Thursday, May 16, 2013

The personal and business ethics of a drone contractor.

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster, Vice President of MIG for Rebuild America 

If any drone contractor deserves to be the poster boy for drones, and all they signify, it is Dan (Drone Boy) O'Dowd.

Dan was already married to Amy Chang and living in Glendale near CalTech, his alma mater, when he went to work for Glenn Hightower, the owner of APh Technology Consultants, Pasadena, California. In 1982, with fellow Cal Tech graduate Carl Rosenberg, Green Hills Software, Inc., was founded. This is published widely on the web, but it is not accurate and a correction has long been in order.

Hightower and Rosenberg were able to realize their ambition because of a substantial loan from Glenn Hightower, who had graduated from the Pasadena university himself in 1972.

Hightower started his own company, APh Technology Consultants (located in Pasadena, CA) in 1975. The consultancy was, by reports, successful. The next year, 1976, the company was hired by Mattel to help design what became the Intellivision system. The name, APh, was derived from the Applied Physics courses offered at CalTech.

An article published in the Cal Tech News in April, 1975, describes Aph, as,a firm that was conceived to match Caltech's student talent with short-term technological needs of business, industry, and the scientific community. Hightower described the students as "an enormous reservoir of expertise."

Hightower continued to pay forward through the University by counseling students in entrepreneurship, which he was involved with by 1981, when, according to Caltech, he gave a seminar with Willis Drake ('70), president of Teleproducts. It is very possibly through his work with students and new graduates that he met Dan O'Dowd originally.

Despite the representations online at the time Green Hills was founded there were three original partners, all of whom were founders of Green Hills Software, Inc., according to the meaning and use of the word. The three were, Glenn Hightower, who provided the original, and substantial, funding and worked with the company in various capacities, Dan O'Dowd, and Carl Rosenberg, each of whom contributed only sweat equity.

With Craig Franklin, then my husband, I had dinner with Dan and Amy in their snug place, very much like married student's housing in 1987. Glenn was then very active in GHS management. Craig had gone to work for Green Hills at their Glendale office the year prior, 1986 moving from his career specialization of compilers and managing technical teams to providing for Green Hills marketing expertise he in no way had. Gaining the experience took three years.

But Dan was determined Craig work for Green Hills because it was through Craig's recommendations Dan had narrowly avoided the need to return to Glenn for more capital in 1985. Craig, still at Microtec Research as Vice President of Engineering and manager for Microtec's XRAY embedded development tools, had ignored Dan's promotional materials and read the code directly, sending his comments on to associates. Microtec was located in northern California.

Craig's background was deep in software development and embedded systems. Before moving on to Microtec Research he had previously been compiler development manager at Daisy Systems, Data General and Digital Research Corporation. Mr. Franklin was a software developer for the Apollo moon-landing project at North American Rockwell, having received a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Stanford University in 1966.

Craig knew, and never modest, provided regular updates on Green Hills and their prospects. Green Hills Software was flat lining in profits in 1985, after three years of operations. Located in a suite of offices in Glendale, it was a small operation, unable to sell their excellent products because they were flunking on marketing. Dan was looking glumly at the need to return to Hightower for more funding, which would, necessarily, dilute his shares.

Dan, Craig told me, wanted to absolutely control Green Hills. Carl Rosenberg was 'bought out,' though forced out would be more appropriate terminology, in the early 90s using the same 'sudden death partnership agreement which would later be used to get rid of Glenn.

Official histories of the corporation also state they were immediately successful. Nothing could be further from the truth. Source

Contracts awarded by the U. S. government began in 2003.

Is Green Hills Software, Inc., hiding something? Yes, many things.

If you google Green Hills Software, Inc., you cannot find a mention of Hightower. Rosenberg, who was eliminated much earlier, is mentioned, but no details on him are available. The corporate histories are, at best, very incomplete. We will explain the reasons for these 'historical revisions' in this short series of articles, also exposing the corporate culture of a company which, today, is a major supplier of the irreplaceable software, the 'brains,' of drone technology. We focus far too much on the hardware of drones, which can cause no harm without the operating systems which drive them.

American government is predicated on the concept of checks and balances. Clearly, this is not working, but one of the elements which was never accounted for by the Constitution was the growing influence of contractors who owe no allegiance to the founding principles of our nation and are, effectively, invisible and shielded from liability for their actions by the fiction of corporate personhood.

Because of his lack of ethics and values Dan O'Dowd had no compunction about the use of drones against civilians, here and abroad. The money to be made is enormous.

Dan's ideas resonance perfectly with those of Attila the Hun or George W. Bush. He and Craig Franklin have much in common, sharing the same values and ethics. Their personal goals are different but their cooperation, along with others in the tightly drawn group, impact each of us today.

Corporations are used as shields for liability. We can, and must pierce the shield to understand these individuals and hold them accountable for what they have done to our world. 

The next segment of the story shows Dan's lack of conscience appeared in other areas as well, not just killing abroad but maiming those he knew personally.   US National Library

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