Ames/clipper compromised?

Brian D Williams talon57 at
Mon Mar 28 06:18:54 PST 1994


 Okay here's the scoop on the Ames/clipper bit, from the guy who
wrote it. Permission to distribute is granted as long as it is
reproduced in it's entirety., the electronic version of TERMINAL COMPROMISE is
available for ftp at under /pub/novel for those who

- From p00506 at Fri Mar 25 08:04:37 1994
Date: Fri, 25 Mar 94 11:01:56 -0500
To: talon57 at
From: "Winn Schwartau" <p00506 at>
Organization: Inter.Pact
Subject: Ames/Clipper Connection

                    More About Clipper and Ames
                        by Winn Schwartau

                         March 25, 1994.

The Ames/Clipper item I wrote in the Feb. 1994 issue of Security 
Insider Report has apparently caused quite a hub-bub. The Senate 
Foreign Relations Committee is looking for more, the general media 
has picked it up, and the net is buzzing. As a result, I have been
asked to put a few words out regarding this story.

First of all, it is a story, one that was told to me by a  person 
whom  I know well, respect, and was at the actual  meeting  where 
the subject of Ames/Clipper was discussed. 

In RISKS 15.67, Dorothy Denning said that she didn't think that the
Clipper Ames story/rumor made sense.  While I am sure that the
people to whom she spoke told her what she wrote, I was given the
story by my source who WAS AT THE MEETING.  Does that make it all
true?  No, it doesn't. And the item in Security Insider Report
contained strong caveats at both the beginning and the end of the
article.  It was NOT printed as 100% accurate: it was printed as I
was told it, and it was read and approved prior to publication by
the source.

I, too, have sought for confirmation, and been unable to find it. 
So, when Dorothy said she couldn't, that's no surprise.  I have
enclosed the piece that originally appeared in SIR. I fail to
understand Dorothy's inability to accept possibilities and
capabilities. That's one of the basic tenets of intelligence and a
strong defensive posture.

I find it very easy to accept that the intelligence community is 
considering everything that Ames might have spilled, including
Clipper. What is so strange about that? That's their job! In the 
same issue of SIR, I examined how the FBI used technology to 
monitor Ames'computer.

In  the  next issue of SIR, I will be looking  at  Ames'  hacking 
abilities  and skills which possibly lend credence to the  possi
bility  that Clipper was compromised.  The tale is still  unfold

                "Ames and the Clipper Connection"
    (From The February, 1994 Issue of Security Insider Report)

Let me preface this item with a caveat.   I received a call  from 
a  very well placed and highly reliable person in Washington  who 
passed on the information.  I asked if there was any way I  could 
confirm what he told me, and I was told no.  It's too  sensitive. 

Nonetheless,  it  is so intriguing that SIR  readers  expect  and 
would  want  to know what people are thinking about, even  if  it 
turns out not to be true.  We in our industry deal with possibil
ities and capabilities and since this discussion did take  place, 
I'm passing it on as it happened.  If this item has any shred  of 
truth to it, well . . .  decide for yourself.

My  contact, we'll call him something original, like  'Joe',  was 
asked to attend a meeting where representatives from the FBI  (he 
wasn't clear if it was the Counter Intelligence 3 [CI-3 from Half 
Street  who keep track of Soviets and Russians] or from FBI  HQ), 
the  CIA and the National Security Agency.  All told more than  a 
dozen  and  less  than twenty people  assembled  in  an  off-site 
"neutral" location to figure out what to do.

It  seems, according to a number of people at this meeting,  that 
alleged CIA traitor Aldrich Ames, had access to the Clipper keys.

Whoah!  I nearly fell off my keyboard when I heard that.  

"You  mean he knew the crypto-secrets behind the whole thing?"  I 
asked.   "Why  would a Humint [Human Intelligence] guy  know  the 
secrets of Clipper?"

"He  had access to them; it would have been a normal part of  his 
job to be in that loop."

So what this group of initialed reps are allegedly attempting  to 
do is:

     1. Determine how much access Ames had to Clipper.
     2.  Determine  if he did have access, did he  in  fact  take 
advantage of it.
     3. If he did get some Clipper secrets, is there a record  of 
that access?
     4. Then, what did he do with them?

The fear, understandably, is that Ames might have compromised the 
entire Clipper/Capstone/Tessera program.  

The  words I also heard were, "If there's only even a  1%  chance 
that  Clipper has been compromised, the whole thing's  over.   We 
have to start from scratch."

So, according to my sources, the spooks-that-be are looking for a 
fast  alternative to Clipper and Skipjack, under the theory  that 
Ames may have blown the whole wad.

Civil libertarians might shout with glee if this turns out to  be 
true, but I think it's a hell of way to win a ball game.  Bitter
sweet irony.  Sure, I'm not in favor it, and I am indeed  nervous 
about  'the other shoe' but this is not the way I wanted  Clipper 
to go away.

I repeat: as of today, this is only a story, there is no  confir
mation.  If SIR readers have anything to add, please let us  know 
in any way you can.

(C) 1994, Winn Schwartau and Inter.Pact

NOTE: As of March 24, 1994, my sources reconfirmed that the story 
as I told it is 100% accurate.  

(Security  Insider  Report  is published  monthly  by  Inter.Pact 
Press, 11511 Pine St., Seminole, FL  34642. Voice:  813-393-6600, 
Fax  813-393-6361,  email wschwartau at   Hardcopy  sub
scriptions are $99/Yr. and electronic site licenses are available 
for selected organizations.)

Brian Williams

"Cryptocosmology: Sufficently advanced comunication is
                  indistinguishable from noise." --Steve Witham
Version: 2.3a


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