UPDATED 10:48 EST / FEBRUARY 27 2012

Stratfor CEO to resign after Wikileaks releases 5mil emails – covert operations exposed

Wikileaks has returned with an astonishing release of more than five million emails from Stratfor, a Texas-based security intelligence company that is associated with CIA type of operations. The company has been the target of hackers  in recent months. Though Wikileaks has not stated how it acquired the large cache of information, Anonymous members boasted of their partnership with Wikileaks in releasing this information. On the Anonsec Twitter page:

“Congrats on the amazing partnership between #Anonymous and #WikiLeaks to make all 5 million mails public,”

The disclosures are reportedly filled with sensitive and compromising information. The first document to be released is titled “The Stratfor Glossary of Useful, Baffling and Strange Intelligence Terms,” and it contains harshly critical and humorous assessments of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement. The documents also reveal secret deals with various media organizations including payment methods that involve pre-paid credit cards and Swiss bank accounts.  If that doesn’t sound like the stuff of spy movies, hold on. A further disclosure highlights a show organization known as StratCap, utilizing Stratfor’s network of informants to make money in financial markets. The emails reportedly show how Shea Morenz, the former Goldman Sachs Managing Director and CEO George Friedman founded the organization.

“Stratfor’s use of insiders for intelligence soon turned into a money-making scheme of questionable legality. 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 will illustrate the inner workings of their operations, including informants, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques, and psychological methods.

““[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” – CEO George Friedman to Stratfor analyst Reva Bhalla on 6 December 2011, on how to exploit an Israeli intelligence informant providing information on the medical condition of the President of Venezuala, Hugo Chavez.”

The information also reportedly references information about the US attempts to stop Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange. Assange and Wikileaks are mentioned more than 4000 times in emails. Wikileaks has long been the bane or a number of governments and government organizations, having released hundreds of thousands sensitive documents, including U.S. military and State Department documents, military field reports from Afghanistan and Iraq and sensitive embassy cables.

In the wake of the weekend release it appears that Stratfor CEO Goerge Friedman will be resigning from the company. The information was captured and released by Anonymous.

From: george.friedman@stratfor.com

To: fred.burton@stratfor.com

Subject: Draft

Date: 2012-02-26 19:02:07

It is with great personal disappointment I have to inform you that I will resign from my position as CEO for Stratfor to immediate effect.

Please rest assured that this decision was not an easy. But in the light of the recent events, especially the release of our company emails by WikiLeaks, I have decided that stepping down is in the best interest of Stratfor and its customer base.

I want to emphasize that this will have no effect on Stratfor’s business or its members and we will continue to provide state-of-the-art intelligence services.

Regarding the latest breach, Stratfor is fully in control of the situation However, while I cannot take any personal responsibility for this incident, I still have to admit that mistakes have been made on our side. To be clear: We certainly do not condone any criminal activities by groups like Anonymous or other hackers. This is theft and we will continue to cooperate with law enforcement to bring those responsible to justice. But we must acknowledge that this incident would not have been possible if Stratfor had implemented stronger data protection mechanisms – which will be the case from now on. Indeed we will immediately move to implement the latest, and most comprehensive, data security measures.

While I played no role in our technical operations, as the company’s CEO I do accept full responsibility thus will resign from my position effective immediately.

Again, my sincerest apologies for this whole unfortunate incident.

George Friedman

Friedman had previously stated that there was little valuable information to be gleaned from the compromised emails.  Expect much more to be revealed in the days and weeks to come as more of the emails are released.  Stratfor has recently been releasing all their public content for free, as a response to the compromises in recent months.

Dear Stratfor Subscriber,

I wanted to warn you that individuals continue to send out false communications that appear to be from Stratfor. These spam emails may contain malware and attachments, and may attempt to lead you to websites that look like our own. They may also attempt to convince you to provide your private information.

In an effort to guard against the dangers posed by these false emails, I have decided to implement a no-link policy with our subscribers for the time being. We will continue to send you emails — status updates as well as analysis reports — but we will not include any links in those emails. And we will never include attachments.


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