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Members of Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department Share Information with Stratfor

The Wikileaks dump of over 5 million hacked emails from high-ranking private American intelligence company Stratfor has revealed a cavalcade ethically iffy behaviour, including a peculiar relationship between a Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs...

Screencap via the author.

Since WikiLeaks first published 5 million hacked Stratfor emails in 2012 (a cybercrime clusterfuck that has already led to the imprisonment of Jeremy Hammond), the private American intelligence company which bills itself as a sort of “shadow CIA,” was left with their proverbial spy-pants down. Petty co-worker emails were under the microscope and the leaked classified information they peddled to commercial and government clients tainted their reliability. Corporate juggernauts Wal-Mart called to have a Tesco executive spied on, while Coke wanted the rundown on PETA; plus, an oil company (allegedly Suncor) got intelligence on Environmental groups, schemed with Goldman Sachs, and allegedly had access to Osama Bin Laden raid material.


Entertaining the peculiar requests of rich clientele and government departments meant Stratfor needed a web of informants in American agencies and international regimes; they even count Canadian officials among their sources. A 2011 email cites a Canadian foreign-service worker in Japan named Alan Schroeder as their "Canadian source," with an attached code number, and a credibility rating. Schroeder's brother Mark, who worked for Stratfor, was assigned as his "handler."

In the emails, Alan Schroeder, currently listed on a Department of Foreign Affairs website as a trade commissioner at Canada's Tokyo embassy, provided his brother with details about Canada's diplomatic response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011: "From my brother who ordinarily works in Tokyo but is on (temporary duty) in Canada right now," Mark Schroeder wrote above an email from his brother, which he forwarded to other Stratfor employees.

"The Embassy has been getting its information about the nuclear situation from various sources including Environment Canada, Health Canada, the IAEA and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission… The Embassy is not business as usual now."

A Foreign Affairs spokesperson said the department doesn’t consider the leaked Stratfor emails as containing confidential information. "The communications in question do not constitute a security breach," said Jean-Bruno Villeneuve when I pointed out the numerous cables between the Schroeder brothers, which link Stratfor and DFAIT.


Mark also shared the contact information of an "Alan," who used a different email address, with another Stratfor analyst. VICE could not confirm whether the contact was Alan Schroeder, but the email was directed to an Alan living in Japan with expertise on the country.

In January 2009, Mark introduced "Alan" to a Stratfor East Asia specialist. "Sure, I'd be happy to be in touch with your colleague," replies Alan. Months later, the same East Asia analyst sent an email updating Stratfor on the Japanese auto industry using information he received from a, "trade commissioner [in the] Canadian embassy in Japan."

"Source seems optimistic about Japanese auto innovation and commercial promise," he writes. "The Mitsubishi electric car is coming out, it is extremely fast. It can be recharged three ways… by plugging into heavier electric outlet, like for a clothes dryer, which takes about 7 hours.

Source said $10,000 to set up an outlet, off the top of his head but wasn't sure about that sum."

VICE couldn’t confirm whether the information Alan provided to the analyst would constitute economic espionage. Whatever the details of the intelligence, Japan may not be pleased a “trade commissioner” they’re hosting was leaking information about their prized auto industry to a for-profit spy firm with a questionable moral track record. If this trade commissioner was sharing classified material or pooling intelligence from those who did, he could easily have broken the Security of Information Act. You may remember that an infamous Canadian Naval Officer, Jeffrey Delisle, leaked intelligence to the Russians and was found guilty under its auspices.


I requested an interview with Alan Schroeder through Foreign Affairs (and emailed his personal address), but I was turned down. Other Stratfor emails suggest he and the mysterious Alan weren't the only Canadian government employees used as a source. In August 2008, Stratfor analysts debated whether Canada was sending more than warships to Somalia to protect food supplies from pirates. "This maybe more than just a warship. Was told by a Canadian military source that Ottawa's forces may be going on a mission to the Horn of Africa," writes an analyst inferring they had secret knowledge Canadian land forces were primed for a mission.

Stratfor declined to answer questions about the recent leaks, saying in a statement it has a company policy not to comment on any of the WikiLeaks documents.

For DFAIT to accept the casual exchange of information between a private intelligence company governed by the marketplace and one of their diplomatic reps invites trouble. Stratfor analysts have demonstrated their potential to con others in the interest of information profiteering. Friedman evencoached one analyst how to pressure an Israeli informant to update the company on the health of then President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez: “If this is a source you suspect may have value, you have to take control of him… Control means financial, sexual or psychological control to the point where he would reveal his sourcing and be tasked.”

Let’s not forget Fred Burton either, Stratfor’s VP of intelligence, with a lengthy career in counter-terrorism already behind him, he pools from “CIA cronies” (as he put it in one email) and the like for things like exclusive OBL raid info and knowledge of secret indictments against WikiLeaks. It’s also worth noting our Canadian Chief of Defence Staff, General Tom Lawson, appeared friendly with Burton: One leaked email shows him congratulating the shadowy Stratfor VP on his new book.

The WikiLeaks email cache suggests Stratfor has drummed up over half a million dollars in business with Canadian government agencies like Public Safety (whose umbrella includes CSEC and CSIS), National Defence, DFAIT, and others that have taken out contracts with Stratfor to gain access to their vast information database. Evidently the War on Terror turned on a Canadian money faucet for Stratfor and other private intelligence firms, whose government shilling now blurs the line between state secrets and market commodities.  @BMakuch