Jeremy Hammond: FBI directed my attacks on foreign government sites
November 21, 2013
Anonymous hacktivist told court FBI informant and fellow hacker Sabu supplied him with list of countries vulnerable to cyber-attack
Hammond said: ‘I took responsibility by pleading guilty, but when will the government be made to answer for its crimes?’ Photograph: Michael Gottschalk/AFP
The Anonymous hacktivist sentenced on Friday to 10 years in federal prison for his role in releasing thousands of emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor has told a Manhattan court that he was directed by an FBI informant to break into the official websites of several governments around the world.
Jeremy Hammond, 28, told a federal court for the southern district of New York that a fellow hacker who went under the internet pseudonym “Sabu” had supplied him with lists of websites that were vulnerable to attack, including those of many foreign countries. The defendant mentioned specifically Brazil, Iran and Turkey before being stopped by judge Loretta Preska, who had ruled previously that the names of all the countries involved should be redacted to retain their secrecy.
Within a couple of hours of the hearing, the three countries had been identified publicly by Forbes, the Huffington Post and Twitter feeds serving more than a million followers. “I broke into numerous sites and handed over passwords and backdoors that enabled Sabu – and by extension his FBI handlers – to control these targets,” Hammond told the court.
The 28-year-old hacker has floated the theory in the past that he was used as part of an effective private army by the FBI to target vulnerable foreign government websites, using the informant Sabu – real name Hector Xavier Monsegur – as a go-between. Sabu, who was a leading figure in the Anonymous-affiliated hacking group LulzSec, was turned by the FBI into one of its primary informants on the hacker world after he was arrested in 2011, about six months before the Stratfor website was breached.
Referring to the hacking of foreign government websites, Hammond said that in one instance, he and Sabu provided details on how to crack into the websites of one particular unidentified country to other hackers who then went on to deface and destroy those websites. “I don’t know how other information I provided to [Sabu] may have been used, but I think the government’s collection and use of this data needs to be investigated,” he told the court
He added: “The government celebrates my conviction and imprisonment, hoping that it will close the door on the full story. I took responsibility for my actions, by pleading guilty, but when will the government be made to answer for its crimes?”
Hammond’s 10-year federal prison service makes it one of the longest punishments dished out for criminal hacking offences in US history. It joins a lengthening line of long jail terms imposed on hackers and whistleblowers as part of the US authorities’ attempt to contain data security of government agencies and corporations in the digital age.
Preska also imposed a three-year period of probationary supervision once Hammond is released from jail that included extraordinary measures designed to prevent him ever hacking again. The terms of the supervision state that when he is out of prison he must: have no contact with “electronic civil disobedience websites or organisations”; have all his internet activity monitored; subject himself to searches of his body, house, car or any other possessions at any time without warrant; and never do anything to hide his identity on the internet.
Hammond’s 10-year sentence was the maximum available to the judge after he pleaded guilty to one count of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) relating to his December 2011 breach of the website of the Austin, Texas-based private intelligence company Strategic Forecasting, Inc. Delivering the sentence, Preska dismissed the defendant’s explanation of his motivation as one of concern for social justice, saying that he had in fact intended to create “maximum mayhem”. “There is nothing high-minded and public-spirited about causing mayhem,” the judge said.
She quoted from comments made by Hammond under various internet handles at the time of the Stratfor hack in which he had talked about his goal of “destroying the heart, hoping for bankruptcy, collapse”. She criticised what she called his “unrepentant recidivism – he has an almost unbroken record of offences that demonstrate an almost total disrespect for the law.”
Before the sentence came down, Hammond read out an outspoken statement to court in which he said he had been motivated to join the hacker group Anonymous because of a desire to “continue the work of exposing and confronting corruption”. He said he had been “particularly moved by the heroic actions of Chelsea Manning, who had exposed the atrocities committed by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. She took an enormous personal risk to leak this information – believing that the public had a right to know and hoping that her disclosures would be a positive step to end these abuses.”
In his own case, he said that as a result of the Stratfor hack, “some of the dangers of the unregulated private intelligence industry are now known. It has been revealed through Wikileaks and other journalists around the world that Stratfor maintained a worldwide network of informants that they used to engage in intrusive and possibly illegal surveillance activities on behalf of large multinational corporations.”
Margaret Kunstler, a prominent member of the Hammond’s defence team, told the Guardian after the sentencing that the maximum punishment was “not a great surprise”. She said that Preska had turned Hammond’s own comments in web chats against him, “but I think she doesn’t understand the language that’s used in chat rooms and the internet – for her to have used such language against him and not understand what his comments meant seemed piggy to say the least.”
• This article was amended on 17 November 2013. An earlier version incorrectly described Margaret Kunstler as Hammond’s lead defence lawyer.
Ed Pilkington in New York
theguardian.com, Friday 15 November 2013 20.22 GMT
Find this story at 15 November 2013
© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
Jeremy Hammond: Stung or entrapped? The case of the Stratfor hacker raises troubling questions about FBI’s involvement in catching or creating crime
November 21, 2013
On the day he learned he was to spend 10 years in federal prison for his involvement in an Anonymous hack, 28-year-old Jeremy Hammond read a statement to the Manhattan court. As well as framing his hacktivism as a public service, aimed at revealing the shadier operations of corporate intelligence firms, Hammond told the court that the FBI had played a significant role in cyberattacks in which he had participated, using infamous Anonymous snitch Sabu to provide information to hackers.
Hammond specifically noted that the FBI informant had provided him with information on vulnerabilities within the official websites of various governments around the world, including Brazil, Syria, Iran and Turkey. (The names of the nations were redacted from the court statement, but soon emerged online.)
Hammond stated: “I broke into numerous sites and handed over passwords and back doors that enabled Sabu — and by extension his FBI handlers — to control these targets … The government celebrates my conviction and imprisonment, hoping that it will close the door on the full story. I took responsibility for my actions, by pleading guilty, but when will the government be made to answer for its crimes?”
The hackivist’s contention here is that the U.S. government used hackers to garner information on, and cyber-advantage over, foreign governments. The hackers were then condemned as criminal, having unwittingly performed services for the U.S. government through illegal hacks. Whether or not the targets provided by Sabu were actually of interest to U.S. national intelligence, or whether they were simply valueless sting bate for hackers is unclear. What is evident, however, is that without government assistance, a number of illegal hacks would not have been carried out as they were. The decades-old question thus arises of when a government sting crosses the boundary into entrapment. In the years since 9/11, little more than a faint line in the sand seems to distinguish (legal) stings and (illegal) entrapment operations by the FBI.
The criterion purportedly dividing sting and entrapment operations is weak. An operation counts as a sting (as opposed to entrapment) if it can be shown that a suspect would have carried out the crime, given the chance. It’s a perverse logic of hypotheticals when the government provides all the conditions for a crime to take place (e.g., providing talented hackers with government targets) — conditions that would not have been in place otherwise. A number of recent FBI cases relating to political activism have reeked of entrapment, but have been framed as stings. Recall, for example, the group of young Cleveland anarchists, strung along by an FBI agent into agreeing on a plan to blow up a bridge. The young men were, at every turn, prompted and offered materials by an FBI informant. “The alleged terrorist masterminds end up seeming, when the full story comes out, unable to terrorize their way out of a paper bag without law enforcement tutelage,” noted Rick Perlstein on the case in Rolling Stone last year.
Hammond’s case is different. The 28-year-old is a smart, articulate and experienced activist and hacker. As his guilty plea made clear, he knew what he was doing and he acted in what he felt was the public interest, to expose and hold accountable the private intelligence industry. However, Hammond also engaged in wholly government-prompted hacks and is now being ferociously punished. If it can be shown that the U.S. government used information gathered by hackers on Sabu’s tips, crucial questions arise about why the hackers and not the government agencies that used their skills are being persecuted. If, however, Sabu’s information about foreign government sites’ vulnerabilities were no more than a lure, questions of entrapment should be raised. Either way, as Hammond begins his lengthy federal prison sentence for a nonviolent crime, through which he received no personal enrichment, the FBI’s role in catching the hacktivist deserves greater scrutiny.
monday, Nov 18, 2013 05:51 PM +0100
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Jailed Anonymous hacker Jeremy Hammond: ‘My days of hacking are done’
November 21, 2013
Hammond calls his 10-year sentence a ‘vengeful, spiteful act’ by US authorities eager to put a chill on political hacking
‘I knew when I started out with Anonymous that being put in jail and having a lengthy sentence was a possibility,’ Hammond said. Photo: AP
Jeremy Hammond, the Anonymous hacktivist who released millions of emails relating to the private intelligence firm Stratfor, has denounced his prosecution and lengthy prison sentence as a “vengeful, spiteful act” designed to put a chill on politically-motivated hacking.
Hammond was sentenced on Friday at federal court in Manhattan to the maximum 10 years in jail, plus three years supervised release. He had pleaded guilty to one count under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) flowing from his 2011 hack of Strategic Forecasting, Inc, known as Stratfor. In an interview with the Guardian in the Metropolitan Correction Center in New York, conducted on Thursday, he said he was resigned to a long prison term which he sees as a conscious attempt by the US authorities to put a chill on political hacking.
He had no doubt that his sentence would be long, describing it as a “vengeful, spiteful act”. He said of his prosecutors: “They have made it clear they are trying to send a message to others who come after me. A lot of it is because they got slapped around, they were embarrassed by Anonymous and they feel that they need to save face.”
Most pointedly, Hammond suggested that the FBI may have manipulated him to carry out hacking attacks on “dozens” of foreign government websites. During his time with Anonymous, the loose collective of hackers working alongside WikiLeaks and other anti-secrecy groups, he was often directed by a individual known pseudonomously on the web as “Sabu”, the leader of the Anonymous-affiliated group Lulzsec, who turned out to be an FBI informant.
Hammond, who is under court orders restricting what he says in public, told the Guardian that Sabu presented him with a list of targets, including many foreign government sites, and encouraged him to break into their computer systems. He said he was not sure whether Sabu was in turn acting on behalf of the FBI or other US government agency, but it was even possible that the FBI was using Sabu’s internet handle directly as contact between the two hackers was always made through cyberspace, never face-to-face.
“It is kind of funny that here they are sentencing me for hacking Stratfor, but at the same time as I was doing that an FBI informant was suggesting to me foreign targets to hit. So you have to wonder how much they really care about protecting the security of websites.”
In the interview, conducted in a secure prison meeting room hours before the 28-year-old Chicagoan was sentenced, he was sanguine about his prospects. “I knew when I started out with Anonymous that being put in jail and having a lengthy sentence was a possibility. Given the nature of the targets I was going after I knew I would upset a lot of powerful people.”
Dressed in a brown prison jump suit, and with a long wispy goatee and moustache (he planned to shave both off before the sentencing hearing), Hammond was scathing about the way the CFAA was being twisted in his view for political ends. “They are widening the definition of what is covered by the Act and using it to target specifically political activists,” he said.
He invoked the memory of Aaron Swartz, the open-data crusader who killed himself in January while awaiting trial under the CFAA for releasing documents from behind the subscription-only paywall of an online research group. “The same beast bit us both,” Hammond said. “They went after Aaron because of his involvement in legitimate political causes – they railroaded charges against him, and look what happened.”
Hammond has been in custody since March 2012 having been arrested in Chicago on suspicion of the Stratfor leak of millions of emails that were eventually released by WikiLeaks as the Global Intelligence Files. His sentence is an indication of the aggression with which prosecutors have been pursuing political hackers in the US – other Anonymous members in Britain involved in the breach of Stratfor were sentenced to much shorter jail terms.
Hammond stressed that he had not benefitted personally in any way from the Stratfor email release, that exposed surveillance by private security firms on activists including Anonymous members themselves, Occupy protesters and campaigners in Bhopal, India involved in the push for compensation for victims of the 1984 industrial catastrophe. “Our main purpose in carrying out the Stratfor hack was to find out what private security and intelligence companies were doing, though none of us had any idea of the scale of it.”
Paradoxically, Hammond insists that he would never have carried out the breach of Stratfor’s computer system had he not been led into doing it by Sabu – real name Hector Xavier Monsegur – the fellow hacker who is himself awaiting sentencing having pleaded guilty to 12 hacking-related criminal charges. “I had never heard of Stratfor until Sabu brought in another hacker who told me about it. Practically, I would never have done the Stratfor hack without Sabu’s involvement.”
Hammond discovered that Monsegur was an FBI informant the day after his own arrest. As he was reading the criminal complaint against him, he saw quotes marked CW for “co-operating witness” that contained details that could only have come from Sabu.
“I felt betrayed, obviously. Though I knew these things happen. What surprised me was that Sabu was involved in so much strategic targeting, in actually identifying targets. He gave me the information on targets.”
Part of Sabu’s interest in him, he now believes, was that Hammond had access to advanced tools including one known as PLESK that allowed him to break into web systems used by large numbers of foreign governments. “The FBI and NSA are clearly able to do their own hacking of other countries. But when a new vulnerability emerges in internet security, sometimes hackers have access to tools that are ahead of them that can be very valuable,” he said.
Looking back on his involvement with anonymous, the Chicagoan said that he had been drawn to work with Anonymous, because he saw it as “a model of resistance – it was decentralised, leaderless.” He grew increasingly political in his hacking focus, partly under the influence of the Occupy movement that began in Wall Street in September 2011 and spread across the country.
Chelsea Manning, the US soldier formerly known as Bradley who leaked a massive trove of state secrets to WikiLeaks now serving a 35-year sentence in military jail, was a major influence on him. Manning showed him that “powerful institutions – whether military or private security firms – are involved in unaccountable activities that the public is totally unaware of that can only be exposed by whistleblowers and hackers”.
Hammond has often described himself as an anarchist. He has a tattoo on his left shoulder of the anarchy symbol with the words: “Freedom, equality, anarchy”. Another tattoo on his left forearm shows the Chinese representation of “leader” or “army”, and a third tattoo on his right forearm is a glider signifying the hacking open-source movement that is drawn from the computer simulation Game of Life .
He says he plans to use his time in prison “reading, writing, working out and playing sports – training myself to become more disciplined so I can be more effective on my release”. As to that release, he says he cannot predict how he will be thinking when he emerges from jail, but doubts that he would go back to hacking. “I think my days of hacking are done. That’s a role for somebody else now,” he said.
Ed Pilkington in New York
theguardian.com, Friday 15 November 2013 17.12 GMT
Find this story at 15 November 2013
© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
A Conversation With Jeremy Hammond, American Political Prisoner Sentenced to 10 Years
November 21, 2013
Jeremy Hammond, the Chicago activist and hacktivist (an activist who uses computer networks for political
protests and other actions), was sentenced last week to 10 years in prison and three years of supervised release for hacking into the intelligence contractor Strategic Forcasting (or Stratfor) and other government, law enforcement and military suppliers’ websites.
The Stratfor hack resulted in a cache of 5.2 million leaked emails and account information for approximately 860,000 Stratfor subscribers and clients, including information from 60,000 credit cards. To list a few of the many revelations, the emails revealed domestic spying on activists, including Occupy Wall Street; surveillance through persona management programs or fake online personas (“sock puppets”); and attempts to link American activist and journalist Alexa O’Brien to al-Qaeda. The Stratfor hack pullled back the curtain on the ofttimes illegal goings-on in the shadowy world of intelligence contractors.
Mr. Hammond’s supervised release includes limited computer access and prohibits him using encryption and from associating with civil disobedience groups. The ban on encryption shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Internet works. Encryption is used in nearly every online transaction, such as email, social networking and online banking. The broad ban on freedom of association raises potential Constitutional issues. At the time of his arrest, Mr. Hammond was working under the banner of AntiSec, an offshoot of the hacktivist collective Anonymous.
Jeremy Hammond, American Political Prisoner, courtesy of @FreeAnons.
The packed courtroom looked more like a church wedding than a sentencing, with dozens of Westpoint cadets on a field trip sitting on the left and Mr. Hammond’s parents, friends and supporters — who caravanned from all over the U.S. to show solidarity for their fallen comrade — sitting on the right. Mr. Hammond, his attorneys, Sarah, Emily and Margaret Kunstler and Susan Kellman faced the stoic Judge Loretta Preska presiding over the solemn ceremony.
On September 10th I visited Jeremy Hammond at Manhattan Correctional Center where he had been incarcerated for 18 months. Mr. Hammond, who was denied bail, was also disallowed all visitors, including family members. I am the first journalist with whom Mr. Hammond met since his arrest in March 2012. This interview was held months before sentencing. At the request of Mr. Hammond’s attorneys, who feared his words would be used at sentencing against him, I delayed publishing.
Vivien Lesnik Weisman: You are both a boots on the ground activist and a hacktivist. Can you explain hacktivisim, hacking for political purposes and off line activism?
Jeremy Hammond: Hackers are by nature critical of systems, hacking is activism. The very act of hacking is inherently activist and political.
VLW: How effective is activism without the added thread of technology, or hacktivism, in the modern world? Which is more effective?
JH: Hacking is never going to take the place of grassroots community organizing. They complement each other.
There is more to it of course than hacking. Hacktivism involves online social networking, sharing ideas. Protest is predictable; they know how to contain it. The government knows how to ignore it. Both direct action and civil disobedience are unpredictable. I’m all for it.
I see hacktivism as a direct action tool. Offensive hacking with political intent is really nothing more than one more direct action tool. What you do when you get the information is what determines its efficacy as a direct action tool.
And now because of the state of the world — foreclosures, the wars — hackers are becoming politicized. We break into systems and then movements like Occupy deliver the message. It all works together. There is street protest. There is direct action, and hacking is one more tool.
Subverzo, hacktivist, at post-sentencing rally, Foley Square. Photo credit: Still from The Reality Wars, A.J. Abucay DP
VLW: How did the decision to target the intelligence contractor, Stratfor, come about and what was your involvement?
JH: Another hacker, who has not been indicted and therefore I will not name, brought the vulnerability. He had the credit cards already, before I ever got involved, on the Dec 5th. He chose Stratfor and brought it to us. There were 12 of us in the IRC (chat room) at that time.
Stratfor was chosen by that hacker because Stratfor had targeted Anonymous and specifically #OpCartel (Anonymous action against Mexican drug cartels).
Then the 12 of us in a private IRC channel approved it on the merits, as a meritocracy, the Anon way.
None of the 12 in that chat room that included me and Sabu [hacker leader turned FBI informant] have ever been caught.
Amongst the 12 were not only hackers. Some were social media types who brought attention to the actions.
I did the Stratfor hack all by myself except for the original vulnerability. I was the main hacker in Anti-Sec.
Sabu refers to Hetcor Xavier Monsegur, hacker and leader of LulzSec, an offshoot of Anonymous. LulzSec was an elite hacker collective that obtained notoriety as much for their high profile targets as for their clever self-promotion. Sabu was arrested by the FBI and began working for them that day. The following day he announced the formation of AntiSec, “the biggest unified collective of hackers in history.” Both in private IRC and through his various public Twitter accounts he encouraged hackers to join AntiSec and commit hacking crimes. Many hacktivists and rights organizations see these — including the Statfor hack — as government created crimes given that Sabu was working for his FBI handlers at the time he was inciting hackers to join AntiSec. After Sabu was turned, all of his actions can be seen as government actions. In essence, the name Sabu and the government can be used interchangeably in this context.
He is responsible for the arrests of many Anons including Jeremy Hammond.
Hector Xavier Monsegur Jr, hacker known by his nom de guerre Sabu, FBI informant.
VLW: Did you ever suspect that Sabu was a Fed (FBI informant) before that became public?
JH: I was in a chat room with 12 hackers. Chances are someone in there was a Fed. I don’t work with anyone who has not taken risks alongside me. Sabu had taken risks and hacked himself. Still, I could have done this all on my own. I was the main hacker in Anti-Sec.
VLW: And that hacker who provided the exploits also came with the credit cards? And were the credit cards live?
JH: Yes. The credit cards were live. We all spoke on Dec 6th and planned a coordinated day of action when we would choose charities and use the credit cards to make donations for Christmas to these charities, Christmas donations.
Jeremy Hammond is often referred to as a digital Robin Hood for his participation in LulzXmas. Margaret Ratner Kunstler, Hammond’s attorney, clarified that her client did not himself make any donations or use the credit cards. He also did not personally profit from the hacked credit cards.
JH: But our main focus was the emails, to reveal the spying. Stratfor was spying on the world. We revealed the anti-WikiLeaks actions by Stratfor. Stratfor was spying on Occupy Wall Street, WikiLeaks, and Anonymous.
We didn’t even know about the Venezuelan coup discussions proving U.S. involvement in the attempted coup until we saw that in the Strafor emails later.
It was all revealed on WikLeaks but I had moved on. I’d rather be hacking.
VLW: There is speculation that the Stratfor hack was designed by the government and carried out by their informant Sabu as an attempt to entrap Julian Assange by getting him to solicit information or even sell him information. Were you aware of such a plan and if so did you make a conscious decision to foil that plan by dumping on the Pirate Bay before the transaction could be completed?
JH: No, that did not happen. Julian Assange and WikiLeaks was not a factor.
In fact, many hacktivists make the claim that the Stratfor hack was designed to entrap Julian Assange. Hammond is not necessarily in a position to know whether that was the case or not.
VLW: Stratfor was notified by the government that they had been penetrated and told to do nothing. Why did they allow Stratfor to be sacrificed?
JH: We do not know to what degree they notified Stratfor. Interesting question, but we don’t know.
VLW: Why did the Stratfor hack take so long to complete? And why destroy the servers?
JH: I had to get to the mail servers. It takes time. We always destroy the servers.
First you deface, then you take the information, then you destroy the server, for the Lulz [for fun], and so they can’t rebuild the system. We don’t want them to rebuild. And to destroy forensic information that could be used to find out who did it and how it was done.
VLW: What are your preferred targets?
JH: My preferred targets are military contractors, military suppliers and law enforcement.
VLW: Intelligence contractors like Stratfor?
JH: Tech intelligence firms are a preferred target. Tech firms — where white hat hackers are paid to target the 99% for their corporate overlord clients.
Chris Hedges, journalist, TruthDig columnist, speaks at Hammond Rally. Photo credit: Still from The Reality Wars, A.J. Abucay DP
Those firms also contain the keys to their corporate clients so there is a big payoff — Endgame Systems and Palantir, for example.
Endgame Systems is the subject of much discussion. Engame Systems is self-described as providing offensive and defensive vulnerability research, mitigation of cyber-threats and cyber operations platforms. It is in the business of selling “zero day exploits.” That is, the vulnerabilities that have not yet been detected. According to a Business Week article, these zero day exploits are militarized and include entire blueprints of the computer systems of airports and other critical infrastructure including that of our western allies for example Paris’s Charles De Gaulle Airport. It is difficult to see how the sale of these exploits makes us more secure.
A package of these zero day exploits can be purchased for 2.5 million dollars a year. The price list was revealed in a cache of emails in the HBGary hack, an earlier Anonymous operation. Endgame weaponry is sold by region — China, the Middle East, Russia, Latin America, and Europe. There are even target packs for European and other allies. That raises the question of whether these exploits are being sold to foreign actors. Even if not sold directly to enemies of the U.S., cyber munitions like conventional arms have a way of showing up in unintended places. Once these exploits are out there they are vulnerable to rouge hackers and rogue states.
JH: White hat hackers are being paid to do supposedly defensive actions but they are offensive. White hat hackers are supposed to identify a vulnerability and then announce. But instead they sell the vulnerability, the exploits. So if you hack for the thrill it’s not ok. But for money, like Endgames, then somehow it is. And instead of going to jail for hacking you get awarded a government contract.
At least, the NSA is supposed to — and that is a big “supposed to” — have some kind of government oversight and again that’s overstated; these government contractors, intel firms and tech firms like Stratfor have no oversight whatsoever. They are not bound by any laws. They are above the law. No FOIA (request for classified or other non-public information from the government under the Freedom Of Information Act) can compel them to reveal what they do. Rogue hackers have better access to vulnerabilities than government hackers.
VLW: That reminds me of The Conscience of a Hacker by the Mentor. Did you read that?
Known as the Hacker Manifesto, it could just be Jeremy Hammond’s ethos.
You build atomic bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat, and lie to us and try to make us believe it’s for our own good, yet we’re the criminals.
Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like.
My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for. I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto. You may stop this individual, but you can’t stop us all… after all, we’re all alike.
JH: From the 90’s? You hate me because I’m better than you are. Yeah, yeah.
Citizen journalist/activist and Hammond supporter Tara Jill Livestreams outside the court house. Photo credit: Still from The Reality Wars, A.J. Abucay DP
VLW: What do you think about the new battlefield, or cyberwarfare?
JH: The government calls it cybersecurity, but it’s really offensive hacking not just defensive.
The Department of Defense deals in war and aggression but it is not called Department of War is it? The government calls what they do mitigation of the threat of a cyber offensive. But these are offensive acts. They are acts of war. This is the new terrain. The new battlefield.
The war is on and it’s for the Internet. They spy on us, they spy on others, intellectual property rights wars, censorship….
For example, when encryption first came out PGP (Pretty Good Privacy, the first publicly available encryption software) it was called a munition and they immediately tried to ban it.
Encryption is part of our arsenal. It trumps the surveillance state.
As Mr. Hammond was waiting to be handcuffed in order for me to be escorted out of the small room at Manhattan Correctional Center where Mr. Hammond and I had conversed for over 4 hours, I asked him one last question.
VLW: You want to challenge the political system in the US and the world with technology. Is technology your weapon in the same way rifles were weapons in the past? Are you willing to die for your cause?
Handcuffed and standing before me with the guard awaiting my exit he pondered the question. As the guard ushered me out he responded.
JH: Die for my cause? Yes.
Go to prison, die for my cause… or choose to live a life of submission.
Mr. Hammond’s bold and principled stand is sure to inspire others to make a similar choice.
This is part one of a two part article.
I am currently working on The Reality Wars, a feature length documentary about the targeting of activists, hacktivists and journalists by the US government and the nexus between intelligence contractors and the surveillance state. Jeremy Hammond and the Stratfor hack are covered in my film.
Posted: 11/19/2013 10:18 am
Find this story at 19 November 2013
© 2013 TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc.
Cyber-Activist Jeremy Hammond Sentenced to 10 Years In Prison; The hacker, who pleaded guilty in May, is given the maximum sentence by a federal judge
November 21, 2013
Cyber-activist Jeremy Hammond was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison this morning by Judge Loretta A. Preska in a federal courtroom in lower Manhattan for hacking the private intelligence firm Stratfor. When released, Hammond will be placed under supervised control, the terms of which include a prohibition on encryption or attempting to anonymize his identity online.
Hammond has shown a “total lack of respect for the law,” Judge Preska said in her ruling, citing Hammond’s criminal record – which includes a felony conviction for hacking from when he was 19 – and what she called “unrepentant recidivism.” There is a “desperate need to promote respect for the law,” she said, as well as a “need for adequate public deterrence.”
Read ‘Enemy of the State,’ Our 2012 Feature on Jeremy Hammond’s Rise and Fall
As Hammond was led into the courtroom, he looked over the roughly 100 supporters who had shown up, smiled, and said, “What’s up, everybody?” Prior to the verdict, he read from a prepared statement and said it was time for him to step away from hacking as a form of activism, but recognized that tactic’s continuing importance. “Those in power do not want the truth exposed,” Hammond said from the podium, wearing black prison garb. He later stated that the injustices he has fought against “cannot be cured by reform, but by civil disobedience and direct action.” He spoke out against capitalism and a wide range of other social ills, including mass incarceration and crackdowns on protest movements.
The Stratfor hack exposed previously unknown corporate spying on activists and organizers, including PETA and the Yes Men, and was largely constructed by the FBI using an informant named Hector Monsegur, better known by his online alias Sabu. Co-defendants in the U.K. were previously sentenced to relatively lighter terms. Citing Hammond’s record, Judge Preska said “there will not be any unwarranted sentencing disparity” between her ruling and the U.K. court’s decision.
Hammond’s supporters and attorneys had previously called on Judge Preska to recuse herself following the discovery that her husband was a victim of the hack she was charged with ruling on. That motion was denied. (Full disclosure: This reporter previously spoke at a rally calling on Judge Preska to recuse herself.)
Hammond’s defense team repeatedly stressed that their client was motivated by charitable intentions, a fact they said was reflected in his off-line life as well. Hammond has previously volunteered at Chicago soup kitchens, and has tutored fellow inmates in GED training during his incarceration.
Rosemary Nidiry, speaking for the prosecution, painted a picture of a malicious criminal motivated by a desire to create “maximum mayhem,” a phrase Hammond used in a chat log to describe what he hoped would come from the Stratfor hack. Thousands of private credit card numbers were released as a result of the Stratfor hack, which the government argued served no public good.
Sarah Kunstler, a defense attorney for Hammond, takes issue with both the prosecution and judge’s emphasis on the phrase “maximum mayhem” to the exclusion of Hammond’s broader philosophy shows an incomplete picture. “Political change can be disruptive and destructive,” Kunstler says. “That those words exclude political action is inaccurate.”
Many supporters see Hammond’s case as part of a broader trend of the government seeking what they say are disproportionately long sentences for acts that are better understood as civil disobedience than rampant criminality. Aaron Swartz, who faced prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act – the same statute used to prosecute Hammond – took his own life last year, after facing possible decades in prison for downloading academic journals from an MIT server. “The tech industry promised open access and democratization,” says Roy Singham, Swartz’s old boss and executive chairman of ThoughtWorks, a software company that advocates for social justice. “What we’ve given the world is surveillance and spying.” Singham says it’s “shameful” that “titans of the tech world” have not supported Hammond.
Following his first conviction for hacking, Hammond said, he struggled with returning to that life, but felt it was his responsibility. That decision ultimately lead to the Stratfor hack. “I had to ask myself, if Chelsea Manning fell into the abysmal nightmare of prison fighting for the truth, could I in good conscience do any less, if I was able?” he said, addressing the court. “I thought the best way to demonstrate solidarity was to continue the work of exposing and confronting corruption.”
by John Knefel
NOVEMBER 15, 2013
Find this story at 15 November 2013
©2013 Rolling Stone
105 Years in Jail for Posting a Link? That’s what Barrett Brown is facing.
November 20, 2013
A few months ago  I passed along the story of Barrett Brown, a young journalist/activist who relentlessly followed up on documents leaked by Anonymous, was targeted for this by the FBI, and who was eventually harassed enough that he cracked—which took the unfortunate form of recording a YouTube rant promising to “destroy” one of his tormentors.
Brown was indicted for posting the YouTube threats, and there’s no question that it was an ill-advised rant regardless of the FBI instigation. But David Carr follows up with more today. It turns out that only three of the charges against Brown are related to the video. Twelve more are related to a link he posted in a chat room: 
In December 2011, approximately five million e-mails from Stratfor Global Intelligence, an intelligence contractor, were hacked by Anonymous and posted on WikiLeaks. The files contained revelations about close and perhaps inappropriate ties between government security agencies and private contractors. In a chat room for Project PM, Mr. Brown posted a link to it.
Among the millions of Stratfor files were data containing credit cards and security codes, part of the vast trove of internal company documents….According to one of the indictments, by linking to the files, Mr. Brown “provided access to data stolen from company Stratfor Global Intelligence to include in excess of 5,000 credit card account numbers, the card holders’ identification information, and the authentication features for the credit cards.”
….But keep in mind that no one has accused Mr. Brown of playing a role in the actual stealing of the data, only of posting a link to the trove of documents….“The YouTube video was a mistake, a big one,” said Gregg Housh, a friend of Mr. Brown’s who first introduced him to the activities of Anonymous. “But it is important to remember that the majority of the 105 years he faces are the result of linking to a file. He did not and has not hacked anything, and the link he posted has been posted by many, many other news organizations.”
This is almost a textbook case of prosecutorial overreach. As Carr points out, the guy who actually stole the Stratfor information is facing a sentence of only ten years. So why is Brown facing 105 years? Certainly not for a video posted while he was in withdrawal from heroin addiction. More likely, it’s because the government considers him a thorn in their side and wants to send a message to anyone else planning to follow in Brown’s footsteps. That just ain’t right. As Carr says, “Punishment needs to fit the crime and in this instance, much of what has Mr. Brown staring at a century behind bars seems on the right side of the law, beginning with the First Amendment of the Constitution.”
By Kevin Drum | Mon Sep. 9, 2013 8:47 AM PDT
105 years in jail for posting a link?
Find this story at 9 September 2013
Copyright ©2013 Mother Jones and the Foundation for National Progress.
Barrett Brown’s Mother Will Be Sentenced Today
November 20, 2013
The mother of Anonymous-affiliated activist Barrett Brown, Karen Lancaster McCutchin, will be sentenced today, November 8, the Associated Press reports.
Back in May, she admitted to helping her son hide two laptops from federal agents that were investigating the activist. The laptops were hidden in a kitchen cabinet just as FBI agents were executing a search warrant.
As per the plea agreement, McCutchin faces up to 12 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 (€75,000).
In the meantime, the case of Barrett Brown continues. He is accused, among other things, of threatening a federal agent in a video published on YouTube, and posting links to information stolen by Anonymous hackers from the think tank Stratfor.
He faces up to 105 years in prison and substantial fines.
November 8th, 2013, 13:49 GMT · By Eduard Kovacs, November 8, 2013 [AP]
Find this story at 8 November 2013
© 2001 – 2013 Softpedia. All rights reserved.
The Global Intelligence Files – Stratfor Files (2012)
November 20, 2013
LONDON—Today, Monday 27 February, 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, for example :
“[Y]ou have to take control of him. Control means financial, sexual or psychological control… This is intended to start our conversation on your next phase” – CEO George Friedman to Stratfor analyst Reva Bhalla on 6 December 2011, on how to exploit an Israeli intelligence informant providing information on the medical condition of the President of Venezuala, Hugo Chavez.
The material contains privileged information about the US government’s attacks against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and Stratfor’s own attempts to subvert WikiLeaks. There are more than 4,000 emails mentioning WikiLeaks or Julian Assange. The emails also expose the revolving door that operates in private intelligence companies in the United States. Government and diplomatic sources from around the world give Stratfor advance knowledge of global politics and events in exchange for money. The Global Intelligence Files exposes how Stratfor has recruited a global network of informants who are paid via Swiss banks accounts and pre-paid credit cards. Stratfor has a mix of covert and overt informants, which includes government employees, embassy staff and journalists around the world.
The material shows how a private intelligence agency works, and how they target individuals for their corporate and government clients. For example, Stratfor monitored and analysed the online activities of Bhopal activists, including the “Yes Men”, for the US chemical giant Dow Chemical. The activists seek redress for the 1984 Dow Chemical/Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal, India. The disaster led to thousands of deaths, injuries in more than half a million people, and lasting environmental damage.
Stratfor has realised that its routine use of secret cash bribes to get information from insiders is risky. In August 2011, Stratfor CEO George Friedman confidentially told his employees : “We are retaining a law firm to create a policy for Stratfor on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. I don’t plan to do the perp walk and I don’t want anyone here doing it either.”
Stratfor’s use of insiders for intelligence soon turned into a money-making scheme of questionable legality. The emails show that in 2009 then-Goldman Sachs Managing Director Shea Morenz and Stratfor CEO George Friedman hatched an idea to “utilise the intelligence” it was pulling in from its insider network to start up a captive strategic investment fund. CEO George Friedman explained in a confidential August 2011 document, marked DO NOT SHARE OR DISCUSS : “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”. The emails show that in 2011 Goldman Sach’s Morenz invested “substantially” more than $4million and joined Stratfor’s board of directors. Throughout 2011, a complex offshore share structure extending as far as South Africa was erected, designed to make StratCap appear to be legally independent. But, confidentially, Friedman told StratFor staff : “Do not think of StratCap as an outside organisation. It will be integral… It will be useful to you if, for the sake of convenience, you think of it as another aspect of Stratfor and Shea as another executive in Stratfor… we are already working on mock portfolios and trades”. StratCap is due to launch in 2012.
The Stratfor emails reveal a company that cultivates close ties with US government agencies and employs former US government staff. It is preparing the 3-year Forecast for the Commandant of the US Marine Corps, and it trains US marines and “other government intelligence agencies” in “becoming government Stratfors”. Stratfor’s Vice-President for Intelligence, Fred Burton, was formerly a special agent with the US State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service and was their Deputy Chief of the counterterrorism division. Despite the governmental ties, Stratfor and similar companies operate in complete secrecy with no political oversight or accountability. Stratfor claims that it operates “without ideology, agenda or national bias”, yet the emails reveal private intelligence staff who align themselves closely with US government policies and channel tips to the Mossad – including through an information mule in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Yossi Melman, who conspired with Guardian journalist David Leigh to secretly, and in violation of WikiLeaks’ contract with the Guardian, move WikiLeaks US diplomatic cables to Israel.
Ironically, considering the present circumstances, Stratfor was trying to get into what it called the leak-focused “gravy train” that sprung up after WikiLeaks’ Afghanistan disclosures :
“[Is it] possible for us to get some of that ’leak-focused’ gravy train ? This is an obvious fear sale, so that’s a good thing. And we have something to offer that the IT security companies don’t, mainly our focus on counter-intelligence and surveillance that Fred and Stick know better than anyone on the planet… Could we develop some ideas and procedures on the idea of ´leak-focused’ network security that focuses on preventing one’s own employees from leaking sensitive information… In fact, I’m not so sure this is an IT problem that requires an IT solution.”
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 ’Hizzies’ (members of Hezbollah), or ’Adogg’ (Mahmoud Ahmedinejad).
Stratfor did secret deals with dozens of media organisations and journalists – from Reuters to the Kiev Post. The list of Stratfor’s “Confederation Partners”, whom Stratfor internally referred to as its “Confed Fuck House” are included in the release. While it is acceptable for journalists to swap information or be paid by other media organisations, because Stratfor is a private intelligence organisation that services governments and private clients these relationships are corrupt or corrupting.
WikiLeaks has also obtained Stratfor’s list of informants and, in many cases, records of its payoffs, including $1,200 a month paid to the informant “Geronimo” , handled by Stratfor’s Former State Department agent Fred Burton.
WikiLeaks has built an investigative partnership with more than 25 media organisations and activists to inform the public about this huge body of documents. The organisations were provided access to a sophisticated investigative database developed by WikiLeaks and together with WikiLeaks are conducting journalistic evaluations of these emails. Important revelations discovered using this system will appear in the media in the coming weeks, together with the gradual release of the source documents.
Public partners in the investigation
Current WikiLeaks status
How to read the data
Public partners in the investigation:
More than 25 media partners (others will be disclosed after their first publication) :
Al Akhbar – Lebanon – http://english.al-akhbar.com
Al Masry Al Youm – Egypt – http://www.almasry-alyoum.com
Bivol – Bulgaria – http://bivol.bg
CIPER – Chile – http://ciperchile.cl
Dawn Media – Pakistan – http://www.dawn.com
L’Espresso – Italy – http://espresso.repubblica.it
La Repubblica – Italy – http://www.repubblica.it
La Jornada – Mexico – www.jornada.unam.mx/
La Nacion – Costa Rica – http://www.nacion.com
Malaysia Today – Malaysia – www.malaysia-today.net
McClatchy – United States – http://www.mcclatchydc.com
Nawaat – Tunisia – http://nawaat.org
NDR/ARD – Germany – http://www.ndr.de
Owni – France – http://owni.fr
Pagina 12 – Argentina – www.pagina12.com.ar
Plaza Publica – Guatemala – http://plazapublica.com.gt
Publico.es – Spain – www.publico.es
Rolling Stone – United States – http://www.rollingstone.com
Russian Reporter – Russia – http://rusrep.ru
Sunday Star-Times – New Zealand – www.star-times.co.nz
Ta Nea – Greece –- http://www.tanea.gr
Taraf – Turkey – http://www.taraf.com.tr
The Hindu – India – www.thehindu.com
The Yes Men – Bhopal Activists – Global http://theyesmen.org
WikiLeaks – Kristinn Hrafnsson, Official WikiLeaks representative, +35 4821 7121
Other comment :
Bhopal Medical Appeal (in UK) – Colin Toogood : email@example.com / +44 (0) 1273 603278/ +44 (0) 7798 845074
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (in India) – Rachna Dhingra : firstname.lastname@example.org, +91 98 261 67369
Yes Men – email@example.com / +44 (0) 7578 682321 – firstname.lastname@example.org, +1-718-208-0684
Privacy International – +44 (0) 20 7242 2836
Twitter tag : #gifiles
CURRENT WIKILEAKS STATUS:
An extrajudicial blockade imposed by VISA, MasterCard, PayPal, Bank of America, and Western Union that is designed to destroy WikiLeaks has been in place since December 2010. The EU Commission is considering whether it will open a formal investigation, but two lawsuits have been filed (http://wikileaks.org/Banking-Blocka…). There are also other ways to donate (https://shop.wikileaks.org/donate). It is legal to donate, including in the United States. The US Treasury has publicly stated that that there are no grounds to place WikiLeaks on a US government blacklist.
WikiLeaks Founder and Publisher Julian Assange has not been charged with any crime in any country. Four prosecutors are currently trying to charge him under the Espionage Act of 1917 before a closed Grand Jury in Virginia, in the United States. Julian Assange has been detained for 447 days (10,728 hours) since Dec 7, 2010, without charge, and he is currently awaiting a decision from the UK Supreme Court on extradition to Sweden (http://www.justiceforassange.com/Su…). The decision is expected in March. The decision on whether he will be onwardly extradited to the US lies in the hands of the Swedish Executive, but Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has refused to state whether he will protect Assange from a politically motivated extradition to the United States (http://justice4assange.com/US-Extra… ).
The Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has repeatedly attacked WikiLeaks this week in a bizarre manner (http://ferrada-noli.blogspot.com/20… ).
An alleged WikiLeaks US military source, Bradley Manning, has been in pre-trial detention for 639 days (http://bradleymanning.org/ ). His arraignment took place on 24 February 2012. In December 2011, Manning’s attorney revealed in the preliminary hearing that the US government is attempting to enter a plea deal with Manning in order to “go after” Assange. Manning has 22 charges against him, including violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and aiding the enemy. Manning has deferred entering a plea. Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are legally represented in the Manning hearings by the US Centre for Constitutional Rights (http://ccrjustice.org/ ). WikiLeaks was denied full access to Manning’s hearing after appeal (http://ccrjustice.org/newsroom/pres… ). WikiLeaks put out a statement relating to Manning’s trial ahead of the Article 32 Hearing : (http://www.wikileaks.org/Statement-… ).
The alleged WikiLeaks-supporting hacktivists known as the “PayPal 14” were arrested in 2011 following co-ordinated online demonstrations against the financial services companies that are carrying out the unlawful financial blockade on WikiLeaks (VISA, MasterCard, Paypal, Western Union, Bank of America). They are represented by attorney Stanley Cohen and will go before court in May 2012 (http://www.cyberguerrilla.org/?p=4644 ).
WikiLeaks is about to launch a distributed, encrypted “Facebook for revolutionaries” (https://wlfriends.org/ ).
Julian Assange is currently directing interviews, from house arrest, for a programme on the future of the world that is syndicated to various broadcasters. The first show will be broadcast in March (http://www.wikileaks.org/New-Assang… )
HOW TO READ THE DATA
This is a glossary and information on how to understand the internal terms and codes used by Stratfor in their emails. It is not a complete list. We call on the public to add to this list by tweeting #gifind
To see a list of the terms George Friedman considers useful for his staff to know please download this PDF : The Stratfor Glossary of Useful, Baffling and Strange Intelligence Terms.
OPEN SOURCE VS. “COVERT”
As you browse through the content, you will notice that a large set of it is what is classified as “open source” (subject lines which include [OS]). These are basically email threads that start with someone posting a published and accessible source, such as news sites, and follow with commentary by the staff. In one of the emails, Joseph Nye is referenced saying :
“Open source intelligence is the outer pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, without which one can neither begin nor complete the puzzle”
CODES IN SUBJECT LINES
Many of the emails have codes in the subject lines as well as in the body, to make it easier for the staff to “quickly identify when we need to go back and have a look-see.” [*] :
Examples : INSIGHT – COUNTRY – Subject – SOURCE CODE INSIGHT – CHINA – Trains and planes – CN1000
Please refer to the glossary for the code names of subject and country tags, as well as mailing list names.
A lot of interesting stuff comes from “sources”. Sources are either informal contacts or people they have a formal relationship with. The IDs for sources have the format of CN120 or ME001. In terms of the character part, it refers to a region or a country :
A) Regions ME – Middle East region EU – European Union EE – Eastern Europe LA- South America SA- South Asia
B) Countries or Orgs CN – China PK – Pakistan IN- India ML – Malaysia VN – Vietnam NP- Nepal
US – United States VZ – Venezuela CO- Colombia BR-Brazil NC- Nicaragua MX- Mexico CL/CH- Chile AR- Argentina PY- Paraguay BOL- Bolivia
RU – Russia UA – Ukraine GE – Georgia TJ – Tajikstan MD – Moldova BG -Bulgaria CR/CZ- Czech Republic PT- Portugal
ZA – South Africa AO – Angola SO – Somalia NG- Nigeria CD- DR Congo CI- Cote D’Ivoire ZW- Zimbabwe ZM- Zambia RW- Rwanda KE- Kenya ET- Ethiopia SD -Sudan MA- Morocco SN- Senegal GN- Guinea SL- Sierra Leone
IR – Iran IQ- Iraq IL or IS- Israel SA- Saudi Arabia SY- Syria KU- Kuwait Y or YN – Yemen HZ – Hizbollah TK – Turkey LN- Lebanon LY- Libya UAE- UAE EG- Egypt (etc.)
C) Odd codes OCH – Old China hand, a finance insider. Stick – Scott Stewart, high level employee Z’s – Zetas, Mexican drug gang
When “insights” are sent, they usually have the following header information :
SOURCE : The ID of the source, say CN123. Sometimes this is left “no source ID” when it’s a new source.
ATTRIBUTION : How the source is to be attributed, i.e. “Source in the pharma distribution industry in China”, Stratfor source, etc.
SOURCE DESCRIPTION : Describes the source, for example : “Source works with Mercator Pharmaceutical Solutions, distributing pharma to developing countries.” These include concrete details on the source for internal consumption so that there’s a better understanding on the source’s background and ability to make assessments on the ground.
PUBLICATION : Yes or No. If the option is yes it doesn’t mean that it would be published, but rather that it _can_ be published.
SOURCE RELIABILITY : A/B
SOURCE RELIABILITY : A-F, A being the best and F being the worst. This grades the turnaround time of this source in responding to requests.
ITEM CREDIBILITY : 1-10, 1 being the best and 10 being the worst (we may change the range here in the future). this changes a lot based on the info provided. 1 is “you can take this to the bank” and 10 would be an example of maybe – “this is a totally ridiculous rumor but something that is spreading on the ground”
SPECIAL HANDLING : often this is “none” but it may be something like, “if you use this we need to be sure not to mention the part about XXX in the publication” or any other special notes
SOURCE HANDLER : the person who can take follow-up questions and communicate with the source.
email@example.com Discussions circulated exclusively among analysts, writers and higher-ups, including ’insights’ and discussions about sources and source meetings. firstname.lastname@example.org Discussions circulated exclusively among analysts and higher-ups, and only for use within continental US (analysts traveling ’overseas’ are removed from the list for the duration of their journey). email@example.com – Discussion among analysts only, who manage sources, gather and analyze intelligence. firstname.lastname@example.org Ongoing discussions to collect and analyze counterterrorism intelligence, circulated among select group of analysts. email@example.com Non-time sensitive discussions for internal training on technical and tactical matters within field of counterterrorism. firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com – Related to Gas ventures clients firstname.lastname@example.org Military list for pre-approved staff email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Middle East/South Asia list for pre-approved staff. firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com List with information from the public domain circulated and discussed among all employees. firstname.lastname@example.org List for ADPs. See Glossary. email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
a) Industry and other misc. tags :
HUMINT – Human intelligence OSINT- Open source intelligence DATA FLU BIRDFLU ECON TECH ENERGY MINING GV – Gas Venture CT – Counterterrorism G1-G4 B2-B4 S1-S4 MILITARY or MIL PENTAGON AQ- Al Qaeda AQAP – Al Qaeda in the Arabia Peninsula SF- Special Forces CONUS- Continental US
b) Special internal codewords :
Hizzies or HZ – Hizbollah Izzies or IZ – Israel A-dogg – Mahmoud Ahmadinajad, Iranian President Baby bashar – Bashar Al-Assad, Syrian President Uncle Mo – Moammar Gaddhafi ADP- Analyst Development Program. Four-month program at STRATFOR from which candidates— mostly recent college graduates— are selected for hire. Strictly protect and protect – Often mentioned in the ’subject’, means that the source is protected. Played- A term used for procuring sensitive information from sources. E.g. from one of the secure list messages circulating the ’complete scenario for the Israeli team in Centcom’s war game,’ the analyst who procured the data wrote : “I played the head of the Mossad which was great fun.” Excomm- Appears to be ’executive committee’ of STRATFOR.
c) Regions and Orgs
AFRICOM – African countries LATAM – Latin American MERCOSUR NATFA ASEAN APEC FSU – Former Soviet Union countries MESA or MIDDLEEAST – Middle East EASTASIA OPEC EURASIA SA – South Asia FSB- Federal Security Service (Russia)
Attached documents can be searched by Filename or part of the file name. Preliminary searches for filenames using the terms ’lists’, ’source lists’ or ’insight lists’, coupled with the names of source handlers (e.g. Reva for Turkey, Brazil or Venezuela) produced Excel lists of the source names, contact info and source descriptions which correspond to the source codes (e.g. ME1315).
The following are the proposed criteria for analyzing both sources and insight.
1. Source Timeliness 2. Source Accessibility/Position 3. Source Availability 4. Insight Credibility 5. Insight Uniqueness
Source Timeliness : This is the average grade on how long this particular source turns around tasks and replies to inquiries. It may change but is more of a static indicator.
Source Accessibility : Accessibility weighs the source’s position to have certain knowledge in a particular field. So, for example, if we are looking for energy insight and the source is an official in an energy agency, his or her Accessibility would be ranked higher than if s/he was a banker giving insight on energy. While we would welcome a banker giving his/her insight, a good source may not have a high accessibility ranking if they aren’t in a position to offer reliable insight on a certain topic. The source’s access to decision makers, specific training or education in the desired topic area, specific knowledge of events/situations/incidents can also be considered.
Source Availability : How often can we go to this source ? Are they someone we can tap daily, weekly, monthly, yearly ?
Insight Credibility : This is our assessment of the veracity of the insight offered. Here we need to consider whether or not this is disinformation, speculation, correct data or knowledgeable interpretation. Any bias that the source is displaying or any specific viewpoints or personal background the source is using in the assessment provided should also be considered.
Insight Uniqueness : Is this insight something that could be found in OS ? If it is but the analysis of the information is unique, it would still have a high uniqueness ranking. Or, if it is concrete data, but is something that is only offered to industry insiders, i.e. stats that aren’t published but that aren’t secret, it would still have a high uniqueness score.
All of the above factors will be scored on an A-F scale, with A being exemplary and F being useless.
Source Timeliness : A = turnaround within 24 hours B = turnaround within 48 hours C = turnaround within a week D = turnaround within a month F = lucky to receive a reply at all
Source Accessibility : A = Someone with intimate knowledge of the particular insight B = Someone within the industry but whose knowledge of the topic is not exact (e.g. if we were asking someone in the oil industry about natural gas) C = Someone working close to the industry who doesn’t have intimate knowledge of a particular topic but can speak to it intelligently (e.g. a financial consultant asked to gauge the movement of the stock market) D = Someone who may know a country but doesn’t have any concrete insight into a particular topic but can offer rumors and discussions heard on the topic F = Someone who has no knowledge of a particular industry at all
Source Availability : A = Available pretty much whenever B = Can tap around once a week C = Can tap about once a month D = Can tap only several times a year F = Very limited availability
Insight Credibility : A = We can take this information to the bank B = Good insight but maybe not entirely precise C = Insight is only partially true D = There may be some interest in the insight, but it is mostly false or just pure speculation. F = Likely to be disinformation
Insight Uniqueness : A = Can’t be found anywhere else B = Can only be found in limited circles C = Insight can be found in OS, but the source has an interesting take/analysis D = Insight can be found in OS, but still may not be common knowledge F = Insight is accessible in numerous locations
Daily Insight Scoring
SOURCE : code ATTRIBUTION : this is what we should say if we use this info in a publication, e.g. STRATFOR source/source in the medical industry/source on the ground, etc SOURCE DESCRIPTION : this is where we put the more concrete details of the source for our internal consumption so we can better understand the source’s background and ability to make the assessments in the insight. PUBLICATION : Yes or no. If you put yes it doesn’t mean that we will publish it, but only that we can publish it. SOURCE RELIABILITY : A-F. A being the best and F being the worst. This grades the source overall – access to information, timeliness, availability, etc. In short, how good is this source ? ITEM CREDIBILITY : A-F. A = we can take this info to the bank ; B = Good insight but maybe not entirely precise ; C = Insight is only partially true ; D = There may be some interest in the insight, but it is mostly false or just pure speculation ; F = Likely to be disinformation. SPECIAL HANDLING : often this is “none” but it may be something like, “if you use this we need to be sure not to mention the part about XXX in thepublication” or any other special notes SOURCE HANDLER : the person who can take follow-up questions and communicate with the source.
Lead journalist: Sarah Harrison
Find this story at 27 February 2012