Click. Biofem Case: Focus Now on '80s Attache


Click. Microsoft's Federal Systems unit "joins" Lockheed Martin's Integrated Warfare Systems Team. Bill Gates into nuke submarines and aircraft carriers?

Click. Tico Times exposes top-secret police training exercise Costa Rica and the United States performed on the island of San Lucas.


Click. The problem with E-signatures.

Click. Two Aum Shinrikyo members sentenced to death for subway attack.

Biofem Case: Focus Now on '80s Attache
Crime: Three suspects in the Irvine murder conspiracy met at the home of the South African trade envoy in Beverly Hills. Germ warfare link was hinted.

By , , Los Angeles Times Staff Writers © 7/17/00

     A series of meetings at the Beverly Hills home of a South African trade attache is now the focus of the probe into February's attempted murder of an Irvine drug company executive.

     The meetings, which took place in the mid-1980s, are under scrutiny because investigators have discovered that all three named suspects in the Irvine shooting conspiracy attended them, police said.

     In addition, the FBI, at the time, had become concerned enough about allegations that two of the suspects were involved in trying to supply South Africa with germ warfare materials that the agency monitored several of the suspects' meetings, according to sources close to the investigation.

     Detectives aren't sure what role, if any, these meetings played in the plot against Biofem Inc. CEO James Patrick Riley, who is recovering from a gunshot wound in the face. But investigators expressed hope that the connections could help them solve a 4-month-old case that has yet to reveal either the gunman or a conclusive motive.

     The events at the Beverly Hills compound--which ranged from gala celebrations attended by dozens of people to informal gatherings around a wood-paneled bar--represent the strongest link yet between the Irvine shooting suspects and South Africa's biological warfare program.

     Dr. Larry C. Ford, who police say helped "mastermind" the plot to kill his Biofem Inc. business partner, has already been identified by several South African researchers as an advisor to the military program. Ford committed suicide days after a masked gunman wounded Riley.

     FBI agents regularly inquired about Ford's and another doctor's frequent visits to the home of Gideon Bouwer, who was South Africa's trade attache at the time, according to friends of Bouwer's. Bouwer returned to South Africa in 1986 and, according to a spokesman for that nation's Department of Foreign Affairs, died in the early 1990s.

     Two of the friends--Peter Fitzpatrick and Tom Byron--said they told the FBI that Bouwer often discussed acquiring biological weapons with the help of Ford and others.

     There is no evidence that the discussion led to any weapons development, and the FBI never made any arrests.

     But 14 years later, in the wake of the Biofem shooting, the FBI launched a "weapons of mass destruction" probe when it searched Ford's Irvine home and found germs that cause cholera and typhoid fever. Sources said federal agents are trying to determine if Ford kept the germs for biological warfare research.

     Prosecutors have charged businessman Dino D'Saachs, 56, with conspiracy to commit murder, alleging that he drove the gunman to and from the shooting. D'Saachs has pleaded not guilty.

     Detectives have twice questioned Orange County surgeon Jerry D. Nilsson and say he has been cooperative. In court documents, police named Nilsson as a suspect in the case but have not revealed how they believe he was involved in the plot.

     Nilsson's attorney, Anthony P. Brooklier, said his client had nothing to do with the attempted murder of Riley.

     Police said they have turned to events of 14 years ago in an effort to prove that the three suspects--Ford, D'Saachs and Nilsson--had previously consorted with one another.

     Irvine investigators interviewed Fitzpatrick, Byron and others who visited Bouwer's house and learned that all three suspects were seen at the diplomat's home, police officials said.

     "These people have been associated for years," said Irvine Police Det. Victor Ray.

     Fitzpatrick and Byron said they met Ford during gatherings at Bouwer's Beverly Hills home. The trade attache hosted frequent parties, inviting U.S. businessmen he hoped could provide South Africa with military intelligence or supplies, despite an embargo, the two said.

* * *
     Ford, the men said, was shy, rarely making small talk, but he was a regular visitor at the house.

     Fitzpatrick and Byron said FBI agents approached them in late 1985. The two said they regularly told federal authorities about the activities of Bouwer, Ford and Nilsson until late 1986, when the trade attache returned to South Africa.

     The surveillance came at the height of the U.S. arms embargo against South Africa and just as the apartheid-era regime was developing a covert biological warfare program.

     Fitzpatrick and Byron said they told federal authorities about a 1986 meeting at Bouwer's home that included Ford, Nilsson and a high-ranking South African official involved in the nation's biological weapons program. Bouwer bragged that Nilsson and Ford were supplying the official with germ warfare materials, Fitzpatrick and Byron said.

     Irvine detectives and an FBI spokesman declined to comment on the federal probe of Bouwer's activities. But a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation said agents were unable to prove allegations of embargo-busting.

     "They never could substantiate a thing on Ford and Nilsson," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "They never got anything they could sink their teeth into."

     The South African foreign affairs spokesman said consular officials never heard of allegations involving Bouwer and biological weapons.

     The extent of Ford's relationship with South Africa's covert biological warfare program--code-named Project Coast--remains unclear.

     Two South African researchers said earlier this year that Ford lectured scientists on how to lace everyday items with biological agents.

     But former South African Surgeon General Niel Knobel, who served as administrative head of the program, has said Ford's role was limited to providing informal consultation on protecting troops against biological attacks.

     Knobel said he met Ford at Bouwer's Beverly Hills home once but maintained that Ford played no role in the development of biological weapons.

By: Linda Harrison © 2000
Posted: 17/07/2000 at 12:24 GMT. The Register

MI5 has taken to recruiting undercover photographers over the Web.

Ideal candidates must be physically fit, have no fear of heights or enclosed spaces, and a clean driving licence. And presumably a knack for getting drunk in South London and losing laptops would also help.

The online ads are a move away from traditional headhunting techniques for the government security service. In the past, chiefs at MI5 have grabbed cub spy staff by trawling the nation's top universities and placing cryptically worded classified ads.

But it has now embraced the digital age, and is hunting for photographers, IT staff, linguists and general technical employees via its Web site.

Successful snapper candidates will be based in London and trained on_the_job. MI5 expects a minimum of five years' experience, resilience, flexibility, good oral and written skills, and decent night vision. For this, photographers can expect a starting salary of £19,782.

Earlier this year the UK security services were plagued with a spate of laptop thefts, with one MI6 spy mislaying state secrets after a night on the razzle in a London tapas bar. ®

Microsoft's Federal Systems unit "joins" Lockheed Martin's Integrated Warfare Systems Team. Bill Gates into nuke submarines and aircraft carriers?

US Navy carrier to adopt Win2k infrastructure
By: John Lettice © Posted: 14/07/2000 at 09:35 GMT, The Register

We could have put it better, ourselves. Microsoft's Federal Systems unit has apparently "joined" Lockheed Martin's Integrated Warfare Systems Team. So far the alliance hasn't said anything about its plans for landscaping Washington DC, but there is an aircraft carrier involved.

And at this point, it all becomes wonderfully weird, and shot-through with synergy. Lockheed Martin is working on the design of the new US CVN 77 aircraft carrier, and Microsoft Federal Systems is to cooperate in the ship's information technology architecture. This will, we kid you not, be based on Windows 2000. Microsoft Consulting Services will meanwhile chip in with tech support during the ship's software design, development and deployment.

Lockheed Martin's Warfare Systems Team is apparently a part of the company's Naval Electronics & Surveillance Unit, so we fear Larry Ellison had better watch out _ Microsoft has some spooky-sounding new friends, and they have the firepower to take out a lot more than the trash.

But there's a funny coincidence too. The CVN 77 is being built by Newport News Shipbuilding Inc., and that name may be familiar to you. Yes, that's right, a little while back Bill Gates invested in... Newport News Shipbuilding Inc. He holds an eight per cent stake. Newport News Shipbuilding is one of only two companies in the US which are capable of building nuclear submarines, and has built ten of the last 12 aircraft carriers commissioned by the US navy. It'll launch the USS Ronald Reagan (again, no kidding) next year, and it seems horribly possible the thing will run Win2k (with SP2?). ®

Police Drill on Island Protested
By Julie Dulude © 2000
Tico Times Staff

Exposure of a top-secret police training exercise that Costa Rica and the United States performed on the island of San Lucas — allegedly damaging parts of the historic penitentiary in the Gulf of Nicoya that is considered a national heritage site — sent waves of outrage throughout the Pacific port town of Puntarenas this week.

Early reports circulating among residents had it that alleged damage to the door in the prison’s weapon storage area, the windows, walls and floors of an upstairs chamber and the roof over the prison cells — some of which are more than 100 years old — were caused by bomb explosions and gunshots.

"We don’t know what it is exactly, but we found some sort of un-detonated artifact that we had to have removed because it could easily be set off," said William Briceño, director of the Puntarenas Municipality Workers’ Union, which is denouncing the Municipality before the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports for authorizing the drill.

"We have the pictures to prove it."

Known for being the roughest jail in Costa Rica, the infamous island prison, which has been compared to Alcatraz, was declared a national heritage site in 1995 after its closure three years earlier. The prison is located five kilometers west of Puntarenas on the 600-hectare island of San Lucas, also the site of nine Chorotega Indian burial sites.

As of a few years ago, travel agencies were running tours to the island, but the Municipality restricted access so that the Culture, Youth and Sports Ministry could restore part of the prison, excavate the Indian graves and erect a pre-Columbian museum to display any indigenous artifacts found.

Eduardo Martínez, the Ministry’s regional director, said he was shocked that the Municipality would authorize such an activity without consulting him. The law states that any activity that could in any way alter or modify a national heritage site has to be cleared with the Ministry, he said.

Martínez asked Mayor Jorge Escribano why this step was skipped, and was told the drill was a "state secret," he said. Escribano also told him San Lucas was chosen because it was the "optimal" place to carry out the type of land-sea, joint anti-drug trafficking bust the two nations were practicing.

"It’s true that the exercise took place, but the workers union has sounded a false alarm," Martínez said. "There were no explosives used, and I don’t see any damage to the penitentiary. I am, however, very upset this took place. To allow this type of activity in a national heritage site is totally inappropriate.

"Bringing student groups and tourists to the island is one thing," he continued. "But military training exercises shouldn’t be allowed because of the possibility that damage could occur. Everybody is talking about this in Puntarenas, and the people are very upset about it."

Marcia Bosshardt, U.S. embassy press spokeswoman, confirmed Wednes-day that a one-day joint training exercise took place the second to last week of June. An unspecified number of U.S. army leaders were here training 27 Public Security Ministry officials, she said.

"The government suggested using San Lucas because of the former prison there," she explained. "The type of training required what’s called ‘clash-bang,’ which uses something like a little firecracker. They’re basically focus-charges, which don’t hurt anything, but can make it look like something’s blowing up even if it’s not.

"It was a simple exercise," Bosshardt added. "They checked it out afterwards and said it was in better condition than (when they arrived), that they cleaned it up."

Public Security Minister Rogelio Ramos, who said he was unaware that the San Lucas penitentiary is a national heritage site, denied that the drill was an anti-drug trafficking exercise. What occurred was a simulated seaside rescue operation of police officials who were "kidnapped" and taken to the island, he said.

Ramos said the drill was just a tactical exercise which the United States and Costa Rica perform annually. He reaffirmed that San Lucas – besides being close to Caldera -- was the optimal place for the drill in terms of the difficulty level and conditions that could be simulated.

"The exercise caused no damage at all," said Ramos. "No explosives were detonated. No shots were fired. No trees were cut. No buildings were built. Nothing was demolished. The drill took a total of three hours. We came and left the same day."

Since the heritage site belongs to Puntarenas, the Municipality could have and should have refused to authorize the drill, Martínez said.

Florida State Supreme Court decides against new abuse rule for judges.
News-Journal wire services © 2000 July 17, 2000

TALLAHASSEE - Florida shouldn't have a rule requiring judges to report suspicions of child abuse that cross their desk - at least not now, the state Supreme Court has concluded.

In a unanimous unsigned decision Thursday, Florida's high court said it would not adopt judicial rules proposed by a special committee of judges it created last fall.

For the most part, the rules would not have affected child abuse cases brought to court by the Department of Children and Families since those cases are already known to the department.

But they would have affected domestic violence cases, divorce cases and juvenile cases.

The issue surfaced last year after passage of the Kayla McKean Act. Among other changes to how Florida handles child abuse, the law required judges to make reports of suspected child abuse or face criminal penalties.

There was little debate among judges that the 1999 law violated the doctrine of separation of powers and infringed on the independence of the courts as a co-equal branch of government.

But that conflict was settled this spring when lawmakers backpedalled and dropped the requirement that judges make abuse reports.

Judges, however, were left divided on the question of what they should be required to do when they learn of child abuse allegations that aren't known to investigators.

The special committee created by the high court to make recommendations concluded that judges should be required to make reports of suspected child abuse.

But two standing committees of the Florida Bar saw the issue differently and warned that the independence and impartiality of judges would be seriously harmed by the reporting requirement.

In Thursday's ruling, Florida's high court pointed to those warnings. The court also welcomed suggestions for further study or proposals for other approaches.

Sign of Trouble: The Problem With E-Signatures
Jesse Berst, Editorial Director © 7/17/00 ZDNet AnchorDesk

With apologies to Sam Goldwyn, an electronic contract isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

But now under a new federal law, it's just as enforceable.

Note from Jesse: Be careful. E-contracting, and e-signatures will eventually change the way business is done, but they'll be slow to catch on. Businesses will get the first chances to sign on the digital line. Consumers will be last.

The delay is for good reason.

When President Clinton recently signed into law the bill giving your online John Hancock the same force of law as your handwritten signature, (Click for more). he created a potential avenue for bungling or outright fraud big enough to drive a Brinks truck through. Click for more. He also set the stage for a standards battle that could take years to resolve. Here's a quick look at who is providing e-signing services and hardware, what any signature must do and what the hurdles to widespread adoption are.

Signature is a pretty loose way to define what we are now coming to call digital signatures. You may never have to sign your name to enter into an electronic contract. You might use a smart card and password, a Web tablet, biometrics or an iris scan. Click for more.

Here's a rundown of who is making and selling digital-signature technology, some of which works independently or in concert with others.

ILumin calls its technology the "digital handshake." It creates a secure environment with all the tools necessary to review, edit, sign and store documents. Click for more.

SignOnline, a silicon startup, will issue its own signatures to customers to use, marrying authenticated digital certificates with secure e-documents. Once signed, documents at SignOnline also go into a secure electronic cabinet. Click for more.

Litronic, also a maker of smart cards, is developing technology that treats a user's eye as a fingerprint. A camera scans the user's iris and matches it up with one on record.

Interlink Electronics sells its ePad, which records more than just the shape of your name. It records the date and time of the signing, and your signature is cryptographically linked to the document and biometrically associated to you.

Much of the heavy lifting in the days ahead will be done by companies such as VeriSign and Entrust Technologies, which have already laid strong foundations in developing the public key infrastructure that is the basis of most digital signatures. Click for more.

Whatever form it takes, here are three things that are vital to every e-signature:

Authentication. Like that illegible scribble you call a signature, you have to be the only one that reproduces it.

Non-repudiation. This is what it means to sign your name: You can't back out.

Data integrity. Whatever it is you've signed has to be secure and unalterable without your consent. Mortgage papers, business contracts. They're not worth signing if someone can go change the substance of them.

Just because digital signatures are legal, doesn't mean they're safe or smart. And they're certainly not right around the corner. Here are four things that will trip up the e-sign rush.

Standards. The new law says nothing about technology. Any number of companies will say their digital-signature technology is the safest and best. We'll likely discover who is right through trial and error. In the meantime, the details of e-signatures and electronic contracts will almost certainly end up back in court, according to Forrester Research's Frank Prince.

Real-life applications. Many businesses hailed the arrival of legal e-signatures. Putting them to work is another question. Businesses will have to buy or build their own public key and encryption infrastructure. Not for everyone.

Digital divide. The new law allows companies to charge more to customers who can't or won't go online. Prince thinks this means there won't be much consumer use of e-signatures for another five years. He's right.

Fraud. Digital signatures won't do away with criminals. In fact, it will give some of them a new hunting ground. The hackers' pot of gold at the other end of the server just got bigger.

Digital signatures are coming, but they're not here yet. Legal and technical barriers still stand in the way of widespread adoption. And there will be some notable disasters in the early days when somebody's 7-year-old clicks and sells the house or buys a car. When that happens, a pen and paper will seem like pretty nifty technology.

Two Aum Shinrikyo members sentenced to death for subway attack. Japan Times © 7/18/00

Two Aum Shinrikyo followers were sentenced to death Monday for releasing the nerve gas sarin on the Tokyo subway system in March 1995 and for illegally manufacturing firearms.

The Tokyo District Court found Toru Toyoda, 32, and Kenichi Hirose, 36, guilty of releasing sarin on subway trains in the nerve gas attack, which killed 12 people and injured more than 5,500.

With Monday's ruling on Toyoda and Hirose, four of the five Aum Shinrikyo members accused of releasing sarin on the subway trains have been sentenced to death.

Presiding Judge Manabu Yamazaki denounced the attack as an "indiscriminate crime in which the cultists used any means to pursue their interests" and "unprecedented mass murder that ignored human dignity." Toyoda and Hirose deserve the death penalty given the plight of the victims and their next of kin, the judge said.

The pair were also convicted for their role in the manufacturing of machineguns in 1994 and 1995 as part of the cult's efforts to build up its arsenal.

Toyoda also took part in the foiled cyanide gas attack at Shinjuku Station in Tokyo and sent a letter bomb in May 1995 to then Tokyo Gov. Yukio Aoshima, wounding a metropolitan government official, the court said.

The court meanwhile sentenced Shigeo Sugimoto, 41, to life in prison for driving one of the sarin attackers to a train station and for his own involvement in the murder of two followers in January and June 1994.

According to Judge Yamazaki, Toyoda, who joined the cult in 1986, pierced two plastic bags containing sarin aboard a Hibiya Line train with the tip of an umbrella as it approached Ebisu Station during morning rush hour on March 20, 1995.

One passenger was killed and more than 500 others who were aboard the train and in Kamiyacho Station were injured.

Hirose, who joined Aum in 1988, used the same method to release the nerve gas on a Marunouchi Line train near Ochanomizu Station, leaving one passenger dead and about 350 others aboard the train injured.

Both Toyoda and Hirose were allegedly acting on the orders of Aum leader Shoko Asahara when they carried out the attack, which was planned to distract police from what appeared to be an imminent raid on the cult.

With Monday's rulings on Toyoda and Hirose, all five cultists accused of releasing the gas on the trains have received their sentences.

Yasuo Hayashi, 42, and Masato Yokoyama, 36, were sentenced to death but have since appealed the rulings to higher court.

However, Ikuo Hayashi, 53, a former Aum doctor, was sentenced to life in prison, because the court took into account the fact that he voluntarily surrendered and acted in a cooperative and repentant manner during his trial.

A total of 14 cult followers, including Asahara himself, have been charged with conspiring to carry out the subway sarin attack.

Toyoda and Hirose -- key members of Aum's science team -- also played important roles in the cult's project to manufacture 1,000 machineguns between June 1994 and March 1995. Hirose had produced a prototype assault rifle based on the AK-74 by January 1995, the court said.

Toyoda acquired a master's degree in physics at the University of Tokyo and Hirose received one at Waseda University. Toyoda, together with four other members of the cult, was also held responsible for placing bags of cyanide in a men's toilet in an underground concourse at Shinjuku Station on May 5, 1995, in a bid to distract police from their imminent move to arrest Asahara, it said. The bags were safely disposed of by a station worker before anybody was injured.

He also mailed a parcel bomb to Tokyo Gov. Aoshima that same month, wounding a metropolitan government official who opened it, the court said.

Meanwhile, Sugimoto, who joined Aum in 1986, drove fellow cultist Yasuo Hayashi to Ueno Station, where Hayashi boarded a Hibiya Line train to release sarin in the attack, the court said. Hayashi was sentenced to death last month for killing eight people in the attack.

Sugimoto also played a role in the killing of cultists Kotaro Ochida and Toshio Tomita in January and June 1994, strangling Tomita with a rope and watching as Ochida suffered a similar fate.

In both cases, Sugimoto voluntarily confessed to taking part in the killings. He drove and served as a bodyguard for Asahara, who is also said to have "prosecuted spies" within the cult.

Sugimoto's sentence marked the third ruling in which a cult follower who drove a getaway car in the gas attack was given a life term. The other two have already filed appeals.

Toyoda, Hirose and Sugimoto pleaded guilty and apologized in court to relatives of the victims.

But Toyoda and Hirose asked that they not be sentenced to hang, saying that it would be "unreasonable" for them to receive the same punishment that Asahara is widely expected to receive.

Sugimoto claimed he merely abetted in the crimes and played only a peripheral and replaceable role in the attack, claiming that the crime could have been carried out without him.

The defendants' lawyers claimed the three were merely following Asahara's orders and thus did not jointly conspire in the attack. The lawyers also claimed that the three were under Asahara's "mind control" and thus unable to refuse his orders. The judge, however, said the three spontaneously played significant roles in the crimes and thus could not escape from their grave criminal responsibility.

He also denied they were subject to Asahara's mind-control and could refuse his orders, citing the defendants' testimony that they felt a sense of guilt for carrying out the attack.


Relatives call for death
Relatives of victims of the 1995 subway gas attack on Monday called for a swift conclusion to the trial of Aum Shinrikyo leader Shoko Asahara.

Speaking at a news conference at the Tokyo District Court after the day's session, in which two former cultists were sentenced to death, a 29-year-old woman who lost her 54-year-old father in the attack said delays would fuel public fears over further criminal acts.

"Everyone wants a ruling immediately. I cannot understand why it is taking so long," said the woman, who wished to remain anonymous.

Shizue Takahashi, 53, whose 50-year-old husband worked at Kasumigaseki subway station and died after removing a bag containing sarin gas from a train carriage, also called for the death penalty for Asahara.

"But I don't know whether he deserves the same punishment as others who apologized and told the truth," she said, referring to the sentences handed down to cult members that day.

The Japan Times: July 18, 2000
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