My Bust

Phrack Magazine Volume Four, Issue Forty-Three, File 12 of 27

or An Odyssey of Ignorance

(C) 1993 Robert W. F. Clark

[bjc: Another reason to be careful out there!]

[This is a factual account; however, certain innocent parties have already suffered enough damage to their reputations without further identification. I have changed their names. Where I have done so I follow the name with an asterisk [*].

In flagrante delicto

I am writing this article for the benefit of those who have yet to become acquainted with the brotherhood of law enforcement, a subculture as warped and depraved as any criminal organization.

The law enforcement community entered my life in the early part of December 1989. I am yet to be quit of it. My initial contact with law enforcement and its quaint customs was one afternoon as I was reading email. Suddenly, without warning, I heard a voice shout: "Freeze, and get away from the computer." Nonplussed, but still with some command of my faculties, I drawled: "So, which do you want me to do?"

The police officer did not answer.

I was in the main public academic computing facility at Penn State, which was occupied by several startled-looking computer users, who now trained their eyes on the ensuing drama with all the solicitous concern of Romans attending an arena event.

The officer, Police Services Officer Anne Rego, then left the room, and my immediate concern was to kill all processes and delete all incriminating files, or at least to arrange an accidental disruption of power. However, before I could do anything, Miss Rego reappeared with a grim, mustached police officer and what appeared to be the cast of Revenge of the Nerds.

Angela Thomas, computer science instructor, immediately commandeered both terminals I had been using and began transferring the contents of all directories to a safe machine; the newcomer, Police Services Officer Sam Ricciotti, volunteered the helpful information: "You're in big trouble, kid."

In an excess of hospitality, they then offered me a ride to Grange Building, police headquarters of Penn State, for an afternoon of conversation and bright lights.

I asked if I were under arrest, and finding that I was not, asked what would happen if I refused their generous offer. They said that it might have negative repercussions, and that the wise choice was to accompany them.

So, after a moment of thought, I agreed to accompany them. Forming a strange procession, with a police officer preceding me and another following, we entered an elevator. Then, still in formation, we exited the building to be greeted by two police cars with flashing red and blue lights. Like a chauffeur, Officer Ricciotti opened the door for me, and it was only after he closed it that I realized, for the first time, that the back doors of police cars have no handles on the inside.

I had made yet another mistake in a long series.

The purpose of this article is to detail several possible mistakes in dealing with police and how they may be avoided. As I made almost every possible mistake, my experience should prove enlightening.

While I hope that this article might prevent you from being busted, I will have been successful if even one person does not make the mistakes I made when I was busted.


To provide the reader with context, I shall explain the series of events which culminated in my apprehension.

On my entrance to the Pennsylvania State University as a University Scholar, the highest distinction available from an institution remarkable for its lack of distinction, I received an account on PSUVM, an IBM 3090 running VM/CMS. Before receiving the account, I acquired all available documentation from the Information Desk and read it. As it happened, the first document I read concerned "Netnews," the local name for Usenet.

As soon as my account was activated, I immediately typed netnews. I have never been the same since. Within a week, I began posting articles of my own and was immediately lambasted, flamed and roasted to a crisp. Discovering my own talent in the area of malediction, I became an alt.flame and talk.bizarre regular. I also read comp.risks, comp.dcom.telecom and other technical journals assiduously.

I began hacking VM/CMS, independently discovering a vast number of flaws in the system. Within a few months, I was able to access any information in the system which interested me, submit anonymous batch jobs, and circumvent the 'ration' utility which limited a luser's time on the system. It was a trivial matter to write a trojan horse which imitated the login screen and grabbed passwords. Late at night, when there were few users, I would crank the CPU, of a system capable of handling 300 users simultane ously, to 100% capacity just for the sake of doing it. I discovered a simple method of crashing the system, but felt no need to do it, as I knew that it would work. To avoid disk space rationing, I would store huge files in my virtual punch. To my credit, lest I seem a selfish pig unconcerned with the welfare of other users, I limited such exercises to the later hours of the night, and eliminated large files when they were no longer useful to me.

Like one starved, I glutted myself on information. To have legitimate access to such a system was marvellous. For a few months, I was satisfied with my level of 'power,' that elusive quality which is like a drug to those of a certain peculiarity of mind.

However, it was not long before I realized that despite the sheer power of the system, the user interface was clumsy, unaesthetic and intolerable to anyone desiring to understand the machine directly. The damn thing had a virtual punch card system!

I had heard about Unix, and was interested in trying this system. However, without an affiliation with the Computer Science Department, I had no way to get Unix access.

Comparative Literature majors apparently should not clutter their heads with such useless and destructive nonsense as the Unix operating system, just as an Engineering major can only be damaged by such mental clutter as the works of Shakespeare; this, in any case, seemed to be the only justification for such an arcane, Byzantine policy of restricting access to a nearly unlimited resource.

The academic community is addicted to the unhealthy practice of restricting information, and its policies are dedicated to the end of turning agile, eager young minds into so many identical cogs in the social mill. Those unable or unwilling to become cogs are of no use to this machine, and are dispensable.

Thus, in the latter part of my freshman year, I became increasingly frustrated and disillusioned with higher education in general, and by the very idea of specialized education in particular. I stopped attending classes, and even skipped tests. I became increasingly nocturnal and increasingly obsessed with Usenet. Nevertheless, even by doing the entire semester's work during finals week, I still barely managed to maintain honors status.

The summer restored my spirits greatly. I experimented with LSD for the first time, and found that it allowed me to see myself as I truly was, and to come to a certain grudging acceptance of myself, to a greater degree than any psychologist had. I found that I preferred marijuana to alcohol, and soon no longer subjected myself to prolonged bouts of drinking.

However, I mistook my upturn in spirits for a rejuvenation, when it was more likely due to the lack of pressure and hedonism of summer.

Near the end of my first year, I met Dale Garrison [*], an electronic musician and audio man for WPSX-TV, the university public television station. He also recorded music recitals for faculty and visiting luminaries, and thus had access to the Electronic Music Lab and all its facilities. His friend Shamir Kamchatka [*] had bequeathed him a Unix account on the mail hub of the Pennsylvania State University. Another friend, Ron Gere [*], a systems operator for the Engineering Computer Lab, had created an acco unt for him on the departmental VAXcluster following the termination of his legitimate account due to a change in policy. They gave the account the cover name of Huang Chang [*] as a sort of joke, but this name was remarkably inconspicuous with the preponderance of Asian names on the system. Dale began posting articles under this name, as he had no account with his real name, but by a slow process, the nom-de-plume became a well-developed and individual personality, and the poems, articles and diatribes w ritten under this name became quite popular. Even when we later realized the ease with which he could forge articles with his actual name, he was disinclined to do so. The wit and intelligence of the assumed identity became so unique to that identity that it would have been difficult to shed.

I often used the Unix account, and quickly began to understand and appreciate the complexity and organic unity of the Internet.

I had no moral qualms about using a computer account with the permission of the legitimate owner of the account, any more than I would have moral qualms about checking out a book from the mathematics library. A source of information for which my tuition and taxes has paid is a source of information which I have every right to access. To deny my access is a crime greater by far than for me to claim my rights by nondestructive means. Any university will allow a student of any college to check out a book on any subject from the library.

However, myopic university administrations seem to believe that restricting access to information, rather than allowing a free exchange of ideas, is the purpose of an educational institution. Every department will have its own computer subnetwork, regardless of whether it is sensible or equitable to do so. The stagnation and redundancy we see on the Internet is the inevitable result of such an absurd _de facto_ standard.

This policy is by no means limited to computers. It extends to class scheduling, work-study programs, any technical equipment worth using, arts training, religious studies, athletic facilities, degree requirements, musical instruments, literature and any thing which is useful to the mind. Bean-counters who can neither read a line of Baudelaire nor parse a line of C decide what is to be the canned curriculum for anyone who chooses a major. This is the obvious outcome in a society where education is so und ervalued that Education majors have the lowest SAT scores of any degree-level students.

So I thought as I saw resources wasted, minds distorted, the lives of close friends ruined by the slow, inexorable grinding of the vast, impersonal machine known as higher education. I saw professors in computer science tell blatant falsehoods, professors in philosophy misquote Nietzsche, professors in English Literature hand out typewritten memos rife with grammatical errors. I grew entirely disgusted with the mismanagement of higher education. When I discovered that the most intelligent and individual p eople around me were usually not students, I gave up on college as a means of self-actualization.

My second year of college was essentially the first repeated, except that my frustration with the academic world bloomed into nihilism, and my depression into despair. I no longer even bothered to attend most tests, and even skipped finals. I allowed my paperwork for the University Scholars Program to lapse, rather than suffer the indignity of ejection for poor academic performance.

Another summer followed, with less cheer than the previous. Very early in the summer, a moron rear-ended my car without even slowing down before slamming into me. My mother and stepfather ejected me from their house, and I moved to Indiana to live with my father. When the insurance money arrived from my totalled car, I purchased a cheap vehicle and hit the highway with no particular destination in mind. With a lemming's logic, I turned east instead of west on I-70, and returned to State College, Pennsyl vania.

At the last moment, I registered for part-time classes.

History of a Conflagration

>From the beginning of this semester, I neglected my classes, and instead read RFCs and Unix system security manuals. I began experimenting with the communications capabilities of the TCP/IP protocol suite, and began to understand more deeply how it was that such a network could exist as an organic whole greater than the sum of its parts.

In the interest of experimenting with these interconnections, I began to acquire a number of Internet 'guest' accounts. When possible, I would use these to expand my area of access, with the goal of testing the speed and reliability of the network; and, I freely admit, for my amusement.

I realized, at the time, that what I was doing was, legally, in a gray area; but I did not give moral considerations more than a passing thought. Later, I had leisure to ponder the moral and legal aspects of my actions at great length, but at the time I was collecting accounts I only considered the technical aspects of what I was doing.

I discovered Richard Stallman's accounts on a variety of computers. I used these only for testing mail and packet routing. I realized that it would be trivial to use them for malicious purposes, but the thought of doing so did not occur to me. The very idea of hacking a computer system implies the desire to outsmart the security some unknown person had designed to prevent intrusion; to abuse a trust in this manner has all the appeal to a hacker that a hunter would find in stalking a kitten with a howitzer. To hack an open system requires no intelligence and little knowledge, and imparts no deeper knowledge than is available by legitimate use of the system.

I soon had a collection of accounts widely scattered around the continent: at the University of Chicago, at the Pennsylvania State University, at Johns Hopkins, at Lawrence-Berkeley Laboratories and a number of commercial and government sites.

However, the deadly mistake of hacking close to home was my downfall. I thought I was untouchable and infallible, and in a regrettable accident I destroyed the /etc/groups file at the Software Engineering Laboratory at Penn State, due to a serious lapse in judgment combined with a series of typographical errors. This is the only action for which I should have been held accountable; however, as you shall see, it is the only action for which I was not penalized in any way.

I halt the narrative here to deliver some advice suggested by my mistakes.

My first piece of advice is: avoid the destruction of information by not altering any information beyond that necessary to maintain access and avoid detection. Try to protect yourself from typographical errors by backing up information. My lack of consideration in this important regard cost Professor Dhamir Mannai many hours reconstructing the groups file. Dhamir plays a major role in the ensuing fracas, and turned out very sympathetic. I must emphasize that the computer security people with whom we ha ve such fun are often decent people. Treat a system you have invaded as you would wish someone to treat your system if they had done the same to you. Protect both the system and yourself. Damage to the system will have a significant effect on any criminal case which is filed against you. Even the harshest of judges is likely to respond to a criminal case with a bewildered dismissal if no damage is alleged. However, if there is any damage to a system, the police will most certainly allege that you malici ously damaged the machine. It is their job to do so.

My second piece of advice is: avoid hacking systems geographically local to you, even by piggybacking multiple connections across the country and back to mask your actions. In any area there is a limited number of people both capable of and motivated to hack. When the local security gurus hear that a hacker is on the loose, they will immediately check their mental list of people who fit the profile. They are in an excellent position to monitor their own network. Expect them to do so.

I now return to my narrative.

Almost simultaneous with my activities, the Computer Emergency Response Team was formed in the wake of the Morris Worm, and was met with an almost palpable lack of computer crime worth prosecuting. They began issuing grimly-worded advisories about the ghastly horrors lurking about the Internet, and warned of such dangerous events as the WANK (Worms Against Nuclear Killers) worm, which displayed an anti-nuclear message when a user logged on to an infected machine.

To read the newspaper article concerning Dale and me, a person who collects guest accounts is, if not Public Enemy Number One, at least a major felon who can only be thwarted by the combined efforts of a major university's police division, two computer science departments, and Air Force Intelligence, which directly funds CERT.

Matt Crawford, at the University of Chicago, notified CERT of my intrusions into their computer systems. The slow machinery of justice began to creak laboriously into motion. As I had taken very few precautions, they found me within two weeks.

As it happens, both the Penn State and University of Chicago systems managers had publicly boasted about the impenetrability of their systems, and perhaps this contributed to their rancor at discovering that the nefarious computer criminal they had apprehended was a Comparative Literature major who had failed his only computer science course.

In the Belly of the Beast

When we arrived at the police station, the police left me in a room alone for approximately half an hour. My first response was to check the door of the room. It was unlocked. I checked the barred window, which was locked, but could be an escape if necessary. Then, with nothing to do, I considered my options. I considered getting up and leaving, and saying that I had nothing to discuss with them. This was a sensible option at the outset, I thought, but certainly not sensible now. This was a repetition of a mistake; I could have stopped talking to them at any time.

Finally, I assumed the lotus position on the table in order to collect my thoughts. When I had almost collected my thoughts, Anne Rego and Sam Ricciotti returned to the room, accompanied by two men I took to be criminals at first glance: a scruffy, corpulent, bearded man I mentally tagged as a public indecency charge; and a young man with the pale and flaccid ill-health of a veal calf, perhaps a shoplifter. However, the pair was Professor Robert Owens of the computer science department and Daniel Ehrlich , Owens' student flunky.

Professor Owens sent Ehrlich out of the room on some trivial errand. Ricciotti began the grilling. First, he requested that I sign a document waiving my Miranda rights. He explained that it was as much for my benefit as for theirs. I laughed out loud. However, I thought that as I had done nothing wrong, I should have no fear of talking to them, and I signed the fatal document.

I assumed that what I was going to say would be taken at face value, and that my innocence was invulnerable armor. Certainly I had made a mistake, but this could be explained, could it not? Despite my avowed radical politics, my fear of authority was surpassed by a trust for apparent sincerity.

As they say, a con's the easiest mark there is.

I readily admitted to collecting guest accounts, as I found nothing culpable in using a guest account, my reasoning being that if a public building had not only been unlocked, but also a door in that building had been clearly marked as for a "Guest," and that door opened readily, then no one would have the gall to arrest someone for trespass, even if other, untouched parts of the building were marked "No Visitors." Using a 'guest' account is no more computer crime than using a restroom in a McDonald's is b reaking-and-entering.

Ricciotti continued grilling me, and I gave him further information. I fell prey to the temptation to explain to him what he clearly did not understand. If you are ever in a similar circumstance, do not do so. The opaque ignorance of a police officer is, like a well constructed security system, a very tempting challenge to a hacker. However, unlike the security system, the ignorance of a police officer is uncrackable.

If you attempt to explain the Internet to a police officer investigating you for a crime, and the notion of leased WATS lines seems a simple place to start, it will be seen as evidence of some vast, bizarre conspiracy. The gleam in the cop's eye is not one of comprehension; it is merely the external evidence that a power fantasy is running in the cop's brain. "I," the cop thinks, "will definitely be Cop of the Year! I'm going to find out more about this Internet thing and bust the people responsible."

Perhaps you will be lucky or unlucky enough to be busted by a cop who has some understanding of technical issues. Never having been busted by a computer-literate cop, I have no opinion as to whether this would be preferable. However, having met more cops than I care to remember, I can tell you that the chances are slim that you will meet a cop capable of tying shoelaces in the morning. The chances of meeting a cop capable of understanding the Internet are nearly nonexistent.

Apparently, this is changing, but by no means as rapidly as the volatile telecommunications scene. At present, the cop who busts you might have a Mac hooked up to NCIC and be able to use it clumsily; or may be able to cope with the user interface of a BBS, but don't bother trying to explain anything if the cop doesn't understand you.

If the cop understands you, you have no need to explain; if not, you are wasting your time. In either case, you are giving the police the rope they need to hang you.

You have nothing to gain by talking to the police. If you are not under arrest, they can do nothing to you if you refuse to speak to them. If you must speak to them, insist on having an attorney present. As edifying as it is to get a first-hand glimpse of the entrenched ignorance of the law enforcement community, this is one area of knowledge where book-learning is far preferable to hands-on experience. Trust me on this one.

If you do hack, do not use your personal computing equipment and do not do it from your home. To do so is to invite them to confiscate every electronic item in your house from your telephone to your microwave. Expert witnesses are willing to testify that anything taken could be used for illegal purposes, and they will be correct.

Regardless of what they may say, police have no authority to offer you anything for your cooperation; they have the power to tell the magistrate and judge that you cooperated. This and fifty cents will get you a cup of coffee.

Eventually, the session turned into an informal debate with Professor Owens, who showed an uncanny facility for specious argument and proof by rephrasing and repeating. The usual argument ensued, and I will encapsulate rather than include it in its entirety.

"If a bike wasn't locked up, would that mean it was right to steal it or take it for a joyride?"

"That argument would hold if a computer were a bike; and if the bike weren't returned when I was done with it; and if, in fact, the bike hadn't been in the same damn place the whole time you assert it was stolen."

"How do you justify stealing the private information of others?"

"For one thing, I didn't look at anyone's private information. In addition, I find the idea of stealing information so grotesque as to be absurd. By the way, how do you justify working for Penn State, an institution that condoned the illegal sale of the Social Security Numbers of its students?"

"Do you realize what you did is a crime?" interjected Ricciotti.

"No, I do not, and after reading this law you've shown me, I still do not believe that what I did violates this law. Beyond that, what happened to presumed innocent until proven guilty?"

The discussion continued in a predictable vein for about two hours, when we adjourned until the next day. Sam sternly advised me that as this was a criminal investigation in progress, I was not to tell anyone anything about it. So, naturally, I immediately told everyone I knew everything I knew about it.

With a rapidly mounting paranoia, I left the grim, cheerless interrogation room and walked into the bustle of an autumn day at Penn State, feeling strangely separate from the crowd around me, as if I had been branded with a scarlet 'H.'

I took a circuitous route, often doubling back on myself, to detect tails, and when I was sure I wasn't being followed, I headed straight for a phone booth to call the Electronic Music Lab.

The phone on the other end was busy. This could only mean one thing, that Dale was online. His only crime was that he borrowed an account from the legitimate user, and used the Huang account at the Engineering Computer Lab, but I realized after my discussion with the police that they would certainly not see the matter as I did.

I realized that the situation had the possibility to erupt into a very ugly legal melee. Even before Operation Sun-Devil, I realized that cops have a fondness for tagging anything a conspiracy if they feel it will garner headlines. I rushed to the Lab.

A Desperate Conference

"Get off the computer now! I've been busted!"

"This had better not be a goddamn joke."

He rapidly disconnected from his session and turned off the computer. We began to weigh options. We tried to figure out the worst thing they could do to me. Shortly, we had a list of possibilities. The police could jail me, which seemed unlikely. The police could simply forget about the whole thing, which seemed very unlikely. Anything between those two poles was possible. Anything could happen, and as I was to find, anything would. We planned believing that it was only I who was in jeopardy.

If you are ever busted, you will witness the remarkable migration habits of the fair-weather friend. People who yesterday had nothing better to do than sit around and drink your wine will suddenly have pressing duties elsewhere.

If you are lucky, perhaps half a dozen people will consent to speak to you. If you are very lucky, three of them will be willing to be seen with you in public.

Very shortly the police would begin going after everyone I knew for no other reason than that they knew me. I was very soon to be given yet another of the blessings accorded to those in whom the authorities develop an interest.

I would discover my true friends.

I needed them.

The Second Interrogation

I agreed to come in for a second interview.

At this interview, I was greeted by two new cops. The first cop, with the face of an unsuccessful pugilist, was Jeffery Jones. I detested him on sight.

The second, older cop, with brown hair and a mustache, was Wayne Weaver, and had an affable, but stern demeanor, somewhat reminiscent of a police officer in a fifties family sitcom.

As witness to this drama, a battered tape recorder sat between us on the wooden table. In my blithe naivete, I once again waived my Miranda rights, this time on tape.

The interview began with a deranged series of accusations by Jeffery Jones, in which were combined impossibilities, implausibilities, inaccuracies and incongruities. He accused me of everything from international espionage to electronic funds transfer. Shortly he exhausted his vocabulary with a particularly difficult two-syllable word and lapsed into silence.

Wayne filled the silence with a soft-spoken inquiry, seemingly irrelevant to the preceding harangue. I answered, and we began a more sane dialogue.

Jeffery Jones remained mostly silent. He twiddled his thumbs, studied the intricacies of his watch, and investigated the gum stuck under the table. Occasionally he would respond to a factual statement by rapidly turning, pounding the table with his fists and shouting: "We know you're lying!"

Finally, after one of Jeffery's outbursts, I offered to terminate the interview if this silliness were to continue. After a brief consultation with Wayne, we reached an agreement of sorts and Jeff returned to a dumb, stony silence.

I was convinced that Wayne and Jeff were pulling the good cop/bad cop routine, having seen the mandatory five thousand hours of cop shows the Nielsen people attribute to the average American. This was, I thought, standard Mutt and Jeff. I was to change my opinion. This was not good cop/bad cop. It was smart cop/dumb cop. And, more frighteningly, it was no act.

After some more or less idle banter, and a repetition of my previous story, and a repetition of my refusal to answer certain other questions, the interrogation began to turn ugly.

Frustrated by my refusal to answer, he suddenly announced that he knew I was involved in a conspiracy, and made an offer to go easy on me if I would tell him who else was involved in the conspiracy.

I refused point-blank, and said that it was despicable of him to request that I do any such thing. He began to apply pressure and I will provide a reconstruction of the conversation. As the police have refused all requests by me to receive transcripts of interviews, evidence and information regarding the case, I am forced to rely on memory.

"These people are criminals. You'd be doing the country a service by giving us their names."

"What people are criminals? I don't know any criminals."

"Don't give me that. We just want their names. We won't do anything except ask them for information."

"Yeah, sure. Like I said, I don't know any criminals. I'm not a criminal, and I won't turn in anyone for your little witch-hunt, because I don't know any criminals, and I'd be lying if I gave you any names."

"You're not going to protect anyone. We'll get them anyway."

"If you're going to get them, you don't need my help."

"We won't tell anyone that you told them about us."

"Fuck that. I'll know I did it. How does that affect the morality of it, anyway?"

Dropping the moral argument, he went to the emotional argument:

"If you help us, we'll help you. When you won't help us, you stand alone. Those people don't care about you, anyway."

"What people? I don't know any people."

"Just people who could help us with our investigation. It doesn't mean that they're criminals."

"I don't know anything about any criminals I said."

"In fact, one of your friends turned you in. Why should you take this high moral ground when you're a criminal anyway, and they'd do the same thing to you if they were in the situation you're in. You just have us now, and if you won't stand with us, you stand alone."

"I don't have any names. And no one I knew turned me in."

This tactic, transparent as it was, instilled a worm of doubt in my mind. That was its purpose.

This is the purpose of any of the blandishments, threats and lies that the police will tell you in order to get names from you. They will attempt to make it appear as if you will not be harming the people you tell them about. Having been told that hackers are just adolescent pranksters who will crack like eggs at the slightest pressure and cough up a speech of tearful remorse and hundreds of names, they will be astonished at your failure to give them names.

I will here insert a statement of ethics, rather than the merely practical advice which I have heretofore given. If you crack at the slightest pressure, don't even bother playing cyberpunk. If your shiny new gadget with a Motorola 68040 chip and gee-whiz lightning Weitek math co-processor is more important to you than the lives of your friends, and you'd turn in your own grandmother rather than have it confiscated, please fuck off. The computer underground does not need you and your lame calling-card and access code rip-offs. Grow up and get a job at IBM doing the same thing a million other people just like you are doing, buy the same car a million other people just like you have, and go to live in the same suburb that a million other people like you call home, and die quietly at an old age in Florida. Don't go down squealing like a pig, deliberately and knowingly taking everyone you know with you.

If you run the thought-experiment of imagining yourself in this situation, and wondering what you would do, and this description seems very much like what meets you in the bathroom mirror, please stop hacking now.

However, if you feel you must turn someone in to satisfy the cops, I can only give the advice William S. Burroughs gives in _Junky_ to those in a similar situation: give them names they already have, without any accompanying information; give them the names of people who have left the country permanently. Be warned, however, that giving false information to the police is a crime; stick to true, but entirely useless information.

Now, for those who do not swallow the moral argument for not finking, I offer a practical argument. If you tell the police about others you know who have committed crimes, you have admitted your association with criminals, bolstering their case against you. You have also added an additional charge against yourself, that of conspiracy. You have fucked over the very friends you will sorely need for support in the near future, because the investigation will drag on for months, leaving your life in a shamble s. You will need friends, and if you have sent them all up the river, you will have none. Worse, you will deserve it. You have confessed to the very crimes you are denying, making it difficult for you to stop giving them names if you have second thoughts. They have the goods on you.

In addition, any offers they make if you will give them names are legally invalid and non-binding. They can't do jack-shit for you and wouldn't if they could. The cop mind is still a human mind, and there is nothing more despicable to the human mind than a traitor.

Do not allow yourself to become something that you can not tolerate being. Like Judas, the traitor commits suicide both figuratively and literally.

I now retire from the soapbox and return to the confessional.

My motives were pure and my conscience was clean. With a sense of self-righteousness unbecoming in a person my age, I assumed that my integrity was invulnerability, and that my refusal to give them any names was going to prevent them from fucking over my friends.

I had neglected to protect my email. I had not encrypted my communications. I had not carefully deleted any incriminating information from my disks, and because of this I am as guilty as the people who blithely rat out their friends. I damaged the lives of a number of people by my carelessness, a number of people who had more at stake than I had, and all my good intentions were not worth a damn. I had one encrypted file, that a list of compromised systems and account names, and that was DES encrypted wi th a six-character alphanumeric.

As I revelled in my self-righteousness, Dan Ehrlich and Robert Owens arrived with a two-foot high pile of hardcopy on which was printed every file on my PSUVM accounts, including at least a year of email and all my posts to the net, including those in groups such as alt.drugs, and articles by other people.

Wayne assumed that any item on the list, even saved posts from other people, was something that had been sent to me personally by its author, and that these people were, thus, involved in some vast conspiracy. While keeping the printed email out of my sight, he began listing names and asking me for information about that person. I answered, for every person, that I knew nothing about that person except what they knew. He asked such questions as "What is Emily Postnews' real name, and how is she involved i n the conspiracy?"

Ehrlich and Owens had conveniently disappeared, so I couldn't expect them to explain the situation to Wayne; and had, myself, given up any attempt to explain, realizing that anything I said would simply reinforce the cops' paranoid conspiracy theories. By then, I was refusing to answer practically every question put to me, and finally realized I was outgunned. When I had arrived, I was puffed up with bravado and certain that I could talk my way out of this awful situation. Having made rather a hash of it as a hacker, I resorted to my old standby, my tongue, with which I had been able to escape any previous situation. However, not only had I not talked my way out of being busted, I had talked my way further into it.

If you believe, from years of experience at social engineering, that you will be able to talk your way out of being busted, I wish you luck; but don't expect it to happen. If you talk with the police, and you are not under arrest at the time, expect that one or two of your sentences will be able to be taken out of context and used as a justification for issuing an arrest warrant. If you talk with the police and you are under arrest, the Miranda statement: "Anything you say can and will be held against yo u in a court of law," is perhaps the only true statement in that litany of lies.

In any case, my bravado had collapsed. I still pointedly called the cops "Wayne" and "Jeff," but otherwise, resorted to repeating mechanically that I knew nothing about nothing.

Owens and Ehrlich returned, and announced that they had discovered an encrypted file on my account, called holy.nodes. I bitterly regretted the flippant name, and the arrogance of keeping such a file.

If you must have an encrypted list of passwords and accounts sitting around, at least give it a name that makes it seem like some sort of executable, so that you have plausible deniability.

They assured me that they could decrypt it within six hours on a Cray Y-MP to which they had access. I knew that the Computer Science Department had access to a Cray at the John von Neuman Computer Center. I made a brief attempt to calculate the rate of brute-force password cracking on a Cray and couldn't do it in my head. However, as the password was only six alphanumeric characters, I realized that it was quite possible that it could be cracked. I believe now that I should have called their bluff, but I gave them the key, yet another in a series of stupid moves.

Shortly, they had a list of computer sites, accounts and passwords, and Wayne began grilling me on those. Owens was livid when he noted that a machine at Lawrence-Berkeley Labs,, was in the list. This was when my trouble started.

You might recall that Lawrence-Berkeley Labs figures prominently in Clifford Stoll's book _The Cuckoo's Egg_. The Chaos Computer Club had cracked a site there in the mistaken belief that it was Lawrence Livermore. As it happens, I had merely noticed a guest account there, logged in and done nothing further. Of course, this was too simple an explanation for a cop to believe it.

Owens had given the police a tiny bit of evidence to support the bizarre structure of conspiracy theories they had built; and a paranoid delusion, once validated in even the most inconsequential manner, becomes unshakably firm.

Wayne returned to the interrogation with renewed vigor. I continued giving answers to the effect that I knew nothing. He came to the name of Raymond Gary [*], who had generously allowed me to use an old account on PSUVM, that of a friend of his who had left the area. I attempted to assure them of his innocence. This was another bad move.

It was a bad move because this immediately reinforces the conspiracy theory, and the cops wish to have more information on that person. I obfuscated, and returned to the habit of repeating: "Not to the best of my recollection," as if I were in the Watergate hearings.

Another name surfaced, that of a person who had allowed me to use his account because our respective machines could not manage a tolerable talk connection. This person, without his knowledge, joined the conspiracy. Once again, I foolishly tried to explain the situation. This simply made it worse, as the cop did not understand a word I was saying; and Owens was incapable of appreciating the difference between violating the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.

Wayne repeatedly asked about my overseas friends, informed me that he knew there were foreign governments involved, again told me that a friend of mine had informed on me. I was told lies so outrageous that I hesitate to put them on paper. I denied everything.

I made another lengthy attempt at explanation, trying to defuse the conspiracy theory, and gave a speech on the difference between breaking into someone's house and ripping off everything there, voyeuristically spying on people, and temporarily borrowing an account simply to talk to someone because a network link was not working. I made an analogy between this and asking someone who is driving a corporate vehicle to give a jump to a disabled vehicle, and tried to explain that this was certainly not the sam e as if the authorized user of the corporate vehicle had simply handed a passerby the keys. I again attempted to explain the Internet, leased lines, the difference between FTP and mail, why everyone on the Internet allowed anyone else to transfer files from, to and through their machines, and once again failed to explain anything.

Directly following this tirade, delivered almost at a shout, Wayne leaned over the desk and asked me: "Who's Bubba?"

This was too much to tolerate. My ability to take the situation seriously, already very shaky, simply vanished in the face of this absurdity. I lost it entirely. I laughed hysterically.

I asked, my anger finally getting the better of my amusement: "What the fuck kind of question is that?"

He repeated the question, not appreciating the humor inherent in this absurd contretemps; I was beyond trying to maintain the appearance of solemnity. Everything, the battered table, the primitive tape recorder, the stony-faced cops, the overweight computer security guys, seemed entirely empty of meaning. I could no longer accept as real that I was in this dim room with a person asking me the question: "Who's Bubba?"

I said: "I have no idea. You tell me."

Finally, Wayne came to Dale's name. Dale did not use his last name in any of the email he had sent to me, and I hoped that his name was not in any file on any machine anywhere. I recovered some of my equilibrium, and refused to answer.

A number of references to "lab supplies" were made in the email, and I was questioned as to the meaning of this phrase. I answered that it simply meant quarter-inch reels of tape for music. They refused to accept this explanation, and accused me of running a drug ring over the computer network.

Veiled threats, repetitions of the question, rephrasings of it, assurances that they were going to get everyone anyway, and similar cop routines followed.

Finally, having had altogether too much of this nonsense, I said: "This interview's over. I'm leaving." As simply as that, and as quickly, I got up and left. I wish I could say that I did not look back, but I did glance over my shoulder as I left.

"We'll be in touch," said Wayne.

"Yeah, sure," I said.

Thirty Pieces of Silver

I informed Dale of the ominous turn in the investigation, and told him that the cops were now looking for him. From a sort of fatalistic curiosity, we logged into Shamir's account to watch the activities of the computer security guys, and to confer with some of their associates to find out what their motivations might be. We had decided that the possibility of a wiretap was slim, and that if there were a wiretap, we were doomed anyway, so what the hell?

There is no conclusive evidence that there was a wiretap, but the police would not have needed a warrant to tap university phones, as they are on a private branch exchange, which does not qualify for legal protection. In addition, one bit of circumstantial evidence strikes me as indicative of the possibility of a wiretap, that being that when Dale called Shamir to explain the situation, and left a message in his voice mail box, the message directly following Dale's was from Wayne.

We frequented the library, researching every book dealing with the subject of computer crime, reading the Pennsylvania State Criminal Code, photocopying and transcribing important texts, and compiling a disk of information relevant to the case, including any information that someone "on the outside" would need to know if we were jailed.

I badly sprained my ankle in this period, but walked on it for three miles, and it was not until later in the night that I even realized there was anything wrong with it, so preoccupied was I by the bizarre situation in which I was embroiled. In addition, an ice storm developed, leaving a thin layer of ice over sidewalks, roads and the skeletal trees and bushes. I must have seemed a ridiculous figure hobbling across the ice on a cane, looking over my shoulder every few seconds; and attempting to appear ca sual whenever a police car passed.

It seemed that wherever I went, there was a police car which slowed to my pace, and it always seemed that people were watching me. I tried to convince myself that this was paranoia, that not everyone could be following me, but the feeling continued to intensify, and I realized that I had adopted the mentality of the cops, that we were, essentially, part of the same societal process; symbiotic and necessary to each other's existence. The term 'paranoia' had no meaning when applied to this situation; as the re were, indeed, people out to get me; people who were equally convinced that I was out to get them.

I resolved to accept the situation, and abide by its unspoken rules. As vast as the texts are which support the law, there is another entity, The Law, which is infinite and can not be explained in any number of words, codes or legislation.

Dale and I painstakingly weighed our options.

Finally, Dale decided that he was going to contact the police, and called a friend of his in the police department to ask for assistance in doing so, Stan Marks [*], who was also an electronic musician. On occasion, Stan would visit us in the Lab, turning off his walkie talkie to avoid the irritation of the numerous trivial assignments which comprise the day-to-day life of the university cop. After conferring with Stan, he decided simply to call Wayne and Jeff on the phone to arrange an interview.

I felt like shit. The repercussions of my actions were spreading like ripples on a pond, and were to disrupt the lives of several of my dearest friends. At the same time, I was enraged. How dare they do this? What had I done that warranted this torturous and ridiculous investigation? Wasn't this investigation enough of a punishment just in and of itself?

I wondered how many more innocent people would have to be fucked over before the police would be satisfied, and wondered how many innocent people, every day, are similarly fucked over in other investigations. How many would it take to satisfy the cops? The answer is, simply, every living person.

If you believe that your past, however lily-white, would withstand the scrutiny of an investigation of several months' duration, with every document and communication subjected to minute investigation, you are deluding yourself. To the law-enforcement mentality, there are no innocent people. There are only undiscovered criminals.

Only if we are all jailed, cops and criminals alike, will the machinery lie dormant, to rust its way to gentle oblivion; and only then will the ruins be left undisturbed for the puzzlement of future archaeologists.

With these thoughts, I waited as Dale went to the police station, with the realization that I was a traitor by inaction, by having allowed this to happen.

I was guilty, but this guilt was not a matter of law. My innocent actions were those which were to be tried.

If you are ever busted, you will witness this curious inversion of morality, as if by entering the world of cops you have walked through a one-way mirror, in which your good actions are suddenly and arbitrarily punished, and the evil you have done is rewarded.

Third and Fourth Interrogations

I waited anxiously for Dale to return from his meeting. He had brought with him a professional tape recorder, in order to tape the interview. The cops were rather upset by this turn of events, but had no choice but to allow him to tape. While they attempted to get their tape recorder to work, he offered to loan them a pair of batteries, as theirs were dead.

The interrogation followed roughly the same twists and turns as mine had, with more of an emphasis on the subject of "lab supplies." Question followed question, and Dale insisted that his actions were innocent.

"Hell, if we'd have had a couple of nice women, none of this would even have happened," he said.

When asked about the Huang account that Ron Gere had created for him, he explained that Huang was a nom-de-plume, and certainly not an alias for disguising crime.

The police persisted, and returned to the subject of "lab supplies", and finally declared that they knew Dale and I were dealing in some sort of contraband, but that they would be prepared to offer leniency if he would give them names. Dale was adamant in his refusal.

Finally, they said that they wanted him to make a drug buy for them.

"Well, you'll have to introduce me to someone, because I sure don't know anyone who does that kind of stuff."

Eventually, they set an appointment with him to speak with Ron Schreffler, the university cop in charge of undercover narcotics investigations.

He called to reschedule the appointment a few days later, and then, eventually, cancelled it entirely, saying: "I have nothing to talk to him about."

Finally, they ceased following this tack, realizing that even in Pennsylvania pursuing an entirely fruitless avenue of investigation is seen very dimly by their superiors. The topic of "lab supplies" was never mentioned again, and certainly not in the arrest warrant affidavit, as we were obviously innocent of any wrongdoing in that area.

Warning Dale not to leave the area, they terminated the interview.

Shortly thereafter, there was a fourth and final interview, with Dale and I present. We discussed nothing of any significance, and it was almost informal, as if we and the cops were cronies of some sort. Only Jeffery Jones was excluded from this circle, as he was limited largely to monosyllabic grunts and wild, paranoid accusations. We discovered that Wayne Weaver was a twenty-three year veteran, and it struck me that if I had met him in other circumstances I could have found him quite likable. He was, i f nothing else, a professional, and acted in a professional manner even when he was beyond his depth in the sea of information which Dale and I navigated with ease.

I felt almost sympathetic toward him, and wondered how it was for him to be involved in a case so complex and bizarre. I still failed to realize why he was acting toward us as he was, and realized that he, similarly, had no idea what to make of us, who must have seemed to him like remorseless, arrogant criminals. Unlike my prejudiced views of what a police officer should be, Wayne was a competent, intelligent man doing the best he could in a situation beyond his range of experience, and tried to behave in a conscientious manner.

I feel that Wayne was a good man, but that the very system he upheld gave him no choice but to do evil, without realizing it. I am frustrated still by the fact that no matter how much we could discuss the situation, we could never understand each other in fullness, because our world-views were so fundamentally different. Unlike so many of the incompetent losers and petty sadists who find police work a convenient alternative to criminality, Wayne was that rarity, a good cop.

Still, without an understanding of the computer subculture, he could not but see anything we might say to explain it to him as anything other than alien and criminal, just as a prejudiced American finds a description of the customs of some South Sea tribe shocking and bizarre. Until we realize what underlying assumptions we share with the rest of society, we shall be divided, subculture from culture, criminals from police.

The ultimate goal of the computer underground is to create the circumstances which will underlie its own dissolution, to enable the total and free dissemination of all information, and thus to destroy itself by becoming mainstream. When everyone thinks nothing of doing in daylight what we are forced to do under cover of darkness, then we shall have succeeded.

Until then, we can expect the Operation Sun-Devils to continue, and the witch-hunts to extend to every corner of cyberspace. The public at large still holds an ignorant dread of computers, having experienced oppression by those who use computers as a tool of secrecy and intrusion, having been told that they are being audited by the IRS because of "some discrepancies in the computer," that their paycheck has been delayed because "the computer's down," that they can't receive their deceased spouse's life-ins urance benefits because "there's nothing about it in the computer." The computer has become both omnipresent and omnipotent in the eyes of many, is blamed by incompetent people for their own failure, is used to justify appalling rip-offs by banks and other major social institutions, and in addition is not understood at all by the majority of the population, especially those over thirty, those who comprise both the law-enforcement mentality and aging hippies, both deeply distrustful of anything new.

It is thus that such a paradox would exist as a hacker, and if we are to be successful, we must be very careful to understand the difference between secrecy and privacy. We must understand the difference between freedom of information and freedom from intrusion. We must understand the difference between invading the inner sanctum of oppression and voyeurism, and realize that even in our finest hours we too are fallible, and that in negotiating these finely-hued gray areas, we are liable to lose our path a nd take a fall.

In this struggle, we can not allow a justifiable anger to become hatred. We can not allow skepticism to become nihilism. We can not allow ourselves to harm innocents. In adopting the intrusive tactics of the oppressors, we must not allow ourselves to perform the same actions that we detest in others.

Perhaps most importantly, we must use computers as tools to serve humanity, and not allow humans to serve computers. For the non-living to serve the purposes of the living is a good and necessary thing, but for the living to serve the purposes of the non-living is an abomination.


Dale and I began to consider options in our battle against this senseless investigation. We spent many nights pondering the issue, and arrived at a number of conclusions.

Since we had already talked to the police, and were rapidly realizing what a vast error that had been, we wondered how it was possible to sidestep, avoid or derail the investigation. We hoped that Ron Gere and others would not be held accountable for my actions, a wish that was to be denied.

A great deal of resentment existed toward me in those whose lives were affected, and I would be either an idiot or a liar to deny that my actions affected many people, in many places, some of whom I had never even met in person. However, I was unable to do anything for many of these people, so I concentrated largely on my own survival and that of those near me.

Dale and I decided, eventually, that the only person who could claim any real damage was Dhamir Mannai, and we arranged an appointment with him to discuss what had happened.

We met in his book-lined office in the Electrical Engineering Office, and shook hands before beginning a discussion. I explained what I had done, and why I had done it, and apologized for any damages that had occurred. Dale, similarly, excused my actions, and while he had nothing to do with them, noted that he was under investigation as well.

We offered to help repair the /etc/groups file which I had damaged, but due to the circumstances, it is understandable that he politely declined our offer.

Dhamir was surprisingly sympathetic, though justifiably angered. However, after about a half hour of discussion, he warmed from suspicion to friendliness, and after two hours of discussion he offered to testify for us against the police, noting that he had been forced on two previous occasions to testify against police. He held a very dim view of the investigation, and noted that "The police have bungled the case very badly." Dhamir, in fact, was so annoyed by the investigation that he called Wayne that night to object to it. He made it clear that he intended to oppose the police.

The next night, as Dale and I were entering the Music Building, a police cruiser came to a sudden stop in the parking lot and Wayne walked up to us with a perturbed expression.

Without pausing for greetings, he informed us that he was now considering filing additional charges against us for "Tampering with Witnesses," without identifying the witness. In his eyes, the legality of restraining our actions and speech based on hypothetical and unfiled charges was not relevant; and he was angry that a primary witness had been rendered useless to him.

Finally, we talked more informally. Genuinely curious about his motivations, we asked him about the investigation and what turns could be expected in the future. Realizing that the investigation had entered a quiescent stage and we would not likely meet again until court, we talked with him.

Dale said "So let me get this straight. They saddled the older, more experienced cop with the recruit?"

Wayne didn't answer, but nodded glumly.

"What's this like for you?" I asked.

"Well, I have to admit, in my twenty-three years on the force, this case is the biggest hassle I've ever had."

"I can see why," said Dale.

"I almost wish you had been in charge of this case, instead of that goof Jeff," I said.

"Yes, he's too jumpy," said Dale. "Like an Irish Setter with a gun."

"Well, if I'd been in charge of this case," Wayne said, "it would have been down the pike a long time ago."

After more discussion of this sort, Wayne's walkie-talkie burst into cop chatter.

"We have three men, throwing another man, into a dumpster, behind Willard," the voice said.

"I guess this means you have to leave, Wayne," said Dale.

Wayne looked embarrassed. We exchanged farewells.

Another very helpful person was Professor Richard Devon, of the Science, Technology and Science department of Penn State. We read an article he wrote on the computer underground which, while hardly condoning malicious hacking, certainly objected to the prevailing witch-hunt mentality. We contacted him to discuss the case.

He offered to provide testimony in our behalf, and informed us of the prevailing attitudes of computer security professionals at Penn State and elsewhere. He corroborated our belief that the vendetta against us was largely due to the fact that we had embarrassed Penn State, and that the intensity of the investigation was also largely due to fallout from the Morris Worm incident.

The fact that he was on the board of directors for the Engineering Computer Lab increased the value of his testimony. We were expecting damaging testimony from Bryan Jensen of ECL.

He was friendly and personable, and we talked for several hours.

While there was nothing he could do until the time came to give testimony, it was very gratifying to find two friends and allies in what we had thought was a hostile camp.

Our feeling of isolation and paranoia began to dwindle, and we began to feel more confident about the possible outcome of the investigation.

Going Upstairs

With a new-found confidence, we decided to see if it were possible to end this investigation entirely before charges were filed and it became a criminal prosecution.

Dale called the Director of Police Services with the slim hope that he had no knowledge of this investigation and might intervene to stop it. No dice.

Dale and I composed a letter to the district attorney objecting to the investigation, also in the hopes of avoiding the prosecution of the case. I include the letter:

Dear Mr. Gricar:

We are writing to you because of our concerns regarding an investigation being conducted by the Pennsylvania State University Department of University Safety with respect to violations of Pa.C.S.A. tilde 3933 (Unlawful Use of Computer) alleged to us. We have enclosed a copy of this statute for your convenience.

Despite recommendations from NASA security officials and concerned members of the professional and academic computing community that we file suit against the Pennsylvania State Universities, we have tried earnestly to accommodate this investigation.

We have cooperated fully with Police Services Officers Wayne Weaver and Jeffrey Jones at every opportunity in this unnecessary eight-week investigation. However, rather than arranging for direct communication between the complaining parties and us to make it possible to make clear the nature of our activities, the University Police have chosen to siphon information to these parties in an easily-misinterpreted and secondhand manner. This has served only to obscure the truth of the matter and create confus ion, misunderstanding and inconvenience to all involved.

The keen disappointment of the University Police in finding that we have not been involved in espionage, electronic funds transfer or computer terrorism appears to have finally manifested itself in an effort to indict us for practices customary and routine among faculty and students alike. While we have come to realize that activities such as using a personal account with the permission of the authorized user may constitute a violation of an obscure and little-known University policy, we find it irregular a nd unusual that such activities might even be considered a criminal offense.

The minimal and inferential evidence which either will or has already been brought before you is part of a preposterous attempt to shoehorn our alleged actions into the jurisdiction of a law which lacks relevance to a situation of this nature.

We have found this whole affair to be capricious and arbitrary, and despite our reasonable requests to demonstrate and display our activities in the presence of computer-literate parties and with an actual computer, they have, for whatever reasons, denied direct lines of communication which could have enabled an expeditious resolution to this problem.

This investigation has proceeded in a slipshod manner, rife with inordinate delays and intimidation well beyond that justified by an honest desire to discern the truth. While certain evidence may appear to warrant scrutiny, this evidence is easily clarified; and should the District Attorney's office desire, we would be pleased to provide a full and complete accounting of all our activities at your convenience and under oath.

In view of the judicial system being already overtaxed by an excess of important and pressing criminal cases, we would like to apologize for this matter even having encroached on your time.

Sincerely yours,

Dale Garrison Robert W. F. Clark

This letter had about as much effect as might be imagined, that is to say, none whatever.

My advice from this experience is that it is very likely that you will be able to find advice in what you might think to be a hostile quarter. To talk to the complaining party and apologize for any damage you might have caused is an excellent idea, and has a possibility of getting the charges reduced or perhaps dropped entirely.

Simply because the police list a person as a complaining party does not necessarily mean that the person necessarily approves of, or even has knowledge of, the police proceedings. In all likelihood, the complaining parties have never met you, and have no knowledge of what your motivations were in doing what you did. With no knowledge of your motives, they are likely to attribute your actions to malice.

If there are no demonstrable damages, and the person is sympathetic, you may find an ally in the enemy camp. Even if you have damaged a machine, you are in a unique position to help repair it, and prevent further intrusion into their system.

Regardless of the end result, it can't hurt to get some idea of what the complaining parties think. If you soften outright hostility and outrage even to a grudging tolerance, you have improved the chance of a positive outcome.

While the police may object to this in very strong terms, and make dire and ambiguous threats, without a restraining order of some kind there is very little they can do unless you have bribed or otherwise offered a consideration for testimony.

Talking to the police, on the other hand, is a very bad idea, and will result in disaster. Regardless of any threats and intimidation they use, there is absolutely nothing they can do to you if you do not talk to them. Any deal they offer you is bogus, a flat-out lie. They do not have the authority to offer you a deal. These two facts can not be stressed enough. This may seem common knowledge, the sort even an idiot would know. I knew it myself.

However, from inexperience and arrogance I thought myself immune to the rules. I assumed that talking to them could damage nothing, since I had done nothing wrong but make a mistake. Certainly this was just a misunderstanding, and I could easily clear it up.

The police will encourage you to believe this, and before you realize it you will have told them everything they want to know.

Simply, if you are not under arrest, walk away. If you are under arrest, request an attorney.

Realize that I, a confirmed paranoid, knowing and having heard this warning from other people, still fell into the trap of believing myself able to talk my way out of prosecution. Don't do the same thing yourself, either from fear or arrogance.

Don't tell them anything. They'll find out more than enough without your help.


Finally, after what had seemed nearly two weeks of furious activity, constant harassment and disasters, the investigation entered a more or less quiescent state. It was to remain in this state for several months.

This is not to say that the harassment ceased, or that matters improved. The investigation seemed to exist in a state of suspended animation, from our viewpoint. Matters ceased getting worse exponentially. Now, they merely got worse arithmetically.

My parents ejected me from home for the second time due to my grades. They did not know about the police investigation. I was in no hurry to tell them about it. I could have went to live with my father, but instead I returned to State College by bus, with no money, no prospects and no place to live. I blamed the police investigation for my grades, which was not entirely correct. I doubt, however, that I would have failed as spectacularly as I had if the police had not entered my life.

Over the Christmas break, when the campus was mostly vacant, Dale noticed a new set of booted footprints in the new-fallen snow every night, by the window to the Electronic Music Lab, and by that window only.

A few times, I heard static and odd clicks on the telephone at the Lab, but whether this was poor telephone service or some clumsy attempt at a wiretap I can not say with assurance.

I discovered that my food card was still valid, so I had a source of free food for a while. I had switched to a nocturnal sleep cycle, so I slept during the day in the Student Union Building, rose for a shower in the Athletics Building at about midnight, and hung out in the Electronic Music Lab at night. Being homeless is not as difficult as might be imagined, especially in a university environment, as long as one does not look homeless. Even if one does look scruffy, this will raise few eyebrows on a ca mpus.

Around this time, I switched my main interest from computer hacking to reading and writing poetry, being perhaps the thousandth neophyte poet to use Baudelaire as a model. I suppose that I was striving to create perfection from imperfect materials, also my motivation for hacking.

Eventually, Dale offered to let me split the rent with him on a room. The police had 'suggested' that WPSX-TV3 fire him from his job as an audio technician. Regardless of the legality of this skullduggery, WPSX-TV3, a public television station, reprehensibly fired him. This is another aspect of the law-enforcement mentality which bears close examination.

While claiming a high moral ground, as protectors of the community, they will rationalize a vendetta as somehow protecting some vague and undefined 'public good.' With the zeal of vigilantes, they will eschew the notion of due process for their convenience. Considering the law beneath them, and impatient at the rare refusal of judges and juries to be a rubber-stamp for police privilege, they will take punishment into their own hands, and use any means necessary to destroy the lives of those who get in the ir way.

According to the Random House Dictionary of the English Language (Unabridged Edition):

Police state: a nation in which the police, especially a secret police, suppresses any act by an individual or group that conflicts with governmental policy or principle.

Since undisclosed members of CERT, an organization directly funded by Air Force Intelligence, are authorized to make anonymous accusations of malfeasance without disclosing their identity, they can be called nothing but secret police.

The spooks at the CIA and NSA also hold this unusual privilege, even if one does not consider their 'special' operations. What can these organizations be called if not secret police?

It can not be denied, even by those myopic enough to believe that such organizations are necessary, that these organizations comprise a vast and secret government which is not elected and not subject to legal restraint. Only in the most egregious cases of wrongdoing are these organizations even censured; and even in these cases, it is only the flunkies that receive even a token punishment; the principals, almost without exception, are exonerated and even honored. Those few who are too disgraced to continu e work even as politicians ascend to the rank of elder statesmen, and write their memoirs free from molestation.

When your job, your property and your reputation can be destroyed or stolen without recompense and with impunity, what can our nation be called but a police state? When the police are even free to beat you senseless without provocation, on videotape, and still elude justice, what can this nation be called but a police state?

Such were my thoughts during the months when the investigation seemed dormant, as my anger began, gradually, to overcome my fear. This is the time that I considered trashing the Penn State data network, the Internet, anything I could. Punishment, to me, has always seemed merely a goad to future vengeance. However, I saw the uselessness of taking revenge on innocent parties for the police's actions.

I contacted the ACLU, who showed a remarkable lack of interest in the case. As charges had not been filed, there was little they could do. They told me, however, to contact them in the event that a trial date was set.

"If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you." This is, perhaps, the biggest lie in the litany of lies known as the Miranda rights. It is the court which prosecutes you that decides whether you can afford an attorney, and the same court selects that attorney.

Without the formal filing of charges, you can not receive the assistance of a public defender. This is what I was told by the public defender's office. Merely being investigated apparently does not entail the right to counsel, regardless of the level of harassment involved in the investigation.

We remained in intermittent contact with the police, and called every week or so to ask what was happening. We learned nothing new. The only information of any importance I did learn was at a party. Between hand-rolled cigarettes of a sort never sold by the R. J. Reynolds' Tobacco Company, I discussed my case.

This might not be the sort of thing one would normally do at a party, but if you are busted you will find that the investigation takes a central role in your life. When you are not talking about it, you are thinking about it. When you are not thinking about it, you are trying the best you can not to think about it. It is a cherished belief of mine that anyone who survives a police investigation ought to receive at least an Associate's degree in Criminal Law; you will learn more about the law than you eve r wished to know.

The person on my right, when I said that Jeffery Jones was in charge of the case, immediately started. "He was in my high school class," said the man, who sported a handlebar mustache.

"What? Really? What's he like? Is he as much of an asshole in person?" I asked.

"He was kind of a weird kid."

"How? What's he done? Have you kept in touch?"

"Well, all I really know about him is that he went out to be a cop in Austin, but he couldn't take it, had a breakdown or something, and came back here."

"I can see that. He's a fucking psycho."

I gloated over this tidbit of information, and decided that I would use it the next time I met the police.

This was to be several weeks. Though we had given the police our work schedules, phone numbers at home, work and play; and informed them when they might be likely to locate us at any particular place, we had apparently underestimated the nearly limitless incompetence of Penn State's elite computer cops.

As he was walking to work one day, Dale saw Jeffery Jones driving very slowly and craning his neck in all directions, apparently looking for someone. However, he failed to note the presence of Dale, the only person on the street. Dale wondered whether Jeffery had been looking for him.

The next night at the Lab, the telephone rang. With a series of typical, frenzied accusations Jeffery Jones initiated the conversation. He believed that we had been attempting to escape or evade him in some manner. Wayne was on another line, and Dale and I talked from different phones.

"You've been trying to avoid us, haven't you?" Jeffery shouted.

"Where have you been?" asked Wayne.

"We told you where we'd be. You said you'd be in touch," I said.

"We haven't been able to find you," said Wayne.

"Look, you have our goddamn work schedule, our address, our phone numbers, and where we usually are. What the hell else do you need?" asked Dale.

"We went to your address. The guy we talked to didn't know where you were," said Wayne.

As we discovered later that night, the police had been at our apartment, and had knocked on the wrong door, that of our downstairs neighbor, a mental patient who had been kicked out of the hospital after Reagan's generous revision of the mental health code. His main activity was shouting and threatening to kill people who weren't there, so the consternation of the police was not surprising.

"So we weren't there. You could have called," said Dale.

"I just hope you don't decide to leave the area. We're going to arrest you in a couple of days," said Wayne.

"You've been saying that for the last three months," I said. "What's taking so long?"

"The secretary's sick," said Jeffery.

"You ought to get this secretary to a doctor. She must be really goddamn sick, if she can't type up an arrest warrant in three months," said Dale.

"Hell, I'll come down and type up the damn thing myself, if it's too tough for the people you have down there," I offered.

"No, that won't be necessary," said Wayne.

"Look, when you want to arrest us, just give us a call and we'll come down. Don't pull some dumb cop routine like kicking in the door," said Dale.

"Okay," Wayne said. "Your cooperation will be noted."

"By the way, Jeff, I heard you couldn't hack it in Austin," I said.

Silence followed.

After an awkward silence, Wayne said: "We'll be in touch."

We said our goodbyes, except for Jeffery, and hung up the phones.

I somewhat regretted the last remark, but was still happy with its reception. It is probably unwise to play Scare-the-Cops, but by then I no longer gave a damn. He was probably dead certain that I had found this information, and other tidbits of information I had casually mentioned, in some sort of computer database. His mind was too limited to consider the possibility that I had met an old high-school chum of his and pumped him for information.

By this time, our fear of the police had diminished, and both of us were sick to death of the whole business. We just hoped that whatever was to happen would happen more quickly.

When the police first started threatening to arrest us within days, it would send a tremor down my spine. However, after three months of obfuscation, excuses, continued harassment of this nature, my only response to this threat was anger and boredom.

At least, upon arrest, we would enter a domain where there were some rules of conduct and some certainty. The Kafkaesque uncertainty and arbitrarily redefined rules inherent in a police investigation were intolerable.

After another month of delay, the police called us again, and we agreed to come in to be arrested at nine o'clock the next morning.

It was possible that the police would jail us, but it seemed unlikely. Two prominent faculty members had strongly condemned the behavior of the police. The case was also politically-charged, and jailing us would likely have resulted in howls of outrage, and perhaps even in a civil or criminal suit against Penn State.

Wayne told us that we would have to go to the District Magistrate for a preliminary hearing. Dale said that we would go, but demanded a ride there and back. The police complied.

We were more relieved than worried. Finally, something was happening.

The Arrest

On a cold and sunny morning we walked into the police station to be arrested. I was curious as to the fingerprinting procedure. The cops were to make three copies of my fingerprints, one for the local police, one for the state police, and one for the FBI. Jeffery was unable to fingerprint me on the first two attempts. When he finally succeeded in fingerprinting me, he had to do it again. He had incorrectly filled out the form. Finally, with help from Wayne, he was able to fingerprint me.

Dale was more difficult. Jeffery objected to the softness of Dale's fingers, and said that would make it difficult. The fact that Dale's fingers were soft, as he is a pianist more accustomed to smooth ivory than plastic, would seem to exonerate him from any charge of computer hacking. However, such a thought never troubled the idyllic vacancy of Jeffery's mind. He was too busy bungling through the process of fingerprinting. Wayne had to help him again.

There was soap and water for washing the ink from our fingers. However, it left the faintest trace of ink on the pads of my fingers, and I looked at the marks with awe, realizing that I had been, in a way, permanently stigmatized.

However, as poorly as the soap had cleaned my fingers, I thought with grim amusement that Jeffery would have much more difficulty cleaning the ink from his clothes.

Jeffery did not take the mug shots. A photographer took them. Therefore, it went smoothly.

Finally, Wayne presented me with an arrest warrant affidavit, evidently written by Jeffery Jones. A paragon of incompetence, incapable of performing the simplest task without assistance, Jeff had written an eighteen-page arrest warrant affidavit which was a marvel of incoherence and inaccuracy. This document, with a list of corrections and emendations, will appear in a separate article.

While reading the first five pages of this astounding document, I attempted to maintain an air of solemnity. However, by the sixth page, I was stifling giggles. By the seventh, I was chuckling out loud. By the eighth page I was laughing. By the ninth page I was laughing loudly, and I finished the rest of the document in gales of mirth. Everyone in the room stared at me as if I were insane. This didn't bother me. Most of my statements to the police resulted in this sort of blank stare. Even Dale look ed as if he thought I had cracked, but he understood when he saw his arrest warrant affidavit, nearly identical to mine.

I simply was unable to take seriously that I had spent months worrying about what kind of a case they had, when their best effort was this farrago of absurdities.

They took us to Clifford Yorks, the District Magistrate, in separate cars. This time, we rode in the front seat, and two young recruits were our chauffeurs. Dale asked his driver if he could turn on the siren. The cop was not amused.

The only thing which struck me about Clifford Yorks was that he had a remarkably large head. It appeared as if it had been inflated like a beach ball.

The magistrate briefly examined the arrest warrant affidavits, nodded his vast head, and released us on our own recognizance, in lieu of ten thousand dollars bail. He seemed somewhat preoccupied. We signed the papers and left. The police offered to give us a ride right to our house, but we said we'd settle for being dropped off in town.

Being over a month in arrears for rent, we did not like the idea of our landlord seeing us arrive in separate police cars; also, our address was rather notorious, and other residents would be greatly suspicious if they saw us with cops.

An arraignment was scheduled for a date months in the future. The waiting game was to resume.

Legal Counsel

Having been arrested, we were at last eligible for legal counsel. We went to the yellow pages and started dialing. We started with the attorneys with colored half-page ads. Even from those advertising "Reasonable Rates," we received figures I will not quote for fear of violating obscenity statutes.

Going to the quarter-page ads, then the red-lettered names, then the schmucks with nothing but names, we received the same sort of numbers. Finally talking to the _pro bono_ attorneys, we found that we were entitled to a reduction in rates of almost fifty per cent.

This generosity brought the best price down to around three thousand dollars, which was three thousand dollars more than we could afford.

So we contacted the public defender's office.

Friends told me that a five thousand dollar attorney is worse, even, than a public defender; and that it takes at least twenty thousand to retain an attorney with capable of winning anything but the most open-and-shut criminal case.

After a certain amount of bureaucratic runaround, we were assigned two attorneys. One, Deborah Lux, was the Assistant Chief Public Defender; the other, Dale's attorney, was Bradley Lunsford, a sharp, young attorney who seemed too good to be true.

We discussed the case with our new attorneys, and were told that the best action we could take to defend ourselves was to do nothing.

This is true. Anything we had attempted in our own defense, with the exception of contacting the complaining party, had been harmful to our case. Any discussions we had with the police were taped and examined for anything incriminating. A letter to the district attorney was ignored entirely.

Do absolutely nothing without legal counsel. Most legal counsel will advise you to do nothing. Legal counsel has more leverage than you do, and can make binding deals with the police. You can't.

We discussed possible defenses.

As none of the systems into which I had intruded had any sort of warning against unauthorized access, this was considered a plausible defense.

The almost exclusive use of 'guest' accounts was also beneficial.

A more technical issue is the Best Evidence rule. We wondered whether a court would allow hardcopy as evidence, when the original document was electronic. As it happens, hardcopy is often admissible due to loopholes in this rule, even though hardcopy is highly susceptible to falsification by the police; and most electronic mail has no built-in authentication to prove identity.

Still, without anything more damaging than electronic mail, a case would be very difficult to prosecute. However, with what almost amounted to a taped confession, the chance of a conviction was increased.

We went over the arrest warrant affidavit, and my corrections to it, with a mixture of amusement and consternation.

"So what do you think of this?" asked Dale.

After a moment of thought, Deb Lux said: "This is gibberish."

"I just had a case where a guy pumped four bullets into his brother-in-law, just because he didn't like him, and the arrest warrant for that was two pages long. One and a half, really," said Brad.

"Does this help us, at all, that this arrest warrant is just demonstrably false, that it literally has over a hundred mistakes in it?" I asked.

"Yeah, that could help," said Brad.

We agreed to meet at the arraignment.

The Stairwells of Justice

The arraignment was a simple procedure, and was over in five minutes. Prior to our arraignment, five other people were arraigned on charges of varying severity, mainly such heinous crimes as smoking marijuana or vandalism.

Dale stepped in front of the desk first. He was informed of the charges against him, asked if he understood them, and that was it.

I stepped up, but when the judge asked me whether I understood the charges, I answered that I didn't, and that the charges were incomprehensible to a sane human being. I had hoped for some sort of response, but that was it for me, too.

A trial date was set, once again months in advance.

A week before the date arrived, it was once again postponed.

During this week, we were informed that Dale's too good to be true attorney, Brad Lunsford, had went over to the District Attorney's office. He was replaced by Dave Crowley, the Chief District Attorney, a perpetually bitter, pock-faced older man with the demeanor and bearing of an angry accountant.

Crowley refused to consider any of the strategies we had discussed at length with Brad and Deb. Dale was understandably irate at the sudden change, as was I, for when Deb and I were attempting to discuss the case he would interject rude comments.

Finally, after some particularly snide remark, I told him to fuck off, or something similarly pleasant, and left. Dale and I tried to limit our dealings to Deb, and it was Deb who handled both of our cases to the end, for which I thank God.

The day arrived.

We dressed quite sharply, Dale in new wool slacks and jacket. I dressed in a new suit as well, and inserted a carnation in my buttonhole as a gesture of contempt for the proceedings.

Dale looked so sharp that he was mistaken for an attorney twice. I did not share this distinction, but I looked sharp enough. I had shaved my beard a month previously after an error in trimming, so I looked presentable.

We realized that judges base their decisions as much on your appearance as on what you say. We did not intend to say anything, so appearance was of utmost importance.

We arrived at about the same time as at least thirty assorted computer security professionals, police, witnesses and ancillary court personnel. Dhamir Mannai and Richard Devon were there as well, and we exchanged greetings. Richard Devon was optimistic about the outcome, as was Dhamir Mannai. The computer security people gathered into a tight, paranoid knot, and Richard Devon and Dhamir Mannai stood about ten feet away from them, closer to us than to them. Robert Owens, Angela Thomas, Bryan Jensen, and D an Ehrlich were there, among others. They seemed nervous and ill-at-ease in their attempt at formal dress. Occasionally, one or another would glare at us, or at Devon and Mannai. I smiled and waved.

A discussion of some sort erupted among the computer security people, and a bailiff emerged and requested that they be quiet. The second time this was necessary, he simply told them to shut up, and told them to take their discussion to the stairwells. Dale and I had known of the noise policy for some time, and took all attorney-client conferences to the stairwells, which were filled at all times with similar conferences. It seemed that all the hearings and motions were just ceremonies without meaning; all the decisions had been made, hours before, in the stairwells of justice.

Finally Deb Lux arrived, with a sheaf of documents, and immediately left, saying that she would return shortly. A little over twenty minutes later, she returned to announce that she had struck a deal with Eileen Tucker, the Assistant District Attorney.

In light of the garbled nature of the police testimony, the spuriousness of the arrest warrant affidavit, the hostility of their main witness, Dhamir Mannai, and the difficulty of prosecuting a highly technical case, the Office of the District Attorney was understandably reluctant to prosecute us.

I was glad not to have to deal with Eileen Tucker, a woman affectionately nicknamed by other court officials "The Wicked Witch of the West." With her pallid skin, and her face drawn tightly over her skull as if she had far too much plastic surgery, this seemed an adequately descriptive name, both as to appearance and personality.

The deal was Advanced Rehabilitative Disposition, a pre-trial diversion in which you effectively receive probation and a fine, and charges are dismissed, leaving you with no criminal record. This is what first-time drunk drivers usually receive.

It is essentially a bribe to get the cops off your back.

The fines were approximately two thousand dollars apiece, with Dale arbitrarily receiving a fine two hundred dollars greater than mine.

After a moment of thought, we decided that the fines were too large. We turned down the deal, and asked her if she could get anything better than that.

After a much shorter conference she returned, announcing that the fines had been dropped by about a third. Still unsatisfied, but realizing that the proceedings, trial, jury selection, delays, sentencing, motions of discovery and almost limitless writs and affidavits and appeals would take several more months, we agreed to the deal. It was preferable to more hellish legal proceedings.

We discussed the deal outside with Richard Devon; Dhamir Mannai had left, having pressing engagements both before and after his testimony had been scheduled. We agreed that a trial would probably have resulted in an eventual victory, but at what unaffordable cost? We had no resources or time for a prolonged legal battle, and no acceptable alternative to a plea-bargain.

The End? Of Course Not; There Is No End

This, we assumed incorrectly, was the end. There was still a date for sentencing, and papers to be signed.

Nevertheless, this was all a formality, and weeks distant. There was time to prepare for these proceedings. The hounds of spring were on winter's traces. Dale and I hoped to return to what was left of our lives, and to enjoy the summer.

This hope was not to be fulfilled.

For, while entering the Electronic Music Lab one fine spring night, Andy Ericson [*], a locally-renowned musician, was halted by the University Police outside the window, as he prepared to enter. We quickly explained that we were authorized to be present, and immediately presented appropriate keys, IDs and other evidence that we were authorized to be in the Lab.

Nevertheless, more quickly than could be imagined, the cops grabbed Andy and slammed him against a cruiser, frisking him for weapons. They claimed that a person had been sighted carrying a firearm on campus, and that they were investigating a call.

No weapons were discovered. However, a small amount of marijuana and a tiny pipe were found on him. Interestingly, the police log in the paper the following day noted the paraphernalia bust, but there was no mention of any person carrying a firearm on campus.

Andy, a mathematician pursuing a Master's Degree, was performing research in a building classified Secret, and thus required a security clearance to enter the area where he performed his research.

His supervisor immediately yanked his security clearance, and this greatly jeopardized his chances of completing his thesis.

This is, as with my suspicions of wiretapping, an incident in which circumstantial evidence seems to justify my belief that the police were, even then, continuing surveillance on my friends and on me. However, as with my wiretapping suspicions, there is a maddening lack of substantial evidence to confirm my belief beyond a reasonable doubt.

Still, the police continued their series of visits to the Lab, under one ruse or another. Jeffery Jones, one night, threatened to arrest Dale for being in the Electronic Music Lab, though he had been informed repeatedly that Dale's access was authorized by the School of Music. Dale turned over his keys to Police Services the following day, resenting it bitterly.

This, however, was not to be a victory for the cops, but a crushing embarrassment. While their previous actions had remained at least within the letter of the law and of university policy, this was egregious and obvious harassment, and was very quickly quashed.

Bob Wilkins, the supervisor of the Electronic Music Lab; Burt Fenner, head of the Electronic Music division; and the Dean of the College of Arts and Architecture immediately drafted letters to the University Police objecting to this illegal action; as it is the professors and heads of departments who authorize keys, and not the University Police. The keys were returned within three days.

However, Jeffery was to vent his impotent rage in repeated visits to the Lab at late hours. On a subsequent occasion, he again threatened to arrest Dale, without providing any reason or justification for it.

The police, Jeffery and others, always had some pretext for these visits, but the fact that these visits only occurred when Dale was present in the Lab, and that they visited no one else, seems to be solid circumstantial evidence that they were more than routine checkups.

Once the authorities become interested in you, the file is never closed. Perhaps it will sit in a computer for ten or twenty years. Perhaps it will never be accessed again. However, perhaps some day in the distant future the police will be investigating some unrelated incident, and will once again note your name. You were in the wrong building, or talked to the wrong person. Suddenly, their long-dormant interest in you has reawakened. Suddenly, they once again want you for questioning. Suddenly, once again, they pull your life out from under you.

This is the way democracies die, not by revolution or coups d'etat, not by the flowing of blood in the streets like water, as historical novelists so quaintly write. Democracies die by innumerable papercuts. Democracies die by the petty actions of petty bureaucrats who, like mosquitoes, each drain their little drop of life's blood until none is left.

Lightning Always Strikes the Same Place Twice

One day, Dale received in the mail a subpoena, which informed him that his testimony was required in the upcoming trial of Ron Gere, who had moved to Florida. The cops had charged him with criminal conspiracy in the creation of the Huang account at the Engineering Computer Lab.

Now, not only was I guilty of being used as a weapon against a friend, but also guilty of this further complication, that the police were to use a friend of mine as a weapon against yet another friend.

It is interesting to note the manner in which the police use betrayal, deceit and infamous methods to prosecute crime.

It is especially interesting to note the increased use of such methods in the prosecution of crimes with no apparent victim. Indeed, in this specific case, the only victim with a demonstrable loss testified against the police and for the accused.

Dale resolved to plead the Fifth to any question regarding Ron, and to risk contempt of court by doing so, rather than be used in this manner.

This was not necessary. As it happened, Ron was to drive well over two thousand miles simply to sign a paper and receive ARD. The three of us commiserated, and then Ron was on his way back to Florida.


Dale and I reported to the appropriate courtroom for sentencing. In the hall, a young man, shackled and restrained by two police officers, was yelling: "I'm eighteen, and I'm having a very bad day!" The cops didn't bat an eye as they dragged him to the adjoining prison.

We sat.

The presiding judge, the Hon. David C. Grine, surveyed with evident disdain a room full of criminals like us. Deborah Lux was there, once again serving as counsel. David Crowley was mercifully absent.

The judge briefly examined each case before him. For each case, he announced the amount of the fine, the time of probation, and banged his gavel. Immediately before he arrived at our case, he looked at a man directly to our left. Instead of delivering the usual ARD sentence, he flashed a sadistic grin and said: "Two years jail." Dealing marijuana was the crime. The man's attorney objected. The judge said: "Okay, two years, one suspended." The attorney, another flunky from the public defender's office , sat down again. Two cops immediately dragged the man from the courtroom to take him to jail.

I noted that practically everyone in the room was poor, and those with whom I spoke were all uneducated. DUI was the most common offense.

Judge Grine came to our case, announced the expected sentence, and we reported upstairs to be assigned probation officers. I was disgusted with myself for having agreed to this arrangement, and perhaps this was why I was surly with the probation officer, Thomas Harmon. This earned me a visit to a court-appointed psychiatrist, to determine if I were mentally disturbed or on drugs.

That I was neither was satisfied by a single interview, and no drug-testing was necessary; for which I am grateful, for I would have refused any such testing. Exercising this Fifth Amendment guaranteed right is, of course, in this day considered to be an admission of guilt. The slow destruction of this right began with the government policy of "implied consent," by which one signs over one's Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination by having a driver's license, allowing a police officer to pull y ou over and test your breath for any reason or for no reason at all.

I later apologized to Thomas Harmon for my rudeness, as he had done me no disservice; indeed, a probation officer is, at least, in the business of keeping people out of jail instead of putting them there; and his behavior was less objectionable than that of any other police officer involved in my case.

Very shortly thereafter, realizing that I knew a large number of the local police on a first-name basis, I left the area, with the stated destination of Indiana. I spent the next two years travelling, with such waypoints as New Orleans, Denver, Seattle and Casper, Wyoming; and did not touch a computer for three years, almost having a horror of them.

I did not pay my fine in the monthly installments the court demanded. I ignored virtually every provision of my probation. I did not remain in touch with my probation officer, almost determined that my absence should be noticed. I did a lot of drugs, determined to obliterate all memory of my previous life. In Seattle, heroin was a drug of choice, so I did that for a while.

Finally, I arrived at my stated destination, Indiana, with only about three months remaining in my probation, and none of my fines paid. Dale, without my knowledge, called my parents and convinced them to pay the fine.

It took me a few days of thought to decide whether or not to accept their generous offer; I had not thought of asking them to pay the fine, sure that they would not. Perhaps I had done them a disservice in so assuming, but now I had to decide whether to accept their help.

If my fines were not paid, my ARD would be revoked, and a new trial date would be set. I was half determined to return and fight this case, still ashamed of having agreed to such a deal under duress. However, after discussing it at exhaustive length with everyone I knew, I came to the conclusion that to do so would be foolish and quixotic. Hell, I thought, Thoreau did the same thing in a similar circumstance; why shouldn't I?

I accepted my parents' offer. Three months later, I received a letter in the mail announcing that the case had been dismissed and my records expunged, with an annotation to the effect that records would be retained only to determine eligibility for any future ARD. I believe this to the same degree in which I believe that the NSA never performs surveillance on civilians. I have my doubts that the FBI eliminated all mention of me from their files. I shall decide after I file a Freedom of Information Act r equest and receive a reply.

I now have a legitimate Internet account and due to my experiences with weak encryption am a committed cypherpunk and Clipper Chip proposal opponent.

What is the moral to this story?

Even now, when I have had several years to gain distance and perspective, there does not seem to be a clear moral; only several pragmatic lessons.

I became enamored of my own brilliance, and arrogantly sure that my intelligence was invulnerability. I assumed my own immortality, and took a fall. This was not due to the intelligence of my adversaries, for the stupidity of the police was marvellous to behold. It was due to my own belief that I was somehow infallible.

Good intentions are only as good as the precautions taken to ensure their effectiveness.

There is always a Public Enemy Number One. As the public's fickle attention strays from the perceived menace of drug use, it will latch on to whatever new demon first appears on television. With the growing prevalence of hatchet jobs on hackers in the public media, it appears that hackers are to be the new witches.

It is advisable, then, that we avoid behavior which would tend to confirm the stereotypes. For every Emmanuel Goldstein or R. U. Sirius in the public eye, there are a dozen Mitnicks and Hesses; and, alas, it is the Mitnicks and Hesses who gain the most attention. Those who work for the betterment of society are much less interesting to the media than malicious vandals or spies.

In addition, it is best to avoid even the appearance of dishonesty in hacking, eschewing all personal gain.

Phreaking or hacking for personal gain at the expense of others is entirely unacceptable. Possibly bankrupting a small company through excessive telephone fraud is not only morally repugnant, but also puts money into the coffers of the monopolistic phone companies that we despise.

The goal of hacking is, and always has been, the desire for full disclosure of that information which is unethically and illegally hidden by governments and corporations; add to that a dash of healthy curiosity and a hint of rage, and you have a solvent capable of dissolving the thickest veils of secrecy. If destructive means are necessary, by all means use them; but be sure that you are not acting from hatred, but from love.

The desire to destroy is understandable, and I sympathize with it; anyone who can not think of a dozen government bodies which would be significantly improved by their destruction is probably too dumb to hack in the first place. However, if that destruction merely leads to disproportionate government reprisals, then it is not only inappropriate but counterproductive.

The secrecy and hoarding of information so common in the hacker community mirrors, in many respects, the secrecy and hoarding of information by the very government we resist. The desired result is full disclosure. Thus, the immediate, anonymous broadband distribution of material substantiating government and corporate wrongdoing is a mandate.

Instead of merely collecting information and distributing it privately for personal amusement, it must be sent to newspapers, television, electronic media, and any other means of communication to ensure both that this information can not be immediately suppressed by the confiscation of a few bulletin board systems and that our true motives may be discerned from our public and visible actions.

Our actions are not, in the wake of Operation Sun-Devil and the Clipper Chip proposal, entirely free. The government has declared war on numerous subsections of its own population, and thus has defined the terms of the conflict. The War on Drugs is a notable example, and we must ask what sort of a government declares war on its own citizens, and act accordingly.

Those of us who stand for liberty must act while we still can.

It is later than we think.

"In Germany they first came for the Communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me--and by that time no one was left to speak up." Martin Niemoeller

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a litle temporary safety deserver neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin


[From cert-clippings]
Date: Sat, 10 Mar 90 00:22:22 GMT
From: (Angela Marie Thomas)
Subject: PSU Hackers thwarted

The Daily Collegian  Wednesday, 21 Feb 1990

Unlawful computer use leads to arrests
by ALEX H. LIEBER, Collegian Staff Writer

Two men face charges of unlawful computer use, theft of services in a preliminary hearing scheduled for this morning at the Centre County Court of Common Pleas in Bellefonte. Dale Garrison, 111 S. Smith St., and Robert W. Clark, 201 Twin Lake Drive, Gettysburg, were arrested Friday in connection with illegal use of the University computer system, according to court records. Garrison, 36, is charged with the theft of service, unlawful computer use and criminal conspiracy. Clark, 20, is charged with multipl e counts of unlawful computer use and theft of service. [...]

Clark, who faces the more serious felony charges, allegedly used two computer accounts without authorization from the Center of Academic Computing or the Computer Science Department and, while creating two files, erased a file from the system. [...] When interviewed by University Police Services, Clark stated in the police report that the file deleted contained lists of various groups under the name of "ETZGREEK." Clark said the erasure was accidental, resulting from an override in the file when he trie d to copy it over onto a blank file. According to records, Clark is accused of running up more than $1000 in his use of the computer account. Garrison is accused of running up more than $800 of computer time.

Police began to investigate allegations of illegal computer use in November when Joe Lambert, head of the university's computer department, told police a group of people was accessing University computer accounts and then using those accounts to gain access to other computer systems. Among the systems accessed was Internet, a series of computers hooked to computer systems in industry, education and the military, according to records.

The alleged illegal use of the accounts was originally investigated by a Computer Emergency Response Team at Carnegie-Mellon University, which assists other worldwide computer systems in investigating improper computer use.

Matt Crawford, technical contact in the University of Chicago computer department discovered someone had been using a computer account from Penn State to access the University of Chicago computer system.