Today, the world-famous environmental organization Greenpeace filed lawsuits against two chemical companies, Dow Chemical and Sasol. The suit alleges that both companies engaged in the equivalent of corporate espionage; that they spied on the organization, trespassed, stole thousands of documents from Greenpeace offices, and intercepted phone calls -- all in an attempt to stop Greenpeace from revealing the companies' environmentally destructive practices. The gist is this: Dow Chemical and Sasol hired private investigators from the firm Becket Brown International to spy on Greenpeace. Both companies attempted to cover their trails by going through PR firms (Dezenhall Resources and Ketchum). According to Greenpeace's statement, "The suit charges the defendants stole thousands of documents, intercepted phone call detail records (CDRs), trespassed and conducted unlawful surveillance and theft of confidential information related to Greenpeace's public interest work."
And they did so with the express aim of disrupting a specific campaign:
At the time, Greenpeace was working with communities threatened by dioxin and other chemical pollutants, including Lake Charles, Louisiana. In that community, a local citizens' group was infiltrated by an operative of BBI, a firm composed of former secret service agents and police officers.Greenpeace claims that the chemical companies, PR firms, and private investigators "conspired to and did surveil, infiltrate and steal confidential information with the intention of preempting, blunting or thwarting Greenpeace's environmental campaigns."
Say what you will about the whole of Greenpeace's tactics, but the organization remains a powerful force for giving voice to exploited communities and environments. It looks like they were a little too successful in pointing out hazardous practices in Louisiana for certain companies' tastes -- which should point out the value of organizations willing to go to such lengths to stand up to delinquent corporations.
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