On February 27, the debilitated whistleblower website Wikileaks began publishing their self proclaimed Global Intelligence Files; a stash of over five million private emails from Texas based private intelligence company Stratfor.
Wikileaks describes the emails (obtained by the hacker collective, Anonymous) as an insight into the inner workings of a private intelligence company that provides services to both corporate and US government agencies including Dow Chemical and the US Marines.
The contents of the emails so far have revealed many things, some of which can only be taken with a grain of salt at this stage. The findings range from the US government having a sealed indictment on Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, to claiming that Osama Bin Laden’s body was taken back to the US instead of being disposed of in the ocean.
The emails reveal that on the 26th of January 2011, Stratfor Vice President for Intelligence Fred Burton sent an email saying: “Not for Pub – We have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect.” Australian and US governments have denied having knowledge of any such indictment on Assange.
In relation to Bin Laden’s body Burton wrote on May 2: “Reportedly, we took the body with us. Thank goodness.” And later: “Body bound for Dover, DE on CIA plane. Than [sic] onward to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Bethesda.” This could reopen the debate surrounding the death of Osama Bin Laden.
These emails are interesting and certainly make for juicy headlines, but where is the proof? The answer is that there isn’t any yet, but there are certainly things that give the emails and the intelligence in them some credibility. While Stratfor mainly sells its intelligence to corporate clients, it also deals with the US government, namely the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Defense Intelligence Agency, and the US Marines. An interesting question to ask: why would the US government buy intelligence from a company such as Stratfor if it was not reliable?
According to the emails, Stratfor has both analysts in the field and “cronies” in the FBI and CIA who apparently assist with intelligence. One email from CEO of Stratfor George Friedman to analyst Reva Bhalla, dated 6 December 2011, concerning an Israeli informant who had information on the medical condition of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez reads: “[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.”
Stratfor, like Wikileaks is in the business of information. The difference between the two is that Stratfor seems to collect its information in a seemingly less ethical manner and sells it to domestic and foreign corporations and governments for financial gain. Wikileaks on the other hand has files anonymously leaked to its website, does not sell its information, and is interested in exposing truth rather than financial gain. But who is the US government going to every length to subdue?
Wikileaks has in its possession over five million emails from Stratfor. Watch this space.
Reuben Stone is on Twitter: @reubenstone