Hank Asher and John Walsh
(Continued from Part 1)
The Matrix to the Rescue
At the end of Part 1 of this story, Hank Asher had recently launched his successful database mining company called Database Technologies. The company's success stemmed from Asher's newly coded software called Autotrack. It would not be long before Asher's success would enable him to use his knowledge, skill set and software to help those in need.
In 1992, shortly after starting Database Technologies, Asher would partner with National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC.) Asher was selective of the companies he allowed to purchase usage rights to his software. He only allowed law enforcement agencies, insurance companies, and private investigators to have paid access. Yet he allowed NCMEC free access to his database mining technologies in order to save the lives of exploited children while also donating millions of dollars to the NCMEC organization. Through this alliance well over 100 exploited or abused children were saved while also capturing perpetrators of such horrific crimes.
It was during this time that Asher also allowed John Walsh's America's Most Wanted television show free access to his powerful data mining software in order to help prevent and/or solve crime. Asher's software would be used in hundreds of thousands of investigations called in to the show, helping in thousands of those in one way or another. All the while, Asher remained quiet and behind the scenes avoiding taking credit for his altruism and staying out of the limelight.
Yet despite his cash donations, supportive gestures and even critical help in resolving criminal cases involving exploited children, his seedy past as a short lived adrenaline seeking drug transporter caught up to him and his company. Database Technologies was now at risk of losing millions of dollars worth in government contracts due to concerns over his past despite all his positive gestures and assistance. Asher was bought out from his company in 1999 for around $147 Million Dollars, thus assuring the government that they no longer had ties with Asher and thus keeping their business dealings with the US government in tact.
The following year in 2000, he started up another database technology company called Seisint (short for Seismic Intelligence.) With this new endeavor, Asher went on to perfect his old software in Autotrack, and created the next generation of database mining software called Accurint. Asher would continue to develop the Accurint software, perfecting its ability to extract the needed data out of volumes of consumer/customer data spread across multiple and sometimes disparate databases.
The following year, Asher would create his crowning achievement out of the ashes of 9/11/2001. Two days after the attack on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and the American People, Hank Asher set out to create the algorithms needed to find the possible attackers. On the third day, Asher had the solution in a program and computer server he named the M.A.T.R.I.X. for Multi-state Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange. He printed out a list of 5 potential subjects of interest using his newly created system. He then shared it with a friend, Bill Shrewsbury, who was an ex-DEA agent. Shrewsbury passed on the list to agents at the FBI, who would be stunned to see 5 of those on Asher's list were already suspects with the FBI but not known to the public at that point in time.
By September 17, 2001, Asher had a Datacenter built to house the MATRIX server and program. This specially built room with custom hardware servers and program collectively known as the MATRIX was under 24 hour 7 day a week armed guard. The guards were Florida State Troopers under the approval of the U.S. Federal Government. Millions of dollars worth of hardware and software for data mining was now available to the U.S. government for free due to Asher's generosity and patriotism.
Unfortunately for Asher, once he ceded control of the M.A.T.R.I.X. to the US Government, he lost direct control of it forever. No private citizen, such as SEISINT employees like Asher, would be allowed to extract data from the MATRIX. Employees of SEISINT were allowed to make programming code changes to the MATRIX software, but that was all they were allowed to do. Despite such tight government restrictions, Asher did retain the right to allow other government agencies access to this super powerful piece of hardware and software.
Near the end of 2002, Asher used the MATRIX system to help solve the case of a serial shooter in the Washington D. C. area. Agents that were in charge of this case were able to input data from the case into the MATRIX system. The MATRIX system accurately provide the name of John Allen Muhammad, also known as John Williams. Then the MATRIX system provided the details to the vehicle such as license plate number and car color of the car that was being driven by the suspect, until they were apprehend that night. John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were arrested and convicted of the Washington D.C./ Beltway Sniper shootings with the help of the MATRIX.
By this point, Asher seemed to have passed all U.S. government scrutiny, to point where he actually pitched the MATRIX system at the White House to then Vice-President Dick Cheney and FBI Director Robert Mueller. He basically gave it away for free to the U.S. government who did go on to fund the project. Unfortunately for Asher, and despite his continued contributions to the U.S. Government and to society, his seedy past once again caused corporate strife with his new company SEISINT. U.S. states that had signed agreements to pay to use the MATRIX system were now breaking their contracts with SEISINT due to sudden concerns with Asher's past as a short lived smuggler. This led to SEISINT board members eventually forcing Asher to resign from the compnay late in 2003. By 2004 LexisNexis would buy out SEISINT for $775 Million Dollars, netting Asher some $250 Million dollars from the sale of the company.
Asher would continue his philanthropic ways, always staying behind the scenes. With the sale of SEISINT, he would now focus more on some of his other altruistic work such as working with the MAYO Clinic in search of a cure for cancer. Asher would lend his knowledge and technical expertise in computing to help further research into this devastating disease. In 2008 Asher would begin a new project based on data mining, turning it into a full fledge business in 2011. Hank Asher's storied life would end peacefully in total redemption at home of natural causes on January 11, 2013.
Thank you Hank Asher for your contributions to the U.S. government and to society in general. You work helped stop child predators as well as serial killers, while your philanthropy enabled others to thrive and live. A genius with a heart!
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