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RE: INSIGHT - IRAN - Delegation to Geneva - IR2 - one more thought

Released on 2012-02-27 01:00 GMT

Email-ID 287965
Date 2009-10-01 17:06:58
One other thing -- from a branding perspective if we're serious about
Quality, Status and Mystique I think showing too much of our inner
workings devalues our Mystique. People don't know how we collect our
intelligence and that's one of the cool, mysterious things about STRATFOR.
Seeing raw intelligence come in would be cool for a few weeks but then it
would become another expected product and we lose our mystique a little on
source collection.


From: Meredith Friedman
Sent: Thursday, October 01, 2009 9:55 AM
To: scott stewart;; 'Darryl O'Connor'; 'Aaric
Eisenstein'; 'Peter Zeihan'; 'George Friedman';
Cc: 'Grant Perry'; 'Richard Parker'; 'darryl'
Subject: RE: INSIGHT - IRAN - Delegation to Geneva - IR2
Thanks, Stick, for laying this out. I have to say I support your position
on this. As you mentioned yesterday, our sources would be talking to
Reuters or other news organizations if they wanted their ideas published
directly (even as anonymous sources) but they are not - they are talking
to us because they know we protect not only their identity but use what
they say in a careful way in our analysis or as sitreps.

On the reverse side, if we blacked out every category of our source
descriptions and coding it would be silly and make people wonder if we
weren't making them up ourselves. We already show a lot of leg by sharing
our internal intelligence guidance with our customers - that is sexy and
something that makes us unique. I agree we would lose some of our best
sources for intelligence if we began publishing what they send us in raw
format no matter how carefully we try to disguise their identity.



From: scott stewart []
Sent: Thursday, October 01, 2009 9:43 AM
To:; 'Darryl O'Connor'; 'Aaric Eisenstein';
'Peter Zeihan'; 'George Friedman';
Cc: 'Grant Perry'; 'Richard Parker'; 'darryl'; 'Meredith Friedman'
Subject: RE: INSIGHT - IRAN - Delegation to Geneva - IR2
OK, I have taken 24 hours to relax, calm down and think about this

Here are my thoughts.

1) This may be a decent marketing idea, but in my opinion it is a terrible
intelligence idea. In addition to the point I made yesterday about many of
our sources not wanting to be paraded into the spotlight, it is also
important to remember that we have sources in places like Iran, Syria,
China and Russia who could be traced if we allowed that much of their
writings and information to be published in raw form. Allowing an
intelligence service to isolate all the source reporting coming from that
country would be very attractive to them and they would certainly attempt
to determine who we are talking to, and who is talking to us, on a regular

We have an ethical responsible to do our best to protect our people - and
from a purely selfish perspective if one of our people is identified and
then whacked, arrested, or cowed by the authorities into no longer
reporting, we can quickly lose an asset that have taken us years to
develop. This will hurt our publishing operations, and will not be
sustainable in the long run. We need to protect our most valuable -- and
in most cases, our most sensitive -- sources for the future of the

2) We could do something like this with less-sensitive sources who agree
to be published directly, but those less-sensitive sources will lack the
sex appeal that Aaric is looking for and that will make this a rather
bland product offering.

3) Based on 1 and 2, it is my recommendation that we continue to handle
insight as it is. That is, using it to inform our analysis and to make
sure our published work remains very strong, and our CIS customers stay
informed. We can also continue to use critical pieces of insight directly
as the basis for sitreps.

I have calmed down from yesterday, but I still feel very strongly that
continuing to handle insight as we do is the best course of action for us
as an intelligence company.


From: George Friedman []
Sent: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 12:31 PM
To: scott stewart; Darryl O'Connor; 'Aaric Eisenstein'; 'Peter Zeihan';
George Friedman;
Cc: 'Grant Perry'; 'Richard Parker'; 'darryl'
Subject: Re: INSIGHT - IRAN - Delegation to Geneva - IR2
We need to sit down and consider this. Sources we can't use are useless.
Promiscuous use of sensitive sources is dangerous. This is an ongoing
dilemma of intelligence. Since we aren't journalists there may be ways to
deal with this. We need a policy. Stick, please put out your thoughts on
this and then we will follow up. In the meantime we fold sensitive
intelligence into analyses or sitreps on a case by case basis.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


From: "scott stewart"
Date: Wed, 30 Sep 2009 12:18:26 -0400
To: 'Darryl O'Connor'; 'Aaric
Eisenstein'; 'Peter
Zeihan'; 'George
Subject: RE: INSIGHT - IRAN - Delegation to Geneva - IR2

This is what I said to Aaric Monday. We really need to protect our people
and our sources.


From: Darryl O'Connor []
Sent: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 12:05 PM
To: 'Aaric Eisenstein'; 'scott stewart'; 'Peter Zeihan'; 'George
Cc: 'Grant Perry'; 'Richard Parker'; 'darryl'
Subject: RE: INSIGHT - IRAN - Delegation to Geneva - IR2
my concern:

does the source have website access? let's assume so. would they
have the piss scared out of them to see their own words on our website?
enough piss scared out of them to not want to be a source anymore?

this is not really my area and not trying to horn in on someone else's
territory, but i thought it wouldn't hurt to ask the question.

over and out.


From: Aaric Eisenstein []
Sent: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 10:55 AM
To: 'scott stewart'; 'Peter Zeihan'; 'George Friedman';
Cc: 'Grant Perry'; 'Richard Parker'; 'darryl'
Subject: FW: INSIGHT - IRAN - Delegation to Geneva - IR2
Can we publish the Insight below - redacted on source of course - as a
test of the "raw" format as opposed to putting it into an article? It'll
be interesting to see what kind of feedback we get on the new format.
This Insight as good flavor in its raw form.

Aaric S. Eisenstein
Chief Innovation Officer
512-744-4334 fax
Follow us on


From: Peter Zeihan []
Sent: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 10:51 AM
To: Aaron Colvin
Cc: Secure List
Subject: Re: INSIGHT - IRAN - Delegation to Geneva - IR2
interesting -- they've put in a clod because they don't think he's smart
enough to do anything

would hate to be the clod

clods are disposable

Aaron Colvin wrote:


PUBLICATION: Not Applicable

SOURCE DESCRIPTION: Tehran-based freelance journalist/analyst who is
well plugged into the system

ATTRIBUTION: Not Applicable






I think the composition is very interesting. Jalili is no seasoned
diplomat but he is someone both SL and Sepah could trust since his lower
intellectual and political stature makes it less likely that he shows
any independent streaks on tactical matters-- as someone like Larijani
could have. The other two are career diplomats-technocrats with
extensive knowledge of their respective fields. Jalili needs them for
advice on legal niceties and for general political considerations. The
third negotiator's presence is in indeed interesting. As you have
noted, the presence of someone from the Minstry of Economic Affairs
serves to show Iran's seriouness in the talks. But it is just for the
show as Iran knows that the talks will fail.