The world seems united behind the idea that Wikileaks hacked dump of Stratfor emails was uninteresting or an embarrassment, and I myself have not spend extended time studying the raw stuff out there. Jack Shafer thinks the emails "underwhelm" and Talking Points Memo thinks the main takeaway is "Stratfor keeps an entertaining glossary of pseudo-militaristic terminology and disparaging nicknames of its intelligence sources and competitors. But beyond that, there haven't been any major revelations from the documents." The Christian Science Monitor says that though
Stratfor says it generates its own intelligence for reports, though it also relies heavily on open-source data collection. I've read dozens of their reports over the years. I've found some wildly speculative, others accurate but banal, and still others intriguing. And while I've found some Stratfor analysis to be flat wrong, and so perhaps harmful if conclusions are taken by policymakers at face value…
Max Fisher at the Atlantic thinks flat out that "Stratfor is a joke" in his headline, "which appears to do little more than combine banal corporate research with media-style freelance researcher arrangements" and in fact has had its rep as superspies illegitimately boosted by Wikileaks' leaks.
Meanwhile, Greg Mills at the Nation has a good collection of mini-bits and links on what's there in the released emails.
I did want to draw attention to a couple of revelations of at least potential interest:
*The Stratfor folk seemed sure that Osama's body was not dumped at sea, as Business Insider reports:
At 5:26 a.m. on May 2, the morning after Barack Obama announced the successful raid on bin Laden's Abbottabad compound, Stratfor CEO George Friedman sent an email with the subject "[alpha] OBL" that said:
Reportedly, we took the body with us. Thank goodness.
Fred Burton, Stratfor's vice president for intelligence, followed that up at 5:51 a.m. with an email titled "[alpha] Body bound for Dover, DE on CIA plane" that said:
Than [sic] onward to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Bethesda.
At 1:36 p.m. Burton replied to a thread named "Re: OBL's corpse" with the message:
Body is Dover bound, should be here by now.
That contradicts the official story that bin Laden's body was handled in accordance with Islamic tradition and released into the sea from a U.S. Navy vessel.
*And much more relevant, as Obama gets serious about war with Iran, some Stratfor folk think that there is no more Iranian nuclear threat (though if you read the whole thread, there is much internal debate and doubt on this point):
On 11/7/11 7:54 AM, Benjamin Preisler wrote:
Publication: for background
Source Description—Confirmed Israeli Intelligence Agent
Source reliability: Still testing
Item credibility: untested
Source handler: Fred
Source was asked what he thought of reports that the Israelis
were preparing a military offensive against Iran. Response:
I think this is a diversion. The Israelis already destroyed
all the Iranian nuclear infrastructure on the ground weeks
ago. The current "let's bomb Iran" campaign was ordered by the
EU leaders to divert the public attention from their at home
financial problems. It plays also well for the US since
Pakistan, Russia and N. Korea are mentioned in the report.
The result of this campaign will be massive attacks on Gaza
and strikes on Hezbollah in both Lebanon and Syria.
It is entirely possible and even probable that the superanalysts at Stratfor are speculating beyond the evidence as much as any blogger out there, and that their "confirmed Israeli intelligence agent" is of no reliability or a fiction, but if one grants they might have some reason to know what they are talking about, these are interesting ideas to have in the public record.