The following is an article taken from Self-Liberation Notes, originally published in 1991 by Frieda Linkbetter. Herein, she covers some good tactics and reminders in the realm of privacy, security culture, and vetting associates.
Please enjoy, and always remember, vonu is yours for the making and the Second Realm is yours for the building.
BYE SPY: TIPS FOR STAYING FREE AND EFFECTIVE
By: Frieda Linkbetter, 1991
The U.S. is now the leading police state, imprisoning a larger fraction of its population than does any other nation. As more and more activities are targeted, many people feel their only choices are slavish conformity or paralyzing paranoia. However, my compatriots and I accomplish most of what we want, in relative safety. We do so by applying three rules:
- Seem small and unimportant.
- Trust only those closely involved with you.
- Minimize time in dangerous situations.
These rules derive from the economics of espionage and apply to any society, regardless of the political system. The various police agencies might like you to believe that their agents watch every move, listen to every conversation, and study every letter. But they can’t. Though their resources may be large, the world is much larger. They can pay close attention to relatively few. They must choose. They will choose you only if you are an easy target or if they consider you or your group especially important. Which brings me back to rule 1: seem small and unimportant.
Keeping groups small and numerous, or thoroughly decentralized, not only increases your safety, but by “cluttering the field” reduces everyone’s risks.
Who are important in the eyes of inquisitors? That will vary from agency to agency and year to year. I have no inside knowledge, and if I did, it would soon be out of date. But in general, any activity or group will be considered important if it seems to threaten the established order or any powerful special-interest bloc, and if it is sizable and growing. Such a group will be infiltrated, and either redirected until no longer a threat, or sabotaged or suppressed. Whether or not an activity is explicitly illegal does not matter very much, because thousands of vague laws grant police broad powers.
The announced reason for suppression may not be the chief reason. Thus marijuana is outlawed, not so much to safeguard health or temperament (most medical researchers believe, as do I, that marijuana is no more harmful than tobacco, alcohol and many prescription drugs), but to prevent a plant easily grown in backyards from competing with established substances. Not surprisingly, the legal-drug industry lobbies strongly for suppression of marijuana and other illegal drugs.
In the coming decade, the activities targeted will probably include low-cost ways of living. Requiring less income, they reduce tax collections and threaten all who have grown dependent on Uncle Sapsucker. Back in the 70’s, there was more redirection (or co-option) than prosecution: the mass media publicized a few fashionable “alternatives” (such as $100,000 “homesteads”) and some self-reliance trivia (such as marking your own handkerchiefs), while largely ignoring options offering big savings. But in the 90’s, with fewer people affluent, redirection may not suffice. If it doesn’t, expect overt attacks.
What size groups will be targeted? Looking at the affordable number of spies, versus the likely number of targets, I would guess that any disliked group which has more than 20 full-time members or more than 2000 fans, will probably be infiltrated.
Individuals will be watched closely if they lead targeted organizations or otherwise stand out. Lesser groups and individuals will be monitored if they can be easily; otherwise ignored.
Distinguishing between infiltration and monitoring: An “infiltrator” is someone who devotes much time to penetrating one specific group or activity. A “monitor” is someone who attempts to track a number of groups or individuals without devoting much time to anyone. (There are other types of agents, such as provocateurs and saboteurs but they are easier to spot.)
A large part of monitoring is collecting and correlating information publicly available. But making sense of the data and weeding out disinformation usually requires reports from persons on the scene. (During World War II, I read the English and allies kept the Germans guessing where on the coast they would land, by using radio transmissions to simulate non-existing forces. The Germans did not have enough reliable spies within England to determine which forces were real.)
On-the-scene monitors are recruited mostly from: (1) former police and military officers; (2) law violators who become spies to gain police tolerance or suspended sentences. Most monitors are single men, or, if they have families, do not involve them. Most are “good mixers” able to fraternize with a variety of people. But a monitor could be of any sex, age, family, personality, etc.
The one trait all monitors possess (as long as they remain monitors rather than infiltrators) is an unwillingness to devote much time to one target. A monitor may claim to be very interested in your activity, but explain that other commitments, a lack of resources, or a craving for variety (etc.) preclude doing much right now or staying involved for long. This brings me to rule 2: Trust only those closely involved with you.
Looked at another way: either be very close to someone, or else very distant. Try not to mess with mister or ms in-between.
Looked at yet another way: a few steady companions are usually worth more than are many occasional friends, especially for disapproved activities.
Rule 2 weeds out monitors, because monitors cannot devote much time to you, provided you seem small and unimportant (rule 1 again). Rule 2 also weeds out dilitants [sic] and spectators who are usually a waste of time and who themselves may be targets for monitoring, especially if they are gossipy.
“Involved” ‘or “close” means, we work together much of the time or share a large part of our lives. We may not be in love or be very similar, but we respect each other and are able to tolerate differences. The bottom line is: we are very useful to each other. Examples include not only broadly-compatible spouses and living companions, but also exceptionally close (by Anglo-American standards) sisters and brothers, other relatives, comrades and business associates.
Those with close friendships forged and tested since childhood, enjoy a head start. Ethnic groups which foster close friendships, have dominated many illicit activities, from medieval money-lending, to prohibition-era bootlegging and present-day drug dealing. But lacking such a background also has advantages because it forces you to think, rather than just relying on custom and habit.
Comfortably distant (for me) are: the readers of this article; a clerk at a specialty store where I shop once a year; a fellow airline passenger with whom I can chat about the weather.
Uncomfortable, in-between relationships would include a dependent child who lives with me but attends public school or otherwise spends much time with outsiders; a “friend” who wants to meet and talk occasionally but not do much else together.
Without limiting myself to existing companions, I cannot avoid in-between relationships entirely. But I minimize them by developing new relationships rapidly and by ending unproductive ones promptly and completely. I.e.: Either come in or go out. Don’t loiter in the doorway.
Rather than take systematic precautions, some persons rely just on their feelings about others. For me, that is not adequate. Consider: Women in general and sex workers in particular are noted for intuition. Yet vice cops fool many sex workers.
In my experience most monitors can be spotted, partly because they are spread thin and cannot devote much time to one target. (E.g., one acquaintance professed great interest in my work, yet showed a poor understanding of information about it readily available to him.) However, trying to deduce motive is usually unproductive because you can’t be sure. Better to simply stay away from those not actively participating.
Unlike monitors, infiltrators may be impossible to spot. A top-notch one may be hired and trained to penetrate one specific group or activity, and may devote years to gaining trust (I have read; I have no first-hand experience because I avoid groups likely to be infiltrated). Infiltration is stressful because the spy must act convincingly, day after day, month after month, yet remain loyal to his employer. A few spies turn; more edit their reports to protect their new friends; some develop psychological problems. Some spies are found out and expelled, suffer fatal “accidents”, or are supplied by the group with misinformation to feed to the spy’s employer. But intelligence agencies expect losses and lapses. Against an important target, they may send several agents unaware of each other, and cross-check reports. No way can a targeted group prevent infiltration and still function well. But, because deep-cover agents are costly, relatively few groups can be infiltrated.
This brings me once again to rule 1: Seem small and unimportant. I say “seem” because, what matters is not how much impact your work actually has, but what your enemies believe.
Putting rule 1 another way: be decentralized. A movement consisting of many small, autonomous groups, may often duplicate effort or work at cross purposes, but even so, will usually be more durable and effective than one large organization, especially in a hostile environment.
A group’s optimum size will depend on the activity, but seldom will exceed a dozen near-full-time members. If larger, advantages of scale and specialization may be lost in higher overhead, even if the group should escape infiltration.
Finally I come to rule 3: Minimize time in dangerous situations. With police, you are in danger anywhere you can be easily watched or bugged or where frequent or prolonged visits might arouse anyone’s suspicion. Though any place within sight of sound of outsiders is risky, some situations are worse than others. You are the best judge of which are the riskiest for you.
Advice to dress and act inconspicuously, is well and good. But no matter how careful you are – accidents happen! I’ve had very few encounters with police, which I attribute, not to great ability at blending in, but to my spending little time where police are common.
Most places frequented by police are dangerous in other ways as well, the prime example being highways. (One survivalist seriously injured himself in a wreck while driving hundreds of miles to attend a survival workshop.)
In summary, you are most likely to remain free and effective if you: seem small and unimportant; trust only those closely involved with you; minimize time in dangerous situations.