November 19, 2012
The FBI conducted a top-secret investigation into the People for
Ethical Treatment for Animals, or PETA, according to the Stratfor
In emails sent through Stratfor in 2009 and
compromised last year by hacktivists aligned with the loose-knit
Anonymous movement, Fred Burton, the vice president for intelligence
at Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor, acknowledges that the United
States' Federal Bureau of Investigation has waged a clandestine
probe into the animal rights group.
website published a blog last week shining light on one of those Stratfor
emails hacked by Anonymous that has since been published by the
WikiLeaks whistleblower site. In it, Burton cites a classified
investigation carried out by the FBI in reference to an email from
Coca Cola asking for intelligence about PETA that could be put to
"Coca-Cola just sent me a long list of questions
regarding PETA/Animal Activism and the upcoming Olympics in
Stratfor's Anya Alfano writes in an email from June 2009. "I'm not
entirely clear on how much we can task the public policy group at
this point--is there any guidance you can give me on that front?
Coke has asked for a short teleconference with one of our analysts
to discuss this issue…"
According to Alfano's email,
representatives for Coca Cola were curious about any methodology and
planning behind PETA-led activism and even inquires as to if
anarchical "non-PETA hangers-on" from others groups, such as the
Animal Liberation Front, could pose a problem.
Alfano's email, Burton writes, "The FBI has a classified
investigation on PETA operatives. I'll see what I can uncover."
PETA has in the past led actions against Coca Cola for their
affiliation with animal testing, and the FBI acknowledged an
investigation into the group as early as 2005 when the American
Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released internal bureau documentation
about PETA protesters obtained through a Freedom of Information Act
request. Until the Stratfor emails were made public by Wikileaks,
though, no news of a top-secret investigation has been unearthed.
"The FBI should use its resources to investigate credible
threats to national security instead of spending time tracking
innocent Americans who criticize government policy, or monitoring
groups that have not broken the law," ACLU Associate Legal Director
Ann Beeson told the Washington Post when that FOIA request was first
"But we didn't know that they actually launched
counterterrorism investigations into these groups."
It's "Not exactly
PrivacySOS acknowledges. "Nonetheless, if the Stratfor private
intelligence firm is to be believed, the FBI had a 'classified
investigation' open in 2009 on 'PETA operatives.'"
FBI was approached by the New York Times to comment on their
investigation into PETA after the ACLU went public with its FOIA
findings, bureau spokesman John Miller said, "Just being referenced
in an FBI file is not tantamount to being the subject of an
In paperwork discovered by independent
journalist Will Potter in 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture
considered PETA a potential cause of "terrorist threat[s]" and
warned the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service possible
attacks from the group.