Computer underground Digest Wed Oct 5, 1994 Volume 6 : Issue 86 ISSN 1004-042X Editors: Ji
Computer underground Digest Wed Oct 5, 1994 Volume 6 : Issue 86
Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@NIU.BITNET)
Archivist: Brendan Kehoe
Retiring Shadow Archivist: Stanton McCandlish
Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth
Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala
Urban Legend Editor: E. Greg Shrdlugold
CONTENTS, #6.87 (Wed, Oct 5, 1994)
File 1--The Dilemma of Crypto
File 2--MCI Worker in Phone-card Ripoff (w/obligatory hacker link)
File 3--Judge Rejects FBI Delay
File 4--An Invitation to Hear Your Opinion! (Seattle Times)
File 5--Outlaws on the Net: Criminal Law in Cyberspace
File 6--The Scary Story of Serdar Argic (EYE Reprint)
File 7--Cu Digest Header Information (unchanged since 10 Sept 1994)
CuD ADMINISTRATIVE, EDITORIAL, AND SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION APPEARS IN
THE CONCLUDING FILE AT THE END OF EACH ISSUE.
Date: Thu, 29 Sep 1994 21:56:09 -0400
Subject: File 1--The Dilemma of Crypto
Hi. The following is a little bit dated now (it responds to Bruce
Sterling's article on crypto some month's back in Wired magazine's
"Infobahn Warrior" issue), since it has been languishing in my account
for several months while I waited to see if Wired would run part of it
as a letter. They didn't.
It's probably worth noting that I wrote David Chaum the leading
advocate of Digital Cash and asked for some ideas on how "validating
authorities" and other stuctures he mentions in his Scientific
American article might be able to deal with some of the concerns I
express below. I did this hoping I could revise the article and make
it more constructive and less alarmist about crypto's possible
realtionship to future white-collar crime. Unfortunately Mr. Chaum
never wrote back.
Much of this piece is raw speculation and I welcome corrections from
people who are better informed about the intricacies of crypto,
net.privacy, and computer/financial crime.
the text of the piece follows:
How much privacy can we afford?
How much security do we need?
by Shayne Weyker
Three cheers for Bruce Sterling. Finally someone on the privacy
side of the Clipper debate has the courage to admit that Clipper
might indeed provide some needed protection against crooks and
terrorists. I want to try and do a bit more of what Bruce has done:
to try and pin down what the real dangers are both of strong crypto
and of bans on strong crypto.
To date, the anti-clipper faction has tried to deny the force of
the "law enforcement needs wiretaps" argument. They have claimed that
wiretaps aren't truly necessary and that law enforcement officers
will just have to work a bit harder.
This often-repeated argument has a flaw in it that I've heard no one else
mention. It doesn't acknowledge the fact that more and more crimes that
used to be susceptible to discovery through means other than wiretapping
(witnesses, visual or audio surveillance, physical searches) may soon be
concealed to all forms of discovery *except* wiretapping and its variants.
More and more of our life will take place over the wires, so it is no
surprise that more and more crime will take place there as well.
FROM PAPER TO DIGITAL VAPOR
Criminals who wanted to share things like military secrets, monthly
sales reports for drugs or stolen merchandise, and lists of stolen
credit card numbers used to have to keep a lot of this stuff on
paper. But more and more folks own computers and modems, and
software will eventually make using and sharing the computer files
even easier than paper. How long will it be before cops long for
the days when they could arrest someone and search their premises
for incriminating documents and actually expect to find anything
that isn't encrypted with RSA or PGP? Cops will be less able to
find incriminating paper evidence if crooks are smart enough to
keep things on computers and encrypted. And while I think privacy
advocates too often tend to make the criminal in their own image,
the privacy advocates' argument is that crooks are indeed smart and
careful with incriminating data.
"IF YOU WANNA ROB A BANK YOU MUST BEWARE,
YOU'VE GOTTA USE THE COMPUTER UPSTAIRS"
Criminals who want lots of quick cash now often go stick-up a bank.
And even if hacking into and diverting money from banks' Electronic
Funds Transfer (EFT) systems or a company's billing system is more
their style, they still have to work at it. The hackers who claimed
to have diverted funds from an EFT system gave an involved story
about how they went to multiple banks, used phony identities, and
altered their appearance and handwriting each time when they opened
an account and again when they went back to withdraw their loot
over several visits. Somewhere in all those visits they may have
slipped up and given a clue as to who really picked up the money.
But if those hackers could bypass all this by just transforming
other people's bank deposits into their own digital cash with a few
keystrokes, all these opportunities to screw up and leave clues
behind go away.
BACK TO THE FUTURE:
TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY GRIFTERS
[Con artists' schemes in the 1800s] often presupposed the
anonymities of a mobile society. Con men slipped from
place to place; geographically speaking; they also milked
the fact of social ambiguity. . . . boundaries between
classes (of every sort) were more porous than before. It
was possible to pass oneself off as a lord, a professor,
or a rich investor, which simply could not have been done
in a tight, controlled, barnacled society where the
markers of class are more obvious, if not indelible. . .
. Technology permitted the more obvious forms of
emulation [of the upper class]: cheap copies of hats or
dresses; mass-produced artifacts and furniture.
Lawrence Friedman noted that in 1800s America fraud skyrocketed.
Two of the reasons he gives for this have fascinating parallels
with the social environment of the net.
The first was the anonymity of people in communities with a high
turnover in their membership. There was no opportunity to develop
a moral track-record on the community's members which people could
use when deciding who to trust. The second was the new high-tech
mass-produced objects, furniture, and fashionable clothes could be
used to let the con artist appear in all ways to be a member of the
respected upper class.
Does any of this sound familiar? Modern people have adapted to the above
circumstances, but the net society with crypto looks like it's going to
give us heightened anonymity and entirely new means to simulate
respectability which will lead to another whole generation getting being
Privacy advocates have been saying, with some good reason, how nice
the anonymity of the net is. And indeed it is good in some ways
that we judge professors, high schoolers, and street people only by
their words. It is also empowering for some to be able to use the
net to create virtual personas for themselves in communication with
other people that will appear to be real.
But there's a dark side to this. Yes, anonymity does mean one can
escape retribution for whistleblowing and avoid unfair prejudices
of others based on one's appearance and surroundings. But anonymity
also means one can escape retribution for actions that fully
deserve punishment like spamming the net, e-mail bombing, or
forging nasty posts in widely-read newsgroups. This can be done by
hiding behind chains of anonymous remailers or getting a new
account with a new name when too many folks have started to warn
others about you.
Also, one can create a virtual persona for oneself in e-mail and
postings, such as that of a cancer victim, designed to elicit trust
and confidence from those of a similar background who may be
emotionally vulnerable. This trust is undeserved and subject to
abuse, while the eventual discovery of the lie damages the tricked
person's (and others') ability to trust people they meet on the
net. If this kind of abuse becomes common, the cloud of suspicion
hanging over people's communications on the net will hinder the
very trust needed to form those kinds of associations of private
individuals that Bruce Sterling and others are so fond of.
Finally, returning to con artists, there may be increased
gullibility on the users' part once teleconferencing becomes common
and buying stuff on the net is an everyday practice. Con artists
could then use set design and image processing for the video end of
the scam and fancy programming to appear established and credible
to folks checking out their site on the net. So, the con artist
never has to meet the victim in person and anonymity based on
encryption makes it nigh-impossible to connect the grifter with the
REACH OUT AND TOUCH SOMEONE
For an extreme, if unlikely, case, consider the murderer who
remotely reprograms some victim's household robot to electrocute
him. No hope of witnesses or physical evidence there. Finding out
who made the suspect call to the house to plant the code is the
only hope. Sometimes the cops will be lucky and have a suspect who
happens to be a programmer, but convicting this person without his
being caught with the killer program code or being identified as
party to the suspect communication to the victim's house will be
People interacting with others using cryptography-aided
telecommunications are currently expected to be able to:
- be totally anonymous in cyberspace
- create multiple pseudonymous virtual identities for themselves--
each with separate and un-crosscheckable personal associations and
- secretly conduct financial dealings
- secretly exchange valuable commercial or government secrets
- secretly exchange socially-disapproved-of (or illegal)
Libertarians and anarchists may think all these things sound great.
They may be excited by opportunities for whistleblowing, anonymous
political expression, secret political organization for oppressive
environments, riskless sharing of erotica and other sometimes-legal
data, and so on.
But responsible adults should spend equal amounts of time thinking
about opportunities for easier planning of terrorism, easier
evasion of punishment for abusing innocent people on the net, and
very real benefits for con artists, money launderers, embezzlers,
tax cheats, and other white-collar crooks.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN:
Remember though, it was said earlier that more and more of human
life is going to take place over the wires. Clipper advocates may
well say that they're only trying to maintain the same ability to
wiretap that the government has had for decades. But if more and
more of our lives are there to see in our telephone and data
communications, and those communications remain less protected than
other forms of communication such as face to face, then our overall
privacy is going to be eroded.
Bulletin Board Systems aren't as private as the local coffeehouse
or bar. 900-number sex lines aren't as private as a visit to a
lover. Videoconferences aren't as private as face to face meetings.
E-mail and ftp aren't as private as postal mail. The list goes on.
This erosion of privacy is rightly thought to be a bad thing in and
of itself, and unrestricted crypto looks like the only way to stop it.
THE SEEMING ALL-OR-NOTHING DILEMMA OF CRYPTO
We seem to have two choices.
We can let crypto run free. This probably means more terrorism,
some of it with really impressive body-counts. It means lots more
white collar crime, and somewhat more distrust on the net. The
terrorism and crime may mean that the public hastily agrees to give
up other freedoms if they think the government has suddenly become
ineffective in protecting them.
Or the developed nations can get together and ban crypto and watch
most people's privacy quickly disappear. The technology-elite
corporations and individuals will still develop their own, and some
criminals will pay hackers for secure internal communications.
Meanwhile, in the developing world, oppressive governments gain a
powerful new weapon. Heavy regulation of crypto will have much the same
It's an ugly choice. And I've heard too many people dismiss the folks on
the other side as either voyeuristic fascists or paranoid anarchists with
a "don't worry, be happy" attitude towards public safety. Both sides are
doing public who depend upon the quality of the debate a disservice. The
debate should have less fear-mongering about what is goin to happen if
"the other side" wins, and more brainstorming about exactly what new
technology, new laws, and new behaviors we can develop which will protect
us against the very real dangers of a world with too much or too little
crypto in the public's hands.
Date: Wed, 5 Oct 1994 17:33:21 CDT
Subject: File 2--MCI Worker in Phone-card Ripoff (w/obligatory hacker link)
Source: Chicago Tribune, Oct 4, 1994, p. 4 (AP Wire story):
MCI WORKER IS CHARGED IN HUGE PHONE-CARD THEFT
An MCI employee has been charged with stealing more than 100,000
telephone calling-card numbers that were used to make $50 million in
long-distance calls, federal investigators said.
Ivey James Lay was a main supplier of the numbers for an
international ring operating in Los Angeles, Chicago and other U.S.
cities, as well as in Spain and Germany, said the U.S. Secret Service,
which investigates interstate telephone fraud.
Tens of thousands of customers at MCI, AT&T, Sprint and some local
telephone companies were victims, the Secret Service said. Those
consumers won't be billed for fraudulent calls on their phone-card
numbers, spokesmen for MCI, AT&T and Sprint said.
Lay, a switch engineer based in Charlotte, N.C., was known as
"Knightshadow" to computer hackers. He devised computer software to
divert and hold calling-card numbers from a variety of carriers that
ran through MCI's telephone switching equipment, said Secret Service
special agent Steven A. Sepulveda.
According to MCI officials, the case is the largest of its kind in
terms of known losses. The theft was far more sophisticated than past
credit-card and calling-card scams, MCI said. In the others, thieves
had access to a small number of cards.
In this ring, the numbers were purchased by computer hackers in the
United States and Europe, who in turn sold them to Europeans who would
use them later to call the United States for free, Sepulveda said.
From: email list server
Date: Mon, 3 Oct 1994 13:28:35 -0700
Subject: File 3--Judge Rejects FBI Delay
Judge Rejects FBI Delay
For immediate release
October 3, 1994
Marc Rotenberg, EPIC Director
David Sobel, EPIC Legal Counsel
202 544 9240 (tel)
JUDGE REJECTS DELAY ON FBI WIRETAP DATA;
"STUNNED" BY BUREAU'S REQUEST
WASHINGTON, D.C.- A federal judge today denied the FBI's request
for a five-year delay in processing documents concerning wiretap
legislation now pending in Congress.
Saying he was "stunned" by the Bureau's attempt to postpone
court proceedings for five years, U.S. District Judge Charles R.
Richey ordered the FBI to release the material or to explain its
reasons for withholding it by November 4.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a public
interest research group based in Washington, DC, filed the Freedom
of Information Act lawsuit on August 9, the day legislation was
introduced in Congress to authorize the expenditure of $500
million to make the nation's communications systems easier to
wiretap. The group is seeking the public release of two surveys
cited by FBI Director Louis Freeh in support of the pending
The FBI had moved to stay proceedings in the case until June
1999, more than five years after the filing of the initial
request. The Bureau asserted it was confronted with "a backlog of
pending FOIA requests awaiting processing." The FBI revealed that
there are "an estimated 20 pages to be reviewed" but said that the
materials would not be reviewed until "sometime in March 1999."
Judge Richey rejected the FBI's claims in sharp language from
the bench. He told the government's attorney to "call Director
Freeh and tell him I said this matter can be taken care of in an
hour and a half."
In court papers filed late last week, EPIC charged that
the requested materials are far too important to be kept secret.
"The requested surveys were part of the FBI's long-standing
campaign to gain passage of unprecedented legislation requiring
the nation's telecommunications carriers to redesign their
telephone networks to more easily facilitate court-ordered
wiretapping," said the EPIC brief.
Earlier documents obtained through the FOIA in similar
litigation with the FBI revealed no technical obstacles to the
exercise of court-authorized wire surveillance.
The FBI is pushing for quick enactment of the wiretap
legislation in the closing days of the 103rd Congress. A
grassroots campaign to oppose the measure is being coordinated by
EPIC and Voters Telecomm Watch.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center is a project of
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, a membership
organization based in Palo Alto, California, and the Fund for
Constitutional Government, a Washington-based foundation dedicated
to the protection of Constitutional freedoms. 202 544 9240 (tel),
202 547 5482 (fax), firstname.lastname@example.org (e-mail).
Date: Mon, 26 Sep 1994 08:00:02 -0700 (PDT)
From: 2020 World
Subject: File 4--An Invitation to Hear Your Opinion! (Seattle Times)
The year 2020, what will it be like? By then, the big version of what we
call the info-highway will have been with us for some time. Society will
have undergone major adjustments, earthquake-sized shifts. Today's
journalism about the info-highway misses the point. What difference does
it make if it's coax or fiber, PC or set-top box, TCI or AT&T. What
matters is how it will change our world.
Our world will change dramatically. How? Where? What? Today, if you
are curious about this stuff, you have two choices; read the Time
magazine-type "general interest" feature written by someone who hasn't got
a clue, or read the Wired magazine-type "top ten" Industry-leaders/
futurists (you know who they are!) lecture us on their particular vested
interest. Either way, the real changes are not being discussed. Let's
I want to invite you to participate in a global group exploration of life
in the year 2020. Let me introduce myself and then explain. My name is
Kurt Dahl and I am currently the Vice President of Information Technology
at The Seattle Times (Seattle's major metro newspaper). I am writing a
new weekly column that will be published in the Sunday Seattle Times
Personal Technology section.
The column is called 2020world. The idea of 2020world is to explore how
our lives will change when the information highway is a familiar and
integral part of our society. The column will *NOT* be about technology,
that's why I picked the year 2020, by then we can all agree that a
broadband, fully switched, ubiquitous network will have been in place for
many years. How that network will change our lives, not how it will work,
is the question 2020world will address.
So now you are thinking -- I really don't need to read more simple-minded
drivel about the information highway. I agree, you don't, and won't.
2020world will explore ideas that are far outside the typical, boring
discussions of home-shopping and video-on-demand. Yet it will be written
for the general reader. Let me show you how. I have included the first
column from September 25th, as an example. Please read it, then you will
get the idea.
Here is where you come in, and this is the most impo~
To join in, simply reply (as shown below) and you will automatically be
enrolled as a subscriber to our mailing list. Each week the new 2020world
column will be e-mailed to you as well as the best and most exciting
comments and responses. If you want to respond, simply send an e-mail to
our address (also included below). Any questions, send me an e-mail or
But first, read the inaugural column! Here goes...
Copyright 1994 Seattle Times Company
2020world column title: Emily is illiterate
The information superhighway -- aren't you tired of reading about it?
And it doesn't even exist! But it will. And after it's built, we will
live in a very different world.
How different and in what ways? What you have read in the press so far
is a lot of trivial chatter about "home shopping" and movies-on-demand"
combined with boring technical details. These stories just don't come
close to capturing the profound changes we will experience. To better
understand where we are going we need a new approach, fresh ideas.
That's what this column will try to do.
Let's discover this new world together. Let's use one of the most
intriguing new capabilities of the information superhighway: the concept
of group-mind. Here's how: I'll start with an original, sometimes
outrageous, thought about life in the year 2020, and you send me your
reaction to that idea. I'll organize the most thoughtful, expansive and
mind-stretching responses, and we will print them.
Your thoughts and questions can lead us in new directions. Over time we
will follow these "group-mind" wanderings whichever way they go. If we
succeed, 2020world will be as much your space as mine.
It's the year 2020, your daughter Emily is 9 years old, and she
can't read or write. Is this your worst nightmare about our schools
come true? Nope, Emily just doesn't need to read or write anymore.
The written word is a means to an end and not an end in itself. We use
it to communicate with large groups and to preserve ideas, but we prefer
the spoken word. In 2020world, with the ability to create, store and
send audio and video as easily as written words, why would we need to
read and write?
Look inside your own head. Do you store information as written words?
Do you dream in written words? No, you don't. Visual images and spoken
languages are our natural form of information. Writing is nothing more
than a technology. It can be replaced by something better. In fact,
some forms of the written word are being replaced right now, like
shorthand. Can you think of other dead technologies?
I'll bet you are now in the "but what about..." stage:
But what about education? Video can do anything books can do;
well-produced video can do many things better. Which is the better way
to learn about the Civil War -- reading a text for 10 hours or watching
10 hours of Ken Burns' PBS production on the Civil War?
But what about the law? Don't we need the precision implied by written
rules? Perhaps, but wouldn't videos of the original trials, legislative
debates, rulings and precedents be a better guide to future generations
than law books?
Send me your own "but what abouts." But make sure to include your
thoughts about how the 2020world would deal with those situations, too.
Does Emily really need to read and write in 2020world? I don't think
so. Do you?
* Kurt Dahl is vice president of information technology at *
* The Seattle Times. The views he expresses here are not *
* necessarily those of The Seattle Times Company. *
2020world is currently an unmoderated list, however, there are plans to
implement the DIGEST option. All mail sent to this list will be sent to
all other subscribers.
To subscribe, mail to:
and, include in body of text: subscribe 2020world
If you choose not to subscribe, but would like to e-mail me directly with
your comments, my address is:
or, call me at:
or, FAX me at:
Thanks for taking the time to read this loonnggg e-mail. Please join in
and help us understand the real nature of our world after the information
highway is built. Send your subscription e-mail right now! I'm looking
forward to adding your thoughts to our discussion.
One last request, please forward this invitation to those who you think
would be interested.
Date: Tue, 4 Oct 1994 15:44:33 -0500
From: Stephen Smith
Subject: File 5--Outlaws on the Net: Criminal Law in Cyberspace
District of Columbia Bar Association
The New Technology Committee
of the Computer Law Section, and the Criminal Law and
Individual Rights Section, invite you to a Panel Discussion entitled:
CRIMINAL LAW IN CYBERSPACE: OUTLAWS ON THE NET
Speakers: Scott Charney, Chief, Computer Crimes
Unit of the U.S. Department of Justice
Mike Godwin, Counsel to the Electronic Frontier Foundation
Mark D. Rasch, Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn
Moderator: Andrew Grosso, Co-Chair, New Technology Committee
Whenever a new technology becomes prevalent, the law enters a period of
struggle during which it tries to find adequate means for resolving disputes
involving that technology, and for protecting the rights of people affected
by it. We are now in such a period for the Internet and the developing
National Information Infrastructure (NII). Of all legal fields, the struggle
concerning the criminal law is the most pronounced, since old statutes
must be narrowly construed to protect civil liberties, while used in a
creative fashion in order to deter malevolent acts which have never seen
before. This program focuses on computer network crime having national
and international ramifications, including several recent investigations and
This panel brings together noted experts in the field of civil liberties and
computer crime to discusses the issues presented by the latest
developments in this area. Scott Charney is the Chief of the Computer
Crimes Unit of the U. S. Department of Justice, and is actively involved
in the formulation of federal policy with regard to computer-related
crimes. Mike Godwin is the On Line Legal Counsel for the Electronic
Frontier Foundation who is a respected defender of civil liberties for
telecommunications users. Mark D. Rasch is prominent defense attorney
who, while an attorney with the Fraud Section of the Department of
Justice, prosecuted the "Internet Worm" case in 1989. Andrew Grosso,
the panel moderator, is a Co-Chair of the New Technology Committee and
a former federal prosecutor. Written materials by the panelists will
Date: Thursday, October 27, 1994
Time: 12:00 Noon
Place: D.C. Bar Headquarters
1250 H Street, N.W.
Cost: Box Lunch: $25.00 for Section members and
students; $30.00 for Non-Members.
Program Only: $19.00 for Section Members and students;
$24.00 for Non-Members.
Mail to: Computer Law Section
D.C. Bar, 1250 H Street, N.W. 6th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20005-3908
Please reserve ____________ spaces(s) for me at the October 27 program.
Enclosed is my check for __________ made payable to the DC Bar.
Checks must be received by October 25. Sorry, phone reservations cannot
Name(s) Phone(s) Bar No(s). Bar Member?
_____________ ____________ ___________ Yes/No
_____________ ____________ ___________ Yes/No
_____________ ____________ ___________ Yes/No
Please notify the Sections Office (202-626-3463) if you require any
special dietary or physical accommodations.
Date: Fri, 2 Sep 1994 11:08:07 -0400 (EDT)
From: eye WEEKLY
Subject: File 6--The Scary Story of Serdar Argic (EYE Reprint)
((MODERATORS' NOTE: We're periodically asked what we know about
Serdar Argic. All we know is what we read on the Nets and....from EYE
Magazine, a first-rate arts/culture 'Zine out of Toronto. Argic
is considered by some to be a finalist for the all-time NetKook
award. Here's why.))
eye WEEKLY July 28 1994
Toronto's arts newspaper .....free every Thursday
EYE NET EYE NET
HOWLING IN THE WIRES
-- A net.poltergeist horror story
Huddle round the fire, little netters ... lend yer ear to hear The
Scariest Net.Story Ever Told. 'Tis a tale of a creature so hideous, so
awe-inspiring, so inhuman, so incomprehensible, that none that
behold it dare sleep without altering their .newsrc again.
We speak of none other than "Serdar Argic."
The Serdar-thing manifested outta nowhere, terrorized Usenet News
for two blood-curdling years ... then, just as mysteriously,
disappeared without trace.
So wide was the spectre's swath that nary a Usenetter hasn't
stumbled into a newsgroup only to be confronted by this wild-eyed
banshee gnawing at the cables. The Argic.poltergeist posted
endlessly, reams and reams of repeat-info to irrelevant newsgroups,
so insatiable was its bloodlust.
The entity's purpose? Whitewash Turk genocide against Armenians
in WWI. The entity's tactics? Snark School of Demagoguery:
Whatever I say three times is true -- so if I say it 37 million times,
it must really really be true.
And the Argic-entity did just that -- April 29 last, Usenet stats
indicated "Serdar Argic" had, over two weeks, posted 935 articles
(66 a day) comprising over 7,100 kbytes of Armenian-hatred. A full
.5 per cent of Planet Earth's Usenet posts.
SMELLS LIKE SERDAR SPIRIT
So, who or what is "Serdar Argic"? No one is completely sure. But
the net.poltergeist has many avid hunters. You think swapping
"banned" Homolka info is fun, kids? You ain't seen nothing yet.
Argicology is a Usenet passion without compare.
Veteran Argicologist Warren Burstein is certain "Serdar Argic" was,
originally, Hasan B. Mutlu, an AT&T employee. Burstein brought forth
several rare specimens of Mutlu's early-'90s Usenet posts. Indeed,
they're stylistically identical to Argic.chain.rattling -- schoolyard
taunts like "Hey gum brain"; the famous phrase "Armenian terrorist
from the ASALA/SDPA/ARF Terrorism Triangle"; and the clever
segue, "In any event, let me get back to the real issue at hand,"
namely, denying the Turk slaughter of Armenians.
Mutlu disappeared from Usenet after someone scanned a picture of
him from an AT&T technical digest, and uploaded it to the net. Its
caption reads: "Hasan B. Mutlu, a member of the technical staff in
the Computing Technology Department at AT&T Bell Laboratories in
After this, the Serdar spectre arose through a Minnesota-based
Internet site run by an Ahmet Cosar. (Type "whois anatolia.org" at
shell prompt for info.) Some suggest Cosar is Serdar Argic. To back
the Cosar-is-Argic theory, Argicologists point to a March 22, 1994,
post where Cosar (probably by mistake) uses the Argic account to
post a personal reply. He signs it "Ahmet Cosar."
Others think the Argic-entity is a "bot" -- an "artificial
intelligence" that greps (searches) select newsgroups for buzzwords
(like "Turkey" or "Greece") and responds. (Many contend the U.S.
National Security Agency has done this for years with phone lines,
listening for its own obsessive buzzwords.)
The latter would explain some truly bizarre Argic-entity replies. For
instance: Ken Arromdee (email@example.com) signed all
his posts with the line: "On the first day after Christmas my
truelove served to me ... Leftover Turkey!" Deliberate bot-bait. Sure
enough, the Argic-entity once responded to this with data on evil
Armenians, drawn by the word "turkey" but unable to understand the
difference between country and bird.
NOW YOU SEE HIM ...
And, just as suddenly, it was gone. Usenet is still stunned. There are
several rumors: the spook was recalled by secret Turkish
government handlers, propaganda campaign terminated (Turkey still
officially denies the Armenian holocaust). Or it was finally
exorcised by UUNet for extreme breach of user agreement. Or Cosar
left the University of Minnesota (voluntarily or otherwise), thus
losing access to the paper's computer.
"Anatolia.org was a student machine for a student newspaper --
Cosar lost access because he was so busy being Argic he didn't have
time to be a computer science student," contends battle-hardened
Argicologist Joel Furr (firstname.lastname@example.org). Furr is creator of the
newsgroup alt.fan.serdar-argic (with a little help from Canada's
prodigal son, Bruce Becker).
"Is the baton just being passed?" Furr asks in a phone interview. "Is
it an organization, where they decide who is going to be the robo-
poster for the year? Mutlu started it and recruited, by my theory."
So what will be the next manifestation of the net.wraith? Burstein,
currently in Israel (email@example.com), told eye he thinks the
current low-volume Armenian-haters now in soc.culture.turkish are
just Argic-groupies. "Joel thinks these folks are aliases for
whoever was behind Mutlu and Argic. I'm not sure, as they aren't at
all abusive, unlike the real thing -- and they do answer email."
THAT CERTAIN SERDAR STYLE
Furr has created a popular net.collectible: Serdar Argic T-shirts! We
kid you not. He's sold 136, from Osaka, Japan, to Lund, Sweden. It's a
break-even project, not for profit. Write Furr for info: the shirts are
about $15 in U.S. funds. Furr says his next T-shirt subject will honor
two-bit, suck-my-left-nut lawyers Canter and Siegel -- net.spammers
(they posted an ad in 5,000-plus newsgroups) extraordinaire.
Serdar shirt art, designed by Furr, Paul Vail and Peter Vorobieff, can
be downloaded from eye's gopher site "gopher.io.org" in the
/misc/Argicology directory. You can also find the Argic FAQ
(frequently asked questions) file, written by Burstein, in the same
directory, along with the scanned picture of Mutlu.
Retransmit freely in cyberspace Author holds standard copyright
Full issue of eye available in archive ==> gopher.io.org or ftp.io.org
firstname.lastname@example.org "Break the Gutenberg Lock..." 416-971-8421
Date: Thu, 13 Aug 1994 22:51:01 CDT
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E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank