Referred to as “The Global Intelligence Files”, WikiLeaks said in an announcement on their website that the emails would provide information on the “inner workings” of Stratfor, as well as provide “privileged information” about the US Government, WikiLeaks, and their founder, Julian Assange. According to the release, over 4,000 emails refer to Assange and WikiLeaks.
The emails, which were snatched by Anonymous back in December, could potentially shed some light on the secretive Stratfor, who have been likened to a ‘Shadow-CIA’. However, the embarrassing leaks indicate that Stratfor may be something a lot less glamorous.
While WikiLeaks have not yet clarified the source of the leak, Anonymous have been taking the credit on one of their Twitter feeds, tweeting the following shortly after WikiLeaks’ announcement:
“#Anonymous thanks #Anonymous & @Wikileaks for exposing Stratfor & gov't corruption [...] We are legion.”
In a statement released shortly after WikiLeaks’ announcement, Stratfor said that release was an attempt to silence and intimidate it.
The statement indicated that the emails, "may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic.
"We will not validate either. Nor will we explain the thinking that went into them. Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimized twice by submitting to questioning about them."
Following the break in, George Friedman, Stratfor's founder and chief executive officer, said in January that the thieves would be hard-pressed to find anything of significance.
"God 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."
One exchange of emails suggests that Israeli commandoes may have already struck at Iranian nuclear interests, and that a potential attack on Iran would have “political and oil reasons and not nuclear.”
A part of the exchange refers to an informant (which Stratfor hadn’t verified at the time) who said, “The Israelis already destroyed all the Iranian nuclear infrastructure on the ground weeks ago. The current "let's bomb Iran" campaign was ordered by the EU leaders to divert the public attention from their at home financial problems.”
Other emails indicate that Stratfor had been commissioned by Dow Chemical to monitor corporate pranksters The Yes Men, following a prank where The Yes Men pretended to be a spokesperson for Dow, and told the BBC that Dow planned to reimburse victims of the Bhopal disaster. The prank shaved $2 million off Dow’s share price within 20 minutes of the fake announcement.
One exchange of note is that Stratfor were allegedly building up StratCap, an investment fund that is supported by intelligence gained through the core of their business, and funded by Shea Morenz of Goldman Sachs, potentially opening up to the shady world of insider trading.
However, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who know Goldman Sachs. Referred to as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money” by Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone magazine, it’s hardly a surprise to see them popping up in dealings with the shadowy Stratfor.
In fact, the whole leak, despite the hype, would seem to fulfil George Friedman’s prophecy of disappointment. The more emails I read, the more I became convinced that Stratfor were a bunch of journalists attempting to convince the world that they were James Bond.
Sure, there’s a few tidbits in here. Apparently, the US has a sealed indictment for Julian Assange, which seems quite minor considering that Sarah Palin was once calling for Assange to be hunted down like Al Qaeda. There’s also an email that says the rape claims against Assange are false and it’s just a couple of lawyers trying to make a name for themselves, but considering the source of this information comes through WikiLeaks, make of that what you will.
There was also the revelation that officials in Pakistan knew where Osama Bin Laden was hiding; a story so shocking that it was reported last May by a number of different sources.
Probably the most stunning eye-opener coming from the leaks is that Stratfor employees have a great sense of humour. This is particularly well displayed by their glossary of Stratfor terms, called The Stratfor Glossary of Useful, Baffling and Strange Intelligence Terms. There are plenty of gems in there for readers to uncover at their leisure, but their explanations of the terms ‘Black Op’ (“If you heard even a hint of it, it ain’t black”) and ‘BYM’ (“Bright Young Man. Doesn’t know sh*t. Doesn’t know that he doesn’t know. Likely to burn you the first time out. Try to get him killed as quickly as possible.”) deserve extra credit.
It’s one of these terms that pretty much sums up exactly what Stratfor actually are, and that’s ‘Brief the Times’, which Stratfor describe as:
“When the Briefer has obtained zero valuable intelligence from analysis, he finds something in the inside of the morning paper, powers up a view graph, and “Briefs the Times.” Customers are frequently impressed. It’s a hoot.”
I’d go as far as to say Stratfor’s 5,500,000 emails will only reveal two things. Firstly, WikiLeaks will happily polish up any turd to draw attention to itself. The Global Intelligence Files make for a great read, but it’s hardly Goldman Sachs’ accounts, and nothing any semi-literate person can’t assume after reading a broadsheet or two.
Secondly, despite all their chest pounding, Stratfor are essentially just another publisher. The only real difference between journalists and Stratfor’s analysts is Stratfor pretends it has a few more bells and whistles so it can charge $40,000 a year to its subscribers, whilst any journalist who cracks out the bells and whistles gets charged by the Leveson Inquiry.
Max Fisher from The Atlantic sums it up perfectly:
“The Atlantic often sends our agents into such dangerous locales as Iran or Syria. We call these men and women ‘reporters.’ Much like Statfor's agents, they collect intelligence, some of it secret, and then relay it back to us so that we may pass it on to our clients, whom we call "subscribers." Also like Stratfor, The Atlantic sometimes issues ‘secret cash bribes’ to on-the-ground sources, whom we call ‘freelance writers.’”
|The Global Intelligence Files|
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