The traditional media has finally taken note of the campaign by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to enlist private security firms in a plan to smear their political enemies using dirty tricks. The Washington Post picks it up:
A feud between a security contracting firm and a group of guerrilla computer hackers has spilled over onto K Street, as stolen e-mails reveal plans for a dirty-tricks-style campaign against critics of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce [...]
The e-mails revealed, among other things, a series of often-dubious counterintelligence proposals aimed at enemies of Bank of America and the chamber. The proposals included distributing fake documents and launching cyber-attacks.
The chamber has adamantly denied any knowledge of the “abhorrent” proposals, including some contained in a sample blueprint outlined for Hunton & Williams, a law and lobbying firm that works for the chamber. The business group said in a statement Monday that the proposal “was not requested by the Chamber, it was not delivered to the Chamber and it was never discussed with anyone at the Chamber.”
And the Post actually pushes back on the Chamber’s lies, noting that one email from HBGary to another security firm that he spoke “directly” to the Chamber, and others calling a Hunton & Williams lawyer “the key client contact operationally” with the Chamber. There are multiple emails showing multiple contacts between the security firms, Hunton & Williams and the Chamber of Commerce. They cannot hide behind the fact that they didn’t sign a contract.
The LA Times also has a story today, which covers much of the same territory, with a little more depth about the proposed campaign against political enemies of the Chamber. For example, the story brings up the idea of planting a “false document” that these activist groups would spread around, only to have it revealed as a fake. It also reveals the connection to Bank of America and WikiLeaks.
The proposals were received by Hunton & Williams, a law firm that represents the chamber.
The firm, which also represents Bank of America, solicited a separate proposal from the security firms to help the bank deal with a threat by WikiLeaks, the international hacker organization, to release some of the bank’s internal data.
Ars Technica has a much longer profile of HBGary and their plot to take down WikiLeaks and its supporters. It’s pretty merciless on Aaron Barr, the head of HBGary. Apparently his firm needed cash bad and would go to any lengths to get it. He also massively overcharged for these services.
Glad to see this get some more attention. Hopefully, people will keep digging.