(All G.I. Files email ID numbers in footnotes)
It’s no secret that Stratfor hates Julian Assange. On February 27, WikiLeaks began the release of over 5 million emails from the global intelligence company. Within the first 400 or so emails, roughly 70 of them mention WikiLeaks or Assange. The most consistent thing in these emails is a strong hatred for the WikiLeaks founder.
The attacks against Assange come in a wide range, from simple name-calling—“douche,”1“fucking idiot,”2 “delusional nut”3—to multiple claims that he is a terrorist.4 He is called “anti-American” more than once,5 with one Stratfor analyst claiming that he “hates America more than [Osama bin Laden].”6While claims of Assange’s anti-Americanism are widespread, they are unfounded, as WikiLeaks does not target specific countries but publishes the material it receives. Assange has also spoken favorably of America’s Founding Fathers and First Amendment. (For a good analysis on this issue see “Debunked: WikiLeaks is Anti-American.”)
Beyond the insults come threats and wishes for harm against Assange. After his arrest in December 2010, Australian ex-Senator Bill O’Chee writes “Hooray!” then comments, “Sadly he didn’t have a car accident on the way there.”7
The threats continue: “he needs to be water boarded,”8
“He’ll be eating cat food forever,”9
“He needs his head dunked in a full toilet bowl at Gitmo,”10
“tactical nuke solves everything,”11
and so on.
It is one thing to insult and threaten, but another to discuss plausible methods of capturing someone. Stratfor Vice President Fred Burton offers multiple ways in which he thinks Assange may end up in U.S. prison. He discusses bankrupting Assange, taking down his infrastructure,12 moving him from “country to country to face various charges” for 25 years,13 and charging him with “7-12 [years] for conspiracy.”14 He mentions using the same tools used to dismantle Al-Qaeda to “nail and de-construct” WikiLeaks.15 When Assange was planning to speak at the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) conference in Las Vegas (an appearance he cancelled due to security concerns), Burton suggested revoking his travel status and having him taken into custody as a material witness.16
|Stratfor Vice President Fred Burton.
(image via quarkbase)
Burton then begins to discuss the idea of using a sealed indictment to imprison Assange,17 commenting that he would “be easy to indict.”18 He says the Department of Justice won’t seek prosecution itself, but that Congress would press for criminal prosecution.19 Stratfor analyst Sean Noonan then references20 Attorney General Eric Holder’s comments on the matter, which attest to Burton’s viewpoint: “[P]eople would have a misimpression if the only statute you think that we are looking at is the Espionage Act […] [T]here are other statutes, other tools that we have at our disposal.” Burton then confirms, “We have a sealed indictment on Assange.”21 Assange has sincecommented that they had three sources of information about the indictment before the Stratfor email.
Despite their intense hatred for Julian Assange and beliefs that he should be imprisoned, Stratfor holds no issues with using the information WikiLeaks has released. On numerous occasions they have sent the contents of various cables to each other via email.22
With the release of the Afghan War Logs, Burton asked that DSS surveillance reports be “culled out.” 23
Stratfor CEO George Freidman, while having previously said WikiLeaks was, “dumpster diving and only getting the top layer of the garbage and thinking it was gold,” 24
said that Stratfor needed to be prepared to go through Cablegate once it was released, noting “this stuff seems important.” 25
He subsequently tasked the analyst staff to do so. 26
Not only that, but Stratfor mirrored 27
Cablegate as it was released for its own private research, commenting that the mirror “definitely should not be ma[de] available to the public, or to our subscribers.”28
While debating possible legal issues of storing classified information, they quelled their concerns by simply “throw[ing] a password on it.” 29
While this hypocrisy has been seen in many other organizations such as the New York Times
, Stratfor has truly set a new standard. Despite their hatred for Assange and their wish for legal action to be taken against him, they still found much use in WikiLeaks’ material, and even received increased web traffic by featuring articles on the organization. 30
But, no matter how many times WikiLeaks is attacked, the fact stands that its releases have fueled thousands upon thousands of articles across the globe and continue to do so to this day.
Footnotes: G.I. Files email ID numbers: