Update March 23, 2018; 8:21AM: Additional information on Stratfor’s publication quality added
Three days ago, the Free Thought Project published an article stating that Nicholas Sarwark had some relationship with Stratfor, a private intelligence company founded in 1996 that was the victim of a hacking, claimed by the hacktivist group Anonymous, in 2011 in which client lists, e-mails and credit card information were obtained.
Stratfor’s client list is confidential and includes Fortune 500 companies, international government agencies, universities and other organizations. The company refuted that the list Anonymous had acquired was their clients stating “Contrary to this assertion the disclosure was merely a list of some of the members that have purchased our publications and does not comprise a list of individuals or entities that have a relationship with Stratfor beyond their purchase of our subscription-based publications.”
Free Thought Project had asserted that because of Sarwark’s inclusion on the list posted on Wikileaks that he “had some type of relationship with Stratfor, either as a client or an informant,” and that “While the specifics of Sarwark’s relationship with Stratfor are unclear, it is certain that some type of financial or informational exchange took place between the two, prior to Sarwark becoming Chairman of the Libertarian Party.”
The site claimed on their Facebook page that “We’ve confirmed that documents leaked by Wikileaks verifies the current chairman of the Libertarian party has a ‘behind the scenes’ relationship with a shadow CIA “intelligence firm,” but the details do not seem to verify that conclusion.
In an interview with 71republic (which has since been taken down) Sarwark stated that he had received a gift membership from a family member for Stratfor’s publication, which would line up with the company’s statement in 2011 that the list acquired by hacking was a list of subscribers to their newsletter.
Free Thought Project also referred to Stratfor multiple times as a “shadow CIA” within their piece, but reports from the Atlantic show that Stratfor may not be as intimidating as their branding has made them sound.
In response to Wikileaks announcement that they had big information leaked that shows Stratfor as a front for providing intelligence to corporations, the Atlantic stated “Maybe what these emails actually reveal is how a Texas-based corporate research firm can get a little carried away in marketing itself as a for-hire CIA and end up fooling some over-eager hackers into believing it’s true.”
The author explains how Stratfor’s Intel Reports (which they were signed up for a trial subscription by someone in the company) often contained publicly available information and “bland analysis” and explained how a friend described it as “The Economist a week later and several hundred times more expensive.”
The article continues to explain how the intelligence agency’s on-the-ground researchers are essentially the same thing as news reporters and not “spies.”
“Stratfor is not the shadow-CIA that Wikileaks seems to believe it is, but much of the blame for this mistake actually lies with Stratfor itself.
The group has spent over a decade trying to convince the world that it is a for-hire, cutting-edge intel firm with tentacles everywhere. Before their marketing campaign fooled Anonymous, it fooled wealthy clients; before it fooled clients, it hooked a couple of reporters,” states the Atlantic.
It would seem that the Free Thought Project has also fallen victim to the company’s branding and that the claims of Nicholas Sarwark potentially being a CIA nark has little basis in fact.