Author Topic: The Global Intelligence Files: How to Read the data  (Read 5314 times)

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The Global Intelligence Files: How to Read the data
« on: February 27, 2012, 04:11:22 AM »
The Global Intelligence Files: How to Read the data

This is a glossary and information on how to understand the internal terms and codes used by Stratfor in their emails. It is not a complete list. We call on the public to add to this list by tweeting #gifind

To see a list of the terms George Friedman considers useful for his staff to know please download this PDF : The Stratfor Glossary of Useful, Baffling and Strange Intelligence Terms:


As you browse through the content, you will notice that a large set of it is what is classified as "open source" (subject lines which include [OS]). These are basically email threads that start with someone posting a published and accessible source, such as news sites, and follow with commentary by the staff. In one of the emails, Joseph Nye is referenced saying :

"Open source intelligence is the outer pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, without which one can neither begin nor complete the puzzle"


Many of the emails have codes in the subject lines as well as in the body, to make it easier for the staff to "quickly identify when we need to go back and have a look-see."
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Examples : INSIGHT - COUNTRY - Subject - SOURCE CODE INSIGHT - CHINA - Trains and planes - CN1000

Please refer to the glossary for the code names of subject and country tags, as well as mailing list names.


A lot of interesting stuff comes from "sources". Sources are either informal contacts or people they have a formal relationship with. The IDs for sources have the format of CN120 or ME001. In terms of the character part, it refers to a region or a country :

A) Regions ME - Middle East region EU - European Union EE - Eastern Europe LA- South America SA- South Asia

B) Countries or Orgs CN - China PK - Pakistan IN- India ML - Malaysia VN - Vietnam NP- Nepal

US - United States VZ - Venezuela CO- Colombia BR-Brazil NC- Nicaragua MX- Mexico CL/CH- Chile AR- Argentina PY- Paraguay BOL- Bolivia

RU - Russia UA - Ukraine GE - Georgia TJ - Tajikstan MD - Moldova BG -Bulgaria CR/CZ- Czech Republic PT- Portugal

ZA - South Africa AO - Angola SO - Somalia NG- Nigeria CD- DR Congo CI- Cote D’Ivoire ZW- Zimbabwe ZM- Zambia RW- Rwanda KE- Kenya ET- Ethiopia SD -Sudan MA- Morocco SN- Senegal GN- Guinea SL- Sierra Leone

IR - Iran IQ- Iraq IL or IS- Israel SA- Saudi Arabia SY- Syria KU- Kuwait Y or YN - Yemen HZ - Hizbollah TK - Turkey LN- Lebanon LY- Libya UAE- UAE EG- Egypt (etc.)

C) Odd codes OCH - Old China hand, a finance insider. Stick - Scott Stewart, high level employee Z’s - Zetas, Mexican drug gang


When "insights" are sent, they usually have the following header information :

SOURCE : The ID of the source, say CN123. Sometimes this is left "no source ID" when it’s a new source.

ATTRIBUTION : How the source is to be attributed, i.e. "Source in the pharma distribution industry in China", Stratfor source, etc.

SOURCE DESCRIPTION : Describes the source, for example : "Source works with Mercator Pharmaceutical Solutions, distributing pharma to developing countries." These include concrete details on the source for internal consumption so that there’s a better understanding on the source’s background and ability to make assessments on the ground.

PUBLICATION : Yes or No. If the option is yes it doesn’t mean that it would be published, but rather that it _can_ be published.


SOURCE RELIABILITY : A-F, A being the best and F being the worst. This grades the turnaround time of this source in responding to requests.

ITEM CREDIBILITY : 1-10, 1 being the best and 10 being the worst (we may change the range here in the future). this changes a lot based on the info provided. 1 is "you can take this to the bank" and 10 would be an example of maybe - "this is a totally ridiculous rumor but something that is spreading on the ground"

SPECIAL HANDLING : often this is "none" but it may be something like, "if you use this we need to be sure not to mention the part about XXX in the publication" or any other special notes

SOURCE HANDLER : the person who can take follow-up questions and communicate with the source.


[email protected] Discussions circulated exclusively among analysts, writers and higher-ups, including ’insights’ and discussions about sources and source meetings. [email protected] Discussions circulated exclusively among analysts and higher-ups, and only for use within continental US (analysts traveling ’overseas’ are removed from the list for the duration of their journey). [email protected] - Discussion among analysts only, who manage sources, gather and analyze intelligence. [email protected] Ongoing discussions to collect and analyze counterterrorism intelligence, circulated among select group of analysts. [email protected] Non-time sensitive discussions for internal training on technical and tactical matters within field of counterterrorism. [email protected] [email protected] - Related to Gas ventures clients [email protected] Military list for pre-approved staff [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] Middle East/South Asia list for pre-approved staff. [email protected] [email protected] List with information from the public domain circulated and discussed among all employees. [email protected] List for ADPs. See Glossary. [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]


a) Industry and other misc. tags :

HUMINT - Human intelligence OSINT- Open source intelligence DATA FLU BIRDFLU ECON TECH ENERGY MINING GV - Gas Venture CT - Counterterrorism G1-G4 B2-B4 S1-S4 MILITARY or MIL PENTAGON AQ- Al Qaeda AQAP - Al Qaeda in the Arabia Peninsula SF- Special Forces CONUS- Continental US

b) Special internal codewords :

Hizzies or HZ - Hizbollah Izzies or IZ - Israel A-dogg - Mahmoud Ahmadinajad, Iranian President Baby bashar - Bashar Al-Assad, Syrian President Uncle Mo - Moammar Gaddhafi ADP- Analyst Development Program. Four-month program at STRATFOR from which candidates— mostly recent college graduates— are selected for hire. Strictly protect and protect - Often mentioned in the ’subject’, means that the source is protected. Played- A term used for procuring sensitive information from sources. E.g. from one of the secure list messages circulating the ’complete scenario for the Israeli team in Centcom’s war game,’ the analyst who procured the data wrote : "I played the head of the Mossad which was great fun." Excomm- Appears to be ’executive committee’ of STRATFOR.

c) Regions and Orgs

AFRICOM - African countries LATAM - Latin American MERCOSUR NATFA ASEAN APEC FSU - Former Soviet Union countries MESA or MIDDLEEAST - Middle East EASTASIA OPEC EURASIA SA - South Asia FSB- Federal Security Service (Russia)


Attached documents can be searched by Filename or part of the file name. Preliminary searches for filenames using the terms ’lists’, ’source lists’ or ’insight lists’, coupled with the names of source handlers (e.g. Reva for Turkey, Brazil or Venezuela) produced Excel lists of the source names, contact info and source descriptions which correspond to the source codes (e.g. ME1315).

Sourcing Criteria

The following are the proposed criteria for analyzing both sources and insight.

1. Source Timeliness 2. Source Accessibility/Position 3. Source Availability 4. Insight Credibility 5. Insight Uniqueness

Source Timeliness : This is the average grade on how long this particular source turns around tasks and replies to inquiries. It may change but is more of a static indicator.

Source Accessibility : Accessibility weighs the source’s position to have certain knowledge in a particular field. So, for example, if we are looking for energy insight and the source is an official in an energy agency, his or her Accessibility would be ranked higher than if s/he was a banker giving insight on energy. While we would welcome a banker giving his/her insight, a good source may not have a high accessibility ranking if they aren’t in a position to offer reliable insight on a certain topic. The source’s access to decision makers, specific training or education in the desired topic area, specific knowledge of events/situations/incidents can also be considered.

Source Availability : How often can we go to this source ? Are they someone we can tap daily, weekly, monthly, yearly ?

Insight Credibility : This is our assessment of the veracity of the insight offered. Here we need to consider whether or not this is disinformation, speculation, correct data or knowledgeable interpretation. Any bias that the source is displaying or any specific viewpoints or personal background the source is using in the assessment provided should also be considered.

Insight Uniqueness : Is this insight something that could be found in OS ? If it is but the analysis of the information is unique, it would still have a high uniqueness ranking. Or, if it is concrete data, but is something that is only offered to industry insiders, i.e. stats that aren’t published but that aren’t secret, it would still have a high uniqueness score.


All of the above factors will be scored on an A-F scale, with A being exemplary and F being useless.

Source Timeliness : A = turnaround within 24 hours B = turnaround within 48 hours C = turnaround within a week D = turnaround within a month F = lucky to receive a reply at all

Source Accessibility : A = Someone with intimate knowledge of the particular insight B = Someone within the industry but whose knowledge of the topic is not exact (e.g. if we were asking someone in the oil industry about natural gas) C = Someone working close to the industry who doesn’t have intimate knowledge of a particular topic but can speak to it intelligently (e.g. a financial consultant asked to gauge the movement of the stock market) D = Someone who may know a country but doesn’t have any concrete insight into a particular topic but can offer rumors and discussions heard on the topic F = Someone who has no knowledge of a particular industry at all

Source Availability : A = Available pretty much whenever B = Can tap around once a week C = Can tap about once a month D = Can tap only several times a year F = Very limited availability

Insight Credibility : A = We can take this information to the bank B = Good insight but maybe not entirely precise C = Insight is only partially true D = There may be some interest in the insight, but it is mostly false or just pure speculation. F = Likely to be disinformation

Insight Uniqueness : A = Can’t be found anywhere else B = Can only be found in limited circles C = Insight can be found in OS, but the source has an interesting take/analysis D = Insight can be found in OS, but still may not be common knowledge F = Insight is accessible in numerous locations

Daily Insight Scoring

SOURCE : code ATTRIBUTION : this is what we should say if we use this info in a publication, e.g. STRATFOR source/source in the medical industry/source on the ground, etc SOURCE DESCRIPTION : this is where we put the more concrete details of the source for our internal consumption so we can better understand the source’s background and ability to make the assessments in the insight. PUBLICATION : Yes or no. If you put yes it doesn’t mean that we will publish it, but only that we can publish it. SOURCE RELIABILITY : A-F. A being the best and F being the worst. This grades the source overall - access to information, timeliness, availability, etc. In short, how good is this source ? ITEM CREDIBILITY : A-F. A = we can take this info to the bank ; B = Good insight but maybe not entirely precise ; C = Insight is only partially true ; D = There may be some interest in the insight, but it is mostly false or just pure speculation ; F = Likely to be disinformation. SPECIAL HANDLING : often this is "none" but it may be something like, "if you use this we need to be sure not to mention the part about XXX in thepublication" or any other special notes SOURCE HANDLER : the person who can take follow-up questions and communicate with the source.

Offline annar_chy

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Re: The Global Intelligence Files: How to Read the data
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2012, 07:42:30 AM »
I enthusiastically encourage everyone to download the glossary - it is hilarious.  I mean, it would be if it were a spoof on what it really is.   Hollywood couldn't have written it better - or rather , worse.  So try to turn off your moral compass & ethical radar while you read it, that way you can laugh instead of cry.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
 Martin Luther King Jr.

Offline Zombi-Merjee

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Re: The Global Intelligence Files: How to Read the data
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2012, 12:20:24 PM »
I will translate in Romainia......this one.