Decentralized Cell Operations: Can We Learn From Criminals?

One thing the patriot movement dearly loves is big, loud groups with hierarchies and leaders and lots of positions for everyone to aspire to. We’ve talked here before about the concept of leaderless resistance, and how in the situation we find ourselves, it’s arguably a superior structure. The problem with LR, and the decentralized cell operations it deals with, is that people don’t like to mimic anything related to or used by people they don’t agree with ideologically. Go on Facebook and try telling a patriot group that they should study the operations of drug cartels, terror cells and radical environmentalists to get a feel for how tradecraft is done and you’ll see what I mean.

There is seemingly a belief among many in the movement that tactics used by the Left or criminal elements are by default tainted and even wrong, simply because they are used by people and groups we are ideologically opposed to. This is an incorrect view, and those who hold to it are rendering themselves ineffective because they are refusing to use tactics that work. The short answer to the question of whether we can learn from criminals is, quite simply, yes. Even Mike Vanderboegh, founder of the III% movement, used practices and security protocols gleaned from his time as a Communist operative.

The difference between the person who ignores security practices and wants everyone to be loud and proud under one big banner, and the person who understands how to truly effectively operate, is the difference between the “movement” and the resistance.

This document was linked to by Grugq, an OPSEC expert and authority on various matters pertinent to the liberty fight. You’ll notice right away that it’s written by a drug trafficker—and by trafficker, I don’t mean a corner dealer with some connections. This guy is running an operation with multiple facets to it, and doing it fairly effectively. Most people—if they even stopped to read this—would consider him scum of the earth and ignore his advice. Smart folks in the liberty resistance, however, strip the emotion and viewpoints about his product away and see the tactics for what they are. There is a reason why the cartels are operating in all 50 states. There is a reason why people like this guy operate for years without ever being caught. Their tactics work. As Grugq explains about the article in question, “…they are describing a network of cells with compartmentation, strong vetting, training for handling compromises, counterintelligence, and more,” all things that the liberty resistance desperately needs to learn and use on a daily basis.

Have your employees familiar with tails & tor+pgp communications. Anyone minimally professional will take some notes. Make sure all your employees from the top to the bottom is familiar with TAILS and has a secure passphrase. Have them place all their documentation and notes there. Any paper hanging around must be burned.

Encryption works. If it didn’t, then the government wouldn’t be bribing, begging, and forcing companies to build back doors and encryption keys into their hardware and software. Criminals know this, and that’s why they use it. If you expect to stay safe in your operations, then you need to learn how to encrypt. It’s that simple. (By the way, this is why we hold Cryptoparties and classes with experts on how to do just that.) Encrypt everything.

In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that if you’re serious about what you do, you shouldn’t even be dealing with people who are unwilling to learn encryption and digital security. If someone tells you it’s not necessary, don’t deal with them. They aren’t paying attention to some pretty open, basic, critical things. If they tell you it’s too hard to learn, don’t deal with them. There are plenty of free resources out there to teach them—there’s no excuse. If they tell you there’s no point, or that it’s no big deal because they “aren’t doing anything illegal,” then don’t deal with them. If someone doesn’t take their own security seriously, they will not take yours seriously. It’s that simple.

Its everyone’s dream to think its like the movies where we gangsta organise “cartel parties” where everyone is invited. It doesn’t work that way. If someone doesn’t have to meet someone, don’t make them meet. Don’t take the risk of adding up more “heat rating” by creating un-necessary links between individuals who are not directly connected.

“Need to know” is a powerful concept—and a necessary one. Folks are big on networking; perhaps that’s a by-product of social media. You’ll see group leaders encouraging people to recruit, to click that Like button, to bring in more of their friends and push for growth and unity and on and on. In truth, unity is the last thing the liberty resistance needs (more on that later). In fact, the less people you work with, the safer you are. The bigger the group, the more chance there is for everything from infiltration to having some of your people turned. That’s not even counting the guaranteed problems with OPSEC.

In fact, ALF/ELF put out a “Cell Security” manual several years ago in which they state that cells must never mix together. They should “operate on a ‘need-to-know’ basis, with each cell member understanding that not every member needs to know about every detail of every action (ie: sources of funds, homes, safehouses, etc.).” In other words, even within a cell (5 people is about the maximum before splitting and creating a second, independent and autonomous cell), there will be things that some members know and others do not, unless the need arises for them to know it. This protects all of you. Keep in mind that there are people who are literally being paid to keep track of who you associate with, what you post, what you do, who you talk to, and who the members of your group are among other things. Stop making those links for them. If you’re running a group, for the love of all that’s holy, take your leadership hierarchy down off your Facebook page. (Why do you even have a group Facebook page?)

By the way, if you’re thinking that I’m advocating that any of the groups mentioned in this article are doing good things, let me dispel that for you. ALF/ELF are radical environmentalists. I do not agree with their ideology, nor do I agree with their actions. The same goes for drug traffickers, Islamic terrorists, or other criminal elements. They are morally bereft and I despise their belief systems and chosen means of conveying their message. I hold to the III% creed and the Creed of the Order. However, I do not have to like those other groups, or agree with their goals, to understand that their security practices are something to be studied and even modeled after in certain situations. You should seriously consider adopting the same mindset.

We’ll be talking a lot more about decentralized cell operations in the coming days and weeks, but this should get you started thinking. In the meantime, get educated on them and what they are.

There are many places to learn more about decentralized cell operations, and resources to learn tradecraft, digital security, and other skills. Don’t ignore them, take them seriously. These are life and death things—and your screw-up may cost more lives than your own. Take the time to learn—even if the ideology is anathema to what you believe.


5 Ways to Improve Your Critical Thinking

Today’s helpful tidbit comes from Lifehacker, who has a great (common sense?) article on improving your critical thinking skills—which, by the way, are often sorely lacking. Next time you see a news article going viral, or someone’s “analysis” on something, stop and follow these 5 steps. You’ll find yourself being a lot more effective in separating the wheat from the chaff.

  • Formulate your question: Know what you’re looking for specifically. If you’re considering going on a diet, for example, know whether you’re trying to lose weight, have more energy, or just to improve your nutrition. Break things down to their base level.

  • Gather your information: Now that you know what’s relevant to your problem or decision, research it. Reach out to an expert, read up on the subject, or talk to people who have experience with the same subject matter.

  • Apply the information and ask critical questions: What concepts are at work? What assumptions exist? Is your interpretation of the information logically sound?

  • Consider the implications: Look beyond the short-term and think about how your decision will shape things in the long-term. Something that will benefit you now may not benefit you in the future. What’s at stake? What can go wrong?

  • Explore other points of view: By understanding other perspectives, you learn more about the subject. You’re also given an opportunity to reflect on the information you have and how you feel. For example, if you learn why people are against the diet you’re considering, that may affect your decision.


Watch the TED talk on this here. Also try this article on critical thinking. Remember—facts don’t care about your feelings, your agenda, your likes or dislikes. Follow the truth, no matter where it leads.

WRSA: Is the Constitution Worth Killing Over?

Incredibly thought-provoking piece from over at WRSA.

Is it really the Constitution and everything that followed it that’s worth extreme measures to protect, or merely the principles that founded it?  Now’s the time to figure it out for yourself, before things get sporting.

The people who will in the near future come to kill/imprison freedom-loving folks will say and believe that they are the ones defending the Constitution and the legitimate USG from those who would violently overthrow those democratic, 100% legal American institutions.


How Many Times Can You Die for Liberty?

During World War II, resistance cells made up a critical part of the opposition to Nazi Germany. They engaged in a host of activities behind the scenes: spreading disinformation and propaganda, disrupting operations, assisting troops and spies, and collecting intelligence. Most of them were faceless, nameless people who gave their everything to defeat one of the greatest evils this world has ever known, and yet their individual contributions will never be truly known by the rest of the world. They lived their lives knowing that at any time, they could be arrested or killed. They operated in a society that rewarded anyone who exposed them. Many of them gave up their very identities, known only as a code name. They were unpaid, underfed, and unknown, and the world owes them a debt it cannot repay.

The patriot movement could take a lesson from the resistance, for in the current fight for liberty the patriot movement is the resistance…and I daresay that we need a gut check. We need to have a discussion about the idea of dying for liberty. How many times can you die for liberty?

We idolize those who, throughout our nation’s history, gave their lives for the cause of liberty. We repeat their words, use them as catchphrases. We say “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” like it’s a mantra, but many simply stop their thought process at the part about giving their lives. We are all so willing to die for the cause, aren’t we? We talk of brotherhood and family and this bond of patriots and many even show up at places like Sugar Pine and Bundy Ranch and Malheur, ready to do battle if called upon to do so. It’s a badge of honor, really, to know that you might very well die at an event and still go anyway. It’s a source of pride, whether we admit it or not. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t use our event resumes as bonafides. We wouldn’t have this internal, unwritten caste system within the movement. Sure, you say you’re a patriot, but what events have you shown up to? 

Look at social media. How many people talk of how much damage they will do, how violent they can be, how they are Ready For Battle? People’s Facebook pages are full of bravado. The more ‘hard core’ among us deride the ‘keyboard warriors,’ but I think it goes deeper than that, and I think we are answering the wrong questions.

Many within the movement think that dying for the cause of liberty is the pinnacle of achievement somehow; it’s the golden ring, and if we somehow are forced to die then we will be remembered like Nathan Hale, giving our all for freedom. The siren song of battle calls, and so many want more than anything to answer it. People cannot get enough of posting their selfies and videos at the various actions, talking about how they were there as if that makes them more of a patriot because they were willing to die for the cause.

I posit that dying for a cause is easy. Being a true member of the resistance, however, is not.

Dying for the cause is noble, certainly, if you are forced to do so. Many of us have done the soul-searching necessary to answer the question What am I willing to lose? We have accepted that for people like us, that very well may be the end of things. We certainly don’t seek that outcome, but we are self-aware enough to know the possibility exists. Anyone who understands history and the current state of affairs knows that the danger is real. That being said, is giving our life for the cause really something we should be okay with? Shouldn’t we be trying a lot harder to stay alive and stay in the fight? What good are we dead or in jail? It would seem that we should be so incredibly NOT okay with dying that we do everything possible to fight even being put in that position. Nathan Hale understood the cold, hard truth that you can only give your life once.

It could be argued that the true pinnacle of achievement in the liberty movement is not in being willing to lay down your life, but in being willing to set yourself apart to LIVE. To train your body, making it as fit and strong as possible. To train your mind, to learn everything necessary—not just about guns or tactics, but about other things, like how to engage in propaganda. How to disrupt. How to work behind the scenes to achieve the thousands of little victories that are required in a long-term fight. How to protect the people you work with, how to disseminate information in a way that does not compromise the people who are privy to it. There are a thousand parts to a successful resistance, and as a movement, we tend to ignore most of them in favor of the glorious idea of the ultimate sacrifice that we are so willing to make.

Sun Tzu said to know yourself. Can we say that we do? Can we say that we know our own weaknesses? Are we willing to admit the vulnerabilities that we each have? Have we gone down into the depths of our own beings and truly understood what makes us weak? We are willing to die for the cause. Big deal. Are we willing to live for it? Are we willing to go without our comforts so that we can have more of the things we need for the fight? Are we willing to be seen as radicals, not just by the government or the Left, but by our own friends and even family? If your spouse gave you an ultimatum—the movement or your marriage—what would you do? Are we willing to be brutally honest with ourselves about the ways that we can be exploited—and are we willing to do what it takes to mitigate them when possible? We all have weaknesses. Every single person on earth can be exploited if one can find the key to what motivates them, what they need and love more than anything. To ignore that is to put ourselves and the people we work with in danger. Are we willing to even admit to ourselves what that key is, and how we could be leveraged? Because there are people who at this moment are looking for that key. It is their job to find it, to exploit it. If you aren’t even willing to admit to yourself where you are weak, how can you possibly harden that weakness?

We don’t harden it. That’s the truth. We ignore the weaknesses, we minimize them and rationalize them and figure that they don’t really matter, or that if it ever came down to it, we’d be able to overcome them. But training is not just for accuracy and shot groupings, or whether you can make a fire in the woods when it’s raining. It’s about hardening every single facet of who you are. It’s about training your mind, your body, the very core of the person you call you. It’s about having focus. Liberty is not a spectator sport, it is not something we engage in one weekend a month when our groups get together to train. It’s not even about making sure that our gear is in order so we can jump on the next action where everyone and their mother is calling for “boots on the ground.”

The pinnacle of achievement is not talk, and it is not death. It is a life lived. It is a day to day existence that seeks the furtherance of liberty in all things, not just the big actions that have national attention. In fact, I daresay it’s not about attention at all. It’s about being willing to set yourself apart for the purpose of service and sacrifice in your everyday life. Not so you can go to every Big Patriot Action, and not so you can deride everyone who “calls themselves a patriot until it’s time to do patriot sh*t.” It’s so that you can contribute—steadily, purposefully, and maybe even silently—to the cause of liberty. Can we really call those smaller actions, committed every day, lesser than the one ultimate act? Are the contributions of the nameless and faceless somehow not as important because we don’t know about them? I’m not talking about those who sit on Facebook and think that sharing memes counts as fighting for the cause. I’m talking about the people who provide the gadgets, who move the ammo and supplies, who store the caches and set up the drops and fund activities and spread disinformation and write propaganda and even stand silently training for the day that the 100 Heads policy must be collected. They don’t talk about what they do, they don’t post videos and selfies and they don’t seek the validation of the community. They simply do what they do, in their small cells or even alone, behind the scenes and in a hundred thousand places across the country. They would die for the cause too; the difference is, they have every intention of screwing the enemy over in every way possible first—and they don’t care if they ever get known for it.

There is a place for the loud, the fiery, the ‘troops’ who stand at the Malheurs and the Bundy Ranches and the federal courthouses. They are needed. They are the front line of the fight, and when the siren call sounds, they answer. But there is also a place for those who choose to engage in a hundred smaller acts rather than the big, ultimate one. They work in the shadows, they are willing to be the faceless, nameless cog in the machine; they are willing to be the stop on the underground trail, the safe house, the gray man behind the scenes. They are willing to learn what they do not know, train in what they cannot yet do, and be whatever is needed. They do not seek the glory of giving it all for liberty; they seek the quiet knowledge that even if the world never learns their name, they have contributed their lives, their character and their actions to the beautiful ideal of freedom.

They are the resistance. And the movement needs far more of them.

You might have what it takes to give your life for the cause. But do you have what it takes to live your life for the cause?