Exposing Stratfor: WikiLeaks details inner workings of analysis firm
February 28th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Exposing Stratfor: WikiLeaks details inner workings of analysis firm

By Suzanne Kelly

The first blow came in December, when private analysis firm Stratfor - which gathers open-source and paid-source information on global issues for subscription-based clients - had its company e-mail hacked. It was reportedly the work of the loose-knit, yet well-feared group of hackers known as Anonymous.

This week, the second blow was delivered as the website WikiLeaks began posting what it says is a body of internal Stratfor e-mails numbering in the millions and reportedly laying out just how the sausage is made at a modern-day private intelligence firm.

A reading of the e-mails already published paints a picture of a company that sees itself, at times, as a rival to U.S. government intelligence agencies.

While companies that offer analysis products to government and corporate clients are common, they rarely ever publicly disclose how they make their assessments, and how they employ their various "sources" of information, nor do they talk about how they turn that information around for their clients.

But within the lines of the more than 5 million e-mails that WikiLeaks claim span a seven-year period of time, a picture begins to emerge.

The e-mails range from detailed lists of clients that include companies, individuals, universities, and government departments, to the company's own analysis of the strength of its source roster. They also lay out the vision that Stratfor CEO George Friedman had for the company, and offer details about a generous donor who played an instrumental role in the development of an investment fund fueled by Stratfor's intelligence-gathering initiatives.

The company says it is outraged over the breach of its privacy and is remaining tight-lipped about the e-mails, though it did issue a statement on how it sees the disclosure of private information. Read full statement here.

"This is a deplorable, unfortunate - and illegal - breach of privacy," read the Stratfor statement, which warned that contents of the e-mails may have been altered.

The company refused, however, to answer any questions about the information contained within them, saying: "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."

As with prior WikiLeaks mass-information postings, many of the e-mails appear harmless, but some seem to reveal a company that sees itself as a rival to the government's intelligence community. For instance, one e-mail dated 2004 that was purported to be from Friedman, shared news that the head of analysis at the Central Intelligence Agency had been fired. In it, the author of the e-mail criticizes the agency's analysis structure and shares his sentiment that Stratfor's products were superior to the agency's.

"My charge against her was and remains that she took no pride in her craft and turned intelligence into PR and shoddy process," the e-mail author wrote. "She (the CIA analysis head) and her gang are now history. This gives Stratfor an enormous, historic opportunity. The CIA model of analysis has been invalidated. The ponderous, process driven machine that could only manage the small things now needs to be replaced by a robust, visionary, courageous analytic system. Stratfor has the opportunity to show the way."

Some of the e-mails raise questions about the extent to which Stratfor analysts go in gathering information.

In some of the juicier personal e-mails between colleagues, one seemingly jokingly implies that a female employee was sleeping with her sources in order to get information. But another e-mail that appears to be from Friedman took a much more serious tone when discussing how to get information from an Israeli intelligence informant.

"(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."

Companies that offer services like Stratfor's often rely on a global network of informants - some of them paid - who supply information on various issues that are of particular interest to clients, but there are laws governing such activities.

In an e-mail dated in August of last year, news was reportedly shared that 19 brigadiers in the Pakistan army had been promoted to major generals. The comment at the top of the e-mail that appeared to be from a Stratfor employee read: "We have a source among these 19 and he is a rising star within the hierarchy and is seen as having a really good shot at the top job."

Also in an e-mail dated in August of last year, Friedman reportedly wrote, "We are retaining a law firm to create a policy for Stratfor on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. I don't plan to do the perp walk and I don't want anyone here doing it either."

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act makes it illegal for "certain classes of persons" to make payments to officials in other countries for the purpose of either obtaining or retaining business opportunities.

More details about Stratfor will undoubtedly continue to surface in the coming weeks as WikiLeaks continues its slow rollout of corporate punishment by posting e-mails in batches at a time. The company says it is doing business as usual, only now with better security over its e-mail accounts.

soundoff (130 Responses)
  1. chloroquine online

    hydroxicloriquine mefloquine hydroxychloriquine

    June 6, 2021 at 2:58 am | Reply
  2. generic cialis online fast shipping

    procalis best price usa tadalafil tildenafil

    June 5, 2021 at 6:39 pm | Reply
  3. shortage of hydroxychloroquine

    chloraquine idrossiclorochina chroloquine

    June 5, 2021 at 5:47 am | Reply
  4. buy cialis

    tadalafil generic buy cialis online tadalafil without a doctor prescription

    June 5, 2021 at 1:25 am | Reply
  5. dolquine

    how long has hydroxychloroquine been used chloroquine hcl hydrocholoroquine

    June 4, 2021 at 10:14 pm | Reply
  6. tadalafil tablets ip

    tadalafil warnings tadalafil pah evolution peptides tadalafil

    June 3, 2021 at 4:45 pm | Reply
  7. Read More Here

    I keep listening to the news update speak about getting free online grant applications so I have been looking around for the best site to get one. Could you advise me please, where could i acquire some?


    May 27, 2021 at 5:23 pm | Reply
  8. keespamebpaxy

    where to buy tadalafil on line https://cttadalafil.com/ tadalafil online with out prescription where to buy tadalafil on line cialis at canadian pharmacy

    May 27, 2021 at 11:38 am | Reply
  9. apposyattance

    generic cialis tadalafil generic cialis tadalafil tadalafil daily online where to buy generic cialis online safely https://cttadalafil.com/

    May 27, 2021 at 9:20 am | Reply
  10. CleplePewCred

    prescription tadalafil online tadalafil blood pressure tadalafil goodrx where to buy generic cialis online safely https://tadacipetadalafil.com/

    May 27, 2021 at 12:22 am | Reply
  11. spearfDrore

    https://tadalafilol.com/ cialis without a prescription tadalafil online tadalafil order online no prescription buy tadalis

    May 26, 2021 at 10:46 pm | Reply
  12. Greryclilteta

    generic cialis tadalafil generic cialis online fast shipping cheap generic cialis for sale https://apcalisetadalafil.com/

    May 26, 2021 at 7:35 pm | Reply
  13. keespamebpaxy

    tadalafil https://tadagatadalafil.com/ tadalafil drug buy cialis pills tadalafil without a doctor prescription

    May 26, 2021 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  14. Greryclilteta

    cialis cost prescription tadalafil online cost tadalafil generic https://tadacipetadalafil.com/

    May 26, 2021 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  15. avana

    avana 50 mg avana tablet

    May 26, 2021 at 11:12 am | Reply
  16. combigan

    brimonidine dosage combigan coupon

    May 26, 2021 at 4:33 am | Reply
  17. spearfDrore

    cialis without a prescription cheapest tadalafil cost tadalafil drug buy cialis pills https://apcalisetadalafil.com/

    May 26, 2021 at 2:32 am | Reply
  18. Greryclilteta

    cialis without a prescription tadalafil generic tadalafil drug generic cialis online fast shipping https://cttadalafil.com/

    May 25, 2021 at 8:55 pm | Reply
  19. spearfDrore

    https://tadalafilol.com/ cialis cost cheap generic cialis for sale tadalafil price walmart prescription tadalafil online

    May 25, 2021 at 4:46 pm | Reply
  20. Greryclilteta

    tadalafil online https://tadalafilww.com/ – buy generic cialis online with mastercard tadalafil cost in canada where to get tadalafil https://tadacipetadalafil.com/

    May 25, 2021 at 1:15 pm | Reply
  21. keespamebpaxy

    where to get tadalafil https://tadalafilww.com/ cost tadalafil generic cheap cialis pills for sale tadalafil cost walmart

    May 25, 2021 at 1:15 pm | Reply
  22. apposyattance

    https://tadacipetadalafil.com/ cost of cialis https://tadalafilol.com/ – tadalafil daily online cheap generic cialis for sale

    May 25, 2021 at 9:08 am | Reply
  23. CleplePewCred

    tadalafil cialis tadalafil goodrx tadalafil online tadalafil online https://apcalisetadalafil.com/ – cialis cost

    May 25, 2021 at 6:36 am | Reply
  24. cyclosporine

    buy cyclosporine buy cyclomune uk

    May 24, 2021 at 11:37 pm | Reply
  25. spearfDrore

    side effects of tadalafil https://cttadalafil.com/ – cheap cialis pills for sale cheap generic cialis for sale prescription tadalafil online where to buy tadalafil on line

    May 24, 2021 at 8:27 pm | Reply
1 2

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.