February 26, 2012; Source: Reuters

Apparently as a result of hacking by Anonymous, Wikileaks obtained and is publishing information from 5.5 million e-mails from a private think tank specializing in geo-political intelligence. Wikileaks has titled the collection “Global Intelligence Files,” and Julian Assange of Wikileaks told Reuters that the firm, Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (Stratfor), relied 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,” Assange said.

Stratfor’s computers were hacked, apparently by Anonymous, last December, and the credit card details of thousands of purchasers of Stratfor publications were posted on the net. According to Forbes, Wikileaks is also partnering with 25 other media organizations, including Rolling Stone, the McClatchy News Agency, the Italian newspaper L’Espresso and the Indian paper The Hindu to sort, analyze, and publish the material.

A Wikileaks press release says that the messages, dating from July 2004 to last December, “reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency. The e-mails show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods.” Among other things, Wikileaks claims that Stratfor monitored and analyzed the online actions of activists working to address the 1984 Dow Chemical/Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal, India, which led to “thousands of deaths, injuries in more than half a million people, and lasting environmental damage.”

Stratfor may have been an attractive target for Wikileaks since, apparently, the firm was actively monitoring Wikileaks. The Wikileaks press release said there were more than 4,000 e-mails mentioning it or its founder, Julian Assange: “The material shows how a private intelligence agency works, and how they target individuals for their corporate and government clients.” The press release also suggests that the documents will expose Stratfor’s confidential links to large corporations, such as Dow Chemical and Lockheed Martin, and U.S. government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Marines and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Again, Wikileaks is just one of many nonprofit actors changing the face of our information landscape. –Ruth McCambridge