[Updated with Stratfor response below]
Talk about the paranoid discussing the paranoid…
Anonymous, the anonymous hacking group, has pinged 5m emails it stole from Stratfor, the political intelligence consultancy, to Wikileaks.
It would be rude of us not to read them, although the FT is not amongst the 25 media partners involved in this “investigation”.
The first thing in the files on Wikileaks that catches our eye, among the purported emails and reported highlights:
…The emails show that in 2009 then-Goldman Sachs Managing Director Shea Morenz and Stratfor CEO George Friedman hatched an idea to “utilise the intelligence” it was pulling in from its insider network to start up a captive strategic investment fund. CEO George Friedman explained in a confidential August 2011 document, marked DO NOT SHARE OR DISCUSS : “What StratCap will do is use our Stratfor’s intelligence and analysis to trade in a range of geopolitical instruments, particularly government bonds, currencies and the like”. The emails show that in 2011 Goldman Sach’s Morenz invested “substantially” more than $4million and joined Stratfor’s board of directors. Throughout 2011, a complex offshore share structure extending as far as South Africa was erected, designed to make StratCap appear to be legally independent. But, confidentially, Friedman told StratFor staff : “Do not think of StratCap as an outside organisation. It will be integral… It will be useful to you if, for the sake of convenience, you think of it as another aspect of Stratfor and Shea as another executive in Stratfor… we are already working on mock portfolios and trades”. StratCap is due to launch in 2012.
Er, bet it doesn’t launch in 2012.
Update: Here’s Stratfor’s response — also available in video form — emphasis ours:
George Friedman on Email Theft and the Wikileaks Release
I’m George Friedman, founder and CEO of Stratfor.
As most of you know, in December thieves hacked into Stratfor data systems and stole a large number of company emails, as well as private information of Stratfor subscribers and friends. Today Wikileaks is publishing the emails that were stolen in December. This is a deplorable, unfortunate — and illegal — breach of privacy.
Some of the emails may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies. Some may be authentic. 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 questions about them.
The disclosure of these emails does not mean that there has been another hack of Stratfor’s computer and data systems. Those systems, which we have rebuilt with enhanced security measures, remain secure and protected.
The release of these emails is, however, a direct attack on Stratfor. This is another attempt to silence and intimidate the company, and one we reject. As you can see, emails sent to many people about my resignation were clearly forged.
We do not know what else has been manufactured. Stratfor will not be silenced, and we will continue to publish the geopolitical analysis our friends and subscribers have come to rely on.
As we have said before, Stratfor has worked to build good sources in many countries around the world, as any publisher of geopolitical analysis would do.
We are proud of the relationships we have built, which help our analysts better understand the issues in many of these countries through the eyes of people who live there.
We have developed these relationships with individuals and partnerships with local media in a straightforward manner, and we are committed to meeting the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct.
Stratfor is not a government organization, not is it affiliated with any government. The emails are private property. Like all private emails, they were written casually, with no expectation that anyone other than the sender and recipient would ever see them. And clearly, as with my supposed resignation letter, some of the emails may be fabricated or altered.
Stratfor understands that this hack and the fallout from it have created serious difficulties for our subscribers, friends and employees. We again apologize for this incident, and we deeply appreciate the loyalty that has been shown to Stratfor since last year’s hack.
We want to assure everyone that Stratfor is recovering from the hack. We will continue to do what we do best: produce and publish independent analysis of international affairs. And we will be back in full operation in the coming weeks. We look forward to continuing to serve you.
Stratfor: ‘We neither know nor understand, but we’re back…’ – FT Alphaville
Thousands warned of charity hacking threat – FT Alphaville