Palantir Tries to Preserve Their Government Contracts

In a post I’ll write some day, I will show how the WikiLeaks cables show that every time a partner government threatens to use the high tech intelligence toys we share with it–notably our telecommunication wiretapping–to spy on domestic opponents, the Obama Administration makes a very concerted effort to disavow such efforts (if not end the partnership).

Which is why I find it so interesting that the CEO of Palantir Technologies just apologized to Glenn Greenwald for (I guess) allowing HBGary to target him for an oppo research and attack on his credibility.

“As the Co-Founder and CEO of Palantir Technologies, I have directed the company to sever any and all contacts with HB Gary,” the statement starts.

Dr. Karp explains that Palantir Technologies provides a software analytic platform for the analysis of data. They do not provide – “nor do we have any plans to develop” – offensive cyber capabilities.

In addition, the statement says that Palantir does not build software that is designed to allow private sector entities to obtain non-public information, engage in so-called cyber attacks, or take other offensive measures.

“I have made clear in no uncertain terms that Palantir Technologies will not be involved in such activities. Moreover, we as a company, and I as an individual, always have been deeply involved in supporting progressive values and causes. We plan to continue these efforts in the future,” Dr. Karp added.

“The right to free speech and the right to privacy are critical to a flourishing democracy. From its inception, Palantir Technologies has supported these ideals and demonstrated a commitment to building software that protects privacy and civil liberties. Furthermore, personally and on behalf of the entire company, I want to publicly apologize to progressive organizations in general, and Mr. Greenwald in particular, for any involvement that we may have had in these matters.”

Somehow,Dr. Karp forgot to apologize to Brad Friedman, another journalist WBGary–in projects bid in partnership with Palantir–has targeted.

As a reminder, Palantir Technologies is one of the two other security firms that HBGary partnered with to try to get spying business with Bank of America and the Chamber of Commerce.

But perhaps more relevant is Palantir’s primary focus: working with the national security apparatus. They’ve done at least $6,378,332 in business with entities like SOCOM and FBI in the last several years. And while they say they have no plans to adopt “offensive cyber capabilities,” that’s not to say they’re not helping the government analyze data on our presumed enemies.

I would imagine Palantir has pretty good reason to know that the government will not do business with a contractor using the same technologies to target Glenn Greenwald (and maybe Brad Friedman).

At least not publicly. Remember–DOJ recommended Hunton & Williams (which put Palantir and HBGary together for the bid) to Bank of America.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

  1. AZ Matt says:

    Maybe the teabaggers would like to hire these bozos! That way they can spy into the bedrooms of the rest of us.

    • emptywheel says:

      Remember that the actual presentation is on a Palantir Powerpoint.

      Which is why they’re probably apologizing to Glenn but not Brad–because they cannot claim they didn’t know about that. The BoA presentation appears to have been created by Matthew Steckman, a Palantir employee, and in one email he notes that he has added in the focus on Glenn.

  2. BoxTurtle says:

    I don’t think Palantir is at any real risk of losing their contracts. They’ve said all the right things and they’ve got a real cool toy.

    They do seem to believe the emails released are authentic, despite WBGary’s offical position.

    Boxturtle (WB’s website is still mostly down)

  3. jdmckay0 says:

    OT.

    Bloomberg this morning: Obama Administration Calls for Winding Down Fannie, Freddie

    I presume most readers here understand how F/F was dumping ground for CountryWide & co’s bad loans, not cause or source of ’em. Article is mostly Geithner before congress (I think) yesterday. Timmy:

    “This is a plan for fundamental reform — to wind down the GSEs, strengthen consumer protection and preserve access to affordable housing for people who need it,” Geithner said in a statement accompanying the report. The report also pledges ongoing U.S. government support to make sure Fannie and Freddie can meet any debt or other financial obligations.

    Article also says Timmy presented a…

    set of options for weaning the $11 trillion mortgage market from its dependence on the government, while calling for changes to be phased in “responsibly and carefully” to avoid economic disruptions.

    “Avoid economic disruptions”… that’s funny.

  4. 1der says:

    HB Gary’s Barr:

    TNNI: What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve experienced in your current position?

    Barr: Greatest challenges … there’s so many. Coming from a large integrator, I default to thinking strategically. And now that I’m the CEO of a small company, it’s really being able to take that experience and execute tactically, growing that business in those areas that I mentioned. Those are certainly challenge areas for me. But it’s a good fit for me. Even as a manager, I have always been technical, so I can bring that capability, along with my strategic view and develop tactical, point solutions to help satisfy some of the larger challenges.
    http://www.thenewnewinternet.com/2010/06/02/aaron-barr-computer-security-is-a-hunt-an-investigation-it%E2%80%99s-a-challenge/

    Hiring the Best and Brightest. Genius, wonderful.

  5. Tina O says:

    Anyone else having trouble connecting to the bradblog? It was weird, my first attempt I got a screen that said I was FORBIDDEN ENTRY???? Now, its just a generic connection problem screen when I have no problem connecting to any other site. I think his site may be under attack.

  6. Xboxershorts says:

    @Tina…it appears the server(s) hosting Bradblog and Velvet Revolution experienced a hard drive failure. They are both up now.