Suelette dreyfus julian assange

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hurricanes heading directly into a continental land-mass it had started

out big and ended up small. News reports followed this pattern, with a

large amount of material on its initial impact, but little or nothing

about subsequent events. Finally I obtained detailed time by velocity

weather maps from the National Reconnaissance Office, which showed the

remaining Hugo epicentre ripping through Charlotte NC (pop. 400k)

before spending itself on the Carolinas. Database searches turned up a

report by Natalie, D. & Ball, W, EIS Coordinator, North Carolina

Emergency Management, `How North Carolina Managed Hurricane Hugo' --

which was used to flesh out the scenes in Chapter 4 describing Par's

escape to New York via the Charlotte Airport.

Old Fashioned gum-shoe leg-work, calling every motel in Black Mountain

and the surrounding area, revealed that the Black Mountain Motel had

changed name, ownership and.. all its staff. Par's story was holding,

but in some ways I wished it hadn't. We were back to square one in terms

of gaining independent secondary confirmation.
Who else could have been involved? There must have been a paper-trail

outside of Washington. Perhaps the SS representation in Charlotte had

something? No. Perhaps there were records of the warrants in the

Charlotte courts? No. Perhaps NC state police attended the SS raid in

support? Maybe, but finding warm bodies who had been directly involved

proved proved futile. If it was a SS case, they had no indexable

records that they were willing to provide. What about the local

coppers? An SS raid on a fugitive computer hacker holed up at one of

the local motels was not the sort of event that would be likely to have

passed unnoticed at the Black Mountain county police office, indexable

records or not.
Neither however, were international telephone calls from strangely

accented foreign-nationals wanting to know about them. Perhaps the Reds

were no-longer under the beds, but in Black Mountain, this could be

explained away by the fact they were now hanging out in phone booths. I

waited for a new shift at the Black Mountain county police office,

hoping against hope, that the officer I had spoken to wouldn't

contaminate his replacement. Shamed, I resorted to using that most

special of US militia infiltration devices. An American accent and a

woman's touch. Suelette weaved her magic. The Black Mountain raid had

taken place. The county police had supported it. We had our


While this anecdote is a strong account, it's also representative one.

Every chapter in underground was formed from many stories like

it. They're unseen, because a book must not be true merely in details.

It must be true in feeling.
True to the visible and the invisible. A difficult combination.
Julian Assange
January 2001




Acknowledgements viii

Introduction xi

1 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 1

2 The Corner Pub 45

3 The American Connection 84

4 The Fugitive 120

5 The Holy Grail 159

6 Page One, the New York Times 212

7 Judgment Day 244

8 The International Subversives 285

9 Operation Weather 323

10 Anthrax--the Outsider 364

11 The Prisoner's Dilemma 400

Afterword 427 Glossary and Abbreviations 455 Notes 460

[ Page numbers above correspond to the Random House printed edition ]


There are many people who were interviewed for this work, and many

others who helped in providing documents so vital for fact

checking. Often this help invovled spending a considerable amount of

time explaining complex technical or legal matters. I want to express

my gratitude to all these people, some of whom prefer to remain

anonymous, for their willingness to dig through the files in search of

yet one more report and their patience in answering yet one more


I want to thank the members of the computer underground, past and

present, who were interviewed for this book. Most gave me

extraordinary access to their lives, for which I am very grateful.

I also want to thank Julian Assange for his tireless research efforts.

His superb technical expertise and first-rate research is evidence by

the immense number of details which are included in this book.

Three exceptional women -- Fiona Inglis, Deb Callaghan and Jennifer

Byrne -- believed in my vision for this book and helped me to bring it

to fruition. Carl Harrison-Ford's excellent editing job streamlined a

large and difficult manuscript despite the tight deadline. Thank you

also to Judy Brookes.

I am also very grateful to the following people and organisations for

their help (in no particular order): John McMahon, Ron Tencati, Kevin

Oberman, Ray Kaplan, the New York Daily News library staff, the New

York Post library staff, Bow Street Magistrates Court staff, Southwark

Court staff, the US Secret Service, the Black Mountain Police, Michael

Rosenberg, Michael Rosen, Melbourne Magistrates Court staff, D.L

Sellers & Co. staff, Victorian County Court staff, Paul Galbally, Mark

Dorset,, Freeside Communications, Greg Hooper, H&S

Support Services, Peter Andrews, Kevin Thompson, Andrew Weaver,

Mukhtar Hussain, Midnight Oil, Helen Meredith, Ivan Himmelhoch,

Michael Hall, Donn Ferris, Victorian State Library staff, News Limited

library staff (Sydney), Allan Young, Ed DeHart, Annette Seeber, Arthur

Arkin, Doug Barnes, Jeremy Porter, James McNabb, Carolyn Ford, ATA,

Domini Banfield, Alistair Kelman, Ann-Maree Moodie, Jane Hutchinson,

Catherine Murphy, Norma Hawkins, N. Llewelyn, Christine Assange,

Russel Brand, Matthew Bishop, Matthew Cox, Michele Ziehlky, Andrew

James, Brendan McGrath, Warner Chappell Music Australia, News Limited,

Pearson Williams Solicitors, Tami Friedman, the Free Software

Foundation (GNU Project), and the US Department of Energy Computer

Incident Advisory Capability.

Finally, I would like to thank my family, whose unfailing support,

advice and encouragement have made this book possible.




My great aunt used to paint underwater.

Piling on the weighty diving gear used in 1939 and looking like

something out of 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, Lucie slowly sank below

the surface, with palette, special paints and canvas

in hand. She settled on the ocean floor, arranged her weighted

painter's easel and allowed herself to become completely enveloped by

another world. Red and white striped fish darted around fields of

blue-green coral and blue-lipped giant clams. Lionfish drifted by,

gracefully waving their dangerous feathered spines. Striped green

moray eels peered at her from their rock crevice homes.

Lucie dived and painted everywhere. The Sulu Archipelago. Mexico.

Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Hawaii. Borneo. Sometimes she was the

first white woman seen by the Pacific villagers she lived with for

months on end.

As a child, I was entranced by her stories of the unknown world below

the ocean's surface, and the strange and wonderful cultures she met on

her journeys. I grew up in awe of her chosen task: to capture on

canvas the essence of a world utterly foreign to her own.

New technology--revolutionary for its time--had allowed her to do

this. Using a compressor, or sometimes just a hand pump connected to

air hoses running to the surface, human beings were suddenly able to

submerge themselves for long periods in an otherwise inaccessible

world. New technology allowed her to both venture into this unexplored

realm, and to document it in canvas.

I came upon the brave new world of computer communications and its

darker side, the underground, quite by accident. It struck me

somewhere in the journey that followed that my trepidations and

conflicting desires to explore this alien world were perhaps not

unlike my aunt's own desires some half a century before. Like her

journey, my own travels have only been made possible by new

technologies. And like her, I have tried to capture a small corner of

this world.

This is a book about the computer underground. It is not a book about

law enforcement agencies, and it is not written from the point of view

of the police officer. From a literary perspective, I have told this

story through the eyes of numerous computer hackers. In doing so, I

hope to provide the reader with a window into a mysterious, shrouded

and usually inaccessible realm.

Who are hackers? Why do they hack? There are no simple answers to

these questions. Each hacker is different. To that end, I have

attempted to present a collection of individual but interconnected

stories, bound by their links to the international computer

underground. These are true stories, tales of the world's best and the

brightest hackers and phreakers. There are some members of the

underground whose stories I have not covered, a few of whom would also

rank as world-class. In the end, I chose to paint detailed portraits

of a few hackers rather than attempt to compile a comprehensive but

shallow catalogue.

While each hacker has a distinct story, there are common themes which

appear throughout many of the stories. Rebellion against all symbols

of authority. Dysfunctional families. Bright children suffocated by

ill-equipped teachers. Mental illness or instability. Obsession and


I have endeavoured to track what happened to each character in this

work over time: the individual's hacking adventures, the police raid

and the ensuing court case. Some of those court cases have taken years

to reach completion.

Hackers use `handles'--on-line nicknames--that serve two purposes.

They shield the hacker's identity and, importantly, they often make a

statement about how the hacker perceives himself in the underground.

Hawk, Crawler, Toucan Jones, Comhack, Dataking, Spy, Ripmax, Fractal

Insanity, Blade. These are all real handles used in Australia.

In the computer underground, a hacker's handle is his name. For this

reason, and because most hackers in this work have now put together

new lives for themselves, I have chosen to use only their handles.

Where a hacker has had more than one handle, I have used the one he


Each chapter in this book is headed with a quote from a Midnight Oil

song which expresses an important aspect of the chapter. The Oilz are

uniquely Australian. Their loud voice of protest against the

establishment--particularly the military-industrial

establishment--echoes a key theme in the underground, where music in

general plays a vital role.

The idea for using these Oilz extracts came while researching Chapter

1, which reveals the tale of the WANK worm crisis in NASA. Next to the

RTM worm, WANK is the most famous worm in the history of computer

networks. And it is the first major worm bearing a political message.

With WANK, life imitated art, since the term computer `worm' came from

John Brunner's sci-fi novel, The Shockwave Rider, about a politically

motivated worm.

The WANK worm is also believed to be the first worm written by an

Australian, or Australians.

This chapter shows the perspective of the computer system

administrators--the people on the other side from the hackers. Lastly,

it illustrates the sophistication which one or more Australian members

of the worldwide computer underground brought to their computer


The following chapters set the scene for the dramas which unfold and

show the transition of the underground from its early days, its loss

of innocence, its closing ranks in ever smaller circles until it

reached the inevitable outcome: the lone hacker. In the beginning, the

computer underground was a place, like the corner pub, open and

friendly. Now, it has become an ephemeral expanse, where hackers

occasionally bump into one another but where the original sense of

open community has been lost.

The computer underground has changed over time, largely in response to

the introduction of new computer crime laws across the globe and to

numerous police crackdowns. This work attempts to document not only an

important piece of Australian history, but also to show fundamental

shifts in the underground --to show, in essence, how the underground

has moved further underground.

Suelette Dreyfus

March 1997


Chapter 1 -- 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1


Somebody's out there, somebody's waiting

Somebody's trying to tell me something

-- from `Somebody's Trying to Tell Me Something', on 10, 9, 8, 7, 6,

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 by Midnight Oil

Monday, 16 October 1989

Kennedy Space Center, Florida

NASA buzzed with the excitement of a launch. Galileo was finally going

to Jupiter.

Administrators and scientists in the world's most prestigious space

agency had spent years trying to get the unmanned probe into space.

Now, on Tuesday, 17 October, if all went well, the five astronauts in

the Atlantis space shuttle would blast off from the Kennedy Space

Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, with Galileo in tow. On the team's

fifth orbit, as the shuttle floated 295 kilometres above the Gulf of

Mexico, the crew would liberate the three-tonne space probe.

An hour later, as Galileo skated safely away from the shuttle, the

probe's 32500 pound booster system would fire up and NASA staff would

watch this exquisite piece of human ingenuity embark on a six-year

mission to the largest planet in the solar system. Galileo would take

a necessarily circuitous route, flying by Venus once and Earth twice

in a gravitational slingshot effort to get up enough momentum to reach


NASA's finest minds had wrestled for years with the problem of exactly

how to get the probe across the solar system. Solar power was one

option. But if Jupiter was a long way from Earth, it was even further

from the Sun--778.3 million kilometres to be exact. Galileo would need

ridiculously large solar panels to generate enough power for its

instruments at such a distance from the Sun. In the end, NASA's

engineers decided on a tried if not true earthly energy source:

nuclear power.

Nuclear power was perfect for space, a giant void free of human life

which could play host to a bit of radioactive plutonium 238 dioxide.

The plutonium was compact for the amount of energy it gave off--and it

lasted a long time. It seemed logical enough. Pop just under 24

kilograms of plutonium in a lead box, let it heat up through its own

decay, generate electricity for the probe's instruments, and presto!

Galileo would be on its way to investigate Jupiter.

American anti-nuclear activists didn't quite see it that way. They

figured what goes up might come down. And they didn't much like the idea

of plutonium rain. NASA assured them Galileo's power pack was quite

safe. The agency spent about $50 million on tests which supposedly

proved the probe's generators were very safe. They would survive intact

in the face of any number of terrible explosions, mishaps and

accidents. NASA told journalists that the odds of a plutonium release

due to `inadvertent atmospheric re-entry' were 1 in 2 million. The

likelihood of a plutonium radiation leak as a result of a launch

disaster was a reassuring 1 in 2700.

The activists weren't having a bar of it. In the best tradition of

modern American conflict resolution, they took their fight to the

courts. The coalition of anti-nuclear and other groups believed

America's National Aeronautics and Space Administration had

underestimated the odds of a plutonium accident and they wanted a US

District Court in Washington to stop the launch. The injunction

application went in, and the stakes went up. The unprecedented hearing

was scheduled just a few days before the launch, which had originally

been planned for 12 October.

For weeks, the protesters had been out in force, demonstrating and

seizing media attention. Things had become very heated. On Saturday, 7

October, sign-wielding activists fitted themselves out with gas masks

and walked around on street corners in nearby Cape Canaveral in

protest. At 8 a.m. on Monday, 9 October, NASA started the countdown

for the Thursday blast-off. But as Atlantis's clock began ticking

toward take-off, activists from the Florida Coalition for Peace and

Justice demonstrated at the centre's tourist complex.

That these protests had already taken some of the shine off NASA's bold

space mission was the least of the agency's worries. The real headache

was that the Florida Coalition told the media it would `put people on

the launchpad in a non-violent protest'.3 The coalition's director,

Bruce Gagnon, put the threat in folksy terms, portraying the protesters

as the little people rebelling against a big bad government

agency. President Jeremy Rivkin of the Foundation on Economic Trends,

another protest group, also drove a wedge between `the people' and

`NASA's people'. He told UPI, `The astronauts volunteered for this

mission. Those around the world who may be the victims of radiation

contamination have not volunteered.'4

But the protesters weren't the only people working the media. NASA

knew how to handle the press. They simply rolled out their

superstars--the astronauts themselves. These men and women were, after

all, frontier heroes who dared to venture into cold, dark space on

behalf of all humanity. Atlantis commander Donald Williams didn't hit

out at the protesters in a blunt fashion, he just damned them from an

aloof distance. `There are always folks who have a vocal opinion about

something or other, no matter what it is,' he told an interviewer. `On

the other hand, it's easy to carry a sign. It's not so easy to go

forth and do something worthwhile.'5

NASA had another trump card in the families of the heroes. Atlantis

co-pilot Michael McCulley said the use of RTGs, Radioisotope

Thermoelectric Generators--the chunks of plutonium in the lead

boxes--was a `non-issue'. So much so, in fact, that he planned to have

his loved ones at the Space Center when Atlantis took off.

Maybe the astronauts were nutty risk-takers, as the protesters

implied, but a hero would never put his family in danger. Besides the

Vice-President of the United States, Dan Quayle, also planned to watch

the launch from inside the Kennedy Space Center control room, a mere

seven kilometres from the launchpad.

While NASA looked calm, in control of the situation, it had beefed up

its security teams. It had about 200 security guards watching the

launch site. NASA just wasn't taking any chances. The agency's

scientists had waited too long for this moment. Galileo's parade would

not be rained on by a bunch of peaceniks.

The launch was already running late as it was--almost seven years

late. Congress gave the Galileo project its stamp of approval way back

in 1977 and the probe, which had been budgeted to cost about $400

million, was scheduled to be launched in 1982. However, things began

going wrong almost from the start.

In 1979, NASA pushed the flight out to 1984 because of shuttle

development problems. Galileo was now scheduled to be a `split

launch', which meant that NASA would use two different shuttle trips

to get the mothership and the probe into space. By 1981, with costs

spiralling upwards, NASA made major changes to the project. It stopped

work on Galileo's planned three-stage booster system in favour of a

different system and pushed out the launch deadline yet again, this

time to 1985. After a federal Budget cut fight in 1981 to save

Galileo's booster development program, NASA moved the launch yet

again, to May 1986. The 1986 Challenger disaster, however, saw NASA

change Galileo's booster system for safety reasons, resulting in

yet more delays.

The best option seemed to be a two-stage, solid-fuel IUS system. There

was only one problem. That system could get Galileo to Mars or Venus,

but the probe would run out of fuel long before it got anywhere near

Jupiter. Then Roger Diehl of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory had a good

idea. Loop Galileo around a couple of nearby planets a few times so the

probe would build up a nice little gravitational head of steam, and then

fling it off to Jupiter. Galileo's `VEEGA'

trajectory--Venus-Earth-Earth-gravity-assist--delayed the spacecraft's

arrival at Jupiter for three extra years, but it would get there


The anti-nuclear campaigners argued that each Earth flyby increased

the mission's risk of a nuclear accident. But in NASA's view, such was

the price of a successful slingshot.

Galileo experienced other delays getting off the ground. On Monday, 9

October, NASA announced it had discovered a problem with the computer

which controlled the shuttle's number 2 main engine. True, the problem

was with Atlantis, not Galileo. But it didn't look all that good to be

having technical problems, let alone problems with engine computers,

while the anti-nuclear activists' court drama was playing in the


NASA's engineers debated the computer problem in a cross-country

teleconference. Rectifying it would delay blast-off by more than a few

hours. It would likely take days. And Galileo didn't have many of

those. Because of the orbits of the different planets, the probe had

to be on its way into space by 21 November. If Atlantis didn't take off

by that date, Galileo would have to wait another nineteen months before

it could be launched. The project was already $1 billion over its

original $400 million budget. The extra year and a half would add

another $130 million or so and there was a good chance the whole project

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