WikiLeaks – A Recap of Documents Released on 02-27-2012 – Wir Weisen den Weg
I actually read an entire release today from the much vaunted Wiki-leaks.org website. The title of the first release “Wir weisen der CIA den Weg”which literally translates to “We Point the Way to the CIA” in English. As much as the US Government, specifically the State Department and Department of Defense would love to see Wiki-leaks out of business with it’s leader Julian Assange tied up in a dark hole somewhere, you have to give them some credit for outing Stratfor, the company whose e-mails are detailed in the latest release. If what came out of this release of internal e-mails is true, there are some real bastards out there working to illegally obtain personal information from anyone and for anyone with the means to pay.
Reading about the intelligence information on clients of Stratfor is like reading e-mails of a frat house under double secret probation, albeit a pretty smart frat house nevertheless. Perhaps it’s a telling sign of the character of the people who work for this covert private substitute for the Central Intelligence Agency (as they’re fond of referring to themselves as), that analysts regularly use slang, and have a severe distaste for the way intelligence is gathered by the CIA. Stratfor, as near as I could tell from just looking at their website is a pretty boring looking company on the surface. They offer free sample newsletters, which the average person would probably never sign up for, but to the right people, and for the right price, they offer covert intelligence gathered by any means necessary.
So how in the world did they let anyone get their hands on such sensitive information for all levels. Wiki-leaks has advertised that they have in their possession and intend to release more than 5 million e-mails from 2004 to 2011. The hacktivist group Anonymous, has claimed responsibility for stealing the information and turning it over to Wiki-leaks for publication. To be fair to Stratfor, there’s no way to confirm any of the e-mails are genuine, and it is fully possible that they have been tampered with to screw with the public’s perception. So given that big fat grain of salt, if the contents happen to be the genuine McCoy, all of us needs to pay attention because there may be a new Sheriff in town: private intelligence firms.
Meet the Characters
No good soap opera would be complete without a brief synopsis of the cast of actors and what role they play. I’ve pieced a little bio together on each of the Stratfor employees whose e-mails appear in the first release of e-mails.
Reva Bhalla is Director of Analysis at Stratfor and according to her public profile on Linked in this is her official bio:
Reva Bhalla is STRATFOR’s Director of Analysis — a role that involves overseeing STRATFOR analysts, assessing the geopolitical impact of breaking developments, shaping forecasts and maintaining flows of intelligence from human and open sources.
Ms. Bhalla joined STRATFOR in 2004 as a Middle East and South Asia analyst and is an expert in the MESA region. In addition to covering issues in the MESA region, she has recently shifted to directing STRATFOR’s Latin America operations. Ms. Bhalla has been featured in and cited by numerous newspapers and broadcasts, including Bloomberg, CNN, The Associated Press, National Public Radio, Al Jazeera, FOX News, The O’Reilly Factor, Haaretz, The New York Times, RT, The Hindustan Times, Business Week and The San Francisco Chronicle. She also represents STRATFOR at a variety of political and security conferences in the United States and abroad.
Ms. Bhalla’s educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas and a master’s degree from the Security Studies program of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Reva’s e-mails paint the picture of a young lady who uses what she has to get what she wants. Specifically the story she tells about meeting a “Mexican source/friend again today and dude is getting shadier by the day.” discussing a pending arms deal between Mexico, Israel and Russia in swapping for UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) technology. Reva’s intel gathering technique specialty in this instance is “getting a drink with my Mexican cop friend after class.” Be sure to watch out for this young vixen if you encounter her at any of D.C.’s watering holes, or else you will most likely end up as an uncited source in her next intel report.
aka George Friedman the CEO and chief spook at Stratfor
George Friedman is the driving force behind several conversations between himself and senior Stratfor personnel outlining his vision for the company’s success. In most cases he regards the company’s successes as directly related to the “Weakness of the government vision” particularly when talking about intelligence gathering techniques of the CIA which he feels are obsolete. George also likes to characterize the difference between journalists and his organization, Stratfor by saying a “Source may never know he was a source, which is the definition of clandestine.”
So now corporate and private citizens of the world alike are subject to the art of “Clandestine” intelligence gathering by a private company. Where the US Government leaves off and doesn’t sell it’s secrets, any behind the scenes info can be had for a price, just ask good ole’ George Friedman about anyone, anyone-and you’re going to get an earful.
Marko Papic is a young-ish Eurasian analyst for Stratfor in Austin, TX who enjoys serious conversations about France and their nasty habit of bribing foreign countries when doing arms deals. Don’t expect to find this guy partying down on 6th Street, as this analyst seems to be all business based on his e-mail correspondence.
Marko has a sense of humor, when referring to Brasil’s option to purchase an arms deal that was basically everything the US sells to Israel, it’s closest ally he says ” We literally gave them a package that said “you get everything, shade under the Israeli deal.” It is a
great deal and anyone would love to have it.”According to Marko’s sources, Brazilian President Lula was in the market for some unnecessary purchases, pre-retirement in order to solidify his financial situation through a quick kickback. For what it’s worth Marko, so far you don’t look like nearly as big of a dirtbag as your co-ed of the month counterpart, Reva Bhalla, then again, I doubt you’d have much success showing off leg in the Austin bars digging for intel. Stick to reading the economist buddy!
Iser Cukierman, CFO
Don’t let the rugged good looks fool you; Iser is a big man on campus at Stratfor and he’s got his eyes on the prize when it comes to spreading the word from big man George Friedman about a potential opportunity for Stratfor to “Make intelligence history and build a major business at the same time.”
Every e-mail I read from characters like Iser makes my skin crawl. Here is a private corporation engaged in a whole lotta spying on private citizens through less than scrupulous means, does this bother anyone else? Where Blackrock is the private equivalent of a US Special forces security detail, Stratfor is the intelligence equivalent.
Conclusion: Don’t take your eye off this development
Even with a small piece of the pie released, the e-mail evidence against Stratfor engaging in a Espionage-For-Hire business model shows a pretty scary new development that most people probably hadn’t noticed. This isn’t a situation where a few people at a strategic think-tank have gone off the ranch and decided to start playing spy on their own. These are high-paid recruits, drinking the Kool-Aide being served by the head spook, George Friedman who is trying to take over for the CIA as the intelligence agency of choice for all sorts of public and private investigations.
As much as it pains for me to admit, we are all being bamboozled by our elected officials who are allowing Stratfor to lurk around the edges of the intelligence gathering community, violating our rights and making a ton of money off of their chicanery.
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