ThinkProgress has learned that a law firm representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the big business trade association representing ExxonMobil, AIG, and other major international corporations, is working with [a] set of “private security” companies and lobbying firms to undermine their political opponents, including ThinkProgress, with a surreptitious sabotage campaign.Imagine the uproar if some group advocating for a position on the left tried to do something like this. The Congressional witch hunt would be launched the same day, and the wingnut wurlitzer (Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the right wing "think tanks") would take up the tune for weeks.
According to e-mails obtained by ThinkProgress, the Chamber hired the lobbying firm Hunton and Williams. Hunton And Williams’ attorney Richard Wyatt, who once represented Food Lion in its infamous lawsuit against ABC News, was hired by the Chamber in October of last year. To assist the Chamber, Wyatt and his associates, John Woods and Bob Quackenboss, solicited a set of private security firms — HBGary Federal, Palantir, and Berico Technologies (collectively called Team Themis) — to develop tactics for damaging progressive groups and labor unions, in particular ThinkProgress, the labor coalition called Change to Win, the SEIU, US Chamber Watch, and StopTheChamber.com.
According to one document prepared by Team Themis, 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.
Actually, we don't need to imagine. Look at the reaction to Wikileaks. Or Swifthack (the so-called "Climategate".) Or ACORN. None of them were even alleged to have done anything remotely this ethically reprehensible.
It is long past time for responsible corporate chieftans to publically state that their lobbying emperor has no clothes. The US Chamber is a rogue organization that is outside the norms, values and laws of a democratic country. To support it after this latest and most egregious behavior is to explicitly embrace the most parochial and destructive form of self-interest at the expense of our laws, our values and the good of our country and its people.
It is time for the Chamber to be exposed for the villainous, vicious and venal parasite that it is.