Private companies conspire to attack Wikileaks.
by Tech Herald:
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.
(WikiLeaks is hosting an official mirror of the sixth and final draft of the report. You can see a copy here.)
The tip from Crowdleaks.org is directly related to the highly public attack on HBGary, after Anonymous responded to research performed by HBGary Federal COO, Aaron Barr. Part of Anonymous’ response included releasing more than 50,000 internal emails to the public. For more information, the initial coverage is here.
“The WikiLeaks Threat,” 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.
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.
Hunton and Williams would act as outside counsel on retainer, while Palantir would take care of network and insider threat investigations. For their part, Berico Technologies and HBGary Federal would analyze 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. Shortly after the late night conference call, the email from Hunton and Williams was sent. Booz Allen Hamilton, according to the Times, was the firm brought in to help manage the bank’s internal review.
A month after the proposal for the initial December meeting on WikiLeaks was created, email messages from HBGary Federal show plans for a meeting with Booz Allen Hamilton. The meeting was set after Barr emailed Hunton and Williams about information he was gathering on WikiLeaks and Anonymous. Later, this information would be the direct cause of Anonymous’ attack on HBGary.
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.
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. [Earlier drafts of the proposal and an email from Aaron Barr used the word “attacked” over “disrupted” when discussing the level of support.]
The proposal continues by listing the strengths and weaknesses of WikiLeaks. For the strong points, there is the global WikiLeaks following and volunteers. Outlining the weaknesses, the proposal lists financial pressure – due to the companies refusing to process WikiLeaks’ donations at the time – and discord among some of the WikiLeaks members.
Some of the things mentioned as potential proactive tactics include feeding the fuel between the feuding groups, disinformation, creating messages around actions to sabotage or discredit the opposing organization, and submitting fake documents to WikiLeaks and then calling out the error.
1. Did anyone else notice the tidbit about the firms being recommended by the Department of Justice? Could the Department of Justice be charged with a crime (or sued ) if they encouraged private security consultants to illegally attain information on users?
2. Can Bank of America be legally charged with funding investigators that were collecting false information on users?
It’s also confirmed that users mentioned in the file that was to be sold to the FBI are already taking steps on suing the company for harassment, slander, and private property theft (personal information stolen from Facebook). Where are the lawyers when you need em?
Like mamma martian always said, “if you can’t take the heat, stay out the kitchen.” Guess HBGary is learning that the hard way.