Brad Friedman has an amazing piece
up on Chamber-gate. That's my term for the abortive attempt to spy on and smear prog bloggers who have criticized the Chamber of Commerce and its members (including AIG).
Turns out my initial impression was wrong: The folks at HBGary did not want a mere $2 million for their services. They wanted $2 million a month
It stuns me to think that anyone has that kind of money for such a project. What stuns me even more was the quality of intelligence you can expect to get for that kind of money:
In addition to Barr's email offering personal information on me and my family, the H&W scheme by Team Themis, created for the U.S. Chamber, also included a Power Point presentation in which I am personally highlighted, with photograph, along with my wife "Martha" and "2 boys, James and John Friedman" at our "home at 1055 Raywood Ln, Silver Springs, MD".
Of course, I'm not married and have no children and don't live in MD...
Where the hell did they get this misinformation? Anyone who reads Brad's blog knows that he lives in California; he makes no secret of that fact.
According to WhoWhere (accessible for $0.00), there are several "Brad Friedmans" in Maryland, none of them in Silver Springs. After consulting both Google Earth and Google the search engine, I've concluded that there is no Raywood Lane (or Road or Street or Avenue or Boulevard) in Silver Springs or anywhere else in Maryland.
Looks like HBGary just made shit up. Then they said: "Two million dollars, please." Nice work if you can get it!
The suggested disinfo campaign is particularly disturbing.
The plan also involved creating "two fake insider personas", one at VR and another at the unrelated Change To Win organization, which had employed a coalition of union groups to create a non-profit campaign, some months after VR's, called U.S. Chamber Watch. The plan presented by Team Themis, as the three security firms called themselves, would then use one of the "fake personas" as "leverage to discredit the other while confirming the legitimacy of the second" in hopes of publicizing the fraudulent appearance of some sort of "conspiracy" between the various progressive organizations in order to somehow discredit them.
Most of the time, Friedman's writing is admirably lucid -- but on this occasion, the details are a bit hard to follow. Still, one gets the general idea. And there's a definite stench in the air.
It's a familiar smell. Lambert
has compared HBGary's antics to David Axelrod's
little-known "astroturf" side business, ASK Public Strategies, which helps corporations manipulate public opinion. (More on that topic later.) It's hard to see much moral difference between Axelrod and HBGary head man Aaron Barr.Readers, can you help me figure this out...?
Let's get back to the Chamber of Commerce. One of our readers, Tony Ryals, offered a comment which I found intriguing, albeit very difficult to unpack. There may be a very important story buried here beneath some unfortunate wordsmithing. Let's see if you can help decipher the intended message:
Barack Osama Obama's Chamber of Commerce buddies are part of NTU and Agora Inc. founder James Dale Davidson's and Patrick Byrne's and ex SEC Chair Christopher Cox's and Carl Levin's, et.al.'s 'naked short selling' lie that was used to distract from massive penny stock fraud and later Cox on sec.gov in 2008 claimed even Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, Bank of America and even Goldman Sachs Sachs weren't just shorted which is what Cox set them up for by making shorting easier when he took over SEC - BUT WERE 'NAKED SHORTED'!
James Dale Davidson's Agora Inc. gold touter recently promoted by scumbag Alex Jones has admitted he and Agora among other billionaire clubs methodically shorted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shares themselves!
No doubt they all must have some very fat offshore accounts by now while America is bankrupt.
Alas, Mr. Ryals has presented his information in such a compact and hyperbolic form that I, for one, have a difficult time following his argument. Epic run-on sentences never aid comprehension. And I certainly don't have any sympathy for people who refer to "Barack Osama Obama." Cannonfire is not the kind of blog that prints crap like that -- usually.
Still...my interest is aroused. Provisionally
After running the above passage by Dakinkat, she emailed the following partial explanation, which I trust she won't mind seeing in print:
Naked short selling means you do a transaction in the futures market without actually owning the asset. You plan to buy it so cheap in the future that when you have to deliver on the contract, you have to buy it then and so you make huge amounts of money on the arbitrage if you're leveraged and have enough contracts out there.
This basically means all these people thought there was a bubble in mortgages that was going to burst because the knew that those assets would be worthless than now. It also could imply they colluded which is illegal.
With regular short selling you borrow the security. Naked short selling is gambling and pure speculation. If any practice should be banned, that one should be. Short selling basically killed Lehman brothers in a very short time. If a bunch of them systemically did this in large numbers with leverage which amplifies the deals, it would basically bring an asset down. If they 'conspired' to do it. It would be illegal.
The trick on this it figure out who did it, if they talk to one another, and the size of the deals. It takes a pretty expensive data base to get to this information. You can get stuff like this through Morning Star or CRSP. The real detail trades have to be done through audits like the SEC would do ...
Okay, so that explains what naked short selling is. But I'm still not sure what Agora has done, or what its relationship to the Chamber of Commerce is.
All I know is this: Any potential scandal that might embarrass both Barack Obama and
Alex Jones is bound to make me smile. Please let it be true please please please.Update:
About the "two fake personas" thing. After reading the passage more carefully, I think I get it now. In fact, the trick described here seems awfully familiar. Have we seen this before? A specific example does not come to mind.
Reader affinis (see the comments section) seems to think that Tony Ryals has headed down a dead end research avenue. Perhaps. Let's see what others think.