27 februari 2012

Stratfor Is a Joke and So Is Wikileaks for Taking It Seriously

Apropå att Wikileaks djungeltrummor nu mullrar kring en stor mängd hackade mail från amerikanska Stratfor, kan jag inte låta bli att republicera en underhållande artikel från The Atlantic om Stratfor och därmed också om Wikileaks. Mullret från Julian Assange & Co leder också till frågor om vad det betyder för deras trovärdighet att man nu använder anonyma hackers med okänd agenda istället för riktiga whistleblowers.

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.

mf wikileaks p.jpg

Left, Stratfor chief George Friedman in his Austin office in 2004. Right, Wikileaks' Assange at a press conference today. / AP

On June 2, 2009, Anya Alfano of Stratfor, which describes itself as a private "global intelligence company," sent an email to a colleague requesting some global intelligence on a certain trans-national civilian group on behalf of a powerful international client. That email has now been released to the world, along with five million others like it, by global transparency group Wikileaks, thus revealing Stratfor's shadowy scheme.

According to Anya Alfano's email, Stratfor's target was PETA, the animal rights group, and its client Coca-Cola. Their top secret mission was to find out "How many PETA supporters are there in Canada?" and other tantalizing global secrets that could only be secured through such top-secret means as calling PETA's press office or Googling it. Alfano concluded her chilling email, "I need all the information our talented interns can dig up by COB tomorrow."

Shortly before the release, Wikileaks told the world to prepare for "extraordinary news." In announcing today's release, Wikileaks describes Stratfor as "a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations." The group's announcement says that the released emails "show Stratfor's web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods" and calls the company "a money-making scheme of questionable legality." It adds, "The material shows how a private intelligence agency works, and how they target individuals for their corporate and government clients."

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 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. As a former recipient of their "INTEL REPORTS" (I assume someone at Stratfor signed me up for a trial subscription, which appeared in my inbox unsolicited), what I found was typically some combination of publicly available information and bland "analysis" that had already appeared in the previous day's New York Times. A friend who works in intelligence once joked that Stratfor is just The Economist a week later and several hundred times more expensive. As of 2001, a Stratfor subscription could cost up to $40,000 per year.

It's true that Stratfor employs on-the-ground researchers. They are not spies. On today's Wikileaks release, one Middle East-based NGO worker noted on Twitter that when she met Stratfor's man in Cairo, he spoke no Arabic, had never been to Egypt before, and had to ask her for directions to Tahrir Square. Stratfor also sometimes pays "sources" for information. Wikileaks calls this "secret cash bribes," hints that this might violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and demands "political oversight."

For comparison's sake, The Atlantic often sends our agents into such dangerous locales as Iran or Syria. We call these men and women "reporters." Much like Statfor's agents, they collect intelligence, some of it secret, and then relay it back to us so that we may pass it on to our clients, whom we call "subscribers." Also like Stratfor, The Atlantic sometimes issues "secret cash bribes" to on-the-ground sources, whom we call "freelance writers." We also prefer to keep their cash bribes ("writer's fees") secret, and sometimes these sources are even anonymous.

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. Wikileaks chief Julian Assange, after all, felt comfortable taking credit for the Egyptian revolution; how good can his understanding of world events, and the actors shaping them, really be? Anonymous, which tried and failed to hack the Vatican's websites, doesn't appear to have much of an ideology beyond mischief-making. Wikileaks has been declining rapidly since first releasing Bradley Manning's trove of U.S. diplomatic cables; their finances are shrinking, their organization disintegrating (due in part to what former employees describe as Assange's poor leadership), and their credibility with his past media partners is mostly gone.

Assange would probably like to regain some of his former glory; Wikileaks' 2010 release of video from a U.S. army helicopter in Iraq sparked a small international incident and won praise from much of the media, including me. What better way to do it than by taking on an easy target and then claiming you'd exposed an international corporate-imperialist conspiracy? 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. A breathless October 15, 2001, Barron's cover story called Stratfor "a private quasi-CIA," the evidence for which appears to be this quote from Stratfor chief George Friedman: "The CIA has to spend thousands of dollars a month to have an agent in, say, Teheran or Peshawar to monitor local newspapers or political developments that we can find on the Internet within a few hours." In other words, they have Google. But Stratfor's first big break had come in 1999 with a spate of glowing articles such as this January piece in Time, which reported Stratfor's "striking" theory that the U.S. bombing of Iraq in December 1998 was "actually designed to mask a failed U.S.-backed coup." That theory, like so much of Stratfor's "intelligence," was discredited long ago.

18 februari 2012

Fyra minuters förhandling för Sture Bergwall

Den följande texten är hämtad från Sture Bergwalls (Thomas Quick) blogg, där hans bror Sten Ove Bergwall skriver om den senaste förhandlingen inför Förvaltningsdomstolen i Falun. Hela förhandlingen var över på fyra minuter och beslutet blev fortsatt sluten psykiatrisk vård. Det hela är naturligtvis ett rättsövergrepp, utan känt motstycke. Man struntar helt och hållet i den resningsprocess som nu pågår och som med största säkerhet leder till att Sture Bergwall frias från samtliga de mord han tidigare dömts för. Planen är naturligtvis att Bergwall kommer att hållas inspärrad ända till dess han friats från samtliga mord. Väljer här att publicera Sten Ove Bergwalls hela inlägg på bloggen.

Så här ser det ut i dag i rättsstaten Sverige.
En person, i det här fallet Sture Bergwall, är sedan 21 år tvångsintagen på rättspsykiatriska kliniken i Säter. S.k. särskild utskrivningsprövning sker två gånger per år inför förvaltningsdomstolen i Falun. En sådan prövning är kringgärdad av lagar och förordningar och tar normalt avsevärd tid. Det är mycket som ska gås igenom, handlingar ska läsas, vittnesmål åhöras, sakkunnigutlåtanden framföras. Allt detta i rättssäkerhetens heliga namn.

”Protokoll daterat 2012-01-12 (originaltext):

Förvaltningsrätten i Falun
Enhet 2
Muntlig förhandling i Säter
Rätten: rådmannen Eva Karlsson Helghe ( ordförande) samt nämndemännen Bertil Ström, Per Bergman och Ulla Cassel
Protokollförare: föredraganden Karin Kjellin
Sökande: chefsöverläkaren, Rättspsykiatriska kliniken Säter. Närvarande genom överläkare Ivan Khvatov
Motpart: Sture Bergwall. Ej närvarande.
Övriga närvarande: Barbro Larsson, förvaltningsrättens sakkunnige läkare. Markus Bergman, AT-läkare

Saken: fortsatt sluten rättspsykiatrisk vård

Det konstateras att Sture Bergwall inte är närvarande, men att han i skrivelse till Förvaltningsrätten angett att han vill att Förvaltningsrätten avgör målet i hans frånvaro.
Ordföranden redogör för handlingarna i målet.
Ivan Khvatov uppger att chefsöverläkaren vidhåller ansökan om fortsatt vård och anför följande. Sture Bergwall lider alltjämt av en allvarlig psykisk störning. Risken för återfall i våldsbrott bedöms som fortsatt hög utom institution. Sture Bergwall mottar ingen medicinering för sitt psykiska tillstånd och deltar inte aktivt i vården. Sture Bergwall har inga självständiga friförmåner. Enstaka friförmåner med personal medges för besök av anhöriga.

Förhör hålls med sakkunnigläkaren Barbro Larsson som tillstyrker ansökan. Barbro Larsson uppger följande. Den allvarliga psykiska störningen som föranledde vårdöverlämnandet kvarstår. Sture Bergwalls tillstånd synes vara i stort sett oförändrat. Risken för fortsatt brottslighet är hög vid en utskrivningssituation.

Förhandlingen, som pågick kl. 13.20-13.24, förklaras avslutad.”

Observera: förhandlingen tog fyra minuter! Under dessa fyra minuter hann man med att bolla med en människas liv och besluta att fortsätta hålla honom inlåst på 22 året.
Sture har aldrig träffat läkarna Ivan Khvatov och Barbro Larsson.
I patientjournalen för det senaste elva åren, sedan han slutade med den förödande terapin och narkotikan, finns ingenting noterat om symtom på psykisk störning.

Sture vägrar nämligen sedan dessa elva år att äta av de bensodiazepiner och delta i den psykoterapi som fick honom att falskeligen erkänna mord. Läkarnas utlåtande grundar sig på att Sture gjort sig skyldig till just dessa falskt erkända och pådyvlade mord – man blundar, för att rädda anstaltens ansikte, för den resningsprocess som pågår. Och med detta låter sig förvaltningsrätten nöjas.

Sture erbjuds ingen vård, han hålls bara inlåst under förnedrande omständigheter.
Förhandlingarna tog FYRA minuter! Under dessa FYRA minuter nämndes inte med ett ord något om den pågående resningsprocessen, de beviljade resningsansökningarna och de friande domarna. Inte ett enda ord.

Tycker justitieministern, socialministern och statsministern att fallet tyder på att vi har rättssäkerhet i Sverige?



14 februari 2012

"Monsignors' mutiny" revealed by Vatican leaks

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Call it Conspiracy City. Call it Scandal City. Call it Leak City. These days the holy city has been in the news for anything but holy reasons. "It is a total mess," said one high-ranking Vatican official who spoke, like all others, on the condition of anonymity. The Machiavellian maneuvering and machinations that have come to light in the Vatican recently are worthy of a novel about a sinister power struggle at a medieval court.

Senior church officials interviewed this month said almost daily embarrassments that have put the Vatican on the defensive could force Pope Benedict to act to clean up the image of its administration - at a time when the church faces a deeper crisis of authority and relevance in the wider world.

Some of those sources said the outcome of a power struggle inside the Holy See may even have a longer-term effect, on the choice of the man to succeed Benedict when he dies.

From leaked letters by an archbishop who was transferred after he blew the whistle on what he saw as a web of corruption and cronyism, to a leaked poison pen memo which puts a number of cardinals in a bad light, to new suspicions about its bank, Vatican spokesmen have had their work cut out responding.

The flurry of leaks has come at an embarrassing time - just before a usually joyful ceremony this week known as a consistory, when Benedict will admit more prelates into the College of Cardinals, the exclusive men's club that will one day pick the next Roman Catholic leader from among their own ranks.

"This consistory will be taking place in an atmosphere that is certainly not very glorious or exalting," said one bishop with direct knowledge of Vatican affairs.

The sources agreed that the leaks were part of an internal campaign - a sort of "mutiny of the monsignors" - against the pope's right-hand man, Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Bertone, 77, has a reputation as a heavy-handed administrator and power-broker whose style has alienated many in the Curia, the bureaucracy that runs the central administration of the 1.3 billion-strong Roman Catholic Church.

He came to the job, traditionally occupied by a career diplomat, in 2006 with no experience of working in the church's diplomatic corps, which manages its international relations. Benedict chose him, rather, because he had worked under the future pontiff, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in the Vatican's powerful doctrinal office.

"It's all aimed at Bertone," said a monsignor in a key Vatican department who sympathizes with the secretary of state and who sees the leakers as determined to oust him. "It's very clear that they want to get rid of Bertone."

Vatican sources say the rebels have the tacit backing of a former secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, an influential power-broker in his own right and a veteran diplomat who served under the late Pope John Paul II for 15 years.

"The diplomatic wing feels that they are the rightful owners of the Vatican," the monsignor who favors Bertone said.

Sodano and Bertone are not mutual admirers, to put it mildly. Neither has commented publicly on the reports.


The Vatican has been no stranger to controversy in recent years, when uproar over its handling of child sex abuse charges has hampered the church's efforts to stem the erosion of congregations and priestly recruitment in the developed world.

But the latest image crisis could not be closer to home.

It began last month when an Italian television investigative show broadcast private letters to Bertone and the pope from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former deputy governor of the Vatican City and currently the Vatican ambassador in Washington.

The letters, which the Vatican has confirmed are authentic, showed that Vigano was transferred after he exposed what he argued was a web of corruption, nepotism and cronyism linked to the awarding of contracts to contractors at inflated prices.

As deputy governor of the Vatican City for two years from 2009 to 2011, Vigano was the number two official in a department responsible for maintaining the tiny city-state's gardens, buildings, streets, museums and other infrastructure, which are managed separately from the Italian capital which surrounds it.

In one letter, Vigano writes of a smear campaign against him by other Vatican officials who were upset that he had taken drastic steps to clean up the purchasing procedures and begged to stay in the job to finish what he had started.

Bertone responded by removing Vigano from his position three years before the end of his tenure and sending him to the United States, despite his strong resistance.

Other leaks center on the Vatican bank, just as it is trying to put behind it past scandals - including the collapse 30 years ago of Banco Ambrosiano, which entangled it in lurid allegations about money-laundering, freemasons, mafiosi and the mysterious death of Ambrosiano chairman Roberto Calvi - "God's banker."

Today, the Vatican bank, formally known at the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), is aiming to comply fully with international norms and has applied for the Vatican's inclusion on the European Commission's approved "white list" of states that meet EU standards for total financial transparency.

Bertone was instrumental in putting the bank's current executives in place and any lingering suspicion about it reflects badly on him. The Commission will decide in June and failure to make the list would be an embarrassment for Bertone.


Last week, an Italian newspaper that has published some of the leaks ran a bizarre internal Vatican memo that involved one cardinal complaining about another cardinal who spoke about a possible assassination attempt against the pope within 12 months and openly speculated on who the next pope should be.

Bertone's detractors say he has packed the Curia with Italian friends. Some see an attempt to influence the election of the next pope and increase the chances that the papacy returns to Italy after two successive non-Italian popes who have broken what had been an Italian monopoly for over 450 years.

Seven of the 18 new "cardinal electors" -- those aged under 80 eligible to elect a pope -- at this Saturday's consistory are Italian. Six of those work for Bertone in the Curia.

Bertone, as chief administrator, had a key role in advising the pope on the appointments, which raised eyebrows because of the high number of Italian bureaucrats among them.

"There is widespread malaise and delusion about Bertone inside the Curia. It is full of complaints," said the bishop who has close knowledge of Vatican affairs.

"Bertone has had a very brash method of running the Vatican and putting his friends in high places. People could not take it any more and said 'enough' and that is why I think these leaks are coming out now to make him look bad," he said.


Leaked confidential cables sent to the State Department by the U.S. embassy to the Vatican depicted him as a "yes man" with no diplomatic experience or linguistic skills and the 2009 cable suggests that the pope is protected from bad news.

"There is also the question of who, if anyone, brings dissenting views to the pope's attention," read the cable, published by WikiLeaks.

The Vatican sources said some cardinals asked the pope to replace Bertone because of administrative lapses, including the failure to warn the pope that a renegade bishop re-admitted to the Church in 2009 was a well-known Holocaust denier.

But they said the pope, at 84 and increasingly showing the signs of his age, is not eager to break in a new right-hand man.

"It's so complicated and the pope is so helpless," said the monsignor.

The bishop said: "The pope is very isolated. He lives in his own world and some say the information he receives is filtered. He is interested in his books and his sermons but he is not very interested in government."

05 februari 2012

Berlinmurens fall


I Sveriges Televisions öppet arkiv fann jag, lätt överraskad, detta inslag från den 10 november 1989. Jag var utsänd av Aktuellt för att täcka kommunistpartiets kongress. Det blev partiets sista. Minns att det på redaktionen blev  stor diskussion om mitt inslag skulle gå som etta eller tvåa i sändningen den kvällen. Hur som helst gick det som etta.

“Glasnost och perestrojka på europeiska”, på en minut och sex sekunder.


01 februari 2012

Skadeståndsmålet i fallet da Costa ger nytt hopp för läkarna

Högsta domstolen beslöt idag att begära en så kallad svarsskrivelse från Justitiekanslern, som är statens ombud  i målet. Att domstolen valt denna väg istället för ett omedelbart avgörande av frågan om prövningstillstånd innebär att något litet ljus kan skönjas i tunneln.

Justitiekanslerns ombud i tingsrätten i december 2009 var den snart 80-årige förre chefsrådmannen, Ingvar Gunnarsson, och det blir nu med stor sannolik han som får JKs uppdrag att författa svarsskrivelsen till Högsta domstolen. Med intill visshet gränsande sannolikhet kommer JK naturligtvis att argumentera emot prövningstillstånd.

Begäran om prövningstillstånd lämnades in redan i november 2010, efter att både tingsrätten och Svea hovätt avvisat skadeståndskraven på sammanlagt 40 miljoner. Och efter bara två dagars föredragning i Högsta domstolen beslöt de tre justitieråden att begära skrivelsen från Justitiekanslern.

De tre som slutgiltigt ska fatta beslut i frågan är Ingemar Persson, Johnny Herre och Severin Blomstrand. Persson och Herre kom till HD så sent som 2010, medan Severin Blomstrand har varit justitieråd sedan 1997. Det kan också noteras att både Ingemar Persson och Severin Blomstrand har en bakgrund i Svea hovrätt och känner varandra väl också från Justitiedepartementet. Johnny Herre däremot har en akademisk karriär bakom sig, bland annat som professor i rättsvetenskap på Handelshögskolan i Stockholm.

Även om dagens beslut i Högsta domstolen inte ska övervärderas, så innebär det ändå ett visst hopp för de båda läkarna, som nu för artonde gången söker rättvisa och ersättning för mer än 25 års lidande. Läkarnas ombud, advokat Kajsa Blomgren, säger idag att hon är “försiktigt positiv”.

Det är ganska enkelt att konstatera att den rättsröta som omgett fallet Catrine da Costa ända sedan 1984, då den styckade kroppen hittades, rent faktiskt är betydligt värre än de rättsövergrepp Thomas Quick utsatts för. Orsaken är att Quick, eller Sture Bergwall, som han nu heter har fått upprättelse i flera fall och ytterligare är att vänta. Allt medan Thomas Allgén och Teet Härm under så många år förvägrats rättvisa och ersättning för att de fått sina liv förstörda.

Genom åren är det ett trettiotal domare som har varit inblandade i fallets skilda processer. Med något enda undantag har samtliga valt att säga nej till alla krav. Åtskilliga gånger kan man på goda grunder misstänka att det handlat om att de domare som genom åren satt sin heder i pant för de båda läkarnas skuld, till varje pris ska skyddas från att behöva schavottera offentligt för begångna fel. Det gäller framför allt Carl Anton Spaak och Ingegerd Westlander som skrev de förödande och numera ökända domskälen.

Där påstods att de båda läkarna var överbevisade om att de styckat den döda kroppen, trots att de inte åtalades för det och trots att ett sådant brott vid den tiden var preskriberat. Dessutom friades de båda från anklagelsen att de mördat Catrine da Costa.

Domskäl får inte ha någon rättsverken, men det var precis vad som skedde när de båda slutgiltigt fråntogs sina läkarlegitimationer 1991. Därefter har rättsrötan i fallet vuxit i omfattning till en nivå som knappt är fattbar.

Numera vet alla insatta att utan att ha medierna med sig på tåget är det så gott som omöjligt att få rätt mot staten i en domstol. Och i det här fallet har medierna varit ytterst passiva. Det gäller framför allt de fyra största dagstidningarna, som när det begav sig med liv och lust deltog i den lynchmobb som lyckades driva rättsväsendet framför sig.

Och att de journalister, ledarskribenter och så kallade kulturpersonligheter som då ropade “korsfäst, korsfäst”, idag skulle erkänna sina misstag och istället nu driva kravet på rättvisa är tydligen helt otänkbart.

Fotnot: Läs gärna också om förre hovrättslagmannen Lars Erik Tillingers resningsansökan i fallet http://www.stadsholmen.blogspot.com/2011/12/ny-resningsansokan-till-hogsta.html