Wikileaks is putting The Global Intelligence Files online--a collection of millions of emails compromised from Stratfor by Anonymous in December. Wikileaks says there is evidence buried within of questionable motives and methods used by the Texas-based security intelligence firm to subvert a range of targets, including Wikileaks itself.
On the surface, Stratfor is a geopolitical risk analysis organization that simply gathers information, and filters the information--along with some expert analysis--out to its customers. Anonymous, on the other hand, has called Stratfor a “shadow CIA”, and believes that the company is not really what it portrays itself to be.
A press release from Wikileaks claims, “The material contains privileged information about the US government’s attacks against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and Stratfor’s own attempts to subvert WikiLeaks.” Wikileaks says there are more than 4,000 emails dedicated to Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange.
Wikileaks suggests that the emails demonstrate a shady Web of questionable methods: informers, pay-offs, payment-laundering, psychological tactics for extracting covert information, etc.
The emails also appear to contain evidence that Stratfor is aware it walks a very risky legal and ethical line. In August 2011, Stratfor CEO George Friedman expressed concern over the potential repercussions of paying cash bribes to overseas informants. He confidentially told his employees: "We are retaining a law firm to create a policy for Stratfor on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. I don’t plan to do the perp walk and I don’t want anyone here doing it either."
With the publishing of the five million or so emails exposed in the Anonymous hack, the world will now be able to judge for itself. It takes time to sift through millions of emails--most of which are probably mundane communications—to find the damning evidence and smoking guns…if they exist.
Wikileaks is working closely with a range of media organizations and activists to coordinate efforts to filter through the emails over the coming weeks, and share any revelations that result.
Regardless of whether the cache of emails turns out to contain some truly damning details that lead to larger consequences for Stratfor, the reality is that much of the damage is already done. A company that relies on covert relationships to obtain the information it needs will have a hard time building trust after being caught with its proverbial pants down for all to see.