Spy Tips on Nightclubs, Killing Street Lights, and more
Spies aren’t much into nightclubs. In a career where hearing loss is a serious operational concern and crowds of strangers have to be constantly monitored, they just don’t seem like much fun.
Training a covert operative takes years and costs a lot of money. In theory, it’s all for the taxpayers who paid the bills. In practice, it’s worth a lot on the open market. And when something’s that valuable, there’s always someone trying to sell it.
Spies hate drop-in visits. Any questionable contact has to be reported to superiors, a process that involves hours of paperwork and uncomfortable questions. If you’re a questionable contact, that gives you some leverage. If you know where a spy operates, even a guy running a lowly import/export cover business. You can make someone’s life miserable.
If you want to stay alive, you have to be able to recognize the signs of a break-in. The most skilled operative in the world won’t last long if he walks into an ambush carrying a box of cereal.
When a target is cornered, the best strategy is to flush them into a choke point, where they have two options: surrender or be shot.
When you’re undercover, you often fight your emotions. If the operation demands that you be a target’s best friend, you do it, no matter what you’re feeling. But there are times emotions can help sell a cover I.D. If hitting a guy reinforces your cover, you give it all you got.
99% of controlling someone’s behavior is controlling their environment. All the conversations in the world won’t have the same impact as turning off the right light at the right time.
If you want to kill a streetlight without the mess and inconvenience of breaking into the pole with a cutting torch, you need to access the circuit breaker. Connect lines from the breakers to an exposed cellphone wire, and with a quick call, you can short the circuits. A similar trick can be used to temporarily disable a car. It doesn’t take much to trip a few electronic safety mechanisms and make a vehicle impossible to start.
If you want to make sure you’re the only one making calls, a $100 cellphone jammer will block all signals in a one-block radius.
When you want to create fear, it’s best to keep it simple, The same thing people are afraid of as kids, scare them when they’re adults. Fear of the dark, for example. Fear of being alone. And above all, fear of the unknown.
With today’s powerful encryption, it’s usually a waste of time trying to decipher coded communications. Tap the data stream of even a low-level spy, and you’re just going to get incomprehensible garbage. Just because it’s garbage doesn’t mean it’s worthless, though.
A network analyzer can tell you how much information someone’s accessing and how encoded it is. If someone starts using heavy-duty crypo and changing their security protocol, you know you’ve touched a nerve. And sometimes, that’s enough to tell you what you need to know.
When you push someone to the point of desperation, there’s always a chance they’ll go looking or help, which could be a problem. Unless, you’re the one providing the help.
If you want the appearance of a gunshot without actually dying, you need to create a high-powered burst of blood. A bottle cap packed with a bit of plastic explosive does the trick nicely. Rig a few remote charges to create the sound of a firearm, and you’ve got everything you need.
Getting a target to do what you want requires a delicate touch. Sometimes you’re a bully and sometimes you’re a friend. You have to know when to give the target help and comfort, and when to take it away.
When you work as a spy, follow-through is crucial. Even the best executed plan can fall apart. You don’t score if you spike the ball before you’re in the end zone.
When a plan goes wrong, you have two basic options. The first is to accept failure and abort the mission. That works best when you have the resources and time to remove personnel from the field. When you don’t have resources and time, you’re left with options two. Get back in there and salvage the situation any way you can.
There’s a long traditional in spycraft of making enemy assets appear unreliable. Make a loyal operative look like a traitor, for example, and if you’re lucky, your enemies take him out for you. Better than making an enemy look disloyal is making him look insane. It takes some doing, but when you pull it off, it’s more devastating than a bullet.
As a spy, you often have to do things you don’t like for people you don’t trust. You don’t always get to choose who you do business with. When the devil himself is offering the thing you want most, sometimes you dance with the devil.