You are on page 1of 11

Loss of US Civil Liberties: PROMIS / Main Core Strona 1 z 11

The Center for Grassroots Oversight
This page can be viewed at http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?
timeline=civilliberties&civilliberties_surveillance=civilliberties_promis___main_core

Loss of US Civil Liberties
PROMIS / Main Core
Project: Loss of US Civil Liberties
Open-Content project managed by Paul, PDevlinBuckley, blackmax

add event | references

Mid-1970s: PROMIS Software Developed, Can Integrate
Information from Multiple Databases
An application known as PROMIS, the Prosecutor’s Management Information System, is
developed. (Fricker 3/1993) It is designed to be used to keep track of criminal investigations
through a powerful search engine that can quickly access all data items stored about a case.
(Shorrock 7/23/2008) William Hamilton, one of the application’s developers, will describe
what it can be used to do: “Every use of PROMIS in the court system is tracking people. You
can rotate the file by case, defendant, arresting officer, judge, defence lawyer, and it’s
tracking all the names of all the people in all the cases.” Wired magazine will describe its
significance: “What this means is that PROMIS can provide a complete rundown of all federal
cases in which a lawyer has been involved, or all the cases in which a lawyer has represented
defendant A, or all the cases in which a lawyer has represented white-collar criminals, at
which stage in each of the cases the lawyer agreed to a plea bargain, and so on. Based on this
information, PROMIS can help a prosecutor determine when a plea will be taken in a
particular type of case.” In addition, PROMIS can integrate several databases without
requiring any reprogramming, meaning it can “turn blind data into information.” PROMIS is
developed by a private business entity that will later become the company Inslaw, Inc.
Although there will later be a series of disputes over the application’s use by the US
government and others, this version of PROMIS is funded by a Law Enforcement Assistance
Administration grant and is therefore in the public domain. (Fricker 3/1993)

1980s or Before: Database of Potential Enemies Established as
Part of Continuity of Government Plan
As a part of the plan to ensure Continuity of Government (COG) in the event of a Soviet
nuclear strike or other emergency, the US government begins to maintain a database of
people it considers unfriendly. A senior government official who has served with high-level
security clearances in five administrations will say it is “a database of Americans, who, often
for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of
panic, might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived ‘enemies of the
state’ almost instantaneously.” He and other sources say that the database is sometimes
referred to by the code name Main Core, and one says it was set up with help from the
Defense Intelligence Agency.
Alleged Link to PROMIS - The database will be said to be linked to a system known as PROMIS,
the Prosecutor’s Management Information System, over which the US government conducts a
long-lasting series of disputes with the private company Inslaw. The exact connection
between Main Core and PROMIS is uncertain, but one option is that code from PROMIS is used
to create Main Core. PROMIS is most noted for its ability to combine data from different
databases, and an intelligence expert briefed by high-level contacts in the Department of
Homeland Security will say that Main Core “is less a mega-database than a way to search
pdfMachine
A pdf writer that produces quality PDF files with ease!
Produce quality PDF files in seconds and preserve the integrity of your original documents. Compatible across
nearly all Windows platforms, if you can print from a windows application you can use pdfMachine.
Get yours now!
http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=civilliberties&civilliberties_su... 2009-05-07
Loss of US Civil Liberties: PROMIS / Main Core Strona 2 z 11

numerous other agency databases at the same time.”
Definition of National Emergency - It is unclear what kind of national emergency could trigger
such detention. Executive orders issued over the next three decades define it as a “natural
disaster, military attack, [or] technological or other emergency,” while Defense Department
documents include eventualities like “riots, acts of violence, insurrections, unlawful
obstructions or assemblages, [and] disorder prejudicial to public law and order.” According to
one news report, even “national opposition to US military invasion abroad” could be a trigger.

How Does It Work? - A former military operative regularly briefed by members of the
intelligence community will be told that the program utilizes software that makes predictive
judgments of targets’ behavior and tracks their circle of associations using “social network
analysis” and artificial intelligence modeling tools. “The more data you have on a particular
target, the better [the software] can predict what the target will do, where the target will
go, who it will turn to for help,” he will say. “Main Core is the table of contents for all the
illegal information that the US government has [compiled] on specific targets.”
Origin of Data - In 2008, sources will reportedly tell Radar magazine that a “host of publicly
disclosed programs… now supply data to Main Core,” in particular the NSA’s domestic
surveillance programs initiated after 9/11. (Ketcham 5/2008)

Spring 1981: Justice Department Official Reportedly Says ‘We’re
Out to Get Inslaw’
Lawrence McWhorter, director of the Executive Office for US Attorneys, tells one of his
subordinates, “We’re out to get Inslaw.” Inslaw developed the PROMIS database and search
application (see Mid-1970s) and is soon to become embroiled in a dispute with the Justice
Department over it. Mallgrave will later tell Wired magazine: “We were just in his office for
what I call a B.S. type discussion. I remember it was a bright sunny morning.… [McWhorter]
asked me if I would be interested in assuming the position of assistant director for data
processing… basically working with Inslaw. I told him… I just had no interest in that job. And
then, almost as an afterthought, he said ‘We’re out to get Inslaw.’ I remember it to this
day.” (Fricker 3/1993)

April 1981: President Reagan’s Counsellor Praises PROMIS to
Prosecutors
Edwin Meese, Counsellor to President Ronald Reagan, praises the PROMIS application at a
gathering of prosecutors. He calls it “one of the greatest opportunities for [law enforcement]
success in the future.” PROMIS is a database search system to help prosecutors find
information about cases and people involved in them. (Fricker 3/1993)

Spring 1981 or Shortly After: Justice Department Appoints
Former Inslaw Employee to Supervise Contract with Company
Lawrence McWhorter, director of the Justice Department’s Executive Office for US Attorneys,
gives the job of supervising a contract with Inslaw for the installation of the PROMIS database
and search application to C. Madison “Brick” Brewer. Brewer once worked for Inslaw, but,
according to documents used in court proceedings, was allowed to resign when Inslaw’s
founder William Hamilton found his performance inadequate. McWhorter had told a previous
candidate for the position that he was “out to get Inslaw” (see Spring 1981). The Justice
Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility will examine the matter and rule there is
no conflict of interest. Brewer will later tell a federal court that everything he does regarding
Inslaw is approved by Deputy Attorney General Lowell Jensen. Jensen had previously
supervised a product known as DALITE, which lost a major contract to Inslaw in the 1970s.
(Fricker 3/1993)

pdfMachine
A pdf writer that produces quality PDF files with ease!
Produce quality PDF files in seconds and preserve the integrity of your original documents. Compatible across
nearly all Windows platforms, if you can print from a windows application you can use pdfMachine.
Get yours now!
http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=civilliberties&civilliberties_su... 2009-05-07
Loss of US Civil Liberties: PROMIS / Main Core Strona 3 z 11

1982-1984: PROMIS Used by NSA, Treasury, and NSC to Track
Loans to Soviet Union
The PROMIS database application is used for a program called “Follow the Money” to track
loans made by Western banks to the Soviet Union and its allies. The top-secret program is run
for the National Security Council (NSC) by Norman Bailey, who uses NSA signals intelligence to
track the loans. Bailey will later say that the PROMIS application is “the principal software
element” used by the NSA and the Treasury Department in their electronic surveillance
programs that track financial flows to the Soviet bloc, organized crime, and terrorist groups.
According to Bailey, this program marks a significant shift in resources from human spying to
electronic surveillance, as a way to track money flows to suspected criminals and American
enemies. (Shorrock 7/23/2008)

March 1982: Inslaw Wins Contract to Install PROMIS from Justice
Department
Inslaw wins a $9.6 million contract from the Justice Department to install the PROMIS
application in 20 US attorney’s offices as a pilot program. PROMIS is an application designed to
be used by prosecutors to keep track of case records (see Mid-1970s). If the trial installation
is successful, the company will install PROMIS in the remaining 74 federal prosecutors’ offices
around the country. According to William Hamilton, one of Inslaw’s owners, the eventual
market for complete automation of the Federal court system is worth up to $3 billion.
However, this is the last contract Inslaw receives from the Justice Department for PROMIS, as
the deal becomes mired in a series of disputes. (Fricker 3/1993)

April 14, 1982: Justice Department Official Suggests Terminating
PROMIS Installation Contract
One month after the Justice Department and Inslaw sign a contract on the installation of
PROMIS software (see March 1982), a departmental official raises the possibility of
terminating the contract. At a meeting of the PROMIS Project Team, project manager C.
Madison Brewer and others discuss terminating the contract with Inslaw for convenience of
the government, according to notes taken at the meeting by department officials. In a sworn
statement, Brewer will say he does not recall the details of the meeting, but if this
recommendation were made, it was made “in jest.” However, Brewer will admit to being
upset with Inslaw’s handling of the contract and its demand for payment for enhancements it
had made privately to the application. After the contract is terminated, Bankruptcy Court
Judge George Bason will find Brewer’s recommendation to terminate the contract constitutes
“a smoking gun that clearly evidences Brewer’s intense bias against Inslaw, his single-minded
intent to drive Inslaw out of business.” (US Congress 9/10/1992)

April 19, 1982: Justice Department Official Criticises Inslaw in
Meeting
Justice Department manager C. Madison Brewer displays his hostility towards Inslaw, Inc., in a
meeting to discuss the implementation of the PROMIS application. An Inslaw memorandum of
the meeting says, “Brewer seized upon this issue [that Inslaw wanted to be paid for privately-
financed enhancements it had made to the software] and launched into a tirade which was
very emotional, unorganized, and quite illogical.” Brewer’s complaints are:
The memo claiming the payments is “typical of Inslaw and [Inslaw owner] Bill Hamilton and
that it was self-serving and unnecessary.”
How did the Justice Department “know that we might say work was not finished under our
government contracts and the next week copyright the work and begin selling it back to the
Justice Department.”
A press release about a contract awarded to Inslaw was inaccurate because “it described
West Virginia as a successful implementation when in fact, they had spent an additional 20K

pdfMachine
A pdf writer that produces quality PDF files with ease!
Produce quality PDF files in seconds and preserve the integrity of your original documents. Compatible across
nearly all Windows platforms, if you can print from a windows application you can use pdfMachine.
Get yours now!
http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=civilliberties&civilliberties_su... 2009-05-07
Loss of US Civil Liberties: PROMIS / Main Core Strona 4 z 11

on the project and Lanier was doing all the work.”
The memo had caused “all kinds of problems in Justice and had many people upset.”
“Illinois Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Michigan Prosecuting Attorney’s Association,
Andy Voight, and others,” would say that “Inslaw did not do good or successful work.”
“Hamilton started the PROMIS system as an employee of the DC, USAO. And that all of the
software was developed with Federal funds and what right did Hamilton have to try to claim
ownership of the software.”
The House Judiciary Committee will later comment, “All of these comments were based with
an obvious dislike of Bill Hamilton and a resentment for the success of Inslaw personified in
him.” (US Congress 9/10/1992)

August 11, 1982: Justice Department Concedes Inslaw Owns
Enhanced PROMIS
The Justice Department says that it accepts Inslaw has proprietary rights to the enhanced
PROMIS database and search application. An initial version of the software had been designed
using government money, and so is in the public domain, but a later version was funded by
Inslaw itself, so the modifications belong to Inslaw. A Justice Department lawyer writes: “To
the extent that any other enhancements (beyond the public domain PROMIS) were privately
funded by Inslaw and not specified to be delivered to the Department of Justice under any
contract or other agreement, Inslaw may assert whatever proprietary rights it may have.” This
statement is made in response to a letter sent by lawyers acting for Inslaw founder William
Hamilton informing the department that Inslaw intended to become a private company, and
asking it to waive any proprietary rights it might claim to the enhanced version. Clarification
will be provided in a 1988 deposition in which Deputy Attorney General Arnold Burns will say,
“Our lawyers were satisfied that Inslaw’s lawyers could sustain the claim in court, that we had
waived those [proprietary] rights.” (Fricker 3/1993)

May 6, 1983: Justice Department Official Says PROMIS Will Be
Provided to Israeli Government
A Justice Department official writes a memo saying he will soon provide the PROMIS
application to an Israeli government representative. The official is Jack Rugh, the acting
assistant director of the Office of Management Information Systems Support at the Executive
Office of US Attorneys. The memo states that “Reference my memorandum to file dated April
22, 1983, on the same subject. [C. Madison] Brick Brewer [PROMIS project manager at the
Justice Department] recently instructed me to make a copy of an LEAA version of PROMIS [a
version wholly owned by the Justice Department] available to Dr. Ben Orr, a representative of
the government of Israel. Dr. Orr called me to discuss that request after my earlier
memorandum was written. I have made a copy of the LEM DEC version of PROMIS and will
provide it along with the corresponding documentation, to Dr. Orr before he leaves the United
States for Israel on May 16.”
High Officials Possibly Involved - The House Judiciary Committee will comment: “Given the
international dimensions to the decisions, it is difficult to accept the notion that a group of
low-level Department personnel decided independently to get in touch with the government
of Israel to arrange for transfer of the PROMIS software. At the very least, it is unlikely that
such a transaction occurred without the approval of high-level Department officials, including
those on the PROMIS Oversight Committee.”
Actual Version of PROMIS Unclear - The committee will also later speculate that a version
whose ownership is under dispute was also given to the Israelis, saying: “[I]t is uncertain what
version actually was transferred. Department managers believed that all versions of the
Enhanced PROMIS software were the Department’s property. The lack of detailed
documentation on the transfer, therefore, only creates new questions surrounding allegations
that Enhanced PROMIS may have been sold or transferred to Israel and other foreign
governments.” (US Congress 9/10/1992) Rugh will pass the application to Brewer for handing
over to Orr six days later (see May 12, 1983).
pdfMachine
A pdf writer that produces quality PDF files with ease!
Produce quality PDF files in seconds and preserve the integrity of your original documents. Compatible across
nearly all Windows platforms, if you can print from a windows application you can use pdfMachine.
Get yours now!
http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=civilliberties&civilliberties_su... 2009-05-07
Loss of US Civil Liberties: PROMIS / Main Core Strona 5 z 11

May 12, 1983: PROMIS Application Handed over for Passage to
Israeli Government
Jack Rugh, the acting assistant director of the Office of Management Information Systems
Support at the Justice Department’s Executive Office for US Attorneys, writes a memo turning
over the PROMIS application to a colleague, C. Madison Brewer. The application is for passage
to the government of Israel, a transfer already discussed by Brewer and Rugh (see May 6,
1983). Rugh writes: “Enclosed are the PROMIS materials that you asked me to produce for Dr.
Ben Orr of the government of Israel. These materials consist of the LEM DEC PDP 11/70 version
of PROMIS on magnetic tape along with the printed specifications for that tape, as well as two
printed volumes of PROMIS documentation for the LEAA version of the system.” (US Congress
9/10/1992)

December 29, 1983: Justice Department Decides to Terminate
Part of PROMIS Contract
Deputy Attorney General Lowell Jensen and other members of the Justice Department’s
PROMIS Oversight Committee approve the termination of part of a contract with Inslaw, Inc.,
for the installation of PROMIS software (see March 1982). The termination, pushed through
despite a report that there was progress with Inslaw’s attorney on the resolution of contract
problems, only concerns the part of the contract for the installation of PROMIS on word
processing hardware in 74 small US attorneys’ offices. Inslaw will still be contracted to install
the application in 20 other US attorneys’ offices. The termination is to be for default, as
Inslaw has allegedly failed to perform this portion of the contract, although a different reason
will later be given (see February 1984). (US Congress 9/10/1992)

February 1984: Justice Department Counsel Finds Inslaw Has Not
Failed to Perform PROMIS Contract, Portion Terminated Anyway
Justice Department procurement counsel William Snider issues a legal opinion stating that the
department lacks legal justification to terminate part of a contract on the installation of
PROMIS software for default. The department’s PROMIS Oversight Committee had decided on
this course of action in December (see December 29, 1983), as it said that Inslaw, the
company installing PROMIS, was not performing the contract properly. However, the
committee decides to terminate the portion of the contract anyway, but for convenience—
meaning Inslaw may receive some compensation—not default. PROMIS project manager C.
Madison Brewer then notifies INSLAW owner William Hamilton that Deputy Attorney General
Lowell Jensen has decided on partial termination. (US Congress 9/10/1992)

1985: Private Company’s Attempt to Purchase Inslaw Fails
A company called SCT attempts to purchase Inslaw, which designed the PROMIS database and
search application. SCT is assisted by the New York investment bank Allen & Co., which helps
with the finance for the proposed deal. The attempt fails, but, according to Inslaw’s founder
William Hamilton, in the process a number of Inslaw’s customers are warned by SCT that
Inslaw will soon go bankrupt and will not survive reorganization. Wired magazine will say that
Allen & Co. has “close business ties” to Earl Brian, a businessman who is said to be interested
in PROMIS software and who is well-connected inside the Ronald Reagan administration.
(Fricker 3/1993)

Before 1986: Oliver North Develops Emergency Plan Including
Suspension of Constitution, Detentions
National Security Council officer Colonel Oliver North heads the development of a secret
pdfMachine
A pdf writer that produces quality PDF files with ease!
Produce quality PDF files in seconds and preserve the integrity of your original documents. Compatible across
nearly all Windows platforms, if you can print from a windows application you can use pdfMachine.
Get yours now!
http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=civilliberties&civilliberties_su... 2009-05-07
Loss of US Civil Liberties: PROMIS / Main Core Strona 6 z 11

contingency plan called REX 84. In the event of an emergency, the plan calls “for suspension
of the Constitution, turning control of the United States over to FEMA [the Federal Emergency
Management Agency], [and the] appointment of military commanders to run state and local
governments.” The plan, initially revealed in the Miami Herald in 1987, also reportedly calls
for the detention of upwards of 400,000 illegal aliens and an undisclosed number of American
citizens in at least 10 military facilities maintained as potential holding camps. North operates
the program from a secure White House site, allegedly using a software program known as
PROMIS. PROMIS was designed to track individuals, such as prisoners, by pulling together
information from disparate databases into a single record. According to Wired magazine:
“Using the computers in his command center, North tracked dissidents and potential
troublemakers within the United States. Compared to PROMIS, Richard Nixon’s enemies list or
Senator Joe McCarthy’s blacklist look downright crude.” (Ketcham 5/2008)

June 9, 1986: Inslaw Files Action against Justice Department in
Bankruptcy Court
Inslaw files a $30 million lawsuit against the Justice Department over the alleged theft of the
PROMIS software (see Mid-1970s) by the department. Inslaw’s attorney for the case, Leigh
Ratiner of the Washington firm Dickstein, Shapiro & Morin, chooses the bankruptcy court for
the filing based on the premise that the Justice Department, the creditor, has control of
PROMIS. He will later say, “It was forbidden by the Bankruptcy Act for the creditor to exercise
control over the debtor property. And that theory—that the Justice Department was exercising
control—was the basis that the bankruptcy court had jurisdiction. As far as I know, this was
the first time this theory had been used. This was ground-breaking.” (Fricker 3/1993)

1990: Court Rules Attorney General Does Not Have to Appoint
Special Prosecutor in Inslaw Affair
A US District Court rules that Attorney General Richard Thornburgh does not have to appoint a
special prosecutor in the Inslaw affair. Inslaw’s attorney Elliot Richardson had filed the case
because of a dispute with the Justice Department over allegations that the department had
stolen a version of the PROMIS database and search application from the company. However,
the court rules against Inslaw, stating that a prosecutor’s decision not to investigate—“no
matter how indefensible”—cannot be corrected by any court. (Fricker 3/1993)

December 5, 1990: House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Inslaw
Affair
The House Subcommittee on Economic and Commercial Law holds a hearing about the failure
of Attorney General Richard Thornburgh to provide full access to all documents and records
about the Inslaw case. At the hearing, Inslaw owner William Hamilton and its attorney Elliot
Richardson air their complaints about an alleged criminal conspiracy in the Justice
Department’s handling of a contract with Inslaw and its alleged theft of an enhanced version
of the PROMIS application. Judge George Bason, a bankruptcy judge who had found in favor of
Inslaw in a dispute with the department, testifies that he believes his failure to be
reappointed as bankruptcy judge was the result of improper influence on the court selection
process by the department because of his findings. Steven Ross, the general counsel to the
clerk of the US House of Representatives, refutes the Justice Department’s rationale for
withholding documents related to possible wrongdoing by its officials involved with the Inslaw
contract. In addition, Government Accountability Office representatives describe deficiencies
in the Justice Department’s Information Resources Management Office and its administration
of data processing contracts. Following this hearing, Thornburgh agrees to cooperate with the
subcommittee, but then fails to provide it with several documents it wants. (US Congress
9/10/1992)

pdfMachine
A pdf writer that produces quality PDF files with ease!
Produce quality PDF files in seconds and preserve the integrity of your original documents. Compatible across
nearly all Windows platforms, if you can print from a windows application you can use pdfMachine.
Get yours now!
http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=civilliberties&civilliberties_su... 2009-05-07
Loss of US Civil Liberties: PROMIS / Main Core Strona 7 z 11

December 11, 1990: CIA Says It Does Not Have PROMIS
Application; Retired CIA Official Disputes Claim
The CIA says that it does not have the PROMIS database and search application (see Mid-
1970s). The statement is made in response to a letter sent to CIA Director William Webster by
the House Judiciary Committee on November 20 asking him to help them “by determining
whether the CIA has the PROMIS software.” In response the CIA states, “We have checked with
Agency components that track data processing procurement or that would be likely users of
PROMIS, and we have been unable to find any indication that the [CIA] ever obtained PROMIS
software.” However, information contradicting this will subsequently emerge. For example, a
retired CIA official whose job it is to investigate the Inslaw allegations internally will tell
Wired magazine that the Justice Department gave PROMIS to the CIA: “Well, the
Congressional committees were after us to look into allegations that somehow the agency had
been culpable of what would have been, in essence, taking advantage of, like stealing, the
technology [PROMIS]. We looked into it and there was enough to it, the agency had been
involved.” However, the official will say that when the CIA accepted PROMIS, it did not know
that there was a serious dispute about the Justice Department’s ownership of the software.
(Fricker 3/1993)

July 17, 1991: Attorney General Refuses to Attend House
Committee Hearing about PROMIS, Despite Prior Agreement
Attorney General Richard Thornburgh informs the House Judiciary Committee that he will not
attend a committee hearing the next day, despite previously saying he would. The hearing is
to discuss the committee’s access to departmental documents and the Inslaw affair, in which
the department had allegedly stolen an enhanced version of the PROMIS application.
According to a report by the committee, Thornburgh refuses to appear because a “press
release announcing the hearing had been unduly aggressive and contentious and not in
keeping with the tenor of an oversight hearing.” (US Congress 9/10/1992)

July 25, 1991: House Subcommittee Subpoenas PROMIS
Documents
The House Subcommittee on Economic and Commercial Law votes 10 to six to authorize the
issuance of a subpoena to the Department of Justice for documents related to the Inslaw
affair. The subpoena follows on from a refusal by Attorney General Richard Thornburgh to
appear before the House Judiciary Committee (see July 17, 1991). (US Congress 9/10/1992)
Some of the documents will be forthcoming, but others will be reported missing (see July 31,
1991).

July 31, 1991: Justice Department Says 51 PROMIS Documents
Are Missing
Responding to a Congressional subpoena (see July 25, 1991), the Justice Department sends
most documents requested about the alleged theft of a version of the enhanced PROMIS
software to the House Subcommittee on Economic and Commercial Law. However, the
department says that 51 documents or files are missing and cannot be found. A report issued
by the House Judiciary Committee in September 1992 will say that the subcommittee has still
not received an adequate explanation on how the documents came to be missing. (US
Congress 9/10/1992)

Spring 1992: US Intelligence Official Mentions Connection
between PROMIS and Main Core Database to Businessman
An unnamed US intelligence official tells businessman William Hamilton that there is a
connection between the PROMIS database and search program and the Main Core database.
pdfMachine
A pdf writer that produces quality PDF files with ease!
Produce quality PDF files in seconds and preserve the integrity of your original documents. Compatible across
nearly all Windows platforms, if you can print from a windows application you can use pdfMachine.
Get yours now!
http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=civilliberties&civilliberties_su... 2009-05-07
Loss of US Civil Liberties: PROMIS / Main Core Strona 8 z 11

Hamilton is a former NSA official who helped developed PROMIS, but is now involved in a
series of disputes with the government over money he says it owes his company, Inslaw. Main
Core is a database that is said to collect sensitive information, including about US persons.
The specific type of connection is not certain. This is one of three times officials will tell
Hamilton about the link (see 1995 and July 2001). (Shorrock 7/23/2008)

1995: Former NSA Official Tells Businessman about Connection
between PROMIS and Main Core Database
A former NSA official tells businessman William Hamilton that there is a connection between
the PROMIS database and search program and the Main Core database. Hamilton is a former
NSA official who helped developed PROMIS, but is now involved in a series of disputes with the
government over money he says it owes his company, Inslaw. Main Core is a database that is
said to collect sensitive information, including about US persons. The specific type of
connection is not certain. This is one of three times officials will tell Hamilton about the link
(see Spring 1992 and July 2001). (Shorrock 7/23/2008)

July 2001: Former Official Possibly Alludes to Link between
PROMIS and Main Core Database in Conversation with
Businessman
Retired Admiral Dan Murphy, a former deputy director of the CIA, indicates to businessman
William Hamilton that there is a connection between the PROMIS database and search
program and the Main Core database. Hamilton is a former NSA official who helped develop
PROMIS, but is now involved in a series of disputes with the government over money he says it
owes his company, Inslaw. Main Core is a database that is said to collect sensitive
information, including about US persons. The specific type of connection is not certain and
Murphy does not specifically mention Main Core, but says that the NSA’s use of PROMIS
involves something “so seriously wrong that money alone cannot cure the problem.” Hamilton
will later say, “I believe in retrospect that Murphy was alluding to Main Core.” This is one of
three times officials will tell Hamilton about the link (see Spring 1992 and 1995). (Shorrock
7/23/2008)

Shortly After September 11, 2001: Senior National Security
Analyst Sees Main Core Database in Use at White House
According to a former senior Justice Department official, a high-level former national security
official working as a senior intelligence analyst for a large domestic law enforcement agency
inside the White House accidentally walks into a restricted room, where he finds a computer
system logged on to what he recognizes to be the Main Core database. Main Core contains a
list of potential enemies of the state for use by the Continuity of Government program (see
1980s or Before). He will refuse to be interviewed about the matter, but will tell the senior
Justice Department official about it. The Justice Department official will add that when she
mentions the specific name of the top-secret system during a conversation, he turns “white as
a sheet.” (Shorrock 7/23/2008)

October 23, 2007: National Intelligence Official Says Privacy
Should be Redefined
Donald Kerr, the principal deputy director of national intelligence, tells a conference of
intelligence officials that the government needs new rules about how to balance privacy rights
and investigative needs. Since many people routinely post details of their lives on social-
networking sites such as MySpace, he says, their identity should not require the same
protection as in the past. Instead, only their “essential privacy,” or “what they would wish to
protect about their lives and affairs,” should be veiled. Commenting on the speech, the Wall
pdfMachine
A pdf writer that produces quality PDF files with ease!
Produce quality PDF files in seconds and preserve the integrity of your original documents. Compatible across
nearly all Windows platforms, if you can print from a windows application you can use pdfMachine.
Get yours now!
http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=civilliberties&civilliberties_su... 2009-05-07
Loss of US Civil Liberties: PROMIS / Main Core Strona 9 z 11

Street Journal will say that this is part of a project by intelligence agencies “to change
traditional definitions of how to balance privacy rights against investigative needs.” (Kerr
10/23/2007 ; Gorman 3/10/2008) According to some accounts, the prime repository of
information about US citizens that the government has is a database known as Main Core, so if
the government collected more information about citizens, the information would be placed
in or accessed through this database (see 1980s or Before).

March 2008 or Shortly Before: National Security Lawyer
Questions Legality of Information in US Government Databases
National security lawyer Suzanne Spaulding says that the constitutional question of whether
the US government can examine a large array of information about citizens contained in its
databases (see 1980s or Before) without violating an individual’s reasonable expectation of
privacy “has never really been resolved.” She adds that it is “extremely questionable” to
assume Americans do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy for data such as the
subject-header of an e-mail or a Web address from an Internet search, because those are
more like the content of a communication than a phone number. “These are questions that
require discussion and debate,” she says. “This is one of the problems with doing it all
[collecting data on citizens] in secret.” (Gorman 3/10/2008)

Spring-Summer 2008: New Church Committee Suggested to
Investigate Possible Abuses of Power during Bush Administration
and Before
A new investigation modeled on the Church Committee, which investigated government spying
(see April, 1976) and led to the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA -
see 1978) in the 1970s, is proposed. The proposal follows an amendment to wiretapping laws
that immunizes telecommunications companies from prosecution for illegally co-operating
with the NSA. A detailed seven-page memo is drafted outlining the proposed inquiry by a
former senior member of the original Church Committee.
Congressional Investigative Body Proposed - The idea is to have Congress appoint an
investigative body to discover the full extent of what the Bush White House did in the war on
terror that may have been illegal and then to implement reforms aimed at preventing future
abuses—and perhaps to bring accountability for wrongdoing by Bush officials. Key issues to
investigate include:
The NSA’s domestic surveillance activities;
The CIA’s use of rendition and torture against terrorist suspects;
The U.S. government’s use of military assets—including satellites, Pentagon intelligence
agencies, and U2 surveillance planes—for a spying apparatus that could be used against people
in the US; and
The NSA’s use of databases and how its databases, such as the Main Core list of enemies,
mesh with other government lists, such as the no-fly list. A deeper investigation should focus
on how these lists feed on each other, as well as the government’s “inexorable trend towards
treating everyone as a suspect,” says Barry Steinhardt, the director of the Program on
Technology and Liberty for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Proposers - The proposal is a product of talks between civil liberties advocates and aides to
Democratic leaders in Congress. People consulted about the committee include aides to House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers (D-MI). The civil
liberties organizations include the ACLU, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and
Common Cause. However, some Democrats, such as Pelosi, Senate Intelligence Committee
chairman John D. Rockefeller (D-WV), and former House Intelligence chairwoman Jane
Harman (D-CA), approved the Bush administration’s operations and would be made to look bad
by such investigation.
Investigating Bush, Clinton Administrations - In order that the inquiry not be called partisan, it
is to have a scope going back beyond the start of the Bush administration to include the
administrations of Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan. The memo states that
pdfMachine
A pdf writer that produces quality PDF files with ease!
Produce quality PDF files in seconds and preserve the integrity of your original documents. Compatible across
nearly all Windows platforms, if you can print from a windows application you can use pdfMachine.
Get yours now!
http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=civilliberties&civilliberties_su... 2009-05-07
Loss of US Civil Liberties: PROMIS / Main Core Strona 10 z 11

“[t]he rise of the ‘surveillance state’ driven by new technologies and the demands of counter-
terrorism did not begin with this administration.” However, the author later says in interviews
that the scope of abuse under George W. Bush would likely be an order of magnitude greater
than under preceding presidents.
'Imagine What We Don't Know' - Some of the people involved in the discussions comment on
the rationale. “If we know this much about torture, rendition, secret prisons, and warrantless
wiretapping despite the administration’s attempts to stonewall, then imagine what we don’t
know,” says a senior Democratic congressional aide who is familiar with the proposal.
Steinhardt says: “You have to go back to the McCarthy era to find this level of abuse. Because
the Bush administration has been so opaque, we don’t know [the extent of] what laws have
been violated.” “It’s not just the ‘Terrorist Surveillance Program,’” says Gregory Nojeim from
the Center for Democracy and Technology. “We need a broad investigation on the way all the
moving parts fit together. It seems like we’re always looking at little chunks and missing the
big picture.”
Effect on Presidential Race Unknown - It is unknown how the 2008 presidential race may
affect whether the investigation ever begins, although some think that Democratic candidate
Barack Obama (D-IL), said to favor open government, might be more cooperative with
Congress than his Republican opponent John McCain (R-AZ). However, a participant in the
discussions casts doubt on this: “It may be the last thing a new president would want to
do.” (Shorrock 7/23/2008)

May 2008 or Shortly Before: Constitutional Lawyer Questions
Legality of Main Core Database
Constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein, formerly an associate deputy attorney general under
President Ronald Reagan, says that the legality of the Main Core database, which contains a
list of enemies primarily for use in national emergencies (see 1980s or Before), is murky: “In
the event of a national emergency, the executive branch simply assumes these powers”—the
powers to collect domestic intelligence and draw up detention lists, for example—“if Congress
doesn’t explicitly prohibit it. It’s really up to Congress to put these things to rest, and
Congress has not done so.” Fein adds that it is virtually impossible to contest the legality of
these kinds of data collection and spy programs in court “when there are no criminal
prosecutions and [there is] no notice to persons on the president’s ‘enemies list.’ That means
if Congress remains invertebrate, the law will be whatever the president says it is—even in
secret. He will be the judge on his own powers and invariably rule in his own
favor.” (Ketcham 5/2008)

May 2008 or Before: Former CIA Officer Speculates Main Core
Database Resides within Homeland Security
Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi is interviewed by journalist Christopher Ketcham about the
Main Core database, which apparently contains a list of potential enemies of the US state.
Giraldi does not know any definite information about the database, but he speculates that it
must be contained within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS): “If a master list is
being compiled, it would have to be in a place where there are no legal issues”—the CIA and
FBI would be restricted by oversight and accountability laws—“so I suspect it is at DHS, which
as far as I know operates with no such restraints.” Giraldi notes that the DHS already
maintains a central list of suspected terrorists and says it has been freely adding people who
pose no reasonable threat to domestic security. “It’s clear that DHS has the mandate for
controlling and owning master lists. The process is not transparent, and the criteria for
getting on the list are not clear.” Giraldi continues, “I am certain that the content of such a
master list [as Main Core] would not be carefully vetted, and there would be many names on
it for many reasons—quite likely including the two of us.” (Ketcham 5/2008)

May 2008: Former Official Admits PROMIS Application Given to
pdfMachine
A pdf writer that produces quality PDF files with ease!
Produce quality PDF files in seconds and preserve the integrity of your original documents. Compatible across
nearly all Windows platforms, if you can print from a windows application you can use pdfMachine.
Get yours now!
http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=civilliberties&civilliberties_su... 2009-05-07
Loss of US Civil Liberties: PROMIS / Main Core Strona 11 z 11

NSA
Former national security official Norman Bailey admits publicly and on the record that the
PROMIS database and search application has been given to the NSA. As Salon magazine points
out: “His admission is the first public acknowledgement by a former US intelligence official
that the NSA used the PROMIS software.” Bailey also says that the application was given to the
Treasury Department for a financial tracking project in the early 1980s that also involved the
National Security Council (see 1982-1984). Bailey worked for US governments from the Ronald
Reagan era until the George W. Bush administration and, in addition to the 1980s tracking
program, he headed a special unit within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence
focused on financial intelligence on Cuba and Venezuela in 2006 and 2007. (Shorrock
7/23/2008)

May 2008: Number of Americans Listed as Potential Suspects in
Main Core Database Reportedly Reaches Eight Million
What Radar magazine describes as a “knowledgeable source” claims that 8 million Americans
are now listed in the Main Core database as potentially suspect. Main Core is a database of
enemies of the state established several decades before as a part of the Continuity of
Government (COG) program (see 1980s or Before). In the event of a national emergency, the
suspects could be subject to, for example, heightened surveillance, tracking, direct
questioning, or even detention. (Ketcham 5/2008)

Home | About | Timelines | Forum
| Development | Donate | Contact

Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
Except
where
otherwise noted, the
textual content of each
timeline is licensed under
a Creative Commons
Attribution-
NonCommercial-
ShareAlike

pdfMachine
A pdf writer that produces quality PDF files with ease!
Produce quality PDF files in seconds and preserve the integrity of your original documents. Compatible across
nearly all Windows platforms, if you can print from a windows application you can use pdfMachine.
Get yours now!
http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=civilliberties&civilliberties_su... 2009-05-07