Hank Johnson and the alleged D.C. plot to target enemies of the U.S. Chamber

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson of Decatur has put himself at the center of a Democratic call for an investigation into an alleged – and complicated — plot by three defense contractors to discredit liberal enemies of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, using the Internet. Eliza Newlin Carney of the National Journal has this:

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Decatur. Bita Honarvar,bhonarvar@ajc.com

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Decatur. Bita Honarvar,bhonarvar@ajc.com

….[T]he plan that the contractors proposed last month to the law firm Hunton & Williams, which represents the chamber, was arguably lawless in the extreme. It involved privacy invasions, hacking, and creating fake “insider personas” and false documents to infiltrate and discredit watchdog groups like U.S. Chamber Watch and other liberal activists.

The plan was never carried out, but now 20 House Democrats are calling for a congressional investigation into whether the contractors conspired to commit forgery, wire fraud, or criminal defamation, and whether government-funded intelligence technologies pose a threat to U.S. citizens. The CEO of one of the firms, HBGary Federal, has stepped down. And the controversy has created a public-relations nightmare for the chamber, which has vigorously denied any knowledge of the plan.

“We see a clear possibility that people could be silenced through high tech, subversive means,” said Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., who’s leading the call for hearings by the House Judiciary and Armed Services committees, on which he sits, and by the Intelligence and Oversight and Government Reform panels. “And when these means were actually acquired at taxpayer expense, it makes it even more unsavory.”

The decision to dub the project “Team Themis” is only one of many ironies in a complicated saga that spotlights the intensifying, high-stakes clash between labor and business coalitions, both in statehouses and nationally. For one thing, the dirty tricks plot to undermine chamber critics was uncovered by activist hackers who used dirty tricks to publish some 40,000 HBGary Federal e-mails.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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21 comments Add your comment

Mike Donahuge

March 7th, 2011
5:14 pm

Last Man Standing

March 7th, 2011
5:23 pm

Careful, Hank, make sure nothing “tips over”.

Road Scholar

March 7th, 2011
5:25 pm

Conservatives lieing to get power? Oy Vay! It can’t be…..


March 7th, 2011
5:51 pm

Like defense contractors didn’t have a big enough chunk of the economic pie. They want the whole damn thing.

To add insult to injury, the actual defense of our country means nothing, lining their pockets is the only concern.

Alabama Communist

March 7th, 2011
6:49 pm

No doubt the Military Industrial Complex wants the Congressman to surrender by tomorrow along with Gaddifa!


March 7th, 2011
7:19 pm

Enter your comments here


March 7th, 2011
7:21 pm

Poor Hank. After having his head so far up Pelosi’s posterior and having nothing to show for it but a loss of Democrat seats, he must just be looking for any excuse to get his name in the headlines. Any scheming that may be going on from the chamber is nothing compared to the back room Chicago style White House politics.


March 7th, 2011
7:29 pm

So, Dako, you are okay with defense contractors breaking the law?

larry's buddy

March 7th, 2011
8:24 pm

Larry, are you concerned about the island of Guam tipping over from the addition of more troops?


March 7th, 2011
8:45 pm

Waste of time looking for anything of substance in this moron.


March 7th, 2011
8:55 pm

Whoa…. This could get interesting.

I also find it interesting that it’s often the anti-union folks who are pro-Chamber of Commerce. Has anyone noticed that? What is the CoC if not a Union for wealthy businessmen? They both collect dues, elect officers, hold meetings, designate thugs, demand their way, and plot together to best their adversaries. Hmmmm…

(The inability of some dimwits to comprehend Rep. Johnson’s use of a metaphor is hardly worth mentioning… again. Do they think Half Gov. Palin really claims to have given birth to bear cubs? *insert eye rollie icon*)


March 7th, 2011
9:02 pm

For the record, the Jack posting at 8:45 ain’t me.

Facts are Facts

March 7th, 2011
9:14 pm

Hank Johnson is a proven racist. Why anyone pays attend to that ignorant bigot is astonishing.

Facts are Facts

March 7th, 2011
9:18 pm

And before all you intellectually superior libs start wetting yourselves over this….that should read “attention.”

Gerald Regrasten

March 7th, 2011
9:49 pm

All of the BS partisan attacks in these comments aside, this case raises some pretty fascinating questions about provisions of federal contracts, intelligence and homeland security law, internet privacy, and more.

Consider myself an independent, a free thinker and reasonably intelligence and I’m impressed Johnson is tackling this.

A bit sad to see all of the mindless hate in the above comments, have to say.


March 7th, 2011
10:50 pm

Agree with posting by Gerald Regrasten. Given the fact folks from both sides of the aisle have a tendency to ignore facts or to distort them to fit their argument, it is no surprise our political system is such a wreck.

Silent Jay

March 8th, 2011
12:51 am

A good start would be making The US Chamber of Commerce register as a lobbyist for China.

And since they have all the hacking and domestic surveillance gear, they know who everyone on this page is. They’ll be in touch.

Got a favorite for President in 2012? Mine’s General Electric.

J. Davis

March 8th, 2011
8:30 am

Dear GaBlue, in case you haven’t noticed, membership in the Chamberpot of Commerce is voluntary, unlike union membership in non-right to work states. I don’t like the CofC, but they are doing what their membership wants them to do, just like every other organization.

Port O'John

March 8th, 2011
12:49 pm

So J. Davis, because membership in the COC is voluntary, its OK for them to break the law, hack into email systems, etc.?

Or is it because the COC supports the GOP that its OK for the COC and its members who are defense contractors to break the law?

I’m sure CJ Roberts and the GOP majority on the Supremes will have no problem with this kind of behavior since it helps corporations.

So hack away!


March 8th, 2011
2:49 pm

Yes I also agree with Gerald Regrasten. Great point! I’m very surprised something as serious as this is not getting more media play.

J. Davis your comment is so far off topic its sad. You sir are part of the problem!