Computer underground Digest Wed Feb 23, 1994 Volume 6 : Issue 18 ISSN 1004-042X Editors: J
Computer underground Digest Wed Feb 23, 1994 Volume 6 : Issue 18
Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@NIU.BITNET)
Archivist: Brendan Kehoe (Coming back to archives any day)
Acting Archivist: Stanton McCandlish
Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth
Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala
Whacker Editor: Tonya Harding
CONTENTS, #6.18 (Feb 23, 1994)
File 1--CuD Policy on Copyright Media Pieces
File 2--Canadian BBS licensing, Errors in the CRTC/FCC comparison
File 3CPSR Petition Drive (Reminder)
File 4--2nd International Virus Writing Contest
File 5--Altered White House docs summary
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Date: Mon, 21 Feb 1994 21:19:57 CST
From: CuD Moderators
Subject: File 1--CuD Policy on Copyright Media Pieces
In a recent CuD, we inadvertantly reprinted an article from a net news
service. We believed that it was permissable for reprint, but the post
instead was intended only for our own information. Although we have
(yet) received no complaints from the news service, we nonetheless
regret the misunderstanding surrounding the nature of the post.
For those unfamiliar with CuD's policy regarding reprints of news
articles, it can be found in the FAQ (available from the ftp
archives), it's rather simple:
1) Some articles are obviously personal and not intended to be
published. Others aren't. If you aren't sure, be sure to include some
indicator, such as "FYI ONLY," "not for publication," or some other
note that alerts us that it's private.
2) We STRONGLY ENCOURAGE readers to send us news items from the media.
We prefer that permission be obtained by the poster. We simply cannot
check on such things. We don't have the time or resources. If
permission has not been obtained, then edit the article and quote within
"fair use" guidelines and sum the rest. If the article is
exceptionally interesting, send it over with a note at the top
indicating that permission was not obtained. If it's appropriate for
running, we'll edit and summarize.
The growing time constraints of running CuD mean that we increasingly
depend on readers to ferret out articles and edit them down. The
format should be about 70 characters per line, hex 05s removed, and a
blank line between paragraphs.
We do our best to be good net citizens and not tread on the copyright
protections of others. At best such violations are discourteous, at
worst illegal. So, edit articles in advance if you're able, and if
not, let us know that status of the permission.
Date: Mon, 21 Feb 1994 09:21:23 -0500
From: bigsteve@DORSAI.DORSAI.ORG(Steve Coletti)
Subject: File 2--Canadian BBS licensing, Errors in the CRTC/FCC comparison
In his response to Lord Qorthon, (CuD 6.15/6.17), John Stephenson made
some comparisons, albeit that Qorthon did first, between the CRTC and the
FCC and their respective policies.
By comparing rumored CRTC regulation of BBS's to the CRTC's mandate over
broadcasting, Qorthon made the common mistake of most uninformed people.
> > Consider the example of radio in the 40's and 50's. Before the
> >CRTC was formed, anyone could broadcast radio signals legally from their
> >home on any bandwidth. Fearing obscenity and extreme access to
> >information, the CRTC was formed to sell licenses to broadcasters.
> >Without such a license, you could be prosecuted for broadcasting.
What is unfortunate is that while the "standards" for broadcasting may
attempt to regulate morality, the division of the regulatory body that
issues those rules is a separate entity from the one that regulates the
wire/fiber based telecommunications industry. Each set their own rules and
penalties. While it may be illegal to "broadcast" something indecent,
there is nothing stopping you from being a foul mouth over a private
telephone conversation, analog or data, in either country's regulations.
Stephenson's attempt to correct only complicated matters due to some
> When I see this kind of history thrown out as "reality", it bothers me a
> great deal. Government regulation of broadcasting existed from nearly the
> beginning of the sector in Canada. The CBC and CRTC were formed not to stop
> "obscenity and extreme access to information" but American commercial radio
> control of Canadian airwaves. It was not the case that "anyone could
> broadcast radio signals legally from their home on any bandwidth (sic)" -
> even in the 1920s, the Fisheries Dept. was giving put licences.
Not entirely true, the CBC was there long before the CRTC, it was modeled
after the BBC. Up until the late 1960's, Canada allowed foreign ownership
of it's broadcast stations via Canadian subsidiary companies, something the
US did not allow, and still doesn't. If Canada had wanted to stop American
ownership, Ottawa could have passed legislation earlier. If anything, the
US was fed up with Americans who it deemed unfit to hold broadcast licenses
that were going to Mexican border stations and buying large blocks of
airtime to transmit their "snake oil" ads. The FCC was also after RKO
General, Inc., due to foreign anti-trust violations of it's parent company,
then known as General Tire. RKO General owned Canadian border station CKLW
in Windsor, Ont. which was heard throughout the Northeastern US. BTW, it
took 20 years, but the FCC got RKO and Gencorp out of the broadcasting
business. It's more likely that Canada stopped foreign ownership and
insisted on mostly Canadian content due to pressure from the US, (or fear
of getting the same kind of pressure Mexico was getting), and not the other
As for the licensing, that too is in error. As radio's first application
was to communicate to ships at sea, it is likely that Fisheries did issue
Canada's first radio licenses, as the Department of Commerce did in the US
in those early days. However, borrowing the idea again from England,
Canadian radio licenses were subsequently issued by the Canadian post
office up until the CRTC was formed.
> > If licensing comes into affect, we will LOSE this access. Not only
> >will the pirate boards be hunted down and exterminated, but all
> >currently LEGAL PUBLIC DOMAIN BBS's will also be made illegal unless
> >they can afford a license.
> > We don't yet know what the proposed licensing fee will be, but it
> >could anywhere in the area of $300-$5,000. This could also depend on
> >the size of the BBS.
> Licence fee for a non-profit radio station is $25 dollars a year.
> Commercial stations pay a very small percent of their profit as the fee.
> I'm not in favour of licensing, but $25? In the US, all DJs (commercial or
> non-commercial, it doesn't matter) need an FCC licence to be on the air.
> Now that is restrictive.
Two more assumption that are wrong. Qorthon assumes that BBS's licenses
will be parallel to commercial broadcast fees, while Stephenson says it's
more like public radio license fees. Again I must state, the COMMON
CARRIER division and the PRIVATE RADIO division are separate departments.
Each one will determine it's own fees. For the most part, Canadian
licenses are much cheaper than in the US, but the "restrictive" policy of
requiring everyone in US radio to have a license is a crock.
Only those persons who have to monitor or control the transmitter needs
some sort of certification. You no longer need a license to read the
meters or turn the transmitter off in an emergency, or on if the Chief
Engineer tells you to. This is done by a permit. You fill out the form,
the C.E. signs it, you mail it to the FCC with a processing fee, ($5.00?),
and you are a flunky. You can bet most of your famous on air personalities
and not allowed near a transmitter and therefore don't need a license or
> > Before I go into my plan of action, I want to tell you that if
> >licensing comes into effect, if will be basically impossible to beat the
> >system. All pirate radio stations in North America have been crushed by
> >the government in a matter of months. Imagine how easy it will be to
> >crush pirate bulletin board systems (and by that I simply mean BBS's
> >without a license) with traceable phone numbers.
Oh, don't make me gag with that Pirate Radio comparison schlock! As a
former pirate I'll tell you that the stations that get busted do it too
often, too long at any one stint, run too much power, or act like idiots on
the air and ask for it. I know pirates who have been on the air for years
without any problem, and others who over did it that got creamed in a few
weeks. There was a pirate who lasted 5 days on the air, he made the
mistake of setting up a few blocks from the FCC's local field office. I
even know a former pirate who also was once a hacker, he's now working for
a real radio station and is setting up their computer system in addition to
his management duties.
> It's hard for me to argue that folks running pirate boards shouldn't get
> busted. While I don't agree with many aspects of our wonderful econimic
> system, I don't think the way to reform it is through establishing pirate
> bulliten boards. The software business is tough enough.
I'm in total agreement with that, however this was in reply to Qorthon's
statement that all unlicensed BBS's would be considered pirates. IMHO, I
don't want to see any regulation of BBS's, but if it were to come about, it
should be done in two ways.
Commercial tech support BBS's and information providers would pay some
sort of fee, they are using the BBS to make money. However private, hobby
and non profit operations should be allowed to exist with a no, or minimal
fee structure. I would hope that because of the waver of a fee, a
reciprocity of free, or strictly voluntary payment, service would be
required, at least for the basic service. Restrictions based on costs
would be placed on the SYSOP's ability to charge for value added services.
I would like to see the majority of any commercial fees be used to fund
some sort of "Information Superhighway" provider that would exclusively
serve the "little guy" and keep his costs down. Also some sort of national
database of copyrighted software would be nice so System Administrators and
SYSOP's can keep their BBS's clean. While I would not like to see it, some
form of reporting that a user uploaded copyrighted material might also get
put through by the lawmakers, (can you say George Orwell?), and that is
something we should make sure doesn't come up.
Ok, I wont be naive and say that all the collected fees are going to be
channeled back in, after all how much of road, bridge and tunnel tolls are
diverted to mass transit, some help to equalize access is going to be
needed once the telco's and cableco's take control of the Internet's
Instead of having anxiety attacks the next time a BBS's regulation fee is
proposed or rumored, we should all begin to think that it will be
inevitable and how we would like the money to be spent. Before the
commercial users try to legislate the local BBS out of business, just like
the cell phone industry made it illegal for radio scanners to tune in the
cellular band, we might want to beat them to the punch and have some sort
of self perpetuating small BBS support system in place they can't stop.
Maybe regulation is a good thing, if we can do it right.
Date: Sun, 20 Feb 1994 13:51:32 EST
From: David Sobel
Subject: File 3CPSR Petition Drive (Reminder)
((MODERATORS' NOTE: For those who missed the anti-CLIPPER petition in
CuD and elsewhere, we reprint it here. The momentum is growing in
opposition to Clipper. If you have already sent in a petition, DO NOT
send in a second one, but if you haven't, here's your chance to lend
your "voice" to the fray.))
Electronic Petition to Oppose Clipper
*Please Distribute Widely*
On January 24, many of the nation's leading experts in cryptography
and computer security wrote President Clinton and asked him to
withdraw the Clipper proposal.
The public response to the letter has been extremely favorable,
including coverage in the New York Times and numerous computer and
security trade magazines.
Many people have expressed interest in adding their names to the
letter. In response to these requests, CPSR is organizing an
Internet petition drive to oppose the Clipper proposal. We will
deliver the signed petition to the White House, complete with the
names of all the people who oppose Clipper.
To sign on to the letter, send a message to:
with the message "I oppose Clipper" (no quotes)
You will receive a return message confirming your vote.
Please distribute this announcement so that others may also express
their opposition to the Clipper proposal.
CPSR is a membership-based public interest organization. For
membership information, please email email@example.com. For more
information about Clipper, please consult the CPSR Internet Library -
FTP/WAIS/Gopher CPSR.ORG /cpsr/privacy/crypto/clipper
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to you regarding the "Clipper" escrowed encryption
proposal now under consideration by the White House. We wish to
express our concern about this plan and similar technical standards
that may be proposed for the nation's communications infrastructure.
The current proposal was developed in secret by federal agencies
primarily concerned about electronic surveillance, not privacy
protection. Critical aspects of the plan remain classified and thus
beyond public review.
The private sector and the public have expressed nearly unanimous
opposition to Clipper. In the formal request for comments conducted
by the Department of Commerce last year, less than a handful of
respondents supported the plan. Several hundred opposed it.
If the plan goes forward, commercial firms that hope to develop
new products will face extensive government obstacles. Cryptographers
who wish to develop new privacy enhancing technologies will be
discouraged. Citizens who anticipate that the progress of technology
will enhance personal privacy will find their expectations
Some have proposed that Clipper be adopted on a voluntary basis
and suggest that other technical approaches will remain viable. The
government, however, exerts enormous influence in the marketplace, and
the likelihood that competing standards would survive is small. Few
in the user community believe that the proposal would be truly
The Clipper proposal should not be adopted. We believe that if
this proposal and the associated standards go forward, even on a
voluntary basis, privacy protection will be diminished, innovation
will be slowed, government accountability will be lessened, and the
openness necessary to ensure the successful development of the
nation's communications infrastructure will be threatened.
We respectfully ask the White House to withdraw the Clipper
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 94 18:55 EST
From: "AMERICAN EAGLE PUBLICATION INC." <0005847161@MCIMAIL.COM>
Subject: File 4--2nd International Virus Writing Contest
Second International Virus Writing Contest
American Eagle Publications, Inc.
P.O. Box 41401
Tucson, AZ 85717 USA
The Crypt Infosystems BBS
+1 (818) 683-0854
*** The Goal ***
The purpose of this contest is to write a fully functional
computer virus that entertains people with political satire.
Viruses will be judged on the basis of originality,
creativity, functionality, and political incorrectness.
*** Eligibility ***
Anyone who can write a computer virus is eligible.
*** Contest Dates ***
The contest is underway from January 1, 1994 until June 30,
1994. Your submissions must be received by June 30 to
qualify. The winner of the contest will be announced at the
DEFCON conference in Las Vegas, July 22-24, 1994. If you can
be present, an official award will be bestowed on you at that
The philosopher Friedrik Nietzsche once said that if you want
to kill something, you must laugh at it--and laugh at it
deeply. So there should be little wonder that political
satire is as old as politics itself.
Is there something going on in the political arena that you
abhor, that makes you sick, that is just plain wrong? Well,
here's your chance to make a mockery of it. I've always had
this idea that if someone wrote a sufficiently witty virus
that really addressed the issues the way the people (not the
press, not the politicians) saw them, it might just get
passed around by people voluntarily.
Let's find out.
Write a virus that is itself a political satire. I don't mean
a virus that simply displays a message. I mean a living
entity whose every move--whose every action--is politically
motivated. If you need more than one virus to make your
point--perhaps two viruses working together, or something
like that, that is fine.
Let me give you a simple example: The Political Correctness
This virus is a spoof on the "political correctness"
movement--which is just a form of self-imposed censorship--
that is sweeping american intellectual circles, particularly
colleges and universities.
This virus is a memory resident boot sector virus which
maintains a list of politically incorrect words on your
computer system. It also hooks the keyboard interrupt and
monitors every keystroke you make. If you type a politically
incorrect word into the computer, the PCV springs into
Politically incorrect words are ranked at three different
offense levels. When the PCV encounters such a word, it
determines what offense level that word is, and acts
The least offensive words merely register a beep. More
offensive words cause a beep to sound for 10 seconds. The
most offensive words cause a siren to sound for two minutes,
locking the system for that duration. If you turn the
computer off before the two minutes are up, the virus will
stop the boot process for five minutes, with sirens, when you
turn it back on. If you allow the siren to complete, then you
The virus has two different word lists, both stored in an
encrypted and compressed format. The list is selected
at random when the system is infected, after which it cannot
be changed. The first list is the "proper" list of
political correctness no-no's. For example, a word like
"sodomite" is among the worst possible offenses. The
second list is an inverted list of no-no's. This list trys
to force you to use "sodomite" by flagging words like "gay"
and "homosexual" as no-no's.
If you allow the PCV to live in your system for three months
without getting a single flag, you are given the supreme
honor of viewing the word list assigned to you and adding a
word to it. If you get more than 3000 flags in a lifetime,
the virus will force you to enter a politically correct word
before allowing you to start the computer, since you are
obviously unwilling to submit to its censorship.
The virus also uses powerful means to prevent disinfection,
so that, once you get it, you can't get rid of it without a
Now, I know you can get a lot more creative than this--so do
it! Design your virus carefully, so that everything it does
has meaning. Then send it in.
Here are the criteria we'll use:
1. Originality: Your virus must be an original work. Do not
send us anything that is not 100% yours. Your message should
be original too. Do not just ape what everybody else is
saying, especially the media. Also, a refined wit is much
to be preferred over vulgarity. Vulgarity is a substitute for
original wit. Foul language, porn, etc., are out. Destructive
features should be incorporated only if they are VERY
appropriate (perhaps if you are commenting on real live
genocide in your country, or something like that). In
general, though, destructive features will hurt you, not help
you. The one exception is modifying anti-virus programs. That
is considered to be CONstructive activity.
2. Creativity: Make us laugh, make us cry. Amaze us with how
bits and bytes can say something about politics and issues.
Think of it like this: displaying a message on the screen is
like reading a text file. What we want is the equivalent of a
multi-media extrvaganza. Use all the system's resources to
tell your message. Don't be afraid to write a virus that has
some wierd mode of infecting programs that tells a story, or
to write one that sends faxes to the White House, or sends an
automatic request for reams of free information to some
3. Functionality: The virus has to work. If it only works on
some machines, or under some versions of DOS, or what-not,
then that will count against you. The better it is at
infecting systems and moving around, the better off you will
be. So, for example, if you write a file-infector, make sure
it can jump directories, and--if you're up to it--migrate
across a network.
4. Political incorrectness: Since computer viruses are
politically incorrect, their message should be too. If you
send us a pro-establishment virus, then you will not win this
contest. A word to the wise: think twice about what's correct
and what's not. Many positions are only superficially
incorrect, though they are really quite fasionable among the
establishment. Look at it this way: if you could get a well-
written letter expressing your view published in a big city
newspaper, then it's not sufficiently incorrect. There are a
LOT of ideas that are unofficially censored by society--
especially the media and academia. They tend to make
themselves out to be the rebels, but they are really the
establishment. If you can't think of anything creatively
incorrect and sufficiently obnoxious then you shouldn't be
writing viruses in the first place.
How to Submit an Entry
You may mail your entry to American Eagle Publications at the
above address, or you may e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, you can submit it by dialing the Crypt
Infosystems BBS and uploading it there. To get on to the
system quickly, efficiently and anonymously, log on as VIRUS,
using the password CONTEST.
An entry consists of:
1. A complete copy of your virus, both source and executable
2. If the political satire isn't perfectly obvious, send a
verbal description of how the virus works and why it does
what it does. This is especially important if you are not an
American and you are commenting on something that has
not received worldwide attention. I don't care if you're
Bulgarian and you're commenting on something we've never
heard of--just make sure you explain it, or we won't
understand and you'll lose.
3. If you want to be recognized for your work, include your
name (real or handle), and a way we can get in contact with
By submitting an entry, you grant American Eagle
Publications, Inc. the right to publish your virus in any
form. You agree not to make your virus public prior to July
25, 1994. If you do, you are automatically disqualified from
For the sake of privacy, you may encrypt your entry and
send it in with the following PGP key (which we highly
recommend if you have PGP):
-----BEGIN PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----
-----END PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----
P R I Z E S
In addition to instant worldwide fame and recognition, you'll
1. A cash prize of $100 US.
2. A year's subscription to Computer Virus Developments
3. Your virus will be published in Computer Virus
Developments Quarterly, and other fine journals.
4. A handsome engraved plaque recognizing your contribution
to the betterment of mankind.
5. A free secret surprise that we cannot tell you about
right now, valued at $100.
Two runner-ups will receive the secret surprise.
!! GO FOR IT !!
Date: 19 Feb 1994 21:19:49 -0800
From: email@example.com (Char Roberts)
Subject: File 5--Altered White House docs summary
The following has to do with the accuracy and reliability of
what we receive on-line. This is a summary of the controversy
over "Altered White House documents" which I first posted to
the Internet newsgroup alt.internet.services on Feb. 5. The
Associated Press got involved, and the AP story was picked up
by ClariNet, Prodigy, CompuServe, Fidonet, and other on-line
services, as well as the Rush Limbaugh radio program and
newspapers. After that public exposure, we received a "we
goofed" letter from the White House. I'm snipping and pasting
the gist of this story below. Most of it appeared on the USENET
newsgroup alt.internet.services under "Altered White House
documents," but it went everywhere and I never did track it
all. The on-line community has been quite supportive of the
need to protect the reliability of government documents offered
Background: Prof. Elizabeth McCaughey wrote an article criticizing
President Clinton's health care plan which was published in the
New Republic in January. The White House issued a rebuttal on
January 31 which became a news story due to its strong
language, which included phrases such as "blatant lie."
On Feb 5, 1994 I used anonymous ftp to get a copy of this rebuttal from
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Char Roberts)
Subject--Altered White House documents
Date: 5 Feb 1994 09:38:23 -0800
I assume everyone knows about the ftp site whitehouse.gov. I just
discovered that the Clinton rebuttal to Elizabeth McCaughey's
critique of his health care plan has been altered on
whitehouse.gov - with no mention in the current version that it
has been changed.
According to Associated Press writer Tom Raum, the original White
House rebuttal to McCaughey's New Republic magazine article used
the word "lie" four times. The copy of the White House rebuttal I
just downloaded (Feb 5, morning, pacific time) does not contain
the word lie nor does it contain any indication that it is a
....Clinton admitted to the use of "lie"
but it has since been removed from the version available for
anonymous ftp at whitehouse.gov. Makes you wonder just how ...
accurate the rest of the information there might
This elicited a response from Bill Casti who defended the WH and
accused me of "knee jerk" reactions etc. Flames deleted, but my
response to Casti was significant to development of the story,
since it prompted him to forward the whole thing to Jock Gill at
the White House:
Clipped from alt.internet.services
Char Roberts responds to Bill Casti
>I assume that neither of you know the difference between a
>speech-as-written and a speech-as-delivered.
Oops, Bill, you didn't read the entire thread. It never was a
speech, only a written rebuttal by the White House to an article
written in the New Republic by Elizabeth McCaughey. Please re
examine the thread. I added on Feb 8 that it was neither a
position paper nor a public speech; it was a written rebuttal to
Ms. McCaughey's article, presented by Dee Dee Myers as
"documentation." To quote press secretary Myers' statement of
January 31: "The following documentation is in response to
Elizabeth McCaughey's article... This documentation clarifies
the facts surrounding the President's approach to health care
The "documentation" I found at whitehouse.gov on the morning of
Feb. 5 does not match the reported "document" described in the AP
article which appeared in my newspaper on Feb. 4. .... The
document at whitehouse.gov simply doesn't match the original
described by AP reporter Tom Raum...
It certainly is clear from the AP newspaper article that the word
"lie" was used by the White House in its written rebuttal to
Elizabeth McCaughey's article. But the word lie was NOT in the
version at whitehouse.gov, nor was that version identified as
having been revised. It's just hanging out there for the
convenience and edification of the on-line community as if it
were the real thing...
More from alt.internet.services
Date: Wed, 9 Feb 1994 22:08:36 -0500 (EST)
From: Bill Casti
I have forwarded (intact) Char Roberts' commentary to my contacts
at the Office of Media Affairs at the White House, who are
responsible for the documents that are placed in the directories
at UNC which are, in turn, mirrored by the whitehouse.gov. I
have sent Mr/Ms Roberts private email confirming this and
assuring that either they will contact him/her directly or I
will pass along their response.
I have agreed that files that are changed from the original "text-
as-written" should, in the future, be identified as "revised"
files, so as to avoid all the other erroneous conclusions that
might well be drawn from even such an "appearance of
impropriety", whether or not any impropriety has ever, in fact,
I then received this note from Jock Gill:
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 1994 11:08:48 -0500 (EST)
From: Jock Gill
Subject--Documents at Publications@WhiteHouse.gov
You should know that we do not edit or alter documents posted to
It would appear that the reporter in question may have obtained
an unpublished, earlier draft with a different vocabulary.
Again, we do not alter documents.
Regards, Jock Gill
I wrote back:
>From croberts Thu Feb 10 16:02:06 1994
Subject--Documents at Whitehouse.gov
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 1994 16:02:06 -0800 (PST)
To: Jock Gill
Regarding your letter to me of February 10, 1994, in which you
[repeat of above letter]
This was an unsatisfactory answer to my concerns about the
difference between the Associated Press version of the White
House rebuttal to Elizabeth McCaughey's article on health care
and the on-line version I found at whitehouse.gov. Therefore, my
husband called AP reporter Tom Raum and asked him where he
received his version. He stated that he and other reporters
received it directly from the White House. Mr. Raum faxed us his
copy. It contains the word "lie" several times. The version at
WhiteHouse.gov does not contain the word "lie" at all. Mr. Raum
has since obtained his own copy of the on-line version and has
confirmed to us that it differs from what he was given by the
White House. We also called Ms. McCaughey's office at the
Manhattan Institute of Public Policy and confirmed that the
rebuttal they actually received from the White House used the
word "lie." Mr. Raum clearly did not obtain an "unpublished,
earlier draft with a different vocabulary." He obtained his
version directly from the White House. Therefore, the fact that
the on-line version is different from the version sent to Ms.
McCaughey and given to reporters indicates that the White House
*does* edit or alter documents posted to whitehouse.gov.
The issue here is not over the particulars of the Clinton
rebuttal to Ms. McCaughey - it is over the integrity of on-line
information provided for public consumption by the White House.
We have been champions of this administration's apparent
eagerness to participate in the electronic "information super
highway." It is disappointing and the implications are
frightening to discover that there has been a "sanitized" version
presented to the on-line public. This is a mis-use of the
electronic media, which should not be tolerated by a free
This response will be posted to all of the newsgroups I know of
which have been following this topic and to all of the people who
have e-mailed me their deep concerns about this issue.
Char Roberts -- and Justin Roberts
The REASON Clinton's rebuttal became a story in the first place
was due to the strong language, accusing Dr. McCaughey of lies.
To have removed all references to the word "lie" from the
on-line version struck us as a major disservice to the
electronic community. This prompted my husband to track down
the AP reporter whose story we had read. The reporter did not
like the implication that his sources were not credible,
particularly since he had worked off a press release handed to
him by the White House! He broke the story to the wire service
and it was distributed on Prodigy and CompuServe among others.
After that, we received one last communication from the White
House, to which I referred in what I thought would be my last
post to alt.internet.services. That generated the
Sat, 12 Feb 1994 20:22:15
Re: Altered White House documents
email@example.com Bill Casti at The Gnomes of Zurich (shhh!)
re: Altered White House Documents
Char Roberts (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote:
: I have received a second note from Jock Gill
: admitting that they erred in not putting the original version on-
: line or noting that it had been revised.
Since you posted Jock's first note in its entirety, how 'bout doing
the same with the second? I'd like to know EXACTLY what he wrote,
as I'm sure others would, too. Seems only fair.
I did post it, but not until I'd had a chance to write back to
Mr. Gill and tell him I was posting our final correspondence.
Sun, 13 Feb 1994 07:42:21
Re: Altered White House documents
This should be 30-30-30 for this story. We've finally had a chance to
respond to the letter we received from Jock Gill after the story about
on-line discrepancies broke on the AP wires. Here follows a copy of that
Dear Mr. Gill,
We appreciate your candid response to our concerns about
the integrity of White House documents on-line.
Health care has yet to be mentioned in the volumes of e-mail and
phone calls we have received in response to the AP article about
our discovery of altered documents at whitehouse.gov. What seemed
to alarm the on-line community was the issue of trustworthiness
of documents offered to us by the government. I think this
episode has indicated how intent the on-line community is on
protecting the validity of its resources. As you well know, there
seems to be increasing feeling among the American public that it
can't trust government information. To have received a response
blaming the reporter for using an "unpublished, earlier draft"
didn't fit with facts already widely reported in the media, and
seemed to be yet another disappointing example of the typical
government response - don't admit anything, cover up everything!
An honest "we goofed" is refreshing and we appreciate your second
response; we wish it had been your *first* response. However, if
this President has, as you say, "relied on this kind of on-line
distribution to get his side of the message out" then it is even
more important that the on-line message should match the original
I'll try to post this to the places I know of which have been
following the controversy, but frankly it grew so big that I no
longer even know where it went. The information super highway is
an amazing resource and the Internet seems to have a life of its
--Char and Justin Roberts
>Date: Fri, 11 Feb 1994 19:43:45 -0500 (EST)
>From: Jock Gill
>Subject--Thank you for your note
> Thank you for your note concerning the item we posted on-line in the
>response to the New Republic article. Let's start with the
>bottom line: After publishing over 1,800 documents, we made a
>mistake. We did not publish the original that was sent to
>members of the press, nor did we mark as *edited* the altered
>version that was sent on-line. We have done better in the
>past; we will do better in the future.
> There are two points about this controversy that should not
>be overlooked. First, the President is deeply committed to
>reforming the health care system, guaranteeing private
>insurance that can never be taken away, and reducing costs
>for the family and the country. His plan has been subjected
>to unfair attacks, such as that published by the New
>Republic, and so we are fighting back on his behalf. That is
>why this document was published in the first place.
> Second, as you said in your note to me, this
>President is committed to reconnecting our people to the
>government -- he is committed to new technologies and new
>ways of communicating, and therefore relied on this kind of
>on-line distribution to get his side of the message out.
> I leave you only with the idea that he is fighting for
>the right causes for the right reasons, and that I hope you
>will not confuse human error with the strength of his beliefs
>or the goodness of his intentions.
> Jock Gill
I leave you with the idea that I hope the on-line community
will, in the future, continue to be watchful and protective of
End of Computer Underground Digest #6.18
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank