FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Blood on Stratfor’s Hands

Even if we were to place epistemological and ethical questions aside, certain Stratfor’s analysts are turning out to be rather twisted creatures.

While some turn party tricks for intelligence, except in AIDS-infested Africa, others, such as Fred Burton – a counter-terrorism and security expert, alleged to frequently service US intelligence, are a tad aggressive. One of Fred’s gems include: “The owner is a peacenik. He needs his head dunked in a full toilet bowl at Gitmo.”

So much for niceties.

But beyond the flippant remarks (and who isn’t facetious from time to time?) there exists a more dangerous reality: Stratfor – as evidenced by  their own content – is neither a politically nor ideologically neutral intelligence agency.

They have clearly picked a side.

When analyst Lauren Goodrich had lunch with former Federal Judge Sam Kent, found guilty of consensual sexual misconduct and perjury, she tried to convince him that Halliburton – a company he ruled a major case against – was not responsible for his suffering.  “Isn’t it strange that the Justice Department begins sniffing around for dirt to throw at me just weeks after I ruled a heavy case against Halliburton. Then a small set of affairs turn into an untrue situation and then spun up into an unprecedented case against a Federal Judge,” asked Kent.

“Of course, I told him he was nuts to rule anything against Halliburton. I also told him that this sounds like a John Grisham plotline,” responded Goodrich. Allegedly, Halliburton – like Lockheed Martin and others, is a client.

Similarly, Stratfor’s internal narrative reveals that organizations such as International Rivers (one email promoting Nnimmo Bassey’s new mega-dam video was listed) are monitored. There is nothing wrong with this.

It is their intent that matters.

Clients from Coca-Cola and Dow Chemicals frequently dole out cash, around $8000 per average report, to investigate civil society ‘opponents’ from PETA to comedy spoof crew, the Yes Men. And the latter is one example of why and where Stratfor gets really dirty: the company was paid to spy on activists protesting the gas leak from Union Carbide’s Bhopal pesticide plant (1984), considered one of the world’s worst industrial catastrophes, causing mass environmental damage, killing over 15 000 people and injuring 500 000 others.

In one fundamental sense, there is no such thing as objectivity. Humans are essentially subjective beings, and even if one were to consciously engage an issue from a perceived neutral stance, the habitus of personal development (absorbed, learned, or acquired) extending from ideological collective myths to class aesthetics, comes to the fore of man’s identity.

And vulgarity is cultivated, through tribalism, nationalism, ethnicity, religion and culture, rather than weeded out. Modern civilisation, rooted in amoral scientificity, tells us that ethical behaviour is relative and not a ‘factual’ reality. Capitalism tells us that man operates from the premise of self-interest.

But history – and our own innate nature – tells us otherwise.

Wars may be the delusional and dangerous creatures of politicians but most humans join these bloody battlefields, going to certain death or worse – an injured life – driven by the urge  to defend and protect; to fight the good fight. They may not understand the reality of it, but in their own minds, they are doing the right thing. And never are such men more inspired than when their leaders lead from the front. What men like South Africa’s heroic Mandela have showed us, is that humans are willing to put life, aside, for what they believe to be a just cause, especially when led by a seemingly just leader.

This is why Hollywood movies, with their fairy-tale endings, are so successful: never do we, as individual or collective audiences, honor or respect a human being more than when he rises above the worst, to become his best.

So, when indifference to the destruction of what is irreplaceable, for something as common as money constitutes the core foundation of intelligence agencies – the microcosms of the forces that drive foreign policy – and this indifference, as Balzac noted in Lost Illusions, deadens the world, it is no wonder that the world is in a state of hell.

With their emails, Stratfor appears to advocate for a world where polluters and murderers, circumvent accountability by obtaining information to pre-empt – and in the process destroy – their opposition. And this is the rule, rather than the exception, for any agency gathering intelligence for the highest bidder.

In this sense, it is a company with blood on their hands.

Khadija Sharife is a journalist; visiting scholar at the Center for Civil Society (CCS) based in South Africa and contributor to the Tax Justice Network. She is the Southern Africa correspondent for The Africa Report magazine, assistant editor of the Harvard “World Poverty and Human Rights” journal and author of Tax Us If You Can (Africa). 

This article originally appeared in Africa Report.

 

More articles by:
August 13, 2020
David Correia, Justin Bendell, and Ernesto Longa
Nine Mile Ride: Why Police Reform Always Results in More Police Violence, Not Less
Vijay Prashad
Why a Growing Force in Brazil Is Charging That President Jair Bolsonaro Has Committed Crimes Against Humanity
Brett Wilkins
Teaching Torture: The Death and Legacy of Dan Mitrione
Joseph Scalia III
Yellowstone Imperiled by Compromise
Binoy Kampmark
Don’t Stigmatise the Nuke! Opponents of the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty
Margot Rathke
The Stimulus Deal Should Include Free College
Thomas Knapp
America Doesn’t Have Real Presidential Debates, But It Should
George Ochenski
Time to Face – and Plan for – Our Very Different Future
Ted Rall
Joe Biden’s Vice Presidential Pick is … ZZZZZ
Purusottam Thakur
‘If We Don’t Work, Who’ll Produce the Harvest?’
Robert Dreyfuss
October Surprise: Will War with Iran Be Trump’s Election Eve Shocker?
Gary Leupp
The RCP, Fascism, and Chairman Bob’s Endorsement of Biden for President
James Haught
The Pandemic Disproves God
Robert Koehler
Election Theft and the Reluctant Democracy
August 12, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Trump’s War On Arms Control and Disarmament
P. Sainath
“We Didn’t Bleed Him Enough”: When Normal is the Problem
Riva Enteen
Kamala Harris? Really? Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
Kenneth Surin
The Decrepit UK Political System
Robert Hunziker
Freakish Arctic Fires Alarmingly Intensify
Ramzy Baroud
The Likud Conspiracy: Israel in the Throes of a Major Political Crisis
Sam Pizzigati
Within Health Care USA, Risk and Reward Have Never Been More Out of Kilter
John Perry
The US Contracts Out Its Regime Change Operation in Nicaragua
Binoy Kampmark
Selective Maritime Rules: The United States, Diego Garcia and International Law
Manuel García, Jr.
The Improbability of CO2 Removal From the Atmosphere
Khury Petersen-Smith
The Road to Portland: The Two Decades of ‘Homeland Security’
Raouf Halaby
Teaching Palestinian Children to Love Beethoven, Bizet, and Mozart is a Threat to a Depraved Israeli Society
Jeff Mackler
Which Way for Today’s Mass Radicalization? Capitalism’s Impending Catastrophe…or a Socialist Future
Tom Engelhardt
It Could Have Been Different
Stephen Cooper
Santa Davis and the “Stalag 17” Riddim
August 11, 2020
Richard D. Wolff
Why Capitalism is in Constant Conflict With Democracy
Paul Street
Defund Fascism, Blue and Orange
Richard C. Gross
Americans Scorned
Andrew Levine
Trump and Biden, Two Ignoble Minds Here O’erthrown
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Nationalism Has Led to the Increased Repression of Minorities
Sonali Kolhatkar
Trump’s Presidency is a Death Cult
Colin Todhunter
Pushing GMO Crops into India: Experts Debunk High-Level Claims of Bt Cotton Success
Valerie Croft
How Indigenous Peoples are Using Ancestral Organizing Practices to Fight Mining Corporations and Covid-19
David Rovics
Tear Gas Ted Has a Tantrum in Portland
Dean Baker
There is No Evidence That Generous Unemployment Benefits are Making It Difficult to Find Workers
Robert Fantina
War on Truth: How Kashmir Struggles for Freedom of Press
Dave Lindorff
Trump Launches Attack on Social Security and Medicare
Elizabeth Schmidt
COVID-19 Poses a Huge Threat to Stability in Africa
Parth M.N.
Coping With a Deadly Virus, a Social One, Too
Thomas Knapp
The “Election Interference” Fearmongers Think You’re Stupid
Binoy Kampmark
Mealy-Mouthed Universities: Academic Freedom and the Pavlou Problem Down Under
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail