Gore Planned To Bug America
By Charles R. Smith

During the 2000 presidential elections, Al Gore claimed to have invented the Internet. Gore's dubious claim of techno-savvy came within days of his admission that he managed to delete all of his e-mail concerning meetings with large DNC money donors.
Yet recently declassified secret documents show that Al Gore did help invent new ways to violate the privacy of every U.S. citizen using the Internet. The secret documents, obtained from the U.S. State Department through the Freedom of Information Act, show that Gore rejected "due process" in an effort to force America to give up the Fourth Amendment.
The Gore-led effort included classified memos describing ways to obtain access to all private computer information using "key escrow," or key recovery. The key escrow system was designed to force U.S. citizens to give computer code keys in order to meet required "law enforcement and intelligence" access.
In 1996, Gore proposed the legislation in order to restrict the use of "encryption," a technique of scrambling private information on personal computers with secret code keys.
According to a secret 1996 paper, "in August 1995, Vice President Gore approved a decision memo to introduce 'soft' legislation to regulate key escrowers."
The official reason for the Gore proposal was to stop criminals and terrorists from using advanced scrambling technology and preventing legal wiretaps. However, the secret documents show that Gore knew that it was impossible to stop criminals from scrambling their information.
"Drug distributors, organized crime and terrorists are beginning to acquire and use strong encryption. While U.S. policy can only have limited impact on such use, the urgency of supporting general use of escrowed products is increasing," states a secret 1996 document.
Prime targets for key escrow monitoring would be honest citizens, foreign governments, banks, corporations and dissidents unpopular with the then Clinton administration. The escrow keys were to be held by "key recovery agents" licensed by the Commerce Department under Secretary Ron Brown.
According to the 1996 report to V.P. Gore by CIA Director Deutch, the Justice Department proposed an all-out federal takeover of the computer industry. The Justice Department, proposed "legislation that would ... ban the import and domestic manufacture, sale or distribution of encryption that does not have key recovery."
After 9/11
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, former FBI Director Louis Freeh suggested that domestic encryption software should be banned so that law enforcement could monitor all e-mail. Privacy and information security specialists contend that such a drastic restriction would simply deny legal users the tools to defend critical information from terrorist attacks.
Yet in 1996, the Clinton-Gore administration predicted that a future terrorist attack would lead to calls for a ban on domestic scrambling technology.
"Notorious criminal acts could have the effect of forcing Congress' hand, to pass 'hard' legislation restricting domestic use of encryption," warned the 1996 secret document.
Ironically, the secret papers drawn up for the Clinton-Gore team were a product of FBI Director Freeh, the same ex-director of the FBI calling for a ban on legal domestic encryption today.
Still, one cannot always take the word of former director Freeh as the best advice. The same Director Freeh also ignored Chinese generals roaming in and out of the White House and appointed a top KGB agent to be his counterintelligence director in New York.
Yet, the secret FBI documents approved by Al Gore clearly show the previous administration skipped whole sections of law in an overzealous attempt at absolute power.
"Without an effective 'voluntary' policy, encouraging the use of key escrow encryption, it will only be a matter of time before crime brings the issue up. If we wait for refined international agreements and due process, key escrow will not get off the ground soon, if ever," concluded the secret document.
Oppression, Not Law Enforcement
"Can Key Recovery be used against dissidents and political opponents?" questioned Adm. William McConnell, the former National Security Agency (NSA) director under Presidents Bush Sr. and Clinton.
"In a word, YES," noted McConnell flatly.
Privacy advocates were shocked when they discovered that the former director of the NSA agreed with their analysis of the Gore idea to monitor America.
The director of the NSA may have greeted the Clinton/Gore-led key escrow project with dismay, but it was welcomed inside U.S. corporate boardrooms.
The newly declassified documents note that the CEOs of large U.S. computer firms gave their support to the Clinton-Gore proposals. The Computer Systems Policy Project, or CSPP, a lobby group composed of the largest U.S. computer makers, supported the idea as long as it did not interfere with profits and export sales. CSPP members include the CEOs of IBM, Apple, Silicon Graphics and AT.
According to a secret 1996 document, the CSPP agreed with the Gore proposal as long it would "protect the market share of U.S. encryption producers, as much as possible."
In return for their support, the corporate CEOs managed to obtain secret briefings inside the Clinton White House, starting in 1995. The secret meetings included detailed information about supercomputer and encryption exports.
Just by coincidence, the CSPP lobby group was led to these secret Clinton White House briefings by Ken Kay, an employee of Tony Podesta, the brother of then-Clinton adviser John Podesta.
Further documents show that John Podesta was also in charge of encryption export policy at that time for the White House. Immediately after the secret briefings in 1995, Podesta left the Clinton White House and went to work for his brother Tony.
When confronted by questions about possible conflicts of interest, attorney C. Boyden Gray and White House counsel Michael B. Waitzkin both denied that John and Tony Podesta engaged in any sort of dirty dealings.
In fact, the White House counsel noted that John Podesta had obtained a waiver from Clinton lawyers in 1997 for the activities that took place in 1995.
Please note that John Podesta obtained that Clinton waiver two years after the closed meetings were held inside the White House. Usually, a legal waiver is given before any conflict of interest takes place, not after. By definition, a legal waiver given after the fact should be called a pardon. Still, the waiver came from the same president who argued with a federal judge over the definition of 'is'.
Leadership 101
Are you surprised that the U.S. computer CEOs of IBM, Apple, Silicon Graphics and AT supported Al Gore and his crazy idea to bug America? The fact is that big business is not interested in civil rights or the Constitution, especially when it gets in the way of profits.
Yet the current Bush administration did not introduce a ban on encryption technology in the recent anti-terrorist legislation.
Why does President Bush want encryption to stay legal for all Americans? Perhaps George W. wishes to avoid the mess that Al Gore stepped in. Maybe, but I think not. I am certain that President Bush could teach some U.S. history to Al Gore along with how to be a leader.
After all, our nation started with a coded message when a lone rider looked anxiously toward a church tower: "One if by land, two if by sea ..."


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