Monday, March 9, 2015

Stratfor VP: Traffic surge from 'crazy' UFO website was 'very nice'

On August 22, 2008, Stratfor Vice President of Communications Meredith Friedman sent an email to her husband, George - the "global intelligence" company's CEO - about a surge of traffic from a popular UFO conspiracy website called, according to emails published by WikiLeaks. The emails may have been leaked by hacker Jeremy Hammond, who is now serving time after pleading guilty to that computer crime and others. Some Hammond supporters protest that another hacker nicknamed Sabu was working with the FBI when the website was broken into four Decembers ago in 2011, and there might have been a reason to humiliate the firm, which many major media organizations depend on for analysis of world terrorism and other issues. This story probably won't help.

" sent us 5,879 visitors yesterday and 1,950 visitors our way today - a search of their site shows they've posted quite a few Stratfor reports over the years and posted this one yesterday," she wrote. "Apart from the fact that they have crazy stuff on their site, including UFO updates, this is very nice. No idea if these people buy but they have come to the site in large numbers - for us."

Aaric Eisenstein - then with the Stratfor Publishing business unit - wrote back, "What's the status on David's report that tracks people from referring site to purchase? I tend to think that probably generated about $2.19 for us, but it would be great to confirm. Alternatively there's also a report in Hitslink that shows transactions from referring sites, but I don't know that we're configured/working/etc. Just based on observed clicks, is by far the leading source of traffic to our site for the month, blowing out hotair, limbaugh, and everybody else."

Eisenstein then joked, "Answering this question is critical because it determines whether Meredith has to start hanging out at UFO conferences."

In a related email, a more serious Eisenstein wrote, "The real thing in my mind is getting precise info on the impact from various types of traffic so we know where to target our efforts."

In another exchange a few weeks before, referring to a personal choice between liberal comedian Jon Stewart at "The Daily Show" and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, Eisenstein quipped, "I like whichever one sends more paying Members our way."

"I prefer Jon Stewart," Stratfor's vice president for intelligence had argued. "He has a better handle on world affairs." Stratfor President Chief Financial Officer Don R. Kuykendall had sent the first email in that August 8, 2008 chain, opening with "Importance: High", under the subject header "Rush Limbaugh". "One minute ago [Rush Limbaugh] just said 'Thanks to my friends at Stratfor, that's'..." Former Stratfor Director of Finance Jeff Stevens wrote in reference to Limbaugh, "Now if only we could make friends with some commentators that the other half of America doesn't hate!"

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