In an unprecedented collaboration between Anonymous and WikiLeaks, the secret spilling site began leaking Sunday night portions of a massive trove of e-mails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor that Anonymous obtained by hacking the company in December.
WikiLeaks did not mention the source of the reported five gigabytes of e-mails in its press release, but did say it has been working for months with 25 media outlets from around the world to analyze the documents.
The first batch of leaked e-mails purport to show that Stratfor monitored the political prankster group known as The Yes Men on behalf of Dow Chemical, which has been targeted by The Yes Men over the company’s handling of the Bhopal disaster. The e-mails also purport to show Stratfor’s attempt to set up an investment fund with a Goldman Sachs director to trade on the intelligence Stratfor collects, as well as give insight into how the private intelligence firm acquires, and sometimes pays for, information.
Stratfor, which bills itself as a private intelligence organization, sells its analyses of global politics to major corporations and government agencies.
Members of Anonymous with direct knowledge of the hack and transfer of data to WikiLeaks told Wired that the group decided to turn the information over to WikiLeaks because the site was more capable of analyzing and spreading the leaked information than Anonymous would be.
“WikiLeaks has great means to publish and disclose,” the anon told Wired. “Also, they work together with media in a way we don’t.”
“Basically, WL is the ideal partner for such stuff,” the anon continued. “Antisec acquires the shit, WL gets it released in a proper manner.” Antisec is the arm of Anonymous that is known for hacking into servers.
According to Antisec participants, Stratfor was targeted not just for its poor security, but also because of its client list, which includes major companies and government entities.
“We believe police and employees who work for the most significant fortune 500 companies are the most responsible for perpetuating the machinery of capitalism and the state,” said one Antisec participant in December, “That there will be repercussions for when you choose to betray the people and side with the rich ruling classes.”
Anons also told Wired that future collaborations with WikiLeaks could involve a series of hacks that will be announced, one after another, every Friday for the foreseeable future. If that happens, the Stratfor e-mail release could be the first sign of a new, powerful alliance between the two groups, each of which has vexed and angered the world’s most powerful governments and corporations.
When WikiLeaks received the documents on a server it controlled, it acknowledged the successful transfer with a coded, public Tweet, according to an anon with direct knowledge of the collaboration.
A document provided to Wired that could not be authenticated indicated that the media partners of WikiLeaks agreed to parcel out stories on the leaks over the coming week and a half. Those media partners do not include previous partners such as the Guardian and U.S. partners The New York Times and the Washington Post.
According to the document, e-mails about WikiLeaks and Anonymous will be disclosed Wednesday, followed by separate disclosures on Italy, the Middle East and then Asian countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, among others. The project, code-named Rock Guitar, is officially named “The Global Intelligence Files.”
Stratfor had been aware that the e-mails would likely be published in some form by Anonymous, but said in January that the e-mails should not embarrass the company.
The collaboration between WikiLeaks and Anonymous is an odd couple pairing. WikiLeaks has largely crumbled over the last 18 months, due to internal disagreements over the management style and legal problems of its outspoken leader Julian Assange. By contrast, Anonymous is an amorphous group with no leadership structure.
If Anonymous continues feeding WikiLeaks with documents, the secret spilling site could return to a prominence that seemed lost due to technical difficulties, legal troubles, in-fighting and public fallings out with media partners in the wake of the site’s publication of a massive trove of U.S. documents in 2010 and 2011.
WikiLeaks’s alleged source for those documents, Pfc. Bradley Manning, is facing a U.S. army court martial and a possible sentence of life imprisonment.
As for how the collaboration between the two groups went, an anon with direct knowledge of it indicated that the new relationship had some tough moments.
“There were some natural tensions as usually can happen inside partnership,” the anon said. ”I hope this was only the beginning of a beautiful relationship.”