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a, Dell, CompuAdd, IBM,
Sematech and MCC.
Where computing machinery went, hackers
generally followed. Austin boasted not only "Phoenix
Project," currently LoD's most flagrant underground
board, but a number of UNIX nodes.
One of these nodes was "Elephant," run by a UNIX
consultant named ъobert Izenberg. Izenberg, in search of
a relaxed Southern lifestyle and a lowered cost-of-living,
had recently migrated to Austin from New Jersey. In New
Jersey, Izenberg had worked for an independent
contracting company, programming UNIX code for AT&T
itself. "Terminus" had been a frequent user on Izenberg's
privately owned Elephant node.
Having interviewed Terminus and examined the
records on Netsys, the Chicago Task Force were now
convinced that they had discovered an underground gang
of UNIX software pirates, who were demonstrably guilty of
interstate trafficking in illicitly copied AT&T source
Izenberg was swept into the dragnet around Terminus, the
self-proclaimed ultimate UNIX hacker.
Izenberg, in Austin, had settled down into a UNIX job
with a Texan branch of IBM. Izenberg was no longer
working as a contractor for AT&T, but he had friends in
New Jersey, and he still logged on to AT&T UNIX
computers back in New Jersey, more or less whenever it
pleased him. Izenberg's activities appeared highly
suspicious to the Task Force. Izenberg might well be
breaking into AT&T computers, swiping AT&T software,
and passing it to Terminus and other possible
confederates, through the UNIX node network. And this
data was worth, not merely $79,499, but hundreds of
thousands of dollars!
On February 21, 1990, ъobert Izenberg arrived home
from work at IBM to find that all the computers had
mysteriously vanished from his Austin apartment.
Naturally he assumed that he had been robbed. His
"Elephant" node, his other machines, his notebooks, his
disks, his tapes, all gone! However, nothing much else
seemed disturbed -- the place had not been ransacked.
The puzzle becaming much stranger some five
minutes later. Austin U. S. Secret Service Agent Al Soliz,
accompanied by University of Texas campus-security
officer Larry Coutorie and the ubiquitous Tim Foley, made
their appearance at Izenberg's door. They were in plain
clothes: slacks, polo shirts. They came in, and Tim Foley
accused Izenberg of belonging to the Legion of Doom.
Izenberg told them that he had never heard of the
"Legion of Doom." And what about a certain stolen E911
Document, that posed a direct threat to the police
emergency lines? Izenberg claimed that he'd never
heard of that, either.
His interrogators found this difficult to believe.
Didn't he know Terminus?
They gave him Terminus's real name. Oh yes, said
Izenberg. He knew *that* guy all right -- he was leading
discussions on the Internet about AT&T computers,
especially the AT&T 3B2.
AT&T had thrust this machine into the marketplace,
but, like many of AT&T's ambitious attempts to enter the
computing arena, the 3B2 project had something less than
a glittering success. Izenberg himself had been a
contractor for the division of AT&T that supported the 3B2.
The entire division had been shut down.
Nowadays, the cheapest and quickest way to get
help with this fractious piece of machinery was to join one
of Terminus's discussion groups on the Internet, where
friendly and knowledgeable hackers would help you for
free. Naturally the remarks within this group were less
than flattering about the Death Star.... was *that* the
Foley told Izenberg that Terminus had been
acquiring hot software through his, Izenberg's, machine.
Izenberg shrugged this off. A good eight megabytes
of data flowed through his UUCP site every day. UUCP
nodes spewed data like fire hoses. Elephant had been
directly linked to Netsys -- not surprising, since Terminus
was a 3B2 expert and Izenberg had been a 3B2 contractor.
Izenberg was also linked to "attctc" and the University of
Texas. Terminus was a well-known UNIX expert, and
might have been up to all manner of hijinks on Elephant.
Nothing Izenberg could do about that. That was
physically impossible. Needle in a haystack.
In a four-hour grilling, Foley urged Izenberg to come
clean and admit that he was in conspiracy with Terminus,
and a member of the Legion of Doom.
Izenberg denied this. He was no weirdo teenage
hacker -- he was thirty-two years old, and didn't even have
a "handle." Izenberg was a former TV technician and
electronics specialist who had drifted into UNIX
consulting as a full-grown adult. Izenberg had never met
Terminus, physically. He'd once bought a cheap high-
speed modem from him, though.
Foley told him that this modem (a Telenet T2500
which ran at 19.2 kilobaud, and which had just gone out
Izenberg's door in Secret Service custody) was likely hot
property. Izenberg was taken aback to hear this; but then
again, most of Izenberg's equipment, like that of most
freelance professionals in the industry, was discounted,
passed hand-to-hand through various kinds of barter and
gray-market. There was no proof that the modem was
stolen, and even if it was, Izenberg hardly saw how that
gave them the right to take every electronic item in his
Still, if the United States Secret Service figured
needed his computer for national security reasons -- or
whatever -- then Izenberg would not kick. He figured he
would somehow make the sacrifice of his twenty thousand
dollars' worth of professional equipment, in the spirit of
full cooperation and good citizenship.
ъobert Izenberg was not arrested. Izenberg was not
charged with any crime. His UUCP node -- full of some
140 megabytes of the files, mail, and data of himself and
his dozen or so entirely innocent users -- went out the
as "evidence." Along with the disks and tapes, Izenberg
had lost about 800 megabytes of data.
Six months would pass before Izenberg decided to
phone the Secret Service and ask how the case was going.
That was the first time that ъobert Izenberg would ever
hear the name of William Cook. As of January 1992, a full
two years after the seizure, Izenberg, still not charged
any crime, would be struggling through the morass of the
courts, in hope of recovering his thousands of dollars'
worth of seized equipment.
In the meantime, the Izenberg case received
absolutely no press coverage. The Secret Service had
walked into an Austin home, removed a UNIX bulletin-
board system, and met with no operational difficulties
Except that word of a crackdown had percolated
through the Legion of Doom. "The Mentor" voluntarily
shut down "The Phoenix Project." It seemed a pity,
especially as telco security employees had, in fact, shown
up on Phoenix, just as he had hoped -- along with the usual
motley crowd of LoD heavies, hangers-on, phreaks,
hackers and wannabes. There was "Sandy" Sandquist
from US SPъINT security, and some guy named Henry
Kluepfel, from Bellcore itself! Kluepfel had been trading
friendly banter with hackers on Phoenix since January
30th (two weeks after the Martin Luther King Day Crash).
The presence of such a stellar telco official seemed quite
the coup for Phoenix Project.
Still, Mentor could judge the climate. Atlanta in
ruins, *Phrack* in deep trouble, something weird going on
with UNIX nodes -- discretion was advisable. Phoenix
Project went off-line.
Kluepfel, of course, had been monitoring this LoD
bulletin board for his own purposes -- and those of the
Chicago unit. As far back as June 1987, Kluepfel had
logged on to a Texas underground board called "Phreak
Klass 2600." There he'd discovered an Chicago youngster
named "Shadowhawk," strutting and boasting about rifling
AT&T computer files, and bragging of his ambitions to
riddle AT&T's Bellcore computers with trojan horse
programs. Kluepfel had passed the news to Cook in
Chicago, Shadowhawk's computers had gone out the door
in Secret Service custody, and Shadowhawk himself had
gone to jail.
Now it was Phoenix Project's turn. Phoenix Project
postured about "legality" and "merely intellectual
interest," but it reeked of the underground. It had
*Phrack* on it. It had the E911 Document. It had a lot of
dicey talk about breaking into systems, including some
bold and reckless stuff about a supposed "decryption
service" that Mentor and friends were planning to run, to
help crack encrypted passwords off of hacked systems.
Mentor was an adult. There was a bulletin board at
his place of work, as well. Kleupfel logged onto this
too, and discovered it to be called "Illuminati." It was
by some company called Steve Jackson Games.
On March 1, 1990, the Austin crackdown went into
On the morning of March 1 -- a Thursday -- 21-year-
old University of Texas student "Erik Bloodaxe," co-sysop
of Phoenix Project and an avowed member of the Legion
of Doom, was wakened by a police revolver levelled at his
Bloodaxe watched, jittery, as Secret Service agents
appropriated his 300 baud terminal and, rifling his files,
discovered his treasured source-code for ъobert Morris's
notorious Internet Worm. But Bloodaxe, a wily operator,
had suspected that something of the like might be
coming. All his best equipment had been hidden away
elsewhere. The raiders took everything electronic,
however, including his telephone. They were stymied by
his hefty arcade-style Pac-Man game, and left it in place,
as it was simply too heavy to move.
Bloodaxe was not arrested. He was not charged with
any crime. A good two years later, the police still had
they had taken from him, however.
The Mentor was less wary. The dawn raid rousted
him and his wife from bed in their underwear, and six
Secret Service agents, accompanied by an Austin
policeman and Henry Kluepfel himself, made a rich haul.
Off went the works, into the agents' white Chevrolet
minivan: an IBM PC-AT clone with 4 meg of ъAM and a
120-meg hard disk; a Hewlett-Packard LaserJet II printer;
a completely legitimate and highly expensive SCO-Xenix
286 operating system; Pagemaker disks and
documentation; and the Microsoft Word word-processing
program. Mentor's wife had her incomplete academic
thesis stored on the hard-disk; that went, too, and so did
the couple's telephone. As of two years later, all this
property remained in police custody.
Mentor remained under guard in his apartment as
agents prepared to raid Steve Jackson Games. The fact
that this was a business headquarters and not a private
residence did not deter the agents. It was still very
no one was at work yet. The agents prepared to break
down the door, but Mentor, eavesdropping on the Secret
Service walkie-talkie traffic, begged them not to do it, and
offered his key to the building.
The exact details of the next events are unclear. The
agents would not let anyone else into the building. Their
search warrant, when produced, was unsigned.
Apparently they breakfasted from the local
"Whataburger," as the litter from hamburgers was later
found inside. They also extensively sampled a bag of
jellybeans kept by an SJG employee. Someone tore a
"Dukakis for President" sticker from the wall.
SJG employees, diligently showing up for the day's
work, were met at the door and briefly questioned by U.S.
Secret Service agents. The employees watched in
astonishment as agents wielding crowbars and
screwdrivers emerged with captive machines. They
attacked outdoor storage units with boltcutters. The
agents wore blue nylon windbreakers with "SECъET
SEъVICE" stencilled across the back, with running-shoes
Jackson's company lost three computers, several
hard-disks, hundred of floppy disks, two monitors, three
modems, a laser printer, various powercords, cables, and
adapters (and, oddly, a small bag of screws, bolts and
nuts). The seizure of Illuminati BBS deprived SJG of all
the programs, text files, and private e-mail on the board.
The loss of two other SJG computers was a severe blow as
well, since it caused the loss of electronically stored
contracts, financial projections, address directories,
mailing lists, personnel files, business correspondence,
and, not least, the drafts of forthcoming games and
No one at Steve Jackson Games was arrested. No
one was accused of any crime. No charges were filed.
Everything appropriated was officially kept as "evidence"
of crimes never specified.
After the *Phrack* show-trial, the Steve Jackson
Games scandal was the most bizarre and aggravating
incident of the Hacker Crackdown of 1990. This raid by
the Chicago Task Force on a science-fiction gaming
publisher was to rouse a swarming host of civil liberties
issues, and gave rise to an enduring controversy that was
still re-complicating itself, and growing in the scope of
implications, a full two years later.
The pursuit of the E911 Document stopped with the
Steve Jackson Games raid. As we have seen, there were
hundreds, perhaps thousands of computer users in
America with the E911 Document in their possession.
Theoretically, Chicago had a perfect legal right to raid any
of these people, and could have legally seized the
machines of anybody who subscribed to *Phrack.*
However, there was no copy of the E911 Document on
Jackson's Illuminati board. And there the Chicago raiders
stopped dead; they have not raided anyone since.
It might be assumed that ъich Andrews and Charlie
Boykin, who had brought the E911 Document to the
attention of telco security, might be spared any official
suspicion. But as we have seen, the willingness to
"cooperate fully" offers little, if any, assurance against
federal anti-hacker prosecution.
ъichard Andrews found himself in deep trouble,
thanks to the E911 Document. Andrews lived in Illinois,
the native stomping grounds of the Chicago Task Force.
On February 3 and 6, both his home and his place of work
were raided by USSS. His machines went out the door,
too, and he was grilled at length (though not arrested).
Andrews proved to be in purportedly guilty possession of:
UNIX SVъ 3.2; UNIX SVъ 3.1; UUCP; PMON; WWB;
IWB; DWB; NъOFF; KOъN SHELL '88; C++; and
QUEST, among other items. Andrews had received this
proprietary code -- which AT&T officially valued at well
over $250,000 -- through the UNIX network, much of it
supplied to him as a personal favor by Terminus. Perhaps
worse yet, Andrews admitted to returning the favor, by
passing Terminus a copy of AT&T proprietary STAъLAN
Even Charles Boykin, himself an AT&T employee,
entered some very hot water. By 1990, he'd almost
forgotten about the E911 problem he'd reported in
September 88; in fact, since that date, he'd passed two
more security alerts to Jerry Dalton, concerning matters
that Boykin considered far worse than the E911
But by 1990, year of the crackdown, AT&T Corporate
Information Security was fed up with "Killer." This
machine offered no direct income to AT&T, and was
providing aid and comfort to a cloud of suspicious yokels
from outside the company, some of them actively
malicious toward AT&T, its property, and its corporate
interests. Whatever goodwill and publicity had been won
among Killer's 1,500 devoted users was considered no
longer worth the security risk. On February 20, 1990,
Dalton arrived in Dallas and simply unplugged the phone
jacks, to the puzzled alarm of Killer's many Texan users.
Killer went permanently off-line, with the loss of vast
archives of programs and huge quantities of electronic
mail; it was never restored to service. AT&T showed no
particular regard for the "property" of these 1,500 people.
Whatever "property" the users had been storing on
AT&T's computer simply vanished completely.
Boykin, who had himself reported the E911 problem,
now found himself under a cloud of suspicion. In a weird
private-security replay of the Secret Service seizures,
Boykin's own home was visited by AT&T Security and his
own machines were carried out the door.
However, there were marked special features in the
Boykin case. Boykin's disks and his personal computers
were swiftly examined by his corporate employers and
returned politely in just two days -- (unlike Secret Service
seizures, which commonly take months or years). Boykin
was not charged with any crime or wrongdoing, and he
kept his job with AT&T (though he did retire from AT&T in
September 1991, at the age of 52).
It's interesting to note that the US Secret Service
somehow failed to seize Boykin's "Killer" node and carry
AT&T's own computer out the door. Nor did they raid
Boykin's home. They seemed perfectly willing to take the
word of AT&T Security that AT&T's employee, and AT&T's
"Killer" node, were free of hacker contraband and on the
It's digital water-under-the-bridge at this point, as
Killer's 3,200 megabytes of Texan electronic community
were erased in 1990, and "Killer" itself was shipped out of
But the experiences of Andrews and Boykin, and the
users of their systems, remained side issues. They did not
begin to assume the social, political, and legal importance
that gathered, slowly but inexorably, around the issue of
the raid on Steve Jackson Games.
We must now turn our attention to Steve Jackson
Games itself, and explain what SJG was, what it really did,
and how it had managed to attract this particularly odd
and virulent kind of trouble. The reader may recall that
this is not the first but the second time that the company
has appeared in this narrative; a Steve Jackson game
called GUъPS was a favorite pastime of Atlanta hacker
Urvile, and Urvile's science-fictional gaming notes had
been mixed up promiscuously with notes about his actual
First, Steve Jackson Games, Inc., was *not* a
publisher of "computer games." SJG published
"simulation games," parlor games that were played on
paper, with pencils, and dice, and printed guidebooks full
of rules and statistics tables. There were no computers
involved in the games themselves. When you bought a
Steve Jackson Game, you did not receive any software
disks. What you got was a plastic bag with some
cardboard game tokens, maybe a few maps or a deck of
cards. Most of their products were books.
However, computers *were* deeply involved in the
Steve Jackson Games business. Like almost all modern
publishers, Steve Jackson and his fifteen employees used
computers to write text, to keep accounts, and to run the
business generally. They also used a computer to run
their official bulletin board system for Steve Jackson
Games, a board called Illuminati. On Illuminati,
simulation gamers who happened to own computers and
modems could associate, trade mail, debate the theory
and practice of gaming, and keep up with the company's
news and its product announcements.
Illuminati was a modestly popular board, run on a
small computer with limited storage, only one phone-line,
and no ties to large-scale computer networks. It did,
however, have hundreds of users, many of them dedicated
gamers willing to call from out-of-state.
Illuminati was *not* an "underground" board. It did
not feature hints on computer intrusion, or "anarchy files,"
or illicitly posted credit card numbers, or