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Leaked E-Mails Reveal Efforts to Discredit WikiLeaks

anonymous logoSome enemies of WikiLeaks are not afraid to play dirty. Pro-WikiLeaks hackers (but not the organization itself) gained access to internal e-mails from HBGary Federal, a California-based security company that was allegedly offering to help companies like Bank of America (the rumored target of the next WikiLeaks dump) discredit the organization through falsified documents. One of the e-mails hackers pulled from the company's servers (and immediately posted on file-sharing networks) included a PowerPoint presentation suggesting that HBGary Federal, along with accomplice companies Palantir Technologies and Berico Technologies, could effectively neuter WikiLeaks by quietly leaking fake documents about Bank of America, and then revealing those documents to be forgeries. The e-mails also suggested that the company could pressure some of WikiLeaks' more public and vocal supporters (primarily journalists) by threatening to sabotage their careers. HBGary Federal didn't just target WikiLeaks, though. The e-mails also included proposed plans to embarrass opponents of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, including U.S. Chamber Watch.

For those of you who may have missed the news on Friday, HBGary Federal is the company of Aaron Barr, a man who incurred the wrath of Anonymous by attempting to identify members of the hacktivist collective, potentially in order to turn them over to the FBI -- or to paying, corporate customers. Barr's services didn't come cheap. Through an intermediary (corporate law firm Hunton & Williams), HBGary Federal planned to charge the U.S. Chamber of Commerce $200,000 for its initial services, and up to $2 million in fees down the road. Both Bank of America and the Chamber of Commerce have repudiated the so-called security firm and its tactics. In fact, both groups said they were unaware of these proposals until the e-mails leaked. It's possible that Hunton & Williams had simply not extended the offers to the groups yet, but HBGary Federal suggests that some of the leaked e-mails may be fabricated. The drama will probably continue to unfold over the next several days, but if the leaked e-mails turn out to be legit, then the only group HBGary succeeded in discrediting was itself.

Tags: AaronBarr, anonymous, BankOfAmerica, hack, hbgary, hbgary+federal, HbgaryFederal, security, top, U.s.ChamberOfCommerce, wikileaks, wikileaks+news, wikileaksnews