Exclusive: Read the Internal Documents Exposing the Former Secret Service Agents Who Went Through Greenpeace’s Trash

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A Mother Jones exclusive investigation has revealed that a security firm run by cops and former Secret Service agents spied on Greenpeace, Fenton Communications, the Center for Food Safety, and other progressive groups. The most interesting company communiques you weren’t supposed to see? Check out the glow-in-the-dark Taco Bell emails and the handwritten notes about which green groups to dumpster-dive in D.C. We’ve made them public for the first time; they’re available on the site here. You’ll have to read James Ridgeway’s story itself to find out about the Mary Kay cosmetics, Obama, and Scientology angles, though.

Yes, it’s weird. Wait’ll you get to the Greenpeace undercover operatives part.

BBI also conducted background checks for the Carlyle Group, the Washington-based investment firm; provided “protective services” for the National Rifle Association; handled “crisis management” for the Gallo wine company; engaged in “information collection” for Wal-Mart. It conducted background checks for Patricia Duff, a Democratic Party fundraiser then involved in an acrimonious child custody battle with billionaire Ronald Perelman. And for Mary Kay, BBI mounted “surveillance” and vetted Gayle Gaston, a top executive at the cosmetics company (and mother of actress Robin Wright Penn), retaining an expert to conduct a psychological assessment of her. Also listed as clients in BBI records? Halliburton and Blackwater.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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