Plot to spy on Chamber critics prompts Democratic call for congressional probe

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, March 1, 2011 10:10 EDT
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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.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/SHXBD7A4SZTHOYA6HLWMSZUR7M Harry

    Republicans (or for that matter Democrats) bite the hand that feeds them? Don’t hold your breath.

    It’s more likely that the Republicans launch an investigation into those evildoers at Anonymous.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Won’t be long till they start hiring Blackwater to take out their opponents, Mossad style.

  • enorceht

    “Will congressional Republicans investigate … the Chamber of Commerce …”

    you may say “Probably not”

    but then again the repugs may just set up a group to do an investigation and the group will find that the CoC did nothing wrong … election year coming up

  • Anonymous

    Take ‘em all down, whatever it takes….

  • gypski®

    The Chamber is part of the fascist plot to overthrow our democratic form of government. DOJ should be hauling in all kinds of rat bastards from the ranks of the GOP and a few traitor Dems too.

  • fairiedust

    The Chamber is a domestic terror group and should be dealt with accordingly.

  • Anonymous

    The prowess of capitalism is the greatest myth in human history. Humanity has to trump everything else. First do no harm.

  • Rush Goofbaugh

    Simple… beautiful… easy.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t believe any DC dems are actually standing up about anything…

  • Anonymous

    So you say nothing happens if you don’t get involved? The day after that news breaking I called my Congressman and my 2 Senators and requested an investigation and all 3 knew nothing about what the Chamber was doing because they hadn’t received phone calls from ANY of you.

    The crooked Republicans are in charge and if you , in those Republican districts, don’t call, nothing will happen!

    Anyone who doesn’t call their representative is a FKN LOSER!

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you, absolutely, right on!! BUT, just one little thang, the Democrats are chicken shits, and the DOJ will do NOTHING. Millions spent on investigating. A chicken shit DOJ. And, no media. Yup, that pretty much leads to no where.

  • Anonymous

    One must wonder….why in the hell are they in politics?

  • Anonymous

    Hot news, eh? How’s about a tip of the old sombrero to the BradBlog, where I read all about it yesterday???

  • Anonymous

    Agreed… the next call should be to the Obama because the Justice Department or FBI won’t do a GD thing unless they’re told to by our current Republican President.

  • Anonymous

    When the people are finished with Wisconsin they need to march to DC, snag Holder, Thomas, Scalia, and Roberts.

  • Anonymous

    I did a presentation on it on Thursday, as well as Barr/HBGary, same night as Colbert’s anonymous fun.

    thinkprogress broke this, I believe.

  • Anonymous

    Roberts 1st, and the rest will fall… but the OHIO statehouse is the next one the People have to defend against.

  • Anonymous

    Nixon all over. Let’s not punish him let the country heal? How about an all out assault on the American way of life. They are jealous of what we have(which isn’t much after their manipulations of our money,enron s&l madoff etc…), that we can actually sit next to them once in a great while. They are better than us, ask them, they’re also arrogant. So, why couldn’t they spy on us if they want. they do anything they want and have the SCOTUS behind them. {Justice Thomas= Uncle TOM? Just asking token? My degree isn’t worth as much because affirmative action made it so any minority could get one.}

  • Anonymous

    Will anything come of this with Republicans controlling the House?

  • Anonymous

    What is it with this country where politicians and corporations are taking on the habits of dictators. America is no democracy where public opinion is constantly manipulated by those in power and people are attacked/discredited because of their beliefs. What kind of opiate has been fed to the masses to pacify them to this point? Did 9/11 make us that pliable? It took the situation in Wisconsin to even begin to get a mass of people rallied around the cause.

    The top 2% of this country want to oppress the middle class and downgrade the status of the average citizen so they can further their profit; plain and simple.

    -Do away with practical Health care
    -End collective bargaining rights
    -Give corporate entities “human” status
    -Give corporate entities endless tax breaks and loopholes contributing to the financial crisis
    -Invade our privacy
    -Take away our rights
    -Dictate what we believe in and wipe out all opposition
    -Not prosecuting those that got us into the financial mess (how many were sent to jail because our economy collapsed?…None!)
    -Just to name a few…

    And they get a large group of ignorant citizens rallying around them while they do it…Ingenious!

  • http://liberaldefenderoffreedom.blogspot.com/ mikefromArlington
  • Johnny Warbucks

    What is it with this country where politicians and corporations are taking on the habits of dictators.

    That is what happens when the politicians terms in office are not limited. You get these critters in office for 30 years and they become a dictator in their own rights.

    Amerikans are also more stupid than the average bear. It’s a combination of things really but religion has been a great part of it. If you read “1984″ and “Fahrenheit 415″ you’ll see how it’s done.

    Have no fear that minority has already won. The final step will be pulled with that upcoming presidential election. May as well bend over and hold on to your ankles. The worst is yet to come. This is only a warm up.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IBX3ZLT5XKNZDOL2YZHPVX27VI STEVEN P

    Damn,damn,DAMN! That pesky free speech and Democracy is getting in our way AGAIN!!!

  • http://twitter.com/oldivory OLD IVORY

    HBGary hot under collar and B of AM down. Yes!

  • Anonymous

    Here’s the big explosive kahuna from the WPo piece:

    “The three security firms named in the e-mails have substantial federal contracts. A sales document produced for the Hunton & Williams law firm in November said the firms have “extensive experience in providing game-changing results across the Intelligence Community and defense/government sector.”

    “Hunton & Williams, the law and lobbying firm that negotiated with the tech companies, has declined to comment.”

    What WPo (& Raw) doesn’t outline in their pieces, rather interestingly, is this tidbit: According to the hacked emails of HBGary, H&W was recommended by the DOJ to BofA and CofC for their smear/inteligence campaign needs against those orgs critics and related compadres.

    Yes, you read it right. BofA and CofC asked the DOJ with whom do they turn to, to provide smear/intelligence services to them on US citizens and journalists that BofA and CofC want to “silence.” And the DOJ GAVE THEM THE NAME OF H&W.


    Edit: HBGary President, Aaron Barr, has been fired. Um, guess who might actually “disappear” in the coming weeks? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMmE8RLieiA)

  • Anonymous

    Johnny, I’m with you. I wasn’t going to go beat the religion horse, but you’re right. Noticed I used “opiate” as in “opiate of the masses.” The relevance of such classics as 1984 and Fahrenheit 911 is incredible. It is almost like their playbook. It will be interesting to see if Americans will continue to be the passive veal shaped by the politic/media machine or if we will see more resistance like in Wisconsin.

  • http://twitter.com/btmfdrsheaven rebecca meritt

    Probe them while they’re probing us,let everybody enjoy the fun!

  • Anonymous

    They’re not called the “Chamber of Horrors” for nothing.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4FZJDIZSMSB2SZAEPNOKGD745Y G

    Pretty much sums up what is wrong with the Democratic party: they are either ineffective or spineless, and about the best you can say about them is that *most* of the harm the bring… comes in the form of neglect.

    I suppose it could be worse. They could be actively trying to destroy the middle class and doing a good job of it like the other party is doing.

  • Anonymous

    Totally agree gypski, totally! Investigate them, hunt them down and then send them to Gitmo if found guilty! HA! Ok, that’s possibly a bit extreme but if we’re leaving gitmo open, might as well use it, right?

  • Anonymous

    I will never sleep again after seeing your avatar, OMG!!!

  • Anonymous

    Figures doesn’t it!?!?! All of them are germ spreading bacteria filled parasites working with each other to try and weaken the American citizen, to pit us against each other. I seriously think it’s time that we start meeting secretly, in small groups, get the word out to other small groups until we become one large “Eff with us now you rotten bastards!” group and show them that this isn’t Iran or Syria where they can squash us and shut us up. This goes for you to GOPer Walker!

    I know plenty of Vets and law enforcement types that are ready to tell the man where to get off. Doesn’t mean with violence but it does mean that we become a lot more prepared, a lot more educated about what the gov’t is doing or trying to do to it’s citizens. And no, I’m not looking for an overthrow, just want to show them who they’re effing with, the American people who aren’t going to take their sheet any further. And they best think twice if they expect us to turn against each other, I know that’s the GOP plan…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KJJ4KEVT2Z5RDHTIRGJOUWL2EA Paul M

    Amen!, brother, Amen! It´s becoming increasingly clean what we All have to and Must face.

    The hand writing is not only on the Wall, but clear out in the Open for all to see. We have Got to Stop this MADNESS!!!

  • Anonymous

    Sadly, many of you in Armerica haven’t thought it through.

    You equate Democracy with freedom, but your using the wrong description.

    You do not have Democracy in your Country; you have Capitalism. Unlike Wisconsin – very unusual to see everyone pulling together for a Genuine Cause – as long as everyone is out for what they can get for themselves, so it shall ever be.

    If you don’t believe me, look at your politicians and lobbyists. The higher up the food chain, no matter what Party is in power, the easier it is to trample on people and peoples’ rights. Have you never wonderd how AIPAC operates with such ease in the highest echelons of Government?

    Sorry if this is a double post; it’s difficult getting through from here – Turkey – sometimes.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KJJ4KEVT2Z5RDHTIRGJOUWL2EA Paul M

    That´s the spirit. It´s to the point where the “do or die” comes into reality. THEY have to be made to realise that they are going to have a real good FIGHT on their hands. They are not going to trash THIS country without a HELL of a fight!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KLF5SUA5RDYXG54WWF5SHMVRAI X

    Too bad we don’t have a Democratic president leading the way for the Justice Department to investigate some of this stuff as the law requires.

  • ThatBostonMan

    how do you know they aren’t already? Remember when I said the same thing and you called me a conspiracy theorist? But somehow you say it and you get 17 likes. Whats going on?

  • ThatBostonMan
  • ThatBostonMan

    Politicians dont have any power. They are victims of psy-ops. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/02/25/3148912.htm

  • arianna issa

    Da new Huppo/AOL provide all dees services at reasonable fee. Vhy go all da sneaky sneaky? Ve do it right in front ov face! As boy friend alvays says to me all time “You do your thing baby and I’ll do mine because when my committee is done with these left wing socialist commie van jones loving trade unionist al-Qaeda code-pink Muslim brotherhood Nazi’s they’ll think Joseph McCarthy was Mr. Rogers good neighbor who shoveled snow out of driveways for the elderly. As my Idol once said “McCarthyism is Americanism with it’s sleeves rolled” now I say “Issaism is Americanism with it’s pant’s down”. I’ll ruin these parasites at the expense of the American taxpayer. Ain’t that a bitch? I’ll use their own fucking money to ruin them, that’s a fucking hoot? I’ll fuck em blind then rent them a seeing eye dog!” Andt ve shouldt know dees thingks, ve billionaire congressman.

  • Anonymous

    Honestly, I don’t know why the Democrats don’t just go join a commune, get out of our way, and let real men and women punish the crimes of the treason mongers.

  • ThatBostonMan

    wont you need some informants?

  • Anonymous

    Funny, what money will do. The Un-united States of Greedy Lobbyists.

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    You said it! I’ve been referring to “that guy” as the first openly Republican Democratic (in party name only) president. The Consummate Con Man, and a schmuck to boot.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Sure they do. And it’s not necessarily psyops that’s woeing them over either, it’s the cold cash the corporations are putting in their pockets that are winning their hearts and minds.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Huh? Are you suffering a sudden attack of penis envy?

    And weren’t Blackwater hired during Katrina?

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Religion is the prep. That’s where the conditioning starts. From there, they’re turned over the government to do it’s part. It’s so much easier that way. Wisconsin is turning out to be really interesting. And, yes, I’m very curious to see how it all pans out. We’re long overdue for a serious revolt. Something’s gotta give!