Vmyths.com



Hoaxes, myths,
urban legends

Columnists

Newsletter
signup


Addictive
Update
Model

False
Authority
Syndrome


About us

Computer
security
humor

Truth about computer security hysteria
Truth About Computer Security Hysteria

FBI NIPC: still cleaning up after the Michael Vatis fiasco

Rob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Friday, 27 July 2001 As read by the author (MP3) THE FBI's NATIONAL InternetInfrastructure Protection Center came under heavy fire on Wednesday when they faced a senate oversight committee. Vmyths.com offers a special resource just to document the agency's virus antics. Director Ron Dick squirmed in his seat as government officials chastised his short tenure.
Ex-director Michael Vatis turned FBI NIPC into his personal publicity machine in 1999, then drove the agency into the ground in 2000, and eventually got fired thanks in part to his jetsetting playboy lifestyle.
If you've ever seen the end result of a frat party, then you know what FBI NIPC looks like right now.
Dick had no choice but to take Wednesday's whipping. The senators who spanked him wield true power over FBI NIPC. But Dick took it like a good G-man. Indeed, he didn't go far enough to blame his agency's problems on his predecessor, Michael Vatis. It almost looked like the current director took a bullet for his "visionary" ex-boss. Dick didn't blame Vatis enough — so I will. Computer-in-Chief Bill Clinton appointed Vatis to a beltway position early on in his presidency. He hung around in various capacities until Janet Reno tapped him for the FBI NIPC directorship in 1998. Vatis turned it into his personal publicity machine in 1999, then drove the agency into the ground in 2000, and eventually got fired thanks in part to his jetsetting playboy lifestyle. Quite an accomplishment for a guy in his mid-thirties at the time! And when I say "jetsetting playboy lifestyle," I mean it. Vatis traveled all over the world giving speeches in his capacity as FBI NIPC's director. Yet you'd never know it through official channels. I filed a Freedom of Information Act request to uncover the many different places where Vatis spoke in 2000. FBI responded to say he gave no known speeches last year. None, you say? None at all? {sniff} I smell another FBI records mishandling. But hey, don't feel bad for Vatis! He converted his pink slip into a reported multi-million dollar windfall. Vatis left Dick the unenviable task of cleaning up the horrible mess he made. If you've ever seen the end result of a frat party, then you know what FBI NIPC looks like right now. Reporters miss the hysteria Vatis generated in his heyday. They loved to describe the then-director as "FBI's lead investigator on computer viruses." And yet, as a lawyer by trade, Hoover's top virus guy held no computer security credentials. It certainly showed in his decision-making (which also led to his firing, but let's not digress). I once described Vatis as a satirical "King cyber-Arthur," charged by Janet "Lady of the Lake" Reno to defend & unite the peoples of the Internet. Okay now: tell me you don't see the humor in this classic Monty Python skit:
Arthur:
I am your king!
Woman:
Well I didn't vote for you.
Arthur:
You don't vote for kings.
Woman:
Well, how'd you become king, then?
Arthur:
The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. That is why I'm your king!
Dennis:
Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
Arthur:
Be quiet!
Dennis:
You can't expect to wield supreme executive power just 'cuz some watery tart threw a sword at you!
Arthur:
Shut up!
Dennis:
I mean, if I went 'round sayin' I was an emperor just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away...
Memo to FBI NIPC director: break off your co-dependent relationship with Vatis. He isn't good enough for you.
I mean, think about it. Strange women lying in office distributing FBI badges is no basis for an agency that protects critical U.S. infrastructures.
REGRETTABLY, VATIS STILL has his hand in the cookie jar. A recent Washington Post story says he "has positioned himself to remain a player" in FBI NIPC's torrid affairs. " 'We will continue to use Mike and ask for advice, and he is still in partnership with us even though he is not in the daily nuts and bolts,' said FBI Assistant Director Dale Watson... Ron Dick, who replaced Vatis as head of the NIPC, described Vatis as a 'visionary.' " Can't leave well enough alone, eh, Mikey? Memo to FBI NIPC director: break off your co-dependent relationship with Vatis. He isn't good enough for you. And you still need to clean up the frat party he threw.