28 January 2001. By John Young firstname.lastname@example.org, Cryptome administrator.
Yesterday I sent a fax to the grand jury foreman and Assistant US Attorney Robb London correcting an error in my testimony on January 25, 2001, about not publishing the address of Deforest X. Mueller, a name listed in connection with a CIA organization named ISTAC. An address for Mueller in Bend, OR, was obtained from a public registry of governmental Web sites, and was part of my October 25, 2000, inquiry to cypherpunks, provided to the grand jury:
I also requested a transcript of my testimony for publication on Cryptome.
Here are notes on the grand jury experience:
One thing I didn't know before going to Seattle: You can submit a sworn statement ahead of time that no questions will be answered in order to avoid self-incrimination and that the US Attorneys Manual recommends excusing a witness who does that. See:
I waited about two hours in the corridor outside the jury suite in the courthouse of Western Washington District, Seattle. A man came out now and then to tell me when I was due up -- he turned out to be Treasury Agent Jeff Gordon but I didn't know who he was until just before my testimony when he introduced himself and gave me a grand jury procedure document to scan. (Jeff Gordon has been the lead investigator of Jim Bell as well as Carl Johnson.)
Jeff had said during my wait there was a grand jury witness testifying, but I do not know if that witness had anything to do with Bell, and did not see the person -- people were coming and going into the jury suite for two hours, and I was reading head down most of the time.
Shortly Robb London came back from the john and Jeff introduced us. I had asked Jeff about buying a transcript of my testimony and he said that's not possible, the proceedings are secret. He posed the question to Robb who said, yes, it is possible, but a judge would have to approve release, and depending on the testimony, it may be delayed if it could impact the investigation. (Robb has been the prosecutor of Jim Bell and Carl Johnson.)
I commenced asking questions about the procedure and Robb said let's discuss this inside. We went into an office and he described what would be happening in the hearing. I asked about the authority of the subpoena -- whose was it, why was it so sloppy, with no signature except an assistant court clerk. Robb said it was a typical subpoena issued under the authority of the grand jury. I asked why that was not stated clearly on the subpoena and why had it no sig by the grand jury, or himself or a judge. He said that is not customarily done. (Robb raised my questions during the hearing and I repeated these comments.)
Robb said he did not want to get into First Amendment issues; that he understood anti-government sentiment, that he knew my position on the prosecution of Carl Johnson. I had no comment on these.
Robb went over the written grand jury procedures, similar to those attached to the subpoena:
He cautioned that perjury during testimony could lead to punishment, and my statements may be used against me in a criminal proceeding. (Others have told me of being given similar warnings by Robb before testifying. And attorneys say that prosecutors issue these customary warnings to elicit truthful testimony.)
I said I had subpoenaed materials to submit and asked what was the procedure for submission. Robb said give them to Jeff, who was with us. I asked if that is the formal procedure. He said no, it is the informal procedure, and that I could submit the materials directly to the grand jury foreman. I said that's what I would do. Neither Robb nor Jeff saw this material before submission to the grand jury foreman.
This discussion of procedure took about ten minutes and Robb slipped in a couple of questions about whether I had ever met or spoken on the telephone with Jim Bell. I said no to both.
Robb said a person with the last name Mueller was upset that he had been identified as a CIA employee, and believed that put him at risk. (This is not the person named on the CIA domain registry.)
We then went into the jury room, where the jury had just returned from a break. (Jeff Gordon did not attend the session.)
Robb showed me the setup in the room:
Witness box at front, raised, with a mike. Court reporter to the right of the box, about 3 feet away.
Robb to the right, at a table with lectern, overhead projector, digital projector, and what appeared to be recording or playing equipment -- with screen. None of the equipment appeared to be used during my testimony (though audio recording was probable and out-of-sight video too) but could have been used for the preceding witness.
Jury foremen (two people, maybe one is an alternate) to the left at a table.
The jury arrayed on tiered seating at the rear, three tiers of 8-10 persons each (rough recollection), composed of women and men of various ages, young to senior.
First thing was for me to submit the subpoenaed materials to the foreman. Materials submitted to the grand jury are kept in safes and secure cabinets in the jury room -- I could see about 3 or 4. Robb said access to the material is only to jury members, the prosecutor and investigating officers (Jeff is assigned to case, Robb said).
After being sworn, then my testimony, for about 30 minutes, though it could have been more or less -- it was pretty intense for me, though everyone else in the room seemed pretty relaxed until late in the testimony (more below on that).
Robb questioned, citing documents, some of which I recognized, some I didn't. He did not use the materials I submitted, though some of them were duplicates of stuff he referred to during questioning, and I referred to the submitted materials to buttress testimony.
I'll just make a few comments on my testimony which may need correction once I see and publish the transcript.
Robb's questioning was straightforward, bing bing bing. I answered every question, though he had read instructions at the opening that I could refuse to answer to avoid self-incrimination, that I could leave the room to consult an attorney, that an attorney would be provided me if I did not have one, and that the proceeding would be postponed if I wanted an attorney provided. He said my testimony would remain secret unless I chose to reveal it; that nobody -- the jurors, prosecutors or investigators -- could reveal what took place in the session, that it could only be revealed in a investigation in which it was relevant.
His questions and my answers took up most of the session. One key item was why I posted to cypherpunks the October 25 inquiry about the CIA ISTAC operation in Oregon, and follow-up posts by Bell and me. I explained my interest in intelligence operations, that they are a focus of Cryptome, and that that particular operation was a new one to me. (I use the word "Cryptome" here though it was never used in the session, instead "my web site" or "your web site.")
Robb asked about my interest in a named contact person for the operation, Francis X. Mueller. I explained that I had never seen a particular person similarly identified for an intelligence site.
He asked if I encouraged Bell to investigate this person. I said no. That I had no interest in the person's private life, only in the organization and why a CIA employee would be openly identified in a public registry. In response to the jury foreman's question, I said it was likely that the name was a spoof or disinformation, as indicated by a bounced email I sent to Mueller's listed address.
Robb continued with other questions, most concerning identification of governmental employees and gathering their personal information.
Robb then asked the jury if it had questions. One member asked if I knew a named person; I said no. There were questions about my views of publishing information about government employees, in particular those who might be put at risk by such information. The jury's questions focused on possible grave threat to governmental employees and their families that might be caused by publishing personal information.
That led to a series of exchanges between me and several jury members about privacy on the net and the risk to government employees and citizens of publishing their personal information. I agreed that personal privacy was a controversial topic on the net, that special care should be taken to protect privacy, that Cryptome regularly published on the topic, noted pending privacy legislation, and indicated privacy transgressions by a variety of parties, including intelligence agencies.
I said I understood their concern, that my personal information was on Cryptome, that I had received threats for material published on Cryptome and appreciated what public exposure means, but no harm yet -- knock wood.
It had become an interesting exchange about net culture, its intrusive technology and means of protection, with the jury posing lively questions and stating opinions, moreso than about my previous testimony. After a several minutes Robb said we were getting away from the main topic, and that was the end of that.
Robb asked me if I knew Bell's Assassination Politics and if it was hosted on Cryptome. I said yes. Jury members asked why publish it. I explained its freedom of expression value and relevance to topics covered on Cryptome: cryptography, anonymity, civil liberties, enabling technologies for responsive government.
Robb asked me if recalled Bell's stink bombing. I said I'd read of that. He asked if I recalled Bell pleaded guilty (in Bell's first case) to stalking federal employees. I said I did not recall that.
Then Robb asked if I had other questions or comments to make. I commented on the doubtful authenticity and sloppiness of the subpoena.
Robb announced that I had declined reimbursement for the trip and stay. I explained it was a pleasure to pay my own way to learn what the grand jury experience was like so I could report it. A jury member asked if they would be identified. Robb answered: absolutely not.
At the end I asked Robb if I should stick around Seattle for follow-up. He said no, that I was formally excused from the subpoena requirements. And that any additional participation will be commanded by a new subpoena. Robb thanked me for my appearance and I thanked the grand jury for the privilege.
Leaving the suite I shook Jeff Gordon's hand.
Unsaid, but lingering from the earlier warning about perjury and self-incrimination: there may be worse to come from secret government proceedings.