- The Washington Times - Monday, April 9, 2007

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Wal-Mart won a gag order to stop a fired security operative from talking to reporters, and a judge ordered him to provide Wal-Mart attorneys with “the names of all persons to whom he has transmitted, since Jan. 15, 2007, any Wal-Mart information.”

The court papers made public yesterday follow a string of revelations about the retailer’s large surveillance operations and its business plans.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. filed a lawsuit and request for a temporary restraining order with a circuit court judge after court hours Friday.

In the lawsuit, Wal-Mart says former security operative Bruce Gabbard violated trade secrets law by revealing to reporters “confidential information about Wal-Mart security systems and operations” and “highly confidential information about Wal-Mart’s strategic planning.” It seeks unspecified damages.

The judge’s temporary order bars Mr. Gabbard from disclosing any further Wal-Mart trade secrets or confidential information.

The suit and restraining order were filed two days after Wal-Mart apologized to activist shareholders for Mr. Gabbard’s revelation that they were considered potential threats and ahead of a story in yesterday’s editions of the Wall Street Journal on Mr. Gabbard’s assertion that Wal-Mart had a supersecret Project Red aimed at bolstering its stagnant share price.

Wal-Mart declined to comment on the Project Red report except to say, “Our senior management, our board and their advisers regularly conduct thorough, strategic reviews of all aspects of our business. That’s just good governance. We look at a full range of alternatives, many of which are considered and rejected, and we will not comment specifically on any of them.”

The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a coalition of faith-based investors that has worked with Wal-Mart since 1990 on social issues, demanded yesterday that Chief Executive Lee Scott apologize formally for a memo that lists the group as a potential threat.

Members hold more than 2 million shares in the retailer.

“More importantly, we ask CEO Lee Scott to shift shareholder resources away from these public relations activities and instead focus on the core issues ICCR and other concerned investors have been bringing to Wal-Mart for almost two decades: the human dignity inherent in each supply chain worker, in-store employee, and customer of Wal-Mart,” the group said.

The restraining order suggests that Mr. Gabbard, 44, might have Wal-Mart equipment or documents.

It orders him to surrender any documents or data and a long list of “all home and work computers, personal digital assistants, hard drives, thumb drives, and all other electronic or digital media and hardcopy information.”

It also orders Mr. Gabbard, at Wal-Mart’s request, to provide lawyers with the names of people whom he has provided information about the company.

Mr. Gabbard, a 19-year Wal-Mart veteran, was fired with his supervisor last month for purportedly recording phones calls between a reporter and company officials and for intercepting pager messages between other people.

Wal-Mart said he violated its policies.

Mr. Gabbard was part of a 20-member security team called the Threat Research and Analysis Group.

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