The Times has the spokespeople’s responses:

Bank of America and the Chamber of Commerce distanced themselves on Friday from any effort to embarrass or collect disparaging information about their critics. “We have not engaged in, nor do we have any plans to engage in, the practices discussed in this alleged presentation by HBGary,” said Lawrence DiRita, a Bank of America spokesman.

Tom Collamore, a chamber spokesman, said, “The leaked e-mails appear to show that HBGary Federal was willing to propose questionable actions in an attempt to drum up business, but the chamber was not aware of these proposals until HBGary’s e-mails leaked.”

There are threads aplenty to pull on here: Who is HBGary Federal? Who are its clients? What have they done for them in the past? What’s the connection with Hunton & Williams? Why did the Justice Department recommend Hunton & Williams to Bank of America?

A look through Factiva shows only one media hit for HBGary Federal in the last two years before the flurry of the past week. And it’s a very interesting one. This from SC Magazine, which covers IT security (emphasis mine):

HBGary Federal, provider of classified security services to the U.S. Department of Defense and the intelligence community, has partnered with Palantir Technologies, maker of analytics platforms. HBGary’s team of researchers will leverage Palantir’s analysis tool suite to provide enhanced threat intelligence.

Interested in this story yet?

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.