WikiLeaks had been kind of quiet as of late, but yesterday they enigmatically tweeted that there would be "extraordinary news sometime in the next 96 hours." Soon after, they released the following announcement:
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....
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).
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz............... huh? Oh, I'm sorry I must have dozed off there for a second. Man, I sure can't wait for that extraordinary news to be relea-- wait, that's it?
OK, seriously? Wikileaks thinks this is a big reveal? Seriously? I mean, I'm not gonna lie, I'm personally quite excited. The market for political consulting kinda fascinates me, and this kind of e-mail treasure trove should be a gold mine for research into how Stratfor does what it does -- provided one can separate the fake e-mails from the real thing. Furthermore, IR students the world over who are in desperate need of a thesis idea should be on these emails like fake ash on Ryan Seacrest.
On the whole, however, this ain't that big of a deal. I might be biased here because I've looked into the brain of Stratfor founder George Friedman and come away unimpressed. It could be that a lot of WikiLeaks rhetoric on this issue smacks of massive hypocrisy. It's more than a bit rich, for example, that someone like Julian Assange complains that "the private intelligence industry lacks control placed on government organizations." I hate to break it to Assange, but based on his own actions it seems like the nonprofit intelligence sector is just as unregulated.
This kind of docu-dump says more about Wikileaks and Anonymous than it does about anything else. Wikileaks thinks it's groundbreaking that Stratfor CEO George Friedman had contact with Bush administration power-broker Karl Rove in the fall of 2011. I read the e-mail exchange, and if you think that's groundbreaking, you need to read more interesting things on the interwebs.
Seriously, am I missing anything? Is there anything being revealed that's anything close to revelatory?
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.