In late 2010, Anonymous declared their unconditional support for WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. To that end, they announced Operation Avenge Assange and launched distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) on businesses and government organizations that attempted to blockade WikiLeaks. PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, BankAmerica and Post Finance all had their sites shut down with the DDoS attack, which is a form of digital protest.
Julian Assange, for his part, donned a Guy Fawkes mask at a 2011 London Occupy protest, and made reference to Anonymous in an interview with Rolling Stone:
This was a very apolitical group that had absolutely no understanding about the military-industrial complex whatsoever, and no understanding about international finance. As a result of joining our battle and trying to protect themselves, they have come to see that the threats related to Internet freedom come from the military-industrial complex, the banking system and the media.
While most of WikiLeaks’ published work has its origins in leaked diplomatic cables, alleged to have come from Bradley Manning, it is a wonder that hacked documents haven’t made their way from Anonymous to WikiLeaks sooner. Now, with WikiLeaks’ announcement of the Global Intelligence Files, it seems that Anonymous have transformed from WikiLeaks’ avengers to associates.
Earlier this year Anonymous announced it had obtained a treasure trove of emails from Stratfor, a Texas-based global security firm. One might best describe Stratford as a for-profit intelligence agency. Indeed, why should intelligence be limited to domestic and international government affairs? Sunday night, WikiLeaks announced that it would be publishing 5.5 million Stratford emails. This morning WikiLeaks began publishing the Global Intelligence Files.
The WikiLeaks press release states that Stratford’s clients include: “Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency.” Not a bad racket, to be sure.
Included in the press release was an email sent from CEO George Friedman to Reva Bhalla on December 6, 2011, reading, “”[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.” The subject of the email was Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez’s medical condition.
WikiLeaks also makes mention of Stratfor’s involvement in the subversion of WikiLeaks, as well as the “revolving door” policy between private intelligence firms and government intelligence. “The Global Intelligence Files exposes 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,” states WikiLeaks.
The synthesis of government and corporate espionage shouldn’t come as any surprise. Nonetheless, emails outlining the web of espionage should prove enlightening.
WikiLeaks also claims that emails between Stratfor’s Friedman and then-Goldman Sachs Managing Director Shea Morenz detail a scheme to “utilise the intelligence” Stratfor was accumulating from its insider networks to create a “captive strategic investment fund.” Again, no surprise that Goldman Sachs has been implicated in shady dealings.
Stratfor, for its part, issued a response in which they state that some of the emails “may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic.” Stratfor should know something about disinformation and forged documents, which are part and parcel of intelligence work.
On a more humorous note, one Stratfor analyst mused about the firm’s “bitchy” attitude, while another detailed Coca-Cola’s concern with Vancouver PETA activists. In another email, a Stratfor employee stressed that the CIA model has been “invalidated,” and that the agency has come to Stratfor for an education of sorts.
WikiLeaks is teaming with various publications to release the Global Intelligence Files, including: Rolling Stone, L’espresso, The Yes Men, La Nacion and La Republica, amongst others.