WikiLeaks has released nearly 200 internal emails from Stratfor, a company that bills itself as a publishing house. However, the emails indicate Stratfor is more a clearing house for intelligence that is sold to the federal government or corporations.
back in the news again. This time the whistle-blower Website has released its
first set of internal emails stolen from Stratfor back in December.
The links to
the 167 messages are allegedly just the first installment of the "more
than 5 million emails" dating from July 2004 to December 2011, WikiLeaks
said in a statement accompanying the emails. The documents reveal the
"inner workings" of Stratfor Global Intelligence, a Texas-based
company WikiLeaks claims provided confidential intelligence services to large
corporations, such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and several
In a quick
perusal of the messages included in the first set, eWEEK
found Excel spreadsheets containing "client"
information, notes between Stratfor employees discussing stories they'd heard
from their network of sources, and internal documents about proper procedures
on how to collect and analyze information and maintain confidentiality. The
stories, tagged as "insight," cover topics such as Venezuelan
president Hugo Chavez's medical history, rumors of unmanned aerial vehicles
(UAV) being traded between private groups in Georgia, Mexico and Russia, and a
former Spanish prime minister's opinions concerning terrorism.
emails show Stratfor's web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering
techniques and psychological methods," WikiLeaks wrote.
refused to comment on the authenticity of the emails, and in a statement called
the release "deplorable."
had our property stolen, we will not be victimized twice by submitting to
questioning about them," Stratfor said in its statement.
A group of
individuals claiming to be affiliated with hacktivist collective Anonymous breached Strategic Forecasting's servers
the Website, stole and dumped credit card numbers, user names and passwords belonging to subscribers
and stole internal and external emails in late December. Stratfor was offline
for about 18 days to rebuild its site to prevent a similar attack.
It is not
clear how WikiLeaks obtained the documents, or when. The site coordinated its
release with more than two-dozen publications and analysts around the world,
including McClatchy, Rolling Stone
and Italy's La Republica
, Spain's Publico
and New Zealand's Sunday Star-Times
"partners" are "conducting journalistic evaluations" of
these emails and will publish "important revelations" in the coming
weeks, the site said.
the attack, Stratfor CEO George Friedman wrote in a letter to customers that
there was nothing damaging or significant in the stolen emails.
knows what a hundred employees writing endless emails might say that is
embarrassing, stupid or subject to misinterpretation. ¦ As they search our
emails for signs of a vast conspiracy, they will be disappointed,"
Some of the
messages posted in this first batch reveal some potentially questionable
practices, but it's not clear whether they are taken out of context or an
example of how the company's analysts normally operate. For example, in a
December email chain, Friedman told an analyst, "If this is a source you
suspect may have value, you have to take control of him." The discussion
centered on whether a source had credible information or was repeating gossip,
and Friedman said only by controlling the source by any means, including
financial and psychological, would it be possible to evaluate the source.
internal memo from August 2011, Friedman discussed a venture between a Goldman
Sachs managing director Shea Morenz and Stratfor to establish a captive
strategic investment fund called StratCap. StratCap will use Stratfor's
"intelligence and analysis to trade in a range of geopolitical
instruments, particularly government bonds, currencies and the like,"
Friedman allegedly wrote.
"may be authentic," while some others "may be forged or altered
to include inaccuracies," Stratfor said. "We will not validate
either," read the statement.
Stratfor's Friedman has lashed out at critics
Stratfor had been mischaracterized after the attack. "At the core of our
business, we objectively acquire, organize, analyze and distribute
information," Friedman said at the time, and denied it engaged in any kind
of covert spying for corporations or government agencies.
called Strafor a "private intelligence" company and claimed the
"Global Intelligence Files," as the Stratfor emails have been dubbed,
showed how government, diplomatic and media sources gave Stratfor advance
knowledge of global politics and events in exchange for money. The informants
were a mix of covert and overt informants and were paid by Swiss bank accounts
and pre-paid credit cards, WikiLeaks claimed.
body of emails also allegedly contain "privileged" information about
the U.S. government's attacks against Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks
currently besieged with a sexual harassment case in Sweden and the subject of
investigation for his role in the release of U.S. State Department diplomatic
cables in late 2010, as well as Strafor's attempts to "subvert"
WikiLeaks, according to the statement accompanying the leaked "Global
Intelligence Files" on the site. "There are more than 4,000 emails
mentioning WikiLeaks or Julian Assange," the site claimed.