You are hereARS Technica: Congress asks to review DoD and NSA contracts with HBGary

ARS Technica: Congress asks to review DoD and NSA contracts with HBGary

March 17, 2011- Anonymous’s recent exposure of a federal contractor’s plan to take down WikiLeaks has led to a congressional probe seeking data on contracts the company and its partners hold with the US military and intelligence agencies.

The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities on Wednesday asked the Defense Department and its intelligence arm—the National Security Agency—to hand over copies of any contracts they may have signed with HBGary Federal, Palantir Technologies and Berico Technologies.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) grilled Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the NSA and commander of the US Cyber Command, and Dr. James Miller, Jr., deputy under secretary of defense for policy, on the services the firms provided their agencies.

Miller replied that he would have to check with the Defense Department’s general counsel to “make sure that the provision of that type of information is allowed contractually.”

When Johnson asked whether this meant the contracts might have provisions barring them from being shared with Congress, Miller backtracked and said no, that it would take time to determine all the agencies in the department that have contracts with the companies and decide in what form to provide the information.

Subcommittee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R- Texas) interjected that the information should be provided to the entire committee.

Johnson didn’t immediately respond to a call for comment.

All three companies were recently in the crosshairs after e-mails stolen from HBGary Federal revealed that the company had been working on a proposal for the law firm Hunton and Williams to investigate and discredit WikiLeaks. The proposal included such maneuvers as launching cyber attacks against WikiLeaks’ servers in order to obtain data on the sources who submit documents to the organization; submitting fake documents to the secret-spilling site and then later calling public attention to the fake documents to raise questions about WikiLeaks’ reliability; and using intimidation tactics against a Salon reporter who avidly supports the group.

The plan was exposed after members of the online vigilante group Anonymous breached the company’s network and stole more than 60,000 internal e-mails.



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