this being how Marx or you or I or "Hector the Garbage Collector" could scoop data out of a computer system without permission or without paying or by using passwords illegally or even by doing the whole thing legally and paying for it while seeming to steal it and how Radio Suisse's Data Star can be used as an example with a hundred others, and how the damages, whether commercial or governmental, can be figured, applying the author's latest costs-benefits theory.
A NASTY practice of intelligence agents is to use secrecy to cover up the shabbiness of the merchandise in which they deal. Even thoughtful and honest officers like Peter Wright of "Spy-Catcher" fame will refer to a hodge-podge list of dubious agents, to an annual report of intelligence functions and to a description of on-going intelligence research as "vital intelligence",
because he wishes to stress the importance of a leak, a break, an arrest, or whatever.
Too, a cleverness in transmitting messages is often confused with their quality, which is usually routine, nonsensical, or of small importance.
It's about time to explain how Marx -- or I, or you, for that matter -- would have operated were he intent upon purloining private information from a computer and turning it over to friendly agents. I admit to nothing in this regard. Marx, too, will admit nothing, almost nothing. I assume that you also have nothing to confess. So, three innocents on a raft of learning. "No hackers are we three, honest patriots we be."
A couple of weeks after his release, a Zurich newspaper gives the "Eastern Spy" a favorable review. Says the Sonntagszeitung of 14 June,
The supposedly secret economic and scientific data which Marx is accused of having supplied to the Russians is publicly accessible. All Eastern countries are subscribers to the Data Star data bank run by Radio Suisse which gathers economic and scientific information. If it is a question of sniffing out secret data, Marx is the wrong man...
And they quote him: "Only those people are of interest as agents who have direct access, for example, to the data of a bank. I am independent, no firm will let me look into its business secrets." (At least they will try not to give me a look.)
The problem of peeking into the valuable information of modern companies (and agencies of government) is large and growing. Estimates of losses incurred by the theft of data and/or the use of procedures embedded in computers, in the United States alone, vary from three to five billion dollars annually.
This should be quadrupled to account for the crimes perpetrated in the computer circles of Capitalist Europe, Eastern Europe, and Japan. Add another area, all the rest of the world, from Finland to China and India, so quintuple the figure, making it a neat fifteen to twenty billions of dollars.
Still that grand figure is less than one percent of the gross national product of the world and almost the entire amount consists not of valuable secret information contained in the computer as such, but in outside goods such as checking accounts to which access is obtained via computer passwords.
To take a military example, in the field of nuclear missiles, a computer system can hold secrets about the chain of command and the procedures for firing missiles, and it can also contain the secret commands which actually would initiate the firing.
Turning to economic and political secrets, these are also either
informational or operational, but the informational part is huge and the operational part is not so immediately deadly.
It may be useful and profitable to know the intended gold exports of the USSR for the coming year or the probable rate of expansion and price fluctuations in the laser printer field in the USA.
It may be well to have the software program for directing a robot metal drill or for sampling randomly the opinions of Soviet Armenians about Home Rule.
When you come down to the nitty-gritty -- please don't get upset -- a theft of economic and political property may be more productive in welfare, dollar for dollar, than what is spent for a great many goods and services in the world. The question is "Whose welfare?".
Do you see what I mean? The suggestion is implied unconsciously in the jeers and wisecracks of the reporters who were sent out to cripple Marx and could not write the appropriately indignant pieces: How can anyone say that a dollar of information stolen, and passed on to someone who pays for it a couple of pennies on the dollar, constitutes a transaction that is less productive than the average dollar that is spent in the world economy, say, the dollar that is spent to carry an average car an average mile? Of course, if you wish to put it this way, you need to have a long-term and universal view of events.
Maybe another example of a different sort will help: Suppose a large bookstore with books of all kinds from trash to gems of literature and science. Suppose again that the store does a million dollars of sales per year. And suppose that a loss by thefts amounting to 5% of sales is incurred.
Would you say that the average use value of the stolen books will exceed the average value derived from the use of the purchased books? I would myself say yes. But theft is sinful and a crime against the person of the proprietor. I think?
Suppose the average thief needs the book he steals and cannot afford to buy it. No matter. Tough luck.
Suppose the thief can scrape up the money, needs the book, but is forbidden to enter the store and buy, because he is barefoot, a juvenile, a Jew, a black, a radical, a woman, a communist, a Soviet official, or some other object of social or personal invidious discrimination.
Is his thievery justifiable? Would you steal it for him? If he paid you? Excuse me if I beg off from this discussion. I have to keep a few paces ahead of the lynch mob.
Now let us examine the new and rapidly growing system of computer network services. These are already the cart that pulls the horse, so far as telecommunications are concerned. This is the new heart of the intelligizing world, the new grand switchboard of the world.
This commands the telephone, which is becoming so far as it exists in itself a poor-boy form of contacting and arranging things with one's pals, whose voices one pines for.
The computer workload affords meaning to the satellites; effectively instructs them, sends them up, down and around. A computer network hears what is going on in the hell-fires of the planet Venus and tells us what we might wish to do there some time in the future - the sooner the better says Marx, who is obsessed with Venusian phenomena and with the world's obsession with Venus as evidenced in language and behavior.
The French telecommunications monopoly has introduced a nationwide system of inexpensive video screens and keyboards to attach to one's telephone. It costs you nothing. (It equals the cost of the phone directories they need not now furnish to you.) You go to your nearest phone service center and pick up the carton, bring it to home or to office, plug it into the wall-socket and phone jack, and begin calling any of 11,000 numbers for advertising schedules, pornographic messages, airport news, magazine materials, book reviews, and so forth.
Your monthly phone bill includes the charges for the services that you have used. Some families have gone broke as a result.
In America there function a number of these networks whose heart or brain -- choose your own metaphor -- is a large or medium-sized computer or several of them that contain all the information that you could possibly want to insert or extract or expunge.
Compu-Serve, Dialog, Bitnet, et al. -- they exist by the score already and will soon number in the hundreds, for, as with centralization or decentralization in politics, you can tie the whole world into one nation with command over all local functions, or you can have a very loose central organization like the UN and a million and more local centers, and you can have any number of intensified or extensified types of organization in-between the two extremes. So you could have a giant computer network doing on the world level the same process that you have occurring on the level of the single human body, which is governed more or less by the single brain, or better yet the non-hemispherically-brained bird, where, without interference of one hemisphere with the other, truly the single brain governs a single unequivocal animal throughout its parts.
They are all similar, these networks, and can be used, be stolen from, and provide the same services as the one that I would choose here, which is the one that no doubt, as the Sonntagszeitung from Zürich says is the one that was "stolen" from by Marx, the Data Star system containing the data banks managed by Radio Suisse.
As Ronald Reagan, my unfavorite favorite character on the American political scene, has said of the disappearing species of redwoods in California, when someone urged they be saved from the sawmill, "If you've seen one of them you've seen 'em all.".
O.K. we are not proposing to cut down the number of networks of computer services and in fact, as you will see, we are working on their creation, but we are saying that they are closely similar, as alike as any two Giant Sequoias; unlike the Sequoias that, alas, are a dying species, the networks are a fast-growing one. And we are ready to say how you can work with it as Marx did, and he could play it like Paganini could play the violin. I have seen him do it.
One day in summer, about two years before his mishap, found Marx and me on the road to Bern, not far from Basle, not even far from Mulhouse, in France, where I had begun the day, absurdly close for this American of the spacious Midwest. We were going to look over the Radio Suisse system.
The network headquarters was totally undistinguished, a small office building with some sets of offices, a computer-room whose air-conditioned interior we didn't bother looking into -- "if you've seen one, you've seen them all" -- what a difference we are making in our lives with our run-amok brains -- imagine being in Gallia two thousand years ago and asking where the center of intelligence was, you would be directed to the encampment of one Julius Caesar and you would see all of these magnificently-trained soldiers fixing their gear and cooking their Roman Meal Bread and meat stews and kicking an enemy skull around, and then a headquarters where variously sculptured faces look up at you as you thread your way among the tents to where a Real Brain is in charge of operations -- "Sorry, you cannot see him now, he tries to reserve this hour each day to write a brief memoir of events" -- and you say goodbye to the glamour of history and awaken to the dull corridor of Radio Suisse and the bespectacled nice young man who is telling you about the charges and the arrangements and, yes, the passwords.
Riddle: Why is Radio Suisse like the MacDonald's down the street?
Answer: Both are licensees of a large foreign concern that gives them what they need in the way of designs, systems, distribution and sales methods, consultation, innovations from time to time, while they put up the operating capital and personnel.
Data Star is an English firm that leases its systems to groups such as Radio Suisse and, in Germany, to the giant publisher, Bertelsmann.
You are charged to bring in what you want to say to the world or (if you are a private system) what you want to say to your own people or special clients and don't want anyone else to see because what you are saying is worth more money to you than you would get for it if you went public with it, which Radio Suisse is perfectly willing to do, only give it the word so they can arrange whether to have an ordinary password assigned to you or a special one under rigorous restraining conditions upon those who may possess it.
You are both a contributor of data and a user of data. So you have codes, easily available to all upon payment, to put stuff into the master-brain computer memory and amend it and remove it. And what you put in or take out is your own business. Just pay your bill on time each month.
Only, don't take out what isn't allowed to you to remove. That means, no matter what the price, there is a special category of material that can be removed only by members of the club, whose conditions of membership are defined by the sponsors of the club, Marx and I, for instance.
Or you and me, if we want to have a private personalized, his-her club, to build up a thesaurus of our poetry to each other, and do so every day, and nobody can get into it or take out of it except toi et moi, so that in twenty years, when our hair has turned to silver, you and I will have a million words of poetry, at which time we may wish to go public.
So we give out the password of our output system to anybody who will pay ten bucks an hour to stay on-line, excuse me, fourteen Swiss Francs, and they can read it, titillate their compagnons, copy it for private use, but not publish it or call it their own, just enjoy it.
And if we feel that we need refreshing new poetry, we can form a menage à trois, à quatre, à mille, à tout le monde and soon have the biggest public network of poetry in the world going, with thousands of poets from all over the world putting their stuff on-line for all the people who have passwords to come in and extract it -- and who pay their bills promptly.
As one of his public benefactions that he can ill afford, Marx has been trying to draw in the Society for Interdisciplinary Studies (This is the SIS I mentioned earlier) and the Canadian SIS to set up a Data Star bank for worldwide procurement of the special and controversial scientific and humanistic materials in which these groups specialize.
Needless to say, I have supported his pleas, and prompted some efforts on my own account.
Very clear? Yes. Very unprofitable.
To support ourselves, we should have paying projects. One would be a special Encyclopedia of Quantavolution, whose ideas and articles are so explosive that scientists and scholars and philosophers from around the world would have to hook into our network, using our password, to find out what to think about the world, past, present, and future. It would be the Twentieth Century's Encyclopedia of Diderot and d'Alembert, that climactic, seminal, burgeoning, blossoming ballooning of the Enlightenment.
This is nothing less than I have been proposing to numerous gentry, including Herr Marx for many a year, and I haven't gotten the system off the ground. So I cannot call this a paying project. What then?
Well, there are the Venus and the Egyptian and other projects of Marx that promise even less profit, actually a dead loss for as far into the future as the mind wandereth not to the contrary. So then what?
We look for someone who has a defect of some kind in getting into the marketplace and wants stuff that is already available. Such a defect as to be shunned by marketeers, managers, capitalists and governmental offices. Such a defect as to be technically incapable of organizing the extraction of materials. Who has such defects?
Right the first time! The communist world and the one that might plunk down cash on the barrelhead -- the Russki. (But cf. finis this chapter.)
Yet what does Radio Suisse have that the Soviet Union, which has satellites crawling all over Outer Space as well as Eastern Europe and the Caribbean Region, might want? Simple stuff, so far as the expert is concerned.
Give them ordinary output such as government offices of all kinds, capitalist or communist or so-called socialist namby-pambies, and militarists (see my Kalos where all governmental systems are divided into the taxocratic, the dystrocratic, the stratocratic and the kalocratic, my system, naturally) would like to have -- economic, political, sociological, military, etc. For, after all, this industry of data banks and information gathering and storage and retrieval has been built up by billions of dollars of sunk investment.
I know -- how well I know -- since I have personally gathered and made available to the public a million dollars of useful information on the politics and social systems of the world, even put it in books and on-line, and have very little to show for it in the end: yet, lo!, there it is, floating around for someone else to buy and sell.
It is suckers like me who provide opportunities to people like Marx to make money out of the knowledge reservoirs of the world. But Marx is the same kind of sucker when it comes in his turn to put stuff into the Great Storehouses of Human Knowledge.
Now the Soviets, who are well-known in professional quarters for having one of the most inefficient systems for creating and gathering knowledge to be found among countries of advanced technology, are at least alert to the point where they will pay for the work of others.
And what can be earned from them can be used to pay for one's toil on behalf of humanity, which Christoph Marx, like his Judeo-Christian namesakes, had in mind to help.
He knew of a realm that the Russians could exploit at a fraction of what it could cost them to create, and he saw no reasons not to teach it to them, and we shall have to go into these reasons, for they are "momentous in the world of international politics and diplomacy" all of which he detests.
So, following my logic as advanced above, he decided that he had found a way of financing his unique method of saving humanity and the world, even physically.
In a paper dated 24 August 1984, by which time he should also have been paying attention to his espionage, he is explaining to an annual conference of Canadian Quantavolutionists at Trent University, Ontario, how and why to involve themselves in on-line information systems.
I am not there, I had attended the year before and was in Europe. But I have the record of his talk and shall quote copiously from it, it being called, "Let's Go Public!"
He begins by deploring the lack of progress in bringing the scientists of the world to their senses concerning the need to revise radically Ancient Chronology, on which so many human conceptions depend, and regarding the urgency of correcting the amnesia of the collective unconscious of the world about ancient catastrophes in time to prevent new holocausts. He deplores the failure of the assembled group and its allies to assault these problems more vigorously.
The principal cause for this not-so-sound performance might be termed "enforced endogamy" when account is taken of the resistance and antagonism to be expected from the collective. If indeed its mind isdominated by the neurotic effects of amnesia -- as the reconstruction proves -- we still have to answer the question of "how to put the collective onto the analyst's couch;" and it has become obvious that this cannot be achieved by producing papers in conversation just with one's own group of insiders, or by organizing meetings now and then, and here and there, with no echo whatever throughout the big wide world of science.
Moreover, these methods we rely upon to introduce our newly gained knowledge are part of the very same "scientific method" which is continuously v(e)i(o)l(at)ing the ascertained data: storing it away from the collective consciousness in language only has the effect of increasing the excitation by incompatible claims. In face of these difficulties we should evolve strategies to overcome them just as busily, if not more so, as we are at work investigating some material facet of the reconstruction. One such strategy -- and an important one at that -- is seeking ways in which to introduce our knowledge into the flow of research: a) through bypassing the restraints existing in the scientific system against reconnaissance, in ways that b) address the inquiring knowledge user for direct judgement, without interfering authority.
Technological -- not scientific -- advances are now providing such knowledge distributing systems in the form of data bases, searched by one's own criteria. A conglomerate of databases, such as the DATA-STAR system which in Europe even now has more than 100 gigabytes (i.e. 100 billion) (now, 1988, 150 GB) characters of information available, is today easily able to support our primary prerequisites and interests: (1) Automatic routing of our data directly to its user. (2) Inexpensive storage of our databases at cost of actual requirements. (3) Possibility of "beginning small", and to expand in any steps to any size. (4) Good prospects of copyrightreturns on materials used because of the inherent system accounting and clearance features. (5) Creation of user contacts, again through the system's data processing capabilities...
Today the initializing cost of a DATA-STAR base comes to about $2000.00 Each megabyte (i.e. 1 million) characters of documents then cost about $8.00 per month, including the input of updates at the computer site: in other words, the availability of a typewritten page costs something like $0.02 per month and is likely to come down still further in future because of the tremendous and continuous deterioration of prices in this area of computer development. If we wish we can start a database with a single document, to which further documents may be added weekly, or monthly, or when ready,..
This availability, of course, is subject to our capacities for editing and inputing documents.. The editing consists of producing the paragraph indicators and texts according to the criteria that have to be worked out initially, while at the same time the text input has to be done on a small personal computer with a word processor. Indexes of any sort, of course, are not required because the search criteria of the questioner are now met by the system...
Following an explanation of how one is billed, he concludes on an apocalyptic note, rather on the balmy side, paranoiac megalomania, you might say:
I claim that at this time, i.e. 5 minutes before midnight, when according to Mr. Reagan & Co. the apocalyptic bombing of the East is to begin, we require new strategies for entering the main flow of opinion- making, for attempts to enter the "corridors of power" and for gaining access to channels of knowledge distribution infiltrating collective amnesia with rational information. And I claim further that of such strategies the one of putting the new media of databases to work is particularly important for its imaginable effectiveness as well as for its state of ready availability to an organization of ours. So let's put one up and go public in this sense!
There is a menace in several of these phrases, I hope that you will note, as if we just might take over the electronic networks of the world in a coup d'état. A hopeless and impossible undertaking, I assure you.
As a final suggestion, Marx proposes that a larger meeting convene in Iceland on the Whitsun or Easter holidays next year. (Have your little laugh and then Thimk: Reykjavik is cheaply and efficiently served from the old and new worlds, it is in-between the worlds, its costs are low compared with many conference centers, conference attendants will not disappear into the Crazy Horse Saloon, the natives are friendly, and they perch atop the World-girdling Oceanic Rift that is so important to Quantavolution theory, complete with fiery volcanoes, old and aborning.)
The cost of one's network services can mount rapidly, even though one may be using a fast modem (for which there is an extra charge) to pull stuff from the host computer.
In the bills sent to Marx for services drawn upon, nothing odd is to be detected: neither the charges (which amount to only a couple of hundred dollars per month) nor the code titles that might indicate a considerable flow of espionage materials.
I was in Marx's computer shop in Basle when he put through an inquiry on Venus, simply to show me the relevant contents in the Data Star's one hundred and more data bases.
One dials into the system, is asked for -- and gives -- his password, presents his inquiry and gets an answer immediately if all goes well.
We ask for any materials that deal with the Temperature of the planet Venus, that is, 1_: VENUS and TEMPERATUR$2. (The last sign $2 means to produce words with any ending following the letters TEMPERATUR.)
About three hundred items that deal in some way with the concept are indicated as available for inspection, if desired. It is up to the user to see whether he can find in the mass of items a couple of documents that will help him out.
It appears even in a scan that the formal and conventional sources are there, but that the abstracts of them will not deal with several matters that we deem important. Actually I have in my personal libraries in America, France, and Greece scores of items that treat with the temperature of the planet Venus from the critical quantavolutionary versus evolutionary point of view, and Marx may have the same. Ours differ markedly in source, formality, and conventionality from the Radio Suisse lists.
You can understand better what Marx was calling for: the conventional data bases and the literature that they screen regularly does not carry in its millions of citations certain matters that we regard as scientifically and philosophically important. If we were espionage agents, we should do better to raid and sack the private collections of advanced savants in practically every field of knowledge.
Therefore a special new data base has to be built up and carried on-line whether by Radio Suisse or by some other network.
(Actually, lately, Radio Suisse has been concentrating its bases in areas moving away from our own, so that it is unlikely that they would welcome us -- even if we told them that the Soviet Embassy had sent us.)
If we had a thousand members around the world, it might be better for us to set up an independent system. But we had better not get mixed up with espionage or other illegal activities. Lenin may have stolen from banks to get money for the communist movement, but we are a flock of chickens by comparison with his ilk.
None the less, and I might as well make the point here, Chris is just as dedicated as Lenin, and he too is working to save humanity from destruction by the evil forces at work in the world, etc.
Now you are beginning to see what data bases can do for a group, and a little of the Mind of Marx as it pursues its course. If he had sent me the paper ahead of time rather than afterwards I would have made the last part less scary.
Data Star's information collection grows daily. It contains, as I say, much confidential material, belonging to a special class of customers to which it addresses the following assurances:
The following measures guarantee the security/privacy of the data stored in DATA/STAR: -- A private database can only be accessed with a special password. -- Unlike the public databases, the private databases do not appear in any system printout and are not mentioned in any publication. -- The DATA-STAR-SYSTEM user can access only the functions of the search-software. The search-software is protected against any unauthorized access to other databases. -- The number of DATA-STAR staff members who have access to the system is very small. Besides, all employees of Radio-Suisse, even after cancellation of the work contract are under pledge for secrecy (telegraph and telephone secrecy). -- DATA-STAR's equipment is installed on Radio-Suisse premises which are protected against unauthorized access. The operating occurs in closed premises in order to avoid unauthorized persons to access printed documents or magnetic media. At a private database customer's request, special preventive measures can be prescribed as far as the forwarding of documents or magnetic media are concerned..."
Total security begins to emerge; machines, rooms, doors, passages, ventilators, personnel, families, transmission lines, telecommunications -- all need watching, continuously. The computer that should free communication becomes the means to our downfall by policing potential violations.
Passwords are about as useful as "Who goes there?" on the modern battlefield: "Friend." "Advance, friend, and give the password." The Italian expert on computer privacy, Enrico Cipollone has displayed electromagnetic-ray-registrars that pick up electronic emanations of a computer and send them to a transducer where they can be played upon a monitor screen. The bugs are ever smaller in size and their increasing sensitivity lets them be placed farther from the victimized machine.
The messages can also go directly into a modem for long-distance transmission. Theoretically, the end-receptor can be a computer at General Headquarters for Nuclear Weaponry, which, upon receipt of the enemy's fire-order to its missiles, will unhesitatingly, and without consulting the President and other nonsense, simply despatch the order to our own missiles to fire instantly. This would be the ultimate in deterrence -- provided that each party knew he was locked into such a no-fail ERR espionage nuclear alert system.
No measures can be deemed adequate to the problem. And security is becoming very costly. But so are the frauds. Whereas in America old-fashioned frauds have averaged $23,000 apiece, computer frauds have averaged $600,000. Many have to do with mimicking the code for authorizing withdrawals of funds from banks. About the time that Marx was arrested, a computerized fraud struck the Volkwagen company with a loss of $263,000,000 from currency exchanges.
Piracy, vandalism, viral plaguing, alternative commanding: these are the major growing branches of computer hacking. Piracy is espionage when done for a government or political cause or business, whether personal or corporate. The imagination of the police went only this far in regard to Marx.
In early 1989 five West German hackers were seized and accused of pirating information from several major networks and worldwide. At least thirty mainframes were rifled.
Most of the swag was data from NASA's advanced research systems and similar data elsewhere. A "Star Wars" research computer was entered.
An American Defense Department spokesman claimed, after the smoke had settled, that the damage had been minimal; German prosecutors agreed (as if they could know!)."No classified program was broken into." Absurd, a contradiction in terms! Tom Clancy, a spy-book author, opined that the Defense Department would never know what programs had been entered. "If these guys are smart enough to crack their way in, they are probably smart enough to get in and out without leaving any footprints." D'accord!
Nowadays the process of encryption, the total encoding of communications electronically, is being increasingly employed. Nevertheless there must always be men and women who know how to get into and out of the system and these have private desires and lovers and debts and ideals. Too, passwords can be borrowed, and there are often pressing and logical reasons for the lending and borrowing of access to databases and currency accounts. Employees holding fiduciary posts become ill or incur accidents: people, like computers, can be "down."
Often the value of what is being protected is not believed in by the persons commanding access, as is the case frequently with technology interchanges.
And often the disbelief is well-founded.
The question of damages arise again, of value. "Heavy damages" are alleged in the present case. It costs practically nothing, of course, to remove the material from storage, to have it read out onto a user's screen or modem or printer.
If embezzlement of funds were at issue, the theft might be costly. In our case it is not, else the police would have been happy to mention it. That is, Marx was not using his access to authorize cheques to be made out to himself, his clients, or the PAF.
Could he have been ordering equipment or chemicals to be sent to parties otherwise disqualified from purchasing or receiving them?
Was he breaking into communications networks and forwarding to the Soviets investment advice or market tips that they could act on?
Would he be getting into the secret files of another government or the anti-terrorist police or the counter-espionage agencies of Switzerland or other countries, or the embassies of certain nations?
Could he be researching information, the more confidential the better, on some companies that the Soviet Union, through its front agents, would be interested in controlling?
Could he be providing the Soviets with ways in which they might disrupt government, communications, markets, military mobilization, etc. at some critical future point in time?
I do not say that Radio Suisse's Data Star contains such information. If it did, it would represent an absurd risk for the government to take; further, the precautions and special devices demanded of such secret operations would cripple the ordinary banal operations. Military operations employ their own data bases and intelligence and command networks. Further, they employ large security and intelligence forces to guard their immense system from interruption or theft of information. The huge cost of protecting what we firmly promise never to use is only second in idiocy to the manufacture and manning of the system to begin with.
Still, one could set up a monitoring and interrogating system of information retrieval which, directed imaginatively and expertly, would give generous bytes of meaty answers to these queries.
Nor is Data Star the only computer system to which Marx could have access.
He might access former customers, customers of friends, university files, research projects files which are often weakly guarded because, until a positive finding is made, whether the field be chemotherapy or astronomy, no one can quite believe in their results.
But unexpected bodies of information can be of considerable value to a socialist government, with its totalitarian ambitions regarding the economy and culture. Everything becomes relevant. Thus, a list of the holdings of a museum, contained under minimal security measures, would be worthwhile for a Soviet art commission that buys and sells works of art in the marketplaces of the world. Cases of this kind are practically infinite. One can explain thus the reasoning behind the F.B.I. interest in discouraging spies from using the libraries, even while expressing horror at the police state implied in the process.
Thus, in some of the above hypothetical cases, considerable damage may be presumed, the monetary value of which would be most difficult to calculate. Working backwards, if the crimes had occurred, and I were asked to say how much I would pay to reverse the event, I would surely be thinking in terms of six to ten figures in Swiss Francs.
One has only to think of the great many millions of dollars that certain United States officials paid out or committed, legally and illegally, in order to ransom or to compel the return of a few hostages.
At the same time as I stress that there is no reason to denounce security measures, even when they become rather onerous, I wish to emphasize that often secrets are only such in the mind of the possessor and/or the mind of the covetous.
The privilege of keeping some secrets is, however, as sanctified as the right to bar a trespass. If you own some barren land but wish to put a fence around it and keep out everybody and their beasts, it would not sit well with you were I to tell you that the rich property next to you has a right to privacy but your poor property has not.
As I said, private data bases are like social clubs. You can get into them by being accepted as a member. Some clubs don't care much whom they admit, so that hearing about them and paying to get in will suffice to draw out what one pleases in the way of information.
Some clubs may be snobbish; they may refuse communist customers such as the Soviet Trade Delegation, but admit an academic front for the Soviets such as the Podium Akademische Freiheit (Marx's PAF), if such were the case. And even give it a cheaper rate.
What is the morality of such conduct? What is the morality of whites fronting for blacks who are otherwise prevented by racism from buying or renting needed housing in a certain neighborhood of an American city?
The police intended that the public be impressed by the sums of money that changed hands between the Russians and Marx. They had two motives for this, first to persuade a critical public that the offenses were indeed serious, and second to show that greed motivated Marx. Figures of over $200,000, of $130,000, of $60,000 occurred.
They are not impressive. Often, in an honest, open government contract, both sides accept the ratio of doubling the salary to cover overhead costs, a simple way of calculating what is often difficult to budget in detail ahead of time.
The sums in question were paid out over a period of two years at least. So we cut them in half and halve the sum again and arrive at figures ranging from $15,000 to perhaps somewhat more than $50,000.
However, there was to be no clarification, before I began my investigation, whether from the Prosecutors and press, concerning whether the sums in question involved the sale of equipment or the reimbursement of charges for the purchase of data.
In brief, we were almost entirely without a basis for deciding how much "profit" there might have been in his Soviet dealings. Taking the worst possible view, it would appear that Marx was underpaid.
Certainly, for any volume of information involving several hundreds of hours during which I was using my special knowledge and ingenuity to select and purchase, completely aboveboard, informational materials, and had to use expensive equipment for the purpose, I would have charged about $ 50,000 (but would not have done it and instead would have spent half of that hiring someone else to do it).
The next time Marx does a job for a communist government, he should ask me how much to charge. Such cheap labor as is indicated here would not be unusual for a spy; contrary to the comic strips, spies earn very little considering the presumed value of the product that they deliver and the risks they take. In the case of Marx, he is but upholding his reputation as a poor businessman.
Still I would inquire, were I the Controller of Accounts at the Soviet Embassy, whether the sums reported as paid to Marx were the sum total of what is carried on their books. I would not wish to impeach the character of the two Soviet spies involved in the case, the two Piotrs, but I have known of cases where agents requisitioned funds, pocketed cash, and paid the end-man only part of what was owed him.
Marx was paid in cash. This may be Soviet habit. (They lost so much money in the failure of their big Swiss-centered banking operation (600 million SF), he explained, they may have been burned against banks. No dice!) It is often the practice in espionage. But where unnecessary, it is an open door to corruption of the corrupters.
Not only was he paid in cash. He was asked to sign blank receipts! Businessmen -- and spies are often such -- play dozens of dishonest tricks; each occupation has its own, too. Have you ever signed a blank receipt; would you ever sign one? Have you ever asked someone you were paying to sign one? An editor I once knew used to ask a friendly restaurateur to do so, kept the receipt until the end of the month, and then filled in whatever sum he thought he might get paid as reimbursement of expenses by his company. Russian spies would not be running true to form if they ignored such possibilities (and may have been playing this game on a larger scale in cahoots with their bosses).
Again, I would not wish to persecute the Soviet agents, who may have been doing only a dishonest day's work, but would there not be certain reasons to meet secretly at varying locations, viz., to avoid the scrutiny of their own people, to exaggerate the number of meetings, to exaggerate the number of agents whom they were supposedly contacting, and to purchase supplies with public monies to bring back with them to the Soviet Union? It may be that their biggest mistake was in discovering in Chris Marx a schlemiel, or more charitably a schnook, who was too innocent to know how the game was supposed to be played.
Are there now two more secret numbered bank accounts in Switzerland belonging to two cads, the Piotrs?
Let us clear up another misconception, if only because it will backfire upon me. Why should the Soviet government hire secretly a Swiss to do an ordinary aboveboard honest-to- goodness research job, and why Marx especially? I think that I have explained why Marx was especially eligible. If he was so perfectly qualified to become a Russian spy, he was also well qualified to become a non-spy researcher for them.
As for why not to bring in a Russian to do the job or why not do the job in Russia in the first place, the answers are equally valid.
The fact that the Soviet Union is socialist does not mean that it gets its labor at low cost. Moreover, it takes a lot of red tape to get projects into the budget back in Moscow, just as in Washington or London or Paris. In addition the foreign labor can be fired more easily.
Too, the skills are not so available in Moscow, the machine back-up is not discoverable so readily, the latest developments in data bases are known only with some delays, and it takes time (if the information is to be used back in the West) to transmit the request, supervise the job long-distance, and get it returned to Switzerland.
Finally, the Soviet government is acquainted with Marx, has a favorable impression of him, has done business with him before, and may need him for more important and more secret tasks later on if he is amenable.
I do not know who the friends of Leonidov were in Moscow, but would you not think that it would be interesting to have the company abroad of someone who had so many ideas about the future of information science (which is almost a synonym for espionage)?
And if you had to go back to Russia, would you not introduce any interesting acquaintances from abroad to your replacement?
So Marx was hired at a modest price to provide in the jargon of the trade (the spy trade, that is) COMINT and ELINT, communications intelligence and electronics intelligence. It is also often called GARBAGE after its major component.
But the trouble was that the Russians were too schloomp to know what they wanted or needed in the way of computer equipment, software or data. And Marx, a grandiose cosmologist, had no inkling of what they should be begging, borrowing or stealing from the data banks to which he had access.
Nor did he ever ask me. And when anyone inquires into my role in this business, I can allude confidently to this evidence: there would have been tons of valuable stuff escaping into the Redlands, not garbage either, for I am an honorable man.
Marx swears that just about the only piece he ever extracted from Data Star for them was in response to the question: what did the system carry relating to Diesel engines? He printed it out and passed it over to them. This was their solitary use of him as the information retrieval expert, to fetch this bit of garbage.
Could Marx have erased a great deal of material from his computer's memory? He could have, but would not have. He would have hid copies of the material on floppy disks somewhere. Where? He could have mailed or brought it to me, but he didn't. (Unless you say so. I say not.)
He could have given it to the Soviets on various occasions. He could have hid it in a pumpkin, like Whitaker Chambers. There are no bills, bank account books, memoirs, or other evidence of them.
Maybe, like Joe McCarthy, one will say, "Of course not, otherwise he would not be such a clever spy."
I myself think, what a lot of time it would have taken to gather all the stuff: on the basis of how many conversations and with what expertise from what quarters; and how much time it would have taken to hide it properly, and fix up special bank accounts, and so on. Nothing but false leads here.
One big answer comes with the bill that Marx had prepared for his last encounter with Leonidov and which was taken from Leonidov by the police and which Marx simply printed out for me when I asked for it, because it was still lodged in the memory of his computer!
Of course the police had examined his computer memory. It was not quite like the Basle Radio skit interrogation, but basically there was a resemblance.
With the prisoner in hand, the police entered the premises of his combined store and dwelling. They had arranged for one of their own Computer Experts to come and break into the memory. Which he did. He walked over to the computer and turned it on!
Naturally, flicking the switch blew all the memories that one would have most liked to forget if he were Marx. Collective amnesia! Alas,it would have served the police right, if this were the case, but the truth is that Marx had left his computers wide open to operation so that all secrets in them would have been accessible.
But, Stay! How do I know? I was not there. And if the Computer Expert had detected the very slight signs of a quasi-total Delete Command, you would not have expected him to turn to the Police and say, "Shucks, fellows, I just blew the memory of the 13 scam files!"
Still, lacking for the time being any evidence to the contrary, I am inclined to believe that there were no secrets. It was not a case like that of President Richard Nixon, who could not bear to erase his secret drivel and thus delivered to the Nation the largest and dullest recording of official behavior in history; but it was damaging enough to make him out to be a liar.
And the disappointed police, who knew that he had never spent time in any other location where there was a computer, for they had been shadowing him and bugging him since time immemorial, had neither electronic nor paper garbage to exhibit in evidence.
What was it that Jerry Colonna used to sing? --
Stick out your can
for the garbage man,
the garbage collector.
Hence the computer memory still held the bill that Marx had prepared for Leonidov. It is more of an angry document than a bill. It is addressed to the fiscal officer of the Soviet Trade Representative (Note: not the Embassy, and at a different address), and dated April 1, 1987, the day of the arrest.
It refers back to Chris Marx' original Soviet commercial office contact, Dr. A. Busanow, who had introduced Chris to Piotr Potiondy, who was to pursue with Chris the purchase of the computers that were to go to the Soviet Union, the export of which was blocked because of the American control of the processor chips in the machines.
And Chris is now complaining that he is owed money going back to 1983, for a total of 98,000 Swiss Francs.
|Costs of closing down............||9,000|
The Sound Tester was delivered two years before and the balance remained. His gross over-ride or commission from the 160,000 SF price which he arranged for the Russians with the Swiss dealer was 20,000, so half his earnings on the deal were still unpaid.
The copier and computer involved consulting time that was attributed by him to the machines of his operation that were depreciating. All the other bills were for overhead and travel on consulting work.
It appears that Christoph Marx had counted on the Soviets to pay a considerable portion of his costs of doing business, that they had promised to do so and that he had gone ahead in setting up his office and incurring expenses with their promises in mind -- but that the actual purchases that they had made of software, hardware, and information services were not large, were not paid for, and were not enough to satisfy them or Chris that there was a viable relationship.
Without being fully aware of what he was doing, he was probably billing them on a sort of formula that I may be able to reconstruct. It would be: P + O / 2 = or > S, where `P' is "What I might conceivably get out of them, especially considering that this is the end of the road for us," where `O' is "what they really should pay me for a lot of things, including some that I didn't bill them for when I should have," and the sum of these must then be equal to or greater than `S' which is "what I need now in order to survive," and the three sums are fudged until the terms are satisfactory and the formula is balanced.
Most "Willie Lohman's" (and most of us are such at one time or another) will recognize readily these thought-processes.
In addition, he expresses much regret that the relationship has proved to be difficult and untenable, and asks that payment of the bill be accomplished within the week.
Not likely! Even if the police had not spoiled the party, the bill would not have been paid, in my opinion. The Soviets did not know what they had wanted from their arrangement with Marx, but, whatever it was, they had not gotten it.
Remember this, dear friends, it is Maxim #6: "Communists and Businessmen are a contradiction in terms and fact."
The Soviets never received the bill; the police kept it in evidence.
Nor did Leonidov, knowing full well that the bill existed and that his "friend" was in jail for the cause, take steps to pay something on account.
The bill was found by the police stuck inside Leonidov's newspaper, the Basler Zeitung of the day, (Spy School lesson #14) which, he said, belonged to Marx. But, when the police searched Marx' home, they found his copy of this Tageszeitung right there. To the police this was conclusive.
Not to this spendthrift American. To their mind, no Swiss would ever buy a second newspaper if he already had one!
So Christoph Marx, in jail, equipped with a police typewriter (for his confession), prepares a second bill. To this he adds 20 % overall, for "psychic damages" we would say in English.
When the Commissaire next appears, Marx asks him, bitte, to mail it to the Soviet Trade Office for him. The Commissaire, indignant, expostulated, "Isn't it bad enough you're a spy without asking me to help you collect your espionage pay?"
The insouciant prisoner just could not get the point of it all.
Marx should not let the Soviets rest in the illusion that he has forgotten their indebtedness.
In Switzerland, paying a bill is rarely evidence of bad intent, and now he can transmit it through the normal channels. Then he should hire one of those American collection agencies; they work wonders; they are gruesome monsters!
However, boundless experience tells us that collecting a bill from an unwilling diplomat is like collecting for campaign posters from a defeated politician. This, too, could be one of my Maxims, but it lacks true pizazz.