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Stratfor's George Friedman rebuttal to Vcrisis

By Aleksander Boyd

London 03.03.06 | Stratfor's Chief Executive Officer George Friedman has sent an email, seeking to clarify some claims that have been made in this website. As per his request, I am posting below his message in its entirety. However I consider fitting to point out Mr. Friedman's misunderstandings with regards to what I have written.

Firstly, Mr Friedman alleges that both me and Sweeney have made accusations concerning business arrangements (between Stratfor and Chevron / Conoco in Venezuela) that motivated his writing of a piece on US-Venezuela relations. The claims were made by me, based on information received from sources whose identity and position are none of Mr Friedman's business. What's more Sweeney did not mention Chevron or Conoco in his rebuttal to Friedman's analisys.

Secondly, it is going to take a bit more than Mr. Friedman's, or his employees', word to factually demonstrate whether or not Chevron Texaco and Conoco Philips are clients of Stratfor.

Thirdly, neither Sweeney nor myself made any claims vis-a-vis Intesa.

Fourthly, it is unethical in the extreme for Mr. Friedman to ventilate the sort of relationship that his company had with Sweeney. It is a bit rich, not to say utterly unprofessional, to, on the one hand, claim that possible discussions that Sweeney and I may have had could be in violation to confidentiality agreements between Stratfor and Sweeney, and on the other, demand that damaging remarks such as "Jack Sweeney was twice fired by Stratfor" (sic) be made public.

Fifthly, nowhere have I stated that Mr. Friedman is corrupt. I only pointed out at the obvious conflict of interest arising from the information linking Stratfor with Chevron and Conoco. I have no reason to believe that said information is false.

Mr. Friedman's message is followed by Mr. Sweeney's commentary.


Gentlemen:

I am writing in response to your claim that an article I wrote on U.S.-Venezuelan relations was motivated by business arrangements with certain companies. This accusation was published in articles by Mr. Boyd and Mr. Sweeney on VCRISIS. I had intended to ignore the slander, but inasmuch as it is now spreading on the internet, let me make a number of points based on these two articles:

1: Cheveron Texaco is not a client of Stratfor.
2: Conoco Phillips is not a client of Stratfor.
3: I have never had any dealings with Intesa.
4: Jack Sweeney was twice fired by Stratfor. After having been reinstated after the first firing at his request, he was terminated a second time. Any discussions that he has held with you, whether true or false, concerning Stratfor, violates a contract he signed at Stratfor. That matter is in the hands of attorneys.

I am prepared to swear to each of the above statements. In addition, my Chief Financial Officer, a CPA, will certify that there is no relationship between Stratfor and the two companies named, save that they may be among our 60,000 subscribers to our website.

Your decision to publish these accusations may have been made in good faith based on Mr. Sweeney's claims. However, you now have my absolute denials. Should you choose to continue to keep this false article on your website and not publish my denial in full there will obviously be legal consequences.

It is one thing to disagree with me. However, you have accused me of being corrupt, and that will not be permitted to stand.

I have no desire to involve myself in this further and I hope it can end amicably. That is entirely up to you. My hope is that an email exchange should be sufficient to bring this matter to a satisfactory close. If not, I can only assure you that the matter will not fade away. It's gone too far and I will no longer ignore it.

Sincerely

George Friedman
Chief Executive Officer
Stratfor


Mr Friedman's response is inaccurate and confusing.

1. My critique of his misinformed and demonstrably inaccurate analysis of the situation in Venezuela never said anywhere that it was motivated by any business arrangements he or Stratfor may have with third parties. Therefore, Mr. Friedman's claim that I accused him of such relationships in my rebuttal is both inaccurate and false.

2. I did say he has a longstanding personal bias against Venezuela. I stand by that assertion.

3. I did say that at one time he was involved in a losing business venture that also involved Jantesa, SAIC and PDVSA, an assertion based on comments made several years ago on different occasions by Friedman and others in Stratfor. Now Mr Friedman claims no such relationship ever existed. If that is the case, then I retract the statement about the losing business venture, but I stand by everything else I wrote in my rebuttal to his analysis.

4. I cannot address whether he has or had any commercial dealings with any specific companies (he mentions Chevron and Conoco) because I cannot comment publicly on such matters. I made no such allegations or claims of any sort in my rebuttal of his analysis.

5. Mr Friedman is lying when he states that I was fired twice. If he sends you any alleged paperwork stating that I was fired twice, that too would be false. I resigned in June 2004 to pursue other projects, as several current and former colleagues in that company were aware of because I told them I was leaving and why. I returned in fourth quarter 2004 by mutual agreement with Mr Friedman. I was fired on Sept. 2, 2005, several weeks after I lodged a verbal protest with Mr Friedman's assistant about the unethical and inappropriate decision either by Mr Friedman or the assistant in question to allow a non-employee of Stratfor based in South America to claim authorship on a personal web site of more than a dozen analyses that I had written. That incident is also common knowledge among current and former Stratfor employees. Mr Friedman may claim otherwise, but in five years with Stratfor I never received a negative performance review verbally or in writing, and my percentage of accurate forecasts was consistently one of the highest in the analyst group.

John Sweeney



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