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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

 
Tit for Tat and Hack for Hack

by digby

Well well. A private security firm that preened to the FT that it had obtained the names of the key members of the hacking group Anonymous got hacked and their emails were revealed to the public. What they say is fairly amazing:

After a tip from Crowdleaks.org, The Tech Herald has learned that HBGary Federal, as well as two other data intelligence firms, worked to develop a strategic plan of attack against WikiLeaks. The plan included pressing a journalist in order to disrupt his support of the organization, cyber attacks, disinformation, and other potential proactive tactics...

What was pointed out by Crowdleaks is a proposal titled “The WikiLeaks Threat” and an email chain between three data intelligence firms. The proposal was quickly developed by Palantir Technologies, HBGary Federal, and Berico Technologies, after a request from Hunton and Williams, a law firm that currently counts Bank of America as a client.

The law firm had a meeting with Bank of America on December 3. To prepare, the firm emailed Palantir and the others asking for “…five to six slides on Wikileaks - who they are, how they operate and how this group may help this bank.”

Hunton and Williams were recommended to Bank of America’s general council by the Department of Justice, according to the email chain viewed by The Tech Herald. The law firm was using the meeting to pitch Bank of America on retaining them for an internal investigation surrounding WikiLeaks...

In less than 24-hours, the three analytical companies created a presentation filled with publically available information and ideas on how the firms could be “deployed” against WikiLeaks “as a unified and cohesive investigative analysis cell.”

On January 2, The New York Times wrote about a late night conference call held by Bank of America executives on November 30. The reason for the call was to deal with a statement given by WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange on November 29, where he said that he intended to “take down” a major American bank. The country’s third largest financial institution needed to get the jump on WikiLeaks, so they started scouring thousands of documents, and auditing physical assets.
Check out what they recommended BofA do:
The proposal starts with an overview of WikiLeaks, including some history and employee statistics. From there it moves into a profile of Julian Assange and an organizational chart. The chart lists several people, including volunteers and actual staff.

One of those listed as a volunteer, Salon.com columnist, Glenn Greenwald, was singled out by the proposal. Greenwald, previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York, has been a vocal supporter of Bradley Manning, who is alleged to have given diplomatic cables and other government information to WikiLeaks. He has yet to be charged in the matter.

Greenwald became a household name in December when he reported on the “inhumane conditions” of Bradley Manning’s confinement at the Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia. Since that report, Greenwald has reported on WikiLeaks and Manning several times.

“Glenn was critical in the Amazon to OVH transition,” the proposal says, referencing the hosting switch WikiLeaks was forced to make after political pressure caused Amazon to drop their domain.
This is funny, since Greenwald had been reporting on Wikileaks for many months and is a staunch supporter of the concept of free speech (duh), but I doubt very much that he was an official "volunteer." Anyway, they targeted him:

I love the cynical view that "professionals" like Greenwald will always opt for professional survival over a cause. They're probably right in most cases. But Glenn has spent his life fighting for free speech. That is his profession.

Here's what they planned to do:



One part certainly worked: the media lemmings all ran toward the shiny object without even considering the effect on their own profession and its alleged mission to expose the truth. I would wonder if the "professional pressure" they planned to exert on supporters was brought to bear on some of the most powerful journalists in the country who seemed to be offended by the very idea that governments and wealthy institutions should have their lies exposed to the public, but sadly, I doubt it. Those people clearly behaved instinctively, siding with the powerful with whom they identify. The governing elites have nothing to fear from the mainstream press.

The fact that they focused on Greenwald pretty clearly proves that, don't you think?

Read the whole article. It's like something out of a spy novel. But I have to say that the plan seems somewhat banal. Blackmail? Sabotage? What else is new?

Update: Emptywheel has more.


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