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A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

More details emerge in plot to smear Wikileaks defenders for Chamber of Commerce and Bank of America

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The plot is rapidly thickening. Greenwald summarizes the newest findings, including this recent update (but you really should read Greenwald’s entire column and all the updates, of which there are currently four):

UPDATE II:  Writing in Wired, Nate Anderson of Ars Technica has a truly superb account of what happened here, with a focus on the responsibility and knowledge of the executives at the implicated firms.  The whole article should be read, but here’s a sample:

By October 2010, Barr was under considerable stress. His CEO job was under threat, and the e-mails show that the specter of divorce loomed over his personal life.

On Oct. 19, a note arrived. HBGary Federal might be able to provide part of “a complete intelligence solution to a law firm that approached us.” That law firm was DC-based powerhouse Hunton & Williams, which boasted 1,000 attorneys and terrific contacts. . . .

The three firms [HBGary, Berico and Palantir] needed a name for their joint operation. One early suggestion: a “Corporate Threat Analysis Cell.” Eventually, a sexier name was chosen: Team Themis.. . .

Team Themis decided to ask for $2 million per month, for six months, for the first phase of the project, putting $500,000 to $700,000 per month in HBGary Federal’s pocket.

But the three companies disagreed about how to split the pie. In the end, Palantir agreed to take less money, but that decision had to go “way up the chain (as you can imagine),” wrote the Palantir contact for Team Themis. “The short of it is that we got approval from Dr. Karp and the Board to go ahead with the modified 40/30/30 breakdown proposed. These were not fun conversations, but we are committed to this team and we can optimize the cost structure in the long term (let’s demonstrate success and then take over this market 🙂 ).”

The leaders at the very top of Palantir were aware of the Team Themis work, though the details of what was being proposed by Barr may well have escaped their notice. Palantir wasn’t kidding around with this contract; if selected by H&W and the Chamber, Palantir planned to staff the project with an experienced intelligence operative, a man who “ran the foreign fighter campaign on the Syrian border in 2005 to stop the flow of suicide bombers into Baghdad and helped to ensure a successful Iraqi election. As a commander, [he] ran the entire intelligence cycle: identified high-level terrorists, planned missions to kill or capture them, led the missions personally, then exploited the intelligence and evidence gathered on target to defeat broader enemy networks” . . . .

But before H&W made a decision on Chamber of Commerce plan, it had another urgent request for Team Themis: a major U.S. bank had come to H&W seeking help against WikiLeaks (the bank has been widely assumed to be Bank of America, which has long been rumored to be a future WikiLeaks target.)

“We want to sell this team as part of what we are talking about,” said the team’s H&W contact. “I need a favor. I need five to six slides on Wikileaks — who they are, how they operate and how this group may help this bank. . . .”

After the Anonymous attacks and the release of Barr’s e-mails, his partners furiously distanced themselves from Barr’s work. Palantir CEO Dr. Alex Karp wrote, “We do not provide — nor do we have any plans to develop — offensive cyber capabilities . . . .” Berico said (PDF) that it “does not condone or support any effort that proactively targets American firms, organizations or individuals. We find such actions reprehensible and are deeply committed to partnering with the best companies in our industry that share our core values. Therefore, we have discontinued all ties with HBGary Federal.”

But both of the Team Themis leads at these companies knew exactly what was being proposed (such knowledge may not have run to the top). They saw Barr’s e-mails, and they used his work. His ideas on attacking WikiLeaks made it almost verbatim into a Palantir slide about “proactive tactics.”

Anderson has written the definitive account thus far about the facts showing the involvement of each of these companies, and I encourage everyone to read his whole article.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 February 2011 at 4:11 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Law

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