Wikileaks has published five million emails from Stratfor, an intelligence company based in Texas that, looking at their practices, appears to be America's very own privately run CIA. According to Wikileaks, their deals would also include the use of privileged information to make money in financial markets.
Stratfor's clients are the US Government, other countries and military organizations, as well as private companies like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman or Raytheon. They have a global network of spies in governments and media companies, including "secret deals with dozens of media organizations and journalists, from Reuters to the Kiev Post." According to the emails, these spies get paid in Swiss bank accounts and pre-paid credit cards.
Wikileaks says that the emails also reveal the creation of a parallel organization called StratCap. Apparently, this organization would use Stratfor network of informants to make money in financial markets. Wikileaks claims that the emails show how then-Goldman Sachs Managing Director Shea Morenz and Stratfor CEO George Friedman put StratCap in motion in 2009.
Here are some of the highlights, according to Wikileaks:
The Global Intelligence Files exposes how Stratfor has recruited a global network of informants who are paid via Swiss banks accounts and pre-paid credit cards.
Government and diplomatic sources from around the world give Stratfor advance knowledge of global politics and events in exchange for money. Stratfor has a mix of covert and overt informants, which includes government employees, embassy staff and journalists around the world.
"[Y]ou have to take control of him. Control means financial, sexual or psychological control... This is intended to start our conversation on your next phase" – CEO George Friedman to Stratfor analyst Reva Bhalla on 6 December 2011, on how to exploit an Israeli intelligence informant providing information on the medical condition of the President of Venezuala, Hugo Chavez.
Stratfor's use of insiders for intelligence soon turned into a money-making scheme of questionable legality. The emails show that in 2009 then-Goldman Sachs Managing Director Shea Morenz and Stratfor CEO George Friedman hatched an idea to "utilise the intelligence" it was pulling in from its insider network to start up a captive strategic investment fund. [...] CEO George Friedman explained in a confidential August 2011 document, marked DO NOT SHARE OR DISCUSS: "What StratCap will do is use our Stratfor's intelligence and analysis to trade in a range of geopolitical instruments, particularly government bonds, currencies and the like".
Stratfor claims that it operates "without ideology, agenda or national bias", yet the emails reveal private intelligence staff who align themselves closely with US government policies and channel tips to the Mossad – including through an information mule in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Yossi Melman, who conspired with Guardian journalist David Leigh to secretly, and in violation of WikiLeaks' contract with the Guardian, move WikiLeaks US diplomatic cables to Israel.
Stratfor did secret deals with dozens of media organisations and journalists – from Reuters to the Kiev Post. The list of Stratfor's "Confederation Partners", whom Stratfor internally referred to as its "Confed Fuck House" are included in the release. While it is acceptable for journalists to swap information or be paid by other media organisations, because Stratfor is a private intelligence organisation that services governments and private clients these relationships are corrupt or corrupting.
Update: Stratfor CEO has resigned following this clusterfuck. It seems the company's security hasn't been fixed yet, at least according to Anonymous:
Date: 2012-02-26 19:02:07
It is with great personal disappointment I have to inform you that I will resign from my position as CEO for Stratfor to immediate effect.
Please rest assured that this decision was not an easy. But in the light of the recent events, especially the release of our company emails by WikiLeaks, I have decided that stepping down is in the best interest of Stratfor and its customer base.
I want to emphasize that this will have no effect on Stratfor's business or its members and we will continue to provide state-of-the-art intelligence services.
Regarding the latest breach, Stratfor is fully in control of the situation However, while I cannot take any personal responsibility for this incident, I still have to admit that mistakes have been made on our side. To be clear: We certainly do not condone any criminal activities by groups like Anonymous or other hackers. This is theft and we will continue to cooperate with law enforcement to bring those responsible to justice. But we must acknowledge that this incident would not have been possible if Stratfor had implemented stronger data protection mechanisms - which will be the case from now on. Indeed we will immediately move to implement the latest, and most comprehensive, data security measures.
While I played no role in our technical operations, as the company's CEO I do accept full responsibility thus will resign from my position effective immediately.
Again, my sincerest apologies for this whole unfortunate incident.
Update 2: Stratfor says that the email above is false in this Reuters article:
It said it would not be cowed under the leadership of George Friedman, Stratfor's founder and chief executive officer. It said Friedman had not resigned as CEO, contrary to a bogus email circulating on the Internet.
Some of the emails being published "may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic," the company statement said.
"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," the statement said."
Or maybe that's part of a disinformation campaign to question the credibility of all the emails. After all, the article is from Reuters. Who knows at this point.