Progressives Demand House GOP Committee Chairs Investigate Hunton & Williams

When I first posted on Hank Johnson’s letter demanding an investigation into Hunton & Williams’ appropriation of counterterrorist techniques to attack citizen speech, I was a bit skeptical. Without a way to get some coverage of the demand, such a letter risks being yet one more angry letter into the void.

But I will say the letter is well-constructed.

That’s because it’s addressed to the Chairmen of the Oversight, Judiciary, Intelligence, and Armed Services Committees: Darrell Issa, Lamar Smith, Mike Rogers, and Buck McKeon. So in addition to someone, like Smith, who can address the legal issues involved–notably, why DOJ was recommending H&W to Bank of America–Johnson and others have included Rogers and McKeon, who presumably know a good deal about how DOD has funded campaigns like the one H&W was going to launch against citizens.

Which brings us to the DOD tie-in:

The techniques may have been developed at U.S. government expense to target terrorists and other security threats. The emails indicated that these defense contractors planned to mine social network sites for information on Chamber critics; planned to plant “false documents” and “fake insider personas” that would be used to discredit the groups; and discussed the use of malicious and intrusive software (“malware”) to steal private information from the groups and disrupt their internal electronic communications.

[snip]

It is deeply troubling to think that tactics developed for use against terrorists may have been unleashed against American citizens.

[snip]

Possible proof the defense and security contractors may have traded on their government work is inferred by a November 3, 2010, sales proposal from Team Themis to Hunton & Williams: “Who better to develop a corporate information reconnaissance capability than companies that have been market leaders within the [Defense Department] and Intelligence Community?

The focus, in other words, is not just on how such a campaign violates the law, but also how it represents the application of DOD-developed programs to private citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.

Sure, the GOP Chairs will ignore this.

But it’ll make them complicit in protecting the Chamber’s and H&W’s misappropriation of DOD technology.

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. BoxTurtle says:

    But it’ll make them complicit

    And that will bother them how?

    But there IS another way this could go. This incident is ObamaLLP ONLY. The GOPer’s could go after it without exposing BushCo or themselves to embarassment. Because of that, they may well choose to pursue it. And they could defend against the “Politics as normal” charges by pointing out who requested the investigation.

    Boxturtle (They just won’t go after the Chamber connections)

    • NorskeFlamethrower says:

      Citizen BoxTurtle:

      They can’t go after Obama on this and have any chance of keepin’ it in the field of play. This is a good thing by the “progressives” and keeps the heat on Obama as well as the fascists in the congress who are now in the position of protectin’ ObamaRahma’s ass on these matters. In other words, ObamaRhama is triangulatin’ the fascists on this to keep himself clear of the shit…just let it keep playin out. Let the progressives keep throwin things out there and gettin at least a moment’s attention all this shit will land someplace sometime in 2012.

  2. Tom in AZ says:

    You’re right Marcy, but being complicit is like a badge of honor for these douche bags.

    But hey, today is one my one year anniversary quitting smoking, so maybe I’ll live long enough now for just one of these pukes to stand up and do the right thing for their country.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    These programs also make one wonder whether money appropriated by Congress for legitimate needs but spent on them has been misspent.

    • HelenaHandbasket says:

      It wouldn’t surprise me that the phony-baloney conservatives in congress wouldn’t just make the opposite argument: that it was a way to get an additional return on investment. Two birds, one stone and all.

  4. onitgoes says:

    Interesting. Well maybe it’ll distract ’em from trying to impeach Obama for something really stupid, like his stand on DOMA (which Gingrich has been threatening). I wouldn’t mind impeachment proceedings on Obama, if was for something “real,” but you know that GOP clowns will just waste time & my precious tax dollars on senseless junk meant to easily distract their base.

    I say: bring it on. See what happens. However, I won’t hold my breath.

    • PeasantParty says:

      Issa is too darn busy investigating his own staff. He is mad because one of them supposedly helped or gave information to a journalist writing a book. LOL! If that wasn’t a great afternoon laugh for you, you are not living.

  5. PeasantParty says:

    “The focus, in other words, is not just on how such a campaign violates the law, but also how it represents the application of DOD-developed programs to private citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.”

    Exactly! Warfare tools being used against us all. I just tried to get to G. Greenwald’s post at Salon. Keep getting a 404 error, so it looks like they are still at it, or someone in their ideology camp is shutting him down.

    I hope I don’t spontaneously combust the next time I hear a right winger spout crap about the free market, baby. This is anything but a free market when even our Federal office of the Chamber can attack opposition.

  6. beowulf says:

    Sure, the GOP Chairs will ignore this.
    But it’ll make them complicit in protecting the Chamber’s and H&W’s misappropriation of DOD technology.

    Too bad the GOP controls both houses of Congress. If the Democrats controlled, say, the Senate, they could just call hearings instead of writing ineffectual letter to GOP chairmen requesting them.

  7. Bobster33 says:

    I think that the irony is that this may give Julian Assange and Glen Greenwald the right to sue the Chamber, the US and these lousy corporate criminals. I suspect that bloggers are mining the emails to find a case against these entities.

  8. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    The focus, in other words, is not just on how such a campaign violates the law, but also how it represents the application of DOD-developed programs to private citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.

    Sure, the GOP Chairs will ignore this.

    But it’ll make them complicit in protecting the Chamber’s and H&W’s misappropriation of DOD technology.

    Earth to GOP Chair: some of those ‘citizens’ are probably elementary school teachers, cops, and firefighters in WI and other states who are starting to ask more serious questions about why bank fraud hasn’t been investigated, prosecuted, and why the GOP continues to toss out diversions like ‘deficits’ rather than say… tax havens, corporate failure to pay taxes, mega-pay for execs, and other related Chamber issues.

    So if the GOP is really dumb enough to fail to figure out that the DOD technology developed to fight terrorists could (perhaps ‘is’) now being used to damage the rights of cops, prison guards, nurses, and second grade teachers, then … this, I gotta see.

    I’m off to buy popcorn futures, ’cause this is gonna be a show.

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      And doesn’t it underscore the inherent danger in contracting out security matters?

      Remember the WaPo piece last year about the growth industry in intelligence contracting.

      Let us not forget the increasingly blurred lines between police and corporations’ access to private citizens’info via the governmental fusion centers.

  9. thatvisionthing says:

    ew, I wandered off into the cosmos in your last diary, but see my last comment there @30

    Well, considering that HBGray was marketing to the House of Representatives engineer CISO Brent Conran in @29, maybe they should look to themselves and ask some questions — e.g., link Responder Pro, link BigFix