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In 1997, Vice President Al Gore wrote a memo about U.S. government
policy, on U.S. government paper, and sent it to the U.S. Department of
Justice. In 1999, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it is
withholding that memo written by Vice President Al Gore from public
release.

The Gore memo that is partly withheld for “personal privacy” reasons
is a 10-page facsimile. The facsimile was sent in 1997 by Department of
Justice Computer Crime Unit Trial Attorney Philip Reitinger to the
Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Department of Justice determined
that only the cover page could be released.

“Here is a new draft of the VP decision memo,” wrote Reitinger on the
cover page. “Please provide any comments to me by early to
mid-afternoon, at the latest, so I can get comment to OMB by COB …
Phil.”

According to the Department of Justice, public release of the Gore
memo could “constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

“This is in further response to your request of April 5, 1997, for
records of the Criminal Division pertaining to encryption software
legislation. We are withholding the records and the portions of records
indicated pursuant to one or more of the following FOIA (Freedom Of
Information Act) exemptions,” wrote Thomas McIntyre from the Department
of Justice.

According to the Department of Justice, the VP “decision memo” cannot
be made public because the law “permits the withholding of personnel and
medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute
a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy.”

“We located records that are of interest to the Office of the Vice
President,” wrote McIntyre. “We have referred those records to the
Office of the Counsel of the Vice President for consultation. Upon
receipt of their review, we will communicate with you further.”

However, the memo from Gore was about invading your personal
privacy. One of the more inventive ideas to come from the Clinton/Gore
administration was to use a computer chip to monitor (“tap”) telephones,
facsimile machines and all computer communications. In 1994, Department
of Justice Assistant Attorney General Stephen Colgate wrote a memo to
Webster Hubbell on a project called the “Clipper chip.”

“The Vice President will chair a meeting Wednesday afternoon, March
31, 1993, with we believe the Attorney General, Secretary Brown, Leonard
Panetta on the AT&T telephone security device,” wrote Colgate to Hubble.

“AT&T has developed a Data Encryption Standard (DES) product for use
on telephones to provide security for sensitive conversations. The FBI,
NSA and NSC want to purchase the first production run of these devices
to prevent their proliferation. They are difficult to decipher and are a
deterrent to wiretaps.”

“Ultimately, FBI, NSA and NSC want to push legislation which would
require all government agencies and eventually everyone in the U.S. to
use a new public-key based cryptography method,” wrote Colgate.

According to declassified CIA documents, Al Gore supported the idea
that “everyone in the U.S.” should use only government-approved
software.

“The heart of the policy is to encourage U.S. industry to adopt an
encryption key recovery system,” states a Sept. 11, 1996, memo to Al
Gore from the director of the CIA. “In this system, encryption keys are
deposited with certified ‘trusted parties’ either here or abroad, who
would provide access to the key for authorized law enforcement
purposes.”

According to a 1996 memo from the Director of the CIA, John Deutch,
Vice President Gore ordered Deutch to crack down on computer software
products that did not allow the Federal government to monitor
communications.

“First, you asked that we tighten the control regime for encryption
products that do not support key recovery,” wrote CIA Director Deutch to
Gore. “Second, you asked that we restructure the proposed Data Recovery
Infrastructure Commission to include law enforcement representation in
addition to industry and other private sector interests.”

However, the best proof of Al Gore’s invasion of your privacy comes
from Al Gore. In 1994, the Vice-President assured Representative Maria
Cantwell, D-Wash, that “users of key escrow encryption products will not
be subject to unauthorized surveillance.”

“As we have done with the Clipper chip, future key escrow systems
must contain safeguards to provide for key disclosure only under legal
authorization and should have audit procedures to ensure the integrity
of the system,” wrote Gore in his memo to Cantwell.

Gore’s mention of the “Clipper chip” project is an indication of just
how close the U.S. government was to developing a microchip to monitor
every phone in the United States. According to the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration (NASA), Al Gore was not only wrong about the
Clipper chip, but dangerously wrong.

“The chip programmer is a device provided by the National Security
Agency (NSA),” wrote Benita Cooper, associate administrator for
Management Systems and Facilities at NASA.

“There is no assurance, without scrutiny, that all keying material
introduced during the chip programming is not already available to the
NSA. Thus, not only do the key escrow agents have a decryption
capability, the NSA also retains this capability.”

“As long as the programming devices are controlled by the NSA, there
is no way to prevent the NSA from routinely monitoring all encrypted
traffic. Moreover, compromise of the NSA keys, such as in the Walker
case, could compromise the entire system,” noted Ms. Cooper from NASA.

If Al Gore had his way in 1994 “everyone in the U.S.” would have
Clipper chips inside their phones and computers. Al Gore’s great idea
for national security was a digital Pearl Harbor waiting for a spy to
“compromise the entire system.”

Today, Al Gore is protecting his own political privacy by using
“personal privacy” to cover up his own actions. The big news here is
that Vice President Al Gore has enough of a political personality to
need privacy.

The boy from Tennessee who “chopped” tobacco, “invented” the Internet
and who personally sought thousands of dollars in political donations
from penniless monks will not lay claim to the political policy that he
supported for six years.

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