In a series of interviews with Vanity Fair, Tarita Virtue, Pellicano’s former executive vice president, describes in detail what has been called “the secret heart of Pellicano’s business,” a small, locked office that held his elaborate wiretapping set-up that he referred to as the “War Room.” Virtue says that only she, Pellicano, and Kevin Kachikian—a computer programmer who created software to intercept telephone calls—had access to the room, whose only furnishings were five Macintosh computers lined up and a row of filing cabinets. Pellicano and Virtue alone had codes to use the Macs.
Kachikian’s software, which included a program called “Telesleuth,” could graph a recording’s volume, Virtue says, so Pellicano could go directly to a conversation in which a voice was raised—oftentimes the signal that something emotional was being discussed.
Wiretapping gave Pellicano ready access to a trove of personal info, including credit-card numbers and secret passwords. “We had anything we wanted,” says a former employee. “We could do anything we wanted to you.”
To cover up his own indiscretions, Pellicano re-doubled his security systems to safeguard the War Room. There were security cameras throughout the office, and internal doors could be opened only with pass codes.
According to Vanity Fair, Pellicano’s wiretapping apparatus had been described in detail for the F.B.I. nearly a year before the incident in which he harassed reporter Anita Busch. According to several sources, Sarit Shafrir had been in cahoots with men who used Pellicano, and she had personally heard some of the wiretaps. When the men allegedly threatened her and her family, she was so afraid of Pellicano’s capabilities that she flew to Israel to place a call to the FBI in Los Angeles. She met with an agent in August 2001 at the public library in Beverly Hills and told him everything she knew about Pellicano. According to a person familiar with this situation, the agent scribbled down everything she said, but as she waited for a raid on Pellicano’s offices in the coming months, nothing happened. According to Vanity Fair, skepticism regarding the charges against Pellicano at the FBI was probably influenced by the perception that Pellicano was in some ways “one of their own.’’