Lessons for Vetting: UK Undercover Manual

Grugq has a link to very interesting material: a manual for undercover police work used in the UK. While you may flip through it, see the organizational stuff and wonder why it’s important, you may be surprised to learn that there are some pretty decent nuggets in there. How a group does something is perhaps even more important than what they’re doing, and understanding how they’re set up and how they facilitate their activities is a critical part of resisting them or dealing with them at all. While you may think it’s for the UK and therefore not applicable to us, you’d do well to read it anyway and note that some things are universal, especially when it comes to vetting.

A few examples:

Page 34: Backstopping and legend building – In case you didn’t know, there are personnel who “develop, maintain and support covert identities and structures capable of withstanding scrutiny.” That means they’ve already thought about your piddly vetting measures, and they already planned ahead. When you’re dealing with an intelligence service or agency who is willing and able to put work and expense into making sure that their fake identities hold up even if you’re looking into them, then it can be taken as gospel that your simple “internet footprint” check and $29 background peek is not going to expose them. They’ve already covered those bases.  And even if you think you’ve got a hookup for deeper checks, like an FFL who’s figured out how to run NICS checks under the table or a federal level contact who’s willing to do some searching on your behalf, they’ve probably thought about that too. In fact, they’ll have documents that back up their story, and your buddy at the Alphabet Agency may not be as helpful as you think–that’s even if he’s really trying to help at all.

Does this mean the moles and UCs can’t be exposed, or that you cannot protect yourself? No. You can, and you should, and there are ways to do it (that involve a lot more than simply checking someone’s Facebook page or paying someone to go look at public records for you).

Page 54: Conduct – This whole section talks about all of the things they can and cannot do. While you might be chuckling to yourself and thinking, “Well, that means the person I’m smoking pot with/sleeping with/acquiring materials with must be fine because they can’t do that stuff if they’re undercover,” please note the following phrase that finds its way into every single section of conduct:

“If the UCO engages in unauthorized ______ for whatever reason, this activity will be restricted to the minimum conduct necessary to mitigate the threat…” That means that the whole list of “can nots” just became a “can, as long as you can justify it.” Well, if it’s “necessary” to spend 18 months hanging out with someone before they trust you enough to let you talk them into a bomb plot, they’re okay with that. If it’s “necessary” for them to go to your activities, engage in some civil disobedience and lawbreaking, and act just as anti-tyranny as you, they’re okay with that too. And for the record, honey traps, or seduction operations, have been extremely effective for thousands of years. Do you really think they’re going to stop using them because they’re worried about the UC’s feelings, or worried that it’s not “fair?” By the way…when you see the phrase “mitigate the threat,” keep in mind that you’re the target. You’re the threat. This means they have rules, but ALL of those rules are breakable if it means they can “mitigate the threat”….that’s you.

Page 56: Agent Provocateur – Here’s something we’re all becoming very familiar with. They define an AP as someone who “entices another to commit an express breach of the law which they would
not otherwise have committed and then proceeds to inform against them in respect of such an offence.” Pay attention to that: they specifically say “which they would NOT have otherwise committed.” Think about that. Their entire purpose is to get you to do things you would not normally do, and wouldn’t do at all if they weren’t enticing you. People like to call this being “framed.” It’s not. They like to claim that being set up in this way absolves you of responsibility and makes you a victim. That’s not the case.  At the end of the day, you CAN keep yourself from being set up in this way.

(Are they willing to flat out make things up to get you? Sure. But they don’t often have to, because so many people allow themselves to be manipulated into actually doing it.)

We carry firearms and talk about how our security is OUR problem, how self-defense means no one will protect you except you. The same people, oddly enough, will engage in shoddy vetting practices, or think that whoever calls them brother and shows up to the FTX is trustworthy. They’ll turn off their location settings on Facebook “for security reasons” and then post 30 photos of themselves in the parking lot of their FTX, where anyone with a laptop and a few skills can piece together everything from license plates to home addresses to blood type, gear condition and type, who’s in what unit and what position they hold, and based on body language, sometimes even the group dynamics. It takes little time to choose someone to target, and sadly it sometimes doesn’t take long to gain their trust. Keep in mind that those who would target you have all the time in the world. They can afford to be patient, to slowly prove themselves trustworthy and slowly earn your loyalty while moving you closer and closer to the fire.

We don’t get to go through life oblivious to the threat, and we don’t get to assume that we know all the threats. Yes, the person you train next to may already be trained by someone else. The fellow ‘patriot’ offering you a good deal on a firearm or other materials may not be doing so out of the goodness of his heart. The female you’ve been talking to and trying to impress may be dutifully recording all your FTX stories. Just because you trust someone does not make them trustworthy.

Take the time to learn how to properly vet someone; don’t assume you know how, or that it’s even as simple as an internet check. Don’t press for “unity” and “national affiliation.” Don’t be afraid to question the people who you work with–even the ones you’ve worked with for a while. Don’t take on new people easily (or ever). It’s not a popularity contest, and you don’t get a bonus for having the biggest group.

Above all, be open to learning from anyone, whether you like them or not, whether you agree with them or not, even if they’re criminals. Just because you look at a drug dealer or environmental terrorist and think “well THOSE guys are criminals” doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them. Remember, there are those who look at you and think the same thing! Lastly, don’t ever be willing to bet your life or the lives of others on substandard vetting. So-called “unity” isn’t worth it.

Additional Reading:

7 Ways the Cops Will Bust You on the Dark Web

How to Make a Truly Anonymous Facebook Account, Part 1

Two Things You Need to Know About Division

Tradecraft for Patriots: Moscow Rules Part 2

Yesterday we looked at the first part of the Moscow Rules, a list of operating protocols for CIA personnel stationed in Moscow during the Cold War. As we’ve discussed many times, security procedures are remarkably similar regardless of the field or group using them, including the Moscow Rules. Drug dealers, organized crime, and even terrorist groups use tradecraft, and a smart partisan will study their methods, see what works and what doesn’t, and learn from it.

In this article we’ll go through the second half of the Moscow Rules and what they mean to you as a well-rounded partisan.

  • Any operation can be aborted; if it feels wrong, then it is wrong.

Right out of the gate, we see another reference to trusting your gut. Yes, it’s that important. If you’re going out to train with your firearm and suddenly one of your guys wants to bring one of his buddies, if it feels wrong, don’t do it. If you’ve set up a buyer for your firearm and when you get there the guy doesn’t seem right, don’t sell. Use your head, trust your gut.

This brings me to another pair of points. We talked in the last article about people getting turned into informants against groups and individuals, as law enforcement looks to criminalize the patriot movement. The recent case of Schuyler Barbeau is a classic example of how informants are used to put people in jail. More importantly, it’s a quintessential case study in how NOT to act on social media. It’s also a perfect example of why you should vet the people you associate with. We’ll be doing an article specifically on the OPSEC failures in this case—not because we believe that Barbeau didn’t have the right to own an SBR. The Second Amendment secures the right of any citizen to own whatever they want, and to buy and sell that personal property as they see fit. However, the truth is that we live in enemy territory, so to speak. You can bet that Barbeau’s OPSEC and PERSEC failures are being used to full advantage by the authorities, and every single person he associated with is now getting their own info parsed out. The fact that his arrest and imprisonment is unconstitutional does not negate the fact that Barbeau made some basic mistakes. To ignore them is stupid and dangerous. We can be incensed about the unconstitutionality of his arrest while still admitting that mistakes were made and learning from them.

  • Keep your options open.

Again, self-explanatory. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Don’t be caught with only one plan and no backups.

  • If your gut says to act, overwhelm their senses.

You can figure out what this one means.

  • Use misdirection, illusion, and deception.
  • Hide small operative motions in larger non threatening motions.
  • Hide an SD card transfer in a friendly hug.

This speaks to some of the smaller gestures that we engage in. When transferring information between yourself and another party, make it a small motion encased in a bigger, innocent motion—such as hiding an SD card transfer in a hug or even handshake.

  • When free, In Obscura, immediately change direction and leave the area.
  • Break your trail and blend into the local scene.
  • Execute a surveillance detection run designed to draw them out over time.
  • Avoid static lookouts; stay away from chokepoints where they can reacquire you.

There is a decent tutorial on detecting and countering surveillance over at ITS Tactical. While you’re over there, check out their piece on performing a self-surveillance. It’s critical that you understand your own movements; you might realize that no matter how many “secure” text apps you have, your actions may be wide open.

  • Once is an accident; twice is a coincidence; three times is an enemy action.

This is one of the more important rules, and one that is pooh-poohed by a fair amount of people. The truth is that it goes back to trusting your gut. Some people—myself included—believe that coincidences rarely happen. If something seems wonky, that’s because it probably is. Pay attention to patterns; things that match, and things that don’t. Pay attention to people. Get training in seeing deception (the Statement Analysis class coming up in February is a fantastic start), and learn to detect changes in their conduct patterns. Learn what motivates the people around you and how that motivation may be used against them—and by extension, against you.

  • Select a meeting site so you can overlook the scene.
  • Keep any asset separated from you by time and distance until it is time.
  • If the asset has surveillance, then the operation has gone bad.
  • Only approach the site when you are sure it is clean.
  • After the meeting or act is done, “close the loop” at a logical cover destination.
  • Be aware of surveillance’s time tolerance so they aren’t forced to raise an alert.
  • If an alert is issued, they must pay a price and so must you.
  • Let them believe they lost you; act innocent.

These are all rules for setting up meetings. They seem pretty logical and obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t do them or even think of them. People like convenience, and if things are inconvenient (such as setting up a meeting properly, using secure comms or engaging in OPSEC), people don’t like to do them. It takes work to operate correctly. It takes vigilance and attention to detail. It only takes one mistake to compromise not only yourself, but everyone you work with. If you have people you trust to have your back, don’t screw them over by being lax in your dealings.

  • There is no limit to a human being’s ability to rationalize the truth.

The final Moscow rule deals with human nature. We’ve all seen it: the anti-gun liberal who refuses to see the truth, the family members who willfully ignore the situation in our country and prefer to pretend like everything is fine. Another hard and cold truth, however, is that patriots do it too. They refuse to practice safety and security. They refuse to believe that privacy is necessary. They refuse to believe that their Facebook chats and Zello meetings and emails are being watched. They refuse to believe that physical fitness is necessary. They refuse to accept that intelligence is a critical part of the equation, or that having zero knowledge about the irregular threats in their area is dangerous. They even refuse to accept that the people they work with might be untrustworthy or even working against them. The reasons for these rationalizations are myriad, and could fill up an entire series of articles. But the bottom line is that they happen.

As patriots we have to be smarter than that. We have to pay better attention, be willing to learn from our mistakes; in fact, we need to be willing to admit that the mistakes happen at all. Don’t rationalize, don’t sugarcoat. Take hard looks at yourself, your training, your ability to operate. Be willing to accept that you have deficiencies—we all do. Be willing to learn, have a teachable attitude, and seek out the training you’re missing. Start practicing your OPSEC. Start working on your intelligence preparation. Start doing the things you’re not doing now. Share the information and training that you possess, and learn from those who are better than you are.

Educate. Empower. Resist.

Statement Analysis Course

TOWR is pleased to announce a Law Enforcement Statement Analysis Course coming to Western Washington. We’ve all made the jokes about how to tell when a politician is lying, or how all the news networks are spoonfeeding us the stuff they want us to pay attention to.  It’s easy to know, for instance, that the current President is generally lying when he goes in front of the American people and says things.  In many cases, later events show his words to be a lie.  But what is the truth?  How do you detect deception immediately just by listening to what someone says? That’s what this course is designed to show you. Statement analysis is an invaluable skill for research in news reports, politician or government statements, open source intelligence collection, and all sorts of other applications—including talking to your teenage son about where he was last night.

Statement Analysis is used by law enforcement, attorneys, journalists, and many others to find deception. As a well-rounded partisan, Statement Analysis can help you vet people in your group. It can allow you to see past the headlines into what’s really going on. Statement Analysis is the scientific process by which deception is detected through the words used. Analytical Interviewing is a legally sound, non-intrusive, non-interpretive method of gaining information from the interviewee based upon the subject’s own language.

How does this matter to patriots? Ask yourself if you need to be able to spot deception in your dealings, or if you’d prefer being lied to and not know. You can see the necessity of this course very quickly.

After attending this seminar, you will begin to hear and see things that you never noticed before. In addition, if you complete this course you will be certified in Statement Analysis and have access to 12 months of follow up care and training. Statement Analysis requires ongoing practice to stay current and develop skills; becoming certified allows you to continue that training with law enforcement.

This course includes a 100-page manual that you can refer to long after the class is over, more than 7 hours of audio recorded lectures, chapter tests, a 70-question final exam for certification, and 12 months of online support as well.

This course will be taught by Peter Hyatt, author of the book Wise as a Serpent, Gentle as a Dove: Dealing with Deception. He also has a past online radio show, in which he discussed current affairs and cases, parsing them out to find the deception (you can listen to the old episodes here). He is a current analyst who trains law enforcement, corporate hiring managers, lawyers, social workers, and others who have a need to tell truth from lies.

The Statement Analysis course will be held February 6-7 in the Seattle area. You can reserve your spot by emailing us at TOWR@whiterose.us. This is an incredible opportunity, to learn deception detection from one of the foremost authorities and nationally recognized experts in the field. Class spots are limited, as this is a hands-on course. Don’t delay!

Date: February 6-7 2016

Location: TBD (we are finalizing a venue in Everett, WA)

Time: 0800-1600 with a 1 hour break for lunch

Cost: $100

Registration: TOWR@whiterose.us