From Fri Jul 26 07:30:06 2002
Date: Thu, 25 Jul 2002 23:26:43 -0500 (CDT)
Organization: The Soylent Green Party
From: Dan Clore <>
Subject: [smygo] Big Brother, Inc.
Article: 142695
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Big brother incorporated

By Eveline Lubbers, Smygo list, [25 July 2002]

For years, activist groups in Europe thought that Manfred Schlickenrieder was a leftist sympathizer and filmmaker. He traveled around Europe, interviewing a broad spectrum of activists, and even produced a documentary video, titled Business As Usual: The Arrogance of Power, about human rights groups and environmentalists campaigning against the Shell oil company.

In reality, Schlickenrieder was a spy, and Shell was one of his clients. His film and his activist pretensions were merely cover designed to win the confidence of activists so that he could infiltrate their organizations and collect inside information about their goals and activities.

Schlickenrieder's cover was blown when the Swiss action group Revolutionaire Aufbau began to distrust him. Its investigation uncovered a large pile of documents, many of which were put online at the beginning of 2000 ( ).These documents proved that Schlickenrieder was on the payroll of Hakluyt & Company Ltd., a London-based business intelligence bureau linked closely to MI6, the British foreign intelligence service. In addition to spying on behalf of multinational corporations, the documents also indicate strongly that Schlickenrieder was working simultaneously for more than one German state intelligence service.

Among the documents was detailed e-mail correspondence between Schlickenrieder and Hakluyt. There was also a DM 20,000 (US$9,000) invoice to Hakluyt for Greenpeace research including expenses, to be paid according to agreement in the usual manner. Confronted with this material, Hakluyt reluctantly admitted that Schlickenrieder was an employee. When the Sunday Times of London broke the story in July 2000, both BP and Shell acknowledged having hired the firm, but claimed they had been unaware of its tactics.

Schlickenrieder's exposure put the spotlight on a firm that prefers to operate secretly in the shadowy area of former state intelligence specialists-turned-private spies. Members of Parliament accused MI6 of using the firm as a front to spy on green activists.

A freelance spy

Schlickenrieder had apparently built up spying experience during years of working for Germany's domestic and foreign intelligence services, Landesamt f|r Verfassungsschutz and Bundesnachrichtendienst. Documents found at his home indicated he had had access to reports from them as well as the French and Italian secret services. None of the spy agencies acknowledged publicly that Schlickenrieder had been working for them, but informed sources agreed that the agent's exposure had been a blow for the German intelligence community, as several newspapers reported. Furthermore, the Schlickenrieder case was discussed in the prime minister and parliamentary committee's weekly meeting with the German secret services.

Though there is evidence that the government agencies paid Schlickenrieder, it is not known whether he was actually on their payrolls; he may have been a freelance spy. The fact that he wrote detailed proposals for the government, suggesting new fields of research within the radical leftist movement, points in this direction. Whichever it was, the rewards of espionage seem to have included a spacious flat overlooking a park in Munich and a BMW Z3, the model of sports car driven by James Bond in Goldeneye. His monthly expenses were calculated at $4,500.

He got good at delivering different kinds of intelligence, from broad overviews to assessments to insider mood reports. Taking advantage of activists' trust, he developed a knack for piecing together bits and pieces of information to compile a fairly accurate picture.

Schlickenrieder frequented meetings of radical leftist groups including the Red Army Faction (RAF) from the early 1980s until his cover was blown, and he made a documentary about violent resistance with solidarity groups and relatives of convicted comrades which featured the RAF. He claimed to be working on another film, about Italy's Red Brigades, which was never finished. But stills from his video footage served as a photo database, accompanied by personal details about everybody he had met.

Schlickenrieder's ways of working for state and business were similar. In fact, there seemed to be no boundaries between the two. He sometimes compiled reports for Hakluyt without being asked. For instance, in a September 1997 e-mail to Hakluyt, he explained how he had used the opportunity of visiting Hamburg to talk to two separate people within Greenpeace. In closing, he wrote: That was your free ‘mood report’ supplement from Hamburg.

The MI6 connection

Hakluyt, named after a 16th-century geographer and economic intelligence specialist, started in a one-room office in 1995. Its founders, Christopher James and Mike Reynolds, are both former members of the British foreign service. The company's purpose, according to James, was to do for industry what we had done for the government. By 2001 its clients included one-quarter of the companies listed in the United Kingdom's leading stock market index, the FTSE 100.

Reynolds founded MI6's counterterrorism branch and was the foreign service's head of station in Berlin. The newly appointed head of MI6, Richard Dearlove, is a close friend of his.

James led a section of MI6 that liaised with British firms. Over his 20-year career he got to know the heads of many of Britain's top companies. In return for a few tips that helped them compete in the market, he persuaded them to provide intelligence from their overseas operations.

Hakluyt's management board is a display case for the kind of reputation the company is aiming for. One member was Ian Fleming's model for James Bond—the former soldier, spy and diplomat Sir Fitzroy Maclean. And the company is linked to the oil industry through Sir William Purves, CEO of Shell Transport and chairman of Hakluyt; Sir Peter Holmes, former chairman of Shell and current president of the Hakluyt foundation (a kind of supervisory board); and Sir Peter Cazalet, the former deputy chairman of BP, who helped to establish Hakluyt before he retired in 2000. BP itself has longstanding ties to MI6: its director of government and public affairs, John Gerson, was at one time a leading candidate to succeed Sir David Spedding as chief of MI6.

A Hakluyt brochure promises to find information for clients that they will not receive by the usual government, media and commercial routes. The company tries to distinguish itself from other business intelligence consultants and clipping services. We do not take anything off the shelf, nothing off the Net--we assume that any company worth its salt has done all of that, Hakluyt's Michael Maclay explained at a 1999 conference in the Netherlands. We go with the judgment of people who know the countries, the elites, the industries, the local media, the local environmentalists, all the factors that will feed into big decisions being made.

Manfred Schlickenrieder apparently was one of those people who knew the local environmentalists.

Spying on Greenpeace

Shell International turned to Hakluyt for help when the oil conglomerate's reputation came under fire during the Brent Spar PR crisis and the Nigerian government's execution of writer-activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. Using his cover as a filmmaker, Schlickenrieder traveled around Europe, interviewing on film a broad spectrum of people campaigning for Nigeria's Ogoni people. He spent months questioning all sorts of groups and wrote to organizations ranging from Friends of the Earth to the Body Shop, asking about their ongoing campaigns, their future plans and the impact of their work.

In addition to Shell, oil companies were scared to death of becoming Greenpeace's next target. BP turned to Hakluyt for help after it got wind that Greenpeace was planning its Atlantic Frontier campaign to stop oil drilling in a new part of the Atlantic. The company asked Schlickenrieder to deliver details about what was going to happen.

Hakluyt used material from other sources to complement the information about Greenpeace's plans Schlickenrieder provided. It claimed to have laid its hands on a copy of Putting the Lid on Fossil Fuels, the Greenpeace brochure meant to kick off the campaign, even before the ink was dry. BP used this inside information to polish its press and PR communications. BP countered the campaign in an unusually fast and smart way, Greenpeace Germany spokesperson Stefan Krug told the German daily Die Tageszeitung. Since BP knew what was coming in advance, it was never taken by surprise.

BP also used Hakluyt to plan a counterstrategic lawsuit against Greenpeace. In a May 1997 e-mail message to Schlickenrieder, Hakluyt's Director Mike Reynolds inquired about the possible impact of suing the environmentalists. He asked his German spy for information on whether Greenpeace was taking legal steps to protect its assets against seizure in the event it was sued by an oil company. When Greenpeace subsequently occupied BP's Stena Dee oil installation in the Atlantic Ocean, the company sued Greenpeace for DM4.2 million in damages (almost $2 million). BP got an injunction to block Greenpeace UK's bank accounts, which caused the group serious financial problems. This was one of the first times an injunction was used to threaten activists with possible arrest. It has since become an increasingly popular way to stop a campaign.

Oil activism was not Schlickenrieder's only field of activity. The Aufbau group discovered leads about research he did for Hakluyt on banks and financial takeovers. And in 1996 he started mapping resistance against Rio Tinto, which calls itself the world leader in finding, mining and processing the Earth's mineral resources. He continued to bill Hakluyt for this research until at least spring 1999.

A New Terrain for Intelligence

The massive 1999 demonstrations in Seattle were a watershed event for both the growing anti-globalization movement and for the corporate and government authorities that benefit from globalization. State and private security agencies felt they were caught off guard in Seattle, where a large, diverse group of demonstrators, using sophisticated methods and technology, effectively shut down the World Trade Organization's Ministerial Conference.

Some governments now see anti-corporate activities as a serious threat to social stability. And their intelligence services see securing that stability as a primary task.

The first indication of this interest was a widely circulated secret report by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Anti-Globalization--A Spreading Phenomenon. The CSIS report used quotes from Naomi Klein's book, No Logo, to assess the threat posed by anticorporate protests to the Summit of the Americas in Quebec which was coming up in April 2001.

In May 2000, the France-based Intelligence Newsletter published a report, based on information from sources close to the spy community, on the work of state intelligence units to gather information on anti-globalization militants. It noted that the US Army Intelligence and Security Command and the Pentagon helped the police keep an eye on demonstrators during the April 16, 2000, World Bank protests in Washington, DC. Perhaps when the US Attorney's office praised the DC police for their unparalleled coordination with other police agencies during the spring 2000 IMF protests, it was thinking of these bodies. The FBI reportedly had held seminars on the lessons of Seattle for police in other protest cities to help them prepare for demonstrations. Now it had paid off. The FBI provided valuable background on the individuals who were intent on committing criminal acts, the US Attorney's office declared, according to an article by Abby Scher in the Nation.

Scher warned of an intensifying crackdown on opponents of corporate globalization, pointing to unusually close collaboration between police and intelligence services including the FBI before and during the DC protests. This collaboration harks back to the heyday of J. Edgar Hoover and his illegal Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO). Back then, the FBI relied on local police and even private right-wing spy groups for information about antiwar and other activists. The FBI used that information and its own agents provocateurs to disrupt the activities of the Black Panthers, Students for a Democratic Society, Puerto Rican nationalist groups and others.

Targeting organizers and letting activists know they are under surveillance are two time-honored tactics of local intelligence units and the FBI. Preventive detention, spreading fear of infiltration, and disseminating false stories to the press were also used during the dark days of COINTELPRO. Now, the first reports have emerged documenting similar police strategies aimed at protesters in 2000 and 2001.

In 2001 the FBI listed anarchist and extremist socialist groups such as the Workers' World Party, Reclaim the Streets and Carnival Against Capitalism as a potential threat to the United States. Reclaim the Streets is actually more a tactic than a movement or organization. In 1996, activists in England decided to hold the first RTS street party, a daytime rave with a political spin, complete with sound system, dancing, and party games, in the middle of a busy intersection. The party aimed to temporarily reclaim the street from cars and point out how capitalism and car culture deprive people of public space and opportunities for festivals.

The fact that dancing in the street could become terrorism in the eyes of the FBI can only be explained by the aftershock of Seattle, where, according to the FBI, anarchists, operating individually and in groups, caused much of the damage. This statement, made on May 10, 2001, mentioned these groups as part of The Domestic Terrorism Threat, soon after a section on The International Terrorist Situation featuring Osama bin Laden and individuals affiliated with Al Qaeda. The attacks on the World Trade Center four months later illustrate the enormous disproportion between the two threats.

Categorizing anarchist groups like Reclaim the Streets as terrorist organizations provides a legal pretext for the FBI's interest in the antiglobalization movement. Although inclusion on such a list can be taken to mean such groups are gaining influence, it also increases the likelihood of government-sponsored involvement, such as infiltration or frame-ups based on planted evidence.

Intelligence agencies in most Western countries already had broad powers to track and surveil suspected activists and political organizations. The events of Sept. 11, 2001, triggered further antiterrorist legislation everywhere, encouraging repressive police and intelligence tactics. Only the future can tell how these new laws will effect the maneuvering space for anticorporate activism.

The Department of Dirty Tricks

Besides being spied upon, activists risk being manipulated or threatened, too. Consulting companies like KPMG and security firms like Control Risks Group have reasons to monitor NGOs, as an article in Intelligence Newsletter stated: ostensibly, corporate clients want to be informed of destabilization campaigns that could affect them well in advance. But they also want to fend off indirect attack, the magazine went on. To be sure, some firms feel a strong temptation to ‘channel’ the fury of NGOs like Export Credit Agencies, Public Citizen or ATTAC towards some of their business competitors, the magazine said. It quoted intelligence expert Roy Godson as predicting that manipulating NGOs would become one of the most effective means for companies to destabilize rivals and adversaries in the future.

Intelligence Newsletter hints at the endless time and effort NGOs spend in the perpetual quest for ideal companies to take on. Only by targeting a known corporate name can they be sure to enhance their own profile, distinguish from other NGOs and compete with them for media attention. Apparently this early stage of campaigning is seen as the best moment to intervene.

How? One possibility springs to mind: imagine your group gets a dedicated new member with ideas for a new campaign against a company you haven't paid much attention to so far. Perhaps he's been sent by another company you've been successfully campaigning against for years, or are intending to target in the near future.

NGOs' taste for media attention can be their Achilles' heel, which makes it relatively easy to feed them disinformation they'll rush to publicize. The East German secret service apparently understood this back in the 1970s: Godson claimed it used this weakness for publicity against Amnesty International during the Cold War. This is another kind of manipulation easy to envision a company using.

Manipulating internal differences is another strategy to cripple an activist coalition. For example, someone wishing to disrupt an organization, could work to divide the radicals from the moderates or could attempt to discredit the organization by using provocateurs to incite violence which could then be blamed on activists. A number of reports suggest that this may be what occurred during the anti-globalization protests that occurred in in Genoa, Italy in July 2001.

It is not paranoid to suspect that corporations and governments will use these sorts of tactics. They have been used in the past, and history suggests that if the stakes are high enough, targeted companies resort to special operations.