organized Crime Project, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; led a 1999 investigation of alleged IRS abuses that found such incidents to be isolated, and not a behavior endorsed by the IRS. Most recently a law partner with Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy in Washington, D.C.

Wouldn't you think that with such superb raw material we could come up with a plausible conspiracy theory?

UnBlinking update: Maintaining Plausible Denial Tuesday, 2001-03-06

OK, I absolutely swear I did not know Webster is involved until today:

"...Attorney General John Ashcroft has asked former FBI director William Webster to convene a panel of experts to review bureau procedures and recommend changes..."
Really; and I'm willing to submit to a polygraph exam!
UnBlinking update: As Seen on 60 Minutes Monday, 2001-12-17

On Sunday 2001 Dec 16, Lesley Stahl brought the UnBlinking CBS Eye (and it really is!) to Google Groups. Among his various escapades, Robert Hanssen had authored a risque story about his wife, Bonnie, including specific unadulterated (in one sense :-) facts about both Hanssens. His posting to a popular newsgroup called alt.sex.stories is dated 1998 Jun 05. Hanssen courteously included such helpful category meta data as "wife, exhib, true."

It was only around four in the afternoon, and Bonnie still had plenty of time as she walked over and perched on the high wooden stool. She sat, freshly showered and still naked, in the warm light of the summer Chicago sun which streamed through her apartment's large bedroom window to her left. Refreshed from her shower after teaching second grade at the parish school, it was time to fix her hair. This was her habit, her little ritual after a shower, a time to herself to unwind and feel feminine, a time to feel the air on her skin and fix herself all pretty for Bob...
...who even identified himself by name and by e-mail address. Hmmm... an FBI background check for codeword security clearance can take months - they think nothing of chatting up your high school teachers or next door neighbors. Reminder to FBI: a search engine can be your friend.

Declan McCullaugh's politechbot had circulated this same report on 2001 Aug 06. Being aware of the 'wide' (wink, wink) range of material on the web, Declan commented merely that the story was "not really explicit at all." As early as 2001 Jul 23 the Washington Post asked whether Hanssen had been Struck by the Muse in his Usenet posting.

A recent press release announced a new book about Robert Hanssen on 2001 Dec 14, just two days before the CBS airing. The Spy Next Door, by Time magazine correspondent Elaine Shannon and Ann Blackman seemed to have taken the proper UnBlinking view: use the web (it lies less than lawyers and their ilk). In reference to Dr. Alen Salerian, "a Washington psychiatrist who initially worked with Hanssen's lawyers but severed ties over disputes about defense strategy,"

Co-author Shannon denied that Salerian was a primary source for the book. 'He did not bring to our attention or add anything to our knowledge of what Hanssen posted on the Internet and to newsgroups...'
Again, the internet can do a lot of the leg work. However, given the timing of that book release, it wouldn't hurt to know someone on the 60 Minutes staff, either.
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