The Global Intelligence Files, a database of emails released by WikiLeaks from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, have spawned analysis and critiques on the true nature of private intelligence firms, their view of intelligence as a marketable product, and who pays for such intelligence. During the week following the GIFiles release, hundreds of articles have been published citing Stratfor intelligence on international relations and conflicts. As mentioned extensively in the media and at the GIFiles press conference, much of this intelligence is often either already publicly known, inaccurate, or skewed due to lack of understanding of regional politics and catering to Stratfor clients. Given that Stratfor markets itself to policy makers and heads of state, the shortcomings of privatised intelligence gathering have been showcased for their public interest value.
The Global Intelligence Files uncover the nature of intelligence markets^
WikiLeaks’ impact is Stratfor’s bottom line: An article from WikiLeaks points to emails which unmask the true face of Stratfor as an opportunistic company worried about being crowded out of the intelligence market with the advent of troves of information from WikiLeaks.
Stratfor on WikiLeaks: In an analysis of the Stratfor emails discussing the pitfalls of broad intelligence sharing in hindsight of Wikileaks’ release, the focus is reflected back on not only the US government being ultimately the ones responsible for the leaks, but also raises the question of whether the act of leaking will induce transparency or more secrecy.
Stratfor and geopolitical instruments of our demise: An Al Jazeera opinion piece suggests that the “war on terror” has been run on a cost-plus basis (so that companies have incentives to increase costs) combined with a move towards greater privatization of governmental services, which has led to an increase in military incompetence, particularly in the case of intelligence procurement. In the case of Stratfor, employees were encouraged to concentrate on the quantity rather than the quality of information provided to their clients in order to turn a profit. More disturbingly, the privatization of intelligence procurement to companies like Stratfor enables governments (as well as private corporations such as Dow Chemical) “to monitor and even attack citizens” without getting “their hands dirty.”
Stratfor intel on foreign conflicts, events, and political figures^
Lebanon-based WikiLeaks partner Al Akhbar has published an article on secret co-operations between Saudi Arabia and the Mossad. An email thread dating back to May 2007 shows a source telling a Stratfor employee that “several enterprising Mossad officers, both past and present, are making a bundle selling the Saudis everything from security equipment, intelligence and consultation.” Stratfor Vice President Burton forwarded a short message to the analyst’s email list where he recounted HUMINT (human intelligence) on the alleged secret deal. The source claimed that Mossad offered covert assistance to the Saudis with “intelligence collection and advice on Iran.” In on one of those emails, Burton also seemed to be interested in making the Saudi intelligence services clients for Stratfor, saying, “I suggest we send Mike Parks to sign them up. $100,000 deal is nothing to these folks.”
US, UK, French Special Operations in Syria: A Special Operation Forces meeting in Syria described in a Stratfor email dismissed the possibility of air campaigns to overcome the Alawite minority in Syria, as Syrian air defense was considered robust. In another email from March 2011, the day before the NATO bombing of Libya, an analyst meets with US, UK and French air force colonels who describe the operation as a “dream op,” with easy targets and a flat coastline. It is noted that the day before the meeting took place was the date that the Security Council adopted resolution 1973. Apart from the French, oil was the main incentive behind the resolution. “BP post-oil spill is suffering in US, other options are to expand in Siberia (problems with Russia), Vietnam and … Libya. They see a Gaddafi ouster as the best way to meet their energy interests,” the analyst said.
The generals have lost the game: According to Stratfor emails, revelations at the operation sledgehammer trial gave the Turkish political party AKP more prominence whilst ignoring the military. “Erdogan used this reality to move Turkey back to the status of a normal state in which the military is subordinate to the government. The military can’t organize a coup and the consequences of a coup would devastate Turkey, and leave a majority of the population hostile,” George Friedman wrote in an email.
Saudi Arabia received assurances from the military that Mubarak would be protected: In a Stratfor email last year, the King of Saudi Arabia received assurances from Egypt’s military council that Mubarak would not be harmed. The king reportedly placed the junta “under intense pressure” in seeking support for the former Egyptian president by adding it as a prerequisite to the granting of financial aid.
Field Marshal ignores communications Tel Aviv embassy in crisis: Since criticism surfaced over the relationship between Cairo and Tel Aviv, the military council changed its policy on natural gas with Israel and refused to resume pumping. The withdrawal of the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel was reportedly “for strategic reasons.”
US-led NATO troops operate inside Syria: An analyst who returned from a meeting at the Pentagon informed Stratfor on the latest US-led NATO troop activities in Syria. The aim of the operation was to overthrow the Syrian government. “They pretty quickly distanced themselves from that idea, saying that the idea ‘hypothetically’ is to commit guerrilla attacks, assassination campaigns, try to break the back of the Alawite forces, elicit collapse from within,” stated Reva Bhalla.
Egypt and the Arab Spring^
Washington influence on Egypt’s water resources: According to an Egyptian diplomat, a Stratfor email reports that in order to stabilize Egypt, the security council suspended the Ethiopia main hydraulic dam on the Nile so as to align with US interests. Bayless Parsley explained, “The SCAF’s ultimate goal is maintaining stability so as to preserve the military regime that dates back to 1952, and it is adjusting its tactics in order to adjust to the new reality in Egypt and the wider region.”
The Arab Spring – Who was behind it: According to emails from Stratfor, a Google executive under the direction of the White House provided the trigger for the Arab Spring riots. In addition, another email cites a surgeon as saying that Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan has colon cancer and may only have two years left to live; the email speculates as to what the US would do without Erdogan, who has been the prime minister of Turkey since 2003, and also discusses the fact that Turkey together with US has been providing arms and training to Syrian rebels in order to assist the “emergence of a Sunni power” in Syria.
Military does not want to stay in power, but wants to control without judgment: The Egypt revolution was not based upon the people, but a carefully orchestrated operation derived from the Egyptian military as a means of “keeping up democratic appearances with the West now that the country is once against dependent upon the economic largess of outside powers,” according to Stratfor’s sources.
Tantawi refused asylum Gaddafi to Egypt … The tips of the leaders of Yemen and Bahrain: According to Stratfor correspondence, a general from the Libyan army arrived in Cairo to request asylum for Muammar Gaddafi. Strafor sources said the Egyptian Military Council refused to meet with him.
Brotherhood honestly believe in the intentions of military … And want a safe transition without provocation: Stratfor analysts were reportedly in touch with current and former members of the Muslim brotherhood. The Muslim brotherhood may have been considered as “the largest opposition in the country,” but since the Egypt revolution, the rise of liberalists and leftists makes the political landscape more complex in their view. Despite competing interests, the Muslim Brotherhood trusts the Supreme council in governing Egypt, but aspire to “seize the opportunity” to rise in political stance.
South Asia, Australia, China^
WikiLeaks, Stratfor and Papua New Guinea’s Corrupt Politics: According to Stratfor’s source CN65 former Australian Senator Bill O’Chee, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is corrupt and only interested in money. “Quite corrupt. I know him. … O’Neill is not any more pro-Western than anyone else up there. As long as he makes money for himself (he has significant business investments in mobile phones, among other things), he couldn’t really care less,” he informed Stratfor.
Malaysia’s racial divide deepening: According to emails leaked from Stratfor, former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, in advance of the upcoming general elections, is trying to build support for his party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), by capitalizing on the racial divide in Malaysia between Malays and minority Chinese through “… drumming up resentment against the Chinese with the hopes of getting more Malays out to vote, and to vote pro-Malay”. However, alienating Chinese voters may actually weaken the current political coalition (in which the UMNO has a significant role), and thus create an opportunity for a rival party to gain power in the future.
9/11 An Excuse To Clamp Down On The Opposition: According to Stratfor email on Malaysia, the US – Malaysian military relationship was strategically aimed at undermining China’s power since the 1960s. This is said to become more open since 9/11. “The relationship was often conducted discretely to avoid Malaysian domestic hang-ups, but after 9/11 it became more open, and Mahathir used the war on terrorism as a pretext to crush Islamist-leaning political opponents,” Matt Gertken wrote.
Moscow holds tight control over Moldova: In a series of emails, the relationships between Moldova, Russia and Germany are described as deep political and economic ties. In an attempt to stabilize Moldova against percieved foes it was stated, “This would literally flip the government as the TDs would ally with the Commies, which would far outnumber the so-called pro-European coalition. Meaning, Russia would have a stable and pro-Russian government entrenched in Moldova, not a chaotic one.”
|Russian soldiers withdrawing from Gori, Georgia, 18 August 2008. Photo by Bohan Shen.|
Did Israel Help Spark the Russia-Georgia War in 2008?: According to a 2009 Stratfor email, in exchange for codes on Iran’s Tor M1s, Israel gave the code on UAVs, which may have sparked the 5 day war between Russia and Georgia in 2008.
Stratfor analyst provides intel on gas negotiations in Eastern Europe:”There is a very, very small number of people who actually know what’s going on in the nat gas negotiations — Putin, Medvedev, head of Naftogaz, Miller of Gazprom, Yanukovich and maybe the FM,” Stratfor analyst Bhala Reva states. Reva also comments on the levels of mistrust between Russia, Ukraine, and other parts of Eastern Europe when it comes to gas negotiations and the level of corruption and control involved between the countries.
The IMF’s Fault for Balkan Wars: In an attachment titled “Europe Analytical Guidance,” tells Stratfor analysts to watch out for riots in the Balkans. The aftermath of the IMF austerity measures in Yugoslavia was highlighted as an example. Another was the strikes by the Albanian miners in Kosovo as a root cause of security concern. Journalists from the Balkan media were also revealed to work for Stratfor.
The N17 had a man in the U.S. Embassy: Stratfor emails bring to light interesting factors surrounding the first CIA officer to be murdered by a terrorist attack in 1975. According to Fred Burton the terrorist group N17 penetrated the Greek government and knew Welch to be a CIA agent, ” As I remember, many believed the government was infiltrated by 17 November members and as you are well aware, the Greeks kept a close eye on U.S. Diplomats.”
The coup and the source within the Armed Forces: A military coup was an idea brewing as a means to resolve Greeks financial crisis. “Therea**s a not very funny joke going around the financial markets at the moment, that the real solution to the Greek problem is a military coup,” Bayless Parsley stated on the Strafor email list. Subsequently, Stratfor was asked to assess the dangers of a military coup within the Greek government.
Gender again to stifle the truth and secure oil: Halliburton model: After a Stratfor analyst reports on her lunch with former Judge Sam Kent, who was found guilty on perjury and sexual misconduct, Mr Kent stated, “isn’t it strange that the Justice Department begins sniffing around for dirt to throw at me just weeks after I ruled a heavy case against Halliburton? Then a small set of affairs turn into an untrue situation and then spun up into an unprecedented case against a Federal Judge.” Comparisons are made to the case of the Wikileaks founder, along with the former director of the International Monetary Fund.
New reports detail discontent, fear in Venezuelan military: Emails leaked from Stratfor indicate that the Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez is worried that concerns about the state of his health has aggravated discontent and dissension among the Armed Forces. Rumors are spreading that several of his high-ranking officers may have asked Chávez to step down due to his illness, and some have “begun to seek contacts with the United States, including agents who work for Stratfor.”
China and Argentina are playing a dangerous game: According to emails leaked from Stratfor, attempts by the Argentinian government to reduce the amount of cheap goods dumped on the market by China through raising tarifs on Chinese imports is endangering its role as the main exporter of soybean oil to China. As Stratfor’s Director of Analysis Reva Bhalla commented, “China has alternatives for its imports of soybeans. I do not think that Argentina has many alternatives to Chinese exports.”
Australian ex-senator O’Chee named by WikiLeaks: Former Senator O’Chee was a source named ‘CN65′ in over 2000 Stratfor emails. In one email, Bill O’Chee informed Stratfor staff on the likely topics raised in Obama’s visit. Among defense issues for the 60th anniversary of the ANZUS he stated, “Cyber-warfare is bound to be part of their agreement. This would be the first time that cyber-security appears in a bilateral US defence treaty. I know that the Pentagon aims to discuss plans for bilateral offensive operations in the digital arena.”
Stratfor Connections to Big Media: Statfor’s profusion of secret global media ties (which it refers to as it’s ConFed Fuckhouse) has many concerned in journalistic circles. Many media organizations have not joined and some fear of “being seen as agents of foreign power” (South Africa’s Mail & Gaurdian, Line 208 of spreadsheet, notes section).
Stratfor “Source” James Casey Leaves FBI: James Casey, a senior headquarters FBI agent was evidently close to Stratfor chief Fred Burton. In one email he states, “I can just picture you and I strapping on a big ‘ol one and leading a Blackwater team into a dangerous motorcade! OK, so maybe the most dangerous thing we do is cut in line at Starbucks.” Surprisingly, hindsight of the leaked cables instead of the angry response other US security representatives voiced was FBI chiefs initial reaction. “the concept of widely sharing of information is not always a great idea” James Casey stated in another email.
Greek journalist source for Stratfor and the CIA: A source known as EL501 provided the company updates as the reshuffling of the Greek government was taking place. EL501 stated in one email, “Papandreou is in contact with other political leaders for some kind of broader consencus, maybe even some form of coalition government.” In a later email EL501 informed Stratfor staff, “Papandreou just declared a reshuffling of the government tomorrow -and a vote of confidence! He may get the vote of confidence-marginally -and will count that MPs that did not topple the government will not abstain from voting the new measure a few days later. Risky business and -this is what is important medium term- right now there is widespread doubt about the ability of any PASOK government to implement the measures.”
Impact and Reactions^
Turkish prime minister sues editor-in-chief of Taraf: The Turkish prime minister filed a 30,000 Liras lawsuit against Taraf over comments sourced from the Stratfor emails on the article titled, “Alaturkalik”. The prime minister claims that it contains “very serious insults attacking Erodogan.”
Turkey’s Erdogan Dismisses WikiLeaks Cancer Report: In the face of emails from Stratfor claiming that he has only two years to live, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan gave a speech to his party in which he denied that he has terminal cancer, saying that the report from the Stratfor was “impudent.”
Cablegate and the Gitmo Files^
Asbestos, long known for its carcinogenic properties, is being shipped to Vietnam by Canada, Russia and China where it is mainly used as a cheap roofing material, as shown by a WikiLeaks cable from early 2008. In 2005 alone, Vietnam received over 70,000 tons in material which can be considered callous given that the country is low on resources to put health and safety measures in place as well as being prone to natural disasters.
Recently Released Autopsy Reports Heighten Guantanamo “Suicides” Mystery: Details of the Gitmo autopsies released last year reveal a number of suspicious suicides. In WikiLeaks documents, Al Amri was noted prior to his death as participating in hunger strikes and being force fed despite this measure being noted as a harmful practice. His autopsy report revealed he was “found hanging by his neck in his cell with a ligature made of braided strips of bed sheet…similar fabric bound his hands loosely behind him.”