And why they are likely to get away with it...
"[W]ho better to develop a corporate information reconnaissance capability than companies that have been market leaders within the DoD and Intelligence Community."
- 'Team Themis', from their 11/3/10 "Corporate Information Reconnaissance Cell" proposal delivered to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's law firm Hunton & Williams.
As I learned late last Thursday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the most powerful Rightwing lobbying group in the country, was revealed to have been working with their law firm and a number of private cyber security and intelligence firms to target progressive organizations, journalists and citizens who they felt were in opposition to their political activism, tactics and points of view.
As I went on the air Thursday night --- my fifth in a six-day guest hosting stint on the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show --- revelations about the planned multi-million dollar political hit job by the security/intelligence firms working to develop a scheme for the U.S. Chamber (and another one, almost identical to it, on behalf of Bank of America) were just beginning to come to light. Both plots were being developed by the Chamber and BofA by the very same law firm, Hunton & Williams and with the cyber intelligence firms HBGary Federal, Berico Technologies & Palantir Technologies.
As the show began, I was able to report the news, based on an exclusive report from Lee Fang at ThinkProgress, that internal emails from one of the firms, confirmed that VelvetRevolution.us (VR), a progressive non-partisan, non-profit organization co-founded by The BRAD BLOG, and its StopTheChamber.com campaign were specifically highlighted as targets of the Chamber's plot which was proposed to include the planting of a "false document", in hopes they'd be publicly released by VR or other progressive groups, so the U.S. Chamber could then claim the groups involved had created a forgery.
The plan also involved creating "two fake insider personas", one at VR and another at the unrelated Change To Win organization, which had employed a coalition of union groups to create a non-profit campaign, some months after VR's, called U.S. Chamber Watch. The plan presented by Team Themis, as the three security firms called themselves, would then use one of the "fake personas" as "leverage to discredit the other while confirming the legitimacy of the second" in hopes of publicizing the fraudulent appearance of some sort of "conspiracy" between the various progressive organizations in order to somehow discredit them.
As Thursday's show continued, I received confirmation that I, personally, along with members of my family, had been highlighted in Themis' proposed hit job, as ThinkProgress followed up with a second story, based on several other emails from HBGary's CEO Aaron Barr. The email focused on me included names, personal information, home addresses, etc. of myself, family members and a number of other members of VR. Naturally, I reported on the then-confirmed news in the second hour of that night's Malloy Show.
An hour or so after the show went off the air Thursday night, The BRAD BLOG was no longer reachable, as our server had been knocked off line hard, so I was unable to follow up with much more information. The server we use, which is also the home for many other progressive websites, was out of commission for nearly 24 hours, though I am told by our server admin that the very unusual outage was related to a serious hardware failure which occurred at what was clearly a very inopportune --- and, naturally, suspiciously timed --- moment. Moments before Friday's show, The BRAD BLOG was finally back up and online.
Over the weekend then, I've finally been able to catch up with a lot of what I had otherwise been unable to on Friday due to the server outage and the need to prep for Friday's show while all of this was happening (and as the Egypt regime was collapsing at the same moment).
As I, and other journalists, have been plowing through some of the tens of thousands of emails from HBGary's CEO --- as stolen and released by the "hacktivist" organization calling themselves Anonymous, following Barr's public threat to expose their names --- I've been able to learn a lot more about the U.S. Chamber plan.
Part of the plan included highlighting me as a "Tier 1" player in a sophisticated disinformation/discrediting scheme that relied on high-tech tools developed for the U.S. Government's "War on Terror".
Team Themis' U.S. Chamber of Commerce plan was to deploy the very same techniques and technology used to track terrorists, terror organizations, and nations such as Iran, against private non-profit political advocates and citizens in the U.S.
As disturbing (and there is a lot that every American citizen and every member of the American media ought to be very disturbed by in this story) Hunton & Williams (H&W), the law firm working on behalf of the U.S. Chamber and the Bank of America, had been recommended to BofA, the nation's largest bank, for the parallel hit scheme to target and discredit WikiLeaks, by our own U.S. Department of Justice.
In addition to Barr's email offering personal information on me and my family, the H&W scheme by Team Themis, created for the U.S. Chamber, also included a Power Point presentation in which I am personally highlighted, with photograph, along with my wife "Martha" and "2 boys, James and John Friedman" at our "home at 1055 Raywood Ln, Silver Springs, MD".
Of course, I'm not married and have no children and don't live in MD, but these are the huge private firms receiving millions, if not billions, in U.S. tax-payer dollars to target terrorists, after all, so why let such details like accuracy, or targeting innocent people, or citizens and journalists exercising their right to free speech get in the way of a potential $2 million dollar per month contract from the U.S. Chamber get in the way? The Chamber, of course, is also funded by the world's largest corporations who receive billions in tax-payer bailout dollars and subsidies from the U.S. Government. Can you feel the synergy? Team Themis certainly did...
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