WikiLeaks has begun publishing internal emails exfiltrated from the systems of strategic intelligence company Stratfor and has teamed up with 25 media organizations who will be going through them all, revealing the most interesting information to the public.
“The emails date from between July 2004 and late December 2011,” states WikiLeaks in a press release announcing the leak. “They reveal 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. The emails show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods.”
“Government and diplomatic sources from around the world give Stratfor advance knowledge of global politics and events in exchange for money. The material shows how a private intelligence agency works, and how they target individuals for their corporate and government clients,” says WikiLeaks. “The Stratfor emails reveal a company that cultivates close ties with US government agencies and employs former US government staff. Despite the governmental ties, Stratfor and similar companies operate in complete secrecy with no political oversight or accountability. ”
According to the whistleblower site, the emails indicate that Stratfor has “monitored and analyzed the online activities of Bhopal activists, including the ‘Yes Men’, for the US chemical giant Dow Chemical”, that “in 2009 then-Goldman Sachs Managing Director Shea Morenz and Stratfor CEO George Friedman hatched an idea to ‘utilize the intelligence’ it was pulling in from its insider network to start up a captive strategic investment fund”, that it did “secret deals with dozens of media organizations and journalists – from Reuters to the Kiev Post”, paying them for information.
The first batch of released emails contains only 167, and the rest – some 5 million – are to be gradually released in the coming weeks, as WikiLeaks’ media partners report on what they found in them.
The source of the leaked emails is Anonymous, who got their hands on it when they breached Stratfor’s systems in December.
According to Wired, Anonymous decided to share the documents with WikiLeaks because the whistleblower site has great means to publish and disclose and it works with media in a way that Anonymous doesn’t.
WikiLeaks is expected to make public on Wednesday the Strafor emails that concern the organization and its founder Julian Assange. Anonymous and WikiLeaks will possibly continue this cooperation by publishing information exfiltrated following future hacks.
Stratfor has issued a press statement, calling the leak a “deplorable, unfortunate — and illegal — breach of privacy.”
“Some of 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,” they say, and add that the disclosure does not mean that there has been another hack of Stratfor’s computer and data systems, which “remain secure and protected.”