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Why a Federal Judge Trampled Law

The fine hand of corruption and greed at the highest levels in the Justice Department is the common thread running through the web of conspiracy in the INSLAW affair.

Exclusive to American Free Press
By Michael Collins Piper


In March 1982 the Washington, D.C.-based INSLAW company, owned by Bill and Nancy Hamilton, won a $10-million, three-year contract with the Justice Department, which planned to install the PROMIS software, developed by Bill Hamilton, in the 22 largest U.S. attorneys’ offices and a word-processor version in 72 others.

In the meantime, however, Dr. Earl Brian, a longtime crony of then-Attorney General Edwin Meese, began using his clout to interfere with the Hamilton’s contract in order to win the contract for a company that he owned after the Hamiltons refused Brian’s offer to purchase INSLAW. Brian, who had wide-ranging international contacts, was widely believed to be a longtime asset of the CIA.

In early 1983 the Justice Department arranged with the Hamiltons to demonstrate PROMIS to an Israeli who called himself Dr. Ben Orr who said he represented the Israeli Ministry of Justice. Ben Orr said he was most impressed with PROMIS, but, to the Hamiltons’ surprise, he never bought the product.

It was only later the Hamiltons learned why: Brian had already illicitly provided the software to LEKEM, an Israeli Defense Force intelligence unit headed by Mossad operative Rafael Eitan.

Eitan, it turns out, was not only the Dr. Ben Orr who had visited the Hamiltons, but he was also the Mossad official directing the U.S.-based Jonathan Pollard spy ring, and a top ally of Ariel Sharon.

Eitan’s LEKEM operations had been funded by a series of off-shore corporations in the Bahamas set in place by Burns and Summit, the law firm of Deputy Attorney General Arnold Burns, a key player in the Justice Department’s campaign to liquidate INSLAW and a prime mover behind the ouster of federal Judge George Bason (see accompanying story) and the appointment of S. Martin Teel to succeed him.

Former Israeli intelligence operative Ari Ben-Men a she has said that PROMIS was perfect software for use by Israeli intelligence in tracking the Palestinian and political dissidents critical of Israel.

PROMIS was a very big thing for us guys, a very, very big thing, Ben-Menashe said. It was probably the most important issue of the 1980s because it just changed the whole intelligence outlook. The whole form of intelligence collection changed.

All of this was happening behind the scenes and unbeknownst, at that time, to the Hamiltons. How ever, with their software totally looted and distributed internationally—the Hamiltons found that the Justice Department was withholding more than $7 million in payments due on the contract, forcing INSLAW into insolvency. Then, in 1984, Justice abruptly canceled the contract.

In 1985, facing bankruptcy and fighting off hostile takeover attempts by allies of Earl Brian, the Hamiltons sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in federal court in Washington and also sued the Justice Department for the losses they had suffered.

The Justice Department’s conspiracy against INSLAW was so patently outrageous that in 1988 federal bankruptcy court Judge George Bason Jr. ruled for the Hamiltons and against Justice. Bason concluded the Justice Department had deliberately tried to bankrupt INSLAW so that they would be able to grab control of the software and not pay the Hamiltons.

Bason’s decision was subsequently upheld, but by this time, he had already been removed from the bench and replaced by S. Martin Teel who later liquidated The Spotlight in a conspiracy not dissimilar to the INSLAW affair (See accompanying story).

By this point, the Hamiltons attracted some media attention, thanks to the pioneering efforts of independent journalists such as Harry Martin of the Napa (California) Sentinel and The Spotlight and its talk for um, Radio Free America with Tom Valentine. Former Judge Bason, computer specialist Mike Riconosciuto, and Bill and Nancy Hamilton came on RFA to discuss the scandal.

The Hamiltons were now being ably represented by former Attorney General Elliot Richardson who felt great disgust at the activities of officials in the department he headed for a period in the Nixon era.

During this time people connected to INSLAW started turning up dead. (See accompanying story).

Alerted to growing awareness of the affair, then-House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jack Brooks (D-Texas) convened an inquiry into INSLAW. Brooks found that the Justice Department, under new attorney general, Dick Thornburgh, constantly stonewalled to keep the matter under wraps.

Meanwhile, Justice appealed the adverse ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals which, in May 1990, fixed things for the department. The appeals court did not address the actual merits of the complaint, ruling the bankruptcy venue had never been the place to hear the case in the first place, meaning the Hamiltons would have to file a new suit if they wanted justice.

In 1991, under congressional pressure, Thorn burgh’s successor as attorney general, former CIA official William Barr, appointed ex-federal Judge Nicholas Bua as an internal Justice Department special counsel to investigate INSLAW, although no one believed Justice would find itself guilty of anything.

In 1992, after the Hamiltons appealed to the Supreme Court, the court (predictably) upheld the lower court ruling in favor of the Justice Department.

In March 1993, to no one’s surprise, Bua issued a report whitewashing Justice. In August 1997 the Court of Federal Claims ruled against the Hamiltons and found that Justice was not guilty of any wrongdoing in INSLAW—the evidence notwithstanding.

The conspiracy that S. Martin Teel had so ably assisted did prevail. Teel went on to lend his authority to a group of criminal thugs, backed by Israel’s Mossad, whose mission was to destroy The Spotlight.