Stratfor Lowdown

The privatization of war has been coming for some time now. The Stratfor story, seemingly unremarkable at the time, has prompted deeper analysis by those who know better. This is a survey of the information developed, put in context and contrasted with the mainstream media response.

Our taxes pay spies to work for rich shareholders   

by Jim Hightower

It’s likely that 99.9 percent of readers had never heard of Stratfor, Inc. (including me), and the story really wasn’t all that newsy. The main point seemed to be that the hack attack was pulled off by Anonymous. This amorphous global collective of incognito, anarchistic “hactivists” has shown a remarkable techno/ politico ability and agility, having penetrated deeply into the supposedly secure computer networks of a wide range of big targets, including Visa, the Church of Scientology, Monsanto, the Egyptian government, Universal Music, the Justice Department, the Tunisian government, Sony, PayPal, and the Bay Area Rapid Transit system.

According to the story, the group had grabbed and publicly released 860,000 email addresses and 75,000 credit card numbers of the obscure firm’s customers. The firm’s full name is Strategic Forecasting, Inc., blandly described in the newspaper as a “geopolitical analysis and security intelligence company” that merely “gathers open source information on international crises,” which it repackages and sells to clients. Okay, but why would its database be a target of Anonymous, much less cause the group to boast on its website that it would cause “mayhem” by publishing the information?

Digging through the names “liberated” by the hactivists, … investigative journalists reported that far from being just another internet privacy story, the Stratfor hack offers a public peek into the dark and deep netherworld of the fast-expanding privatization of our nation’s intelligence, foreign policy, and military responsibilities.

Among the corporation’s customers were such prominent names from Ye Olde Spookesville as Henry Kissinger, as well as such oddities as Dan Quayle (whose link to any sort of “intelligence” has always been considered tenuous). Of much greater interest was the fact that Stratfor’s secret list of email addresses included 19,000 officials from the US military, 212 from the FBI, 71 from DIA (the Pentagon’s own spy operation), 29 from the National Security Agency (another global eavesdrop-ping apparatus, attached to the White House), and 24 from the CIA. In addition to these national governmental officials, the range of email listings stretched from Apple Inc. to the Miami Police Department.

The corporatization of war

The rise of the corporate spook is only one part of the dangerous drift that is steadily pushing the public out of “public affairs.” The Lowdown regularly covers the private seizure of government’s domestic functions (see last month’s report on postal privatization, for example). But it’s equally important to focus on the rapidly occurring separation of the public from control of and even involvement in such basic international work as intelligence gathering, foreign policy, and war itself.

Full story at the Hightower Lowdown

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