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Exposing the Dark Forces Behind the Snowden Smears
Exposing the Dark Forces Behind the Snowden Smears

Who is planting anti-Snowden attacks with Buzzfeed, and why is the website playing along?

By Max Blumenthal

June 29, 2013 "Information Clearing House - "Alternet" --- Since journalist Glenn Greenwald revealed the existence of the National Security Agency's PRISM domestic surveillance program, he and his source, the whistleblower Edward Snowden, have come in for a series of ugly attacks. On June 26, the day that the New York Daily News published a straightforward smear piece [3] on Greenwald, the website Buzzfeed rolled out a remarkably similar article, [4] a lengthy profile that focused on Greenwald's personal life and supposed eccentricities.
Both outlets attempted to make hay out of Greenwald's involvement over a decade ago on the business end of a porn distribution company, an arcane detail that had little, if any, bearing on the domestic spying scandal he sparked. The coordinated nature of the smears prompted Reuters media columnist Jack Shafer to ask if an opposition research firm [5] was behind them. "I wonder who commissioned the file," he mused on Twitter.
A day before the Greenwald attacks appeared, Buzzfeed published an anonymously sourced story [6] about the government of Ecuador, which had reportedly offered asylum to Snowden (Ecuador has just revoked a temporary travel document [7] issued to Snowden). Written by Rosie Gray and Adrian Carasquillo, the article relied on documents marked as "secret" that were passed to Buzzfeed by sources described as "activists who wished to call attention to the [Ecuadorian] government's spying practices in the context of its new international role" as the possible future sanctuary of Snowden.
Gray and Carasquillo reported that Ecuador's intelligence service had attempted to procure surveillance technology from two Israeli firms. Without firm proof that the system was ever put into use, the authors claimed the documents "suggest a commitment to domestic surveillance that rivals the practices by the United States' National Security Agency." (Buzzfeed has never published a critical report on the $3 billion in aid the US provides to Israel each year, which is used to buy equipment explicitly designed for repressing, spying on and killing occupied Palestinians).
Buzzfeed's Ecuador expose supported a theme increasingly advanced [8] by Snowden's critics -- that the hero of civil libertarians and government transparency activists was, in fact, a self-interested hypocrite content to seek sanctuary from undemocratic regimes. Curiously, those who seized on the story had no problem with Buzzfeed's reporters relying on leaked government documents marked as classified. For some Snowden detractors, the issue was apparently not his leaking, but which government his leaks embarrassed.
Questionable journalism ethics, evidence of smears
At first glance, Buzzfeed's Ecuador expose might have seemed like riveting material. Upon closer examination, however, the story turned out to be anything but the exclusive the website promoted it as. In fact, the news of Ecuador's possible deal with Israeli surveillance firms was reported [9] hours before Buzzfeed's piece appeared by Aleksander Boyd, a blogger and activist with close ties to right-wing elements in South America. "Rafael Correa's Ecuadorian regime spies on its citizens in a way strikingly similar to what Snowden accuses the U.S. of doing," claimed Boyd.
Later in the day, Boyd contacted Buzzfeed's Gray through Twitter, complimenting her piece before commenting, [10] "Evidently Ecuadorian source leaked same info to you guys, seems I jumped the gun before you…"
[Image: screen_shot_2013-06-27_at_1.51.19_am.png]
Since Boyd contacted Gray, who has not publicly responded, Buzzfeed has not credited him or altered its headline to acknowledge that its story was not an exclusive. Buzzfeed's refusal to acknowledge Boyd was not only a testament to the kind of questionable practices [11] that have plagued the outlet [12] since its inception, it helped obscure the story's disturbing origins.
Boyd's disclosure that a single source shopped opposition research to him and Buzzfeed at the same time confirmed the existence of a coordinated campaign orchestrated by elements exploiting the Snowden drama for political gain. Boyd's remark that he "jumped the gun" suggests that the source intended for Buzzfeed to be the first to publish the story, and that he inadvertently embarrassed the site by running with it before them. There is also the possibility that Boyd was the source all along, and that his tweet to Gray was designed to establish deniability. Either way, the source seemed to be carefully managing the operation, wielding Snowden as a cudgel against the Ecuadorian government and timing the story for maximum impact.
Soliciting smears, dreaming of headless opponents
Who is Boyd, and how did he appear in the middle of the Snowden saga?
A London-based representative of Venezuela's political opposition, Boyd solicits his services as an opposition researcher, informing potential clients through his official bio, [13] "Alek can be contracted to do due diligence on individuals and companies in Venezuela and LatAm."
As I reported for The Electronic Intifada [14], Boyd has repeatedly promoted terrorism and assassination against members of the elected government of Venezuela. Back in 2004, Boyd wrote, "I wish I could decapitate in public plazas [Venezuelan politicians] Lina Ron and Diosdado Cabello. I wish I could torture for the rest of his remaining existence Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel … I wish I could fly over Caracas slums throwing the dead bodies of the criminals that have destroyed my country … Only barbaric practices will neutralize them, much the same way [Genghis] Khan did. I wish I was him." A year later, he declared, "Re: advocating for violence yes I have mentioned in many occasions that in my view that is the only solution left for dealing with [Hugo] Chavez."
In 2008, Boyd's services were contracted by the Human Rights Foundation (HRF), an NGO run by a veteran conservative activist named Thor Halvorssen. [14] The son of a Venezuelan oligarch and former CIA asset who funneled money to the Nicaraguan Contras, Halvorssen founded HRF to publicize the human rights abuses of Hugo Chavez's government. His first cousin, Leopoldo Lopez, the son of an oil industry executive, is one of the most visible leaders of the Venezuelan opposition, and as such, has received substantial financial support from the US. In 2002, Lopez was among the politicians who momentarily seized power from Chavez during a failed coup attempt. At the 2010 Oslo Freedom Forum, a yearly confab Halvorssen promotes as "the Davos of human rights," Lopez was presented to an audience of foreign correspondents and diplomats as a "human rights leader."
Boyd claimed [15] that during his year and a half working for Halvorssen, he successfully campaigned for the release of Guadelupe Llori, an Ecuadorian opposition politician jailed by Correa under charges of sabotage and terrorism for her role in leading a crippling oil workers' strike. (After her release, Llori was junketed to Halvorssen's Oslo Freedom Forum). During this time Boyd visited Llori in prison in Ecuador while meeting [16] opposition activists "to coordinate future projects," as he told an interviewer. Whether this was how he made initial contact with the source that supplied him and Buzzfeed with the documents on Ecuador's deal with the Israeli surveillance firms is unknown.
Boyd may have never met Buzzfeed's Gray, however, each are well acquainted with Halvorssen. This May, Gray was among the select cadre of journalists flown to the Oslo Freedom Forum to provide positive PR for Halvorssen and his global operation. Gray returned with a fawning profile [17] of Halvorssen, portraying him as an iconoclastic activist whose "job of opposing strongmen is arguably more media-friendly than that of anyone doing human rights work today."
In contrast to Buzzfeed's profile of Greenwald, Gray cast Halvorssen's eccentricities as charming quirks that bore little relevance to the larger story. And his intimate ties to the right-wing Venezuelan opposition and the oligarchic forces seeking to topple socialist-oriented governments in South America went unmentioned.
Right-wing corporate lobbyists target Correa
Ecuador's Correa is among the most popular of the Latin American leaders to embrace Hugo Chavez's socialist economic model. Having defiantly defaulted on $3.2 billion in foreign loans, he has been able to leverage his country's oil wealth to drastically expand social programs, improving access to education and doubling spending on healthcare while lowering poverty rates by a remarkable five percent since he took office in 2007. Naturally, Correa's rejection of neoliberal policies has earned him a fair share of enemies, especially among the elites who have traditionally governed Ecuador. In 2010, he resisted a coup attempt [18] led by Lucio Gutierrez, a former president who earned the wrath of Ecuador's poor by implementing crushing IMF-imposed austerity measures.
Correa's opponents may have resorted to zero-sum politics, but his response has not always been judicious. He has, for example, advanced [19] criminal libel laws as a means of punishing opposition media and has battled indigenous groups that protested his attempts to open their land up to wide-scale state mining operations. The Committee to Protect Journalists has accused [20] Correa of leading Ecuador "into a new era of widespread repression."
Of all the enemies Correa has earned, some of his fiercest reside not in Quito, but in the conservative think tanks of Washington. They include George W. Bush's former Latin America handlers and a coterie of corporate-bankrolled right-wing radicals determined to unravel the South American socialist bloc.
Ezequiel Vazquez Ger, [21] an Argentina-born economist, is among the most aggressive of Correa's antagonists. Vazquez Ger works for a DC-based lobbying firm run by Otto Reich, a Cuban exile who served as the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs under the second Bush administration. In 1987, Reich was singled out [22] during the US Comptroller General's investigation of Iran-Contra for having "engaged in prohibited, covert propaganda activities" on behalf of the Nicaraguan Contras. He is also suspected [23] of helping the anti-Castro terrorist Orlando Bosch escape prosecution in Venezuela.
Reich contracted Vazquez Ger in 2011 to help him oversee a portfolio of corporate clients [24] that included Lockheed Martin, Exxon Mobil, and Bacardi International, the rum company whose lawyers drafted much of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act tightening the US embargo of Cuba. Before he partnered with Reich, Vazquez Ger served as a Latin American fellow at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, [25] a corporate funded think tank that promotes climate change denialism and sweeping deregulation policies.
To compliment their lobbying operation, Vazquez Ger and Reich have churned out a steady stream [21] of op-eds for publications from Foreign Policy to Fox News to the Miami Herald, [26] demonizing the socialist leaders of South America who have stifled the ambitions of multi-national corporations. During the past year, they homed in on Correa, assailing him for sheltering Assange while he cracked down on opposition media. In a June 2012 op-ed [27] for the right-wing Newsmax website, Reich and Vazquez Ger cited Assange as a key reason why the US should refuse to sign any further trade agreements with Ecuador. "Signing or renewing trade agreements with Ecuador will only allow Rafael Correa to continue undermining US foreign policy," they wrote, "trading with our enemies, and destroying his country's democracy." (Following threats from Congress over its alleged offer to shelter Snowden, Ecuador's government unilaterally rejected [28] US trade preferences).
When Buzzfeed published its expose on Ecuador, Vazquez Ger was overjoyed. A heavily trafficked US news site had recycled he and Reich's attacks on Correa's support for Assange, this time framing Ecuador's president as a hypocrite for supposedly offering asylum to Snowden. At 7:28 PM on June 25 -- a full 27 minutes after the article appeared -- Vazquez Ger took to Twitter to promote [29] the piece to his Spanish-language followers. Next, he personally thanked [30] Buzzfeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith "for unmasking [Correa's] hypocrisy."
The following day, at a press conference in Ecuador, Interior Minister Jose Serrano was asked to answer for the Buzzfeed report. Buzzfeed's Gray quickly picked up Serrano's defensive comments, quoting them [31] in a follow-up story alongside a strident denunciation of Correa's sheltering of Assange by Cléver Jiménez, a key opposition leader. Meanwhile, Alek Boyd projected the story of Ecuador's surveillance deal into South American media, publishing it as an "exclusive" [32] in Semana, a leading Colombian daily.
Whoever planted the story with Buzzfeed appeared to have scored a major success, exploiting the Snowden drama to tarnish the image of Ecuador's government. Though the identity of the source that triggered the operation may never be known, their agenda does not seem to be much of a mystery anymore.
Max Blumenthal is the author of Republican Gomorrah (Basic/Nation Books, 2009). Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Smearing Glenn Greenwald: The Gregorian Connection
Inside the campaign to discredit the journalist who broke the Datagate story
by Justin Raimondo, June 28, 2013

The campaign to demonize Edward Snowden, whose revelations about the National Security Agency's ubiquitous and ongoing spying on the American public has the Obama regimein furious disrray, has taken on a new dimension now they're going after Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter and columnist Snowden chose to tell his story. Glenn has already preempted some of this in his Guardian column, but there is sure to be more. What's interesting about this effort is that it tells us far more about the smear-merchants and who they serve than it does about Greenwald.
There were a few preliminary fusillades coming from liberal bloggers when the NSA spying story broke lame attempts to debunk Greenwald's reporting, and vague insinuations directed at his objectivity as a reporter. However, as the Obama administration and its apologists flailed about, while Snowden and Greenwald's reporting ran rings around them, the nasty stuff started. David Gregory, echoing Rep. Peter King (R-IRA), wondered aloud on national television why Greenwaldshouldn't be jailed forthwith but that was just the beginning. A few days later, the dirt really started to fly with an article in the New York Daily News detailing Greenwald's various personal, legal, and financial troubles, and I quote:
"The reporter who broke the story about the National Security Agency's secret surveillance programs has a little secret of his own.
"Before he was a reporter and commentator for The Guardian newspaper, Glenn Greenwald was a lawyer and had a part-time job in the porn business."
Glenn a porn star? Well, uh, no, not exactly, or even remotely. But that's the Daily News for you, a tabloid modeled on those British rags with screaming headlines over photos of scantily clad "celebrities." After that lascivious opening like a whore beckoning at the reader from a dark corner with promises of unimaginable carnal delights the letdown is dizzying.
It turns out the "part time job in the porn business" was a business relationship with a friend and a third party producer involving video distribution rights. Yawn. And it's downhill from there: Greenwald owes back taxes, Greenwald has been involved in some lawsuits (he's a lawyer!), and last, and certainly least one of those lawsuits involved a dispute with the Manhattan co-op he was living in involving the size of his dog, deemed "too large" for the co-op board. To Guantanamo with him!
None of this is too interesting, except for its value as an object of near-universal derision: last [Wednesday] night and well into Thursday, Twitter users were riffing on a new hashtag, #ggscandals, mercilessly mocking the smear-mongers' sheer lameness.
Far more interesting than the content of this misfired dirtball is the dirtbag who wrote it, one Dareh Gregorian. Aside from being a low-level gossip-monger for the low-rentNYDN, he also happens to be the son of Vartan Gregorian, head of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, one of the major dispensers of corporate cash to various philanthropies and nonprofit outfits throughout the country.
The connection matters because it was Dareh's dad who lobbed $49.2 million in Barack Obama's direction when the community organizer and future President headed up the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC). Gregorian, as the Annenberg Foundation's representative in the matter, was instrumental in securing the funding for a group led by Bill Ayers and Mike Klonsky, two sixties-era former radicals turned education reformers. Gregorian chose the Ayers-Klonsky-Obama proposal over competing bids from Mayor Daley, the Chicago Public School system, and the teacher's union. Obama, CAC's founding president, resigned in 1999 to run for Senate. When Obama took office, Vartan Gregorian was appointed to the President's Commission on White House Fellowships, which "mentors" up-and-comers deemed worthy by the Regime.
I wonder who was mentoring young Dareh as he wrote up the contents of his Greenwald dossier the source of which is not too hard to imagine. Because this isn't the first time Greenwald has been the subject of a smear campaign: the last one involved a shady outfit known as "HBGary Federal," which did a deal with Bank of America to go after WikiLeaks and its supporters, including especially Greenwald. The banksters were mad about the WikiLeaks document dump that exposed BofA's corporate malfeasance. Vartan Gregorian has had a very close relationship with BofA at least since his stint as President of the New York Public Library: Here he isappearing at BoA's "Courage in Journalism" awards presentation.
Yes, that's right: Courage in journalism don't these people just take the cake?
If there was such a thing as the Corruption in Journalism awards, Gregorian's son whose scummy career as a "reporter" is here succinctly summarized by the noted blogger Billmon is surely first in line for the honor. C'mon, Dareh, didn't Daddy put you up to it?
Indeed, there's some evidence the father is a dominating influence in the son's life. In one of those horribly self-regarding New Yawkerish Observer profiles, the kind that make you wish the isle of Manhattan would sink into the Atlantic (and take Brooklyn with it), we learn the trials and tribulations of being a Gregorian. The piece, describing the "Countdown to Bliss" preceding Gregorian's wedding, cites his wife-to-be, Politicocolumnist Maggie Haberman, daughter of New York Times columnist Clyde Haberman:
"'We're both very proud of our fathers,' Ms. Haberman said over one of the two cell phones she owns. But I've spent a lifetime being known as Clyde's daughter, and Dareh has always been known as Vartan's son, so it's sort of nice that we can both understand how that is.'"
Yes, the progeny of the privileged surely do have a hard time of it: it's sheer hell being at the intersection of money, media, and politics because, after all, certain things are expected of you. One of them is sliming the family's political enemies, especially one who is causing them as much trouble as Greenwald. As the Snowden affair began to badly embarrass the Obama administration in front of the whole world, exposing itshypocrisy and holding up its darkest secrets to the light of day, the Gregorian clan struck back: no doubt the dossier compiled by HBGary Federal was readily available from Daddy's friends at BofA, and Dareh did the dirty deed.
That it wound up backfiring isn't really the point. What's important to understand is the utter scumminess of these Regimists, who will stop at nothing to divert attention away from the NSA spying story, and discourage any other whistle-blowers from stepping forward. They are out to destroy Greenwald, and, if they can't arrest him and lock him up for a good long time, they'll probably settle for sliming him just the way they did Julian Assange.
This kind of sleaziness is routine for these people, but it gets darker. Apparently Snowden's encrypted files apparently given to Greenwald and six other people in case something unpleasant should happen to Snowden were supposed to have been sent by Greenwald to his partner, but he wound up not doing that. As Greenwaldrelated to the Daily Beast:
"Two days later his laptop was stolen from our house and nothing else was taken. Nothing like that has happened before. I am not saying it's connected to this, but obviously the possibility exists."
It looks like this developing scandal may resemble Watergate in more ways than one, not only in its impact on the current regime but also right down to the nasty little details.
The NSA Prism program, and the phone dragnet, are supposed to focus only on communications between an American and an individual overseas that's the "anti-terrorist" mask this universal surveillance program wears in order to justify its existence to the public. Greenwald, however, is an American living overseas, who by necessity communicates with people inside the US and all over the world. Which means the authorities have the technical "right" to not only vacuum up his every email and Skype session, but to examine it with a fine-tooth comb, teasing it out for anything remotely incriminating and, given what we are discovering, who knows how far back their library of intercepts goes?
That library, which Snowden tells us is readily available to the NSA, has on its virtual shelves ready-made dossiers on this administration's political enemies. Does anybody really think they are above using it? This massive database is a police state's dream, because it makes outright repression unnecessary, for the most part: the mere knowledge that the government has a massive database detailing the private lives of countless Americans is enough to frighten many would-be government critics into silence.
Luckily for us, journalists of Greenwald's caliber are unlikely to be intimidated: indeed, such tactics are going to have the exact opposite effect on them. Few, however, have Greenwald's resolve, and this is especially true when it comes to "mainstream" American journalists, who see themselves as the fourth branch of government rather than its natural adversary. David Gregory epitomizes their stenographic approach to reporting, but he is far from alone: the media was deep in Obama's pocket before he even took office, and that's where they've stayed. We'll get nothing in the way of investigative reporting on the NSA story from that crowd: the job is now left to theGuardian, and other overseas outlets, as well as a few American sources such asMcClatchy news service and the alternative media. The mainstream media is this administration's journalistic Praetorian Guard an obstacle to getting out the story rather than a conduit for the truth.
This is what it is like to live in a police state secretly compiled dossiers, "leaks," scurrilous hit pieces in regime-friendly media, and the ever-present threat of blackmail to deter dissenters. They want us to get used to it, but, as Snowden put it: "I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under."
The Regimists have been dealt a tremendous blow by the Snowden-Greenwald revelations, but they have more than enough resources to fight back. By sliming and trying to destroy anyone who stands up to them, they hope they can cow the rest of the population into passive compliance. As they erect the "architecture of oppression" all around us, however, a few well-placed bombs of a strictly journalistic nature, mind you have the power to bring the whole structure down. Such saboteurs are to be applauded, and defended.

"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Running this thread to see if we can expose some Sunsteinian players in this and their masters. See where the strings trace back to.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Some older smears in development against Glenn Greenwald.

More facts emerge about the leaked smear campaigns

New emails cause a Palantir employee to be placed on leave, and more focus is needed on Hunton & Williams


Right: John W. Woods, partner in the firm of Hunton & Williams

(updated below - Update II Update III Update IV)
As I noted on Friday, the parties implicated in the smear campaigns aimed at WikiLeaks supporters and Chamber of Commerce critics have attempted to heap all the blame on HBGary Federal ("HBGary") and its CEO, Aaron Barr. Both Bank of America and the Chamber the intended clients vehemently deny any involvement in these schemes and have harshly denounced them. The other two Internet security firms whose logos appeared on the proposals Palantir Technologies and Berico Technologies both issued statements terminating their relationship with HBGary and insisting that they had nothing to do with these plots. Only Hunton & Williams and its partner, John Woods the central cogs soliciting these proposals have steadfastly refused to comment.
Palantir, in particular, has been quite aggressive about trying to distance itself. They initially issued a strong statement denouncing the plots, then had their CEO call me vowing to investigate and terminate any employees who were involved, then issued another statement over the weekend claiming that "Palantir never has and never will condone the sort of activities that HBGary recommended" and "Palantir did not participate in the development of the recommendations that Palantir and others find offensive." Such vehemence is unsurprising: the Palo-Alto-based firm relies for its recruitment efforts on maintaining a carefully cultivated image as a progressive company devoted to civil liberties, privacy and Internet freedom all of which would be obviously sullied by involvement in such a scheme.
But as Salons Justin Elliott reports, there are newly emerged facts which directly contradict Palantir's denials. On Sunday night, Anonymous released an additional 25,000 emails from HBGary, and Forbes Andy Greenberg was the first to make this discovery:

The emails also show that it was Barr who suggested pressuring journalist Glenn Greenwald, though Palantir, another firm working with HBGary Federal, quickly accepted that suggestion and added it to the PowerPoint presentation that the group was assembling.
Greenberg is referring to this series of emails, first from HBGary's Barr addressed to Palantir's Matthew Steckman and Eli Bingham along with Berico's Sam Kremin (click image to enlarge):
[Image: barr.png]
This was the reply from Palantir's Steckman to that email:
[Image: steckman.png]Roughly 15 minutes later, Steckman sent another email to Barr: "Updated with Strengths/Weaknesses and a spotlight on Glenn Greenwald…thanks Aaron!" indicating he had included the slide featuring this scheme. So much for Palantir's insistence that they "did not participate in the development of the recommendations." As Elliott noted, "Steckman's role in creating the slideshow which, it should be noted, also carries Palantir's logo would seem to contradict the company's" denials.
Last night, both Elliott and I sent emails to Palantir's General Counsel asking the company to reconcile this obvious contradiction. In response, they issued a statement announcing that they "have decided to place Matthew Steckman, 26 year old engineer, on leave pending a thorough review of his actions." They added that Palantir "was not retained by any party to develop such recommendations and indeed it would be contrary to Palantir's ethics, culture and policies to do so" (Elliott has posted Palantir's full statement).
So apparently, if Palantir's new version is to be believed, a 26-year-old engineer went off on his own and without any supervision or direction participated in the development of odious smear campaigns intended for two of the nation's deepest-pocket organizations (Bank of America and the Chamber), potential clients which the emails repeatedly emphasize would be very lucrative. I'll leave it to others to decide how credible that version is, but I will note that several facts undermine it:
First, another Palantir employee besides Steckman Eli Bingham was one of the recipients of Barr's original email proposing this smear campaign. Second, this proposal was being developed immediately before (and for consideration at) a conference call that included Hunton & Williams' Woods, HBGary's Barr, a Berico official, and both Steckman and Bingham on behalf of Palantir (see the bottom email here); was a 26-year-old mid-level engineer the only Palantir official aware of what they were proposing to H&W in order to attract the Bank and the Chamber's business? Third, there's no question as this article yesterday from The San Francisco Business Times documents that at least three Palantir employees (Steckman, Bingham and Ryan Castle) were all sent emails containing the proposals to smear critics of the Chamber of Commerce, including ThinkProgress. That article notes that these newly released emails "suggest that staff at Palantir Technologies, a high-profile data analysis company co-founded by ex-PayPal CEO Peter Thiel, may have helped prepare a proposal for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to undermine a pro-labor publication called ThinkProgress with dirty tricks." Whatever else is true, Palantir's knowledge of and involvement in these proposals is more extensive than it originally claimed, and extends beyond the 26-year-old scapegoat just placed on leave.
[Image: woods.png]But the real party here which deserves much more scrutiny is Hunton & Williams one of the most well-connected legal and lobbying firms in DC and its partner John Woods. Using teams of people scouring all the available emails, FDL has done its typically thorough job of setting forth all the key facts and the key players including from Booz Allen and Woods is at the center of all of it: the key cog acting on behalf of the Bank of America and the Chamber. It's Woods who is soliciting these firms to submit these proposals, pursuant to work for the Chamber and the Bank; according to Palantir emails, H&W was recommended to the Bank by the Justice Department to coordinate the anti-WikiLeaks work.
Despite being at the center of this increasingly disturbing scandal, Woods and H&W steadfastly refuse to comment to anyone. As The New York Times noted on Saturday when reporting this story: "A Hunton & Williams spokesman did not comment." For a lawyer to be at the center of an odious and quite possibly illegal scheme to target progressive activists and their families, threaten the careers of journalists as a means of silencing them, and fabricate forged documents intended for public consumption and then steadfastly refuse to comment is just inexcusable. Perhaps some polite email and telephone encouragement from the public is needed for Woods to account for what he and his firm have done. In exchange for the privileges lawyers receive (including the exclusive right to furnish legal advice, represent others, and act as officers of the court), members of the Bar have particular ethical obligations to the public. At the very least, the spirit if not the letter of those obligations is being seriously breached by a lawyer who appears to be at the center of these kinds of pernicious, lawless plots and then refuses to account to the public for what he did.
Given my involvement in this story, I'm going to defer to others in terms of the reporting. But given the players involved and the facts that continue to emerge this story is far too significant to allow to die due to lack of attention. Many of the named targets are actively considering commencing civil proceedings (which would entail compulsory discovery) as well as ethical grievances with the relevant Bar associations. As the episode with Palantir demonstrates, simply relying on the voluntary statements of the corporations involved ensures that the actual facts will remain concealed if not actively distorted. The DOJ ought to investigate this as well, but for reasons I detailed on Friday, that is unlikely in the extreme. Entities of this type routinely engage in conduct like this with impunity, and the serendipity that led to their exposure in this case should be seized to impose some accountability. That this was discovered through a random email hack and that these firms felt so free to propose these schemes in writing and, at least from what is known, not a single person raised any objection at all underscores how common this behavior is.
Yesterday, I did a 20-minute interview with Sam Seder about this case and its significance, which can be heard on the player below (the transcript is here); see also, these important new facts discovered by Marcy Wheeler. I also recorded a 30-minute discussion yesterday with MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan, which he will post later today (I'll provide the link when he does), and I'll also be on MSNBC at roughly 4:00 pm EST discussing this and related matters.

UPDATE: The Guardian now joins The New York Times in reporting on this story, andsupplies some new, interesting details (and, naturally, Hunton & Williams failed to respond to requests to comment).

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 Smile )."
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.

UPDATE III: The discussion I had yesterday with Dylan Ratigan about this matter, along with a full transcript, can be found here.

UPDATE IV: Here is the MSNBC segment I did today on this story; the host was NPR's Matt Miller:
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Magda Hassan Wrote:Running this thread to see if we can expose some Sunsteinian players in this and their masters. See where the strings trace back to.

A laudable and essential endeavour.
"It means this War was never political at all, the politics was all theatre, all just to keep the people distracted...."
"Proverbs for Paranoids 4: You hide, They seek."
"They are in Love. Fuck the War."

Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

"Ccollanan Pachacamac ricuy auccacunac yahuarniy hichascancuta."
The last words of the last Inka, Tupac Amaru, led to the gallows by men of god & dogs of war
A Look at a Smear Artist

It appears the NY Daily News eporter sliming Glenn Greenwald has a legal history of his own:
    Darah Gregorian, NY Daily News "reporter" doing smear job on @ggreenwald came over from the NY Post.
    Defamation suit was filed against NY Post, Darah Gregorian and three of his colleagues in 2007 (?)
    Complaints "stem from Post Article, emblazed with the headline, Gender Bend Shocker, Kinky Sex Suit Gal is a Man' "
    Court ruling: "Two allegations [against Darah Gregorian et al] might be considered actionable. First is [claim in NY Post article that] Plaintiff engaged in some form of criminal conduct.."
    "…The second statement which may be actionable pertains to the claim [in NY Post story] that Plaintiff was a promiscuous lying slut' "
    You can read the rest of the court ruling in the defamation case against Darah Gregorian and his colleagues here:
    Most of the claims against Darah Gregorian and the NY Post were dismissed & case was settled out of court.
    But method of operation in story that led to defamation case against NY Post and Darah Gregorian looks familiar: as if someone handed Gregorian & Co a fat dossier on their target.
    If you read case against Darah Gregorian and NY Post not too hard to guess who might have passed them the dirt on the plaintiff.
    Plaintiff in defamation case against Darah Gregorian (@ggreenwald smearer) had earlier sued this guy: Sounds like a lovely fellow.
    So woman sues wealthy Wall Street bankster, claiming sex abuse. PDQ, damaging personal info about her shows up in Darah Gregorian story in NY
    I report, you decide. But to me, Darah Gregorian looks like a gutter scuttling parasite who feeds off the filth fed to him by his "sources."
    So this is "journalist" smearing @ggreenwald: Like something you might find under a rock -- a wet, slimy one. This is what we've come to.

"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Magda Hassan Wrote:Running this thread to see if we can expose some Sunsteinian players in this and their masters. See where the strings trace back to.

Ever since the 9/11 truth movement there has been a new brand of internet trollers. Starting with the notion that no planes hit the twin towers, to the more recent claims that Sandy Hook was staged and that no one lost legs in the Boston Marathon bombings. These efforts are clearly intended as a smear campaign against those of us who question the official story. To make us look like crackpots.

"Sunsteinian", indeed. We are onto you you.

It's clear powerful interests are engaging in character assassination of a type used to neutralize the Garrison case against Shaw.

The central thesis remains Snowden did not reveal anything unknown to the world's intelligence agencies--or our enemies whoever they may be;

and, secondly, his mortal sin for which the powerful interests now send their winged monkeys with quill pens and yellow newsprint is:

to confirm that which we have suspected for decades.

Certainly the theme of Enemy of the State (1998) with Gene Hackman, Will Smith, and Jon Voight, is here in spades.

I had to correct an Air Force veteran the other night in his insistence Snowden was a traitor by emphasizing these points,

as well as to indicate he'd not sent the PLA a 200-page fax with our ICBM guidance secrets (that was Schwartz and Armstrong the Clinton donors);

nor had he copied all our warhead designs and legacy codes on a disk which was sought in vain by the FBI in the home of Wen Ho Lee and the Los Alamos landfill;

nor had he provided terminal velocity of our missile defense interceptors, their locations, radar parameters--that was Obamao.

I enjoyed the term Regimists above and the characterization of David Gregory as Obama's stenographer (a kneepad reference eschewed for taste).

Edward Snowden is the Emanuel Goldstein of our time, the despicable cause of cancer, greenhouse gas, climate change, and the president's bad golf scores.

1.5 million square feet in Utah, 2 million in Maryland, drones with Hellfires and ARGUS, total retrieval of every individual's every keystroke and closed circuit tracking box--

--to the end of control, not security.

The press which giddily cedes its First Amendment freedom from abridgement will find its Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search to have vanished.

David Gregory in kneepads but the porn producer is in the White House not the offices of the Guardian.


Attached Files
.jpg   Cass Sunstein annotated.jpg (Size: 204.98 KB / Downloads: 4)
Phil, Don't forget the trafficking in nuclear weapons by conservative Washington untouchables via their connections with Turkish Grey Wolves. That well deserves a plaque in the wall of shame.
"We'll know our disinformation campaign is complete when everything the American public believes is false." --William J. Casey, D.C.I

"We will lead every revolution against us." --Theodore Herzl
Another hit piece here and the back ground of the writer of said hit piece:
Quote:Questions for Snowden

Did Edward Snowden decide on his own to seek out journalists and then a job at Booz Allen Hamilton's Hawaii facility as an IT systems administrator to gather classified documents about the National Security Agency's worldwide surveillance activities?By Walter Pincus, Tuesday, July 9, 10:15 AM

Snowden told the South China Post in June that he took the Booz Allen job in late March or early April because it "granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked."

"That is why I accepted that position," he added.
He worked less than three months at Booz Allen, but by the time he reached Hong Kong in mid-May, Snowden had four computers with NSA documents.
Was he encouraged or directed by WikiLeaks personnel or others to take the job as part of a broader plan to expose NSA operations to selected journalists?
In the case of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier on trial for disclosing thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, it was Julian Assange and his organization who directed the collection of documents, U.S. prosecutors have alleged. While Manning's lawyers contend there is no evidence to support that finding, prosecutors have said there are hundreds of chats between Manning and Assange and WikiLeaks lists of desired material.
In Manning's case, WikiLeaks and its founder, Assange, determined the news organizations that initially would receive the materials.
How did Snowden select his recipients?
In January, Snowden contacted documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras using encrypted e-mails. Without providing his name, he claimed to have information about the intelligence community. Poitras told an interviewer last month that in February, Snowden had also had a similar first contact with Glenn Greenwald, a columnist for the Guardian newspaper. Greenwald wrote on June 10, "Laura Poitras and I have been working with him [Snowden] since February."
Barton Gellman, a contributing writer for The Washington Post, wrote last month that he, too, was first contacted in February, initially by Poitras and then indirectly by Snowden. Snowden again did not disclose his real name.
How did Snowden decide on these three individuals before he went to work for Booz Allen and before he apparently had all the documents he wanted to release?
Poitras and Greenwald are well-known free-speech activists, with many prior connections, including as founding members in December of the nonprofit Freedom of the Press Foundation. One of its key goals is to support groups that engage in transparency journalism and support whistleblowers, including WikiLeaks.
Poitras had suggested Snowden contact Gellman, who had been part of a fellowship program with her at New York University's Center on Law and Security.
Greenwald had the byline on the initial June 5 Guardian story, and Gellman and Poitras were bylined on The Post's story on June 6.
Did Assange and WikiLeaks personnel help or direct Snowden to those journalists?

Poitras and Greenwald have had close connections with Assange and WikiLeaks. In December 2010, Greenwald said of the British arrest of Assange: "Whatever you think of WikiLeaks, they have not been charged with a crime, let alone indicted or convicted. Yet look what has happened to them. They have been removed from [the] Internet . . . their funds have been frozen . . . media figures and politicians have called for their assassination and to be labeled a terrorist organization."

In a June 2012 Guardian column, Greenwald wrote, "As a foreign national accused of harming U.S. national security, he [Assange] has every reason to want to avoid ending up in the travesty known as the American judicial system."
On April 10, 2012, Greenwald wrote for the WikiLeaks Press's blog about Poitras and WikiLeaks being targeted by U.S. government officials.

Since last year Poitras has been working on a film on post-9/11 America, with a focus on the NSA and in which Assange and WikiLeaks are participating. Assange confirmed this in a May 29 interview on Democracy Now's Web site.
In that same interview, Assange previewed the first Greenwald Guardian story based on Snowden documents that landed a week later. Speaking from Ecuador's embassy in London, Assange described how NSA had been collecting "all the calling records of the United States, every record of everyone calling everyone over years. . . . Those calling records already [are] entered into the national security complex."
Did he know ahead of time of that Guardian story describing the U.S. court order permitting NSA's collection of the telephone toll records of millions of American Verizon customers and storing them for years?
Snowden's releases reflect another WikiLeaks technique: directing materials to suit specific audiences at specific times.
While in Hong Kong, Snowden told the South China Post that the United States was targeting China's mobile-phone systems along with Internet hubs run by two Chinese universities. That release came while U.S. officials were pushing Chinese cyberwarfare as a major issue.
On Sunday, as Snowden seeks asylum possibly in a Latin American country, Greenwald, again on Democracy Now, described an article he co-wrote in Brazil's O Globo newspaper: "NSA is systematically tapping into the telecommunication systems of Brazil and intercepting, storing and monitoring millions upon millions of telephone calls and emails of ordinary Brazilians, the kind . . . that we reported was taking place in the United States, as well."
Meanwhile, Snowden is reportedly in Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport with WikiLeaks handling his legal representation and public relations operations.

What other roles the group played in getting Snowden to this point remain a mystery.

A candid Wiki entry for Walter Pichus...
Quote:Walter Pincus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Walter Haskell Pincus (born December 24, 1932) is a national security journalist for The Washington Post. He has won several prizes including a Polk Award in 1977, a television Emmy in 1981, the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in association with otherWashington Post reporters, and the 2010 Arthur Ross Media Award from the American Academy for Diplomacy. Since 2003, he has taught at Stanford University's Stanford in Washington program.[SUP][1][/SUP]


Pincus was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Jewish parents Jonas Pincus and Clare Glassman. He attended South Side High School, Rockville Centre, New York and graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in 1954.[SUP][2][/SUP] Before being drafted into the U.S. Armyin 1955, where he served in the Counterintelligence Corps in Washington, D.C. from 19551957, he worked as a copy-boy for The New York Times.[SUP][3][/SUP]
In September 1954 he married Betty Meskin, with whom he has a son, and in May 1965, he married his second wife Ann Witsell Terry, who is from Little Rock, Arkansas, with whom he has one daughter and two sons.[SUP][2][/SUP]

After his discharge from the Army, Pincus spied on American students abroad for the Central Intelligence Agency, writing an article which appeared in the San Jose Mercury News on February 18th, 1967, the headline, "How I Traveled Abroad on C.I.A. Subsidy. "I had been briefed in Washington on each of them," he wrote "None was remotely aware of CIA's interest." (See "Dark Alliance" - Gary Webb p. 464-466 if you are interested in more than the tip of the iceberg.)
Pincus worked at the copy desk of the Wall Street Journal's Washington edition, leaving in 1959 to become Washington correspondent for three North Carolina newspapers. In a 18-month sabbatical he took in 1962, he directed his first of two investigations for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under J. William Fulbright. The investigations into foreign government lobbying led to a revision of theForeign Agents Registration Act. In 1963, he joined the Washington Star, and in 1966 he moved to the Washington Post, where he worked till 1969. In 1969 till 1970 he directed another investigation for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, looking into U.S. military and security commitments abroad and their effect on U.S. foreign policy, which eventually led to the McGovern-Hatfield amendment to end the Vietnam War.[SUP][3][/SUP]
In 1973 Pincus tried to establish a newspaper, aiming at University towns with bad local newspapers, but without success.[SUP][4][/SUP] Believing that he would later buy the magazine,[SUP][5][/SUP] he had become executive editor of The New Republic in 1972, where he covered the WatergateSenate hearings, the House impeachment hearings of Richard Nixon and the Watergate trial. In 1975, after he was fired from the New Republic,[SUP][6][/SUP] he went to work as consultant to NBC News and later CBS News, developing, writing or producing television segments for network evening news, magazine shows and hour documentaries, and joined the Washington Post the same year.[SUP][3][/SUP]
At the Washington Post, Pincus reports on intelligence, defense and foreign policy.[SUP][7][/SUP] He has written about a variety of news subjects ranging from nuclear weapons and arms control to political campaigns to the American hostages in Iran to investigations of Congressand the Executive Branch. For six years he covered the Iran-contra affair. He covered the intelligence community and its problems arising out of the case of confessed spy Aldrich Ames, allegations of Chinese espionage at the nuclear weapons laboratories.[SUP][3][/SUP]
Pincus attended Georgetown Law School part-time beginning in 1995 and graduated in 2001, at the age of sixty-eight.[SUP][8][/SUP] He has been a visiting lecturer at Yale University and since 2002 has taught a seminar at Stanford University's Stanford-in-Washington program.[SUP][citation needed][/SUP]
Involvement in the Plame affair

Main article: Plame affair
In October 2003, Pincus cowrote a story for the Washington Post which described a July 12, 2003 conversation between an unnamed administration official and an unnamed Washington Post reporter. The official told the reporter that Iraq war critic Joe Wilson's wifeValerie Plame worked for the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) nonproliferation division, and suggested that Plame had recommended her husband to investigate reports that Iraq's government had tried to buy uranium in Niger. It later became clear that Pincus himself was the Post reporter in question. Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald issued a grand jury subpoena to Pincus on August 9, 2004, in an attempt to discover the identity of Pincus' secret informant. On August 20, 2004, the Post filed a motion to quash the subpoena, but after Pincus' source came forward to speak with investigators, Pincus gave a deposition to Fitzgerald on September 15, 2004; he recounted the 2003 conversation to Fitzgerald but still did not name the administration official.[SUP][9][/SUP] In a public statement afterward, Pincus said that the special prosecutor had dropped his demand that Pincus reveal his source.[SUP][citation needed][/SUP] On February 12, 2007, Pincus testified in court that it was then White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, swerving off topic during an interview, who had told him of Plame's identity.[SUP][10][/SUP] Pincus was interviewed about his involvement in the Plame affair, and his refusal to identify his source, in the first episode of Frontline's "News War".[SUP][6][/SUP]
Honors and awards

Pincus has won several newspaper prizes including the 1961 Page One award for magazine reporting in The Reporter, the George Polk Award in 1977 for stories in the Washington Post exposing the neutron warhead, a television Emmy for writing on the 1981 CBS News documentary series, "Defense of the United States", and in 1999 he was awarded the first Stewart Alsop Award given by the Association of Foreign Intelligence Officers for his coverage of national security affairs. In 2002 he was one of six Washington Postreporters who won a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting,[SUP][11][/SUP] and in 2010 the Arthur Ross Media Award from the American Academy for Diplomacy.[SUP][12][/SUP]
See also References External links
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.

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