Tradecraft for Patriots: The Moscow Rules Part 1

Our Tradecraft for Patriots series has gone through some theoretical and even how-to information on “operating,” as it were, as part of the patriot movement. Today we’ll talk about the Moscow Rules, which were a list of rules for CIA officers and operatives in Moscow during the Cold War. They are steeped in legend, and there is still a debate over whether they were ever written down at all. They stand today as a fantastic list of things you should be paying attention to in your daily life. If you’ve broken away from the standard pyramid leadership structure and are part of a leaderless partisan resistance group, these rules are even more important. While there are historically 10-13 Moscow Rules, ITS Tactical has the expanded list of forty. Today we’ll deal with about half of them.

  • Assume nothing.

If you’ve served in the military, you already can answer the question “What happens when you assume?” Don’t make assumptions. Make logical, fact-based, analytical decisions and predictions, but don’t make assumptions. The stakes are far too high if you’re wrong.

  • Technology will always let you down.

We spend a lot of time talking about electronic communications here at TOWR, but this is a universal truth—and not just about computers or phones or tablets. Technology, period, will eventually let you down. It’ll break, it’ll be obsolete or incompatible or otherwise unusable. Have a system set up where you can communicate without using a single electronic means if necessary. There are ways to do so. Have a backup for your technology so that when it does fail for whatever reason, your group isn’t suddenly in the dark and unable to function.

  • Murphy is right.

Murphy’s Law is alive and well. Plan for it. Expect it.

  • Never go against your gut.
  • Always listen to your gut; it is your operational antennae.

One thing that you’ll see repeated several times in the Moscow Rules is trust your gut. The importance of this cannot be overstated. If it feels wrong, it IS wrong. For instance, we’ve all gotten that uneasy feeling upon meeting someone. Many times we tend to rationalize that feeling away, or are uncomfortable making that snap judgment call, especially if someone says, “Well, you just need to get to know them.” Red flags pop up for a reason. We feel uncomfortable for a reason. How many times have we trusted someone—against those red flags—only to find out later that our gut was right all along? I’ve been as guilty as the next person in the past, and if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll realize that you’ve done it too.

This principle can be applied to everything from people to situations. Every other day it seems, there’s a CRISIS SITUATION where people want you to strap on your gear and turn into Patriot Power Ranger because It’s Time To Start The Ruckus. Remember—it’s never time to START the ruckus. That’s not what we believe, it’s not what we do. Before passing on information or videos of yet another pissed off guy wearing a skull bandana, vet the information. Check out the people calling for action. Who are they? What do they want? What is their track record for integrity? WHY do they want you to act? What action do they want you to take? And what do they or their group gain if you do act?

Again, if it feels wrong, it is wrong. We’ll be doing an article later on some of the ways you can spot agents and informers, by the way. For now, trust your gut. Every time. That brings us to the next rule.

  • Everyone is potentially under opposition control.
  • Don’t look back; you are never completely alone. Use your gut.

The cold hard truth is that there are government agents in the patriot movement, and some people in the patriot movement get turned by the government into informants. Remember—the argument that “I’m not doing anything illegal” doesn’t matter. According to the government, if you believe in limited government involvement, denounce the surveillance state, and are willing to stand up for individual liberties, you’re a domestic terrorist. They’re willing to entrap you, use your private life against you, and spy on you as long or as intrusively as they have to in order to stop you from screwing up their control agenda. They have no scruples, no morals, no limits. Don’t underestimate their capability, and don’t for a second assume (see Rule 1) that all the people you work with are solid just because they say they are.

This flows into what I was just talking about with using your gut. Think about it. If you wanted to identify patriots willing to offensively target the government as opposed to those who would DEFEND ourselves against the government, what faster way than to manufacture a situation to draw them out? If you wanted to have an excuse to ramp up the disarming of the citizens, what better way than to manufacture a situation that brings all the ‘crazies’ to the yard?  If there’s a crisis going on, vet everyone involved. Ask questions. Ask for proof. If someone says they have video, ask to see it. If they claim to have screenshots, ask to see them. If they aren’t willing to provide it, or if your gut says something’s not right, pay attention.

  • Go with the flow; use the terrain.
  • Take the natural break of traffic.
  • Maintain a natural pace.
  • Establish a distinctive and dynamic profile and pattern.
  • Stay consistent over time.
  • Vary your pattern and stay within your profile.

These all deal with movement. Don’t drive like a bat out of hell, swerving in and out of lanes to “lose any tails.” Don’t draw attention to yourself. These may look at first glance like they’re contradictory but they aren’t. Notice words like “dynamic” and “consistent.” It doesn’t mean do the same thing every time. It means be consistently dynamic. Be consistently changing, but stay within the profile you’ve created for yourself.

  • Be non threatening: keep them relaxed; mesmerize!
  • Lull them into a sense of complacency.
  • Know the opposition and their terrain intimately.
  • Build in opportunity but use it sparingly.

These are pretty self-explanatory. Know the enemy. Understand how they work. That’s Sun Tzu 101 anyway, and as for the rest, they mean exactly what they say. Don’t run around acting like a crazy person looking for a fight. If your mindset is right, you’re NOT looking to start the fight.

  • Don’t harass the opposition.

This should be pretty near the top. A lot of patriots think that standing up for liberty must include harassment of the opposition. There is a difference, however, between standing and harassing. For a visual of this in action, think about the I Will Not Comply Rally that took place almost exactly a year ago today in WA State. A few thousand people stood: respectfully, resolutely. The attendees cleaned up after themselves, showed respect to the WA State Patrol officers who were there at the Capitol building, and conducted themselves like free men with character. Now contrast that with the Occupy movement. They destroyed every area they took up residence in, desecrated everything they touched, and engaged in violent crime, disrespect of people and property, and general mayhem.The #BlackLivesMatter movement is another example.

One of the cornerstones of being a III% or patriot is character. How do you conduct yourself, not just in your personal life but your online persona as well?

  • Pick the time and place for action.

Don’t allow yourself to get cornered. Don’t let the enemy choose where and how you act—that will trap you into REacting, instead of ACTING. Make a plan, make sure the people involved (and only the people involved) understand the plan, and then execute that plan. This goes for everything from communication plans to bug-out plans to anything else.

In the next segment we’ll take a look at the last half of the expanded list. For now, the takeaways are simple. If you remember nothing else, remember this: Trust your gut. Make plans, and expect them to go wrong. Make backup plans. Conduct yourself with character and integrity.

Educate and empower yourself and others. Resist.

Snowden on Privacy

Edward Snowden, fly in the NSA’s ointment, explains how to reclaim your privacy:

[Opsec] is important even if you’re not worried about the NSA. Because when you think about who the victims of surveillance are, on a day-to-day basis, you’re thinking about people who are in abusive spousal relationships, you’re thinking about people who are concerned about stalkers, you’re thinking about children who are concerned about their parents overhearing things. It’s to reclaim a level of privacy.

  • The first step that anyone could take is to encrypt their phone calls and their text messages. You can do that through the smartphone app Signal, by Open Whisper Systems. It’s free, and you can just download it immediately. And anybody you’re talking to now, their communications, if it’s intercepted, can’t be read by adversaries. [Signal is available for iOS and Android, and, unlike a lot of security tools, is very easy to use.]
  • You should encrypt your hard disk, so that if your computer is stolen the information isn’t obtainable to an adversary — pictures, where you live, where you work, where your kids are, where you go to school. [I’ve written a guide to encrypting your disk on Windows, Mac, and Linux.]
  • Use a password manager. One of the main things that gets people’s private information exposed, not necessarily to the most powerful adversaries, but to the most common ones, are data dumps. Your credentials may be revealed because some service you stopped using in 2007 gets hacked, and your password that you were using for that one site also works for your Gmail account. A password manager allows you to create unique passwords for every site that are unbreakable, but you don’t have the burden of memorizing them. [The password manager KeePassX is free, open source, cross-platform, and never stores anything in the cloud.]
  • The other thing there is two-factor authentication. The value of this is if someone does steal your password, or it’s left or exposed somewhere … [two-factor authentication] allows the provider to send you a secondary means of authentication — a text message or something like that. [If you enable two-factor authentication, an attacker needs both your password as the first factor and a physical device, like your phone, as your second factor, to login to your account. Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, GitHub,, and tons of other services all support two-factor authentication.]

There’s more at the link.


Would you like to learn more about privacy and security?  Come to the free Cryptoparty in Renton, WA on 12/5.  See the upcoming courses frame for more info.

Tradecraft for Patriots: Signs and Countersigns

In this installment of the tradecraft for patriots series, we’ll talk about one facet of communications used to ensure that you’re talking to the right person. In independent cell-based operations, you may find yourself needing to meet up with someone you don’t know who is part of the information chain, or who is a cutout for someone else you’re working with. Anyone who has dipped their toes into the awkward and even dangerous world of online dating knows how difficult it can be, especially in a crowded public place, to know which person is the one you’re supposed to meet. Now multiply that with the knowledge that if you approach the wrong person, you could be endangering yourself, your family, contacts, or even your whole cell or group. You need a solid way to identify people—and telling your contact that “I’ll be wearing a Gadsden flag T-shirt, tactical pants and a III% cap” is not it. (See our previous article on the gray man.) Enter the sign/countersign. It’s a password set of sorts: you say the first half, and your contact—if he is in fact your contact—replies with the second half. Let’s take a look at what these are and how to make a good one.

Continue reading “Tradecraft for Patriots: Signs and Countersigns”

Perspectives on Being the Gray Man

You may have heard the phrase “be the gray man.” Take a seat in a mall, a fast-food restaurant, even a sidewalk bench on a busy street. Look around at the people in the area. How are they dressed? How do they act? What stands out in that particular area? The area you’re in does matter when you’re deciding what’s “gray”; what stands out in Beverly Hills might be completely normal and grey in a small Midwest town. What passes for straight up crazy and even uncomfortable where I’m from in the American Heartland is perfectly normal and even expected in the freakshow of Seattle. Being the grey man is part skill and part art. It’s a behavior pattern that can save your life and that of your family in SHTF, and for those engaged in patriot activities it is a lifestyle that you should be practicing every day.

If this is a new concept to you, take a look at the links in this article. One of the best how-to guides for getting started is by a former counterintelligence agent (in fact, you should be adding his site to your daily or weekly reading list).

In order to stay off the radar of others, whether you’re an undercover secret agent or just trying to get through a bad neighborhood, you need to be the person who doesn’t trigger anything in the thought process of others. We call that person the Gray Man. He is invisible. It’s not that he doesn’t exist or interact with people though. He can walk through a crowd, take note of everything he wants, complete his mission or walk through an area and be out without anyone remembering he was there.

He doesn’t just wear clothes that match what everyone else is wearing, he wears clothes no one will take note of. He doesn’t just do things to fit his natural surroundings, he does things that don’t cause your mind to take notice. He had no color, no smell, no texture, no emotion. He wasn’t there.

There are plenty of articles on how to do this effectively, one of them being what I just quoted. A member of the Zombie Squad also penned a pretty decent how-to that will at least get you started thinking about the mindset necessary. It can be difficult to fade into the gray, especially for people with loud, boisterous personalities, a need for attention, a tendency to stand out, or even distinctive tattoos or scars. Some traits lend themselves well to adopting the gray man lifestyle; some, not so much.

The best tutorial I’ve seen so far is this gem over at ITS Tactical, which explains the psychology behind the whole thing and includes an exercise for training your mind to see the grey men that are already around you. Once you know how to spot them, you can be them.

To learn to see the previously invisible gray man, go to a public area with lots of foot traffic. Sit back and watch the crowd. As a person walks by, notice the stimulus that drew your eye. In your mind (not out loud), create an insult about that person’s stimulus. The more outlandish the better. Before you all get offended here, the purpose is to pound into your consciousness the stimulus – what you notice about each person. “That guy has a huge nose.” “That guy has completely bizarre taste in shoes” “Do they sell men’s clothes where he bought those pants?” “Wow. That almost looks like he got dressed in the dark.” Remember your purpose is to identify the stimulus.

Then after a few minutes, someone will walk by and you will not find anything. Nothing to make fun of, nothing to ridicule. Pay attention to that person. Observe them carefully. See how they move, what kind of energy they project. See how they interact with others, what they pay attention to (or not). If possible follow them for a bit. Observe them move. I am sure from having done this myself and observing as classes do this, that the key to becoming a gray man lies in your ability to observe and mimic.

One specific and somewhat impressive trick comes from a tiny little blog started a few months ago by a group of vets and active duty military. They’re called Cohort One Five, and one of their first posts back in June mentioned one way to get your gear from one place to the other while being the grey man.

A possible option for a low profile, covert, gun and gear case is the field hockey bag. Most can be had for under $100. While these bags are not designed specifically to hold a rifle and associated gear, it would not be difficult to modify it in order to do so…[Many] would fit a 16″ carbine and associated gear quite nicely. A couple of the larger ones might even fit a full length rifle.

We talk a lot here about minimizing your online footprint. Minimizing your physical footprint and not drawing attention to yourself is just as important—and being able to spot the people around you who are gray is critical as well.

Tradecraft for Patriots: The SHTF Threat Continuum

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ne of the uncomfortable truths of SHTF is that regular people start doing things they would never consider in their ‘normal’ life. All you have to do is read some of the real-life stories on Selco’s blog about his own experiences during SHTF in the Balkans, where he survived for a year in a city with no government, no food distribution, no running water, and total chaos. When the grocery stores are empty and no one has water or food, things get horrifying in a hurry.  Think about what you’d be willing to do to take care of your own children.

All of this doesn’t even take into account the people who are already criminals, who already hold no value for life or property. These people will stop at nothing to take what you have, and if they have to kill you to get it, so be it. (By the way, this is another reason why you need to understand the area you live in and not just the area you play with your guns in.)

Do all of these people care what the hierarchy of your group is or when and where you train? Probably not. Will they care that you have a year’s worth of food set aside? Will the people on your Facebook remember that you took pics of your food storage or bragged about how much food you were able to can this fall? What about the proud announcement that you’ve finally closed on a cabin for your bugout location? Tradecraft comes into play as a part of an overall OPSEC strategy that starts now, not when SHTF or the government decides to start going door to door with a gun confiscation.

Continue reading “Tradecraft for Patriots: The SHTF Threat Continuum”