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Today WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files – more than five million emails from the Texas-headquartered "global intelligence" company Stratfor
February 26, 2012 4:13 PM   Subscribe

Wikileaks begins publishing 5 millions leaked emails from STRATFOR.

Releases on February 27th.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed (134 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
The "Global Intelligence Files".
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 4:19 PM on February 26, 2012


DO NOT DISCLOSE THE EXISTANCE OF THIS RELEASE
OR ANY INFORMATION DERIVED FROM IT BEFORE
Monday 27 February 00:01 GMT 2012


Nice one.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:20 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


wikileaks seems to be down at the moment (downforeveryone confirms it for now, too). Frankly, for me, the real interesting stuff comes after other folks have a few days to sift/collage and analyze dumps like this. Wonder if they're just saturated with demand or whether this is something intentional from an outside party.
posted by jquinby at 4:25 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pretty sure that half the time they claim to have been brought down by the CIA or whatever they are just Slashdotted.
posted by Artw at 4:28 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


wikileaks seems to be down at the moment

Seems to be kind of intermittent. I suspect they're getting a lot of traffic just now.
posted by brennen at 4:28 PM on February 26, 2012


Nice one.

Monday 27 February 00:01 GMT was half an hour ago.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:31 PM on February 26, 2012 [14 favorites]


Does this finally prove that Stratfor is a scam that sells little more than poorly sourced gossip to guillible junior executives?
posted by humanfont at 4:32 PM on February 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


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.

Hah.
posted by codacorolla at 4:33 PM on February 26, 2012


Pope Guilty, I think it was the DO NOT DISCLOSE that was the amusing bit.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:33 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


They're up now, but it's only 167 emails so far. I'm reading through the ones monitoring the 'Yes Men'.
posted by narcoleptic at 4:34 PM on February 26, 2012


Yey! Are they slowly dripping out the documents as their media partners exploit them again? I couldn't find any giant torrent floating around.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:34 PM on February 26, 2012


Monday 27 February 00:01 GMT was half an hour ago.

I wasn't being sarcastic.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:35 PM on February 26, 2012


Early reportage on the subject from Reuters.

From the CEO of StratFor,

Stratfor's chief executive officer and founder, George Friedman warned on January 11 that emails had been stolen but said the thieves would be hard pressed to find anything significant.

"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."

posted by codacorolla at 4:42 PM on February 26, 2012


Yeah, if anything these documents will reveal that Stratfor devolved into a money-hungry intellgence scam with fingers in many pies. (Of course that pretty much sums up the entire global War on Terror, so this is an effective peek behind the curtain.) Their collusion with the US government agencies will probably make them all look all the worse. And apparently they have quite a few "journalist" cronies on the payroll, as well.
posted by mek at 4:43 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I thought "EXISTANCE" was the amusing bit, but that's just how my mind works.
posted by uosuaq at 4:44 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is the first I heard of StratFor. I'm embarrassed.

Am I a sheeple?
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:45 PM on February 26, 2012 [13 favorites]


jquinby: Frankly, for me, the real interesting stuff comes after other folks have a few days to sift/collage and analyze dumps like this.
I kind of feel like a site like wikileaks needs a companion site- well, distributed site for obvious reasons- that allows for a 'connect the dots' element, as well as crowd-sourcing. Say a site where every new piece of textual or visual data is scanned and automatically indexed in a search engine. An index is built, and recalculated, periodically. Then, humans are invited to read random emails/content, and when they do they can add notes/questions, they can add tags, and then will automatically see a "most likely to be related" items based on content, tags, keywords, etc.

The result is, while someone like me would think "Um, what the hell will I do with 5 million emails?", if I was asked to simply visit, and read one or two at random... and then follow/create the trail to other pieces of content, something interesting could emerge dynamically, where I'd read a random email and then it'd show me "Learn more about ______" or "The following are likely related" where it is semi-random yet with enough links that someone could start to see meaning and relations almost immediately, where a flat dump of 5 million emails (and all the other pre-existing content) would be all but unparseable to even a dedicated group of journalists.

Everyone who is interested could spend just a few minutes reading 5-10 emails or pages and yet collectively a "graph node" of connections would emerge naturally and fully, such that someone who came in a few days later would have this huge ability to see patterns and connections that no one would have found on their own or in small teams as an independent researcher(s). You click on a name or subject in the tag cloud, and see a visual or data relation that illuminates things in a way that couldn't exist by torrenting a gzip of emails and unpacking them on your own machine.

It would be the datamining equivalent of how ants leave a chemical trail that with each successive iteration becomes closer to a straight line. Well, that... or some "A Beautiful Mind" levels of community schizophrenia.
posted by hincandenza at 4:45 PM on February 26, 2012 [76 favorites]


Oh, obligatory, I suppose...

Metafilter: some "A Beautiful Mind" levels of community schizophrenia.
posted by hincandenza at 4:46 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


From the StratFor "Security Information and Instructions" document:

"To be recognized and respected as the most credible, truthful and definitive global intelligence organization in the world, STRATFOR must practice stringent security in accordance with industry standards. These practices have three goals:
1. Protecting our customers’ identities, interests, intellectual property and reputation. As they require.
2. Protecting STRATFOR’s sources and methods from exposure.
3. Protecting STRATFOR’s public image and reputation. "


Gang aft agley, I guess...
posted by emergent at 4:46 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


DO NOT DISCLOSE THE EXISTANCE OF THIS RELEASE
OR ANY INFORMATION DERIVED FROM IT BEFORE
Monday 27 February 00:01 GMT 2012

Nice one.
posted by Sys Rq

Eponironic!
posted by Mike Mongo at 4:47 PM on February 26, 2012


If I were an intelligence agency, I would leak a truly bizarre and confusing series of emails just to mess with people.

Something like horse_ebooks meets this (NSFW LANGUAGE AND KINDA UNSETTLING). And I'd also occasionally ask about good places to change out of my human suit to molt some reptilian scales and maybe eat a hobo since all those alien autopsies can be pretty draining.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:56 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


wikileaks + any mention of any info not being completely free
= planet crushing irony obviously
posted by memebake at 4:56 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, yeah looks like media partners are on board:
Over 25 media organizations working in silence for months ahead of tomorrow. How´s that for self discipline? Good work everyone.
posted by memebake at 4:59 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is the first I heard of StratFor. I'm embarrassed.

It's the little town by the Avon river where Shakespeare was born, right?
posted by cjorgensen at 5:05 PM on February 26, 2012 [13 favorites]


http://shop.wikileaks.org/donate
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:09 PM on February 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wow. Just reading the first email chain is interesting, interesting, interesting.

" The Obama team then came to CzR and offered a "piece" of the
bmd system. We were excited. But when we got the the formal proposal,
it was for a "bmd scientific research center". This was simply
unacceptable. This was not good enough for us. CzR needs US military
on its soil, not a "research" center with no military and would have
to be paid for by the Czechs anyway. Completely ridiculous. So we
pulled out of any agreement to the current system."

posted by stagewhisper at 5:10 PM on February 26, 2012


So we won´t be hearing too much in the msm until the oscars are buried. right?
posted by adamvasco at 5:10 PM on February 26, 2012


It's the little town by the Avon river where Shakespeare was born, right?

No, you're thinking of Starfor upon Avon. Stratfor is an area in East Londo near Greenwic.

Press release by the Yes Men, mentions that the emails were obtained via Anonymous, which is interesting.
posted by memebake at 5:11 PM on February 26, 2012 [13 favorites]


During my on-and-off experience with Stratfor (since 2008) it's never seemed as if I were reading well-informed, incisive analysis written by a particularly connected group of ex-spooks. The leaked emails might reveal them to be sinister assholes but I don't think they ever came close to delivering on their promises of providing "intelligence" or being a "global intelligence organization". Their missives never felt authoritative or particularly insightful; rather, they read like bland assertions and hand-waving. Maybe this is a function of work that rests crucially on unnamed sources, but I don't think so. The bullshitter in me they were a bunch of guys in a room making stuff up, cashing in on newsletter sales to companies that purchase access to every conceivable database in case they need it and loudly cheering when one of their imprecise forecasts came true.

This impression was not helped by their incessant spam about their CEO's book. According to Amazon, it includes sections on "armed border clashes between Mexico and the United States in the 2080s" and a "space war pitting Japan and Turkey against the United States and allies, prognosticated to begin precisely on Thanksgiving Day 2050".

Thomas Schelling he ain't.

(Note: my estimation of StratFor definitely did not improve after I found my login details circulating around the internet.)
posted by emergent at 5:13 PM on February 26, 2012 [13 favorites]


"What is of grave concern is that the targets of this scrutiny are, among others, activist organisations fighting for a just cause."

Why?

What's gravely concerning about that? A private organization has information on other private organizations... call the cops?

I got an e-mail from The Yes Men about the section of the leak that mentions them, and they basically just used the opportunity to pat themselves on the back.
posted by shii at 5:13 PM on February 26, 2012


Spring is in the air!
posted by jeffburdges at 5:16 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stratfo o Avo?

Seriously looking forward to the juicy bits here. I think it is very clear that on balance information technology advances are leading to a strengthening of totalitarianism everywhere, inexorably, year by year, until there won't be anything They Don't Know. About Anyone. We hear more about the breaches because they are exceptions. And because there is a gray area between noble whistleblowing (or counterrevolution/insurgency, for that matter) and organized crime for gain, especially when the tools for each are identical.

I remember noticing the smugness of Stratfor during the early years of the Iraq war (2, also known as "W's War"). I have a feeling this is going to mortify the neoliberal crew and expose yet again how cynical that whole project was. Well timed with it all coming down again as the drum beats for yet another slaughter of innocents in the name of defending democracy.
posted by spitbull at 5:24 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the original Stratfor hack and email downloads were part of Anonymous's Lulzmas spree earlier this year. Not brave enough to download the raw packages meant I had to wait until now to start actually reading through what's there.
posted by stagewhisper at 5:24 PM on February 26, 2012


I signed up for a trial membership with them years ago and then cancelled it when the trial period ran out. The analysis was shit and certainly not worth parting anything for.

Then I started getting tons of spam and discovered my details (old cc number, old address) on tor.

Stratfor are morons is the takeaway.
posted by knapah at 5:24 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


"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."

God only knows...


This is the first I heard of StratFor. I'm embarrassed.

It's the little town by the Avon river where Shakespeare was born, right?


The home town of Justin Bieber?
posted by ovvl at 5:26 PM on February 26, 2012


What are the odds on Stratfor staying in business after this?
posted by memebake at 5:38 PM on February 26, 2012


The correspondence also contains code names for people of particular interest such as 'Izzies' (members of Hezbollah), or 'Adogg' (Mahmoud Ahmedinejad).

Brilliant! From now on I will only be referring to Ahmedinejad as "A-dogg".
posted by Talez at 5:43 PM on February 26, 2012


What are the odds on Stratfor staying in business after this?


Data breaches don't tend to put companies out of business. Even HBGary, who are pretty comparable to STRATFOR, only sacrificed one division when they had a similar breach.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 5:44 PM on February 26, 2012


During my on-and-off experience with Stratfor (since 2008) it's never seemed as if I were reading well-informed, incisive analysis written by a particularly connected group of ex-spooks.
I have no behind-the-scenes information, but based on the histories and memoirs I've read, intelligence agencies are way less sexy than the general public imagines them to be.

Start with CIA.gov. Poke around. They've got maps and some very general political and economic information available. They appear to be a travel agency for the government, with all the insight and accuracy of Lets Go or Rick Steves. Digging a bit deeper into the histories and memoirs, that really seems to be what they are all about. Lets Go has backpackers that go find where the great coffee is in Paris, and write it up for other backpackers. The CIA sends dudes out to go sniff in the garbage for potentially interesting tidbits. Either way, the content isn't terribly rich or deep.

Signals Intelligence has been vastly more useful for most of the 20th century, but to do SigInt well, you need the resources of the NSA... or Google.
What are the odds on Stratfor staying in business after this?
If anything, this breakin legitimizes Stratfor. Government intelligence agencies are damaged by their adversaries all the time. Why should Stratfor be any different?
posted by b1tr0t at 5:45 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


What are the odds on Stratfor staying in business after this?

Eh, setting aside the info releases the analysis was terrible. I'd hope low, but evidently there wasn't much quality control from the buyers anyhow given that the Economist isn't great but regularly spanked Stratfor. It's just the type of thing that gets bought to demonstrate due diligence for insurance companies/employee assignment/negligent endangerment cases.
posted by jaduncan at 5:49 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


In other words: I buy that Stratfor's stuff isn't too different from what government agencies produce. Sure, there is a lot of stuff beyond Stratfor's means. But I see the difference as being comparable to the difference between a small or medium sized startup and Microsoft or Google. Similar talent in the bigger and smaller shops. Possibly better information and decision making at the smaller shop, but the big guys have more breadth and expensive toys.

No one has jetpacks and hovercrafts, or if they do, they are novelty toys not the stuff of daily work.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:50 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


"As they search our emails for signs of a vast conspiracy, they will be disappointed."

He says this smugly to the reporter, pouring himself a drink at an ordinary-looking gray metal office filing cabinet, where the first drawer is a refrigerator, and the second drawer pulls out to be a mini-bar.

His smugness is not because his confidence in the useless contents of the released files. It is because his combination of confident patter and a ingenious filing cabinet with its impressive selection of bourbon in the drawer, has distracted you from asking about the bottom drawer.

The drawer that contains a large pneumatic tube, that securely transports mind-controlled little people at phenomenal speeds that verbally relay the most secret messages and plans, person to person, around both the facility and all over the east coast of the USA. It is the only truly 'secure' channel of communications left in the world.

The Vatican, with their obsolete messaging system that uses modified psilocybin-laced communion wafers laden with psychic messages to send data would kill for something like this, if they ever realized their system was compromised. But as long as the zombified-Friar Bacon and his overly-chatty Brazen Head are on Stratfor's side, this won't happen.
posted by chambers at 5:52 PM on February 26, 2012 [27 favorites]


I'm offended that we may believe an Iranian before a Jew.
posted by Jimbob at 5:52 PM on February 26, 2012


Start with CIA.gov. Poke around. They've got maps and some very general political and economic information available. They appear to be a travel agency for the government, with all the insight and accuracy of Lets Go or Rick Steves. Digging a bit deeper into the histories and memoirs, that really seems to be what they are all about.

Fair enough. Although I'd argue that we, as the public, are definitely not the CIA's "clients" and thus not privy to the actual depth of its analyses, whereas Stratfor's paying audience received analysis that seemed (to the untrained observer) to be a damn sight less coherent, cogent and illuminating than any of the communiques written by diplomatic staff and leaked in Cablegate.
posted by emergent at 5:55 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I buy that Stratfor's stuff isn't too different from what government agencies produce

It's very different indeed, in that it's glorified churnalism and punditry. Intelligence agencies can break the law and have SIGINT to choose where to investigate. In Northern Ireland well over a third of the IRA was working for MI5 or the RUC during the troubles, surveillance towers absorbed info via visual and electronic methods, and the phone network was compromised. I'm sure Mossad has a very good handle indeed on PA/Lebanese politics with similar methods.

The CIA can listen to US-international phone calls pretty much at will, and retains SIGINT facilities in other places for the same (ECHELON, for example). It also has a torture network for interrogation, skilled interrogators who don't need to torture, and light drones to surveil areas at leisure. More crucially than that, it can bribe contacts and has the resources to guarantee them a well-remunerated life in the US with a nice house and college for the kids if required.

No non-state party has the resources (save the drug cartels, who have and do run very sophisticated intel/counter-intel wings) for that type of thing. If I wanted to know which Mexican police were bought, I'd ask DEA, CIA, the Cartels, or people who recently used to work for the above. I wouldn't ask tossers like Stratfor.
posted by jaduncan at 6:02 PM on February 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


The CIA is many things, but dismissing them as Let's Go! for the neocon establishment seems a bit much, although amusing.

They torture people. We know that. Let us not forget it.
posted by spitbull at 6:03 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


The spy business isn't really about getting gold every moment of every day. From everything history would tell us, its more about sifting for a gold nugget in ten tons of manure.
posted by Slackermagee at 6:05 PM on February 26, 2012


The sad thing to me was that I am as well informed as Stratfor. The jargon file reads like something I'd write, trying to show how edgy and knowledgeable I was about spycraft. Reading through I kept thinking that an average Economist article (let alone EIU stuff) is well above these guys in background knowledge, depth, nuance, etc etc. Fuck me, that primer on Russia is something I could knock up in a couple hours with no sources at all.

And I am not that smart or well informed.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:06 PM on February 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh FFS... "FSU Parliaments" = an intern spending an afternoon on Wikipedia. This is total bush league.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:08 PM on February 26, 2012


They torture people. We know that. Let us not forget it.
Are you trying to argue that torture produces useful intelligence? If anything, Stratfor likely produces better intelligence because they don't rely on bogus shit extracted from torture sessions. Torture is about power and intimidation, not information collection.
Intelligence agencies can break the law and have SIGINT to choose where to investigate.
Yeah - I called out that you need to be able to process data at Google scale to do sigint, much less acquire it. As far at the human intelligence goes, I'm just not convinced that it gets much better than journalists, bloggers, or Stratfor.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:09 PM on February 26, 2012


As far at the human intelligence goes, I'm just not convinced that it gets much better than journalists, bloggers, or Stratfor.

Did you miss the point where I pointed out that a third of the IRA used to work for UK govt agencies as informers to generate HUMINT? Who do you think was better informed about IRA stuff than UK intel? Are you perhaps under the impression that Israel doesn't bother with this type of thing in PA/Hezbollah/Egypt?

This is just two random examples. They have the money, they have the people, they have the believable threat that if you don't inform they'll make sure you go to prison and that you'll be allowed a nice retirement if you do. They also have recordings of all your phone calls as leverage. In the case of Mossad or CIA they will also kill you with assassinations/drones if you piss them off enough. In the case of the UK they'd outsource it by looking the other way as Loyalist paramilitaries mysteriously found out where you live and who you've ordered killed from the Loyalist side. Are you really under the impression this doesn't supply a better overall picture than some journalists, bloggers or Stratfor?

To take the obvious example, in an IRA meeting of 9 people two or three people would probably be reporting back to the UK what happened. They wouldn't know about each other being paid, and the story can be corroborated to some extent. Please explain how journalists, bloggers or Stratfor could replicate this level of sourcing.
posted by jaduncan at 6:18 PM on February 26, 2012


Hmmm- this letter of resignation from Stratfor's CEO is supposedly an intercepted email from *today*. If that's not a hoax, that's pretty interesting since the original hack was around Christmas.
posted by stagewhisper at 6:25 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Are you trying to argue that torture produces useful intelligence?

I don't see how you could take that implication, and certainly not. Quite the contrary. What it produces is useful intimidation. The fact that they would use what they surely know is a useless technique suggests a broader motive, doesn't it? The CIA again is many things, but surely is more cynical than stupid.

I'm simply saying that it is a mistake to characterize the CIA as anything less than an agency that tortures people. I think Stratfor probably doesn't rank on that scale, of course.
posted by spitbull at 6:26 PM on February 26, 2012


Yeah, there's an unauthenticated email out there saying CEO resigned.
posted by spitbull at 6:26 PM on February 26, 2012


Did you miss the point where I pointed out that a third of the IRA used to work for UK govt agencies as informers to generate HUMINT?
Did you miss the part where I acknowledged that Stratfor is much smaller than government intelligence agencies, so the scope of their work is correspondingly smaller?

Should we take this outside and resolve it with fisticuffs or something?

Or maybe a bit of the old competitive waterboarding?
posted by b1tr0t at 6:28 PM on February 26, 2012


I don't see how you could take that implication, and certainly not. Quite the contrary. What it produces is useful intimidation. The fact that they would use what they surely know is a useless technique suggests a broader motive, doesn't it? The CIA again is many things, but surely is more cynical than stupid.
Stratfor isn't an agent of foreign policy, and the CIA shouldn't be. My cynical response is that the CIA's goal is pretty much the same as the TSA's: create visible and mildly controversial drama in order to lead the public to believe that they are doing something useful and effective. It would be nice if they were good at intelligence, but a decade of foreign policy blunders suggests otherwise. And it isn't as though this is the first decade of intelligence blunders either.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:36 PM on February 26, 2012


stagewhisper: "Hmmm- this letter of resignation from Stratfor's CEO is supposedly an intercepted email from *today*. If that's not a hoax, that's pretty interesting since the original hack was around Christmas."

From: george.friedman@stratfor.com

To: fred.burton@stratfor.com

Subject: Draft

Dunno, but aren't clever spies supposed to plan ahead for contingencies?
posted by Samizdata at 6:38 PM on February 26, 2012


As far at the human intelligence goes, I'm just not convinced that it gets much better than journalists, bloggers, or Stratfor.

I am. For the reasons stated above, but mainly this: "To take the obvious example, in an IRA meeting of 9 people two or three people would probably be reporting back to the UK what happened. They wouldn't know about each other being paid, and the story can be corroborated to some extent. Please explain how journalists, bloggers or Stratfor could replicate this level of sourcing."

Should we take this outside and resolve it with fisticuffs or something?

No. I'm actually curious about your opinion regarding this. Your argument appears to be that the sigint done by non-state agencies is inferior to that done by inteligence agencies, but that the humint is as good. I am suggesting that the humint of journalists, bloggers or Stratfor must nessicarily be much worse in most cases as the resources that can be used (financially and methods of punishment/reward) are much more powerful. Could you explain why you disagree even over something that you'd consider a small scope? (I'm unsure what 'small scope' would mean in the context of a non-state agency that produces country-wide situation reports but I am, again, curious what you mean because there may be a point I'm not seeing).
posted by jaduncan at 6:41 PM on February 26, 2012


The popcorn stores, they are all out of popcorn.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:52 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yep, saw it was a draft- but the thing that interested me was that it was dated yesterday- so if it's real it means Anonymous was still monitoring and intercepting emails, long after Stratfor knew they'd been hacked.
posted by stagewhisper at 6:53 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your argument appears to be that the sigint done by non-state agencies is inferior to that done by inteligence agencies
I don't think non-government agencies can do signit, except maybe google. Even Google's sigint is pretty much limited to marketing. Perhaps marketing agencies more closely correspond to intelligence agencies than journalists and bloggers?
I am suggesting that the humint of journalists, bloggers or Stratfor must nessicarily be much worse in most cases as the resources that can be used (financially and methods of punishment/reward) are much more powerful. Could you explain why you disagree even over something that you'd consider a small scope?
I think we are basically in agreement here, but were talking past each other. I'm assuming that Stratfor has a vastly smaller budget and correspondingly smaller headcount than, say, the CIA. The CIA has the ability to get access to information that Stratfor never will. Where I see parity is in the quality (or lack thereof) of analysis.

Even if you have access to something like Palantir, and the data to feed it properly, you still have to make a judgment about whether a group of weird people are meeting up as part of a greater Dungeons and Dragons conspiracy, or if they are really going to blow up the World Trade Center.

It's basically all bullshit, except in cases like the IRA example in which both sides ultimately reached a critical mass that wanted reconciliation rather than more violence. Perhaps it helps to capture/murder antagonist, but I don't believe that it is generally possible to deeply know who is who. Taking the bullshit seriously is the first folly.

I don't buy that a state that has tabs on everyone in the world is a better state than one that simply realizes that some things just can't be known (or can't yet be known) by the state and is willing to operate with that known uncertainty.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:54 PM on February 26, 2012


This is why you should also use your best grammar and composition in emails.
posted by fuq at 6:55 PM on February 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is why you should also use your best grammar and composition in emails.
And also while posting to Metafilter. If those guys spent more time posting on no-edit forums, they'd be playing in the big leagues!
posted by b1tr0t at 7:04 PM on February 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


I picture Stratfor's intelligence as being only barely better than that of the Tailor of Panama.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:06 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


"My guy said Rove and company want to bring in someone they can control next go around. McCain was not controllable. Jeb Bush's name is being discussed."

Well that didn't work out.
posted by Bromius at 7:08 PM on February 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


SCHADENFREUDE-A-PALOOZA
posted by deanklear at 7:11 PM on February 26, 2012


I think we are basically in agreement here, but were talking past each other. I'm assuming that Stratfor has a vastly smaller budget and correspondingly smaller headcount than, say, the CIA. The CIA has the ability to get access to information that Stratfor never will. Where I see parity is in the quality (or lack thereof) of analysis.

Ah, you aren't talking about sigint or humint at all then, you're talking about the quality of the political analysts/country desks/regional desks in each organisation.

Even if you have access to something like Palantir, and the data to feed it properly, you still have to make a judgment about whether a group of weird people are meeting up as part of a greater Dungeons and Dragons conspiracy, or if they are really going to blow up the World Trade Center.

It's basically all bullshit, except in cases like the IRA example in which both sides ultimately reached a critical mass that wanted reconciliation rather than more violence. Perhaps it helps to capture/murder antagonist, but I don't believe that it is generally possible to deeply know who is who. Taking the bullshit seriously is the first folly.


I'm going to leave this here, but I think we fundamentally disagree about the power of proper intelligence work. Knowing who the decision makers are in the organisation allows for a lot of power over what happens within that organisation.

Perhaps it would help to put this in a different context. If I wanted to know about the Mafia, the degree of penetration achieved by the FBI would make the FBI anti-Mafia teams a great place to start. They were able to expand their knowledge of the Families to the point where they knew enough about specific crimes to break them up, and enough about specific people that they were able to prove to juries that those specific people had committed them. That's deeply knowing who is who. More and more people were turned based on information provided by others in plea deals etc, and that had a snowball approach that revealed lots and lots more data.

It sounds like a cliche to say that the successes of intelligence agencies are rarely so public, but it's true. A domestic policing success results in a public trial. An intelligence success results in quiet things happening to change the situation, often including foreign or domestic police action where the police suddenly 'discover' that people have done things worthy of arrest. It's always the best idea never to reveal that intel was involved; things aren't meant to be showy because that reveal sources and methods. Very often it involves just keeping tabs on what's going on.

The big political decisions that you are flagging up such as the choice to make peace with the IRA aren't what intelligence analysis is for. Nixon has to choose to go to China, and that choice might be informed by the PRC desk but isn't dictated by it. Intel can produce reports on the strength of Iran's defences and the likely impact of a strike, but not make the political call on if it should be bombed. Foreign policy misadventures aren't really the CIA's fault (especially given the fact that in US politics it tends to be the DoD who are all gung ho whilst the CIA and State are more reticent about military action).

And yes, I think that the quality of analysis that it produces is streets ahead of private agencies. A Mossad prediction on the likelihood of Hezbollah action against Israel is going to be better than that of Stratfor's both on the basis of available information and, frankly, competence. Stratfor is information provided by tossers sold to tossers. Even without reading it (and I did look) it's easy to tell that because if it was valuable they'd be able to sell it directly to nation states. It isn't, so they sell it to legal departments and middle managers.
posted by jaduncan at 7:21 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


WikiLeaks has also obtained Stratfor's list of informants and, in many cases, records of its payoffs, including $1,200 a month paid to the informant "Geronimo" , handled by Stratfor's Former State Department agent Fred Burton.
One would assume they're spotlighting this not due to the amount, but the informant's codename.
posted by edverb at 7:31 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


You guys need a life. Or dinner on my deck when temp goes down 10 or 20
degrees. And you both hang out with women who are way beyond your low
stations in life. As do I. K


From: Karl Rove [mailto:kr@rove.com]
Sent: Sunday, September 04, 2011 07:43 PM
To: George Friedman
Cc: Kerry Cammack
Subject: Re: Ambassador Djalal

Strange strange times....
posted by multivalent at 7:39 PM on February 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Subject: Random Business Idea - Network Security

I'm sure this has been thought of before at STRATFOR so excuse the
redundancy. I was reading a solid Forbes article on Assange and it said
that a large number of deep pocket corporations were looking into
leak-focused network security after these Wikileak episodes.

I was wondering if it was possible for us to get some of that
"leak-focused" gravy train. This is an obvious fear sale, so that's a good
thing.
And we have something to offer that the IT security companies
don't, mainly our focus on counter-intelligence and surveillance that Fred
and Stick know better than anyone on the planet.

We do a lot of good work with all the personal/executive security analysis
as well. Could we develop some ideas and procedures on the idea of
"leak-focused" network security that focuses on preventing one's own
employees from leaking sensitive information.

The point here is that I am sure there are certain procedures and
precautions that companies should employ that go beyond installing network
security network to deal with potential leaks. In fact, Im not so sure
this is an IT problem that requires an IT solution.


Beautiful. "An obvious fear sale". Leak-focused security. Hah.
posted by knapah at 7:40 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


If this is a source you suspect may have value, you have to take control od him. Control means financial, sexual or psychological control to the point where he would reveal his sourcing and be tasked. This is difficult to do when you are known to be affiliated with an intelligence organization. ...

the problem of analysts in the field is that they tend to want to discuss the topic, which raises the targets awareness, rather than focus on establishing the control relationship.

So from a professional point of view this target knows your affiliation, understands your interests and you have not established any control which is defined as a high confidence in his obedience.

So washington is filled with gossip with people whose access is not established.

Just laying this out so you understand the core challenge. To be effective your goal is the person and not the subject. Otherwise its gossip which is information that you cannot definitively confirm.

This is intended to start our conversation on your next phase.


[By the CEO of Stratfor in reply to an email about Chavez (interesting in its own right).]

Regardless of the truth or value of these "insights," it is easy to see how this view of trustworthy intel segues smoothly into torture. If no one can be trusted based on situation, appearance, history, or relationships other than total obedience, and you don't have the time or circumstances to develop "financial, sexual or psychological control", there's really only one way to obtain trustworthy intel...
posted by chortly at 7:41 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one who thinks a great defense against this would be to see your email database with algorithmically generated emails, like those Comp Sci people did to see which journals actually read the submitted articles and which just wanted the publishers fee?

Basically the hypercomplex version of madlibs.
Then I'd totally give it away by adding 'Elvis', 'the moon' and 'Hitler' to the vocabulary, just to pop a few eyeballs.
posted by Canageek at 7:47 PM on February 26, 2012


I the only one who thinks a great defense against this would be to see your email database with algorithmically generated emails, like those Comp Sci people did to see which journals actually read the submitted articles and which just wanted the publishers fee?
A technique like that was a very minor plot point in one of the early Clancy books, maybe even Red October. (Protip: don't try to re-read Tom Clancy if you are above the age of about 15)
posted by b1tr0t at 7:52 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Data breaches don't tend to put companies out of business. Even HBGary […]

I have no idea how good Stratfor's actual product is/was, but the difference between theirs and HBGary's response to a breakin was night and day. HBGary came off as a guy totally out of his depth and trying to cover it up with bluster; Stratfor's responses sounded like a person owning up to and trying to recover from and learn from a mistake professionally. I'm sure I saw a more professional face of Stratfor than of HBGary, but still.


(Also— I've never been close to being in Stratfor's target market but is it really a criticism of them that they aren't some kind of Fleming / Le Carre fever dream on the inside? My impression, only having read occasional releases from them, is that one would hire them to essentially read a lot of newspapers and other open sources, schmooze some politicians or bureaucrats, and to have enough internal expertise to be able to interpret what they were seeing. If I were managing a department that, among other things, sells widgets in Freedonia or has a supply chain in Sylvania it would make a lot of sense to outsource the process of keeping tabs on major changes in those places. Of course, emergent, knapah, etc. say they weren't even very good at that… but complaining that they have fewer resources than MI5 in Northern Ireland is a weird criticism.)
posted by hattifattener at 8:22 PM on February 26, 2012


but complaining that they have fewer resources than MI5 in Northern Ireland is a weird criticism.

I should clarify that I was responding to the claim that the CIA/MI5 offered nothing more rather than critiquing Stratfor for not running a third of the IRA as informants/agents as opposed to being a simple analysis company.

As far as I know Stratfor have only initiated about 10% of Real IRA attacks.
posted by jaduncan at 8:28 PM on February 26, 2012


I'm going to leave this here, but I think we fundamentally disagree about the power of proper intelligence work. Knowing who the decision makers are in the organisation allows for a lot of power over what happens within that organisation.
I'm not sure how fundamental our disagreement actually is. I'm of two minds on the matter, I just happen to be focusing on the "intelligence agencies are overhyped as it is, and thus the private-sector dudes aren't as foolish as they might look right now" side. Both positions have validity, and it is useful to take sides and see how far the argument can go. I've pretty much exhausted what I have to say here, so I'll probably stop shortly.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:35 PM on February 26, 2012


I'm amazed how low-tech their IT stuff is (well, less amazed now that they were hacked). Here is an email where they discuss how the content of their email should be tagged:

We've gotten lazy on insight source IDs again. Not only do you need
to put the source code in the subject line, but all of these categories
need to be filled out for every single insight sent to the list.

SOURCE: code
ATTRIBUTION: this is what we should say if we use this info in a
publication, e.g. STRATFOR source/source in the medical
industry/source
on the ground, etc
SOURCE DESCRIPTION: this is where we put the more concrete details
of the source for our internal consumption so we can better understand
the source's background and ability to make the assessments in the
insight PUBLICATION: Yes or no. If you put yes it doesn't mean that we will
publish it, but only that we can publish it.
SOURCE RELIABILITY: A-F, A being the best and F being the worst.
this grades the turnaround time of this source in responding to requests
ITEM CREDIBILITY: 1-10, 1 being the best and 10 being the worst (we
may change the range here in the future). this changes a lot based on
the info provided. 1 is "you can take this to the bank" and 10 would be
an example of maybe - "this is a totally ridiculous rumor but something
that is spreading on the ground"

SPECIAL HANDLING: often this is "none" but it may be something like,
"if you use this we need to be sure not to mention the part about XXX in
the publication" or any other special notes SOURCE HANDLER: the person who can take follow-up questions and communicate with the source

If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, let me know.
I'll be back in the office next Tues so if you want to discuss this
process in person we can do so soon. In the meantime, remember that every
piece of insight needs this ENTIRE ID unless it is just something that you
picked up off the ground from a source that you will likely not hear
from again. Even then, you should fill out the entire ID and in the
SOURCE field simply say - n/a with a description on why we are not
coding them.

Jen
PS: Also remember that is something is highly sensitive to send
directly
- not thru a WO - to the "secure" list. Secure list insights still
need the above ID tags.


It is being suggested that something highly-sensitive should be sent to the "secure" list. Surprising they weren't hacked earlier. What a joke of an organization.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 8:45 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


This stuff is so beyond me. Some things I can at least bullshit passably, if not have an active and loud opinion. International surveillance and espionage as regarding world politics? In reality, as opposed to fiction? That sends my little primate hindbrain into the fetal position, muttering about needing a cookie and a nap.

What I do know, though, is that I have this ridiculous sense of glee every time Anonymous and/or Wikileaks whack another gigantic beehive with a stick.

Stratford roughly back-translates and decouples into street-ford, a street ending in a ford across a stream or river. Yay! I don't feel entirely stupid here! Can haz cookie now?
posted by cmyk at 9:11 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


The "Where We : Labor Day 2011" one reads like a Bond villain exposition...
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 9:30 PM on February 26, 2012


Contrary to information circulating on the Internet, George Friedman has not resigned and remains CEO of @Stratfor

You'd think they could spring for $5 for an account...
posted by b1tr0t at 9:55 PM on February 26, 2012


You'd think they could spring for $5 for an account...

I know! What a bargain! It's almost like they can't get the shit insulted out of them for free by people who disagree with them ideologically and think their security practices are a joke anywhere else on the internet! This stuff is precious and vanishingly rare!
posted by Wolof at 10:08 PM on February 26, 2012


<lame joke explainer>Actually, I was mocking the idea that Metafilter is the only place worth refuting. I've actually been arguing that Stratfor is kind of interesting, and may have some value. If you are in to that kind of thing.</lame joke explainer>

As hattifattener said, they are doing a pretty good job of handing the breach. That said, if you style yourself an intelligence agency and get hacked, you'd better be able to tolerate a little snark.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:15 PM on February 26, 2012


Contrary to information circulating on the Internet, George Friedman has not resigned and remains CEO of @Stratfor

That is consistent with the leaked email, which is clearly marked "Draft." Just sayin'.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:15 PM on February 26, 2012


Ah, got you. It's hard to tell around here sometimes.
posted by Wolof at 10:20 PM on February 26, 2012


Tangent to the interesting conversation going on, but... I can't believe my offhand comment got that many favorites. Maybe my next stop should be over at Metafilter Projects...
posted by hincandenza at 10:28 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


So, does Wikileaks have an actual smoking gun here, or are they still shooting blanks?
posted by Ardiril at 11:24 PM on February 26, 2012


I am reserving judgment until they release the emails from Whatfor.
posted by srboisvert at 11:42 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


A technique like that was a very minor plot point in one of the early Clancy books, maybe even Red October.

Are you referring to the Canary Trap, aka the Barium Meal Test?
posted by dubold at 12:01 AM on February 27, 2012


So, does Wikileaks have an actual smoking gun here, or are they still shooting blanks?

I think we'll get lots of sleazy 'Company X is spying on campaign group Y' stories, and a lot of stuff about targeting Assange and Wikileaks. So stuff that everyone knew was happening anyway, but like with Cablegate, concrete evidence that stuff everyone suspected was happening actually is happening can sometimes make a difference. Tangentially, this is a way for Wikileaks to show they are still relevant and remind everyone of how much trouble they are in. As per the Wikileaks home page:
WikiLeaks: 450 days of banking blockade - no process
Assange: 447 days detainment - no charge
Manning: 644 days in jail - no trial
posted by memebake at 12:53 AM on February 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh, and mostly, this just reminds the corporate world that leaks can happen and so the best way to proceed is not to have anything juicy worth leaking in the first place, which is kindof Wikileaks main point: a leaky world hurts the bad guys relatively more than the good guys.
posted by memebake at 12:59 AM on February 27, 2012


handy diagram
posted by obscurator at 7:38 AM on February 27, 2012


handy diagram -- ignore previous
posted by obscurator at 7:39 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


From: sparrow@stratfor.com
To: lichen@stratfor.com
Subject: Scheduling

Mongoose is in the henhouse REPEAT Mongoose is in the henhouse. Need answer on vacation time for April.
posted by fatbird at 8:01 AM on February 27, 2012


>Dunno, but aren't clever spies supposed to plan ahead for contingencies?
posted by Samizdata at 20:38

Hehe.
posted by obscurator at 8:10 AM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Talking Points Memo, a respected political news site, has posted some analysis comparing the quality of the information with that of Newsmax.
posted by humanfont at 8:22 AM on February 27, 2012


Stratfor emails displays Goldman Sacks/Stratfor monetized insider intelligence
posted by homunculus at 12:13 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Stratfor Is a Joke and So Is Wikileaks for Taking It Seriously
posted by lullaby at 2:16 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Goldman Sachs really are an evil bunch of motherfuckers 1, 2, 3; etc.
Are they really untouchable?
posted by adamvasco at 2:25 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


It appears wikileaks wasn't the first to make that mistake, but they'll certainly be the most social beneficial if a bunch of Stratfor's clients go down for insider trading.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:26 PM on February 27, 2012


From the Atlantic piece about Stratfor being a joke and so is wikileaks for taking it seriously:

"Anonymous, which tried and failed to hack the Vatican's websites, doesn't appear to have much of an ideology beyond mischief-making."

Yes, the failure to hack the Vatican's website means Anonymous are now irrelevant. Also: what are their demands?

I think it's already been explicitly stated by a lot of the people involved that they think Stratfor is a big joke- Assange, the Yes Men et al state as much in the livestream press conference, and Anonymous has been milking the incompetence of Stratfor and their useless Intelligence Info for twitter joke material for a while now.

"For comparison's sake, 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." We also prefer to keep their cash bribes ("writer's fees") secret, and sometimes these sources are even anonymous. "

Interesting, I did not know that the Atlantic has to bribe people to write for them, but that actually makes sense. The writer of that Atlantic article might want to wait a little while until all of the information has been sifted through before he starts deciding whether or not anyone who's intrigued by it is a LOOOOsER.
posted by stagewhisper at 3:30 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Atlantic presumably has ethical guidelines & restrictions on who it pays for source material. Stratfor apparently doesn't. Their main concern seems to be how to make money from their information & has no ethical dimension at all.
posted by scalefree at 4:14 PM on February 27, 2012


WikiLeaks’ new phase begins: How Julian Assange's partnership with Anonymous could change the landscape of hacktivism
posted by homunculus at 5:15 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stratfor Is a Joke and So Is Wikileaks for Taking It Seriously

So, what does that make The Atlantic?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:45 PM on February 27, 2012


Least surprising headline of the day: Stratfor: Osama bin Laden 'was in routine contact with Pakistan's spy agency'

As before, WL's value lies in confirmation rather than information.
posted by vidur at 7:59 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Atlantic is a false left-wing façade for quasi-intellectual, self-congratulatory masturbation rituals. Good ideas often take a back seat to pretending that they are smarter than everybody else.
posted by deanklear at 8:40 AM on February 28, 2012


From Re: WikiLeaks plans 'major' announcement within hours as Pentagon bracesfor massive Iraq war leak:
From: James Casey
Date: Fri, 22 Oct 2010 14:39:34 -0400
To:
Subject: Re: WikiLeaks plans 'major' announcement within hours as Pentagon braces for massive Iraq war leak
This is why...........even though the FBI is always the first to be criticized for not playing nice-nice in the sandbox.............the concept of "widely sharing of information" is not always a great idea. For a number of years I have used the very example of "a slick sleeved private, siting in a tent in Baghdad, looking at thousands of classified reports on SIPRNET", as a bad way to business. Even I didn't think that was going to be the exact scenario that has played out with this WikiLeaks fiasco. Maybe everybody at the DNI and DHS who have been pimping the "share by rule, withhold by exception," concept for the last nine years will change their tune a little, and acknowledge that "need to know" is still a valuable idea.
That's why you work for an organization built around the exact same architecture you despise. Live by the sword, die by the sword.
posted by scalefree at 9:39 AM on February 28, 2012


The mostrRecent tweet from @AnonymousIRC:

"We think this #Stratfor is a pretty cool guy. eh acting mysterious and doesn't afraid of anything!"
posted by stagewhisper at 10:14 AM on February 28, 2012


Charges against Assange drawn up in US, says email
posted by jeffburdges at 12:11 PM on February 28, 2012


Fred Burton who alleged the existence of a secret indictment appears to be a major bullshitter.
posted by humanfont at 3:18 PM on February 28, 2012


WikiLeaks’ new phase begins: How Julian Assange's partnership with Anonymous could change the landscape of hacktivism

The gravitic force of the combined egos could form a black hole which would sink to the center of the earth and eat away at it from the inside?
posted by Artw at 3:47 PM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


WikiLeaks' Elaborate Embargo on the Stratfor Emails
[...] the embargo also placed a hold on certain topics, such as Occupy Wall Street, the hacker collective Anonymous and Julian Assange himself. Thus far, Monday's approved topics were the United States, China, Europe and Latin America, which sort of makes sense given the number of stories on Hugo Chavez. Today, the approved topics including Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street.
Weird and controlling: par for the course.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:37 PM on February 28, 2012


25 Alleged Anons Arrested in International Crackdown
posted by homunculus at 7:24 PM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


From Homunculus' link about the crackdown:
Officers in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain worked together in “Operation Unmask” [...]

Hence the mask. Anonymous is a Papist plot against England. Now it all makes sense.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:36 PM on February 28, 2012


Journalists benefit form wikileaks embargoes giving their stories get more airtime, Joe in Australia, especially with complex megaleaks. You could argue that wikileaks doesn't correctly administer their embargoes, but clearly their original embargo-less approach failed.

In fact, administering an embargo requires doing so without understanding the contents of the leak itself, making a certain amount of incompetence par for the course.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:26 PM on February 28, 2012


Is there any way of working with 25 different media organisations (who, you know, are obsessed with being the first to break a story) without using embargoes?

If you accept that Wikileaks should partner with traditional media to publicise the leaks (which is debatable I guess) then embargoes seem fair enough - to maxmise impact and also just to get different media groups to co-operate at all.
posted by memebake at 11:17 AM on February 29, 2012


re: timing: I think the British Supreme Court judgement on whether the original Swedish extradition request was valid is due any day now. Its a very technical law argument and could go either way. Somehow I don't think Assange is going to win though. Which means within a couple of days he could be bundled off to Sweden, where he's likely to be held incommunicado and so we literally might not hear anything more from him until the Swedish trial. Which might not be for a long time, and that also might happen in private if I remember correctly.
posted by memebake at 11:23 AM on February 29, 2012


He isn't going anywhere anytime soon consider how long Gary McKinnon has been at it and all the places his appeals have been rejected.
posted by humanfont at 12:10 PM on February 29, 2012


He isn't going anywhere anytime soon consider how long Gary McKinnon has been at it and all the places his appeals have been rejected.

Hmm, I know what you mean, but I got the impression that Assange has decided not to go down the whole European-Court-of-Human-Rights route, and that the Supreme Court was his last stand. Actually getting to the Supreme Court was something of a mini-victory, as it means that the judges were conceding that there was a legal point worth debating.
posted by memebake at 2:01 PM on February 29, 2012


Wikileaks and Anonymous Join Forces To Reveal How Dumb Our Intelligence Is   <snicker>
posted by jeffburdges at 6:57 PM on February 29, 2012


WikiLeaked Stratfor Emails: Osama Bin Laden Wasn’t Buried At Sea
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 11:36 AM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


WikiLeaked Stratfor Emails: Osama Bin Laden Wasn’t Buried At Sea

All the really wacky claims are by this Dan Burton, their "Intelligence Chief". He strikes me as a complete blowhard, always dropping unverifiable, unsourced claims like this one. I've known guys like that, even had the pleasure of bursting their balloon a few times when they tried pulling off some outrageous wild claim in something I happened to have exclusive firsthand knowledge of. One time I remember, a guy told everybody at an event that he'd done jail time with the infamous virus writer the Dark Avenger. I shut him down quickly when I explained he'd done no such thing because at the time Darkie was actually lost in the jungles of Nicaragua coming from his home in Bulgaria (by way of Cuba) on a psychotic mission to make his way to the US, find & kill me for stealing the love of his life from him (which, to be fair, I more or less had done). He was a crazy, obsessive dude. But he wasn't in any jail with the guy telling us the story.

Anyway, this Burton guy is just making stuff up to prove how much juice he has & impress the rubes. What a wanker.
posted by scalefree at 7:43 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


The New Statesman is reporting that Jullian Assange arranged for unredacted cables to fall into the hands of the Belarusian Dictator. The dictator then used the information to arrest and murder political opponents. (via gawker)
posted by humanfont at 8:03 PM on March 2, 2012


Nice.
posted by Anything at 3:47 AM on March 3, 2012


Scalefree - no, no, it's in Wikileaks now, therefore it's special secret information that is ALL TRUE.
posted by Artw at 6:48 AM on March 3, 2012


Scalefree - no, no, it's in Wikileaks now, therefore it's special secret information that is ALL TRUE.

Yeah there's a lot of "facts" that're being given more credence than I suspect they deserve, for instance the alleged indictment against Julian & the alleged Israeli sabotage campaign against Iran. They all come from Burton, they all confirm a viewpoint he supports, none names or even hints at a source & none has been corroborated separately. I find it very suspicious but they're all being propagated as accepted truth solely because they come from an esoteric origin.
posted by scalefree at 10:51 AM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stratfor's blatant hypocrisy toward WikiLeaks.

This reminds me of a point I wanted to make earlier. Everybody seems to misunderstand the nature of the relationship between Stratfor & WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks isn't Stratfor's enemy, they're the competition. The differences between them are ones of degree, not kind. They do pretty much the same thing using similar methods, only relying on different skillsets to accomplish the job (technical versus social hacking). More than anything else it's a kind of symbiotic relationship, each group feeds off the energy of the other & gives the other meaning. If one of them was ever eliminated the other would become much smaller & less relevant in the world. So it's in each of their best interest to continue the dance, forever.
posted by scalefree at 11:43 AM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


All the really wacky claims are by this Dan Burton

Fred Burton. My bad.
posted by scalefree at 11:44 AM on March 3, 2012


So it's in each of their best interest to continue the dance, forever.

Wait, which one is the Batman and which one is the Joker?

Wikileaks doesn't do a whole lot of analysis and their leaks seem more focused on shedding light on past events than on predicting future ones, which makes it seem to me that they're not really in competition.
posted by hattifattener at 1:18 PM on March 3, 2012


Fred Burton seems like a bit.
posted by humanfont at 4:56 PM on March 3, 2012


The Fall of Stratfor.
posted by scalefree at 9:02 PM on March 3, 2012


It's also a good and public warning to the firms that see themselves in this role that they should keep a much lower profile and base themselves in a permissive environment.

The bigger takeaway is that a firm pretending to be the CIA needs to have decent IT security.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:39 AM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks to Anonymous Everyone Finally Takes Security Nerds Seriously
posted by homunculus at 12:41 PM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


The LulzSec/Sabu story probably deserves a new FPP. I'm too busy today, however.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:47 AM on March 6, 2012


FBI names, arrests Anon who infiltrated its secret conference call
posted by homunculus at 12:11 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


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