Get Glenn Greenwald!

According to a report in the Tech Herald, three security firms recently pitched the Bank of America with a plan to take down WikiLeaks. If the documents at the core of the story are legit -- and as Andy Greenberg of Forbes notes, "their level of detail would require immense effort on the part of counterfeiters" -- the companies come off as Keystone Kops.

The most interesting detail is that the firms involved -- HBGary Federal, Palantir Technologies, and Berico Technologies -- placed a lot of emphasis on the pro-WikiLeaks blogger Glenn Greenwald, arguing that "Without the support of people like Glenn wikileaks would fold," so "It is this level of support that needs to be disrupted." The firms are confident that this can be done, since "most of them if pushed will choose professional preservation over cause, such is the mentality of most business professionals."

The source of the documents is a massive trove of HBGary emails that was seized and released by Anonymous. The backstory behind that is pretty fascinating in itself.

[Hat tip: Andy Million.]

Update: One of the firms has expressed its regret. Greenwald reports:

In the wake of the ensuing controversy caused by publication of these documents, the co-founder and CEO of Palantir Tech, Alex Karp, has now issued a statement stating that he "directed the company to sever any and all contacts with HB Gary." The full statement -- which can be read here -- also includes this sentence: "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." Palantir has also contacted me by email to arrange for Dr. Karp to call me to personally convey the apology. My primary interest is in knowing whether Bank of America retained these firms to execute this proposal and if any steps were taken to do so; if Karp's apology is genuine, that information ought to be forthcoming (as I was finishing writing this, Karp called me, seemed sincere enough in his apology, vowed that any Palantir employees involved in this would dealt with the way they dealt with HB Gary, and commendably committed to telling me by the end of the week whether Bank of America or Hunton & Williams actually retained these firms to carry out this proposal).

Update #2: Now Berico is trying to distance itself from the project too.

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  • Business Professional||

    "most of them if pushed will choose professional preservation over cause, such is the mentality of most business professionals."

    That's a feature not a bug.

  • Bryan Alexander||

    Yes, that's a key passage. These guys are advocating a social hack as part of their plan, and a practical one.

    Also on same slide: "It is this level of support that needs to be disrupted". Disrupted?

  • JLap||

    originally "attacked" as suggested by Aaron Barr, changed to disrupted by Palantir

  • Lint||

    Internet superheroes.

  • Corduroy||

    Short version of the presentation.

    Give us some of your TARP money and we'll do something or other to get back at these guys who are going to expose your backdoor dealings with the Fed.

  • sevo||

    "Give us some of your TARP money and we'll do something or other to get back at these guys who are going to expose your backdoor dealings with the Fed."

    Pretty sure the technical term is a "shakedown".

  • Tony Hayward||

    But at least you get your life back.

  • ||

    I eagerly await the TEAM RED morons telling us how Glenn isn't actually one of the most intellectually honest people on the left, and defending this stuff. Is there anything partisanship can't make stupid?

  • ||

    What's disappointing is that Palantir Technologies, mentioned on the list, is founded by Peter Thiel, member of TEAM LIBERTARIAN and big donor to the Seasteading Institute.

  • Anon||

    Like with Paypal, he probably sold it off long ago and is no longer in control of the company.

  • ||

    Wrong, he's Chairman of the Board at Palantir .

    There's a fair amount of overlap between Seasteading and Palantir, and I know personally that some of the Seasteading guys used Palantir's offices for a little while.

  • ||

    That's TEAM PUCE Thacker. Get with the program, willya?

  • ||

    Not surprising, considering what it did to Saruman and Denethor.

  • ||

    Yeah, it's like, way to choose a really creepy surveillance-geek-reference to base your name on, guys.

  • ||

    Yeah, I'm not sure whether they fully understand the geek reference or not.

    For example, I was disappointed when I was talking to some of them and they mentioned that some recent version of their software could handle Elvish. I asked if they meant Quenya or Sindarin, or if they meant the script if they meant Cirth or Tengwar, and they just looked at me blankly.

  • cynical||

    You know what happened to Saruman, right?

  • cynical||

    Goddamnit, Tulpa.

  • a||

    How long before John shows up and starts making up shit about Greenwald?

    http://reason.com/blog/2010/02.....nt_1583633

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I checked the fonts used in the documents. They weren't even available back at the time Bush was in the Air National Guard. These are fakes.

  • ||

    Just look at the pixels, it's obviously a shop, and I've seen a few in my time.

  • Irresponsible Hater||

    Roger that. I just enhanced it, and the eigenvalues look off:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxq9yj2pVWk

  • ||

    that's "igon value"

    gosh

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    Business CEOs should never use "1337" or "pwned" in their communications.

  • Contemplationist||

    I work at this corporatist behemoth, man! I'm ashamed

  • ||

    The firms are confident that this can be done, since "most of them if pushed will choose professional preservation over cause, such is the mentality of most business professionals."

    Which demonstrates my hypothesis that people assume others will behave as they would; unprincipled assholes assume *everybody* is an unprincipled asshole.

    MNG would not hesitate to steal what you have if he thought he "deserved" it more than you; he assumes everybody behaves this way.

  • DesigNate||

    Isn't that like, terrorism, or something?

  • Irresponsible Hater||

    Just read Palantir's powerpoint presentation. It is unbelievably amateurish: http://wikileaks.ch/IMG/pdf/Wi.....nse_v6.pdf

    If this is what the feds are bringing to the game, it's already over.

    Here's the complete torrent:
    http://thepiratebay.org/torren.....ked_emails

  • ||

    Someone from Reason should ask Peter Thiel what he thinks about Palantir Technologies, which he founded, doing this.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Seconded.

  • ||

    Yup.

  • Anonymous||

    Btw this data is curiosity of Anonymous

  • ||

    What else are you curious about?

  • Trespassers W||

    So you're telling me this is a meta-leak? Brain = asplode

  • ||

    It's worthwhile to read the Ars Technica article on the Anonymous vs HBGary spat. If for no other reason than the screenshot of the GUI for the LOIC (their distributed-denial-of-service tool).

  • Virginia||

    I like the options:

    Manual Mode (for pussies) or FUCKING HIVE MIND

    But the banter between the HBGary guy and his coder is priceless:

    The code to be added was an HTTP beacon that linked to a free website Barr had set up on Blogspot. He wanted a copy of the altered source and a compiled executable. His programmer, fearing Anonymous, balked.

    On January 20, the coder wrote back, "I'm not compiling that shit on my box!" He even refused to grab a copy of the source code from message boards or other IRC users, because "I ain't touchin' any of that shit as those are already monitored."

    "Dude," responded Barr. "Anonymous is a reckless organization. C'mon I know u and I both understand and believe generally in their principles but they are not a focused and considerate group, the[y] attack at will and do not care of their effects. Do u actually like this group?"

    The coder said he didn't support all they did, but that Anonymous had its moments. Besides, "I enjoy the LULZ."

  • nj||

    Thiel needs to be called out for this.

  • Fluffy||

    Greenwald's Wednesday column was a piece hailing the Tea Party freshmen congressmen who held up the Patriot Act renewal, and damning Obamabots for only caring about civil liberties when Bush was in office.

    Greenwald spends his time sticking his finger in the eye of his biggest supporters [progressives]. He's probably not going to shtupp around and turn against Wikileaks as a "business decision" based on some clown car job like these guys had planned. He probably hurt his own career more on a "business" basis with his relentless Obama criticisms than he could possibly hurt it by supporting Wikileaks.

  • Steve||

    He does deserve credit for his consistancy and independence.

  • RyanXXX||

    Greenwald is fast becoming my favorite blogger.

    Not just because of his positions - his writing is just really damn good. Here's hoping Salon doesn't cave and fire him

  • spur||

    If Salon drops him - unlikely because he drives a lot of traffic to Salon - he would be picked up by another mag like Reason or very easily be able to set up his own thing and get a lot of eyeballs.

  • ||

    Hey, Cato found a spot for Nat Hentoff, after all.

    Greenwald would land on his feet. Unfortunately there aren't enough people with views like him (compared to the anti-libertarian left), but there's enough.

  • ||

    I love Glenn Greenwald. Too bad we both already have partners. Mine happens to be a woman--not that there's anything wrong with that.

  • Fredric L. Rice||

    So we have an incompetent wannabe "security company" playing pretend that it "infiltrated" and "penetrated" Anonymous and that Anonymous some how has "leaders" and "founders. And the "infiltration?" Apparently creating Facebook accounts and Friending Anonyfags, logging open and public IRC chats which anybody can do.

    Amusing.

    What's not amusing is the equally criminal, terroristic, and treasounous Bank of American racketeering with HBGary et al. in an effort to silence Democracy.

  • shecky||

    When they make a movie out of this whole episode, HBGary Federal head, Aaron Barr, will be played by Fred Willard.

  • Roderick T. Long||

    I would urge Glenn not to stare too long into the Palantir.

  • Terry Floyd||

    Since this just hit the fan in the last few days, I think Thiel needs some time to be briefed on what went down at Palantir. Remember that he is on the board of FoundersFund, the investment firm that funds Palantir, but that is just one of thirty-one separate companies (including Mint, Facebook, Powerset, etc.) under that umbrella. I'm sure he doesn't participate in weekly conference calls with Palantir execs, but may get quarterly reports from them which probably don't go into all the details about their different projects and clients.

    Note that Palantir's CEO was the first person to call Greenwald to apologize for what "Team Themis" was proposing in their bid to win a contract from Hunton & Wiliams, so that should count for something. All the material that has been posted is from HBGary Federal, not from Palantir or Berico, who apparently employ much better security practices than HBGary. Heads could roll from the fallout, once they get to the bottom of it all, but I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the parties that have decided to come clean on this scandal.

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