Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chamber hires "private security firm" to sabotage unions

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce last year hired high-tech goons to run an undercover smear campaign targeting unions and other working class organizations. Ultimately, the Chamber planned to use lies and false accusations to discredit these groups. It was part of a campaign to help push the Chamber's agenda to let multi-national corporations send more U.S. jobs overseas and destablize working families by forcing down wages even as U.S. unemployment approaches 10 percent.

Two of the Chamber's targets are Change to Win (the labor federation to which the Teamsters belong) and the ThinkProgress blog.

Reports ThinkProgress,
...the campaign included an entrapment project. The proposal called for first creating a “false document, perhaps highlighting periodical financial information,” to give to a progressive group opposing the Chamber, and then to subsequently expose the document as a fake to undermine the credibility of the Chamber’s opponents. In addition, the group proposed creating a “fake insider persona” to “generate communications” with Change to Win.

The Chamber hired the lobbying firm Hunton and Williams, which hired three private security firms to conduct the smear campaign. They charged an initial $200,000 for the project and hoped to get $2 million for it.

How ThinkProgress obtained the information is bizarre in itself. Hunton and Williams had been hired by BankAmerica to sabotage Wikileaks, which claimed to have damaging information about Bank of America. Hunton and Williams hired one of the security firms, which claimed to have hacked into Anonymous. (Anonymous is a community of hackers that takes down websites in oppressive regimes such as Tunisia and Egypt.) Anonymous, in retaliation, hacked into the security firm's emails and published them on the Web. That's where the e-mails revealing the Chamber's plot came to light.

The Chamber hates ThinkProgress because it has published a series of articles that exposed the Chamber's efforts to kill financial reform and solicit donations from foreign corporations. ThinkProgress also wrote about the Chamber's participation in the billionaire Koch brothers' secret fundraising meetings.