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Truth in Conflict

1. US law enforcement by Ray Smith of USPIS, who ran Operation Avalanche in the US.
2. UK law enforcement by Bill Hughes, Trevor Pearce, Jim Gamble, and Stuart Hyde.
3. Commentary

 

US law enforcement

It is useful to compare the statement below, made by National Crime Squad contact, USPIS Postal Inspector Ray Smith, with the subsequent statements made by police officials in the UK. The following transcribed extract was from a broadcast on CBC radio in Canada, released the day after Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the end of Operation Avalanche, the US counterpart of Operation Ore, where 144 suspects were identified and targeted from the list of some 35,000 US credit card identities, resulting in a claimed 100 arrests nationwide. This report was broadcast on 09/08/2001, Operation Ore rolled out in May 2002 after several months of covert preparation and legal wrangles states side.

Media: How did you go after the customers of Landslide?

Ray Smith: "We didn’t go after all the customers of Landslide, we did a lot of hard work on that, had to analyze a lot of information, (pause and voice change) many of their customers, were interested in adult pornography, we didn’t bother with them, (voice restored) many of the customers, we didn’t know where their interests lie, so we didn’t bother with them, some of the customers we knew clearly had an interest in child pornography, because of the records that we were able to, obtain during the course of our search and we engaged them in a nationally coordinated proactive undercover operation where law enforcement personnel, under cover postal inspectors, undercover police officers in some situations were able to initiate contact with potential suspects to determine whether or not they were violating the law."

Media: And er?

Ray Smith: "Then once we had enough probable cause that led us to believe that they were we will execute search warrants at their homes."

Media: And hundreds have been arrested?

Ray Smith: "A hundred so far have been arrested in the United States yes."

Media: You said one hundred?

Ray Smith: "One hundred so far."

The transcribed extract was from a CBC Radio in Canada. Web page used to be here but has been deleted, and broadcast used to be here but has been deleted as well. The shortened extract can be downloaded from the local archive here.

 

UK law enforcement

Bill Hughes (SOCA Director General / NCS Director General)

Bill Hughes"These sites can be horrendous. The Operation Ore sites showed newborn babies being brutalized."

"In Canada, when the press accused the police of hounding internet child porn surfers, the police decided to show journalists a sample of the sites. "Several are still receiving counseling," Hughes says. "We couldn't do that here, but the police and the press must work together to ensure that we don't all become either too hysterical or too flippant."

This was published in the Daily Telegraph on 29/01/2003 after Ray Smith (USPIS) and the National Crime Squad returned from a conference at Wilton Park. The original article is here and in the local archive here.

Jim Gamble (SOCA - CEOP Chief Executive / VGT Chair / NCS - Deputy Director General)

Jim Gamble"If you consider operation Ore, in 1999 towards 7,000 people in the UK sat at their computers and accessed child abuse web sites. Three or four years later, that investigation is on-going."

"Trust me, I am a police officer. We will be able to apply our investigation techniques against you."

This was part of a statement made to parliament on 18/12/2002. The report moved around the government website, but the last known location was here and an archived copy is available here and as a pdf here.

Trevor Pearce (SOCA Director Enforcement / NCS - Director General)

Trevor Pearce"The Pedophile On-Line Investigation Team (POLIT) is one of several specialized units within the NCS, and is charged with the investigation of on-line pedophilia, including the UK co-ordination of the now publicized Operation ORE. This operation started when, in 2001, the details of 7,272 British suspects who had accessed child abuse images on a US website with their credit cards were passed to UK authorities. Operation ORE subsequently became the largest ever single investigation into online activity of this nature."

This statement was made by Trevor Pearce on 07/12/2004 as written evidence to the house of commons. The copy on the government website is available here and an archived copy here.

Stuart Hyde: (ACPO / WMP / NCS / SOCA - ACC WMP)

BBC: Isn't it possible, do you accept it is possible to inadvertently come across indecent images on the Internet, out of curiosity.

Stuart Hyde: "No."Stuart Hyde

Audio download of this snippet here.

Sir Stephen Lander: (SOCA Chair)

Stephen LanderSir Stephen Lander has declined to comment.

International conference led by NCS and the foreign office

NCS Wilton Park conference summary

"unsolicited obscene material"

"Operation LANDSLIDE in 1999 involved 35,000 US citizens and 6,500 UK citizens purchasing child abuse material on the Internet"

"some organized crime groups see child abuse images as just another part of their business (also involved in identification fraud, extortion, etc.)"

"ISP's should be encouraged to take voluntary action to ban certain newsgroups, even if the content is legal"

The above was based on conferences at Wilton Park on 22-24/03/2004, which can be found here together with the pdf summary. An archived version is available in web or pdf format.

 

Commentary

Bill Hughes

No evidence of babies being brutalized on a Landslide site could be found by investigators, though such material is out there on the Internet. What Bill Hughes alleged the police could not do in the UK, they not only could do but repeatedly did. It would seem this was just one of numerous attempts to create and sustain a witch-hunt based on false and dramatized information.

Jim Gamble

No comment necessary as this aspect of the Ray Smith radio interview with CBC is substantially truthful, US law enforcement didn't target known innocent people (on this operation).

Trevor Pearce

No comment necessary as this aspect of the Ray Smith radio interview with CBC is substantially truthful, US law enforcement didn't target known innocent people (on this operation).

Stuart Hyde

That doesn't really need a commentary. West Midlands Police have removed their web page, which advised people what to do in the circumstances that don't exist according to Stuart Hyde, however a local archive capture is available here.

Wilton Park

Already dispensed with.

CBC report

Two images were displayed with the CBC report, a picture of Thomas Reedy, Landslide's owner, and a web page containing banners, Ray Smith mentioning explicit banners during the interview.

Thomas ReedyNo Click Here

The inference was clear, that online payment broker Thomas Reedy was advertising illegal material. This originated from the testimony of Dallas Police Detective Steven Nelson, who claimed to have clicked a banner on the home page of the Landslide site arriving at the site above (similar to broadcasts by the BBC). The banner that he claimed to have seen, was shown in a grainy copy of part of a page on a web page as below, making it impossible to read where the page was located. Courtesy of the Internet, researchers were able to go back, and prove it wasn't there, and that the banner that he claimed to have clicked, didn't come from Lolita World as shown above. In the case of the website with banners shown above, the address has been conveniently removed, leaving people to presume this belonged to Thomas Reedy. It didn't, rather it is one of many pieces of evidence that proved that Dallas Detective Steven Nelson lied blatantly and repeatedly.

Click for full size

(image contrast has been enhanced)

As for Thomas Reedy, he was accused by Ray Smith of exploiting children. Children were and always are exploited in the Western World, but the foreign webmasters who put underage imagery on web sites using the Landslide payment system, along with countless other AVS systems, were put there for credit card  fraud, exploiting the potency of a taboo.

The CBC broadcast including USPIS Postal Inspector Ray Smith, makes it (quietly) clear, most people were innocent, and left in peace. The UK police statements make it clear, everyone was guilty, and everyone a target. With some six thousand web sites using the Landslide payment system over time, and just a few of them illegal and principally involved in credit card fraud, the truth screams loud enough without being said.

The truth is reflected in the evidence given to the National Crime Squad, that was trusted to only a few specially selected police officers and partners at Celt Limited, much of it never released, much of it concealed.

In one of Ray Smith's reports, the scale of the fraud was clear. He mentioned the worst images that were on one site using the payment system had subscriber accounts with billings of £13,000. At £19.82 per month, the accounts are showing an equivalent to a site access time of 55 years of membership. Clearly fraud on a massive scale, and it was this very fraud that led to Landslide losing it's merchant account weeks before US law enforcement raided with the press in tow.

During the press conference at the end of Operation Avalanche in America, the scene was set with a proud presentation of the real home page of Landslide. Nearly a year later, Operation Ore launched in the media with a fake one.

Michael Mead of USPIS was shown a version of the real home page when giving evidence to a UK trial via video link on 05/10/2005. This is part of the transcript:

Q. And what I'm putting to you is that prior to the 1st May if you had visited that web page, "landslide.com" that is what you would have seen. You would have seen a Landslide picture with the word "Landslide" in it and you would have seen the words "Are you looking for AVS? or Keys". Are you able to agree with that?

Michael Mead: No sir, I never saw that on the home page from my recollection. I've never -what you've just showed up, I've never seen that document.

Once again we have a problem, as Sharon Girling issued a sworn statement by way of correction on 05/02/2003 as follows:

Further to my statement dated 29th January 2003 I also produce the front screen of the Landslide website as my exhibit SAG/08. This page was stored on the cd rom supplied by Postal Inspector Michael MEAD as exhibit MM/4.

MM/4 was given to Sharon Girling on 02/10/2002, which contained the sites visited when Dallas Detective Nelson subscribed to and others during his investigation, and Michael Mead never saw it before, despite the fact he alleged to have seen other pages in the same evidence, to have been investigating this evidence, and the US media showed the real home page.

What Michael Mead gave to Sharon Girling and had never seen, was shown at the USPIS press conference at the end of Operation Avalanche on 08/08/2001, the mountain scene being part of the real Landslide home page. Michael Mead attended the Landslide trial, and the real home page was shown there too.

 Operation Avalanche

Lies can be denied, but can a contradiction be true?

Michael Mead (USPIS) and Detective Steve Nelson (Dallas Police) provided sworn testimony which was used in Operation Ore trials. The statements were no less than a farce, littered with easily evidenced lies, contradictions and incompetence. An example known contradiction below:

Steven Nelson Dallas PD (2002)

'Clients had requested refunds directly from Landslide.com. Rather than provide refunds to the clients, Landslide.com, in reply, directed the clients to a site called PUSSIES 4 U.'

compared with

Michael Mead USPIS (2002)

'Landslide, Inc. policy was to refund monies to any person who requested, regardless of the reason. They would rather lose an individual client then incur the cost of a chargeback.'

and

David Cruz  Landslide employee turned prosecution witness (2002)

'It was Landslide's policy to refund any person who asked for whatever reason, even those who requested such after almost completing their access time.'

and known by

Sharon Girling SOCA / NCS (2002)

'At this time I interviewed Detective Steven NELSON, Postal Inspector Robert ADAMS and Postal Inspector Michael MEAD, and took their written statements.'

Michael Mead made an extraordinary statement, on 05/10/2005, when giving sworn testimony to a UK court room:

Michael Mead USPIS (2005)

'I don't personally know of any verified instances when someone stole a credit card and utilized it and gained access to a website.'

Michael Mead tended to contradict himself rather often.

 Michael Mead sworn testimony (2002)

'During the time that we monitored the website, the banners did not alter in any way.'

and then

Michael Mead sworn testimony (2005)

'From the initiation of our investigation through an unknown date which is somewhere around the 1st May, every time we logged onto the Landslide home page that banner was there for that period of time. Subsequent to the 1st May it was not there.'

That is despite the fact that in the original Landslide trial, the video that verified this evidence had gone missing and the web capture evidence investigated by Dane Ritcheson, the forensic examiner for USPIS, told a different story, as the banner wasn't there.

The investigation commenced on 28/04/1999 terminating 08/09/1999. This compares with Nelson in court testifying against Thomas Reedy.

Steve Nelson sworn testimony (28/11/2000)

Terri Moore. Now, what is this document, Detective Nelson?

Steve Nelson. This is a screen capture of the banner, "Click Here Child Porn" that's on the home page of Landslide.

Terri Moore. Okay. And it's on Landslide's home page?

Steve Nelson. Yes.

Terri Moore. Okay. Is it on AVS or KeyZ, or just the home page?

Steve Nelson. It's on their home page. In fact, that banner showed up quite frequently in a bunch of places.

Who wrote the David Cruz testimony?

David Cruz  Landslide employee turned prosecution witness (2002)

'I was responsible for fielding e-mails to and from the webmasters. Although the Avs and Keyz sites were run identically, the daily transactions to the Keyz sites were four or five times the amount of transactions to the adult sites. This means there were possibly between 8,000 - 10,000 transactions to the child pornography web sites a day.'

That is equivalent to over eight million dollars a month going through 12 illegal web sites, with several thousand other active web sites. Is it true?

William Rector, the auditor for the US Attorney's Office, testified at the trial of Landslide, having audited the accounts, 80% of them directly to bank statements. For a sales period from September 1997 through to August 1999, he made the following sworn statement in court for the Landslide billing and profit:

William Rector Auditor for the US Attorney's Office and prosecution witness (2000)

Assertion: 'Which leaves a total of $6,103,517 for a gross profit of $2,968,422; is that correct?'

William Rector responds: 'that's correct.'

Even the statements by William Rector in court from his audit are in conflict with the truth. Landslide was raided on the 8th of September 1999, but the company was knocked out of business some time before that. The fraud rocketed the charge backs through the one percent ceiling, leading to Superior Credit withdrawing their merchant services, a fax to that effect arriving at Landslide on the 10th of August. Without a merchant account, Landslide could not charge credit cards, the prime function of the business.

The biggest source of fraud was coming through web sites run by US law enforcement at the time, webmastered by Arief Dharmawan and Michael Yamin who were secretly indicted under seal, three webmasters R W Kusama, Hanny Ingganata and Boris Greenberg being publicly indicted along with Landslide, Thomas Reedy and Janice Reedy. The last transaction through from Miranda, the company with ownership of these web sites, hit the Landslide database on 31/07/1999, for sites called nudist, blackcat, nympho and lolihard.

Rector claimed in court to have audited the Landslide accounts for the month of August (1999) for AVS and KEYZ sites, and his statement alleged that 519 sites sold that month, with AVS amounting to $126,186 and KEYZ  $698,996, a total of $825,182.

Not quite the 1.4 million dollars a month claimed by Jim Gamble (SOCA), but as Landslide had ceased trading in August, seemingly quite remarkable figures in their own right.

Labour MP, Judy Mallaber (Amber Valley), working with John Carr of CHIS said in parliament:

Judy Mallaber (MP) in parliament 18/05/2004

'The landslide website, which gave rise to Operation Ore, took $1.6 million in its last month of trading before United States police closed it down ...In one day, the UK police were given the names of 7,200 purchasers of child pornography, 7,200 people who used credit cards to buy illegal images'

...

'Such appalling web sites exist only because credit cards provide a payment mechanism for the gangsters who own them. Because of credit cards, men who are not pedophiles systematically arrange for children to be recruited and raped in front of cameras in order to provide new merchandise.'

In relation to this MP's latter statement, no illegal imagery was produced for Landslide, Landslide was an Internet payment broker not a gangster, and the material was used for credit card fraud by incriminating the victims, the standard Internet scam. A highly emotive statement, but factually incorrect.

Margaret Moran (MP) in parliament 26/10/2005

'Operation Ore, the massive police investigation into child internet pornography, identified over 7,000 people in the UK, including judges, doctors and teachers, who used their credit cards to download images of children being abused or even killed for their gratification. Police believe that that is the tip of the iceberg. Those who download such images say that they have committed no crime, but every single vile picture that includes babies and children being raped and tortured has destroyed an innocent life. Through the internet, criminal gangs are making money out of this misery. That has gone unchallenged for too long and the time has come to right this wrong.

Margaret Moran's evidentially false testimony (archive) was the subject of formal complaints to the Committee on Standards in Public Life and the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner at the House of Parliament, neither of whom would investigate this MP's conduct.

Where did click here come from?

Michael Mead USPIS (2004) sworn testimony to a UK court

Q. But that button, if you pressed the "clickz" with your mouse didn't take you to child porn, that took you to somewhere else, is that right?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Because the "clickz" is a link button to other web pages, is that right?

A. From our investigation and discussions with the employees of Landslide they were working on a banner exchange type program that never really worked, but that's what that button was associated with.

Now again we have a problem with Michael Mead, who quite literally lied on the hoof to a UK courtroom (he attended the Landslide trial but did not give testimony). The clickz system was hosted by Landslide on their servers, via the clicz.com domain, and when Nelson and Mead claimed to have seen the infamous 'click here' banner, rotating banners were only supplied by the clickz system. If the system wasn't working, the banner would not have appeared, indeed no banner would have appeared. The page in question can be viewed on this site, no banner shows as the clickz system is shut down.

So many lies were told about this banner, indeed as recently as 08/03/2006 by John Carr, who represents every vested interest not just in Operation Ore, but stakeholders in the US too.

John Carr NCH / IWF / SOCA / Home Office / NCH /CHIS /Europe (2006) to the UK public via 5 live

Public caller: 'The men of Operation Ore were not searching for child pornography'

John Carr 'wrong' ...

... 'there were two buttons, on the Landslide home page, there were two buttons, one that said child pornography and one that said adult pornography. The only people who were prosecuted under Ore, or not not perhaps the only ones, but the great majority were prosecuted the button that said take me to the child pornography'

An extract from the broadcast, featuring John Carr, can be heard here. The BBC presenter tries to assist John Carr, indeed rescue him at the end of the extract above, but the broadcast triggered a flurry of complaints to NCH, who retain John Carr as an Internet expert. John Carr is neither honest, nor an Internet expert, his main expertise in relation to computers is using them in political campaigns in the US and UK. John Carr has not made any retraction of the false statements he made at this time and still enjoys the full backing of NCH. John Carr's wife, Baroness Thornton, is in the House of Lords.

Michael Mead USPIS (05/10/2005) video testimony provided to a UK court (P19)

Q. Thank you. Prior to the raid had you been involved, as an undercover officer, disguising yourself as a postman and visiting the offices of Landslide in Fort Worth?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And in that undercover operation had you been able to observe where various people sat during the day in the course of their work for Landslide?

A. Yes, sir.

The officer who visited Landslide to deliver the post 'undercover' was none other than FBI Agent Frank Super. Michael Mead simply told another lie, as a postal inspector he should know what delivering the post involves, and he didn't do it.

Prosecution experts

Sam Type, expert for the prosecution, was questioned over the integrity of the Landslide data. Without previously disclosing the fact to the defense, a legal requirement as this was evidence that undermined the prosecution case, it was admitted that the American evidence was contaminated.

Sam Type Celt expert used by NCS / SOCA in court

Q. Right. So which files had been accessed or altered or modified?
A. I haven't got a specific list. Some were accessed, very few were modified. They were dotted all over the computer. There were various ones.

Here we have a contradiction. If very few files had been modified by US law enforcement, how could they be dotted all over the computer?

We could of course continue, but it is evidentially established, that a serious and organized deception was in play, and significant contributors included:

US - Robert C Adams (USPIS), Michael E Mead (USPIS), Ray Smith (USPIS), Steven A Nelson (Dallas PD), Bill Walsh (Dallas PD), John Ashcroft (US GOV), Mike Marshall (TX STATE/Microsoft), William Rector (TX STATE/SEC), Kenneth C Weaver (USPIS), Don Smiddy (USPIS), Frank Super (FBI).

UK - HMIC Sir Ronnie Flanagan, Bill Hughes (SOCA), Jim Gamble (SOCA), Trevor Pearce (SOCA), Stuart Hyde (WMP/SOCA), Paul Griffiths (GMP/SOCA), Andrew Mulholland (SOCA), Sir Stephen Lander (SOCA), DAC Alan Given (MPS), DS Peter Suggett (MPS),  HOPS DS John Levett (MPS), DCI Dave McDonald-Payne (MPS), DAC Rose Fitzpatrick (MPS), DS Tony Evans (MPS), Chief Constable Barbara Wilding (SWP), Chief Constable Carole Howlett (Norfolk Police), Adam Hinks (IPCC), Nick Hardwick (IPCC Chair), John Wadham (IPCC Deputy Chair), Mehmuda Mian-Pritchard (IPCC), David Petch (IPCC), John Carr (CHIS/GOV/IWF/NCH/SOCA), Tony Blair (GOV), Brian E Underhill (SOCA PE), Nicholas A Webber (SOCA PE), Dr Sam Type (SOCA PE), Dr Nick Sharples (SOCA PE), Dr Andrew Blyth (SWP PE), Paul Webb SWP, Chief Inspector Cheryl Jones (SWP), John Polychronakis (WMPA)