#STRATFOR Inflitrates #Occupy Austin and Deep Green Resistance
(Editor’s Note: This column was written by the founder of Arm The Homeless, Ryan Nelson, and was published in print and online on February 13, 2012 by The Daily O’Collegian.)
On Dec. 25, the Internet “hackivist” group Anonymous hacked into the servers of a private intelligence firms called STRATFOR.
Among the stolen data were more than 50,000 credit card numbers, 25,000 phone numbers, 86,594 emails (many of them .gov and .mil domains), and 40,000 encrypted passwords. They also gained access to STRATFOR’s email database, which is proving to be one of the “lulziest” hacks by Anonymous thus far.
Members of Anonymous claim they have obtained more than 200 gigabytes of data and 500,000 internal emails.
Since the initial hack, Anonymous has been slowly releasing email threads online.
Although the emails they have released thus far have been no more than embarrassing for the company, their most recent revelation was anything but funny.
An email thread from within STATFOR’s private internal email database from Marc Lanthemann, a STRATFOR “watch officer” or undercover intelligence agent, described his infiltration of Occupy Austin and the Texas chapter of the radical environmental group Deep Green Resistance.
This leak was published online by Anonymous on Jan. 26.
Lanthemann goes on to describe Deep Green Resistance as an eco-terrorist group working with Occupy Austin. “Eco-terrorism” being defined as the destruction or sabotage of infrastructure as a means of protecting the environment.
Or it could be that so called “eco-terror” has a smaller carbon footprint than the usual terror (most usually perpetrated by the U.S. government). Either way, I like the sound of it.
He also goes on to describe Deep Green Resistance as a movement inspired by Nazism, implying that their goal is to reduce the world population dramatically in order to save the planet.
As someone who has extensively researched Deep Green Resistance and served as a part-time organizer for the Oklahoma chapter, I can tell you with absolute certainty that Lanthemann has no idea what he is talking about when he says that DGR wants to blow up pipelines because they are Nazi-inspired environmentalists. This uneducated elaboration of DGR further solidifies my opinion that the so-called intelligence industry is rather incompetent and is not deserving of the title “intelligent” at all.
Furthermore, the fact that intelligence firms, who also have contracts with governmental intelligence agencies, are spying on and infiltrating activist organizations should be very concerning to say the least. Although, this should come as no surprise that these sorts of unethical and disturbing activities occur.
The FBI deployed counter-intelligence agents to infiltrate the Civil Rights Movement, Black Panther Party, and the anti-war movements in the 60s and used such tactics as wiretapping, intimidation, and even assassination to disrupt and sabotage the movements.
The United States is quickly becoming a surveillance state where private contractors and government agencies spy on citizens who are organizing against corruption and wrongdoing within the government and the corporate world (as if the two are really separate).
Yet, the public outrage is minimal and the press coverage is nonexistent. However, within activist communities, something long overdue is brewing beneath the surface. There is a transformation occurring in which activist organizations are becoming full-fledged resistance groups.
Just yesterday, Occupy Oakland attempted to take over city hall. They stormed the building, destroyed displays, cut electrical wire, and burned an American flag. On the outside of the building, Anarchists spray painted the word “REVENGE” in retaliation of police brutality against protestors in recent months.
Like it or not, a global uprising is building up behind the scenes. It seems governments are taking notice and are beginning to gather intelligence on activist groups who want a radically new government or no government at all.
I predict that World War III will not be between governments, but between governments and their people. It becomes more evident everyday that even our own government isn’t what it seemed, and people are beginning to realize that; that our government is a fascist/totalitarian government that calls itself a democracy.
Perhaps it is time for you to begin to take notice of the world in which you live, and maybe you will realize that you are unhappy with the current state of affairs. Perhaps you will wake up from the hypnotic trance you’ve been in all of your life and you will find the will and courage to take action.
There is a war going on for your mind. It’s time you either choose to fight with those who wish to live in a free, just, and sustainable world, or you continue on with your daily lives by forgetting this column and stand idly by as the world crumbles around you.
This choice is yours. For all of our sake, let’s hope you make the right one.
Stratfor vs. Anonymous
When I first heard that Anonymous had infiltrated the servers of a private intelligence-gathering firm, I thought it happened because it was easy to obtain. Low-hanging fruit if you will.
Anonymous’ anonymous Twitter spokesperson @YourAnonNews tweeted after obtaining the data, “Happy LulzXmas @STRATFOR | Thanks for storing your customers’ CC/CCV #s in cleartext, w/corresponding addresses. Y u no bother encrypting?”
I’ve always thought of Anonymous as knee-jerking graffiti artist rebels. They respond to a situation, come together and DDOS a website until it goes down. Afterwards, the victimized organization cleans up, like painting away the graffiti, and Anonymous moves on to the next spot.
But this Stratfor thing is different.
I found it shocking that a firm with ties to the Department of Defense, Israeli Defense Forces and Fortune 500 companies had failed to encrypt their data. After a cursory look at their website and history, I believed the company was just an aggregator of news from around the world compiled specifically for paying clients. Turns out they were also collecting their own intelligence by using sources culled from the media, military forces, governments and corporations.
And now Anonymous has partnered with Wikileaks to make a splash with the over 5 million internal Stratfor emails collected from their hacking operation. Previously, most of the hacker group’s finds would be released on Pastebin, an early web site that looks more like HTML code than a word processor. By going through Wikileaks, Anonymous has found a partner that is capable of marketing the vast trove of emails to news sources who can synthesize the newsworthy information.
This marks a turn for the hacking collective that has remained relatively embedded in niche internet communities like IRC and 4chan. It shows a realization that their work, which has been maligned as vandalism, has a broader value than them just flexing their muscles.
Emboldened by the Occupy Wall Street movement, which Anonymous helped organize and publicize, the collective is becoming far more politically active. They have set their sites on the intersection of big corporations, government agencies and the media. Stratfor represents the perversion of those three groups. Stratfor works for big companies by acting like an international media organization. But they shun the ethics of standard journalism by paying sources and giving them significant cover. Not to mention their employees think they’re spies.
Emails are coming out hourly at this point showing the scope of their investigations. They investigated PETA for Coca-Cola before the Vancouver Olympics. They tracked Bhopal activists for the Dow Chemical company who were angered over the company’s handling of the Bhopal gas disaster in India that has been related to over 25,000 deaths in the city. The company even had an idea to partner with Goldman Sachs to start a “captive strategic investment fund.”
“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” Wrote Stratfor CEO George Friedman in an August 2011 email.
These details are just a small taste of what may be a trove of data related to this “Intelligence” company. It also represents a significant development in journalism. It shows how tech savvy activists can become revolutionary news-gatherers.
But this case also highlights a perversion of the form. Journalism used to be about making things public. It was about confirming and fact-checking, being right, being truthful and investigating the rich and powerful at every opportunity. What we have with Stratfor is a quasi media company specializing in serving powerful interests for money.
And yet, they’re trying to make Anonymous look bad. Here’s what they wrote in their press release shortly after the announcement of the release of the emails on Feb. 27:
In December, thieves compromised Stratfor’s data systems and stole a large number of company emails, along with other private information of Stratfor readers, subscribers and employees. Those stolen emails apparently will be published by Wikileaks. This is a deplorable, unfortunate — and illegal — breach of privacy.
Some of the emails may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic. We will not validate either. Nor will we explain the thinking that went into them. Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimized twice by submitting to questioning about them.
They are claiming that their own internal communications may have been forged or altered, although “some may be authentic.” They refuse to answer questions about them or explain their reasoning behind them. They claim to be the victim.
They refuse to ask themselves whether they were breaching people’s privacy by investigating activists for large corporations. They don’t consider their ideas of profiting off insider information with Goldman Sachs ethically questionable. In fact, because they have been investigated, they now believe they are being victimized.
We are currently living in a security state where even the most mundane operations of our government are considered confidential. Any journalist that has attempted a FOIA knows how difficult and time-consuming the process is to obtain information that should be publicly available. It’s this kind of culture that allows a company like Stratfor to profit and that’s scary.
This may not be the big breaking story that Wikileaks needed to rescue its reputation after not leaking anything significant since the diplomatic files, but it’s a big step for Anonymous. It shows a hacking collective developing from a group of light-hearted vandal lulzers to a politically oriented investigative organization.