Friday, November 2, 2012

'Another crawler ... Same rock'

"... Earlier this year, WikiLeaks, working with more than twenty media partners including Al-Akhbar, released some of Stratfor’s private emails in a project dubbed the “Global Intelligence Files.” In relation to Lebanon and the rest of the Middle East, the emails instantaneously showed that Stratfor placed singular importance on one source, codenamed ME1.
Prior to connecting the dots and uncovering ME1’s identity, Al-Akhbarblogged about him in a March 26 post entitled “Our Man in Beirut,” with evidence gleaned from the “GI Files”:
For the Levant, Senior Analyst for the Middle East and South Asia (MESA), Reva Bhalla, gains the bulk of her human insights from a single main source. Codenamed ME1, the identity of this valuable source is protected even in Stratfor’s own internal source listings (All the files listing the informants names and contact information were conveniently entitled “source lists.”) We don’t yet know who ME1 is, but Reva describes her relationship with him as follows:
“I have been working with ME1 for more than 4 years now. He needs ego stroking and is very defensive, but very well connected. I have caught several instances though where what he has reported is in the OS verbatim. When you inquire about it, he shows classic defensive tactics. He has great sources, but his source information can be difficult to evaluate b/c I can't tell when he might be fabricating the information to justify his pay. Known since 2003. Tempermental [sic]. Sometimes his immediate reaction is suspect. Often good info but hard to tell when it is and isn't. Emphasized quantity over quality.”
Previous readings by Al-Akhbar reported that ME1 was an active source at least as far back as 2006. The Stratfor emails also indicated that he was a major link, connecting the private intelligence firm to other sources, which allegedly included military, academic, diplomatic and media figures in Lebanon and elsewhere.
Moreover, ME1’s importance to Stratfor was made evident by the fact that he received a significant pay raise last October, which brought his salary up from $3,000 to $6,000 per month, making him one of the highest paid contractors for the so-called “Shadow CIA.”Upon deeper examinations of the GI Files, ME1’s identity was uncovered: Hilal Khashan. Khashan is the author of a number of written works, notably a book titled “Inside the Lebanese Confessional Mind” – described by the notorious neocon Daniel Pipes as “a stunningly original study on the political attitudes of Lebanese.” (Khashan is also a fellow and regular contributor to Pipes' Middle East Quarterly.)
Khashan first appears within the Stratfor files in November 2004. Corresponding with Anthony Sullivan, a recruiter for the firm, Khashan wrote about his “great interest” in Stratfor founder George Friedman’s article scrutinizing the CIA, and added, “I am writing this note to express to you my interest in cooperating in this worthwhile effort.” (doc-id 5488035)
A month later, Khashan sent his CV to Sullivan, who in turn passed it on to other senior employees within Stratfor’s Special Operations department. (doc-id 5315732)
While Director of Special Operations Bob Rushing expressed concern over the new recruit’s ability to gain access as an academic, Sullivan assured him: “Khashan has knowledge of Muslim movements and connections with Muslim personalities in Lebanon and elsewhere [in] the Levant.” That seemed to put to rest any doubts over Khashan’s merits as a provider of “human intelligence.” (doc-id 5338445)
The use of the codename ME1 appears to have begun in 2006. Most of these early reports by ME1 concentrated on Lebanon, with a particular focus on Hezbollah.......  ME1’s analyses and predictions were mostly generic and occasionally grossly off-the-mark. For example, in response to a question sent by Bhalla on 4 November 2006 regarding Hezbollah’s objectives during the early stages of negotiations with Israel over the release of two captured Israeli soldiers, ME1 predicted: “The negotiations will drag on for a considerable period of time and I am certain that the Israeli soldier held in Gaza will be released first.” (doc-id 5278972)
Hezbollah and Israel agreed to a prisoner swap by 2008, while Hamas and Israel’s prisoner swap occurred only last year. Despite his shortcomings, the relationship between ME1 and Stratfor continued to grow.
With time, ME1’s reports expanded to include insights on Syrian military mobilizations, and political developments within Lebanon, Palestine and Iran. (doc-id 62654doc-id 62734doc-id 63303doc-id 63417doc-id 63057)....
According to the Stratfor cache, "ME1" used some of his students as sub-sources. By 2011, ME1’s claimed sources included a number of Arab diplomats, the Egyptian ambassador in Lebanon, a Lebanese military general, the head of Lebanon’s internal security forces, an international law expert involved in the United Nations Special Tribunal in Lebanon, and more. (doc-id 5430752doc-id 103613doc-id 103501doc-id 103543doc-id 67951doc-id 220792doc-id 3652040doc-id 282856doc-id 75432,doc-id 180039doc-id 944505)
ME1’s identity appeared to be a closely guarded secret, known only to a few within Stratfor.... (Continue, here)"

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