Wikileaks: Google caught in spy games on execs and ‘regime change’

Israel/PalestineMiddle EastUS Politics
on 47 Comments
Jared Cohen
Google Idea’s executive Jared Cohen, pictured left, is the subject of several Stratfor email exposed by Wikileaks. (Photo: Fast Company)

Following Wikileaks’ first dump of emails from the global security firm Stratfor last month, another round was released Friday, showing that Google passed on information to Stratfor about an executive’s travels in Egypt– including his meetings with Wael Ghonim, the Google marketing head and Egyptian revolutionary.  Google suspected Jared Cohen, an executive with Google Ideas who had worked in the State Department under Bush and Obama, of coordinating with the Obama administration to astroturf “regime change” in the Middle East.

Also mentioned in the same group of published emails is Israel’s Mossad, which is implicated in using “business spies” to steal trade secrets from a U.S. private intelligence company.

The documents do not provide credible specifics on the Mossad’s infiltration of the intelligence company, or of any wrongdoing on Cohen’s part with respect to an Obama agenda. Rather, they shed light on the extent of Stratfor’s intelligence networks. 

Mossad suspected of spying on U.S. intelligence community

In a series of March 2010 emails comprised of quick sentences and incomplete phrases nostalgically looking back on the U.S.’s former Cold War era spies, Fred Burton, Stratfor’s vice president of counter terrorism, writes to an intelligence officer with the company , Sean Noonan:

Business intelligence.

There is a MOSSAD operative under business cover stealing other companies secrets from this group.

The organization that Mossad was thought to have infiltrated is the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals, an intelligence networking business. Burton does not detail in the emails how he ascertained this information other than writing in a separate email, also to Noonan, that same day:

According to the FBI (not for attribution) the MOSSAD has infiltrated this organization.

About SCIP

The Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) is a global nonprofit membership organization for everyone involved in creating and managing business knowledge. Our mission is to enhance the success of our members through leadership, education, advocacy, and networking.

Google’s ‘in-house’ spies?

In a different set of emails from Burton to a Stratfor analyst, the two discuss Google’s Jared Cohen, and share information passed on from Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt and security director Marty Lev. In the emails, Burton traces Cohen’s whereabouts on business trips to the Middle East, including a January 2011 dinner with Wael Ghonim:

Cohen had dinner in Cairo the night before the Google Exec was picked up by GOE State Security…..one-hour after the dinner, [Ghonim] the Gypo exec was grabbed off the streets heading into a friends apt.
More to follow…..

In a later email from February 2011 titled “Google Shitstorm Moving to Gaza (internal use only)”, Stratfor notes Cohen was planning a trip to several Middle Eastern locations, including Gaza.  In the email, Burton asks, “why hasn’t Google cut ties to Cohen yet?”:

Jared Cohen, the Google policy official who met w/ [Ghonim] the Google Gypo Exec, ONE HOUR before the poor chap was nabbed, is off to Gaza next week….per a very good Google source.

Cohen, a Jew, is bound to get himself whacked….

Google is not clear if Cohen is operating w/a State Dept/WH license, or a hippie activist.

Google may be more important than Obama. Their lefty billionaire owners think they can change the world. I would prefer Google run the world vice the WH.

Burton then followed up the email to Stratfor’s Korena Zucha with a text:

Cohen’s rabbi is [Google chairman] Eric Schmidt and Obama lackey.

My source is trying to find out if the billionaire owners [of Google] are backing Cohen’s efforts for regime change.

I’m thinking about having the Palestinians pick him up.

In the end, Cohen did not travel to Gaza as planned. After receiving the above information, the executive’s bosses at Google recommended he cancel the trip. Burton forwarded an email from Schmidt to a Stratfor researcher, Matt Powers, that said:

By the way – Jared (COHEN) heeded the advice not to go to Turkey or UAE for those meetings. Other Googlers are hosting those meetings. You should see some stories about us hosting a “formers” event in June in Dublin. This is a meeting of 100 former terrorists, gang members, and other basic troublemakers [aimed at deradicalization].

It would seem from the emails that Google executives were consulting Stratfor about Cohen’s travels. Stratfor started spying on Cohen after concerns were raised regarding the executive’s previous employment with the U.S. government under both Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton.  The intelligence reports do not indicate coordination between Cohen and the Obama administration, as suspected. 

47 Responses

  1. Dan Crowther
    March 21, 2012, 9:48 am

    So, where ya at, “Wael Ghonim is a true blue hero” people? – PUH-LEEZE.

    Cohen: Wael, we’re gonna have you arrested, make a huge deal about it, and then make you the face of the “revolution” and everyone will fall for it….you’ll even be able to say, “we don’t want the americans involved” with credibility, because after all, Google isnt the US Government!” (Cue dark, sadistic laughter)

    Ghonim: Alright, then I guess Im getting the steak….

  2. seanmcbride
    March 21, 2012, 9:59 am

    Associated questions: how deeply has Mossad penetrated Google and Facebook? How many Google and Facebook insiders (including both high-level and low-level insiders) might be sympathetic to the political agenda of Mossad? Google’s and Facebook’s private datasets represent an intelligence treasure beyond compare.

    I once had someone who implied that he was Mossad-associated claim, in a threatening way, that he and his organization (the JIDF) could access all my major Internet accounts (including Google) — and he provided proof that he could indeed do so. Ever since that incident I have wondered if Mossad (and less sophisticated organizations like the JIDF, which may or may not be associated with Mossad) have developed networks of operatives in all the major Internet companies. There are unlimited ways to abuse the information controlled by these companies.

    • seafoid
      March 21, 2012, 10:14 am

      I think you overrate Mossad. If Mossad were any use they would have stopped the YESHA project in 1967 . They are like these so called “elite “Republican guards we heard so much about from Saddam’s time.

      • seanmcbride
        March 21, 2012, 10:56 am

        seafoid,

        How have I overrated Mossad? Mossad is perfectly capable of organizing pro-Israel sympathizers all around the world — and at the highest levels of the American government, American academe and Fortune 1000 — into espionage and action networks which in turn are components of a single grand network.

        In the case I just mentioned, a member of the JIDF bragged about his access to all my personal news alerts on Google and other major Internet services. And he did in fact have access. JIDF boasts more than 50,000 followers on Twitter — quite a few of them no doubt have access to private government and corporate databases.

        No high-level Mossad operative would of course be stupid enough to expose this capability. But Mossad can’t exercise perfect control over all the members of its networks, some of whom may not be too bright.

      • seafoid
        March 21, 2012, 12:53 pm

        I think Mossad is made of cardboard.

        You have to remember that there are only 5.5 million Zionists in Israel. The education system is substandard. Israel has zero world class companies. How could Mossad be top notch ?

      • Dan Crowther
        March 21, 2012, 1:43 pm

        Im inclined to agree with seafoid here (per usual, i suppose)

        there are still many lingering “myths”about the Israeli military/intelligence establishment, most of them are unwarranted at this point – we can run down the list in it’s totality, but the ass-whoopin they took in southern lebanon in 06 and the horrible false flags in india and georgia are recent evidence of their diminishing “skills” — I mean, getting caught by hotel surveillance as you do a “hit” is oh so very “Un-Bond” like…….

      • seanmcbride
        March 21, 2012, 1:49 pm

        seafoid,

        Mossad is incredibly effective because it is backed up by the resources of a large global network of highly motivated supporters and assets, many of whom occupy positions of extraordinary power — both in the public and private sectors — in their respective nations (especially the United States). How many pro-Israel activists in the Diaspora would do favors for Mossad if asked? Quite a few — that is a reasonable assumption.

      • seafoid
        March 21, 2012, 3:48 pm

        No way. Take a look at the agenda of any financial conference in Israel. See who Wall St sends to it. Goldman Sachs would sell Israel for 300bps.

        It’s totally parochial and treated as such. What self respecting financial galactico is going to waste his or her time on Israel? There isn’t one decent hotel in the country. Have you ever been in a Tel Aviv restaurant ?? The local dining schmucks think some plonk from the Golan Heights is as good as first growth Bordeaux. Because it’s Jewish.

        Or how about the world’s best – from Israel – Max Brenner Chocolate ?

        link to boston.cbslocal.com

        Israel is all hat no cattle

        Mossad can’t be some Grade A Zen state floating above the general mediocrity.

      • Mooser
        March 21, 2012, 4:11 pm

        I still can’t understand, never could understand, why anybody would come within a mile of those “social media” sites. I simply cannot understand why anyone ever trusted those sites.

      • Chu
        March 21, 2012, 4:17 pm

        Mossad is talked-up too much, It’s like Abe Foxman said in the film Defamation:

        “Foxman tells Shamir that there’s a “very thin line” between the perceptions of Jewish power by anti-Semites and the actual power that Jews have in the world. “Jews are not as powerful… as our enemies think we are.” But we’re not going to try and convince them otherwise, he says.”

      • seanmcbride
        March 21, 2012, 6:13 pm

        seafoid —

        I repeat: Mossad is able to draw on the resources of emotional and patriotic Zionists (both Jewish and non-Jewish) from all around the world and from the highest levels of government and corporate power. Mossad isn’t just about Israel — it’s about an integrated global social and political network.

        Which foreign intel agency in the world, using its human social network, would be better able than Mossad to extract the deepest and most sensitive data from a wide variety of American organizations? AT&T, Bank of America, CIA, Citibank, Comcast, DARPA, DHS, DIA, Facebook, FBI, Google, Harvard, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Justice Department, LAPD, Mastercard, Microsoft, MIT, NSA, NYPD, Oracle, Treasury Department, Verizon, Visa, Yale, etc.?

      • Arnon Shwantzinger Too
        March 21, 2012, 7:03 pm

        “Israel has zero world class companies.”
        Say what???!
        You’re mad!

        The education system for the children of tomorrow may be substandard. This says nothing of the elite today. As far as hi-tech is concerned, Israel is a global power. Hi-tech, as in weapons and computers.

        How would it not be top notch?

      • Keith
        March 21, 2012, 7:27 pm

        MOOSER- You are quite correct. The social media appears to be an integral part of intelligence operations, gathering user supplied information while replacing the mass media as a source of propaganda. Kony 2012 an excellent example of misinformation designed to facilitate a new “humanitarian” intervention. The notion that the elites would take a hands off approach to this new source of information power a pipe dream. I have come to the conclusion that most humans have a virtually unlimited capacity for self-deception. Present company excluded, of course.

      • Dan Crowther
        March 21, 2012, 7:52 pm

        “Which foreign intel agency in the world, using its human social network, would be better able than Mossad to extract the deepest and most sensitive data from a wide variety of American organizations? AT&T, Bank of America, CIA, Citibank, Comcast, DARPA, DHS, DIA, Facebook, FBI, Google, Harvard, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Justice Department, LAPD, Mastercard, Microsoft, MIT, NSA, NYPD, Oracle, Treasury Department, Verizon, Visa, Yale, etc.?”
        ——————————————–

        Any intelligence agency in the world can “extract the deepest and most sensitive data” from these places – and they have….the israeli’s arent super human, and neither are their comrades……

      • seanmcbride
        March 22, 2012, 9:04 am

        Dan,

        Do you and seafoid have any particular foreign intelligence services in mind that command more effective human social networks and resources than Mossad at the most strategic American institutions? Can you name them?

      • Dan Crowther
        March 22, 2012, 9:21 am

        Sean,

        The reason why these conversations are kind of, well, dumb in my opinion, is that “commanding more effective human social networks” is not something you can quantify – especially because these guys are supposed to be doing this stuff in secret. Its usually the guys you havent heard of that are truly “commanding effective human networks” and so on.

        I would say Russia’s intelligence services are pretty good at what they’re doing, you hear about one of their guys getting caught every once in a great while, but with them its usually after they’ve been at it (here in the US) for decades – the “russian couple from Cambridge Ma.” being one of the latest examples. And I would say that communist/state socialist sympathizers also provide a “global network” etc.

        My point wasnt to say that Mossad, its sympathizers etc ARE’NT trying their hardest to infiltrate/spy/steal etc – its that I dont think they’re any better at it than other folks – especially cuz they’re always getting caught!! ha.

        Now, when they get caught (grant smith’s latest this morning is a good example) they do indeed get treated differently, and their “elite networks” play a role in that, to be sure. But the question originally was about effectiveness, and in the “spy game” effectiveness generally means “not getting caught” or ” not leaving your fingerprints all over the place” and when it comes to these standards, Mossad is a total clown show.

      • seanmcbride
        March 22, 2012, 1:01 pm

        Dan,

        For every Israeli op that is uncovered in the US there are probably thousands or more that go undetected for eternity — which is the way effective ops are supposed to work.

        Is there a highly energized Russia lobby present in the United States to match the Israel lobby in wealth, power, motivation, commitment, dedication, etc.? No, there is not. But Mossad has a very large pool of potential operatives to recruit in the United States, many of them in very high places in government, business and high tech, on the basis of intensely emotional ethnic, religious, ideological and patriotic factors. And Israel, because of its precarious position in the world, is much more aggressive in trying to spy on and control the American political system than any other nation on the planet.

        You said: “Mossad is a total clown show.” I’m betting that it could eat your lunch with little effort without you having the slightest idea that it had been eaten. You greatly underestimate the capabilities of Mossad, in my opinion.

        How great an interest do you think Mossad would take in the assets and resources of Google and Facebook? How many friends within those organizations would be eager and willing to help Mossad if called upon for assistance?

      • seanmcbride
        March 22, 2012, 1:17 pm

        Dan,

        You wrote,

        “The reason why these conversations are kind of, well, dumb in my opinion, is that “commanding more effective human social networks” is not something you can quantify….”

        Actually, quite a few people who are not so dumb *are* quantifying these matters with some success using a combination of social network analysis, data mining, psychological profiling, political profiling, predictive analytics, etc. There are patterns and correlations in the open and visible data that can point to and uncover patterns and correlations in the hidden and invisible data.

        Have there been high-level members of the Obama, Bush 43 and Clinton administrations who would have been motivated to cooperate with Russian intelligence services? None that come to mind. With regard to Israel? That is a different matter entirely. The ethno-religious ideology of Zionism has an ironclad grip on the minds and emotions of many influential Americans. Russian ethnic nationalism and Russian patriotism — not so much.

      • Dan Crowther
        March 22, 2012, 1:35 pm

        “For every Israeli op that is uncovered in the US there are probably thousands or more that go undetected for eternity — which is the way effective ops are supposed to work.”
        ————————————-
        Sure. I agree, there “probably” are ops that go undetected.

        “Is there a highly energized Russia lobby present in the United States to match the Israel lobby in wealth, power, motivation, commitment, dedication, etc.? No, there is not.”
        ——————————————-
        You were asking me about other intelligence agencies, not lobbies. But sure, I agree here – although I would say, Russia being Russia, they dont “need” a fanatical lobby to do their bidding, their agenda is pretty much the “western state capitalist agenda” for lack of a better term, they are a key cog in the wheel, as it were. I also agree with your statements about “israels precarious place in the world” and their actions that stem from it.

        “You said: “Mossad is a total clown show.” I’m betting that it could eat your lunch with little effort without you having the slightest idea that it had been eaten. You greatly underestimate the capabilities of Mossad, in my opinion.”
        ————————————————
        Yeah, I don’t know about that. I’m a former Marine communications/intel analyst myself, also was a grunt unit radio operator. Ive been around “spooks” and also a large number of US military brass(they cant work a radio to save their life), and from firsthand experience, they take what comes from “mossad” with a grain of salt(cant speak about civilians, wasnt around them). For the simple fact that they are always saying the same thing.
        Whatever else is true about most other “intelligence agencies” their reports are pretty devoid of ideology, at least at the collection/dissemination stages – the opposite is true of Israeli intelligence – they “know” what they want to find, and then they make sure they “find it”. But this has nothing to do with the discussion here – I don’t want to diminish mossads capacity for infiltrating facebook and such, Im just not sure that’s a hallmark of a “elite” intelligence agency.

        “How great an interest do you think Mossad would take in the assets and resources of Google and Facebook? How many friends within those organizations would be eager and willing to help Mossad if called upon for assistance?”
        ————————————
        They are probably really interested, the same could be said about any intelligence agency. As to their friends, I dunno, like I said before, this kind of thing can’t be quantified.

        Truth be told, I’m alot more worried about the US Intelligence apparatus and all that comes with it — having seen some of these cats up close, they force one to ask: could these guys have mothers? are they really human?

        I just want to make clear, I was never involved in any sort of “Intel Ops” or anything, but where I was, was also the staging area for guys that definitely were involved in such things, and I was also privy to conversations that took place in my presence.

      • Dan Crowther
        March 22, 2012, 1:55 pm

        Have there been high-level members of the Obama, Bush 43 and Clinton administrations who would have been motivated to cooperate with Russian intelligence services? None that come to mind. With regard to Israel? That is a different matter entirely. The ethno-religious ideology of Zionism has an ironclad grip on the minds and emotions of many influential Americans. Russian ethnic nationalism and Russian patriotism — not so much.
        —————————————–
        haha. again, i agree.

        i would add though, that US intelligence and the military are aware of this sort of thing – its very rare to find jewish guys in military intelligence, and I know one of my buddies (who was jewish) had by far the most rigorous screening process for his security clearance, and I think the same can be said about certain civilians in the state dept etc. I mean, they were investigating Feith as soon has came on board (not without good reason)

        I want to be clear, Im not trying to diminish the “efforts” on the part of “committed zionist” and their sympathizers etc – I just disagree with the “they’re more effective” part. We largely agree, just maybe not to the same degree.

      • seanmcbride
        March 22, 2012, 2:36 pm

        Dan —
        Have you stopped to think about the kinds of malicious ops a sophisticated intel agency could run against its “enemies” using Google’s and Facebook’s private datasets? Use your imagination. The possibilities are endless. If you’ve read Victor Ostrovsky’s and Gordon Thomas’s books on the subject, you will know that Mossad has a special talent in this domain.

      • Dan Crowther
        March 22, 2012, 3:08 pm

        Like I said– Im pretty much with you here, Sean my brother. I have read Gideon’s Spies and seen the “spy machine”

        i think its a really interesting subject as well, especially Ari Ben Menashe, who did most of his dirt as a de facto CIA agent, during the iran contra affair. there is so much overlap and such within these agencies, its hard to make sure who is working for who and so on, let alone being able to declare who is more “efficient” etc….

      • seafoid
        March 22, 2012, 6:16 pm

        As far as hi-tech is concerned, Israel is a global power. Hi-tech, as in weapons and computers.

        the Financial times Weekend edition devotes a full page to American and other international stocks. There are around 500 US companies quoted, 9 Turkish, 4 New Zealand, 8 norwegian, over 100 Japanese etc and zero Israeli. That’s how world class the Israeli corporate world is.

      • Thomson Rutherford
        March 22, 2012, 5:53 pm

        seafoid says,

        I think you overrate Mossad.
        and,
        I think Mossad is made of cardboard.

        seafoid, I think you are in denial about the importance of Mossad. The interesting question is why. Is it naivite? If you had been following for the last several decades publicly-available reports and descriptions of widespread Mossad operations in the U.S. and worldwide, you would not have made statements like the above without a reason. Is the desire to protect Mossad’s operations from American public awareness the same tribal concern that motivates many Jews to deny the significance of the ‘Israel Lobby’, broadly defined, which undoubtedly has informal (read: largely hidden) ties with Mossad and helps make that foreign intelligence organization so effective in identifying willing collaborators?

        And this,
        It’s [Israel's] totally parochial and treated as such. What self respecting financial galactico is going to waste his or her time on Israel?

        You’re out to lunch. Let’s start with Stanley Fischer, an Israeli-American currently Governor of the Bank of Israel, formerly Chief Economist of the World Bank, a former high official of the IMF who was recently a top contender for the position of Managing Director of the IMF. Fischer for years was Professor of Economics at MIT and has enormous influence in the fields of international macroeconomics and financial economics, as theorist, empiricist, and mentor. When he speaks, as with Bernanke, the world of finance listens.

        Fischer’s career is not unusual among Israeli-American economists and financial experts. For example, look up the biographies of Don Patinkin, William Baumol, and Daniel Kahneman, to name only a few among many. Since the end of WWII, the field of economics in America, including financial economics and mathematical finance, has been dominated by Jews. For the entire life of the the Jewish State, many of these top experts at schools such as U. of Chicago, U. of Rochester, Carnegie-Mellon, Cornell, Harvard, MIT, etc., have had personal ties to Israel, through thick and thin. These scholars have been involved in the granting of Ph.D.s in economics or finance to thousands of Jewish students who have gone on to compile riches on Wall Street, in many cases carrying their personal ties to Israel with them.

        And you want to tell me no respected or self-respecting financial expert or high official or top executive is going to want to spend time on pathetic little Israel? Pull your head out, seafoid.

      • seafoid
        March 22, 2012, 6:31 pm

        I don’t buy that. I work with Israelis.

        Israel is a backwater. What sort of added value does the Israeli economy generate every year? As much as Florida ? You can see it in the calibre of Israel’s politicians or its businesspeople.

        If Israel was world class it wouldn’t have Lieberman as foreign minister. It wouldn’t be into year 44 of the occupation.

        Israel is like a hedge fund that went long on brutality. The market is going to catch it. And who is the white prince of Israeli politics? Danny Danon. I wouldn’t put him in charge of a field of sparrows.

        Most of those elite Jews end up working on Wall St They may be very smart but how smart is it to flow money towards Bibi and the settlers? Is anyone doing any thinking? Force and money will do the trick, will they? Concentrate really hard Israel and you’ll make it.

        How many of them want to take on the much more difficult job of turning Israel around ? How many of them are going to be there for Israel when it falls apart?

        Israel is emotional. It’s not rational. And the world isn’t emotional.

    • Les
      March 21, 2012, 12:58 pm

      In today’s Democracy Now, James Bamford barely touched on his prior reporting about Israel owned US communications pipelines and Israel owned software to store and analyze the voice and email traffic. At the time of that reporting, the House of Representatives was well aware that its phone system was Israel owned so members knew that all their phone conversations were being listened to by Israeli “allies” of the US just to be sure which members of Congress were or were not toeing the line as promised to AIPAC.

    • Without Walls
      March 21, 2012, 1:42 pm

      who is the professor of both law and computer technology who advocates for some technology that could make each person his own ‘server’? I think he’s at Columbia.

  3. Annie Robbins
    March 21, 2012, 11:56 am

    when i first heard about this i did a lot of googling around because i really didn’t know what to make of it. thanks for laying it all out in a straightforward linear fashion.

    The intelligence reports do not indicate coordination between Cohen and the Obama administration, as suspected.

    yeah, nothing seemed really confirmed. i did read somewhere the upshot of the whole thing was the state department’s placement of operatives in corporate executive positions. should have saved the link. still only speculate tho.

  4. LeaNder
    March 21, 2012, 12:41 pm

    Interesting, Allison, one minor point, if you allow?

    In a different set of emails from Burton to a Stratfor analyst, the two discuss Google’s Jared Cohen, and share information passed on from Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt and security director Marty Lev.

    I have stored in my gray cells a slight suspicion concerning Stratfor crowd. No doubt a highly well paid business, but what is the quality of the information they sell?

    I find it hard to believe that the Google CEO Eric Schmidt (who is about to publish a book with Jared Cohen this year) and his security director Marty Lev pass on private information about a colleague. Really hard to believe. Strictly I think Marty has work now.

    Database:

    StratforLeaks: Google Ideas Director Involved in ‘Regime Change’

    Top Google execs, including the company’s CEO and one of Barack Obama’s major presidential campaign donors Eric Schmidt, informed the intelligence agency Stratfor about Google’s activities and internal communication regarding “regime change” in the Middle East, according to Stratfor emails released by WikiLeaks and obtained by Al-Akhbar. The other source cited was Google’s director for security and safety Marty Lev.

    What am I missing, if I am left with the impression that the only evidence for a cooperation between the Google execs and Stratfor is based on the subject title of an email?

    398679_GOOGLE’s Jared Cohen update

    Date 2011-02-14 16:25:24
    From [email protected]
    To [email protected]
    [email protected]
    Others MessageId:
    InReplyTo: [email protected]
    Text
    Marty Lev, the security director and Eric Schmidt the CEO (GOOGLE)
    George Friedman wrote:
    > We need your sources classified in our system. I have no idea who this
    > source is, where he is located or how reliable he is. You have
    > fantastic and invaluable sources but you have to get with Stick to
    > build them into our system. Otherwise we can’t make good use of them.
    > Please get together on this guys.
    >…

    Would be interesting to have these complete files.

    • seanmcbride
      March 21, 2012, 12:58 pm

      Marty Lev — what is his political profile? Eric Schmidt — his political profile? Their personal social networks?

      These people have enormous power over the most highly sensitive personal data of many millions of people worldwide. Consider the email stores alone — an unbelievable record of many of the most significant details in one’s life (including account numbers, passwords, plans, contacts, etc.). Could that data be used for sinister purposes? You bet.

    • American
      March 21, 2012, 2:16 pm

      This is probably what you remember about Stratfor. I use to read their reports and thought I had good source until I started noticing their more intelligent reports were basically copied or plagarized from more official agency intelligence sources. I wouldn’t put much stock in their internal emails.

      link to turcopolier.typepad.com

      Dr. Brenner on “Stratfor”

      Curiosity prompted me to peruse some of the material placed on the web today by Wikileaks. My curiosity was whetted by Startfor’s location only a mile or so from the University of Texas. Moreover, a few students of mine have penetrated the inner sanctum as interns. Here are my impressions based on my examination of the material and the testimony of those interns. They concentrate on Stratfor as a phenomenon rather than on the substance of the leaked documents which are pretty anodyne.

      Stratfor is a sleazy outfit. It was established as a money machine by George Friedman and a former Texas Congressman (now out of the picture) who served at one time on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. His being the co-founder along with the presence in the vicinity of numerous retired military people and civilian officials helps explain the selection of Austin as the company’s home. They hustle; everything they do smacks of a hustle. They exploit the student interns while playing on their desire to partake of the mysterious and the romantic. Those they do hire for regular positions get the skimpiest of wages. Expertise and languages are little valued. Their hallmark tool is an electronic pair of scissors. One student had spent four years as an interrogator for the U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. He served as an employee of a contract firm there. His first assignment as a junior member of the Stratfor team was to prowl around the Rio Grande Valley looking for stuff on the drug cartels; he never had been there before.

      Stratfor cultivates a mystique of secrecy and insider intelligence because in fact they have little to sell that is exceptional. They use open sources and communicate with old pals in and around government to get a feel for what’s going on. The Wikileaks material corroborates this, and it provides the further insight that they pay people for information and/or contacts. Those people include journalists, politicos, the occasional academic and professional tattlers. Sources and clients seem to overlap, i.e. Stratfor plays both ends against the middle. Having been shown a couple of Stratfor reports, I am singularly unimpressed by the supposedly inside information and the quality of the analysis.

      The most stunning feature of the operation is that they induce many large organizations to pay them hefty fees for ‘customized’ analyses which, at times, pass as the product of an intelligence investigation. Coca Cola, for example, lined their pockets for providing answers to a set questions about the aims, intentions and means of PETA which they feared might disrupt the winter Olympics in Vancouver where the company had an advertising stake. The information requested could have been uncovered by a five minute web search. Evidently, Coca Cola’s tens of thousands of employees do not include anyone capable of conducting such a search. Management, of course, derives greater reassurance when the product is received from a super secret unit with cachet.

      Even more baffling is that Stratfor does contract work for agencies of the United States government. The Marine Corps has been one of its clients. Apparently, the latter found itself in need of an external source to supply training materials on the global Muslim threat. In light of exposes about the appallingly bigoted writings, films and lectures imposed on FBI and NYPD officers, seeking new providers is not a bad idea in principle – even though one might reasonably expect that after ten years in the region the Marines might know enough not to throw Korans onto bonfires as did their Air Force counterparts. Still, relying on a dubious bunch like Stratfor is not reassuring. The leaked communications give no indication of what was served up.

      The tenor of the communications conveys the sense of a crass outfit populated by fatuous people. There is an adolescent quality to it. Code words, lots of expletives, a self-conscious secrecy about their doings, generally a ‘wow aren’t we clever’ atmosphere. The whole thing a frat house prank or a community college “Skull & Bones.” My own attempts to contact them ran into this secret society mentality. A suite address but restricted entry; no telephone numbers for the principles or email addresses; the aura of an ultra, ultra select coterie of initiates.

      Stratfor strikes me as emblematic of what’s perverse about the consulting cum information universe. Supposedly grave matters trivialized, deformed and used as cover to make big bucks for hustlers and charlatans. As for the institutions that make use of their services? well let’s just say that there must be something deeply unsatisfying at home . Brenner

      • LeaNder
        March 21, 2012, 5:15 pm

        American, of course you are right. I respect and trust Michael Brenner, and why not safe yourself a little time by simply accepting other people’s knowledge? I like a few people over there and Pat of course. Sic semper tyrannis is the blog I support besides this one. I think it shows. ;)

        The discussion of Goldberg’s last piece was interesting. (Take a look at the warmongering fanbase of Goldberg, then you will understand my preferences.) Let me pick my two favorite comments:

        Babak Makkinejad said in reply to jdledell…

        Israelis are supreme realists. I doubt very seriously an attack by them. I expect something to happen to any Israeli leader who would try to issue such an order.

        I also think that a serious consequence of attacking Iran – by Israel – is this: a millenial-long and abiding hatred by the Shia of Iran for the State of Israel.

        If Israeli leaders wish to make Israel the moral equivalent of the Omavids and themselves those of Yazid, Shmr, and other Evil-Doers of Kerbala in the eyes of Iranians, well let them do so.

        Even now, in this late in day, the Hudna offer of HAMAS might still be possible.

        After Israel attack on Iran there only course of action will be a prolonged religious war; in my opinion.

        and:

        jdledell said…

        I firmly believe Bibi is bluffing. As I indicated earlier, the IAF has a problem with reliable refueling aircraft. To put it bluntly there is no way that the IAF is going to risk their most strategic and expensive assets on this iffy mission. Israel only has 25 of the F-15 Strike Eagles which are the planes needed to drop the bunker busters. In addition, they would have to use half of their latest F-16 Sufa planes for escort and anti-air suppression.

        Can you imagine what would happen if a couple of their 707 refuelers had mechanical problems and/or were shot down while thirsty IAF planes were on their way back from Iran? Where would the planes go? Incirlik? Kurdistan? Al Udeid? Any way you look at it, this has high potential for disaster for the IAF with the potential to lose, or have impounded, their most important assets.

      • LeaNder
        March 21, 2012, 5:22 pm

        a prolonged religious war

        is of course something some seem to want to bring about. The famous clash of cultures, remember?

      • Mooser
        March 21, 2012, 6:43 pm

        I still think all the Israelis have to do is get things rolling. At that point the US will reflexively get in. When the same people who benefit from war are the people who determine if we go to war, it’s pretty much a given.
        Getting the Iranians to make the first move would, of course, be the most-preferred course. But even if Israel attacks Iran, everybody will forget that when the Israelis start screaming about getting “wiped off the map”. Which makes it more of an advantage for Israel to be unprepared. The quicker they can scream “Help, those Iranians are killing us” the quicker the US will come to their rescue.

    • Brewer
      March 22, 2012, 3:32 am

      “what is the quality of the information they sell?”

      During the Iraq War when a blogger kept throwing Stratfor in my face I did an analysis of their info and predictions (I doubt I can dig it up now but I will try if anyone is interested). The wet-behind-the-ears blogger had been turned on to Stratfor by a Zionist Politics professor (who subsequently got sacked for abusing an Arab student by the way).

      Its a snake oil outfit. Their prognostications regarding the Iraq War were pro the Bush line – laughable now.
      Good business model – sell dollar each way bets to gullible clients, most of whom seem to be of the student, wannabe foreign affairs type. No-one in our Government of the time took them seriously. Kind of outfit that can tell you precisely what is about to happen then, after the due date, can tell you exactly why it didn’t.

  5. Citizen
    March 21, 2012, 6:07 pm

    Speaking of spy games, this NASA scientist got nabbed like Franklin did–why is it only AIPAC member spies for Israel are immune? link to washingtonexaminer.com

    • Robert
      March 21, 2012, 6:29 pm

      Thanks for the link. This sucks. I knew Stewart Nozette at the California Space Institute in La Jolla. Nice guy, passionate for space. He was instrumental in the “Clementine” spacecraft to detect water on the Moon.

      I guess that he was naive beyond imagining. The sentence is fair, I wish that he hadn’t done it.

  6. Arnon Shwantzinger Too
    March 22, 2012, 5:55 am

    The original Wikileaks documents were redacted.
    A few days before Der Spiegel, and Guardian all came out with their explosive stories, a story appeared in the Israeli press.
    It was Bibi. He was all smiles and he told the Israeli public that “Israel had nothing to worry about”. He was right.

    There is absolutely nothing damaging to Israel in all the documents. Nothing about the assassination attempt on Haled Mashal’s life in Jordan. Not even low-level documents from the US embassy in Tel-Aviv.
    Guess which spy agency Assange was wary of?
    You betcha!

    As Allison writes of this current batch: “The documents do not provide credible specifics on the Mossad’s infiltration of the intelligence company”
    and they never will…

  7. seanmcbride
    March 22, 2012, 3:07 pm

    Note: JIDF — a Kahanist group which has more than 52,000 followers on Twitter link to twitter.com — is closely monitoring Mondoweiss:

    BEGIN TWEET

    JIDF: ….bizarre conspiracy theories and lies found in comment sections of the antisemitic “Mondo-Weiss” site link to t.co

    END TWEET

  8. seanmcbride
    March 22, 2012, 3:22 pm

    On the Israeli espionage front, from Sic Semper Tyrannis:

    link to turcopolier.typepad.com

    BEGIN QUOTE

    Israel’s Nuclear Triggers: Secret files reveal brazen espionage and dangerous immunity

    by Grant F. Smith

    …claims that Milchan was recruited into Israel’s LAKAM economic espionage unit in his 20s and became a key operative for Benjamin Blumberg (head of LAKAM) and Rafi Eitan (who ran Jonathan Pollard and infiltrated NUMEC). Milchan is also the close confidant of Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu. According to the book, Blumberg himself taught Milchan how to establish front companies and secret bank accounts to launder millions in commissions obtained during LAKAM and Mossad arms transactions. In turn, it was Milchan who encouraged Smyth in 1972 to incorporate MILCO and share profits on export sales to his Tel Aviv-based Milchan Brothers company. Milchan Brothers received purchase orders from Blumberg and sent them on via secure telex to Smyth. MILCO did 80% of its business with Milchan, including shipments of other dual-use technologies useful to Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons program such as gyroscopes, neutron generators, high-speed oscilloscopes, and computerized flight control systems. According to the book, after Smyth was ordered to appear before a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, LAKAM issued a burn notice. Milchan claimed, “I felt bad, but I was ordered to cut all contact with Smyth.” Milchan still officially denies any involvement in MILCO/Heli’s kryton smuggling…

    …Perhaps trying not to be outdone, President Barack Obama announced at AIPAC’s Washington conference that he will soon take center stage in the Israeli nuclear Théâtre de l’Absurde. According to author Avner Cohen, Israeli President Shimon Peres was a key architect of Israel’s nuclear weapons program from its very beginning. In 2010, scholar Sasha Polakow-Suransky released secret documents revealing how Peres even offered to sell nuclear-tipped Jericho missiles to the foundering apartheid regime in South Africa. That is why this summer, when Obama personally awards Peres a Presidential Medal of Freedom, he’ll be conferring America’s highest civilian award to the Middle East’s most notorious nuclear proliferator.

    link to original.antiwar.com

    END QUOTE

  9. Maidhc
    March 23, 2012, 2:17 am

    I’ve been writing about Cohen’s role in regime change since March 2011.

    site:thepassionateattachment.com Jared Cohen

  10. Justice Please
    March 25, 2012, 4:18 pm

    Might I inquire to Mondo staff why my comment about Carl Camerons documentary on Israeli spying in the US was not published?

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