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Judge orders Interior to cut trust fund access
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2001

Last updated: 7:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Capping a day filled with twists and turns, a federal judge has ordered the Department of Interior to disconnect from the Internet every single computer and computer system with access to individual Indian trust data.

Agreeing that keeping the machines online could cause "irreparable harm" to 300,000 American Indians, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth issued his sweeping, but temporary, decision late this evening. The action came hours after an attorney for Secretary of Interior Gale Norton claimed the department had voluntarily unplugged its trust fund network -- computers, servers and all -- from the Internet.

"Today, Interior has directed its major systems that deal with the trust related data to disconnect from the Internet," said Matt Fader, an attorney for Secretary of Interior Gale Norton, this morning

At first, Lamberth took Fader at his word and said the Interior could come back to court on Friday with a progress report. But he later reversed his decision, slamming Fader for not having a complete understanding of what the earlier remarks meant.

The Department of Interior did not immediately return a request for comment on the latest development.

Lamberth's action comes one day after a scathing investigation into the system was made public. The report, by special master Alan Balaran, showed that court-approved hackers were able to break into computer servers and networks that house and transmit millions of dollars in trust data.

Get the Order:
TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER (12/5)

Get the Report:
Report and Recommendations of the Special Master Regarding the Security of Trust Data at the Department of the Interior (12/4)

Today on Indianz.Com:
Report reveals attacks on tribal, Indian trust (12/5)
No Trust: Hacking the Department of Interior (12/5)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust, Department of Interior - http://indiantrust.doi.gov
Office of the Special Trustee - http://www.ost.doi.gov
Trust Management Improvement Project - http://www.doi.gov/bia/trust/tmip.htm
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com

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