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Stratfor

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Stratfor -- also known as Strategic Forecasting, Inc. -- is a private company that provides strategic and issues management intelligence analysis to corporations and governments.

The company, founded in 1996, is based in Austin, Texas and boasts that it has "an intelligence network located throughout the world."

"Stratfor is the world's leading private intelligence firm providing corporations, governments and individuals with geopolitical analysis and forecasts that enable them to manage risk and to anticipate political, economic and security issues vital to their interests," it states on its website.[1]

MBD, with Ties to Pagan International, Merged into Stratfor in 2003

Mongoven, Biscoe & Duchin (MBD) was a public relations firm based in Washington D.C. that specialized in gathering intelligence on activist organizations for their scores of business clients, and developing strategies and tactics to protect their clients from activists. It was founded by Jack Mongoven (an ex-journalist turned GOP operative), Alvin Biscoe, and Ron Duchin, who were formerly principal executives of Pagan International. Pagan International, in turn, was founded by Mongoven with Rafael Pagan after the pair made their names by thwarting the late-1970s and 1980s boycott of Nestlé for its active promotion of infant formula in developing countries. They had been hired by Nestlé to devise and implement a "divide and conquer" strategy to bring down the boycott.[2]

In 2003, MBD was merged into the Washington, DC, intelligence firm Stratfor. Bart Mongoven, Jack's son, is a Vice President of Stratfor.[3]

Hacked by Anonymous in 2011

On December 25, 2011, according to the Associated Press, "the loose-knit hacking movement 'Anonymous' claimed . . . to have stolen thousands of credit card numbers and other personal information belonging to clients of U.S.-based security think tank Stratfor. One hacker said the goal was to pilfer funds from individuals' accounts to give away as Christmas donations, and some victims confirmed unauthorized transactions linked to their credit cards. . . . It said it was able to get the credit card details in part because Stratfor didn't bother encrypting them - an easy-to-avoid blunder which, if true, would be a major embarrassment for any security-related company."[4]

"Fred Burton, Stratfor's vice president of intelligence, said the company had reported the intrusion to law enforcement and was working with them on the investigation.
"Stratfor has protections in place meant to prevent such attacks, he said.
"'But I think the hackers live in this kind of world where once they fixate on you or try to attack you it's extraordinarily difficult to defend against,' Burton said." . . .
"Stratfor said in an email to members, signed by Stratfor Chief Executive George Friedman and passed on to AP by subscribers, that it had hired a 'leading identity theft protection and monitoring service" on behalf of the Stratfor members affected by the attack.'"[4]

Stratfor responded by taking down its website for "maintenance."

Business Insider received confirmation from CEO George Friedman that Anonymous successfully "hacked the Stratfor website . . . but has also obtained the full client list of over 4000 individuals and corporations, including their credit cards (which supposedly have been used to make $1 million in donations'), as well as over 200 GB of email correspondence."[5]

Anonymous released its information via Twitter. Business Insider published the log of tweets from the "AnonymousIRC" handle. Key tweets include:[5]

"We just hear that #AnonSanta battle-sleigh plundered 200gb of emails and other booty before he started to deliver his presents. #LulzXmas
""You do realize how preposterous it is to suggest that #stratfor simply shutdown completely for 2 days, right?" ~ Frank Ginac (IT manager)
"Merry #LulzXmas to everyone http://imagebin.org/190224 Stratfor rooted. All your base are belong to us. <3 #Anonymous
"http://bit.ly/ulWECe | #Anonymous/#AntiSec Attack #STRATFOR | #LulzXmas #AntiSec
"The private (and secret) client list of #Stratfor: http://pastebin.com/8MtFze0s | Not so private and secret anymore. #Antisec #LulzXmas
"#Antisec has enough targets lined up to extend the fun fun fun of #LulzXmas throught the entire next week."

Friedman's official letter to clients was posted on Business Insider here. It reads in part, "We have learned that Stratfor's web site was hacked by an unauthorized party. As a result of this incident the operation of Stratfor's servers and email have been suspended. We have reason to believe that the names of our corporate subscribers have been posted on other web sites. We are diligently investigating the extent to which subscriber information may have been obtained. . . . We are working closely with law enforcement in their investigation and will assist them with the identification of the individual(s) who are responsible."[5]

Standing with Petrochemical Makers in Requesting Federal Troop Defense

In March 2004, George Friedman, chairman and founder of Stratfor, said at a briefing with reporters after a speech on terrorism at the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association (NPRA) 2004 annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas, that never in a time of war has the federal government required the public and industry "to police themselves. The problem has to be handled by the federal government." He added that the federal government should ensure that facilities are secure by placing federal troops around critical facilities and instituting minimum security standards, since the country is at war and facilities are vulnerable to terrorist attacks.[6]

Criticism for Strategizing to Spin Public Health Advocates as "Anti-Chemical"

In March 2004, Bart Mongoven from Stratfor's Washington D.C. office appeared on a panel - Strategies for Dealing with Environmental Litigation - at the NPRA 2004 annual meeting. (Also appearing on the panel were Marc Sisk, Dorsey & Whitney, Washington, DC and Stephen Brown from The Dutko Group LLC).[7]

Mongoven warned industry leaders about the increasing collaboration between environmental groups and patients groups on the issue of exposure to chemicals. Washington D.C. trade magazine, Inside EPA, reported Mongoven told the NPRA that "in five years, the environmental community would like to see all debates [be about] the environment and health." Mongoven nominated Collaborative on Health and the Environment as an example of the new approach.[8]

According to Inside EPA, Mongoven said that the collaboration was broadening the debate beyond exposure to pesticides to the health impacts of industrial emissions. According to Inside EPA, he suggested that one option for industry to counter this development was to dismiss advocates stated public health goal and instead portray them as being "anti-chemical."[8]

Criticism for Disinformation about Latin America

In 2003, Al Giordano, now publisher of the Narco News Bulletin, detailed what he calls "20 Stratfor Lies about Latin America" on the Big Left Outside" website:

Stratfor is one of these snake-oil disinfo sales firms that traffics in "intelligence briefings" for people gullible enough to pay for them. Imagine that: you can get lied to for free all over this great land, but some people actually pay to be deceived!
Stratfor's track record in Latin America is abhorrent (how many years in a row did it predict that Hugo Chavez would not survive that year as Venezuela's president?). It's "spin" is ideological: pro-corporate, which is no surprise, given that it's undisclosed clientele purchases something called "Business Intelligence Services."
In my opinion, Stratfor engages in circulating disinformation into the datasphere through its free and paid email memos in ways that seem aimed to help the agendas of that very same corporate world that contracts its services.[9]

Personnel

Contact information

700 Lavaca Street, Suite 900
Austin, TX 78701
Tel: +1 (512) 744-4300
Fax: +1 (512) 744-4334
Web: http://www.stratfor.com

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles

External Articles

References

  1. Stratfor, ABO, corporate website.
  2. Stacy M. Carter, Mongoven, Biscoe & Duchin: destroying tobacco control activism from the inside, Tobacco Control, 2002;11 Issue 2.
  3. Ronald A. Duchin, Army colonel, obituary,Washington Post, January 24, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Cassandra Vinograd and Ramit Plushnick-Masti, 'Anonymous' hackers target US security think tank, Associated Press, December 25, 2011.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Tyler Durden, Intelligence Service Stratfor Suffered A Devastating Hacking Attack Last Night, Business Insider, December 25, 2011
  6. Manu Raju, Petrochemical Makers Target House In Lobbying Against Federal Security Standards, Inside EPA Daily News (publication of Inside Washington Publishers, subscription only, copy on file with CMD), March 30, 2004
  7. NPRADC, Annual Meeting Schedule, organizational website, broken link
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Manu Raju, INDUSTRY FEARS GROWING ROLE OF PATIENT GROUPS IN ENVIRONMENT LOBBY, Inside EPA (publication of Inside Washington Publishers, subscription only, copy on file with CMD), Vol. 25, No. 13, March 26, 2004
  9. Al Giordano, 20 Stratfor Lies about Latin America, Big Left Outside, now offline, snips available on DemocraticUnderground.com, 2003
  10. Stratfor, About STRATFOR: Who we are, company website, accessed April 2009
  11. Stratfor, Bart Mongoven, company website, accessed December 27, 2011
  12. 12.0 12.1 Center for Responsive Politics, Occupation/Employer: Stratfor, OpenSecrets.org, campaign finance and lobbying database, accessed December 27, 2011
  13. Don Kuykendall, LinkedIn.com, business profile, accessed December 27, 2011
  14. Michael Erard, Is Knowledge Power? Austin-based Stratfor Attempts to Make Smart Money on Global Intelligence, Austin Chronicle, September 14, 2001
  15. Frank Ginac, LinkedIn.com, business profile, accessed December 27, 2011
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