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This is part one of an exclusive Mint Press News investigation into the story of Stratfor.
On Christmas Day 2011, the hacktivist collective Anonymous ruined the day for a security firm that, throughout much of its history, enjoyed operating in the shadows.
The firm: Strategic Forecasting, Inc., an Austin, Texas-based intelligence-collecting contracting company better known as Stratfor. Its clients include some of the most profitable multinational corporations on the planet, such as the American Petroleum Institute, Archer Daniels Midland, Dow Chemical, Duke Energy, Northrop Grumman, Intel and Coca-Cola.
Anonymous hacked into the content management system of Stratfor’s computer system, eventually handing over 5.2 million emails and accompanying attachments to WikiLeaks, which coined the database the “Global Intelligence Files.”
In March 2012, the FBI raided Hammond’s apartment and handed him charges. After more than a year of sitting in the Manhattan Correctional Center, Hammond eventually settled out of court in May 2013. He pleaded guilty to violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and his sentence will be handed down on Sept. 6. He may serve up to 10 years in prison.
Stratfor’s precursor, Pagan International, built the corporate public relations playbook still utilized by the firm today.
The goal of a corporate PR plan “must be to separate the fanatic activist leaders from the overwhelming majority of their followers: decent, concerned people who are willing to judge us on the basis of our openness and usefulness,” Pagan stated in 1982, fully understanding that the public should never know this was the game plan.
Hammond – perhaps without knowing every detail of the history of the playbook itself – essentially cited it as the rationale behind his Stratfor hack and leak to WikiLeaks.
“I believe in the power of the truth. In keeping with that, I do not want to hide what I did or to shy away from my actions,” he stated in a press release announcing the plea deal. “I believe people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors.”
In this investigation, Mint Press examines Stratfor’s rise to power and its use of the “divide and conquer” philosophy to take on some of the largest boycott movements against multinational corporations.