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Plan to surveil business group critics?

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Three security companies put together information on opponents of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, leaked e-mails show.

The e-mails were released by Anonymous, a group supporting WikiLeaks, the Los Angeles Times reported. The companies submitted proposals for intelligence-gathering and manipulation of chamber critics to Hunton & Williams, the group's law firm, the newspaper said Monday.

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While they had gathered some information on activists critical of businesses -- including lists of family and friends and their relationships with other groups -- the security companies had apparently only done superficial digging so far, the Times said.

The chamber released a statement saying it had not approved any surveillance and accusing its critics of a "smear campaign."

"No money, for any purpose, was paid to any of those three private security firms by the chamber, or by anyone on behalf of the chamber, including Hunton & Williams," the statement said.

The e-mails show Hunton & Williams had discussions with the companies, the Times reported. They also suggest law firm employees and employees of the security companies had discussed the project with some people at the chamber.

The three companies all do work for the Defense Department.

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