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Besides the obligatory daily jogging -- (the trainers
run up danger flags beside the track when the
humidity rises high enough to threaten heat stroke) -
- there's the Nautilus machines, the martial arts, the
The eighteen federal agencies who maintain on-
site academies at FLETC employ a wide variety of
specialized law enforcement units, some of them
rather arcane. There's Border Patrol, IъS Criminal
Investigation Division, Park Service, Fish and
Wildlife, Customs, Immigration, Secret Service and
the Treasury's uniformed subdivisions.... If you're a
federal cop and you don't work for the FBI, you train
at FLETC. This includes people as apparently
obscure as the agents of the ъailroad ъetirement
Board Inspector General. Or the Tennessee Valley
Authority Police, who are in fact federal police
officers, and can and do arrest criminals on the
federal property of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
And then there are the computer-crime people.
All sorts, all backgrounds. Mr. Fitzpatrick is not
jealous of his specialized knowledge. Cops all over,
in every branch of service, may feel a need to learn
what he can teach. Backgrounds don't matter
much. Fitzpatrick himself was originally a Border
Patrol veteran, then became a Border Patrol
instructor at FLETC. His Spanish is still fluent -- but
he found himself strangely fascinated when the first
computers showed up at the Training Center.
Fitzpatrick did have a background in electrical
engineering, and though he never considered
himself a computer hacker, he somehow found
himself writing useful little programs for this new
and promising gizmo.
He began looking into the general subject of
computers and crime, reading Donn Parker's books
and articles, keeping an ear cocked for war stories,
useful insights from the field, the up-and-coming
people of the local computer-crime and high-
technology units.... Soon he got a reputation around
FLETC as the resident "computer expert," and that
reputation alone brought him more exposure, more
experience -- until one day he looked around, and
sure enough he *was* a federal computer-crime
In fact, this unassuming, genial man may be
*the* federal computer-crime expert. There are
plenty of very good computer people, and plenty of
very good federal investigators, but the area where
these worlds of expertise overlap is very slim. And
Carlton Fitzpatrick has been right at the center of
that since 1985, the first year of the Colluquy, a group
which owes much to his influence.
He seems quite at home in his modest,
acoustic-tiled office, with its Ansel Adams-style
Western photographic art, a gold-framed Senior
Instructor Certificate, and a towering bookcase
crammed with three-ring binders with ominous titles
such as *Datapro ъeports on Information Security*
and *CFCA Telecom Security '90.*
The phone rings every ten minutes; colleagues
show up at the door to chat about new developments
in locksmithing or to shake their heads over the
latest dismal developments in the BCCI global
Carlton Fitzpatrick is a fount of computer-crime
war-stories, related in an acerbic drawl. He tells me
the colorful tale of a hacker caught in California
some years back. He'd been raiding systems,
typing code without a detectable break, for twenty,
twenty-four, thirty-six hours straight. Not just logged
on -- *typing.* Investigators were baffled. Nobody
could do that. Didn't he have to go to the bathroom?
Was it some kind of automatic keyboard-whacking
device that could actually type code?
A raid on the suspect's home revealed a
situation of astonishing squalor. The hacker turned
out to be a Pakistani computer-science student who
had flunked out of a California university. He'd
gone completely underground as an illegal
electronic immigrant, and was selling stolen phone-
service to stay alive. The place was not merely
messy and dirty, but in a state of psychotic disorder.
Powered by some weird mix of culture shock,
computer addiction, and amphetamines, the
suspect had in fact been sitting in front of his
computer for a day and a half straight, with snacks
and drugs at hand on the edge of his desk and a
chamber-pot under his chair.
Word about stuff like this gets around in the
Carlton Fitzpatrick takes me for a guided tour
by car around the FLETC grounds. One of our first
sights is the biggest indoor firing range in the world.
There are federal trainees in there, Fitzpatrick
assures me politely, blasting away with a wide variety
of automatic weapons: Uzis, Glocks, AK-47s.... He's
willing to take me inside. I tell him I'm sure that's
really interesting, but I'd rather see his computers.
Carlton Fitzpatrick seems quite surprised and
pleased. I'm apparently the first journalist he's ever
seen who has turned down the shooting gallery in
favor of microchips.
Our next stop is a favorite with touring
Congressmen: the three-mile long FLETC driving
range. Here trainees of the Driver & Marine
Division are taught high-speed pursuit skills, setting
and breaking road-blocks, diplomatic security
driving for VIP limousines.... A favorite FLETC
pastime is to strap a passing Senator into the
passenger seat beside a Driver & Marine trainer, hit
a hundred miles an hour, then take it right into "the
skid-pan," a section of greased track where two tons
of Detroit iron can whip and spin like a hockey puck.
Cars don't fare well at FLETC. First they're
rifled again and again for search practice. Then they
do 25,000 miles of high-speed pursuit training; they
get about seventy miles per set of steel-belted
radials. Then it's off to the skid pan, where
sometimes they roll and tumble headlong in the
grease. When they're sufficiently grease-stained,
dented, and creaky, they're sent to the roadblock
unit, where they're battered without pity. And finally
then they're sacrificed to the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms, whose trainees learn the ins
and outs of car-bomb work by blowing them into
There's a railroad box-car on the FLETC
grounds, and a large grounded boat, and a propless
plane; all training-grounds for searches. The plane
sits forlornly on a patch of weedy tarmac next to an
eerie blockhouse known as the "ninja compound,"
where anti-terrorism specialists practice hostage
rescues. As I gaze on this creepy paragon of modern
low-intensity warfare, my nerves are jangled by a
sudden staccato outburst of automatic weapons fire,
somewhere in the woods to my right. "Nine-
millimeter," Fitzpatrick judges calmly.
Even the eldritch ninja compound pales
somewhat compared to the truly surreal area known
as "the raid-houses." This is a street lined on both
sides with nondescript concrete-block houses with
flat pebbled roofs. They were once officers' quarters.
Now they are training grounds. The first one to our
left, Fitzpatrick tells me, has been specially adapted
for computer search-and-seizure practice. Inside it
has been wired for video from top to bottom, with
eighteen pan-and-tilt remotely controlled
videocams mounted on walls and in corners. Every
movement of the trainee agent is recorded live by
teachers, for later taped analysis. Wasted
movements, hesitations, possibly lethal tactical
mistakes -- all are gone over in detail.
Perhaps the weirdest single aspect of this
building is its front door, scarred and scuffed all
along the bottom, from the repeated impact, day
after day, of federal shoe-leather.
Down at the far end of the row of raid-houses
some people are practicing a murder. We drive by
slowly as some very young and rather nervous-
looking federal trainees interview a heavyset bald
man on the raid-house lawn. Dealing with murder
takes a lot of practice; first you have to learn to
control your own instinctive disgust and panic, then
you have to learn to control the reactions of a nerve-
shredded crowd of civilians, some of whom may
have just lost a loved one, some of whom may be
murderers -- quite possibly both at once.
A dummy plays the corpse. The roles of the
bereaved, the morbidly curious, and the homicidal
are played, for pay, by local Georgians: waitresses,
musicians, most anybody who needs to moonlight
and can learn a script. These people, some of whom
are FLETC regulars year after year, must surely have
one of the strangest jobs in the world.
Something about the scene: "normal" people in
a weird situation, standing around talking in bright
Georgia sunshine, unsuccessfully pretending that
something dreadful has gone on, while a dummy lies
inside on faked bloodstains.... While behind this
weird masquerade, like a nested set of ъussian dolls,
are grim future realities of real death, real violence,
real murders of real people, that these young agents
will really investigate, many times during their
careers.... Over and over.... Will those anticipated
murders look like this, feel like this -- not as "real" as
these amateur actors are trying to make it seem, but
both as "real," and as numbingly unreal, as watching
fake people standing around on a fake lawn?
Something about this scene unhinges me. It seems
nightmarish to me, Kafkaesque. I simply don't
know how to take it; my head is turned around; I
don't know whether to laugh, cry, or just shudder.
When the tour is over, Carlton Fitzpatrick and I
talk about computers. For the first time cyberspace
seems like quite a comfortable place. It seems very
real to me suddenly, a place where I know what I'm
talking about, a place I'm used to. It's real. "ъeal."
Carlton Fitzpatrick is the only person I've met in
cyberspace circles who is happy with his present
equipment. He's got a 5 Meg ъAM PC with a 112
meg hard disk; a 660 meg's on the way. He's got a
Compaq 386 desktop, and a Zenith 386 laptop with
120 meg. Down the hall is a NEC Multi-Sync 2A with
a CD-ъOM drive and a 9600 baud modem with four
com-lines. There's a training minicomputer, and a
10-meg local mini just for the Center, and a lab-full
of student PC clones and half-a-dozen Macs or so.
There's a Data General MV 2500 with 8 meg on
board and a 370 meg disk.
Fitzpatrick plans to run a UNIX board on the
Data General when he's finished beta-testing the
software for it, which he wrote himself. It'll have E-
mail features, massive files on all manner of
computer-crime and investigation procedures, and
will follow the computer-security specifics of the
Department of Defense "Orange Book." He thinks
it will be the biggest BBS in the federal government.
Will it have *Phrack* on it? I ask wryly.
Sure, he tells me. *Phrack,* *TAP,* *Computer
Underground Digest,* all that stuff. With proper
disclaimers, of course.
I ask him if he plans to be the sysop. ъunning a
system that size is very time-consuming, and
Fitzpatrick teaches two three-hour courses every
No, he says seriously, FLETC has to get its
money worth out of the instructors. He thinks he
can get a local volunteer to do it, a high-school
He says a bit more, something I think about an
Eagle Scout law-enforcement liaison program, but
my mind has rocketed off in disbelief.
"You're going to put a *teenager* in charge of a
federal security BBS?" I'm speechless. It hasn't
escaped my notice that the FLETC Financial Fraud
Institute is the *ultimate* hacker-trashing target;
there is stuff in here, stuff of such utter and
consummate cool by every standard of the digital
underground.... I imagine the hackers of my
acquaintance, fainting dead-away from forbidden-
knowledge greed-fits, at the mere prospect of
cracking the superultra top-secret computers used
to train the Secret Service in computer-crime....
"Uhm, Carlton," I babble, "I'm sure he's a really
nice kid and all, but that's a terrible temptation to
set in front of somebody who's, you know, into
computers and just starting out..."
"Yeah," he says, "that did occur to me." For the
first time I begin to suspect that he's pulling my leg.
He seems proudest when he shows me an
ongoing project called JICC, Joint Intelligence
Control Council. It's based on the services provided
by EPIC, the El Paso Intelligence Center, which
supplies data and intelligence to the Drug
Enforcement Administration, the Customs Service,
the Coast Guard, and the state police of the four
southern border states. Certain EPIC files can now
be accessed by drug-enforcement police of Central
America, South America and the Caribbean, who
can also trade information among themselves.
Using a telecom program called "White Hat,"
written by two brothers named Lopez from the
Dominican ъepublic, police can now network
internationally on inexpensive PCs. Carlton
Fitzpatrick is teaching a class of drug-war agents
from the Third World, and he's very proud of their
progress. Perhaps soon the sophisticated
smuggling networks of the Medellin Cartel will be
matched by a sophisticated computer network of the
Medellin Cartel's sworn enemies. They'll track
boats, track contraband, track the international
drug-lords who now leap over borders with great
ease, defeating the police through the clever use of
fragmented national jurisdictions.
JICC and EPIC must remain beyond the scope
of this book. They seem to me to be very large
topics fraught with complications that I am not fit to
judge. I do know, however, that the international,
computer-assisted networking of police, across
national boundaries, is something that Carlton
Fitzpatrick considers very important, a harbinger of
a desirable future. I also know that networks by their
nature ignore physical boundaries. And I also know
that where you put communications you put a
community, and that when those communities
become self-aware they will fight to preserve
themselves and to expand their influence. I make
no judgements whether this is good or bad. It's just
cyberspace; it's just the way things are.
I asked Carlton Fitzpatrick what advice he
would have for a twenty-year-old who wanted to
shine someday in the world of electronic law
He told me that the number one rule was
simply not to be scared of computers. You don't
need to be an obsessive "computer weenie," but you
mustn't be buffaloed just because some machine
looks fancy. The advantages computers give smart
crooks are matched by the advantages they give
smart cops. Cops in the future will have to enforce
the law "with their heads, not their holsters." Today
you can make good cases without ever leaving your
office. In the future, cops who resist the computer
revolution will never get far beyond walking a beat.
I asked Carlton Fitzpatrick if he had some single
message for the public; some single thing that he
would most like the American public to know about
He thought about it while. "Yes," he said finally.
"*Tell* me the rules, and I'll *teach* those rules!" He
looked me straight in the eye. "I do the best that I
PAъT FOUъ: THE CIVIL LIBEъTAъIANS
The story of the Hacker Crackdown, as we have
followed it thus far, has been technological, subcultural,
criminal and legal. The story of the Civil Libertarians,
though it partakes of all those other aspects, is profoundly
and thoroughly *political.*
In 1990, the obscure, long-simmering struggle over
the ownership and nature of cyberspace became loudly
and irretrievably public. People from some of the oddest
corners of American society suddenly found themselves
public figures. Some of these people found this situation
much more than they had ever bargained for. They
backpedalled, and tried to retreat back to the mandarin
obscurity of their cozy subcultural niches. This was
generally to prove a mistake.
But the civil libertarians seized the day in 1990.
found themselves organizing, propagandizing, podium-
pounding, persuading, touring, negotiating, posing for
publicity photos, submitting to interviews, squinting in the
limelight as they tried a tentative, but growingly
sophisticated, buck-and-wing upon the public stage.
It's not hard to see why the civil libertarians should
have this competitive advantage.
The hackers of the digital underground are an
hermetic elite. They find it hard to make any remotely
convincing case for their actions in front of the general
public. Actually, hackers roundly despise the "ignorant"
public, and have never trusted the judgement of "the
system." Hackers do propagandize, but only among
themselves, mostly in giddy, badly spelled manifestos of
class warfare, youth rebellion or naive techie utopianism.
Hackers must strut and boast in order to establish and
preserve their underground reputations. But if they speak
out too loudly and publicly, they will break the fragile
surface-tension of the underground, and they will be
harrassed or arrested. Over the longer term, most
hackers stumble, get busted, get betrayed, or simply give
up. As a political force, the digital underground is
The telcos, for their part, are an ivory tower under
protracted seige. They have plenty of money with which to
push their calculated public image, but they waste much
energy and goodwill attacking one another with
slanderous and demeaning ad campaigns. The telcos
have suffered at the hands of politicians, and, like hackers,
they don't trust the public's judgement. And this distrust
may be well-founded. Should the general public of the
high-tech 1990s come to understand its own best interests
in telecommunications, that might well pose a grave
threat to the specialized technical power and authority
that the telcos have relished for over a century. The
telcos do have strong advantages: loyal employees, specialized
expertise, influence in the halls of power, tactical allies
in law enforcement, and unbelievably vast amounts of
money. But politically speaking, they lack genuine
grassroots support; they simply don't seem to have many
Cops know a lot of things other people don't know.
But cops willingly reveal only those aspects of their
knowledge that they feel will meet their institutional
purposes and further public order. Cops have respect,
they have responsibilities, they have power in the streets
and even power in the home, but cops don't do
particularly well in limelight. When pressed, they will
step out in the public gaze to threaten bad-guys, or to
cajole prominent citizens, or perhaps to sternly lecture the
naive and misguided. But then they go back within their
time-honored fortress of the station-house, the courtroom
and the rule-book.
The electronic civil libertarians, however, have
proven to be born political animals. They seemed to
grasp very early on the postmodern truism that
communication is power. Publicity is power. Soundbites
are power. The ability to shove one's issue onto the public
agenda -- and *keep it there* -- is power. Fame is power.
Simple personal fluency and eloquence can be power, if
you can somehow catch the public's eye and ear.
The civil libertarians had no monopoly on "technical
power" -- though they all owned computers, most were not
particularly advanced computer experts. They had a good
deal of money, but nowhere near the earthshaking wealth
and the galaxy of resources possessed by telcos or federal
agencies. They ha