Right-Wing Smear Jobs, Sabotage, Dirty Tricks Go Online
The Washington Post has a feature today about the role hacking and other technological hi-jinx are playing in political power wars. AlterNet readers may be familiar with the scandal that erupted last month when an investigation revealed that the US Chamber of Commerce was targeting WikiLeaks defenders, Bank of America critic, and other antagonistic bloggers including Glenn Greenwald and Brad Friedman with a vicious attack--including the possibility of spreading false information about its detractors.
As Friedman wrote then:
..the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the most powerful Rightwing lobbying group in the country, was revealed to have been working with their law firm and a number of private cyber security and intelligence firms to target progressive organizations, journalists and citizens who they felt were in opposition to their political activism, tactics and points of view.
Extensive reporting from ThinkProgress among other places revealed the extent of these attempted tricks and lies.
The Post's story today makes the claim that these abortive attempts at cyber-sabotage are the next evolution of old-school "opposition research" in the digital age--turning whispers into all-out online smear campaigns with false identities being created and the families and personal lives of online enemies being threatened:
...experts say the shadowy political intelligence business has become larger and more sophisticated as corporations, trade groups and political parties increasingly turn to computer sleuths to monitor and, in some cases, harass their detractors. The work almost always goes undetected and has been made easier with the rise of computer networks and social-media sites with relatively lax safeguards.
All the more reason to continue reporting on and exposing these power-hungry groups.