Reliable Security Information

Odious corporate spying firms enjoy epic bad publicity day

Earlier this week, three odious private sector spying firms -- Palantir, HBGary Federal and Berico Technologies -- stepped into a sh--storm when their plan to attack WikiLeaks and Salon journalist Glenn Greenwald was exposed on the web by the Anonymous hacking group.

Initially, none of them seemed to realize the unsympathetic bad press about to fall upon them for putting Salon's Greenwald in their no-longer-confidential confidential slide presentation here. Greenwald was singled out due to his notable support for WikiLeaks.

The story emphasizes the utterly creepy and rotted nature of such companies and the people they work for, in this case apparently Bank of America. Which is already a much hated American corporate institution.

"Traditional responses will fail; we must employ the best investigative team, currently employed by the most sensitive of national security agencies," reads one exposed e-mail from the spying firms, presumably referencing the planning of the private sector-led attack on WikiLeaks.

The statement makes one want to cheer Julian Assange's promise to expose a big US bank. If this still holds true, Assange and his staff should go forward with even greater speed and vigor.

The picture that came into play was of the squealing pig private intelligence firms, caught in an unexpected counter-attack, crying to US law enforcement for protection and redress, after proposing and launching a campaign against the hacking group Anonymous and WikiLeaks.

This all started when an employee of HBGary Federal, one of the corporate spying firms, bragged to Financial Times reporter Joseph Menn that he was tracking down members of the Anonymous hacking group.

Menn, formerly a Los Angeles Times reporter who probably should have known better that to allow himself to be used by the forces of evil, ran it in an article which catalyzed a retaliatory strike on HBGary Federal by Anonymous. The strike exposed company e-mails and the plans to attack WikiLeaks and Greenwald, apparently for the sake of Bank of America.

Subsequently, much of what was exposed by the raid on HBGary was very bad for the corporate spying firms, indicating they were pitching and planning attacks on WikiLeaks and a famous journalist which were unethical and possibly illegal, ostensibly as part of a putative campaign by Bank of America to counter-attack the famous leak site.

"Palantir was built by technologists serious about protecting privacy and civil liberties," brags one of the spying firm's website.

Planning to spread disinformation and bad rumors about Glenn Greenwald, who has written volumes, even books, on civil liberties being trampled, makes rubbish of this now hilarious claim.

Even more pitiable, the idea -- apparently held by some Stanford computer science students -- that there's something to be envied in the firm.

At Salon, Greenwald discusses the smear campaign aimed at himself and WikiLeaks.

Bad news continued to condense around Palantir, HBGary Federal and Berico Technologies today when additional news was released indicated they'd been hired by the US Chamber of Commerce to smear a critic.

By way of Digby, Palantir, HBGary Federal and Berico were also named at ThinkProgress:

"ThinkProgress has learned that a law firm representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the big business trade association representing ExxonMobil, AIG, and other major international corporations, is working with set of 'private security' companies and lobbying firms to undermine their political opponents, including ThinkProgress, with a surreptitious sabotage campaign," reports the website.

It is worthwhile to scan the self-serving websites of companies like Palantir, particularly after exposure.

"At Palantir, the best idea wins," reads a Palantir page here. "This means the respect of your peers must be earned; seniority has no place here. We are radically transparent and we despise politicking."

Radically transparent.

"Palantir's user-friendly analysis program is becoming a major player in the war against terrorism and cyber espionage, stimulus spending accountability (Palantir is literally powering the administration's efforts to identify fraud in stimulus projects), health care, and even natural disasters like the recent earthquake in Haiti," reads more self-serving press from a happier time.

The company is fond of touting its terror-network finding software to business publications.

Which explains why the wars in Afghanistan and Yemen are all but over with Osama bin Laden captured in 2009. Oh, wait ...

Due to all this embarrassment and trouble, an apology from Palantir CEO, Dr. Alex Karp, has been issued here.

Short version: We do not do the awful things it looks like we've been caught doing because our name/insignia was all over those damning slides etc, etc.

This post was published in an earlier form at Dick Destiny blog.

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