Photo: Stratfor Global Intelligence
The anti-secrecy group Wikileaks began publishing more than five million internal emails from the U.S. based private intelligence company, Stratfor on Sunday. It includes a memo allegedly written by George Friedman, the CEO of the company that reads like something out of a spy novel.The document is allegedly Friedman’s own wry rundown of intelligence lingo that his employees use in their work for corporate and government clients.
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.”
A “Barium Meal” is defined this way: “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.”
And a “Code Crypt,” in turn, is described as “the code name and control of a source in encrypted form. If this confuses you, it’s working.”
The spy lingo glossary is just one document amid an enormous cache from Stratfor, an Austin, Texas-based private intelligence company that counts government agencies and some of the world’s biggest companies among its clients.
In a press release late Sunday, Wikileaks said the emails “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, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Marines and the U.S. defence Intelligence Agency.”
“The emails show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods,” the Wikileaks press release said. The organisation claimed that the emails expose “how Stratfor has recruited a global network of informants who are paid via Swiss banks accounts and pre-paid credit cards. Stratfor has a mix of covert and overt informants, which includes government employees, embassy staff and journalists around the world.”
Stratfor released a statement about the Wikileaks posting, saying in part: “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.”
In January, CEO George Friedman posted a statement on Stratfor’s website in January explaining that the firm had been the target of hackers who had obtained sensitive internal data. He emphasised at the time that Stratfor had never been deceptive about itself: “We are what we said we were — an organisation that generates its revenues through geopolitical analysis,” Friedman wrote. “At the core of our business, we objectively acquire, organise, analyse and distribute information.”
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange told the Reuters news agency, “Here we have a private intelligence firm, relying on informants from the U.S. government, foreign intelligence agencies with questionable reputations, and journalists. What is of grave concern is that the targets of this scrutiny are, among others, activist organisations fighting for a just cause.”
Documents released by Wikileaks on Sunday also include a purported memo from Friedman to his staff detailing how Stratfor was partnering with a Goldman Sachs veteran, Shea Morenz, to create its own hedge fund.
The new venture, Friedman wrote in the memo, “… would allow us to utilise the intelligence we were gathering about the world in a new but related venue – an investment fund. Where we had previously advised other hedge funds, we would now have our own, itself fully funded by Shea. Shea invested over $2 million in Stratfor.”
Wikileaks said that it had partnered with more than 25 media organisations around the world, many of whom would begin publishing stories based on the documents.
All of that coverage is likely to refer to the spy-novel milieu in which Stratfor operates. But in its own internal terminology memo, Stratfor had a word of caution for those who love spy novels a little too much.
The memo defined the term “Clancy” this way: “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.”
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