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Greenpeace Files Federal Lawsuit Accusing Dow, Sasol of Spying

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Greenpeace filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court yesterday, claiming that chemical companies Dow and Sasol North America, along with PR firms Dezenhall Resources, and Ketchum--a division of Omnicom--as well as Beckett Brown International, a security firm that employs former NSA, CIA, and other law enforcement personnel.

Greenpeace claims that, from 1998 to 2000, operatives engaged in "clandestine and unlawful" activities to "troll through Greenpeace's privately secured garbage and that ... phony volunteers [served] as undercover 'moles' at the offices of Greenpeace leaders and executives" in an attempt to undermine the group's campaign against the industry.

The Washington Post reports that, "In a statement, Greenpeace said its 'primary goal in filing this lawsuit is to expose the illegal activities of these companies . . . and enjoin similar actions from taking place in the future.'"

Beckett Brown was the focus of another Post article in 2008, which said:

"Not all of BBI's work targeted activists: Lysol wanted details of a New Jersey high school student's science fair project about cleaning products. Mary Kay executives sought a secret 'psychological assessment' of a fellow executive. A consultant working for Nestle wanted information about rivals Mars and Whetstone Candy.

"'I always thought they were trying to sabotage me,' said Henry M. Whetstone Jr., who recently reviewed the BBI records. 'Everyone thinks that the candy industry is this happy world. It's not. It has a really dark side.'"

In any case, the charges laid out by Greenpeace are, at this point, still allegations. It should be an interesting case to follow. As for the dark side of the candy industry, I know what I'll be Googling tonight.

POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.