Plot to spy on Chamber critics prompts Democratic call for congressional probe
Will congressional Republicans investigate their allies at the Chamber of Commerce over an alleged plot to spy on and discredit their most effective critics in the media?
Probably not, but that won’t stop at least one group of House Democrats from mounting a very public call for inquiry.
In a letter provided in advance to The Washington Post, a group of Democratic lawmakers expressed concern that anti-terror tactics had been adopted for use against Americans by the private sector. The letter was authored by Rep. Hank Johnson and more than a dozen others, the Post noted.
The plan, which called for drawing up detailed social networks of progressive critics and sought to launch malware hacks against progressive organizations, was ostensibly created by data security firm HBGary Federal.
It was revealed when protest group “Anonymous” compromised the company’s network and dumped tens of thousands of their emails onto the public Internet.
Amid the emails, details began to emerge about a shadowy world of defense contractors, where social media could be used to manipulate public opinion and bloggers are handled as mortal enemies.
HBGary Federal was just one group allegedly at work on projects related to these efforts. Together with Berico Technologies and Palantir Technologies, the entire group was called “Team Themis.” They were compiling the plans as something of a sales pitch for the Chamber’s law firm, Hunton & William.
The Chamber has since denied any knowledge of their proposals.
For years, the Chamber has been the largest spender in the nation on Washington, DC lobbyists, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
HBGary was also recently revealed as one of the groups advising Bank of America on a plan to counterattack secrets outlet WikiLeaks, which claimed it was holding data that would expose corruption at the bank.
With additional material by Sahil Kapur.