Wednesday, August 1, 2012

HNC's Military-Industrial Context

Robert M. Holmes, Jr.
James Eagen Holmes' interest in synthetic thinking, more commonly known as artificial intelligence, was handed down to him by his father, Robert Milton Holmes, Jr., who worked for HNC Software, a company which went public in 1995. HNC was acquired in 2002 by Fair Isaac Corp (now FICO). Research into this company for which the Aurora shooter's father worked after leaving the military is quite fascinating.

HNC Software Co.

HNC had been founded in 1986 by two scientists--Robert Hecht-Nielsen and Todd Gutschow--to develop, according to Dr. Gutschow's profile, "neural network applications in a number of industries including banking, insurance, direct marketing and retailing. Prior to starting HNC, Mr. Gutschow spent 3 years with TRW's Military Electronics and Avionics Division in San Diego."




That same year, TRW, where both Gutschow and Hecht-Nielsen were working, was involved in a mini-scandal.

The military contractor admitted overcharging the federal government two and a half million dollars for electronics and avionics contracts, while twelve "management employees" were disciplined, two  of whom were fired. The L.A. Times speculated correctly that one of the fired managers was Hugo Poza

The article related that TRW had established the branch in San Diego in 1981 "to pursue aircraft electronics work, as opposed to spacecraft and related electronics that is the mainstay of the Redondo Beach operation."

The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) Project was established in 1973  in Redondo Beach (about midway between Los Angeles and Long Beach) and built by TRW, but was acquired by Northrop Grumman in 2002, the same year HNC Software was sold to Fair Isaac (FICO).

It was later revealed that, along with Poza, the other fired executive was Robert L. North, who told reporters those disciplined "were sacrificial lambs terminated by TRW to avoid government scrutiny." AP reported that "overcharging, first reported in an anonymous letter to the Air Force in September 1984, occurred primarily during 1983 and 1984."  North lived in Del Mar Heights, less than five miles from the Salk Institute. The name, TRW, came from Charles Thompson, Simon Ramo and Dean Wooldridge -- three men whose work led to the forming of the corporation.

Ramo and Wooldrige had worked for Hughes Aircraft Company, founded by Howard Hughes, Jr., who left his fortune to the medical foundation which helped fund the Salk Institute's summer program. It was as a summer intern at the Salk Institute near his home where James Hughes was inspired by his "mentor," John E. Jacobson, who has since attempted to free himself from any idealized role in James' life.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute
A somewhat symbiotic relationship seems to have developed between Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Salk Institute. Although HHMI is based at the Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, Virginia, it funds research grants at many other campuses. Trustees for HHMI are headed by Hughes' first cousin, Fred R. Lummis, who was an attorney at the time of Hughes death at the same firm where James A. Baker III was employed--Andrews, Kurth in Houston. Baker is also a trustee of HHMI. Their role is in coordinating the money left at Hughes' death throughout their huge empire of sometimes-frightening scientific projects.


At the time Howard Hughes, Jr. announced the Delaware incorporation of the medical foundation in 1954, the statement he issued clearly shows how little he knew of how his legacy was planned to be used by those who had set up the non-profit to receive all his assets upon his death:
Purpose of the foundation, according to a statement by Hughes, is to provide "millions of dollars for medical research to combat disease and human suffering." Neither Hughes officials, nor their public relations counsel would explain the effect of the corporate reorganization on management, finances or relationship to what was formerly the aircraft company's parent corporation, the Hughes Tool Co.
In 1953, according to a review for Hughes After Howard: The Story of Hughes Aircraft Company, by D. Kenneth Richardson, Howard had "virtually disappeared from the company he had begun in 1932. Under new, creative, and inspired management, Hughes Aircraft Company became the leading military electronics organization in the world."

Hughes is, unfortunately, a lesson better left for another day, though interested readers may be able to learn more by reading Linda Minor's article at Conspiracy Planet.

Robert L. North
According to a recent obituary, of a man named Robert L. Bob North, he "served in the Air Force with the Atlas and Thor missile programs, A and E Squadrons at Fairchild AFB and other bases in the USA and England." These two individuals may well be two entirely different men, but the coincidences are intriguing. For example, the wikipedia listing for the CIA-connected Hughes Aircraft states:
Howard Hughes, Jr.
In 1948 Hughes created a new division of the company, the Aerospace Group. Two Hughes engineers, Simon Ramo and Dean Wooldridge, had new ideas on the packaging of electronics to make complete fire control systems.... At the same time other teams were working with the newly formed US Air Force on air-to-air missiles, delivering the AIM-4 Falcon, then known as the F-98. The MA-1/Falcon package, with several upgrades, was the primary interceptor weapon system in the US for many years, lasting into the 1980s. Ramo and Wooldridge, having failed to reach an agreement with Howard Hughes regarding management problems, resigned in September 1953.

They founded the Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation, later to join Thompson Products to form the Thompson-Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation based in Canoga Park with Hughes leasing space for nuclear research programs (present day West Hills (Canoga Park). The company became TRW in 1965, another aerospace company and a major competitor to Hughes Aircraft.Howard Hughes donated Hughes Aircraft to the newly formed Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1953 allegedly as a way of avoiding taxes on its huge income.
Thor missile
The Thor missile, a tactical ballistic missile, came along in 1954. It was designed by Nazi scientist, Dr. Adolph K. Thiel, of Ramo-Wooldridge for the U.S. Navy. Thiel is shown below as part of Dr. Werner von Braun's team of scientists. Space Technology Laboratories (STL, a subsidiary of TRW Inc.), which "had a symbiotic relationship with the Air Force," conceived one of the first space projects--the Pioneer 5 mission--for the newly chartered NASA in November 1958. The spacecraft was built for NASA by Space Technology Laboratories, whose project director was Dr. Adolph K. Thiel, supervised by Dr. John C. Lindsay at NASA. A document from 1959 posted online indicates that a contract between NASA and the Air Force's Ballistic Missile Division (ARDC) was subcontracted to the Space Technology Laboratories, Inc., of Los Angeles to provide systems engineering and technical direction for the Thor-Able III launching vehicle and the tracking and comunications network. STL had more than 50 scientific and industrial firms under its direction. The document described Thiel as follows:
A member of the German missile team that developed the V-2 rocket, Dr. Thiel received his M.S. and PhD. degrees from the Institute of Technology at Darmstadt, Germany. He has served as principal advisor to the Amy Ordnance Corps on technical matters of missile systems planning development and is a former member of the Army Ordnance Guided Missile Advisory and Evaluation Committee.

Dr. Adolph K. Thiel at Fort Bliss, 1946
We learn from Fairchild Air Force Base's website that this base where North had been assigned in 1961 housed:
the first "aerospace" wing in the nation with the acquisition of the Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile. 
North--clearly the fall guy for the Air Force--only one month after pleading guilty to the fraud, was named as president of Hecht-Nielsen Neurocomputer Corp., where he had been working as a consultant immediately after his being fired from TRW. According to the Los Angeles Times report, HNC's "founders, Robert Hecht-Nielsen and Todd Gutschow, are both former employees at TRW's military electronics and avionics division in San Diego, where they worked on neurocomputers together." We can only wonder whether the money TRW employees ripped off from taxpayers went into creating HNC as a reward for those who took the fall for the Air Force, although some conspiracy-minded individuals may also question what was the role of the former Nazi scientists in the entire military-inspired space race, especially that of Dr. Thiel, who was so intricately connected with the TRW research.


Dr. Adolph Thiel

HNC founder, Robert Hecht-Nielsen
The brains allegedly behind the company where North went to work was Robert Hecht-Nielsen, a man born in San Francisco, California on July 18, 1947. The son of the Danish- born Robert Hecht-Nielsen and his keyboard-musician wife, young Robert was a toddler in San Francisco in 1950 when his father testified in a riveting murder case. A private security guard, Robert H. Richard, working as a bouncer in a cafeteria, killed Russell Cronin, 20-year-old nephew of a local judge, and Hecht-Nielsen, identified in the newspapers as "a middle-aged interior decorator," testified for the defense. He told the courtroom he saw the guard release Cronin, who was struggling with the defendant, and that Cronin shouted, "I will get you for this."

The shooting followed a second scuffle outside the cafe. Richard claimed self-defense, alleging Cronin had tried to gouge out his eyes. A different story had been told at the time of the arrest when police said that Richard followed Cronin from the establishment, grabbed his arm, and when Cronin "shoved his hands against Richard's chest," Richard fired. A second shot fired shortly thereafter killed Cronin. Despite the testimony of Hecht-Nielsen, the guard was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to San Quentin, where he had previously been a guard.

Robert became a naturalized citizen in 1941. His wife, the former Elizabeth Laing Wilson,  took their two sons to Denver, only a few years after the trial, where they were reared in her mother's home, according to an oral history given by Robert, Jr. in Talking Nets: An Oral History of Neural Networks (chapter 13, published by Bradford Books).

Flying spacecraft?

Elizabeth's father was a minister, Rev. James Edgar Wilson, who had been born in Canada around 1880 and died before his daughter was grown. He had arrived in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan from Canada in 1909 and became a citizen ten years later in Illinois. Rev. Wilson married Jessie Laing, born 1890 in Michigan to Canadian parents, and they moved with their two children from state to state before his death. In 1930 the minister's family was in Pennsylvania, but beginning in 1931, Jessie Laing Wilson's name appeared in the Denver city directory until at least 1947 at 1668 St. Paul Street

Located near a large park on 17th Avenue in the northeast quadrant of Denver, Hecht-Nielsen's boyhood home is a mere six miles from Anschutz Medical School, where James Holmes was a student until last month.

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