Asher's business for a couple decades until his death in 2013 has been data mining: he's founded multiple companies that collect personal information on US citizens and sell those services. Yet his past is quite controversial. Back in the early 1980s (during Iran-Contra), Asher flew multiple planeloads of cocaine, and was never charged, though the accusations continued to dog him. In child protection circles -- organizations like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and advocates like John Walsh -- Asher is a hero, since he donates these databases free of charge to help find missing children and catch pedophiles. (Asher even served on the NCMEC board from 2003 until 2013.) They've defended Asher when insinuations about his past came up, saying that the drug smuggling is way in the past and doesn't detract from the good he's done. But I believe there are several troubling aspects of his background worthy of further investigation.
First of all, Asher appears to have a role in the modern surveillance state that was being promoted by the Bush Administration. After 9/11, he pitched his data mining services as an anti-terrorism tool known as MATRIX, directly in front of a White House audience that included Dick Cheney. He was accompanied to the White House by Jeb Bush. The federal government enthusiastically funded it, and Rudy Giuliani was another one of Asher's backers (Sun Sentinel, "From Drugs To Databases", 2004/01/11):
Giuliani, now an international crime consultant, uses Asher in the hunt for terrorists.
That confidence grew after the Sept. 11 attacks, when out of what Asher called sheer horror, he created the Matrix.
The information-sharing database melds commercially and publicly available records with sensitive investigative data. Only law enforcement officers with security clearance are allowed to use it. Queries result in names, phone numbers, addresses and histories on possible terrorists, pedophiles and criminals, as well as photos and comprehensive backgrounds on a suspect's network of family and friends.
The federal government has committed $12 million to make the Matrix available across the country. But in the 18 months before government money was available, Asher used $20 million of his own and gave the government free, unlimited access to the technology.
Some researchers, like Michael Green, have drawn a parallel between MATRIX and the aborted Total Information Awareness (TIA) program, arguing that Asher simply developed a privatized version of something the government itself wasn't allowed to do.
Asher's drug smuggling career might also be more politically-connected than is generally acknowledged. According to Palm Beach Post, "Terror expert flew cocaine shipments, FDLE reports", 2003/09/23:
The state also found reason to believe that around 1983, Asher became involved in planning a U.S.-backed assassination attempt of Nicaragua's Communist president, Daniel Ortega. An unnamed source told the FDLE last month that Asher offered to pay him $1 million to participate in the plot Another witness described the organizers as a "group of nobodies" to be piloted by Asher to carry out the operation.
p.107 of No Place to Hide by Robert O'Harrow fleshes that out with a couple more details:
Another man stated that “Asher attempted to recruit him and several others, to assassinate then Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega. ********* stated that he and Asher had two separate discussions on the planned assassination ********* stated that Asher offered to pay him $1,000,000 for his involvement and he (*********) thought the United States Government sanctioned the assassination plan,” according to the police document.
Plotting assassinations of a Contra leader sounds like CIA work, not just some youthful indiscretion as Asher often spins it.
Then there's Asher's link to election fraud. Database Technologies (DBT), one of the first companies he founded, was behind the list of "felons" purged from the Florida voter rolls before the 2000 election, which was really a blatant disenfranchisement of legitimate voters to ensure that Bush won. Asher was not working at DBT by then, having been bought out in 1999 due to the drug smuggling accusations making clients uneasy, but he was there in 1998 when they got the contract. Even worse, Dana Jill Simpson, a whistleblower from Karl Rove's dirty politics and election fraud operation, claimed that one of Hank Asher's newer data-mining companies called TLO did work for SmarTech, a partisan Republican firm involved in computerized election theft. Asher died purportedly of natural causes about 2 months after Simpson released this chart. Simpson has also stated outright in private posts on her Facebook page that Asher worked for the CIA, was their "best hacker", and developed the "Clicker system" meant to rig the 2012 election for Romney.
Even Asher's record of child protection has one dubious spot: his involvement with Mark Lunsford. As I summarized in an earlier RI post of mine, the abduction, rape, and murder of Mark's daughter Jessica Lunsford went far beyond a lone pedophile named John Couey: it was linked to a larger, politically-connected drugs/sex ring in the local area, and Mark was likely pimping out his daughter. After Couey got his death sentence, Lunsford sued the sheriff's office for negligence: which they had indeed shown, but he apparently forgot that the sheriff's office also protected him from child pornography charges. As the trial loomed and threatened an ugly revelation of both sides' complicity, Asher convinced Mark to drop his lawsuit and offered him a $100,000/year job as an advocate for tougher laws on sex offenders. Was that hush money? You can be the judge.
This doesn't get into all the suspicious elements of Asher's story. The lawyer who got Asher no charges and into the DEA as an informant (that somewhat reminds me of Barry Seal, another Iran-Contra drug smuggler and proven CIA asset who got caught and went into the DEA rather than face prosecution) was F. Lee Bailey, the infamous defense lawyer. Bailey's role as a CIA-friendly lawyer involved in cover-ups should be familiar to readers of Dave McGowan's Programmed to Kill, and is alluded to by Daniel Hopsicker's work on modern-day Florida drug smuggling. And there are other political connections of Asher's, some involving corruption charges. But this post should give a good overview of why Asher is worthy of further investigation.