What Really Happened in INCOMM - Part 1

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dang_357
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What Really Happened in INCOMM - Part 1

Post by dang_357 » Sat Nov 15, 2003 8:30 pm

On St. Valentine's Day, February, 1995, a very strange thing happened in LA. All the personnel of INCOMM, along with a number of others who had had dealings with INCOMM, disappeared behind the org's perpetually locked doors in the "Big Blue" complex. They no longer appeared at meals in their private dining room, even those who had non-INCOMM spouses they normally dined with. In fact, they never even came home any more. Late at night and early in the morning, they could sometimes be seen parading single file, under the eagle eyes of imported security guards, from the INCOMM offices to a locked stairwell that leads to the INCOMM berthing wing on the fourth floor of the Main Building (the Y-shaped building that fronts on Fountain Avenue). Apart from that, for four months these people were rarely seen by others. They never went anywhere unescorted by security guards (even RPFers can be escorted by other RPFers), and seldom went anywhere, period. They never saw their spouses or children unless it was by a chance encounter while being herded to or from their special berthing or, occasionally, taken elsewhere on some special task.

What the hell was going on? This was unprecedented, even in an environment where paranoia is de rigueur. Other Sea Org members who asked about it were told, "You are not to even *think* about it. Don't wonder, don't speculate. Do not try to find out. Do not talk about it with others. It is none of your business." Once in a while, before the four months were up, someone would re-enter normal Sea Org society from "inside," but they were silent as monks about what had happened. Finally, toward the end, the INCOMM prison started emptying out rapidly. People went back to post, except for half a dozen or so who turned up on the RPF and a few who were dismissed from the Sea Org.

However, none of them said a word, and to this day practically nobody knows what happened. When they were released, the prisoners were ordered not to tell anyone, even those with high security clearances, anything about what had occurred or what was done to them. The truth is, most of the incarcerated never really found out themselves *why* they had spent several months under house arrest and perpetual guard.

This part of the story answers the question, "Why did it happen?"

In January of the same year, I was still in OSA International. I was working on a special project to create a newer, better computer system for OSA to be able to search and interrelate its mountains of dossiers, reports, legal documents, media, and other information in order to better reach conclusions about whom to attack and how. INCOMM was supposed to do all computerization, but they had never done much for OSA and had little interest in helping, so OSA did it on their own. A public Scientologist, former DSA Boston staff brought out to LA for just this purpose, had been working with me for several years on earlier versions of the same system. He is a programmer par excellence and designed the system and wrote most of the software for it.

The system was so successful that users kept demanding more and more. Finally we decided that a major new version was needed, a nearly complete rewrite. But computer systems were not supposed to be designed or developed outside INCOMM, and INCOMM didn't want to do it. RTC, who directly runs INCOMM but also deals directly with OSA, had to mediate. We could do the system ourselves, but we would have to do it within INCOMM and under the supervision of the Commanding Officer of INCOMM, Greg Johnston, if I recall his name correctly. Greg is the guy pictured doing TRs in the Scientology Handbook from pages 164 through 182. Since neither my non-SO associate nor I had clearances to work in INCOMM, we had to work in a special wing that had been set up behind Reception. There were a few other non-cleared personnel in the same wing doing other projects for INCOMM.

OSA Int occupies the 10th and 12th floors of the Hollywood Guaranty Building, on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Ivar; the 12th floor being the top. On the 12th floor is a combined conference room and CIC. CIC stands for Command Information Center or Control Information Center, and it's where all the important information (other than "eyes only" ) is posted or summarized. All OSA staff are required to brief themselves on CIC weekly, or they don't get paid for the week. One day, I was on the 12th floor and found the conference room had been closed off. It had been taken over by RTC. That had happened before, so I wasn't surprised, but this lasted longer than usual. Then, a few days later, I was told to report there. I still had no idea what was up.

I knocked and was admitted. Warren McShane was there. So was an RTC sec-checker named Manuela, along with two INCOMM technical personnel. I had been "invited" because I was well known for continually finding gaping holes in INCOMM's pathetic computer security. McShane wanted know if I thought there were still some ways that general users could get access to everything in the computer. I said, "Sure, probably." Every time I had reported something, INCOMM had eventually fixed that, but they had never done an overhaul to find similar security flaws I hadn't happened to run across yet.

So he briefed me. A confidential report from the private computer files of the Investigations Aide, Linda Hamel, had been posted on a.r.s. They were trying to find out how the report could have been gotten and who had done it. This was no minor security breach. "Investigations" means "intelligence." This is the espionage and dirty (dirtier!) tricks division of OSA. Their "eyes only" secrets are so secret that even other OSA personnel do not have access to them. If somebody could get to Linda Hamel's files, then *no* information was safe -- not even RTC's. This was the equivalent of a five-alarm fire, except not even OSA could be told what had happened. Everybody was a potential suspect, and all the Invest personnel were kept under watch, in case someone who had legitimate access to the document had posted it.

What was the document? Many of you will remember it. It was about the incident with Tom Klemesrud. The problem with Tom was his refusal to de-host Dennis Erlich and other anti-Scientologists for posting NOTs materials and being a general nuisance to Scientology. They sent in Miss Bloody Butt, who got Tom to take her home with him and then smeared blood all over the bathroom and elsewhere and was supposed to try to frame Tom for attacking her. The stolen document, a report about these events, was posted through anonymous remailer anon.penet.fi, the poster going by -AB-. -AB- had been on a.r.s. for some time and was well known, but had never before done anything to distinguish himself. He was just a pro-Scientology, pro-COS apologist. So he got this document from Linda Hamel's computer files and posted it as evidence "from the source" in favor of Scientology's version of the story. Linda or somebody else in Invest recognized it and reported the breach, and all hell broke loose -- but quietly, quietly.

Nobody knew who -AB- was, of course, and Julf, who ran anon.penet.fi, was not saying. Take a moment to envision how maddening this must have been to Miscavige and RTC: They *knew* there was a spy. They *knew* that either it was somebody highly placed and completely trusted, or else their entire computer system was compromised. It's difficult to imagine which alternative would have been worse. They couldn't do a broad purge, because they'd be getting rid of many people they utterly depended on, and even then could not be sure of getting the culprit. And they could not let *anyone* know of the security breach, except the minimum number who absolutely needed to know. They didn't have resources to do broad sec-checking; they were sec-checking the Invest personnel who had opportunity, if not motive, to commit the crime, but if it was a low-level Sea Org member who had found a way past the computer's security, it could take months or years to find him by sec checking.

The INCOMM personnel working with us were trying to crack into various internet systems to discover clues that might lead to the identity of -AB-. They were also investigating internally for weaknesses in their system and searching the computers for clues as to who might have posted the document. They were also correcting the flaws I reported to them. The first few were easy for me: I already knew of several, which I had been using myself, not to snoop, but to have access to programs that made my own job more efficient. I "should have" reported them earlier, but they were great timesavers and they were not accessible to just anybody, so I hadn't up to that point. But then I went on to find dozens more, particularly under the account of a former CO of INCOMM, who had apparently set up his own access prior to moving off the post. Quite convenient for him. It wasn't really leading any closer to unmasking -AB-, but at least they were finally doing something comprehensive about their truly lame security. (I know, I know -- if only I had left *before* fixing their security -- but I have a feeling it's still pretty bad, just in different ways. They don't trust "wog" security systems, so they're forced to rely on their own, often incompetent and always overworked, personnel.)

Meanwhile, Warren McShane was attacking the problem from different angles. He told us he'd briefed the Invest personnel: He wasn't even interested in punishing anybody, and wouldn't do so if the person confessed; he just wanted to know *how* it had been done. I remember thinking, "Yeah, right. That'll work." But, then again, anybody crazy enough to do what -AB- had done (believing it would help Scientology, and believing he'd get away with it) might be crazy enough to believe such a bald-faced lie.

McShane took us down to the LA Police Department to talk with the officer handling the case. We told him what we knew so far. He didn't have much to say. He said it looked like an inside job. As if we didn't know.

I had come to the end of my search for computer security gaps, so I moved on. I created a database, into which I loaded all the phone records from the PAC Base phone system, which records the number, time, length, and station of every call, incoming or outgoing (without the incoming number if caller ID is blocked). This was to narrow the possibilities of who could have been posting around the times we were concerned with. It wasn't helping much yet, but it might later.

Halfway around the globe, Julf in Finland was still refusing to tell us anything about -AB-. McShane had contacts there and was getting somebody to lean on Julf -- hard -- but he wasn't budging. However, we had two things in our favor: Stealing computer data is an actual crime under actual (not Scientological) penal codes; and, according to McShane, some people had been using anon.penet.fi to post child pornography, so Julf was already in hot water. I'm hazy on the details, but I think the Finnish police got involved, and finally Julf revealed the ISP of -AB-. He either couldn't or wouldn't tell us -AB-'s actual identity.

This proved to be the big break in the case, but not right away. The ISP was Cal Tech Pasadena. Road trip! Several of us, including some Invest personnel, piled in to a van and headed for the college. The Invest heavies went to the computer center and demanded their help in finding out who had posted the document. The computer center told the Invest heavies to get lost. There were a couple more attempts, but they went nowhere. Apparently, though, -AB- was an alumnus, or he wouldn't have had an account there. So we trundled off to the library and started going through yearbooks, looking at photos. After several days of little or no sleep, and an unknown number of years since the culprit's graduation, we failed to find anybody we knew.

We spent several hours hunting, though. When we finally came back, I think I had a snooze and came in after dinner. "Did you hear? We found out who -AB- is!" No, I hadn't heard. But when we had been at Cal Tech, somebody had managed to get their access phone numbers. Since almost nobody in the Sea Org is allowed to have an internet connection and even fewer would have an account at Cal Tech, it was a simple matter to find from the phone system records when and from where the phone calls to -AB-'s ISP were made. This led directly to the night computer operator in INCOMM. This is another name for something like the network admin. Computer operations personnel spend their waking hours inside the holy of holies, the glass-enclosed Computer Room. When you have a problem with the computer, you call and ask for "Operations," and you talk to whomever is in there at the moment. He fixes whatever's wrong and, in between calls, does routine admin work like backups.

Computer operators were above suspicion. It had never occurred to any of us for more than an instant to suspect anyone in INCOMM. After we knew, it was a forehead-slapping "DUH!", but not even McShane had seriously believed someone in INCOMM, with complete access to everything on every computer, would publicly post a stolen document. It was *too* obvious. They had to know they'd be the prime suspects, so they'd know better than to do it, because they'd get caught pronto. Besides, -AB- from his postings seemed out of touch with reality (as we in OSA and RTC knew it to be), and INCOMM qualifications were far too tight to have let such a person in. Nevertheless, there he was.

I had spoken with Tom Rummelhart a number of times, but never met him and still do not know what he looks like. But, as Tom Klemesrud revealed several years ago, Tom Rummelhart was -AB-, and this is who Tom Rummelhart was. He apparently had listed his occupation as Director of Computerization, but that's a bit more grand than what he actually was. Although he had the access of an admin, as an operator he would not have had authority to grant or revoke anyone's accounts on his own, create or change data structures, or do much of anything but keep the computers running and maintained, fix problems, and carry out certain instructions from others in INCOMM. If he was truly "Director" of anything, he may have been the lead operator or Director of Operations -- sort of a chief technical flunky -- but I never heard of him being even that. As far as I ever knew, he was just a regular operator.

According to one of the INCOMM personnel on the project, Rummelhart had deleted the computer logs that recorded his clandestine internet activies and his theft of the secret document. However, he had neglected to delete all the saved earlier versions of the same logs, which were found once we knew where to look. Tch! Even I, an unwashed non-INCOMM lowlife who was not supposed to know such things, knew better than that! Anyway, -AB- had been caught.

My then-wife, also in OSA, asked me, "Who is Tom Rummelhart and why has he been in session all day with Manuela? Does it have to do with the project you're on?" I told her he was an INCOMM operator and yes, it had to do with our project, but I couldn't say more. His all-day "session" would have been Manuela sec-checking the living daylights out of him, to see what else he'd done and whether he was a plant sent in by one of our many enemies. Unsurprisingly, he was not. It was impossible to issue a Suppressive Person Declare on him; they'd have had to say what he did. So he just disappeared. After that day, Tom Rummelhart's name was never heard more in PAC.

Mission accomplished. Finally, we could go home and get some sleep. Except I couldn't. I had been two weeks or more full time on this, and the clock was still ticking on my real project, the overhaul of the OSA Computer System. Also, I had to put together a proposal for making the OSA computers utterly impervious and secure. Fortunately, my non-SO associate had continued to work away while I was off catching spies. A couple early mornings later, I was sitting in my office behind INCOMM reception, trying to stay awake after having worked all night. It was February 14th, Valentine's Day. In walked ...

To Be Continued

Dan

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Post by olska » Sat Nov 15, 2003 9:52 pm

Great story, Dan!

anxiously awaiting the next installment

olska

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Post by magoo1 » Sun Nov 16, 2003 4:04 am

Excellent story~! Thanks, Dan :)

It sure shows just how far the Sea Org will go when they want something. I will never forget that about them, and I think it is something that many miss. I fully "got it" when in the Mayo RICCO trial, and hearing point by point where they had spent months, possibly years gathering information. They are alot like ants in that way.

Phew...I think shortly there after I was asked to go open up the first phony/'anonymous' account.

No doubt they were planning their Internet FULL ATTACK< which has failed them utterly.

I anxiously await part 2 :)

All the best to you..............

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Post by raised11th » Sun Nov 16, 2003 4:54 am

Yeah? and then??? Now, Dan if you're going to start a good story you can't leave us hanging for long!

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Post by Girlfriend » Sun Nov 16, 2003 7:53 am

That's what I was thinking r11th! Dan! How COULD you! Thanks so much for this. I see a book, of course :).

A Lurker
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Post by A Lurker » Sun Nov 16, 2003 10:15 pm


songbird
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Post by songbird » Tue Nov 18, 2003 7:40 pm

This is riveting, Dan! Thank you. I agree with BG about the book ... hope you'll think about it.
:)

TJ
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Post by TJ » Sat Nov 22, 2003 1:35 am

...In walked David Miscavige and Rinder squealing like wild pigs?

Joe
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Post by Joe » Sat Nov 22, 2003 4:38 am

Or running around the room like greased pigs? I saw him on that national TV interview. He bahaved like a mobster.

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Post by stayfree » Wed Nov 26, 2003 1:54 pm

Having read Part 2 today it was good to get the start of the story. Dan, if you were to write up all your scientology experiences I'm sure they would be eminently readable. They would also provide a wonderful resource to communicate to people new to the subject the true nature of scientology that lurks behind those sweetly smiling faces. ;)

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