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Corporations Accused of Spying, Espionage on Consumer Watchdog Groups

| by Michael Allen

Essential Information, a consumer watchdog group, claims in a new report, Spooky Business, that large corporations are hiring former CIA, FBI and NSA employees to spy on non-profit organizations that keep track of corporate wrongdoing.

The Spooky Business report alleges that the corporations that have been linked to espionage or planned espionage against non-profits and activists include: Walmart, Monsanto, Coca Cola, Burger King, McDonald’s, Kraft, Shell. BP, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Chevron, Burger King, Dow Chemical, Bank of America, Sasol, Brown & Williamson and E.ON.

According to a press release by Essential Information on CorporatePolicy.org, "Giant corporations are employing highly unethical or illegal tools of espionage against nonprofit organizations with near impunity."

"Many different types of nonprofit organizations have been targeted with corporate espionage, including environmental, anti-war, public interest, consumer, food safety, pesticide reform, nursing home reform, gun control, social justice, animal rights and arms control groups."

While this may sound far-fetched, the Wall Street Journal reported in 2007 about Bruce Gabbard, who worked in Walmart's "Threat Research and Analysis Group," which he claims spied on workers, critics and organizations that reported on Walmart's business practices.

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Gabbard claimed that Walmart even sent an employee undercover, with a hidden microphone, to spy on an anti-Walmart group that was planning a protest. Gabbard's claims were supported by other former Walmart employees and security-industry professionals.

Gabbard was fired by Walmart for recording a phone call with a reporter from The New York Times.

Sources: CorporatePolicy.org, Essential Information, Wall Street Journal