Wikileaks' latest adventure in whistle-blowing is in some ways a replay of its previous efforts to shed light on apparent international conspiracies. This time however, there’s a twist. Its target isn’t a government, but a company.
Stratfor is a Texas-based risk analysis group whose interests dabble in the murky world of shadowy informants, military secrets and multinational plots.
“What we have discovered is a company that is a private intelligence Enron,” Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, said during an appearance at London’s Frontline Club yesterday.
A survey of the first tranche of five million e-mails, which appear to be the same ones claimed to have been stolen by the internet group Anonymous in December, shows they are an odd mix.
Some do reveal big multinationals allegedly trading cash for information on the perceived enemies. Others, however, are nothing more than mediations on the daily routines at Stratfor, which turn out to be quite mundane.
It’s a place where employees also apparently speak in code and are fascinated by their own mystique.
In a statement, Stratfor denied any wrongdoing. “Stratfor has worked to build good sources in many countries around the world. … We have done so in a straightforward manner and we are committed to meeting the highest standards of professional conduct,” the company said in a statement.
Mr. Assange, meanwhile, promises more explosive material. Some revelations, gleaned from e-mails allegedly authored by Stratfor employees, may have you holding your breath. Others, not so much.
Israelis allegedly ‘destroyed’ Iranian nuclear facilities
In a November, 2011, e-mail, Stratfor officials allegedly refer to an explosion at an Iranian missile base near Tehran, quoting a source who “was asked what he thought of reports that the Israelis were preparing a military offensive against Iran. Response: I think this is a diversion. The Israelis already destroyed all of the Iranian nuclear infrastructure on the ground weeks ago.”
Another analyst, however, appears to dismiss the claim: “How and when did the Israelis destroy the infra on the ground?” the analyst asks.
Coca-Cola hired Stratfor to monitor Vancouver Games activists
“To put some context onto this request, our client is looking forward toward the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and is somewhat concerned that PETA affiliates might be interested in carry[ING?]out direct action against Olympic sponsors and events during that time frame,” a June 2009, e-mail reads.
Subsequent e-mails appear to suggest Coke wanted to know how many supporters PETA had in Canada, and how many might travel from the United States to support them.
PETA, for its part, finds the whole thing offensive: “PETA can’t imagine that anyone who drinks Coca-Cola will celebrate the fact that the company, which touts itself as being ‘people-friendly’ secretly conspired with the Canadian government to attempt to stop PETA protests over the bloody seal slaughter,” the company said in a statement.
Stratfor employees use lingo lifted out of spy novels
A “Barium Meal” for instance, is defined as “When there is a leak feed bits of radioactive (traceable, false) information to suspects. See which bit leaks. You will know who leaked it. The Leaker will know you know. Livens up a dull day like nothing else we’ve ever seen. Bring the kids.”
The document dump explains that an “All-Source Fusion Cell” is: “A trans-compartmentalized group of analysts who get to see everything and have to make sense of it. Don’t wish it on your worst enemy.”
“Code Crypt,” meanwhile, is defined as “the code name and control of a source in encrypted form. If this confuses you, it’s working.”
“Clancy,” according to the memo means “Somebody who has read a lot of Tom Clancy novels and thinks he knows the Craft. Total moron. Really dangerous if he is the Customer.”
Dow Chemical hired Stratfor to spy on activists protesting Bhopal gas leak
Stratfor provided an analysis of court hearings in India and shared travel plans of activists pressing for action against Dow.
“We are angry and shocked to know we were being monitored. … It’s not right to spy on us,” said one Bhopal activist, according to NDTV, an Indian television network.
Dow said in a written statement that “major companies are often required to take appropriate action to protect their people and safeguard their facilities,” stressing that it operated within the law.
Stratfor is ‘cool’
“I think showing too much of our inner workings devalues our Mystique,” an e-mail reads. “People don’t know how we collect our intelligence and that’s one of the cool, mysterious things about STRATFOR.”