The US bank and the secret plan to destroy WikiLeaks
By Jerome Taylor
Tuesday, 15 February 2011
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is preparing to release information
on Bank of America
The computer hackers' collective Anonymous has uncovered a proposal by
a consortium of private contractors to attack and discredit WikiLeaks.
Last week Anonymous volunteers broke into the servers of HB Gary
Federal, a security company that sells investigative services to
companies, and posted thousands of the firm's emails on to the
The attack was in revenge for claims by the company's chief executive
Aaron Barr that he had successfully infiltrated the shadowy cyber
protest network and discovered details of its leadership and
Hacktivists, journalists and bloggers have since pored over the emails
and discovered what appears to be a proposal that was intended to be
pitched to the Bank of America to sabotage WikiLeaks and discredit
journalists who are sympathetic to the whistle-blowing website.
The PowerPoint presentation claims that a trio of internet security
companies - HB Gary Federal, Palantir Technologies and Berico
Technologies - are already prepared to attack WikiLeaks which is
rumoured to be getting ready to release a cache of potentially
embarrassing information on the Bank of America.
The presentation, which has been seen by The Independent, recommends a
multi-pronged assault on WikiLeaks including deliberately submitting
false documents to the website to undermine its credibility,
pioneering cyber attacks to expose who the leakers to WikiLeaks are
and going after sympathetic journalists.
One of those mentioned is Glenn Greenwald, a pro-WikiLeaks reporter in
the US. Writing on Salon.com Greenwald stated that his initial
reaction to was "to scoff at its absurdity".
"But after learning a lot more over the last couple of days," he
added, "I now take this more seriously - not in terms of my
involvement but the broader implications this story highlights. For
one thing, it turns out that the firms involved are large, legitimate
and serious, and do substantial amounts of work for both the US
government and the nation's largest private corporations."
A separate email written by Mr Barr to a Palantir employee suggests
that security companies should track and intimidate people who donate
to WikiLeaks. Security firms, Mr Barr wrote, "need to get people to
understand that if they support the organisation we will come after
them. Transaction records are easily identifiable."
The Bank of America does not seem to have directly solicited the
services of HB Gary Federal. Instead it pitched the idea to Hunton and
Williams, a law firm that represents the bank.
A Bank of America spokesman denied any knowledge of the proposals:
"We've never seen the presentation, never evaluated it, and have no
interest in it." A spokesman for Hunton and Williams declined to
comment. HB Gary Federal has acknowledged in a statement that it was
hit by a cyber attack but has suggested the documents online could be
However, the two other security firms named on the presentation have
not denied the authenticity of the documents. Instead, both Berico and
Palantir issued angry statements distancing themselves from HB Gary
Federal and severing ties with the firm.
But a statement from Anonymous claimed the presentation showed how
sections of corporate America were "entangled in highly dubious and
most likely illegal activities, including a smear campaign against
WikiLeaks, its supportive journalists, and adversaries of the US
Chamber of Commerce and Bank of America".