UPDATE: So, apparently the Pinkertons were hired by the Chamber of Commerce as well to destroy liberal groups with various dirty tricks. Nice. We’re all living in Nixonland. And don’t expect a government investigation–the Justice Department recommended these thugs (spying on people’s children–ewwhh. There’s some sick fucks) so I doubt they’ll want to investigate the black mail, sabotage, invasion of privacy and conspiracy. Fortunately, I’m sure Think Progress will have one helluva fun civil case.
So, generally when people point out government or corporate sponsored rat-fucking exercises they are considered part of the tin-hat brigade. One of the enduring factors in the general loathing that establishment types have towards Michael Moore, for instance, is his tendency to point out that narcs infiltrate peace groups and that sort of thing. That there are vast armies of astro-turfers and Pinkertons devoted to this sort of thing only makes the James O’Keefes of the world so painful to watch. The man is a rank amateur and got away with what he got away with because powerful and oh-so-white politicians and media figures were willing to believe any smear against an organization, like ACORN, so lowdown as to register minorities to vote. Well, the internet age is a bit different and when a bunch of bullet heads at HBGary Federal decided to mess with “Anonymous”–the hacking guild that has taken vengeance for harassment of Wikileaks as its blood cry–some 44,000 of their emails got published. Not very gentlemanly, to be sure, of Anonymous but I don’t really think high-tech Pinkertons really should be messing with digital outlaws (see Homestead Strike).
Whatever the morality of either move, the Pinkertons’ intended outing” of “Anonymous” and “Anonymous” pulling the Pinkertons’ dirty laundry out for all to wrinkle their noses at, this tiff has shed some nice light on Bank of America and its methods. Seems that the Sherlocks among BOA’s private dicks discovered Glenn Greenwald of Salon’s support of Wikileaks and proposed silencing him. In spite of the laughable idea that they could somehow pressure Glennzilla into silence–the man has been a force for civil liberties and openness for over a decade–their assessment of how to silence him for the billionaire bosses at BOA was both banal and revolting. As one powerpoint slide put it, “These are established professionals that have a liberal bent but ultimately most of them if pushed will choose professional preservation over cause, such is the mentality of most business professionals.” The proposed actions included disinformation campaigns, COINTELPRO tactics, media demonization, industrial sabotage and leak hunting. Oh, and trolls. Lots and lots of paid trolls.
Now, these ideas are laughably silly for a person like Greenwald, but it gives one pause to remember that many civic-minded professionals would certainly curtail their political activity if so attacked. Moreover, the idea that the establishment media can be manipulated to broadcast pro-corporate propaganda and demonization of any target seems depressingly believable. Again, whatever you think of Wikileaks and Bradley Manning, that a blogger can be singled out by corporate Pinkertons for smears and blackmailing is shocking, or rather shocking in its lack of shock. BOA was, of course, bailed out to the tune of many billions of tax payer dollars $20Bn directly from TARP with guarantees of a staggering $118Bn for taking over Merrill Lynch’s, ahem, portfolio) and since they fear exposure (note, Assange and Wikileaks refuse to actually say who they have the goods on) they unleashed the dogs (or, at least, certainly paid for the contingency plan that read “unleash the dogs”).
And, will anything be done about this? Hell, no. It is little remarked in this whole sordid (and profoundly stupid) episode who precisely recommended the service of these Keystone Pinkertons to BOA through the alleged “law” firm of Hunton and Williams. That would be the Department of Justice (one of the more oxymoronic ministries now dominating American life). It is probably completely superfluous to point out that Andropov, when he ran the KGB, generally eschewed the heavy-handed repression of previous Soviet secret police chiefs. Rather, he developed the spinning of bullshit–the Russian for this is “dizinformatsiia”–among eager Western journalists while pressuring would-be dissidents with demotions, job firings and, ultimately, internal exile, to silence critics into a cynical careerism and political passivity. In fact, that there will be no outrage, no criminal investigations (except against the hackers, of course) or any establishment support for Wikileaks’ expose of banking malfeasance (which used to be called “investigative journalism”) would make Andropov smile. In the end, he understood, what made totalitarianism work was not the fervent idealism of true-believers (in fact, the KGB knew very well those guys could be a problem) but the cynical acceptance of the universal corruption and idiocy of Brezhnevian life. Glenn Greenwald is dangerous to the Bank of America’s of the world, like Sakharov was to the Communist Party, because he has not lost his ability to be outraged. Well, dear reader, what about you? What will you do when the digital Pinkertons decide to “push” you?