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US Chamber lobbyists map strategies to discredit progressive critics

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Report claims Chamber hired firm hacked by ‘Anonymous’

WASHINGTON – Lobbyists for the US Chamber of Commerce have been working with firms to develop methods to deceive and discredit the Chamber’s most vocal progressive opponents, according to documents obtained by ThinkProgress.

Lee Fang of the liberal blog reports that the Chamber and its hired firms mapped ways to attack labor and progressive groups that have taken on the powerful business lobby, “in particular ThinkProgress, the labor coalition called Change to Win, the SEIU, US Chamber Watch, and StopTheChamber.com.”

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In one document prepared by a group called Themis, US Chamber Watch is singled out as “one of the most active members of the opposition.” It notes that the Chamber, unlike many of its critics, is “politically connected,” making its opponents “vulnerable to information operations that could embarrass the organization and those associated with it.”

A six-point plan to discredit the US Chamber Watch includes depicting it as a pawn of labor federation Change to Win, and tying it to labor leader Andy Stern and Velvet Revolution. It also proposes swindling the group by creating “a false document” about the Chamber’s finances and, once it’s publicized, providing “explicit evidence proving that such transactions never occurred.”

“Also,” it continues, “create a fake insider persona and generate communications with CtW. Afterward, release the actual documents at a specified time and explain the activity as a CtW contrived operation. Both instances will prove that US Chamber Watch cannot be trusted with information and/or tell the truth.”

ThinkProgress reports that the Chamber hired lobbying firm Hunton and Williams and a set of private security companies — HB Gary Federal, Palantir, Berico Technologies —  three of which apparently comprise “Team Themis.”

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A Team Themis document said Phase I of the plan to “collect, analyze, and affect adversarial entities and networks of interest” would cost $200,000, and Phase II would cost $2 million.

The Chamber denied any knowledge of “the document” — though it didn’t say which one — and claimed it didn’t hire the security firm that created it.

“The security firm referenced by ThinkProgress was not hired by the Chamber or by anyone else on the Chamber’s behalf. We have never seen the document in question nor has it ever been discussed with us,” wrote Tom Collamore on the Chamber’s website.

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Oddly enough, two of the security firms the Chamber is said to have hired — HB Gary and Palantir — made news recently after they were revealed to have devised tactics for Bank of America to discredit the anti-secrecy outlet WikiLeaks.

HB Gary was recently hacked by the cyber-protest group “Anonymous,” which published some 44,000 of its emails on the Internet.

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