Sunday, February 26, 2012

#WikiLeaks Stratfor Press Release

  1. Via BNO News Wire Service:
  8. Monday 27 February 00:01 GMT 2012
  10. The Global Intelligence Files
  12. Twitter tag: #gifiles
  15.     Monday 27 Feburary, noon, Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, Paddington,
  16. London, W2 1QJ.
  18. LONDON--Today WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files – more than five million emails from the Texas-headquartered "global intelligence" company Stratfor. The emails date from between July 2004 and late December 2011. They 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 US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency. The emails show Stratfor's web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods, for example:
  20. "[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.
  22. The material contains privileged information about the US government's attacks against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and Stratfor's own attempts to subvert WikiLeaks. There are more than 4,000 emails mentioning WikiLeaks or Julian Assange. The emails also expose the revolving door that operates in private intelligence companies in the United States. Government and diplomatic sources from around the world give Stratfor advance knowledge of global politics and events in exchange for money. The Global Intelligence Files exposes how Stratfor has recruited a global network of informants who are paid via Swiss banks accounts and pre-paid credit cards. Stratfor has a mix of covert and overt informants, which includes government employees, embassy staff and journalists around the world.
  24. The material shows how a private intelligence agency works, and how they target individuals for their corporate and government clients. For example, Stratfor monitored and analysed the online activities of Bhopal activists, including the "Yes Men", for the US chemical giant Dow Chemical. The activists seek redress for the 1984 Dow Chemical/Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal, India. The disaster led to thousands of deaths, injuries in more than half a million people, and lasting environmental damage.
  26. Stratfor has realised that its routine use of secret cash bribes to get information from insiders is risky. In August 2011, Stratfor CEO George Friedman confidentially told his employees: "We are retaining a law firm to create a policy for Stratfor on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. I don't plan to do the perp walk and I don't want anyone here doing it either."
  28. 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 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.
  30. The Stratfor emails reveal a company that cultivates close ties with US government agencies and employs former US government staff. It is preparing the 3-year Forecast for the Commandant of the US Marine Corps, and it trains US marines and "other government intelligence agencies" in "becoming government Stratfors". Stratfor's Vice-President for Intelligence, Fred Burton, was formerly a special agent with the US State Department's Diplomatic Security Service and was their Deputy Chief of the counterterrorism division. Despite the governmental ties, Stratfor and similar companies operate in complete secrecy with no political oversight or accountability.  Stratfor claims that it operates "without ideology, agenda or national bias", yet the emails reveal private intelligence staff who align themselves closely with US government policies and channel tips to the Mossad – including through an information mule in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Yossi Melman, who conspired with Guardian journalist David Leigh to secretly, and in violation of WikiLeaks' contract with the Guardian, move WikiLeaks US diplomatic cables to Israel.
  32. Ironically, considering the present circumstances, Stratfor was trying to get into what it called the leak-focused "gravy train" that sprung up after WikiLeaks’ Afghanistan disclosures:
  34.         "[Is it] possible for us to get some of that 'leak-focused' gravy train? This is an obvious fear sale, so that's a good thing. And we have something to offer that the IT security companies don't, mainly our focus on counter-intelligence and surveillance that Fred and Stick know better than anyone on the planet... Could we develop some ideas and procedures on the idea of ´leak-focused' network security that focuses on preventing one's own employees from leaking sensitive information...  In fact, I'm not so sure this is an IT problem that requires an IT solution."
  36. Like WikiLeaks’ diplomatic cables, much of the significance of the emails will be revealed over the coming weeks, as our coalition and the public search through them and discover connections. Readers will find that whereas large numbers of Stratfor's subscribers and clients work in the US military and intelligence agencies, Stratfor gave a complimentary membership to the controversial Pakistan general Hamid Gul, former head of Pakistan's ISI intelligence service, who, according to US diplomatic cables, planned an IED attack on international forces in Afghanistan in 2006. Readers will discover Stratfor's internal email classification system that codes correspondence according to categories such as 'alpha', 'tactical' and 'secure'. The correspondence also contains code names for people of particular interest such as 'Izzies' (members of Hezbollah), or 'Adogg' (Mahmoud Ahmedinejad).
  38. Stratfor did secret deals with dozens of media organisations and journalists – from Reuters to the Kiev Post. The list of Stratfor’s "Confederation Partners", whom Stratfor internally referred to as its "Confed Fuck House" are included in the release. While it is acceptable for journalists to swap information or be paid by other media  organisations, because Stratfor is a private intelligence organisation that services governments and  private clients these relationships are corrupt or corrupting.
  40. WikiLeaks has also obtained Stratfor's list of informants and, in many cases, records of its payoffs, including $1,200 a month paid to the informant  "Geronimo" , handled by Stratfor's Former State Department agent Fred  Burton.
  42. WikiLeaks has built an investigative partnership with more than 25 media organisations and activists to inform the public about this huge body of documents. The organisations were provided access to a sophisticated investigative database developed by WikiLeaks and together with WikiLeaks are conducting journalistic evaluations of these emails. Important revelations discovered using this system will appear in the media in the coming weeks, together with the gradual release of the source documents.
  45. Public partners in the investigation:
  47. More than 25 media partners (others will be disclosed after their first publication):
  49. Al Akhbar – Lebanon –
  50. Al Masry Al Youm – Egypt –
  51. Bivol – Bulgaria –
  52. CIPER – Chile –
  53. Dawn Media – Pakistan –
  54. L'Espresso – Italy –
  55. La Repubblica – Italy –
  56. La Jornada – Mexico –
  57. La Nacion – Costa Rica –
  58. Malaysia Today – Malaysia –
  59. McClatchy – United States –
  60. Nawaat – Tunisia –
  61. NDR/ARD – Germany –
  62. Owni – France –
  63. Pagina 12 – Argentina –
  64. Plaza Publica – Guatemala –
  65. – Spain –
  66. Rolling Stone – United States –
  67. Russia Reporter – Russia –
  68. Ta Nea – Greece –-
  69. Taraf – Turkey –
  70. The Hindu – India –
  71. The Yes Men – Bhopal Activists – Global
  72. Nicky Hager for NZ Herald – New Zealand –

Monday, February 13, 2012

Was US Govt Behind Coup That Toppled Oz PM?

Following revelations that Julia Gillard's staff was drafting an acceptance speech two weeks before she ousted Kevin Rudd as Australian PM, and that Kim Beazley was briefing Hillary Clinton on the leadership change two weeks before it happened, I have compiled the following time-line of known events, including selected text from US Embassy cables.

While there is no smoking gun here, it does show that US officials were keenly interested in leadership speculation, identifying Gillard as a potential successor to Rudd within 8 months of his election victory, and closely monitoring her progress on key issues like Israel and Afghanistan. They were also in close contact with the major players in ALP factions, including Mark Arbib and other "protected" sources. Interestingly, the frenzied ALP leadership jockeying in Canberra during May-June 2010 coincides with Bradley Manning's May 2010 arrest and the frenzied US State Dept diplomacy that followed it.

Make of it what you will!

* * *

 24 November 2007 - Rudd wins election after a campaign in which he called climate change "the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time". He promptly signs the Kyoto Protocol, leaving the USA isolated. Australia withdraws remaining "combat troops" from Iraq.

29 November 2007 - Rudd directly chooses his frontbench, breaking with more than a century of Labor tradition whereby the frontbench was elected by the Labor caucus, with the leader then given the right to allocate portfolios.

13 June 2008 - US Canberrra Embassy cable titled "Deputy PM Julia Gillard Star In Rudd Government" notes:
"At this point, Gillard would have to be considered the front-runner to succeed Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister, which would make her Australia's first female Prime Minister. Several contacts caution, however, that Rudd is ambivalent about Gillard, who is not from Labor's Right Wing like he is, and he will avoid creating a potential rival. By the time Labor is thinking beyond Rudd, Gillard may well face more serious competition....

Many key ALP insiders have told poloffs that Gillard, who joined the ALP as a member of the Victorian branch's Socialist Left faction, is at heart a pragmatist. New South Wales Right powerbroker Mark Arbib (protect) described her as one of the most pragmatic politicians in the ALP. Michael Cooney (protect), from the ALP Right and a former senior adviser to ALP leaders Mark Latham and Kim Beazley, said she has been very impressive as a minister: knowledgeable on the issues, listens to advice from subordinates and civil servants and is not afraid to delegate responsibility. When we reminded Paul Howes (protect), head of the right-wing Australian Workers Union, that ALP Qof the right-wing Australian Workers Union, that ALP politicians from the Left, no matter how capable, do not become party leader, he said immediately: "but she votes with the Right." ...

Although long appearing ambivalent about the Australia-US Alliance, Gillard's actions since she became the Labor Party number two indicate an understanding of its importance... Although warm and engaging in her dealings with American diplomats, it's unclear whether this change in attitude reflects a mellowing of her views or an understanding of what she needs to do to become leader of the ALP. It is likely a combination of the two. Labor Party officials have told us that one lesson Gillard took from the 2004 elections was that Australians will not elect a PM who is perceived to be anti-American."

10 November 2008 - Rudd votes against Israel on two UN resolutions, ending Howard government's unswerving alignment with the United States.

11 Feb 2009 - US Canberrra Embassy cable notes:
"Rudd, who likes to centralize decision-making in any event, undoubtedly believes that with his intellect, his six years as a diplomat in the 1980s and his five years as shadow foreign minister, he has the background and the ability to direct Australia's foreign policy. His performance so far, however, demonstrates that he does not have the staff or the experience to do the job properly... In October, Rudd's self-serving and inaccurate leaking of details of a phone call between President Bush and him cast further doubt on his foreign policy judgment... In January, after the press published a story that the U.S. had asked Australia to accept some Guantanamo detainees, the Government responded to the story by issuing a statement publicly acknowledging our confidential request and stating that they were not likely to accept the detainees."

4 May 2009 - Rudd delays implementing an emissions trading scheme until 2011, defers Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation until 2013.

June 10 2009 - US Canberra Embassy cable titled "Gillard: on Track To Become Australia's Next Prime Minister" notes:
"Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard - who visits Washington later this month - has positioned herself as the heir apparent to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as ALP leader... Gillard, a product of the ALP Left in the state of Victoria, has shifted towards the political center since Rudd became ALP leader and is now a strong supporter of the Australia-US Alliance and Israel. Although she is still seen as a leftist by key right-wing union powerbrokers, that is not likely to stop her from succeeding Rudd as the next leader of the ALP... Gillard recognizes that to become Prime Minister, she must move to the Center, and show her support for the Alliance with the United States... Don Farrell, the right-wing union powerbroker from South Australia told us Gillard is "campaigning for the leadership" and at this point is the front-runner to succeed Rudd, conceding that the Right did not yet have an alternative. Agriculture Minister Tony Burke, one of the early NSW Right backers of the Rudd-Gillard team, confided that Gillard is the clear front runner to succeed Rudd and in the end, the ALP caucus will follow the opinion polls if she is the one the public wants...

At present, the question of a successor to Rudd is probably two elections away. Several Rudd confidantes have told us that Rudd appreciates Gillard and sees her as a possible PM, but that he wants to avoid anointing her to head off a possible leadership challenge when his poll numbers inevitably sag. The PM's brother Greg told us in April that Rudd wants to ensure that there are viable alternatives to Gillard within the Labor Party to forestall a challenge. Mark Arbib once told us a similar story, though he stressed that Rudd appreciates Gillard's strengths. However, another Rudd advisor told us that while the PM respects Gillard, his reluctance to share power will eventually lead to a falling out, while Gillard will not want to acquiesce in creating potential rivals. In the meantime, Gillard has proven her value to the Prime Minister and we expect her to remain the most important member of the Rudd Government, after the Prime Minister himself."

July 2009 - Wikileaks releases report of serious nuclear accident at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility (related to later Stuxnet virus).

July 20 2009 - US Canberra Embassy title "Mark Arbib: Clout-wielding Ascending Leader" notes:
"Arbib is a close adviser to Rudd and is his key conduit to the ALP factions... We have found that Arbib is an astute observer and able conversant in the nuts and bolts of U.S. politics. He understands the importance of supporting a vibrant relationship with the U.S. while not being too deferential. We have found him personable, confident and articulate. A strong supporter of the alliance, he has met with us repeatedly throughout his political rise."

4 August 2009 - US Canberra Embassy cable on ALP Forum:
"Rudd, to the bewilderment of many observers, remains highly popular with voters across the political spectrum. This is the bedrock of Rudd's unchallenged authority over the party."

October 2009 - WikiLeaks publishes Joint Services Protocol 440, a British document advising security services on how to avoid documents being leaked.

Dec 23 2009 - US Canberra Embassy cable discusses Rudd's reshuffled cabinet:
"Foreign Minister Smith stepped out of Rudd's shadow and the resignation of Joel Fitzgibbon as Defense Minister proved to be a blessing for the government. Support for the U.S. Alliance, and the mission in Afghanistan, remained strong.... Labor Right factional powerbroker Mark Arbib - close to the Prime Minister - was rewarded with a ministry despite his inexperience... [Gillard] remains Rudd's clear heir apparent. Colleagues continue to be in awe of her mastery of detail and confident performances...Rudd has unprecedented power for a Labor leader; one MP told us he had never seen a Labor Caucus as subservient to its leader, noting Rudd's control over promotions. Another told us she was surprised at marginal seat holders' acquiescence on the ETS. However, powerbrokers confide the factions will assert themselves when Rudd's popularity wanes."

18 February 2010 - WikiLeaks publishes REYKJAVIK13 cable, dated 13 January 2010. This is the first published Cablegate file.

April 2010 - Polling shows Rudd government was highly popular until this month. Graph here.

April 2010 - WikiLeaks publishes Collateral Murder video.

May 2010 - Bradley Manning is arrested after online chats with Adrian Lamo. US State Dept goes into damage control over release of cables. Australian Mining industry launches media "ad war" against Rudd's Minerals Resource Rent Tax.

10 June 2010 (approx) - Australia's US ambassador and former Labor leader Kim Beazley meets US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to provide a briefing on the coming leadership change.

23 June 2010 - Gillard announces leadership bid for next day.

24 June 2010 - Rudd steps down, becoming the only Australian Prime Minister to be removed from office by his own party during his first term.

October 2010 - WikiLeaks release Iraq War Logs.

December 2010 - Julian Assange is arrested. Fairfax journalist Phillip Dorling publishes WikiLeaks cables (quoted above) showing Australian ALP politicians were in regular contact with the US Embassy.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

An Interesting Chat With Timothy Matusheski

I had an interesting chat this morning with some-time US WikiLeaks lawyer Timothy Matusheski (@SLMCORP1 on Twitter).

Mr Matusheski is a lawyer who found himself in the middle of negotiations between the US Defense Department  and Julian Assange, prior to the release of  the Afghan War Logs, when it was suggested that the US government might want to review and redact the files before they were published. Read this Wired account of the story to better understand the chat below.

Given my own suspicions about Wired's editorial agendas, I first asked if all the details in that story were true.

"Wired reported the facts as I related them to reporters accurately," confirmed Matusheski. "The Pentagon's statements are untrue."

I asked if he'd had any further contact with WikiLeaks or the US government since then.

"I have had contact with the Ames, FBI, etc since that interview," said Matusheski. "Assange too."

I asked if he had been asked to provide evidence to the US Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks.

"The grand jury is not an investigation," explained Matsusheski. "The U.S. Constitution requires the gov. to convince a grand jury that it has enough evidence to try case. The grand jury decides this issue - in secret - and enters a true bill if Gov. meets their burden. If an indictment is returned "True Bill" by a grand jury, the suspect or target is indicted. If it does not return true bill, target is not indicted and does not stand trial, or face charges."

"If I had given testimony before the grand jury, I could not tell you about it. I can tell you that I did not give any evidence to a grand jury ever about anything."

"Would you say that being targeted has effectively stopped you helping WikiLeaks?" I asked. "Or are you still involved?"

"U.S. made me a target of investigation to stop me from helping WL."

Has it worked?

"Yes, it has stopped me, but indirectly only. I am outspoken and told US I would continue to help Assange. Gov. has impeded our ability to communicate."

"There is no evidence regarding me that can be used against Assange. He and WL were a client and I do not disclose confidential info from clients. As you read in Wired, I told them I would only discuss what Assange and I talked about if I saw proof that Assange or WL are an immediate threat to the lives of others. They offered no proof."

I thanked Mr Matusheski for his time and applauded him for supporting Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. The USA needs more lawyers like this!

PS: Thanks to @carwinb for the original heads-up on this. Follow her for WikiLeaks info and please donate to help her go cover the #Manning court-martial.

Tony Crook MP Isn't Gonna Speak Up For Julian

Hello [name redacted],

Tony Crook thanks you for your email and has asked me to respond on his behalf with his views.

As a non-ministerial and non-government member of parliament, Mr Crook and his office are not privy to any diplomatic decisions, diplomatic briefings or diplomatic enquiries.  These decisions are made entirely by DFAT and the Minister for Foreign Affairs.  As such, much of Mr Crook’s understanding about Julian Assange, like any other incident involving an Australia overseas, has been through the media. 
Mr Crook firmly believes that we all have a vested interest in ensuring that Australian citizens, whether in Australia or overseas, are treated properly and afforded the proper protections by the Australian Government.  We should ensure that Mr Assange is afforded all the protections that any Australian overseas would be afforded – and that these protections are not compromised merely because of the status of his case.
Thank you for your email and thank you for voting for Tony Crook at the last election.


Gary Brown

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Reply from Senator Abetz

A WikiLeaks supporter received the following reply from Senator Abetz:

Dear [name withheld],
 Thank you for your email concerning Wikileaks and Julian Assange.
 The question you raise is very broad.
 I had some very serious concerns with what Julian Assange did with Wikileaks. It is tantamount to somebody breaking into your home and stealing your diary and then broadcasting its contents to the rest of the world.
 What it means is that in the future, people will be a lot more circumspect in what they report via email. I am not sure that that will be for the benefit of international relations.
 In relation to Julian Asssange’s personal position, I believe that the rule of law should continue to play out as it has been.
 I trust the above satisfies your enquiry.
 Yours sincerely
 Eric Abetz
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate
Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
Liberal Senator for Tasmania