UPDATE – 11:04 PM EST Al-Akhbar English has a full report on Stratfor’s interest or perhaps fixation on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.
One really interesting part of the story is what Stratfor considered doing with the diplomatic cables that were released:
Prior to the release of the diplomatic cables, George Friedman, founder and CEO of Stratfor, emailed all analysts to give them two tasks with regard to the cable documents leak. “First, is there anything significantly embarrassing to anyone. Second, is there any place where Stratfor is shown to be completely off base?” (doc-id 1029168)
The result of this operation was weekly reports on WikiLeaks (doc-id 410270) including comments by analysts on the cables, as well as actively downloading documents (doc-id 1031933), and even the creation of a mirror site (doc-id 1029237) with a password-locked system (doc-id 1044330) to ensure that Stratfor did not face any legal issues. In one email exchange thread, analysts suggest that Stratfor break the law and possibly cater to paying customers within US government agencies, namely the military, that are banned from reading any material with the word WikiLeaks in it. An analyst suggested editing out the word WikiLeaks from articles sent as long as the articles don’t include actual leaked content. It is unclear however based on emails examined by Al-Akhbar whether the recommendation was adopted as policy. (doc-id 1956493). [emphasis added]
UPDATE – 6:55 PM EST WikiLeaks has uncovered a Homeland Security Department assessment on the Occupy movement. It’s a .PDF file.
First, it shows that the Homeland Security Department doesn’t just help with disasters or fight terrorism. This assessment is likely the product of hours, if not days, of monitoring of news websites. This is part of what EPIC, a privacy rights group, discovered through a FOIA request. General Dynamics may have been part of putting together this assessment.
The assessment uses news stories to outline the possible risks or threats posed to financial services, commercial facilities, transportation, emergency services and government facilities.
In the summary of the assessment, which was put together by the “Office of Infrastructure Protection” under DHS, one can read the following conclusion:
The growing support for the OWS movement has expanded the protests’ impact and increased the potential for violence. While the peaceful nature of the protests has served so far to mitigate their impact, larger numbers and support from groups such as Anonymous substantially increase the risk for potential incidents and enhance the potential security risk to critical infrastructure (CI). The continued expansion of these protests also places an increasingly heavy burden on law enforcement and movement organizers to control protesters. As the primary target of the demonstrations, financial services stands the sector most impacted by the OWS protests. Due to the location of the protests in major metropolitan areas, heightened and continuous situational awareness for security personnel across all CI sectors is encouraged.
UPDATE – 2:53 PM EST The average commentator in America is truly dense when it comes to covering WikiLeaks and, when it seems they might be about to get it right, they get it so much more wrong. Dan Mitchell for SF Weekly:
If the widespread derision of WikiLeaks’ latest document drop is any indication, the struggling organization might be nearing the end of its useful life. Still, the stolen e-mails it started publishing on Sunday night so far seem more interesting in general than the trove of diplomatic cables it published in 2010, which consisted largely of mundane, mid-level chatter and gossip about ambassadors and so forth.
Here’s some of that “mundane, mid-level chatter and gossip” the cables revealed.
UPDATE – 2:13 PM EST WikiLeaks issues press statement in response to Stratfor emails suggesting US government has a “sealed indictment” for the organization’s editor-in-chief, Julian Assange:
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said: “For over a year now, the US Attorny General Eric Holder has been conducting a “secret” Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks. This neo-McCarthyist witch hunt against WikiLeaks may be Mr Holder’s defining legacy. Any student of American history knows that secret justice is no justice at all. Justice must be seen to be done. Legitimate authority arises out of the informed consent of the governed, not Eric Holder’s press secretary. Secret Grand Juries with secret indictments are apparently Eric Holder’s preferred method of dealing with publishers who hold his administration to account. Eric Holder has betrayed the legacy of Madison and Jefferson. He should drop the case or resign. Should he continue, however, the Obama administration may not — Democrats and Republicans alike believe in the right to tell the truth.”
UPDATE – 2:03 PM EST Rolling Stone finally has coverage of Stratfor emails on their site, specifically a look at the “secret indictment” against Assange. It is by the person I expected to provide coverage – Michael Hastings (who interviewed Julian Assange recently). The magazine is one of two US media outlets that partnered with WikiLeaks.
What does Hastings have to say about all this? He highlights how obsessed those in Stratfor were with Assange and WikiLeaks, noting Assange’s name appears 2102 times in the emails. He also goes after an incredibly condescending and trite post that went up on The Atlantic on the release:
To advertise a complete lack of interest in the inner workings of a major private intelligence firm, whose corporate clients (who pay up to $40,000 for Stratfor’s services) include companies like Lockheed Martin, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America – seems, to say the least, rather un-journalistic. If Stratfor is a joke, what does that say about the government agencies like the C.I.A. and other intel shops that supply Stratfor with employees. And if Wikileaks — an organization that ‘s pulled off a few of the biggest coups in the history of journalism — is a joke, whom, exactly, is the joke on?
UPDATE – 1:59 PM EST Diagram of structure for StratCap investment or hedge fund Stratfor was setting up with help of former managing director of Goldman Sachs here
UPDATE – 1:46 PM EST Michael Powell of the National Post looks at story about Israeli commandoes collaborating with Kurdish forces to destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure (or something like that) and calls it “ridiculous.” He offers his own analysis:
…[A] force of Israeli-trained Kurdish commandos who would have to carry prodigious amounts of weapons and explosives (not to mention the force and support necessary to overcome what must be overwhelming security at these Iranian nuclear weapons sites) sneaks across a heavily-monitored Iranian border under the cover of “migrant workers”. I won’t even mention the geography of Iran and the vast distances between the sites that would have to be targeted to have any effect on Iran’s program but I seem to recall an incident where three gormless American hikers were arrested near the western Iranian city of Marivan, in Kurdistan province (an area where Kurdish migrant workers would presumably be found in abundance) after straying too close to the Iraq-Iran border… [emphasis added]
UPDATE -1:37 PM EST So, if Stratfor is such a shoddy outfit, why would anyone in US government want to use its service? Channel 4:
If the agency is so closely linked, as WikiLeaks suggests, with US government agencies, the question would be as to why they would want to use them when they have their own staff at their disposal.
“Well, it gets around the whole issue of Freedom of Information, which is strong in America, and it makes things less accountable as the company are external contractors,” Mr Lashmar said.
UPDATE – 1:01 PM EST From the emails on Julian Assange from Stratfor: “Charges of sexual assault rarely
are passed through Interpol red notices, like this case, so this is no doubt about trying to disrupt WikiLeaks release of government documents.”
UPDATE – 12:51 PM EST Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes Men on Democracy Now! this morning talked about Dow Chemical hiring Stratfor to spy on Bhopal activists.
What surprised us in those emails, though, was that we would have assumed that Dow would be really concerned with the exact issue of Bhopal and Dow’s responsibility, stuff that could directly impact their bottom line. But, what they, what Stratfor seems to be really a bit obsessed with is whether we or other organizations are going to draw this into a bigger critique of corporate power.
UPDATE – 12:31 PM EST Burton’s source in FBI allegedly told him on Pfc. Bradley Manning: “There is no way the administration wants to put him on trial. That would be a huge circus. Manning should fry and hopefully will.”
UPDATE – 12:11 PM EST Here’s a pretty incredible email from a source on Israel helping Russia ground drones or UAVs Georgia was using before 2008 Russia-Georgia conflict. Israel did this in return for codes for “Iran’s Tor-M1 air-defense SAMs”
Israel/Iran/Russia/Georgia/Mexico = Apparently Israel has given Russia means of intercepting the data connection on Israeli-built UAVs, the same ones that Georgia was using and had been mysteriously grounded without physical attack during their recent conflict with Russia. In exchange for the UAV data link info, Russia has given Israel codes for Iran’s Tor-M1 air-defense SAMs. Georgia had been pursuing a Mexican company named Idra for their UAVs, which had a feature to automatically return to base instead of crashing when attempts to electronically compromise them had taken place. This company was also in talks with the Mexican government to provide their UAVs to their own forces when the plan was apparently derailed by Mexican officials’ decision to purchase Israeli UAVs because a hefty kickback fro the Israelis was included in the deal.
Israel/Iran/Russia/Greece/Turkey = Greece and Turkey have long had disputes over territory in the Aegean Sea. When Russia sold S-300 systems to Greece, nominally to protect Greek interests in the Aegean Sea, Turkey immediately began working on compromising the S-300 system. Turkey and Israel are reportedly working together to compromise this system. It is not clear whether Iran now has the S-300 system.
Source emails are from 2009 and internally rated as highest caliber and reliability.
UPDATE – 12:00 PM EST Stratfor analyst on diplomatic cables, before really beginning to read them all: “Probably secret stuff at the most and will not jeopardize any intelligence sources and methods.” Nonetheless, US officials will still claim informants and national security was at risk and Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of releasing the information, “aided the enemy.”
UPDATE – 11:55 AM EST Fred Burton, vice president of intelligence for Stratfor, after Assange’s arrest:
Take down the money. Go after his infrastructure. The tools we are using to nail and de-construct Wiki are the same tools used to dismantle and track aQ. Thank Cheney & 43. Big Brother owns his liberal terrorist arse.
UPDATE – 11:47 AM EST Stratfor hosted copy of the Cablegate database on its server
UPDATE – 11:34 AM EST Side note, but important: ManTech International has bought HBGary.
Mark Johnson, a ManTech contractor who also worked for the US government’s Computer Crimes Investigative Unit (CCIU) under Army CID, did forensic testing on Pfc. Bradley Manning’s personal Macbook. He testified during Manning’s Article 32 hearing.
UPDATE – 11:12 AM EST This looks bizarre and definitely suspect. From the research director at Stratfor, Kevin Stech:
So who is this asshole at 188.8.131.52? None other than Wikileaks. But I don’t think Wikileaks is security scanning us, nor do I even think Wikileaks was hacked and someone is mounting a security scan from there. I think its far more likely that people are spoofing the Wikileaks IP address and acting like as big of an asshole as possible in order to trip everyone’s automatic security that bans and ignores the offender.
In a nutshell, I believe someone is spoofing attacks from Wikileaks in order to get their IP address blocked.
Stech further added:
We also know that the traffic was specifically designed to test for misconfigured software in an attempt to gain unauthorized web content. The traffic was extremely aggressive and not at all subtle or stealthy. It actually bordered on a denial of service attack.
We also know that it wasn’t originating from just any wikileaks address, but from their webserver.
The emails by Stech were sent out on December 7, 2010. WikiLeaks’ Swedish servers had been under attack the day before. And, we know that just as they began to release the US State Embassy cables, the organization was hit with a cyber attack that reportedly forced the organization to change its domain name.
UPDATE – 10:49 AM EST Now, WikiLeaks has put up more emails featuring discussion of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.
—After the “massive leak” of the Iraq war logs, Fred Burton, former State Department official and vice president of intelligence for Stratfor, says, “DOD and DHS are the problem.”
—Burton suggests that the establishment of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, something WikiLeaks celebrated, will be good “until an Icelander is beheaded by a jihadi.” And, here he says Assange “needs his head dunked in a full toilet bowl at
—As Cablegate begins, a Reuters political risk correspondent contacts Burton for some “quick thoughts.”
—An employee within Stratfor writes, in response to an Avaaz newsletter calling on people to support WikiLeaks, “I’m in favor of using whatever trumped up charge is available to get this guy and his servers off the streets. And I’d feed that shit head soldier to the first pack of wild dogs I could find. Or perhaps just do to him whatever the Iranians are doing to our sources there.”
—Employees went back and forth on what the US government could do to Assange while he was in the US to attend a Las Vegas event in June 2010.
—A contractor with Science Applications International Corporation, working with the FBI, said of Cablegate release: “Looks pretty bad – then again, nobody knew better than us how those State Department people write – so nobody should be surprised at some of it.”
UPDATE – 10:09 AM EST Here is “The Alyona Show” segment on the Global Intelligence Files in which I appear to talk about the release and publication of the emails.
UPDATE – 10:05 AM EST Not much to glean but learn about how Stratfor perceived Bulgaria by going here.
UPDATE – 9:47 AM EST Adam Weinstein of Mother Jones looks at what the emails reveal in general. Here’s an interesting bit about Stratfor and the US Marine Corps:
Stratfor even worked for an outfit that has a pretty robust intelligence capability of its own—the Marine Corps. “I get so much from Stratfor that admittedly, I quickly review your daily summaries and focus on the terrorism analyses,” Lt. Colonel Bill Gresham, a top officer at the Corps’ headquarters security division, wrote the company. “[W]e are interested in—terrorism; daily terrorism briefs and anything from George Friedman. Additionally, the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
UPDATE – 9:44 AM EST POLITICO‘s Josh Gerstein on the revelation that the US government has an indictment for Assange
UPDATE – 9:38 AM EST Middle East informant was given a raise and paid $6000/month.
This gives you an idea of what kind of money the company had. The raise happened in October 2011 and half of the pay was to come out of StratCap, the investment fund, eventually.
And, here is a .PDF file showing payments to contractors.
UPDATE – 9:35 AM EST There will likely be much information today on Assange/WikiLeaks from the Stratfor emails.
UPDATE – 9:00 AM EST WikiLeaks has put up first emails that specifically involve discussions about prosecuting the organization’s founder, Julian Assange. The Sydney Morning Herald describes the emails, which include indication the US has drawn up secret charges against Assange.
In an internal email to Stratfor analysts on January 26 last year, the vice-president of intelligence, Fred Burton, responded to a media report concerning US investigations targeting WikiLeaks with the comment: ”We have a sealed indictment on Assange.”…
It all raises the question: Why is it permissible for the Department of Justice or any agency or department in the US government to show any person affiliated with Stratfor a “sealed indictment”?
Also, this is what Stratfor’s “senior watch officer” in Australia said about Assange:
In the emails, an Australian Stratfor ”senior watch officer”, Chris Farnham, advocated revoking Mr Assange’s Australian citizenship, adding: ”I don’t care about the other leaks but the ones he has made that potentially damage Australian interests upset me. If I thought I could switch this dickhead off without getting done I don’t think I’d have too much of a problem.”
But Mr Farnham also referred to a conversation with a close family friend who he said knew one of the Swedish women who had made allegations of sexual assault against Mr Assange, and added: ”There is absolutely nothing behind it other than prosecutors that are looking to make a name for themselves.”
The emails referenced in the article are posted here.
Mon, February 27
UPDATE – 10:45 PM EST Will Potter of GreenistheNewRed.com on Stratfor emails showing it was hired by Coca-Cola to monitor PETA activists:
These emails reflect an ongoing pattern of surveillance and misinformation by the FBI, Stratfor, and corporations against animal rights and environmental groups. In fact, the Justice Department warned the FBI against wasting resources investigating PETA and other activist groups (the FBI refused to alter its policies). Also, the USDA has classified PETA as a terrorist threat.
As I have reported here previously, Stratfor is one of many private intelligence firms that have profited signficantly from post-9/11 “terrorism” hysteria. Stratfor and others, such as the Inkerman Group, are paid by corporations to identify business “threats,” including special interest groups, key activists, and legislation. It is a niche industry built upon fear: the business of risk mitigation depends upon the identification of a constant stream of threats.
UPDATE – 10:43 PM EST Newspaper local to Stratfor, the Austin American-Statesman, examines whether WikiLeaks hit Stratfor right before it was about to grow significantly as a company. They focus on a Labor Day email that has been getting a lot of play:
The company’s growth strategy was based on building readership of its online intelligence analyses as well as the creation of its own investment fund, which would use “nuggets” picked up by its analysts to inform the purchase of government bonds and currency in regions of the world where it operated, according to the emails.
The company was also about to enter into a relationship with the U.S. Marine Corps and other government intelligence operations to “teach them how Stratfor does what it does,” according to the email attributed to Friedman. “The professional intelligence community is acknowledging us as being the gold standard of intelligence,” the email says.
UPDATE – 9:18 PM EST And, we have more journo babble over at Business Week. Mathew Ingram poses question, “Does WikiLeaks Still Matter?” No, it doesn’t and you just wasted your time.
Seriously, Ingram gets going and concludes media outside of US/UK insignificant so if WikiLeaks partners with them it is showing this is being done because the organization is desperate:
…[T]he list of partners includes outlets such as Al Akhbar in Lebanon, Bivol in Bulgaria, and La Nación in Costa Rica. In the U.S., the organization said it is working with the McClatchy newspaper chain and with Rolling Stone magazine. Not exactly a Who’s Who of mainstream media sources.
No, but the New York Times and The Guardian engaged in conduct that would make it difficult to continue to work with them.
UPDATE – 8:33 PM EST Pagina 12, media partner in Argentina, covers a “tug of war” with Britain over oil reserves near the Falkland Islands. Here are the emails just published and a few of the more interesting excerpts. This email:
We want to watch the Ocean Guardian rig and any Argentinian attempt to interfere or intimidate operations. Any Argentine naval or air activity in the vicinity of the Falklands right now should at the very least be noted, if not repped. Any UK reinforcements being deployed or arriving on station in the Falklands should be noted and repped unless they are simply rotational (one destroyer or detachment of fighters replacing another, for example.
And, from an email exchange that includes Stratfor’s source in Brazil:
Yes I will try to get insight. Brazil has mentioned a few times that the South Atlantic is a blue amazon and that no northern country should be occupying it. Since Lula came to power Brazil has shown signs of support to Argentina in the Malvinas issue. They do not want to have the UK next to the pre-salt reserves.
UPDATE – 8:31 PM EST In case you missed it, here is a video of George Friedman, CEO of Stratfor, blowing air at the screen and talking about how he won’t let WikiLeaks take down the racket that is Stratfor.
UPDATE – 8:11 PM EST The Chinese mining industry is having a tough time expanding in Australia because the industry is corrupt and believes it must pay bribes to expand business.
UPDATE – 8:00 PM EST David Corn of Mother Jones takes a look at an email exchange where Fred Burton claims he can get access to the materials seized from Osama bin Laden’s compound after he was killed. Corn comments:
The emails he sent on this matter ought to cause intelligence-watchers to wonder whether Stratfor has burrowed into US intelligence and sensitive information has been compromised—and whether Burton and his cloak-and-dagger colleagues exploit their ties to US spies for their own good.
WikiLeaks and twenty-five or so media partners have begun to release and publish the “Global Intelligence Files,” over five million emails from the Texas-headquartered “global intelligence company known as Stratfor. The leaks organization describes the emails as documents that show “Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods.”
The organization’s press release further explains the emails show the “inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency.”
Here at The Dissenter the release has been receiving full coverage. And, here are some highlights on what has been revealed so far:
—Former Goldman Sachs managing director Shea Morenz to start a hedge fund called StratCap. The idea, which Morenz came up with, was that the company would “trade in a range of geopolitical instruments, particularly government bonds, currencies and the like.” Morenz invested more than $4 million and joined Stratfor’s board of directors. They put together an offshore share structure that went “as far as South Africa” Friedman said the fund will be useful and they would be “working on mock portfolios and trades.” And, the fund was to launch in 2012.
—Bhopal activists and The Yes Men were being spied on by the company. In response to activism against Dow Chemical for their role in the 1984 gas disaster in Bhopal, India (which victims have not been properly compensated for yet), the activists were tracked. The company kept track of the Yes Men’s speaking engagements along with mentions of Bhopal activism in the media.
—Coca Cola contracted Stratfor to spy on PETA. The organization, which engages in animal rights activism, was monitored. The soda company feared protests from PETA during the Vancouver Olympics. And so, they sent a list of questions to Stratfor and sought answers. Fred Burton, a former State Department official, responded in one email, “The FBI has a classified investigation on PETA operatives. I’ll see what I can uncover.”
—Vice President Fred Burton, former State Department official, has clear ties to Israel. As Al-Akhbar English’s Yazan al-Saadi details Burton was ”a special agent with the US Diplomatic Security Service and was appointed by Washington to investigate the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane, and a number of bomb plots by al-Qaeda prior to 9/11.” In the emails, his “pro-Israeli sentiments and links to Israeli military and intelligence sectors” are apparent as he argues the Gaza Freedom Flotilla was “funded by questionable sources.” There’s a level of racism in the company toward Palestinians or, in general, Arabs, not to mention the fact that the organization appears to be privy to information on the Mossad’s covert program to assassinate Iranian physicists.
Now, The Dissenter at Firedoglake.com resumes its coverage with a live blog post following the second day of the release. Updates will appear at the top. All times are EST. And, this post will continue to be updated until 7 pm EST tomorrow, when the third day of the release begins. WikiLeaks announced the release at 12:01 AM GMT so a new post will go up each day at that time as long as revelations continue come out of the emails.