[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ello fellow patriots!
What a wild couple of weeks. This past weekend, as most of you probably know, we had the Sparks31 Communicator Class. Although the material was a bit advanced for some students, I think everyone came away with some valuable new knowledge and skills. Most importantly, in my humble opinion, we had the ability to network with the like-minded. I’m happy to say that everyone acted in an adult fashion and we left both the classroom and the FTX site in very good condition.
I almost thought about canceling this series because Kit’s tradecraft series is a superior read. If you haven’t started it, you can find it here. However, because I hate to leave things half done, we shall persevere :).
The full piece on we’re quoting from is available here. I’m merely offering my commentary on the patriot’s perspective of these, from an “interested layman” level of knowledge. If you have a different or more experienced take, you’re welcome to add your thoughts to the comments section. Here we go…
22. When you choose a safe house, to use for meetings or as a depot, let it be safe. If you can, avoid one that is overlooked by other houses. If it is, the main entrance should be that used for other houses as well. Make sure there are no suspicious servants. Especially, of course, be sure of the occupants. Again, these should be chosen for reasons of personal friendship with some member of the organization and should be discreet. The story told to them will once again depend on circumstances. They should have no other place in the show, or if this is unavoidable, then calls at the house should be made as far as possible after dark.
In a nutshell, Dulles is urging both situational awareness and compartmentalization. He urges awareness of how others could view the comings and goings from the safehouse. He also wants the occupants to minimally aware of your activities. Remember that if you’re using someone’s property, they risk the same penalties that you do for whatever “illegal” activities you are participating in.
23. Always be yourself. Always be natural inside the setting you have cast for yourself. This is especially important when meeting people for the first time or when traveling on a job or when in restaurants or public places in the course of one. In trains or restaurants people have ample time to study those nearest them. The calm quiet person attracts little attention. Never strain after an effect. You would not do so in ordinary life. Look upon your job as perfectly normal and natural.
24. When involved in business, look at other people as little as possible and don’t dawdle. You will then have a good chance of passing unnoticed. Looks draw looks.
25. Do not dress in a fashion calculated to strike the eye or to single you out easily.
26. Do not stand around. And as well as being punctual yourself, see that those with whom you are dealing are punctual. Especially if the meeting is in a public place; a man waiting around will draw attention. But even if it is not in a public place, try to arrive and make others arrive on the dot. An arrival before the time causes as much inconvenience as one after time.
Security professionals and LEOs have been receiving greater training on profiling and looking for “tells” or “suspicious behavior”. The fidgety guy always gets extra scrutiny. The bored guy looking at his phone or drinking his coffee while waiting for the bus does not.
That being said, the less time you spend in one place, the less chance of someone noticing you. That’s why Dulles advises against being early or late for a meeting.
27. If you have a rendezvous, first make sure you are not followed. Tell the other person to do likewise. But do not act in any exaggerated fashion. Do not take a taxi to a house address connected with your work. If it cannot be avoided, make sure you are not under observation when you get into it. Or give another address, such as that of a cafe or restaurant nearby.
28. Try to avoid journeys to places where you will be noticeable. If you have to make such journeys, repeat them as little as possible, and take all means to make yourself fit in quietly with the background.
29. Make as many of your difficult appointments as you can after dark. Turn the blackout to good use. If you cannot make it after dark, make it very early morning when people are only half awake and not on the lookout for strange goings-on.
30. Avoid restaurants, cafes, and bars for meetings and conversations. Above all, never make an initial contact in one of them. Let it be outside. Use abundance of detail and description of persons to be met, and have one or two good distinguishing marks. Have a password that can be given to the wrong person without unduly exciting infestation.
31. If interviews cannot be conducted in a safe house, then take a walk together in the country. Cemeteries, museums, and churches are useful places to bear in mind.
Are we noticing a theme, here? Dulles is very much advocating a grey man approach when dealing with clandestine meetings. Keep your head down, blend in, be smart.
In some ways it reminds me of Heinlein’s novel “Tunnel in the Sky”. In it, a young man going for a survival test is dissuaded from taking a gun by his older, more experienced sibling. She says,
“I know how good a gun feels. It makes you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, 3 meters tall and covered with hair. You’re ready for anything and kind of hoping you’ll find it. Which is exactly what is dangerous about it—because you aren’t anything of the sort. You are a feeble, hairless embryo, remarkably easy to kill. You could carry an assault gun with 2,000 meters precision range and isotope charges that will blow up a hill, but you would not have eyes in the back of your head like a janus bird, nor be able to see in the dark like the Thetis pygmies. Death can cuddle up behind you while you’re drawing a bead on something in front.”
Please don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying don’t defend yourself or anything. However, the concept that you need to be aware, blend in, and not be stupid is timeless.
32. Use your own judgment as to whether or not you ought to talk to chance travel or table companions. It may be useful. It may be the opposite. It may be of no consequence whatsoever. Think, however, before you enter upon a real conversation, whether this particular enlargement of the number of those who will recognize and spot you in the future is liable or not to be a disadvantage. Always carry reading matter. Not only will it save you from being bored, it is protective armor if you want to avoid a conversation or break off an embarrassing one.
I reckon that’s one advantage to the ever-present smartphone. People do involve themselves less with others, and you’re likely to always have one with you.
Much like shooting skills or medical skills, we here at TOWR hope that we’ll never need these skills in a hostile situations. However, if you need to learn them “on the job” there may be a high price – your life and the lives of your friends or family.
Thank you for reading and for your contributions. If you’re in Western Washington, make sure you check out the Cryptoparty on 12/5. Until next time,
Educate. Empower. Resist.