Study on corporate espionage against nonprofits charges 'unethical, illegal tools' used by nation's largest corporations, trade groups...
By Brad Friedman on 11/21/2013, 6:35am PT  

Oh, what fun. This, of course, is just one of the reasons why it's important that you help support and fund the work we do here at The BRAD BLOG. We're up against the unaccountable hoodlums and thugs like the far rightwing U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest lobbying organization in the world. So we must be doing something right.

And there is no tactic too dirty for the slimeballs at the Chamber, as we're reminded again in a new report by Gary Ruskin released Wednesday by the Institute of Public Accuracy titled "Spooky Business: Corporate Espionage Against Nonprofit Organizations" [PDF].

As Ruskin notes on page 22 of the new report...

Long time readers will recall the sleazy, likely criminal, $12 million 2011 scheme plotted by the mafia-like thugs at the U.S. Chamber targeting me, my family (who have nothing to do with my work), and other progressive organizations and activists who dared oppose their corporatist, anti-American agenda in even the slightest way. Their plot involved using tools developed by private government contractors (with taxpayer dollars) for the so-called "War on Terror", and turning them against private U.S. citizens for their corporate espionage benefit...

The three "defense" contractors involved were HBGary, Palintir Technologies and Berico Technologies (all of which still enjoy government largess and contracts even today). The plot was disrupted while the U.S. Chamber's powerful D.C. law firm, Hunton & Williams LLP, was negotiating the deal on their behalf. Despite an attempt by a small group of Democratic Congressman, there was never any actual accountability for that brazen scheme which only came to light --- and was then, theoretically, halted --- thanks to email documents from HBGary that were hacked and released by Anonymous.

There was a parallel plot exposed at the same time, which the same three contractors were also working on. That one was on behalf of Bank of America and would have targeted journalist Glen Greenwald. Bank of America was said to have been referred to the groups by the U.S. Dept. of Justice. So you can see yet another reason why there was never any accountability for the scheme.

[You can peruse more about that whole mess via our "U.S. Chamber Plot" special coverage page.]

In a press release announcing the new report, Ruskin, Director of the Center for Corporate Policy, notes correctly that...

"Giant corporations are employing highly unethical or illegal tools of espionage against nonprofit organizations with near impunity. Our report documents how corporations hire shady investigative firms staffed with former employees of the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, U.S. military, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Secret Service and local police departments to target nonprofit organizations.

"Many of the world's largest corporations and their trade associations --- including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Walmart, Monsanto, Bank of America, Dow Chemical, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Chevron, Burger King, McDonald's, Shell, BP, BAE, Sasol, Brown & Williamson and E.ON --- have been linked to espionage or planned espionage against nonprofit organizations, activists and whistleblowers.

"Many different types of nonprofit organizations have been targeted with corporate espionage, including environmental, anti-war, public interest, consumer, food safety, pesticide reform, nursing home reform, gun control, social justice, animal rights and arms control groups.

"Corporations and their trade associations have been linked to a wide variety of espionage tactics against nonprofit organizations. The most prevalent tactic appears to be infiltration by posing as a volunteer or journalist, to obtain information from a nonprofit. But corporations have been linked to many other human, physical and electronic espionage tactics against nonprofits. Many of these tactics are either highly unethical or illegal."

Unfortunately, thanks to my own first-hand experience with this bullshit, I can attest to the above personally.

While we're not likely to raise enough to combat the bottomless millions of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (which also pays tens of thousands a week for favorable mentions in supposedly legitimate media outlets), any contribution to our efforts here is greatly appreciated right now and very much needed. Please consider taking 30 seconds to fill out one of the two forms below in support of The BRAD BLOG, if you can afford to do so...

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UPDATE 11/27/2013: Listen to my KPFK/Pacifica Radio interview with the author of the report, Gary Ruskin, now right here...