By Brad Friedman
The Brad Blog
It looks like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — the Rightwing lobbying firm now allowed to accept hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in secret funding from corporations likely subsidized with your tax dollars — has been caught in the act of creating a $2 million disinformation campaign to attack progressive organizations such as VelvetRevolution.us and its StopTheChamber.com initiative. [Since we believe in disclosure, unlike the Chamber: VR was co-founded by The BRAD BLOG.]
After the disinfo campaign targeted “Anonymous”, the online “hacktivist” organization which had been working to disrupt those who companies who had attacked WikiLeaks (See our December ’10 report: “‘ALL-OUT CYBER WAR’ OVER WIKILEAKS”), “Anonymous” struck back by hacking one of the “intelligence security firms” retained by the Chamber and posting thousands of their emails online.
Coverage from ThinkProgress’ Lee Fang just an hour or two ago, includes a snippet from one of the proposals given to the Chamber on November 29, 2010 mentioning Velvet Revolution and a plan to “create a false document”, “fake insider personas” and do whatever they needed to do to “discredit” the organization by planting misinformation:
“ThinkProgress has learned that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the big business trade association representing ExxonMobil, AIG, and other major international corporations, is working with set of “private security” companies and lobbying firms to undermine their political opponents, including ThinkProgress, with a surreptitious sabotage campaign.”According to e-mails obtained by ThinkProgress, the Chamber hired the lobbying firm Hunton and Williams to spearhead this effort. Hunton And Williams’ attorney Richard Wyatt, who once represented Food Lion in its infamous lawsuit against ABC News, was hired by the Chamber in October of last year. To assist the Chamber, Wyatt and his associates, John Woods and Bob Quackenboss, hired a set of private security firms — HB Gary Federal, Palantir, and Berico Technologies (collectively called Team Themis) — to develop tactics for damaging progressive groups and labor unions, in particular ThinkProgress, the labor coalition called Change to Win, the SEIU, US Chamber Watch, and StopTheChamber.com.
“According to one document prepared by Team Themis, the campaign included an entrapment project. The proposal called for first creating a ‘false document, perhaps highlighting periodical financial information,’ to give to a progressive group opposing the Chamber, and then to subsequently expose the document as a fake to undermine the credibility of the Chamber’s opponents. In addition, the group proposed creating a ‘fake insider persona’ to ‘generate communications’ with Change to Win. View a screenshot below:
“The security firms hoped to obtain $200,000 for initial background research, then charge up to $2 million for a larger disinformation campaign against progressives.”The e-mails ThinkProgress acquired are available widely on the web. They were posted by members of Anonymous, the hactivist community responsible for taking down websites for oppressive regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, and American corporations that have censored WikiLeaks. Anonymous published the emails from HB Gary Federal because an executive at the firm, Aaron Barr, was trying to take Anonymous down. Barr claimed that he had penetrated Anonymous and was hoping to sell the data to Bank of America and to federal authorities in the United States. In response, members of Anonymous hacked into Barr’s email and published some 40,000 company e-mails.”
See ThinkProgress’ exclusive report today for more. They conclude that article by noting “ThinkProgress will be posting more details of the Chamber lobbyist campaign to target progressives soon.”
I’m told, but have yet to confirm, that I (Brad Friedman) am personally named in some of these emails. As I learn more, of course, I’ll share it.
And here’s a bit, from a story at an Internet Security site earlier this week, on how the attacks by “Anonymous” came about”
“On Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time, the hackers appeared to take over [HBGary Federal’s CEO Aaron] Barr’s Twitter account and tweeted: ‘IT BEGINS. THE ANONYMOUS HAND SWINGS FOR A LULZY B****SLAP. #anonymous #takeover #hbgary,’ the article detailed.”Barr’s Twitter page instantly became entrenched with all types of racial and sexual slurs, even displaying Barr’s personal mobile phone number and Social Security numbers.
“According to reports, HBGary.com was temporarily replaced with a message: ‘Let us teach you a lesson you’ll never forget: don’t mess with Anonymous.’
“DailyKos also reported that Anonymous deleted the firm’s backups and posted over 60,000 company e-mails on Pirate Bay.”
This all follows on revelations yesterday that the same firm, HBGary, had targeted Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald as part of a similar disinformation to discredit WikiLeaks and those (very few) in the media who have been supporting them.
With all of the above in mind, please consider supporting StopTheChamber.com with a donation, to help combat the $2 million disinfo campaign that the U.S. Chamber seems to have been more than happy to fund in order to discredit it!