- Text smaller
- Text bigger
The written proof that Vice President Al Gore worked to bug America
is freely available; the documentation was obtained from the Justice
Department, the CIA and the Commerce Department through the Freedom of
In 1993, Vice President Gore and Attorney General Janet Reno were
ordered to form an IWG or “interagency working group” in a secret White
House memo. The sign off sheet on the secret memo specifically sought
Gore and Reno’s signature.
Included in the working group were White House Counsel Vince Foster
and convicted Whitewater figure Webster Hubbell. Gore quickly went to
work with the secret group of Clinton advisers and delivered a report to
“Simply stated, the nexus of the long term problem is how can the
government sustain its technical ability to accomplish electronic
surveillance in a advanced telecommunications environment characterized
by great technical diversity and many competing service providers
(numbering over 1500, some potentially antagonistic) who have great
economic and political leverage,” states the top secret report prepared
by Gore’s Interagency Working Group.
“The solution to the access problem for future telecommunications
requires that the vendor/manufacturing community translate the
government’s requirements into a fundamental system design criteria,”
noted the Gore report.
“The basic issue for resolution is a choice between accomplishing
this objective by mandatory (i.e., statutory/regulatory) or voluntary
This chilling conclusion, that there is no choice but to be monitored
by Big Brother is backed by several other documents. One such document
released by the Justice Department is a March 1993 Justice memo from
Stephen Colgate, assistant attorney general for administration.
According to the Colgate memo, Vice President Al Gore was to chair a
meeting with Hubbell, Reno, Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, and Leon
Panetta in March 1993. The topic of the meeting was the “AT&T Telephone
According to Colgate, AT&T had developed secure telephones the U.S.
government could not tap. The Clinton administration secretly
contracted with AT&T to keep the phones off the market. Colgate’s memo
noted that the administration was determined to prevent the American
public from having a private phone conversation.
“AT&T has developed a Data Encryption Standard (DES) product for use
on telephones to provide security for sensitive conversations,” wrote
Colgate. “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.”
Buried in the Colgate memo is the first reference to government
developed monitoring devices that would be required for all Americans.
According to the March 1993 Colgate memo to Hubbell, “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
In 1993, the “public-key” system referenced by Colgate had already
been developed by the Federal government. The system, a special
computer chip called “Clipper,” provided the Federal government with an
“exploitable feature” allowing a wiretap of any secure phone
However, the only way to force “everyone in the U.S. to use” the new
Clipper chip was to enact “legislation” which would require that it be
manufactured into all phones, fax machines and computers.
There was a final solution to the problem. According to a
presidential directive of April 1993 on the Clipper project, “Should
(U.S.) industry fail to fully assist the government in meeting its
requirements within a reasonable period of time, the Attorney General
will recommend legislation which would compel manufacturers to meet
Al Gore quickly embraced the Clipper chip and the concept of
monitoring America at all costs. In 1994, Gore wrote a glowing letter
supporting the Clipper chip and the government approved wiretap design.
According to Gore, “As we have done with the Clipper Chip, future key
escrow schemes must contain safeguards to provide for key disclosures
only under legal authorization and should have audit procedures to
ensure the integrity of the system. Escrow holders should be strictly
liable for releasing keys without legal authorization.”
“We also want to assure users of key escrow encryption products that
they will not be subject to unauthorized electronic surveillance,” wrote
Gore in his July 20, 1994 letter to Rep. Maria Cantwell.
However, Gore did not tell the truth. In 1994, federal officials
were keenly aware that the Clipper chip design did not have safeguards
against unauthorized surveillance. In fact, NASA turned down the
Clipper project because the space agency knew of the flawed design.
In 1993, Benita A. Cooper, NASA associate administrator for
management systems and facilities, wrote, “There is no way to prevent
the NSA from routinely monitoring all (Clipper) encrypted traffic.
Moreover, compromise of the NSA keys, such as in the Walker case, could
compromise the entire (Clipper) system.”
Yet, Al Gore pressed ahead, continuing to support a flawed design,
despite warnings that the design could “compromise” every computer in
the U.S. A 1996 secret memo on a secret meeting of DCIA Deutch, FBI
Director Freeh and Attorney General Janet Reno states, “Last summer, the
Vice President agreed to explore public acceptance of a key escrow
policy but did not rule out other approaches, although none seem viable
at this point.”
According to the 1996 report to Gore, by then CIA Director Deutch,
Ms. Reno proposed an all-out federal takeover of the computer security
industry. The Justice Department, proposed “legislation that would …
ban the import and domestic manufacture, sale or distribution of
encryption that does not have key recovery. Janet Reno and Louis Freeh
are deeply concerned about the spread of encryption. Pervasive use of
encryption destroys the effectiveness of wiretapping, which supplies
much of the evidence used by FBI and Justice. They support tight
controls, for domestic use.”
The move to tighten domestic controls has so far failed. The Clipper
chip was canceled in 1997 after wasting over a billion dollars. Yet,
history often repeats itself, especially for those who refuse to learn
from it. The FBI recently aroused much trouble in July by unveiling a
new program called
“Carnivore.” The FBI Carnivore software is designed to monitor e-mail by intercepting all mail at the Internet provider.
The FBI installed the Carnivore software initially at several Internet providers with little requirements for legal authority. Testimony by software expert Matt Blaze revealed the FBI Carnivore program might not be smart enough to recognize a target’s e-mail, thus false prosecutions are possible. In addition, the Carnivore programs scoops up all data without regard to legal problems.
Carnivore is clearly open for abuse. While Federal law does provide for an audit trail to prevent abuse of Carnivore data, the audit only occurs if there is a federal prosecution. No prosecution — no audit trail. Data acquired by the FBI e-mail tap could be accumulated on anyone without an audit.
The problems of privacy, e-mail and government wiretapping are not unfamiliar to Vice President Al Gore. The Clinton-Gore White House recently lost a large portion of the vice president’s e-mails and is now unable to deliver them to investigators involved in the 1996 campaign finance probe.
The vice president has a darker side yet to be covered by the media. Al Gore knows much about the federal government efforts to wiretap every home and office in America. He should. Al Gore has led that effort to bug America since 1993. As part of the Clinton administration, Al Gore made the policy that endorsed the Clipper chip and created the FBI Carnivore software program.