The WikiLeaks Internet website has published hundreds of emails that might have come from a larger collection of documents stolen in December from STRATFOR, a global intelligence analysis company based in Austin, Texas. The underground group that calls itself “Anonymous” claims to have hacked STRATFOR's servers, taking customer information as well as emails and internal documents. The firm has taken precautions to protect itself from further hacking.
In a video statement delivered online, STRATFOR's founder and Chief Executive Officer George Friedman condemned the theft of information from his company's computers, but said he would not comment on the specifics of any of the documents now displayed on the WikiLeaks site. “Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimized twice by submitting to questions about them," he said.
Friedman said his company relies on confidential sources around the world that analysts use to develop an understanding of what is happening in various countries. STRATFOR's clients include private corporations, individuals and universities.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange accuses STRATFOR of being a corporate version of the Central Intelligence Agency that has shadowed the activities of international activist groups on behalf of clients like The Dow Chemical Company and The Coca Cola Company as well as U.S. government agencies.
But Friedman said some of the documents being published are fraudulent, such as a letter of resignation he said is attributed to him. He noted that his company is a private firm engaged in legitimate analysis of international developments for its paying clients. “STRATFOR is not a government organization nor is it affiliated with any government. The emails are private property. Like all private emails, they are written casually, with no expectation that anyone other than the sender and recipient would receive them. And clearly, as with my own supposed resignation letter, some of the emails may be fabricated or altered," he said.
Most of the published emails fit Friedman's description of casually written internal notes, including exchanges about sports and minor internal disagreements, even complaints about food being pilfered from the company's refrigerator.
Some documents show that The Dow Chemical Company paid for information about groups seeking further restitution for victims of the 1984 poisonous gas leak at a plant in Bhopal, India that killed thousands of people and injured thousands more. The plant was owned by the Union Carbide Corporation and was later purchased by Dow. In a written statement, Dow defended its right to seek information to protect its personnel and property. The published STRATFOR emails show that the firm provided Dow with mostly compilations of general information from public sources.
WikiLeaks says it has published only a small portion of the 5 million STRATFOR emails it has in its possession.