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Is Stratfor a "Joke"? 211

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the wikileaks-releases-back-issues-of-the-economist dept.
daveschroeder writes with an opinion piece that seems to differ from the usual thinking on the Wikileaks release of Stratfor emails: "Max Fisher writes in The Atlantic: 'The corporate research firm has branded itself as a CIA-like "global intelligence" firm, but only Julian Assange and some over-paying clients are fooled. [...] The group's reputation among foreign policy writers, analysts, and practitioners is poor; they are considered a punchline more often than a source of valuable information or insight. [...] So why do Wikileaks and their hacker source Anonymous seem to consider Stratfor, which appears to do little more than combine banal corporate research with media-style freelance researcher arrangements, to be a cross between CIA and Illuminati? The answer is probably a combination of naivete and desperation.'"
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Is Stratfor a "Joke"?

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  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Thursday March 01, 2012 @04:52PM (#39213925) Homepage

    That's a pretty wafer thin opinion piece. Sure, Stratfor seems like a mess, but I think the most telling aspect of this whole fiasco is that we actually believe an intelligence company could be so moronic. That says a lot about the public's perception of government intelligence, or lack thereof, if imbeciles like Stratfor are actually being paid to provide services.

  • by tpotus (1856224) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @04:56PM (#39213965)
    ... is what this article is.
  • by 3seas (184403) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @04:57PM (#39213973) Journal

    ... the mindset of the intelligence industry. It shows there is an element of self supported dependencies involved. This is not unlike addicts, such as Alcoholic and durg abuses etc. But on th eup side of thise there are help groups such as AA, OA, MA, SPA etc.. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_twelve-step_groups [wikipedia.org] ) where they have buddy systems because once you are so caught up in an addiction it is difficult to stay objective about getting yourself out of the addiction, hence the buddy system comes into play... better objectivity.

    So, perhaps we need such a group for the Intelligence Industry, lets call it IA or better yet lets stay silent about the intelligence part and simply call the help group Anonymous.

    Yeah... thats the ticket...
     

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 01, 2012 @04:57PM (#39213979)

    Stratfor has two purposes.

    1. Steal money from the US people for 'intelligence services'.

    2. Allows the government to obtain massive amounts of your data from google/facebook/amazon and other places without having to explain themselves.

  • If it's a joke... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by micheas (231635) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @04:58PM (#39213985) Homepage Journal
    Can we stop writing checks to them with tax payer money?
  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @04:58PM (#39213987) Journal

    Stratfor's a joke, but the powers that be take them seriously. That makes them a serious threat. Wikileaks, exposing this joke, helps to diffuse that threat. This is not complicated.

  • by Desler (1608317) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @04:59PM (#39214009)

    How is it spin? The guy quotes articles and facts that are easily verified to show that Stratfor is not what it has been claimed to be by a well-known media whore. The only spin is coming from people who can't stand that Wikileaks could be blowing this out of proportion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 01, 2012 @05:03PM (#39214045)

    Wikileaks is exaggerating the importance of Stratfor. It isn't some spy operation, it is just news gathering and analysis. Stratfor is not a private CIA.
    The Atlantic article has two links to stories claiming Stratfor is a joke but they are both written by Daniel Drezner. I guess Daniel isn't impressed by Stratfor.
    Wikileaks may have some use, but by exposing emails from a bunch of guys who gather and report news for a living I don't think they have saved the world..
    Try again Julian.

  • by tbannist (230135) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @05:12PM (#39214157)

    Strangely enough either way this goes it's an issue. Either the taxpayer money is being wasted or it's being spent on a private corporation to spy on American citizens. Maybe the real issue is that giving money to these guys is both wasteful and unethical.

  • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @05:14PM (#39214173) Journal

    Of course, some of us regard Stratfor as a joke with no tangible wit or discernible punchline. This does not impede idiots with more money than sense of humor from buying its output. Much the same can be said for The Atlantic, unfortunately...

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @05:16PM (#39214193) Homepage Journal

    That's a pretty wafer thin opinion piece. Sure, Stratfor seems like a mess, but I think the most telling aspect of this whole fiasco is that we actually believe an intelligence company could be so moronic. That says a lot about the public's perception of government intelligence, or lack thereof, if imbeciles like Stratfor are actually being paid to provide services.

    What more effective cover for the deadly efficient than the guise of a disorganised clod?

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @05:16PM (#39214195)

    Wikileaks is exaggerating the importance of Stratfor. It isn't some spy operation, it is just news gathering and analysis.

    That's what spy operations are, though.

  • by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7&cornell,edu> on Thursday March 01, 2012 @05:16PM (#39214197) Homepage

    The way I read the article - the author is claiming that Anonymous are idiots for overinflating the importance of Stratfor because Stratfor is a joke.

    The thing is - companies that are jokes but try to pass themselves off to be important are JUST the kind of companies Anonymous loves to go for.

    The Stratfor leaks aren't about "Hey look at this juicy intel!", they are about "Hey, this company says they're hot shit. Check these emails out - these guys are actually morons!"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 01, 2012 @05:19PM (#39214247)

    "What more effective cover for the deadly efficient than the guise of a disorganised clod?"

    Good encryption, for one.

  • by tomhath (637240) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @05:27PM (#39214341)
    I see Stratfor calling itself the "Shadow CIA". But is there really any connection to the CIA? From what I've seen they mostly market themselves to private industry, perhaps they have some subscribers in Washington but the connection seems casual at best.
  • Joke or not ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @05:37PM (#39214461)

    ... people pay money for their analysis.

    If my CEO believes in astrology or that the earth is only 6000 years old, I may think he's crazy. But I still need to know who has his ear.

  • by bug1 (96678) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @05:49PM (#39214615)

    Only someone from the extreme right would make that claim ;)

  • by tnk1 (899206) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @05:53PM (#39214651)

    Salesmen often have no special skills or knowledge other than the ability to get people to buy their products. The identify people with a need, or those people come to them. Those are leads. Those leads are qualified and then a sales attempt is made. People then buy those products. The fact that Stratfor is useless is nothing weird or strange. The customers (government or private) were sold a product that they thought suited a need they had. The sales people probably built a convincing case for a subscription to be bought and the everyone proceeded to think it was doing something for them. Like many sales pitches, it probably hit more on the potential of a service that was described in the way they described Stratfor, as opposed to the reality of just what they could provide.

    Stratfor does sound like a joke. I'm still trying to figure out what the conspiracy is. Like the author in TFA said, their super-secret bribed sources are equivalent to freelance writers. Even before this piece, I was thinking to myself, "exactly what is being provided here that is in any way strange or illegal?"

    The only story here is that there are a lot of people paying a lot of money for a crappy product.

  • by mug funky (910186) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @06:13PM (#39214907)

    perspective foreshortening - from where you're sitting, everything is far to the left.

  • by mschuyler (197441) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @07:26PM (#39215571) Homepage Journal
    That's abiout what we have here. One guy, Fisher, has picked up the fact that another guy Drezner, doesn't have a high opinion of Stratfor,, though he has a high opinion of himself and constantly quotes himself in his own articles in <i>Foreign Policy</i>. Based on this one guy's opinion, Drezner, Fisher concludes that EVERYONE thinks Stratfor is "a joke," which is complete hyperbole. And now 100 slashdot posters, the majority of whom have no idea what Stratfor really does and have never been on their web site, get in line to repeat the same thing.

    Certainly Stratfor is not as smart as Stratfor thinks Stratfor is. Their analyses are somewhat uneven. Their "Above the Tearline" segments, for example, are a poster child for simplistic thinking. On the other hand, their analysis of the US Navy and its deployments is as close to perfect as you can realistically get--FAR better than something like Debkafile, for example, that routinley invents destroyer fleets plying the waters of the Indian Ocean. They have a lot of short "quickie" articles you could probably get for yourself on the Web, but their in-depth articles are well written, comprehensive, and insightful.

    They do have people on the ground all over the world. You can call them journalists instead of analysts if you want, but their coverage is far more insightful than a pool reporter for Fox or CNN. At least these guys have studied their subjects rather than spent their time blow drying their hair.

    If you quote Stratfor there is always someone to jump up and down and proclaim them and you worthless, but if you neglect to mention Stratfor is your source, suddenly what you say is considered pure genius.

    And they are hardly ruined. Yeah, the script kiddies walked all over them this time. They may have gotten 5 million emails (Really?) but this is no Climategate or Private Manning. And Stratfor will emerge stronger for it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 01, 2012 @08:29PM (#39216073)

    Stratfor and similar companies are basically specialized newspapers, much heavier on analysis than usual, with aggressive marketing departments. I have never been able to understand why Anonymous has such a stiffie for them-- its like Friedman ran over someone's dog, or something.

    As for the accuracy, I won't dispute that, because I've found some rather questionable statements in areas I'm familiar with. (Although I will raise an eyebrow at the precision implied-- 23%? Really?) It's not meaningful unless you can compare it to other ratings for other news services.

    And finally, I've seen Stratfor make at least grudging motions toward something virtually no other news service ever does-- they'll haul out last year's projections and see where they went wrong and try to explain why. Granted, they don't do a great job at this, but it's a refreshing effort, like when your kid finally learns to say please and thank-you.

  • by Darinbob (1142669) on Thursday March 01, 2012 @09:59PM (#39216577)

    And this means Assange helped start the revolution? Sounds like good old fashioned self aggrandizement to me.

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