February 27, 2012
Stratfor has been likened to a shadow CIA
Company defiant, says it will not be cowed
"Anonymous" hacker group helped obtain data
Stratfor says some emails may be forged, altered
LONDON, Feb 27 (Reuters)
The anti-secrecy group
publishing on Monday more than five million emails from a U.S.-based global
security analysis company that has been likened to a shadow CIA.
The emails, snatched by hackers, could unmask sensitive sources and throw
light on the murky world of intelligence-gathering by
the company known as Stratfor, which counts Fortune 500 companies among its subscribers.
Stratfor in a statement shortly after midnight EST (0500 GMT) said the
release of its stolen emails was an attempt to silence and intimidate it.
It said it would not be cowed under the leadership of George Friedman, Stratfor's founder and chief executive officer. It said Friedman had not
resigned as CEO, contrary to a bogus email circulating on the Internet.
Some of the emails being published,
"may be forged or altered to include
inaccuracies; some may be authentic," the company statement said.
"We will not validate either. Nor will we explain the thinking that went
into them. Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimized
twice by submitting to questioning about them," the statement said.
WikiLeaks did not say how it had acquired access
to the vast haul of internal and external correspondence of the Austin,
Texas company, formally known as Strategic Forecasting Inc.
Hackers linked to the loosely organized
Anonymous hackers group said at the
beginning of the year they had stolen the email correspondence of some 100
of the firm's employees. The group said it planned to publish the data so
the public would know the "truth" about Stratfor operations.
Stratfor describes itself as a subscription-based publisher of geopolitical
analysis with an intelligence-based approach to gathering information.
WikiLeaks and Anonymous maintain the emails will expose dark secrets about
Stratfor said in its statement it had worked
hard to build "good sources" in many countries,
"as any publisher of global geopolitical
analysis would do."
In December, hackers broke into Stratfor's data
systems and stole a large number of company emails.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Reuters:
"Here we have a private intelligence firm,
relying on informants from the U.S. government, foreign intelligence
agencies with questionable reputations and journalists."
"What is of grave concern is that the targets of this scrutiny are,
among others, activist organizations fighting for a just cause."
Friedman, the chief executive, said on Jan. 11
the thieves would be hard pressed to find anything significant in the stolen
"God knows what a hundred employees writing
endless emails might say that is embarrassing, stupid or subject to
misinterpretation... As they search our emails for signs of a vast
conspiracy, they will be disappointed."
People linked to Anonymous took credit for the data theft.
"Congrats on the amazing partnership between
#Anonymous and #WikiLeaks to make all 5 million mails public," AnonSec
AnonSec is one of several Twitter accounts used
to promote and organize activities associated with Anonymous.
It was not immediately clear what impact the release of the emails might
have on Stratfor, its employees, clients and information sources.
Previous releases from WikiLeaks, such as secret video battle footage and
thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,
in 2010 have angered the U.S. government. WikiLeaks' disclosures also have
raised questions about the safety of confidential sources quoted in
previously secret documents.
WikiLeaks said it was working with two dozen media organizations worldwide
that have access to a database of the Stratfor emails.
These include the U.S. newspaper publisher
"We have begun reviewing the emails and will
publish as warranted," McClatchy's Washington bureau chief, James Asher,
WikiLeaks said its other media partners include
L'Espresso and La Repubblica newspapers in Italy, the NDR/ARD state
broadcaster in Germany and Russia Reporter.
The group gave a sneak preview of the emails to
The Yes Men, an activist
group that targets what it views as corporate greed.
The Stratfor emails discuss an elaborate hoax the group staged to criticize
Dow Chemical Co's handling of the
Bhopal chemical disaster in India,
according to Andy Bichlbaum, one of The Yes Men.
"What is significant is the picture it helps
to paint of the way corporations operate," Bichlbaum told Reuters. "They
operate with complete disregard for rule of law and human decency."
After Stratfor's computers were hacked at least
twice last December, the credit card details of more than 30,000 subscribers
to Stratfor publications were posted on the Internet, including those of
former U.S. secretary of state
Henry Kissinger and former U.S. vice
president Dan Quayle.
The FBI began investigating the matter in December.
Australian-born Assange, 40, is currently under house arrest in Britain and
fighting extradition to Sweden for questioning over alleged sex crimes.