The 2012–13 Stratfor email leak is the public disclosure of a number of internal emails between global intelligence company Stratfor's employees and its clients, referred to by WikiLeaks as the Global Intelligence Files. E-mails began appearing on WikiLeaks on February 27, 2012, with 5,543,061 emails published as of July 18, 2014.
The e-mails are claimed to include client information, notes between Stratfor employees and internal procedural documentation on securing intelligence data. These communications date from July 2004 through to December 2011. WikiLeaks said it had obtained the e-mails from the hacker group Anonymous, who broke into Stratfor's computer network in 2011. In an initial announcement, WikiLeaks stated that they opened up a database of the emails to two dozen media organizations operating in several countries, including the McClatchy Company, l'Espresso, la Repubblica, ARD, the Russia Reporter, and Rolling Stone, along with a "sneak preview" to the Yes Men.
One of the first items released was an email containing a glossary titled "The Stratfor Glossary of Useful, Baffling and Strange Intelligence Terms", which contained concise and sometimes humorously candid definitions, along with pointed assessments of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement.
Some emails reveal that Stratfor had been partnering with Shea Morenz, a former Goldman Sachs director, along with other informants, in order to profit from what could be considered insider trading. Stratfor planned to use the intelligence it gathered in order to profit from trading in several worldwide markets. They created an offshore "share structure" known as "StratCap" during 2011, in order to avoid insider trading allegations. The offshore entity, set to launch operations in 2012, is outwardly independent of Stratfor, but CEO George Friedman told his employees that StratCap is secretly integrated with Stratfor.
Friedman stated in an email that in order to avoid legal repercussions from these activities, the company would be "retaining a law firm to create a policy for Stratfor on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act."
Thomas Kavaler, who was once a lawyer for a Stratfor client, had his email address and the password to his Stratfor account released in the leak. He is married to Judge Preska, who denied Jeremy Hammond's bail; the hearing was held eight months into Hammond's imprisonment. This apparent conflict of interest has led some observers to question the legality of her ruling.
An email involving a Stratfor analyst stated that it had been determined that up to 12 officials in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency knew of Osama bin-Laden's safe house. Another email indicated that Stratfor Vice President Fred Burton had knowledge of the killing of bin Laden, and that the body was not dumped at sea, but rather sent to Dover Air Force Base in the United States. This further fueled doubts about the US Government's account of the killings.
Ynetnews reported that, according to internal emails between Stratfor employees, Israel and Russia were engaged in an exchange of information in 2008. Israel gave Russia "'data link codes' for unmanned aerial vehicles that the Jewish state sold to Georgia" and that Russia gave "the codes for Tor-M1 missile defense systems that Russia sold Iran". The emails also stated that, during the 2008 South Ossetia war, Georgia "realized that their UAVs were compromised and were looking for a replacement for the Israeli made drones".
International Business Times reported that Stratfor had found that several Central European countries, especially the Czech Republic, have been petitioning NATO for missile defenses and F-16s to use against Russia. The Czech Republic, according to an unknown Stratfor source, has stated that, if the talks with the US fail, then it will be breaking all ties with NATO and the US in general.
Business Insider reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was an intelligence source for Stratfor between 2007 and 2010. In emails, Fred Burton discussed his personal communications with Netanyahu. Burton stated by email that Netanyahu informed him of his success in consolidating power within the Likud party ahead of regaining the position of prime minister, shared thoughts regarding his distrust of US President Barack Obama, threatened assassination of Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah, and declared intentions to unilaterally start a war against Iran.
Al Akhbar, citing internal emails from the Stratfor hack, reported former Blackwater director James F. Smith had a relationship with Stratfor and was for a time considered one of their major sources. Emails appeared to show that Smith participated in the murder of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and had more recently been assigned to aid the rebellion against the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. In relation to his assignment to Syria, Smith requested an intelligence overview of the Syrian opposition from his Stratfor briefers.
Over 40,000 documents related with information gathering from Venezuela including the status of the army (equipment, numbers, plans) and other sensitive information were also released. Various attempts at overthrowing the government of Hugo Chavez are described from sources inside Venezuela, with references to names Such as Antonio Ledezma (Caracas mayor), Henrique Capriles (opposition leader), Leopoldo Lopez, Rafael Poleo (media tycoon). Many papers involve CANVAS, as one of the main strategic counsel. One of the documents is titled "how to guide to revolution".
As reported by The Times of India, some of the emails reveal that Stratfor was allegedly hired by Dow Chemical Company to spy on protesters of the Bhopal disaster. Dow Chemical Company responded with a written statement that read: "Major companies are often required to take appropriate action to protect their people and safeguard their facilities," and that it had not broken any laws.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that, according to some of the released emails, the Coca-Cola Company paid Stratfor to determine "to what extent will US-based PETA supporters travel to Canada to support activism" at the 2010 Olympics. The Coca-Cola Company responded to the emails with a statement saying that they "consider it prudent to monitor for protest activities at any major event we sponsor".
Emails from Fred Burton (Stratfor’s Vice-President for Counterterrorism and Corporate Security, and former Deputy Chief of the Department of State) reveal a United States Government secret indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Other emails cast doubt on the rape allegations against Assange.
Around midnight on February 27, Stratfor released a statement saying that "the release of its stolen emails was an attempt to silence and intimidate it." It also dismissed rumors of CEO George Friedman's resignation.
Stratfor stated that some of the leaked emails "may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic", but that they would not confirm either possibility. They further stated that the emails represented candid internal language that would probably be ripe for misinterpretation.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Reuters that his concerns with Stratfor stem from it being a private intelligence firm relying on informants from government agencies with dubious reputations, both from the U.S. and abroad, and especially its targeting of activist organizations. He also called the company a "shadow CIA" and stated that the emails would "reveal Stratfor's web of informers, payoff structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods."
Max Fisher, the associate director of The Atlantic, argued that Stratfor has a poor reputation "among foreign policy writers, analysts, and practitioners" and that as a result Anonymous and Wikileaks have exaggerated the significance of the information they released. He also suggested that Assange may have targeted a relatively unimportant firm and over-hyped the results in order to "regain some of his former glory". Australian Broadcasting Corporation foreign correspondent and Stratfor subscriber Mark Corcoran also wrote that the e-mails showed Stratfor's methods used to gather information are similar to those employed by journalists, though he wrote that the quality of its reports are often inferior to news reports.