Chet Uber Contacted HBGary before He Publicized His Role in Turning in Bradley Manning

A reader found a very interesting email among the HBGary emails: Chet Uber emailed–after having tried to call–HBGary CEO Greg Hoglund on June 23, 2010.

> Sir,




> I would like to speak to Mr. Hoglund. My name is Chet Uber

> and I was given his name by common associates as someone I should speak with.

> The nature of our work is highly sensitive so no offense but I cannot explain

> the details of my call. I was given a URL and a phone number. I was not given

> his direct line and every time I try to get an attendant you phone system

> disconnects me. Would you please forward him this email to him. The links below

> are new and as much information as we have ever made public.




> Sorry for the mystery but in my world we are careful about

> our actions and this is something interpreted as rudeness. I am being polite,

> so any cooperation you can provide is greatly appreciated.

Uber copies himself, Mark Rasch, George Johnson, and Mike Tomasiewicz, and sends links to two stories about Project Vigilant, which had been posted on the two proceeding days.

In response to the email, Hoglund asks Bob Slapnick to check Uber out with someone at DOD’s CyberCrime Center.

Chet Uber, as you’ll recall, is the guy who held a press conference at DefCon on August 1 to boast about his role in helping Adrian Lamo turn Bradley Manning in to authorities. Mark Rasch is the former DOJ cybercrimes prosecutor who claims to be Project Vigilant’s General Counsel and who says he made key connections with the government on Manning.

Mind you, the multiple versions of Uber’s story of his involvement in turning in Manning are inconsistent. At least a couple versions have Lamo calling Uber in June, after Manning had already been arrested.

So there are plenty of reasons to doubt the Lamo and Uber story. And security insiders have suggested the whole Project Vigilant story may be nothing more than a publicity stunt.

Furthermore, this email may be more of the same. Uber may have been doing no more than cold-calling Hoglund just as he was making a big publicity push capitalizing on the Manning arrest.

But consider this.

Lamo’s conversations with Manning have always looked more like the coached questions of someone trying to elicit already-suspected details than the mutual boasting of two hackers. Because of that and because of the inconsistencies and flimsiness of the Project Vigilant story, PV all looked more like a cover story for why Lamo would narc out Bradley Manning than an accurate story. And Uber’s email here and his DefCon press conference may well be publicity stunts. But then, that’s what Aaron Barr’s research on Anonymous was supposed to be: a widely publicized talk designed to bring new business. But a key part of the PV story was the claim that Adrian Lamo had volunteered with the group working on “adversary characterization.”

Uber says Lamo worked as a volunteer research associate for Project Vigilant for about a year on something called adversary characterization, which involved gathering information for a project on devising ways to attribute computer intrusions to individuals or groups. He helped define the roles, tools and methods intruders would use to conduct such attacks.

While it is described as more technical, that’s not all that different from what Aaron Barr was doing with social media on Anonymous.

One more thing. Consider what DOJ has been doing since the time Lamo turned in Manning and now: asking social media providers for detailed information about a network of people associated with Wikileaks. That is, DOJ appears to have been doing with additional legal tools precisely what Barr was doing with public sources.

That’s likely all a big coinkydink. But these security hackers all seem to love turning their freelance investigations into big publicity stunts.

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. PeasantParty says:

    ‘for a project on devising ways to attribute computer intrusions to individuals or groups’

    I had been trying to figure out the connection between Lamo and Manning, or why Manning would have contacted and given up so much info to Lamo.

    You are helping us to connect the dots. I suspect that Lamo, under the guise of the above quote instead went a backdoor route to find who may be accessing government documents that might end up at Wikileaks. I am probably wrong, but like I said, it is suspicion.

    Also, the fact that our agencies which hand out permissive contracts to others such as Uber and HB Gary, etc. have released without oversight a band of marauders upon the internet, privacy, and a great temptation of espionage.

      • Chet Uber says:

        For the record, we have NO CONNECTION to HBGary. We were then and are now interested in working with them in the area of Attack Attribution. We have never gotten an official answer. So there is no connection.

        What permissive contracts does BBHC have? I know of none. We are self funded, 100% volunteer and 100% volunteer owned. We do bid on contracts that hit our core technologies and research to try to supplement our funding from work for Fortune firms that are US owned.

        You sources on us are wrong. Have some of us worked for the Government or worked on contracts not as VIGILANT or BBHC in the past. Yes but that is irrelevant.

    • Chet Uber says:

      The email in question had this signature block, or one very similar. Please note the provision, it is short but the use of this in a blog without contacting HBGary or myself is a legal violation. If this trite was actually important I would follow up with legal action.


      Chet Uber, BBHC Global LLC, Director, Project VIGILANT
      B +1 (772) 332-6988 | F +1 (866) 710-9986
      [email protected] | [email protected] | Skype: chetuber | AIM: chetleeuber
      ID: 1C2327F9 | FP: 66E8 E7AC 2EB9 0CEB 9AE2 99DC 2EC1 C2B9 1C23 27F9
      Infragard, Founding Member (#620) | AFCEA 10-Years | Delta Sigma Phi, Alumni
      “All Warfare is Based on Deception” ~ Sun Tzu
      “Red Tape Will Not Defeat Terrorism” -~ Kevin Manson
      “The work of Project VIGILANT has proven to be a positive value in protecting US national security interests and has been an important asset to the US law enforcement community” ~ James Christy
      – This communication is confidential to the parties it was intended to serve –

      Notice the last line!

      1. As to the comment. Adrian Lamo did and does work in an area of research call Adversary Characterization. Pending his potential involvment with the Manning case he is on leave and in no way being punished.

      2. I did not “Boast” about my role with Lamo, I had been hearing things through both conferences those weeks and seeing posters about Adrian being a Narc. This is just not true and I heard whispers in the back of the room about it so I took a stand. Like I am hear giving my side. This is unusual and soon Ira Winkler, the new Public Affairs Officers will be the only one to speak for VIGILANT. This is all just so wrong and out of context, not to matter illegal interception of protected communication I had to chime in.

      3. My role with Brad Manning and Lamo was a a “personal friend” to Adrian. He called me at the behest of his father. He knew I had been in these situations and that I could be one of those to give Adrian wise and experienced counsel. Based on the communication I did have some confusion -I thought beyond the logs Adrian had Federal US cleared material he did not. In either case the log itself is evidence of a treason during war time and Adrian is a patriotic citizen for having the balls to do the right thing. All you arm-chair quarterbacks can assign “dots to connect” and to each his own.

      4. Neither Manning or Assange are heros and comparisons to Ellswoth show a complete lack of understanding of the Ellsworth story, his role in advising many Presidents who he told one thing and listened to them lie. Manning should not have put Adrian in that position and he is a criminal who should be tried in a Military Tribual and metted out the most severe penalty unless he has additional information that is not disclosed – that might save his lift. The penalty for treason in wartime is death.

        • ottogrendel says:

          Indeed. The quote about red tape getting in the way of combating terrorism as well as the “Attributing Actions to Actors” slogan on PV’s logo suggest an intense silliness whether these express a Neoconservative ideology, a put-on or just plain bad, immature work.

          If director “Chet Uber”‘s (Really? “Now look, Colonel Bat Guano, if that is your name” –Cpt. Mandrake) blatant sloppiness of thought as revealed here by his tenuous command of the language is further indication of just how competent and serious PV is, we should be laughing.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            “Red Tape” implies a cowardly bureaucracy or cowardly political actors. It is also intentionally broad enough to include the law and a review process adequate for the tasks at hand.

            I would also argue that it panders to a Cheneyesque view that prizes power above all, and the idea that the truly powerful bear no responsibility for their actions. It also dispenses, coincidentally I’m sure, with competent tradecraft and substitutes schoolboyish fantasies that evil is something only the other guy does and that what goes around, never comes around.

      • bmaz says:

        Hi Mr. Uber. I am connected to this site and noticed your comment as to the confidentiality line. I have checked and, honestly, that disclaimer was not seen at the time the post was drafted as the, for lack of a better term, document was taken by the writer from a publicly available source. That said, all you have to do is say so, and I will remove it immediately from the body of the post. Either way, it is a tough crowd here, but a knowledgeable one and thank you for your willing participation and promotion of the discussion. That is always welcome.

      • ThingsComeUndone says:

        US cleared material he did not. In either case the log itself is evidence of a treason during war time and Adrian is a patriotic citizen for having the balls to do the right thing. All you arm-chair quarterbacks can assign “dots to connect” and to each his own.

        When the Bush WH or Obama ever gets around to prosecuting who leaked Valerie Palme’s name then we can talk about Treason during wartime which I believe is punishable by death.
        I don’t recall Scooter Libby getting this kind of treatment.

        • Margaret says:

          That’s because the PTB which people like Uber seemingly never tire of cozying up to wanted Plame’s name leaked. Our government couldn’t care less about espionage or rule of law except as it advances their interests. Joe Wilson tried to point out that “Curveball” was lying so he had to be discredited at all costs. Now that CurveSlimeball has admitted to his lies, how many are going to hold their breath until Wilson and Plame get and apology and/or compensation?

          • eCAHNomics says:

            Curveball was mobile bio labs. Wilson was yellowcake from Niger, which came from the forged docs thru Italy’s CIA analogue.

            • Margaret says:

              Thanks for the clarification. I can’t keep all of the lies straight. Though if I remember correctly, nobody has ever found the ultimate source of those documents.

              • eCAHNomics says:

                nobody has ever found the ultimate source of those documents.

                Not that I’ve noticed.

                And the only reason I remember the details so clearly was that I was all alone in those days trying to figure it out, so I did a lot more work, and thought about it obsessively. There were really only 5 arguments: Yellowcake, mobile bio labs, al-Libi, aluminum tubes & whatever came from Chalabi/Miller. Each one scattered like dust when you touched it. And if SH had WMDs, you know there’s be a lot more evidence than that. Esp after UN went back in. As I was wont to say at the time: Did they go to the 400 places LEAST likely to have WMDs first.

                FDL has made me lazy, in the sense of so many doing the kind of work I did myself back then.

                  • eCAHNomics says:

                    Yes, post-invasion story much more complicated. Then there too many tragedies to count. I often wanted to just stay in bed all day with the covers over my head.

                  • earlofhuntingdon says:

                    Yep, we disbanded an army and did nothing to control access by over 250,000 jobless workers with an ax to grind to munitions scattered across the country. Inventing a better way to insure a longstanding insurgency would be hard.

                    We also miserably failed to control looting and to protect the populace and the country’s heritage. We did secure the oil ministry and its records; that’s something Dick Cheney did have an interest in. Those are not the actions of an invading army attempting to secure peace and promote the spread of freedom and democracy. It smacks of building an empire.

                    • emptywheel says:

                      Fixed it for you:

                      We also miserably failed to control looting and to protect the populace and the country’s heritage. We did secure the oil ministry and its records; that’s something Dick Cheney did have an interest in. Those are not the actions of an invading army attempting to secure peace and promote the spread of freedom and democracy. It smacks of building expanding an empire.

      • emptywheel says:

        Thanks for joining us!

        As bmaz said, I didn’t see the warning this morning when I posted this. If you’d like us to remove this from the post, I’m happy to do so.

        Also, thanks for clarifying in the thread that this was just a cold call.

        Since you’re here, can you clear up one of the inconsistencies in the stories you’ve told about when you got involved, notably the date?

        I’m particularly interested in the date since Lamo’s own dates don’t add up, and his own inconsistencies (and oddities in the chat logs) seem to suggest he was still chatting w/Manning after the time he claimed, per Wired, Manning had been arrested.

        You’ve alternately said he first talked to you before he contacted the FBI and also said he first contacted you in June (which as I noted would be after Manning had been arrested). You’ve said you were involved, by phone, with the authorities (FBI? CID?), which might place it in the pre-arrest time frame or might refer to a later meeting.

        Do you remember any more detail than this?

        • pdaly says:

          Since Chet Uber states he was responding as a personal favor to the Lamos, and that the Manning case was not part of Project Vigilant, then I cannot imagine Mr. Uber would have any trouble pointing out the dates, on your timeline, corresponding to when he spoke with Lamo and arranged for Lamo meetings with goverment agents.

          Since Manning is irrelevant, as Mr. Uber states, to both Project Vigilant and to his [Chet’s] own involvement with Adrian Lamo, it should also not matter to Mr. Uber whether those dates of helping Lamo correspond to when Manning would or would not have been in custody.

          Too bad he is lost for words at the moment.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I wonder if our cyber-sleuth assessor of adversarial characterization meant Daniel Ellsberg? If so, it suggests s/he’s a trolly intern for some conservative “think” tank, an outsourced service provider moonlighting from checking my Amex charges, or an idjut trying to play with our heads.

          Surely, Shirley, our military and intelligence bureaucrats don’t reward such ignorance with multimillion dollar contracts. Or did I just answer my own question?

          • pdaly says:

            I wonder if our cyber-sleuth assessor of adversarial characterization meant Daniel Ellsberg?

            I wondered that too, but C.U. warned us off about making assumptions. Nevertheless, Ellsberg is kind of an important name to get right in the world of attributing actions to actors. Either “Ellsworth” is on his mind, or he has Pigmissiles in his head.

        • dopeyo says:

          i think he is trying to type “Daniel Ellsberg” who leaked the Pentagon Papers. ‘you keep saying that word. i do not think it means what you think it means.’

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            I think whoever claims to be “Chet” doesn’t know what he’s talking about, can’t be bothered to find out and so resorts to bluff, something the more extreme members of our political, military, intel and news industries have been accused of before.

  2. klynn says:

    That’s likely all a big coinkydink. But these security hackers all seem to love turning their freelance investigations into big publicity stunts.

    When EW writes, “…coinkydink…” we pay attention!

    (Note: Did you read about Thomas and Citizen’s United? He needs to be out today. Thanks to Margaret for the heads up on this.)

    • Chet Uber says:

      This is hard to interpresent the proper response but I will state this:

      We choose VIGILANT and the motto “Attributing Actions to Actors” because we are NOT vigilantes. We have been around for going now on 15 years in many forms. Most recently as we had income and not pure expenses we formed an LLC. Who knows where this will lead.

      When we assist or get involved there is a standing order: “We were never here, we do not exist. If anyone gets the credit it is the people harmed for taking action, the jurisdictional authority, or anyone claiming domain due to things like National Security. The things mentioned at DEFCON (except Lamo which was me) were chosen with our clients as a way to put out that we exist – for recruiting. Not to bandstand or take credit.

      We stay hidden because it makes are job harder when known.

  3. klynn says:

    Quick question.

    Since this story broke, I have been asking myself, “Why did BoA even go to DoJ for references? Why did DoJ even give them?”

    I am sure this will be a “simple answers to simple questions” moment.

    Note: I get the power brokering perspective. It’s “the stupid” I cannot seem to process.

  4. rosalind says:

    I was not given his direct line and every time I try to get an attendant you phone system disconnects me.

    ahahahaha. it appears HPGary’s technology services were as sophisticated as his voicemail system.

        • Chet Uber says:

          If by priceless you mean fiction taken from a business expansion email that was covered in the email by a statement that has been help up in court as better than more wordy ones – sure nice fiction and theft or conversations.

          As to reality BBGary is someone that we would like to work with in our research. Outside if that this nothing but a fishing expeditions. I will be the guide to the truth.

        • mack says:


          I have copied that link to several folks at our organization.

          And they really do not do Greg Hoglund’s credentials justice.

          He is a very well respected researcher.

          The actual practices folowed detailed will be devastating to that respect.

          Trust me.

          • eCAHNomics says:

            I know nothing about this subject. My one year as a computer programmer was in 1967, so you can see how dated my knowledge is. But I found the article so well written, even I could understand it. Very unusual.

            • mack says:

              That’s because security is not really all that complicated.

              Impossible, but not complicated.

              As for those who think that ‘social engineering’ is a weak approach, they don’t understand offense at all. Effective is strong.

              In offense, all that matters is the flag. Elegance in the capture is swell, but it’s the same flag.

              And thanks to Mr. Uber for showing up.

              As for emptywheel’s conspiracy theorizing, backtrack this blogs history and you will find more diamonds than coal in her timelines.

      • Watt4Bob says:

        Thanks, that was a great read YS.

        I often have to explain to people that the tech bubble did not break because the underlying promise of technology was phony, but that the actual capabilities of those selling the promises were hyped.

        I can’t count the number of times I encountered companies selling services thay had no ability to deliver. In almost every case they believed that with enough contracts in hand, they’d be able to hire technical staff to create the product after the fact.

        Our country is beset with a plague of people who see the opportunities for profit in security technology, and start selling those services before they actually have the capability to deliver.

        In many cases, what these groups actually have is the connections necessary to make the pitch, and neither side in the transaction is very concerned that the product actually exists prior to closing the deal.

        Years ago, a friend with some connections in Washington told me that there were many ‘opportunities’ in that area, for someone with my skills. It wasn’t until much later that it dawned on me that he didn’t really know, or care, for that matter, what those skills were; he just knew how to put me in touch with those who made the hiring decisions.

        No ‘real hacker’ would ever sell skills that they did not possess, and no ‘real hacker’ would ever threaten another hacker with cyber-attack.

        The unwritten, but well understood rules that govern the behavior of real hackers are very much like the rules of gun fighting.

        Real gun-fighters don’t threaten to shoot people, they just shoot them.

        In the case of HBGary, we have the logical results of phony hackers threatening real hackers and getting their just desserts.

  5. ondelette says:

    While it is described as more technical, that’s not all that different from what Aaron Barr was doing with social media on Anonymous.

    Course not. Because after getting done giving everybody a lot of “technical” aura, this is basic hacking, 101. Let’s just call a spade a spade, shall we? The BoA, using assets recommended by the Government’s anti-Wikileaks effort, hired a combined spook and hacker team to do a combined spook and hacker job on Wikileaks to try to stave off a leak that they probably know won’t be pretty. And the hacker component, because he’s also desperate to raise his creds because he’s up for chopping because he hasn’t produced results since his hire, thought he’d hack Anonymous to show off, and went public to get the bucks before he’d rendered his target impotent. So he got pwned. But all this “technical” and “highly sophisticated” and all that is just a lot of marketing hooey. He’s a hacker, and you’re listening to a marketing job on what hackers do to obtain keys and passwords. They compile dirt used to guess them.

    So of course it sounds the same. It is the same.

    • behindthefall says:

      Perhaps HBGary is trying to make lemonade out of lemons and made up the poster and affixed it to their own booth. It certainly gave them a way out of an embarrassing situation (being seen in public) and gave them an excuse to smear Anonymous. Or maybe it _was_ put there by someone else, in which case they must regard it as about the best thing that could have happened to them.

      BTW, this whole business of connecting dots to generate a portrait of someone reminds me of a piece of software I was using back in the early 90s. It was from SGI and was meant to help a person understand how complex software was structured. You fed it source code and it gave you graphical views of what functions were calling which and so on. It looked not unlike Palantir’s presentation of their project to demonstrate their products and techniques using Iranian shipping as an example. (Link? I think I got there through a video on Brad F.’s blog.) Another case of a nice, useful, mostly harmless idea being twisted to corrupt ends.

    • BillyP says:

      Clearly, though, he had no idea how bad things would get. HBGary — a minor but once-well-respected security company — has now suffered what may be a fatal hit to its reputation.

      Poor folks. They may have to switch careers and work with the anti-abortionists.

  6. dakine01 says:

    Mind you, the multiple versions of Uber’s story of his involvement in turning in Manning are inconsistent. At least a couple versions have Lamo calling Uber in June, after Manning had already been arrested.

    I guess Lamo, Uber, et al decided that if they got their stories consistent, then they could be charged with conspiracy when it all fell apart.

    Now, they can look like self aggrandizing idiots but not conspirators

    • emptywheel says:

      Nah, I’m thinking the whole PV thing is just a cover for whatever authorities convinced Lamo to do when they had him involuntarily committed just weeks before all of a sudden he stumbled on Bradley Manning.

      You know, if you had to create a non-governmental entity so as to make the original contact w/Manning legit under the law, you might have to fudge the dates a bit.

  7. lsls says:

    Hmm. Maybe Manning was just a tool. Maybe he got a similar memo to call Lamo from “common associates” or something like that. I think he’s a patsy. JMHO

    • yellowsnapdragon says:

      The chat logs between Manning’s bradass persona and Lamo are persuasive evidence of Manning’s involvement. However, with all the talk about creating personas online for dubious purposes, it really makes me wonder…

      • Chet Uber says:

        The information to the chat logs were the first sane thing I heard. They are legal evidence and they are telling. Lamo’s rule was as a citizen of the United States. They had nothing to do with his role in VIGILANT. I am the current Director, but have been around since the beginning in various roles. All of the volunteers are like “Adult Children” and as such I am here to listen to whatever they need to vent on. I should NOT have in public stated what I did about Adrian. I was pushed to the limit by very aggressive opposition to our goals and to Adrian in particular. I stepped in as a reflex and self defense.

  8. eCAHNomics says:

    I’ll leave this down here in EPUland bc I just thought of it.

    I’m convinced that Wall St. is just as incompetent as HBGary. That their ‘proprietary models’ could easily be hacked & will be found to be just plain garbage. Wouldn’t have a clue how to do it though.

  9. Chet Uber says:

    Hmmm I have inconsistent versions of the Manning story. I already admitted that it was late when I first heard about this from Adrian. He weighed what I said and in the end I did provide him with numbers and people to contact. I also was involved via phone in the meeting Adrian had – as I helped put him in that position.

    Other than that I have no comment as to whether we knew or did not know about Brad Manning, and it is not relevant to the case in any manner.

    As to inconsistent, why would a company that doesn’t talk to the press ever give a sinple or clear answer – outside of no comment. The Lamo-Manning affair was nothing but A PERSONAL FAVOR to someone I consider a friend. It was not an action by BBHC or PROJECT VIGILANT. PERIOD!

  10. Chet Uber says:

    Actually I rub my hands together as the evil genius I am trying to take over the world and go “ahhh Bawahahahahahahahhaaha Smirk”

    Reality I do go Bawhaahaha a lot, but the reality is we are a privately held, volunteer organization with one core purpose to provide technologies that fuse data into a system which can attribute actions to actors that have happened, are happening, and in the future.

    We have no budget. No political agenda. For the record I am a moderate Democrat, I support things like the EFF and the ACLU. Painting me as an anti-libertarian is wrong and if it makes you happy keep it up. The more disinformation the better.

  11. Chet Uber says:

    As I indicated effective immediately Ira Winkler has taken over the recently vacated post of the Director of the Public Affairs Office. He will hold press briefings as he sees fit. He will have some documents for wide distribution that should clear up what we do.

    These replies by me are because this was personal and because I did not feel like asking Mark Rasch (General Counsel) or one of the many (think dozens) of Special Counsels we have to make sure we do not violate the law. If I was in a bad mood we would go after the Federal crime of intercepting private communications. Since I do not know how you got them I figured that being the actual kind, experienced, and hand-on leader I am to give you some facts. You know what they say about assumptions!

    • lsls says:

      Well, you do sound kind, and you do sound like you have a good sense of humor. Now, what about Lamo and Manning? Don’t you at least feel a little bit sorry that he is being treated the way he is being treated? Maybe you could clear up something like..did Lamo contact Manning..or did Manning really contact Lamo, and why would he contact Lamo in the first place..?? Why Lamo?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      As bmaz says, had you done your homework, you too could have learned that the material in this post you claim is confidential came from a publicly available source. Either you already knew that, and are making a poor attempt at intimidating a discussion group that’s not easily intimidated, or you don’t care about getting your facts, tactics or strategy correct. That would be a dangerous frailty in the business you claim to aspire to be part of.

      If your claims are valid, I suggest you pursue your grievance with that or those sources, not with the general public commenting about the information contained in those materials.

  12. stryx says:

    did Lamo contact Manning..or did Manning really contact Lamo, and why would he contact Lamo in the first place..??

    This is a good example of why lying is such hard work. Answers lead to more questions which require more answers…. and when multiple people are involved and you have to keep all the stories synched…it can become overwhelming.

    You learn about this in rehab. It’s pretty easy to spot afterwards. You can’t kid a kidder, they say.

    Here’s a protip: the truth is generally easier to explain than a lie.

  13. pdaly says:

    FYI: When I try to access the link to the “very interesting email” (first line of emptywheel’s post) from my work computer I get the following very interesting error message:

    This Page Cannot Be Displayed

    This web site ( ) has been blocked because it has been determined to contain malware and is a security threat to your computer or [your work] network.

    Have IT administrators (I’m at a nonprofit) been instructed by the government to block this specific site, or is “.ru” an unfamiliar place for a work computer to head to?

  14. fatster says:

    Firm in WikiLeaks plot has deep ties to Feds
    Just as HBGary was plotting to attack WikiLeaks, it was on the way to getting Defense Department security clearanc


  15. Frank33 says:

    My role with Brad Manning and Lamo was a a “personal friend” to Adrian. He called me at the behest of his father. He knew I had been in these situations and that I could be one of those to give Adrian wise and experienced counsel.

    Friendship is a beautful thing. The advice to Lamo was “wise”, snitch on Manning to help warmongers.

    By “these situations” Uber must be describing his assistance to COINTELPRO. Obviously, Uber is attacking the freedom of American citizens, while being paid by taxpayers. I hope Uber is a highly paid war profiteer.

  16. Frank33 says:

    If I was in a bad mood we would go after the Federal crime of intercepting private communications.

    Thank you for being in a good mood. I would hate for you to be sad and mad. Then you might snitch on the people making you unhappy, and unleash your dozens of special counsels.

    Are you a chicken hawk or have you actually fought in the wars you are pimping for?

  17. spanishinquisition says:

    So how vigilant is Project Vigilant? I’m particularly curious about Chet Uber since he explicitly states he specializes in HIPAA compliance. Look at this story in the WaPo where a soldier’s medical information is being leaked to the media:

    Yet you don’t hear a peep about that type of leak that expressly fell within his specialty – not very vigilant! Project Mercenary seems a more appropriate title.

  18. Teddy Partridge says:

    Is there any reason to believe that commenter “Chet Uber” is who he claims to be? Just curious. I note he seems to have disappeared when asked specific questions, even though one of them is “do you want us to take down your email?”

      • eCAHNomics says:

        Something bizarre about this guy.

        I’ll start with my armchair psychologist hat on & say narcissistic personality disorder. Evidence: he had to respond, in detail, to almost every comment including mine, which had nothing to do with him.

        Second, my armchair LD diagnostician hat. He jumps all over the place. His thoughts are not expressed clearly. And the syntax thing you mention. I think he might well have a learning disability.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        It’s possible that the poor grammar, diction and sentence structure indicate that whomever is funding this “volunteer” organization got miserly when choosing its foreign outsourced “marketing materials” writers.

  19. TomThumb says:

    There is the issue of calling the shedding of sunlight on secreted war crimes, “treason”. I am no lawyer but I know that colluding to keep war crimes secret is a ‘crime’. When whistleblowers share what they have learned, they are patriots, acting in the best interest of their country’folk’.

    So, Mr. Uber. I disagree with you about alleged acts of treason. I also wonder if your Project Vigilance is not committing unlawful surveillance of American citizens? Are you likely to be accused of committing the very cybercrimes you are accusing others of perpetrating?

  20. stryx says:

    Search on “Project Vigilant ” and see what IT websites think of PV.

    TL:DR version: PV’s probably a hoax.

    Slashdot notes of PV’s website:

    The list of logged-in users includes such gems as a guy named “poopcracker.”

      • behindthefall says:

        Nice one. An enjoyable read. Good demonstration of how the eyeballs can keep reading while the head shakes from side to side, occasionally up and down, too, while laughing. It doesn’t take much shuffling to get “Chet Uber” to spell “Uber-tech”, does it? Really confidence-inspiring.

        • ottogrendel says:

          To give “Chet Uber” his due, he is a creative guy. For who he pretends to be, “Chet Uber” is a great name that works on several levels. Plus, all iconic tough guys who dispense with evil-doers while playing by their own rules have one-syllable first names (“The Tao of Steve”. . . ?).

          And lastly, he came up with this outstanding job description and veto power of PV’s Chief Scientist: “The job of the Chief Scientist is to “call bullshit” when someone has an idea that will never work.” Fucking brilliant!

  21. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “Chet’s” comments at 20 are interesting. Someone obviously chose to disclose this information. Per Cokie’s rule, “it’s out there” now.

    “Adversary characterization”? Like Orwell, I am dismayed at business and government jargon that attempts to hide true purposes. Defaming or propagandizing seem more accurate, depending on who is paying for the work and who is the target.

    Little wonder that “Chet” thinks his job is much easier to do when no one knows who does it or pays for it. Anonymous political sources leaking to the NYTimes and the WaPoop would agree.

    • Watt4Bob says:

      Little wonder that “Chet” thinks his job is much easier to do when no one knows who does it or pays for it.

      I might add that in my experience it’s much easier to do the job if no one ever checks to see if it actually gets done.

      I have the suspicion that a lot of the new security companies working for the DHS are owned and operated by people that would otherwise be known as unemployed rich kids.

      • eCAHNomics says:

        Or politically connected incompetents like Bernie Kerik.

        DHS is just another ploy to funnel taxpayer $$$ to rich & connected peeps. Corrupt to its roots.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        It’s certainly true that with corrupt narcissists like Joe Lieberman “overseeing” such agencies, their homework never gets checked by anyone with authority to make them do it over.

  22. Teddy Partridge says:

    I have to wonder if one of the thousands of Special Counsels swooped in and disabled Uber-Chet’s (or the Uber-Chet imposter’s) syntax-mangling keyboard. Those Special Counsels have amazing powers, I bet.

  23. kylefresh says:

    i had a few interactions online with adrian via twitter. when i dug too deeply, he became very interested in acquiring other messaging accounts that we might communicate via. i always wondered why he was so interested.

    • ottogrendel says:

      I’ll bet you money it is. :)

      It is not just about the poor sentence structure, confusion regarding parts of speech or homophone mistakes. What “Chet Uber”’s (aka “extreme laughter”) writing displays is a lack of logic, lack of focus, unprofessionalism and weak attention to detail. And this from a director of a “serious” internet spying concern? It’s all part of the deception of warfare, to be sure.

  24. spanishinquisition says:

    I guess PV doesn’t let employment law get in the way – afterall, that’s just red tape:

    Is it a good idea to use “volunteers”?

    There is no recognized legal authority that allows a “for profit” business (as opposed to a charity or government employer) to use unpaid “volunteers.” So if someone wants to gain experience by working for your company without pay, be forewarned. If the relationship sours, you could face a claim for unpaid minimum wages and even overtime pay. You may also be liable for unpaid Social Security, unemployment and workers’ compensation payroll taxes, as well as failure to withhold income tax.

    When the tech bubble burst earlier in this decade, many former volunteers who “hosted” chat rooms or online communities made claims that they had been misclassified, that they were really employees and were entitled to be paid at least the minimum wage, and in some cases overtime, for the hours spent in such volunteer activities.

    It is then elaborated on further here where it looks like PV is engage in major FLSA violations:

    It says that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division created a test to determine whether a “trainee” or intern is considered an “employee” based on a 1947 Supreme Court decision that evaluated whether “prospective train yard brakemen were ‘employees’ within the meaning of the Fair Labor Standards Act.” The test requires that all 6 of the following statements are true about the intern’s time with the company.

    1. If the training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in a vocational school;

    2. If the training is for the benefit of the trainee;

    3. If the trainees do not displace regular employees, but work under close observation;

    4. If the employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees and, on occasion, the employer’s operations are actually impeded;

    5. If the trainees are not necessarily entitled to employment at the completion of the training period;

    6. If the employer and the trainees understand that the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.

    This is the law. If any one of these six statements is not true about a given internship, then the interns are considered “employees” and are subject to the monetary provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. That means that the interns are entitled to minimum wage and overtime compensation.

    Why isn’t PV being vigilant on employment law?

      • qweryous says:

        I didn’t explain the Heinlein quote at 81.

        Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.
        Robert A. Heinlein

        Just search the phrase with the name Che’ Tuber Chet Uber to see where it was used.

        • k9disc says:

          Is he really a founding member of Infragard?

          It doesn’t get much closer to fascism than that. And he was hooking up with HB ‘Rootkit’ Gary?

          Makes me feel safe.

          What ever happened to P2OG?

  25. trout says:

    has anyone ever raised the possibility here that Manning himself is a publicity stunt? sort of like the Woody Harrelson character in Wag the Dog – whenever i see that goofy pic of Manning i always wonder – pretty extreme on the tin foil hat scale i know, but still.. isn’t House, not a personal friend, the only guy who visits him in the brig?

  26. bmull says:

    I could do without hearing any more about this Project Vigilant nonsense. However I strongly suspect Adrian Lamo and HBGary have had some dealings because Lamo is Sacramento’s best known former hacker in search of a job, and HBGary is Sacramento’s best known computer security firm. More to be revealed I hope.

  27. pdaly says:

    Tried from home just now:

    Safari can’t open the page “” because Safari can’t find the server “”.

  28. dopeyo says:

    waitaminnit! how do we know that the chat logs are a true product of interactions between lamo and manning? AFAIR, manning first sent lamo several encrypted emails, which lamo claimed he could not open, due to an obsolete public key encryption thingy.

    perhaps williamofoccam – or another uber-geek – can explain why encrypted emails are more difficult to spoof than clear-text chat logs. but i for one do not buy the notion that lamo’s chat logs contain the actual words of bradley manning. it is entirely possible that lamo fabricated manning’s side of the ‘conversation’.

    we know that lamo is a self-important egomaniac. why do we trust his reporting? perhaps if bradley manning were free to speak…. naw.

    • bmull says:

      We don’t know anything about the accuracy of the logs. Hopefully the government will explain in court how it verified they were Manning’s words. But I wouldn’t be surprised if all the evidence is under seal for “national security reasons” and we never find out what really happened.

  29. irregulationary says:

    Chet Uber’s deranged syntax and Munchausenesque tale-spinning remind me very much of L. Ron Hubbard, minus about 80 criminal IQ points.

    Cryptome quotes Chet on Intelligence and Analysis:

    The patterns that we are looking for are those that reveal the 5% of the world that has no conscious. The people that will take a rifle to work and kill their entire office, the student that will do the same to their school mates, the extremist groups that will encourage lone wolfs to go into a church and kill another human being because they don’t approve of their work, the domestic and foreign terrorists that the United States, United Kingdom and the other allies have identified as a threat to our way of life, or the facist groups that go beyond complaining about the blacks and the jews and actually curb them, burn them alive, and of their own free will go beyond free speech act in a way that deprives other human beings of their life.

    It is hard to in one paragraph like I just wrote to describe what we look for because the the truth is we are really looking for “what hasn’t yet ever happened, what is likely to happen based on what we believe indicates behaviors in the real world (digital or physical). The problem is as we currently see it is what Dr. Fred Cohen proved in his thesis and later mathematical work — That you can always get punched in the nose once. Malware and “bad behavior” has been proven to suffer from the halting problem. So the best we can hope for is to have a mechanism driven by the best science possible that will provide those in Intelligence to spot the most likely bad things.

    • teqwi says:

      we are really looking for “what hasn’t yet ever happened, what is likely to happen based on what we believe indicates behaviors in the real world (digital or physical).

      My mother always called that “worrying.” Thanks to your posting the Insights of Che Tuber, I now have even more proof that she was a woman ahead of her time.

  30. tarrant says:

    Ohhhhh sweet mercy.

    I tried to resist the urge to post, but the bullshit is just overwhelming. Here’s the deal, people.

    Despite Chet Uber’s near-constant use of the word “we,” he’s a one man band. Worse, rather than make his cacophony on the street corner like any respectable lunatic where you can simply avoid eye contact and cross the street, he scurries from business to business, cymbals crashing and horns blaring, until he’s inevitably thrown out on his ass and he moves on to the next establishment having learned nothing along the way.

    “Project VIGILANT” -is- Chet Uber, and nothing/nobody more. To quote Stein, “there is no there there.” It’s a funny little man operating levers and pedals and steam valves behind a curtain, and quite frankly, I doubt the illusion would have persisted as long as it has if not for the general atmosphere of conspiracy surrounding the Manning case.

    I’ve heard from a third party that some Project Vigilant docs may hit Cryptome in the near future. I’ve seen a number of documents from the project, and they’re abjectly hilarious. Without being hyperbolic, they’re the sort of thing one might expect from a teenage LARP group (not that there’s anything wrong with LARPing *cough*) with room temperature IQ and a penchant for Metal Gear Solid 4. That these documents could persuade anybody to believe in the authenticity of Uber’s project is a question for the ages, but… human nature is what it is, and we all tend to see what we want to see.

    As an aside, feel free to play a little game called “How many different signature blocks can you find for Chet Uber?” If you haven’t found at least 20, you’re doing it wrong.

    Hey Uber — sorry if this rubs you the wrong way, pal. I never had time to go to finishing school, and sometimes the truth just ain’t kind.