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.