Chapter 3-4
Hacker Crackdown

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Anyone with an interest in  Operation Sundevil--
or in American computer-crime generally--
could scarcely miss the presence of Gail Thackeray,
Assistant Attorney General of the State of Arizona.
Computer-crime training manuals often cited
Thackeray's group and her work;  she was the
highest-ranking state official to specialize
in computer-related offenses.  Her name had been
on the Sundevil press release (though modestly ranked
well after the local federal prosecuting attorney and
the head of the Phoenix Secret Service office).

As public commentary, and controversy, began to mount
about the Hacker Crackdown, this Arizonan state official
began to take a higher and higher public profile.
Though uttering almost nothing specific about
the Sundevil operation itself, she coined some
of the most striking soundbites of the growing propaganda war:
"Agents are operating in good faith, and I don't think
you can say that for the hacker community," was one.
Another was the memorable "I am not a mad dog prosecutor"
(Houston Chronicle, Sept 2, 1990.)  In the meantime,
the Secret Service maintained its usual extreme discretion;
the Chicago Unit, smarting from the backlash
of the Steve Jackson scandal, had gone completely to earth.

As I collated my growing pile of newspaper clippings,
Gail Thackeray ranked as a comparative fount of public
knowledge on police operations.

I decided that I  had to get to know Gail Thackeray.
I wrote to her at the Arizona Attorney General's Office.
Not only did she kindly reply to me, but, to my astonishment,
she knew very well what "cyberpunk" science fiction was.

Shortly after this, Gail Thackeray lost her job.
And I temporarily misplaced my own career as
a science-fiction writer, to become a full-time
computer-crime journalist.  In early March, 1991,
I flew to Phoenix, Arizona, to interview Gail Thackeray
for my book on the hacker crackdown.