Clarifications Regarding Ptech Software
From The Wilderness Publications
Dear Samantha Atkins,
Thank you for the time you invested in critiquing our January 2005 stories about Ptech. We'd like to address the points you raised and make the necessary clarifications. Early in your letter, you write:
There is no such thing as a program that can "read, operate, and modify the source code" of other programs to the extent of being able to penetrate federal systems
We did not claim that Ptech software was able to "penetrate federal systems." Ptech software was the federal system, and the penetration occurred in 1996 when Bill Clinton gave Ptech high military clearance. Thus Ptech (currently Go Agile) began to acquire contracts throughout the US government and across the US military and intelligence agencies.
At the same time, it should be noted that programs have existed for decades that do modify other programs at run time - these are not written in the traditional way. They are meta-model driven.
You go on to state:
First, the source code of most software running on all systems is not even present. Only the actual binary machine language is available. Nor is there only one type of machine language. There are several types. To disassemble machine code to even slightly more compact assembly code would not yield something that could be understood by humans or computers at the semantic level of what the section of code was actually for or attempting to accomplish. Without such semantic understanding meaningful use, subversion and control of the code by a program like the one alleged is utterly impossible.
According to computer scientist Indira Singh, our primary source and consultant for this series, the above statement is incorrect. Even Chip code is routinely disassembled by espionage teams and copied. Worse still, Trojan horses may be inserted into US hardware by outside actors and a defective military product can be returned to the US.
You then point out that databases are designed to secure data, stating that the only possible unprotected data that might remain is the field name, which you say reveals nothing about the actual data, making it impossible to change such data in any significant way except perhaps by making it useless:
So only given access to the actual data with unhelpful identifiers there is no conceivable way to know what a particular data field or record or the interconnections between records actually mean. To be able to do that one must have the schema, the actual design for the database and its intent.
But Ptech did, in fact, have access to the design for FAA databases. And not only databases, but every aspect of the IT systems architecture including networks, middleware, interfaces, metadata, and access to all IT components. We know this because Ptech was working with Mitre Corporation for two years prior to 9/11/01 on interoperability issues between the FAA and the Air Force in case of an emergency - precisely the functionality we say was usurped during the emergency of 9/11. The working relationship between Ptech and Mitre provided exactly what you say would be necessary for intervention capabilities into FAA systems.
Take a look at what Mitre and the FAA have done together since 1958:
Your own analysis seems to confirm our reporting. Your letter continues:
Enterprise software is not designed to know everything going on in the entirety of an enterprise in real-time. Such systems are designed to track many important details of an enterprise's business and systems but they never ever achieve full coverage and certainly do not do most of their functions in "real-time." They strive to do them in an up-to-date enough matter to streamline the business and make it more efficient and profitable and to enable decision-makers to make better decisions. But again, such software is not magic. It is blind to everything in the enterprise it was not expressly designed to take note of. It cannot magically process and make sense of "all the data produced" especially not across multiple enterprises.
According to Indira Singh, this is simply false. Enterprise software is capable of doing exactly what you claim it cannot do. It was her job to design enterprise architecture software for JP Morgan and many other Fortune 100 companies. CEO's have capabilities on their desktops that are not generally known, and they like to keep it that way.
In fact, regulations require major banks to check in at 4:15pm everyday with the Feds and give a traceable account of the exposure by category of all transactions, positions, and balances. This requirement is fulfilled by enterprise architecture software doing the kind of continuous broad surveillance we described.
You observed that Enterprise Architecture software only monitors data critical to specific functions.
Now, Ptech was the enterprise architecture software for the Whitehouse, Secret Service, Air Force, FAA and many more federal agencies. Ptech was working on interoperability (communication) issues between FAA and Air Force with Mitre Corp. We are not claiming Ptech software was monitoring how many light bulbs needed to be replaced at headquarters, what the scheduled and current vacation days were for FAA employees, or how many emails were being sent by those employees.
Real time data on FAA screens is the most critical information to federal aviation - both military and civilian - in the continental United States. Its importance is paramount for the Whitehouse, NORAD, FAA, and Secret Service. The latter agency is able to monitor FAA radar screens in real time, and had that capability on the morning of 9/11 itself as reported by former Bush Counter Intelligence Advisor Richard Clarke in his book, Against All Enemies.
The capabilities of the software we described struck you as "nonsense… impossible… magic." Recall that at the turn of the 20th Century, it was the engineers and physicists who declared that no heavier-than-air machine ever could fly. It was the IBM CEO's and marketers who said in the 1950's that there was no need for more than a small number of computers for the entire world.
Indira Singh worked with DARPA, the most advanced military technological development agency in the country. This is the agency that is working on Total Information Awareness (TIA) - the system that would allow for the monitoring of every electronic communication in real-time. To dismiss out of hand the very real possibility that extremely advanced technologies exist, and are being kept quiet, is a mind-state that we at FTW find to be unrealistic and dangerously restrictive.
When Fortune 100 companies want to get something done that has never been done before, they fund the "wild cards." They assemble avant-garde teams in unorthodox areas that don't resemble your typical office space. They provide these people with toys (that's right, toys!) and exercise equipment in the middle of the room and essentially camp them in there until a solution is found. Such was the case at Lab Morgan. Thinking outside of the box is not just buzz phrase; it is a necessity when attempting to create the next evolution of software. Indira Singh wrote this to me:
"Here's an example of thinking outside the box: find a way to bounce a radio signal into space and back from point-A on earth to point-B using no satellites or other man made or planetary structures. 99% of engineers will say it's impossible. Hell, it's easy."
If you're interested, you are welcome to send us your resume which Indira will then use to create a list of helpful books and other sources of information to complement your expertise. Precisely because the information technologies in question are largely non-commercial and even clandestine, their existence can be difficult to accept.
Thank you for your time.
FTW Frequent Contributor