Richard Clarke says U.S. Chamber committed a felony by cyber-targeting political opponents

CP has been tracking TP’s reporting on the Chamber of Commerce’s effort to intimidate bloggers (see Chamber lobbyists solicited firm to investigate opponents’ families, children).

Now TP’s Lee Fang has elicited comments on the Chamber’s tactics from one of the country’s leading experts on cyber-security, in a ThinkProgress repost.

Earlier this month, Richard Clarke, who served for both Democratic and Republican Presidents, including a stint as the cyber security czar for the Bush administration, denounced the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for plotting with a group of military contractors to hack into progressive groups.

Clarke was in DC speaking at a cyber security conference hosted by Symantec. Although Clarke focused his remarks about the growing threat of global cyber terrorism, ThinkProgress spoke to the longtime public servant about the ChamberLeaks story we originally broke.

According to documents first reported by ThinkProgress, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce began working with three military contractors “” Berico, HB Gary, and Palantir “” to come up with a proposal to discredit groups like ThinkProgress, the SEIU,,, and others. The tacticsproposed included spying on families, using malware computer viruses to steal private information, using fake documents to embarrass liberals, and creating fake identities to infiltrate their targets.

Clarke denounced the scandal in no uncertain terms. Noting accurately that the Chamber “took foreign money in the last election,” a story also uncovered by ThinkProgress, Clarke said the Chamber had conspired to commit a “felony”:

FANG: Hi. You talked a lot about classifying and recognizing cyber security threats, but you mostly focused on foreign threats. I’m curious about a story that broke last month, that the US Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest trade association, based here in DC, had contracted or attempted to contract military defense firms like HB Gary Federal, Palantir, and Berico, to develop proposals to use the same type of cyber warfare tactics normally reserved for Jihadi websites against left-wing activists, trade “” labor unions, and left of center think tanks here in America. What do you think about that type of threat from a lobbyist or a corporation targeting political enemies, or perceived enemies here in the US?

CLARKE: I think it’s a violation of 10USC. I think it’s a felony, and I think they should go to jail. You call them a large trade association, I call them a large political action group that took foreign money in the last election. But be that as it may, if you in the United States, if any American citizen anywhere in the world, because this is an extraterritorial law, so don’t think you can go to Bermuda and do it, if any American citizen anywhere in the world engages in unauthorized penetration, or identity theft, accessing a number through identity theft purposes, that’s a felony and if the Chamber of Commerce wants to try that, that’s fine with me because the FBI will be on their doorstep in a matter of hours.

Listen here

Clarke, the author of a new book called Cyber War, was right to point out the Chamber’s plot to hack into progressive groups constitutes a felony. There are a number of federal and state statutes that prohibit the theft of private computer information.

Recently, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) formally requested documents from the NSA and Defense Department relating to contracts with two of the firms involved in this scandal, Berico and HB Gary. Nineteen other lawmakers have called for a wider investigation.

— Lee Fang, in a Think Progress repost.

11 Responses to Richard Clarke says U.S. Chamber committed a felony by cyber-targeting political opponents

  1. Mike says:

    Well, if the “them” in Clark’s second sentence is the same as the “they” in the first sentence, then the headline claim is a fair reading. But it is still a little iffy. Maybe someone could contact him for clarification.

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    There is plenty of precedent for Far Right extremism drifting into gangster behavior. Gilded Age plutocrats murdered union activists, and even less extreme “conservatives” like Nixon and Bush became obsessed with discovering their opponents’ secrets through breakins and illegal wiretaps. More comical behavior among right wing deniers like Watts and McIntyre has been their cries to “show us the code!”, or “we want the real temperature records”.

    The Constitution has showed its value over the years in situations like this. As Clarke has pointed out, the Chamber is clearly guilty of criminal behavior.

    It will be interesting to see if the FBI actually does show up at their doorstep, and if responsible Chamber executives are prosecuted, or if there is a mass membership exodus in response to this important news. If this doesn’t happen, we’ll know whose side the Obama Justice Department is on.

  3. David B. Benson says:

    Hope this is prosecutable and if so is in fact prosecuted.

  4. Bill W says:

    Sad to say, I’m betting this isn’t actionable because they (probably) never put the proposal into practice. And the chamber will probably claim the HBGary proposal was unsolicited. Then again, I am not a lawyer.

  5. Eli Rabett says:

    Conspiracy. The fact that they looked at the proposal is enough

  6. Roger says:

    As many know, author-activist Bill McKibben has singled out the US Chamber of Commerce for special attention from climate-concerned citizens due to the CoC’s campaign to blocking US climate education progress.

    To quote McKibben,”Simply put, the US Chamber is one of the biggest barriers to climate progress in the entire world.” (Much more, and a chance to sign up to help, at the website.)

    Are any other climate-concerned citizens going to be in Washington, DC on tax day, Friday, April 15th? I hear that Al Gore’s going to be in town. Let’s all go calling on the CoC (rhymes with Koch) to let them know how we feel about their destroying our future peace and prosperity.

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Well if they get away with this, they will be emboldened to take the next step, then the next. The good old ‘friendly fascism’ of market capitalism controlling society but allowing a good deal of ‘freedom’ so as not to annoy the serfs too much, or, Heaven forfend!,get them thinking about their lot, is gradually being eroded. The lack of any ‘socialist’ alternative since 1989 has granted the masters’ more leeway than they have enjoyed for over a century. The march of all parties in ‘capitalist democracies’ to the ‘Free Market Right’, the growth of computerised surveillance systems, the destruction of trades unions, the oligopolisation of the mass media, the ever more insistent brainwashing of FoxNews Ltd type indoctrination and the more rabid brow-beating of talkback radio have all contributed to creating a lovely little neo-feudal social dispensation that the robber barons believe is impregnable. Their Achilles Heel is their pathopsychological inability to be sated. They always desire ‘more’. More money, more power, more dominance. Eventually they will push the rabble’s noses too happily into the mud, too deeply and once too often, and the Jasmine Revolution comes to a town near you. And then it will be on for young and old.

  8. Roger says:

    Mulga says, “Their Achilles Heel is their pathopsychological inability to be sated. They always desire ‘more’. More money, more power, more dominance,” referring to today’s newly empowered robber barons.

    Yes, I agree, and what’s more, I believe I’ve stumbled upon the roots of their evil ambitions: MONOPOLY! As many readers may recall, this board game was introduced by Parker Brothers, during the Great Depression, in 1935. It was a huge success, being played endlessly in many families during the next several decades, undoubtedly including the Koch family.

    So, fellow readers, how does one win at MONOPOLY? One ends up with ‘Boardwalk’ and all of the best properties, plus all the money. Does this sound like the definition of ‘winning’ that we see in certain quarters today?

    And where was Parker Brothers headquartered? In Salem, Massachusetts, the evil city north of Boston, well known for the witch trials and more that took place in 1693! Hence, we find in the New Testament (1 Timothy 6:10), the phrase, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” … now embodied in what seem to be the MONOPOLY-misguided Kochs.

    Warm regards,

    PS: We played MONOPOLY as kids too, with games lasting for up to a week, but in the end we learned that getting all the money wasn’t everything.
    We learned that nature, people, and other things, counted even more…

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Roger #8, we used to play Monopoly, but my siblings learned, after a while, they being less endowed with rat cunning than moi, not to let me be banker.

  10. Snapple says:

    The problem is corruption and lack of transparency, not capitalism. This sort of corruption was/is endemic in “socialist” Russia.

    Maybe you could write more on this story. I will re-read all the links, but the presentation is a little confusing.

    It is very disturbing that tactics that should be used only by governments against suspected criminals and terrorists are now being used by private entities against scientists who are telling us about climate change.

    I was a Republican until I understood the fossil fuel companies and their politicians were attacking the climate scientists with tactics used by political police.

    That’s what the KGB was: the “sword and shield” of the ruling Communist Party. They protected the party, not necessarily the people of the USSR. Now Russia has a new ruling party called United Russia, and the political police still protect them. Putin is the head of United Russia, and President Medveev is the former CEO of Gazprom, which is majority-owned by the government. IT is hard to tell where the line is between government and business.

    In a way, there is little real government in Russia. Russia is like a huge corporation with a secret police that works for the corporation, not the people.

    In America, we seem to have these political police types who serve the fossil fuel industry and politicians like Inhofe, Issa, Cuccinelli.

    Probably it is worse now because of the proliferation of contractors who help the government spy on criminals and terrorists. Now these contractors are becoming the criminals; they are like secret police who spy without permission on Americans who work for public universities or government scientific agencies to see if they can dig up some dirt and make a mountain out of a molehill.

    I feel that this denegration of our scientists and this spying and stealing of emails is really a subversive attack on the US government by political police who answer to corporations, politicians, and foreign entities/governments.

    The political police can even do this “legally” because there are Attorney Generals like that subversive Cuccinelli with real government authority. Cuccinelli’s father is a gas lobbyist and a public relations expert. One of the father’s firms gave 96,000 to the son’s campaign. The elder Cuccinelli also has business relationships in Europe and Latin America. I wonder what these foreigners are paying the father to do. I wonder if foreign entities are paying him money to persecute climate scientists. Cuccinelli will not give information about his relationship with these companies. I wish the FBI would investigate this relationship. It seems to me that public relations companies can be paid by powerful business interests and foreigners to target our government-funded scientists and our government agencies. The public relations companies can really be operatives for foreign businesses or governments.

    That ex-CIA case officer Kent Clizbe attacks the CIA, really. The CIA has a Center for the Study of Climate Change and National Security. Clizbe attacks climate scientists like Michael Mann who get government money, but he also tells lies about John Brennan, a former CIA official who is Obama’s terrorism expert. Clizbe claims that Brennan was only an analyst who never fast-roped out of a blackhawk. In fact, it is public information that Brennan was the Chief of Station in the capital of Saudi Arabia. If Clizbe ever fast-roped from a Blackhawk, probably he landed on his head.

    I often email W. Russell, Cuccinelli’s deputy and ask questions about his dad’s clients, but these guys never answer my questions. They try to get Michael Mann’s emails, but we are in the dark about Cuccinelli’s sponsors. I think Cuccinelli persecutes Dr. Mann because he has been bought and paid for.

    And I voted for him.

    Cuccinelli’s subversive attacks on Dr. Mann remind me of the KGB campaign to spread the lie that crafty Pentagon scientists made AIDS to kill black people. Obama’s own minister spread that lie, and FOX had it on TV 24-7. Obama should have said that the KGB made up that lie, because KGB chief Primakov admitted right in Izvestia that they spread that lie about our scientists. If Obama had said that the KGB admitted right in Izvestia that they spread this lie, I would have voted for him.

    The KGB got some of their inspiration for “Operation Infektion” from American conspiracists who suspect scientists are doing all kinds of germ warfare. FOX News reported about Obama’s minister, but they don’t make the connection between the KGB campaign against our scientists and their own campaign against our climate scientists. Pravda even quotes the Fox News lies about climate scientist Phil Jones.

    Investigators who break into email are supposed to work for the government and according to the law, but these political police aren’t doing that. They are political police working for the politicians who get money from the fossil fuel interests, not the government.
    They are like the KGB with their political operations and spying on people.

    It is funny that these so-called conservatives call the climate scientists “leftists” and “communists.” I have studied how communists perescute people for many years, and the Republicans are the ones who are acting like communists.

    In Russia there are corrupt relations between government officials and fabulously wealthy commercial interests. That’s what they call the mafia.

    For example, Putin was in charge of deciding what companies could get a license to export valuable metals.
    He had the power to decide who could export and who couldn’t. I think this is probably how Putin got so rich–businesses paid him for the license. That’s how “socialism” works in Russia, ok?

    They never had anything like socialism in Russia. They had corruption.

    I think the problem is corruption–not socialism or capitalism. The financial interests just buy the politicians and “law” officers like Attorney General Cuccinelli.

    These people are not conservatives. They are not conserving our political values, our environment, or our most gifted scientists. They aren’t protecting the people.

    The denialists are nothing but radicals who are buying the politicians like Cuccinelli, Inhofe, and Issa, and endangering our citizens’ security. They seem like Bolsheviks who promised bread, land, and freedom, but stole everything from the people in the name of the people.

    The real conservatives are the people who accept the truth of climate change and want to protect mankind.

    Cuccinelli tries to close abortion clinics by claiming that they are unsafe for women in comparison to hospitals, but climate change is also unsafe for people. The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences has said that climate change is happening and that it endangers mankind. The Vatican says the same thing as the EPA. Does Cuccinelli think the Vatican scientists are greedy liars?

    Attorney General Cuccinelli is Catholic, but he isn’t consistent about protecting life. He is all about protecting the fossil-fuel industry. In his EPA suit he even cited the Kremlin’s press agency. That article was an excerpt from Kommersant, a Kremlin-friendly Russian business daily owned by the Gazprom operative Alisher Usmanov, a gangster.

    I think Cuccinelli is a thug, a liar, a hypocrite, and a mouthpiece for foreign and domestic fossil-fuel interests.

    He also doesn’t answer my questions, and I voted for him.

  11. Snapple says:

    Cucinelli and other denialists are always criticizing scientists for not responding to requests for information. They say that scientists who get government money should share their information.

    I think the scientists just got sick of giving information to people who distorted the information and used it against them. Scientists can’t spend all their time responding to emails.

    Also, some of their data belong to countries that don’t want to share it.

    Cuccinelli also works for the government, and I voted for him. (Big mistake!) His deputy W. Russell never once answered my emails. I want to know who is paying Cuccinelli’s father the gas lobbyist and public relations expert for his professional services. What are these professional services?

    An Attorney General who belongs to business interests is a really scary situation. I think he should go just like Gaddafi. He isn’t enforcing laws or catching criminals, he is persecuting a scientist in order to suppress information about global warming.

    This is Virginia, not Russia!

    I think it would be better if the federal legal authorities asked my questions and really investigated Virginia’s Attorney General.

    Dr. Mann has been exonerated by several panels of scientists. UVA can see his emails and doesn’t think he did anything wrong. The federal government has no problem with Dr. Mann’s research.

    I think that the real corrupt person is this subversive Cuccinelli, not Dr. Mann.

    Cuccinelli didn’t even want to give back 55,000 dollars he got from the obviously fraudulant Navy Veterans’ Charity. He wanted to give the accused money-launderer and thief the benefit of the doubt.

    “Bobby Thompson” was an obvious criminal who stole someone’s identity. He finally ran off so he wouldn’t be arrested.

    This criminal got a pass from Attorney General Cuccinelli because he gave the AG money supposedly collected for Navy veterans.

    Soon after Cuccinelli got the money, a law was passed that said that military charities don’t have to report their financial information to the government.

    Cuccinelli also tried to take over Virginia’s Department of Consumer Affairs.

    With a mononic law like this, any drug cartel, political advocacy organization, or foreign intelligence service can pose as a so-called “patriotic” military charity. Cuccinelli has a law degree, so he has to know that a law like this facilitates criminal activity.

    “Bobby Thompson’s” law firm included a former Ohio Attorney General and her former chief of consumer affairs. There is a pattern here.

    “Bobby Thompson” paid that firm hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they never noticed that this one man was running a fraudulant charity. “Bobby Thompson” even claimed there were about 80 officers in his Navy Veterans’ Charity with names like “Nimitz.

    The law firm never saw these officers, though they may have had email/mail communications supposedly from these fake officers.

    Cuccinelli got a 55,000 dollars from “Bobby Thomspon.” He obviously wanted something the AG could give him.

    Now the FBI, IRS, Veterans’ Affairs, and several Attorney Generals (not Cuccinelli) are also after “Thompson.” This guy used fake identities to steal money and run a criminal enterprise.

    Here is the latest on the FBI investigation! The interesting thing is that nobody recognizes “Bobby Thomspon.”

    Older articles are collected here!