Leaks, Fast and Furious

by lizard

Fast and Furious is a scandal that emanates a right-wing stink to it, and is therefore easily dismissed by those predisposed to act and think differently when it’s their team supposedly in charge.

But forget that angle for a moment, and instead consider The Strange Case of Barrett Brown; specifically, the Stratfor leak:

The contents of the Stratfor leak were even more outrageous than those of the HBGary hack. They included discussion of opportunities for renditions and assassinations. For example, in one video, Statfor’s vice president of intelligence, Fred Burton, suggested taking advantage of the chaos in Libya to render Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who had been released from prison on compassionate grounds due to his terminal illness. Burton said that the case “was personal.” When someone pointed out in an e-mail that such a move would almost certainly be illegal—“This man has already been tried, found guilty, sentenced…and served time”—another Stratfor employee responded that this was just an argument for a more efficient solution: “One more reason to just bugzap him with a hellfire. :-)”

(Stratfor employees also seemed to take a keen interest in Jeremy Scahill’s writings about Blackwater in The Nation, copying and circulating entire articles, with comments suggesting a principle interest was in the question of whether Blackwater was setting up a competing intelligence operation. E-mails also showed grudging respect for Scahill: “Like or dislike Scahill’s position (or what comes of his work), he does an amazing job outing [Blackwater].”)

When the contents of the Stratfor leak became available, Brown decided to put ProjectPM on it. A link to the Stratfor dump appeared in an Anonymous chat channel; Brown copied it and pasted it into the private chat channel for ProjectPM, bringing the dump to the attention of the editors.

There is so much information surfacing right now, and big things afoot, it’s hard to keep up. Barrett Brown’s disturbing case is getting some attention right now because the death of Michael Hastings has sparked some interest into what story spooked him enough to send this e-mail about going “off the radar”.

Though I’m not familiar with viralread.com, this post asks some decent questions:

Los Angeles police say there is no evidence of foul play in the car crash that killed Michael Hastings, yet mystery still surrounds the award-winning journalist’s death. So far, no one has explained why Hastings was driving at high speed down Highland Avenue at 4 o’clock in the morning Tuesday, and reports that Hastings was under investigation by the FBI were flatly denied by the bureau. Meanwhile, an e-mail Hastings sent to a colleague the day before he died has added to the confusion by referencing a “big story” he said he had begun working on.

In the immediate aftermath of the fiery accident that killed Hastings, supporters of Barrett Brown, former spokesman for the Anonymous hacker collective, said Hastings had been planning a story about Brown, who has been jailed in Texas on federal charges since his arrest last September. However, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that Hastings “was researching a story about a privacy lawsuit brought by Florida socialite Jill Kelley against the Department of Defense and the FBI.” Kelley says she received threatening anonymous e-mails that proved to have come from Paula Broadwell, who had an adulterous affair with former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus.

Yet in an e-mail sent Monday afternoon to one of his colleagues at the liberal blog BuzzFeed, Hastings mentioned neither of those stories. Instead, the subject line was “FBI investigation, re: NSA.”

Hastings wrote that the FBI was “interviewing my ‘close friends and associates,’” and suggested that if the FBI contacted BuzzFeed, it “may be wise to immediately request legal counsel before any conversations or interviews about our news-gathering practices or related journalism issues.”

Hastings’ reference to the National Security Agency, whose surveillance programs were recently exposed by a former contract worker, Edward Snowden, seemed to imply that this was also the reason for his concern about the FBI. In his last article for BuzzFeed on June 7, Hastings cited the NSA scandal in denouncing “Obama’s national security state.” Yet his e-mail Monday also included this unexplained sentence: “I’m onto a big story, and need to go off the radar for a bit.” About 15 hours after he sent that e-mail, Hastings was killed when his Mercedes-Benz C250 sports coupe slammed head-on into a palm tree near the intersection of Highland and Melrose avenues.

Was the “big story” about the NSA? And what was Hastings doing in the final hours of his life? Those questions remain unanswered, as does the question of why the 33-year-old reporter believed he was the target of an investigation that the federal agency says it never conducted. ”At no time was journalist Michael Hastings under investigation by the FBI,” a spokeswoman for the bureau told reporters Friday.

What does any of this have to do with Fast and Furious? In the deluge of information leaking from the global security offensive launched from American soil, it appears a few loose gun shipments south of the border may just be symptoms of a deeper symbiosis between cartels and the US govt.

Thanks to the Stratfor leak, the internal e-mail perspective from one of many players in the corporatizing of national security is worth looking into. The e-mail is very illuminating…


Leaked emails from the private U.S. security firm Stratfor cite a Mexican diplomat who says the U.S. government works with Mexican cartels to traffic drugs into the United States and has sided with the Sinaloa cartel in an attempt to limit the violence in Mexico.

Many people have doubted the quality of Stratfor’s intelligence, but the information from MX1—a Mexican foreign service officer who doubled as a confidential source for Stratfor—seems to corroborate recent claims about U.S. involvement in the drug war in Mexico.

Most notably, the reports from MX1 line up with assertions by a Sinaloa cartel insider that cartel boss Joaquin Guzman is a U.S. informant, the Sinaloa cartel was “given carte blanche to continue to smuggle tons of illicit drugs into Chicago,” and Operation Fast and Furious was part of an agreement to finance and arm the Sinaloa cartel in exchange for information used to take down rival cartels.

An email with the subject “Re: From MX1 — 2” sent Monday, April 19, 2010, to Stratfor vice president of intelligence Fred Burton says:

I think the US sent a signal that could be construed as follows:

“To the [Juárez] and Sinaloa cartels: Thank you for providing our market with drugs over the years. We are now concerned about your perpetration of violence, and would like to see you stop that. In this regard, please know that Sinaloa is bigger and better than [the Juárez cartel]. Also note that [Ciudad Juárez] is very important to us, as is the whole border. In this light, please talk amongst yourselves and lets all get back to business. Again, we recognize that Sinaloa is bigger and better, so either [the Juárez cartel] gets in line or we will mess you up.”

In sum, I have a gut feeling that the US agencies tried to send a signal telling the cartels to negotiate themselves. They unilaterally declared a winner, and this is unprecedented, and deserves analysis.

There are people sitting in cells right now because they brought rumor into the light of public scrutiny. However their messy human motivations get chewed up and slandered, we, the global subjects of this massive data sweep, should be thanking them for giving us more substantial ground to either stand up and give a shit, or not.

Or not is not what they are doing, by the way, in Egypt, or Brazil.

  1. 1 Bakken and Beyond | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] federal assistance should first begin with this question: to what degree is the federal government enabling certain cartel enterprises north of the border as a way to manage the a war that won’t ever […]

  2. 2 The Feds Raid Denver Dispensaries | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] wrote a post about this back in June, titled Leaks, Fast and Furious. In that post I highlight this […]

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