From: "B.K. DeLong" (
Date: Wed, 02 Jun 1999 09:47:17 -0400
Subject: Dissappointed with fact-checking

Mr. Richtel,

I read your article this morning and I must say that for an article coming
from the New York Times, this was poorly written. As a member of
Investigative Reporters and Journalists and the New England Science
writers, I am ashamed to be associated with you.

The first section I see major problems with is your information about the
supposed FBI directive received by two Internet Service Providers. The
alleged list contained nicknames of IRC users including 3 "bots" (automated
programs), as well as several IRC channels. To begin, the FBI would never
fax such a list to anyone. They are very well known for their tendency to
subpoena organizations to gain the necessary information they need to
complete an investigation. Why is this situation any different? As a matter
of fact, because most of the people on the alleged list are avid Internet
users, they would be more apt to find out about a list thus compromising
any investigation that may have been going on by giving those listed ample
time to clean out their machines.

My other concern is that you are using John Vranesevich as a source of
information. Several publications including the Associated Press, MSNBC,
and CNN as well as several others have stopped asking him for information
because of his Matthew Drudge method of posting any e-mail that comes to
him. There are many examples but one from yesterday including attribution
of a particular compromised DOI Web site to someone not responsible. That
was left up for nearly 5 hours before he was notified of his mistake. By
using him you severely limit the credibility of the New York Times'
credibility in matters of information security.

The other portion of your article that is incorrect includes the section
about the group F0rpaxe which is not based in Portugal, as you claim. Only
one of the members of the 4 person group is believed to reside in the
country. Also, the statement which you claim was sent to AntiOnline is
incorrect. The statement was sent to the Hacker News Network and within an
hour after being posted on the site, AntiOnline posted it to theirs. After
receiving a complaint from HNN, Mr. Vranesevich gave attribution to HNN
from which he copied the F0rpaxe statement. Any competent fact-checking
effort would have proved that to be true.

With all this being taken into account, more than half of this article is
useless and unprofessional errata and I am sad to see such material being
printed in a highly esteemed publication as the New York Times. In the
future, I hope you will be more careful in checking out your sources and
the information they provide you or you will continue to malign the
reputation of your publication.

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