Be afraid. Then be angry.
All of us, no matter what age, cannot remember a time when there wasn’t an oppressive regime somewhere on the planet. And when we think of a banana republic, an African military state, or a Cold War conglomeration, we picture a dictator keeping the people in line with goon squads and squadrons of secret police. Indeed, Egypt had one goon for every 40 citizens; one of the things Egypt will have to figure out to sustain democracy is what to do with all of those secret police in a democratic economy.
We look at these countries and see nothing familiar. We have democratic elections. Our president has not stashed $70 billion in Swiss bank accounts like Mubarek did, and he certainly does not run any private police squadrons……
The thing is, we have to open our minds to redefining what it means to have democracy and who the enemies of democracy are. Because in some very important ways, we don’t have democracy. Our lives are controlled by larger forces, and that is not democracy.
Oppression by the government is not our biggest problem, not in the sense that it was Egypt’s problem. Our problem is the corporate oligarchy doing its best to control every aspect of our lives, including and especially what we think.
Corporations want the power of government without the pesky constitutional restrictions. Their thefts put Mubarek’s $70 billion to shame. And it is they who are using private thugs to come after their enemies.
It was not even three months ago that Wendell Potter, former health care executive and industry whistle blower, talked with Michael Moore on Countdown about the large-scale smear and disinformation campaign the health care industry executed against Moore to undermine the impact of his damning movie, Sicko. The campaign included going through Moore’s personal records and photos looking for information that would help discredit him, as well as planting false information about him.
On Thursday, ThinkProgress reported the same tactics planned against enemies of Bank of America and the Chamber of Commerce (motto: Fighting for Your Business).
Bank of America, afraid of what WikiLeaks plans to release about it, hired Richmond, VA-based law firm Hunton & Williams to attack the credibility of WikiLeaks and its strongest supporters, like reporter and author Glenn Greenwald. H&W litigation partner Richard Wyatt reached all the way to Sacramento to hire high tech security firm HBGary Federal (motto: Detect, Diagnose, Respond) Palantir and Berico Technologies to get ‘er done. All of these firms do significant work for the government and according to Tech Herald were introduced by the Department of Justice.
The Chamber of Commerce hired H&W and the same outside security team to pursue a similar campaign against its enemies. They hired all three firms on spec before this story broke, meaning that they were working for free for a month in the hopes that the Chamber would like their work and want to pay them. So if you were wondering, the Chamber follows the same exploitative labor philosophy as some of its members.
Detailed emails about their strategy released to the internet show multi-level action plans and diagrams, and outline dirty tactics to discredit their enemies by planting false information and intimidate enemies with electronic dossiers on their families.
Who did the Chamber consider its enemies? Rivals countries? Anti-capitalists? No, the Chamber’s enemies are those who interfere with the Chamber carrying out its business in secret, including Chamber watchdog groups and ThinkProgress, which has had a steady stream of investigative reporting on the Chamber. In other words, those who are there to protect the public interest.
When hired goons are trying to suppress those who are out to protect the public interest, we are moving away from democracy regardless of who hired the goons.
How did this information come to light? Seems someone at HBGary decided to take on Anonymous, the network of hackers supporting WikiLeaks, and the hackers fought back. Now it’s our turn.
Business thugs are bullies. They want to isolate their victims and overwhelm them with force. Their report explicitly states that they believe it’s pretty easy to scare off most of their opponents with threats: career over cause. Since they control our careers, they figure they can get us to do anything they want. And they will keep on pushing and pushing that advantage as far as it will take them. As far as we will let them.
WikiLeaks, ThinkProgress, the labor coalition Change to Win, SEIU, US Chamber Watch, Glenn Greenwald of Salon and StopTheChamber.com have all been targets of one or both smear campaigns. We need to support these groups and pressure Rep. Darrell Issa, chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and member of the House Judiciary Committee, to disband these thugs.
How to be Heard
Contact Darrell Issa: http://issa.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=597&Itemid=73
Oversight Committee: PHONE: (202) 225-5074
Contact Hunton & Williams home office and tell them that you don’t support thug tactics and to take action against partner Richard Wyatt: Phone (804) 788-8200
United States Chamber of Commerce (suggested motto: Fighting for Your Business, Fighting Against Your Public)
Boycott members, starting with FedEx and Sam’s Club, which are promoted as solutions to CoC members. Make sure you let these companies know why they lost your business.
Your local community Chamber of Commerce may or may not be a member of the national organization. Let them know they should avoid it.
Tweet about this with the hashtag #investigatethis. Here is some of the original reporting: