Stratfor’s analysis helped refine our Global Contextual Framework. Stratfor provide an independent take on geopolitical developments. They criticize governments of all political stripes. Stratfor were also hacked, almost certainly by Anonymous. Subscriber credit cards details and contact information were leaked. They say there is no such thing as bad publicity. We hope this proves to be the case with Stratfor. May their subscription service and commissioned analysis go from strength to strength. Stratfor’s type of analysis should not be the sole preserve of government.
While we disagree with the choice of target for the hack and with the release of private contact details and credit card information, the reasoning behind the hack makes some valid points:
Stratfor was not breached in order to obtain customer credit card numbers, which the hackers in question could not have expected to be as easily obtainable as they were. Rather, the operation was pursued in order to obtain the 2.7 million e-mails that exist on the firm’s servers. This wealth of data includes correspondence with untold thousands of contacts who have spoken to Stratfor’s employees off the record over more than a decade. Many of those contacts work for major corporations within the intelligence and military contracting sectors, government agencies, and other institutions for which Anonymous and associated parties have developed an interest since February of 2011, when another hack against the intelligence contractor/security firm HBGary revealed, among many other things, a widespread conspiracy by the Justice Department, Bank of America, and other parties to attack and discredit Wikileaks and other activist groups. Since that time, many of us in the movement have dedicated our lives to investigating this state-corporate alliance against the free information movement. For this and other reasons, operations have been conducted against Booz Allen Hamilton, Unveillance, NATO, and other relevant institutions. The bulk of what we’ve uncovered thus far may be reviewed at a wiki maintained by my group Project PM, echelon2.org.
Although Stratfor is not necessarily among the parties at fault in the larger movement against transparency and individual liberty, it has long been a “subject of interest” in our necessary investigation. The e-mails obtained before Christmas Day will vastly improve our ability to continue that investigation and thereby bring to light other instances of corruption, crime, and deception on the part of certain powerful actors based in the U.S. and elsewhere. Unlike the various agents of the U.S. Government, the hacking team that obtained this information did not break down the doors of the target, point guns at children, and shoot down any dogs that might have been present; Anonymous does not resort to SWAT tactics, and this is simply one of many attributes that separate the movement from the governments that have sought to end our campaign and imprison our participants. Of course, such points as these will not prevent our movement from being subjected to harsher scrutiny than is given to those governments which are largely forgiven their more intrusive tactics by virtue of their status as de facto holders of power in a world that has long been governed in accordance with the dictate that might makes right.
I’d certainly rather be hacked by anonymous and my personal information disclosed, as it has been, than suffer a no knock raid by a US police swat team. That says something profound. Think about it. I’d rather be the victim of a crime than interact with US law enforcement going about their normal business. It was not always like that in America. The militarization of police already has much to answer for. What will it be like when they have swarms of drones under their control?
Nevertheless, I suspect Stratfor has been caught in the crossfire between anonymous and assorted crony capitalists and their government enablers. They say that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The incredible growth of government secrecy and intelligence gathering appears to be engendering a reaction. But releasing credit card and contact details of individuals interested in geopolitical analysis also risks engendering a reaction. Hacking and making public a conference call between FBI and Scotland Yard also risk engendering a reaction.We may all regret the consequences of the reaction when it comes.
If anonymous is to win, it will have to win over the public. It will have to do that in the face of vested interests fighting hard to maintain their privileged position. They do not need to score own goals. As a decentralized organization it can not necessarily control what is done in its name. Hackers need to remember that just because they can do something, it does not mean they should.