Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Undying Octopus: FBI and the PROMIS affair - Part 1

The PROMIS scandal, once labelled ‘the scandal that wouldn’t die,’ lives on according to a recent FBI FOIA response. The affair centered around the government’s theft of the PROMIS software, a forerunner to the infamous PRISM, and the far-reaching fallout which allegedly included everything from fraud, to covert operations and surveillance, to Danny Casolaro’s mysterious death, and remains the subject of an investigation decades after the Department of Justice declared the matter officially closed.

The FBI’s response also reveals that the Congressional investigation was compromised, and additional files on the subject have been alternatively lost or destroyed. Most significantly, the file reveals that the Bureau’s sources indicated the allegations about PROMIS were true.

The PROMIS scandal began in the early 1980s, though the FBI would wait ten years before opening the Inslaw/PROMIS matter as its 51st “Major Case.” Other things deemed Major Cases by the Bureau included Osama bin Laden, 9/11, the Anthrax scare, and the Oklahoma City Bombing. According to a summary sent to the FBI Director in 1992, the roots of the Inslaw/PROMIS case went back to 1982, when Inslaw signed a $9.9 million contract with the government to install PROMIS as the Justice Department’s case management software in 94 U.S. Attorney’s offices. While the DOJ would later claim that PROMIS was unsatisfactory and could not keep up with their needs, this is undermined not only by previous reports of PROMIS’ efficacy but by the fact that, as of the publishing of this article, PROMIS is still in use by New Jersey’s court system.


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