Spy Tips on Secrets, Cover ID’s, Teamwork, and more…
There’s nothing more frustrating for a spy, than being on the sideline for a important operation. When you spent your career in the middle of the action it’s tough to take on a supporting role. Particularly when you’re stuck helping people pack.
For a spy, it’s often better to steal secrets than pay for them. It saves money and time and doesn’t leave a messy paper trail. Of course, anyone who’s in the business of selling secrets is also in the business of protecting them, which can make extracting information nearly impossible. Just because your target is willing to share a meal with you doesn’t mean he won’t put a bullet in the back of your head.
Spies don’t do well with downtime. Their idea of R&R is recon and rendition.
Re-establishing an old cover I.D. isn’t just a matter of changing your name. If you want access to the contacts that go with that cover, you have to re-create the past. The way you walk, talk, and look has to be consistent with what people remember down to the smallest detail, the direction you part your hair, what gun you carry, your brand of sunglasses, even the pinky ring you wear.
You don’t always have to rely on trained operatives to gather intelligence. A problem that seems impossible, like finding a single motorcycle circling in a crowded city becomes much easier if you can hire 100 people to sit on street corners and record every motorcycle they see for a few dollars a day. Whether it’s shop owners, cab drivers, or kids playing in the street, every city in the world has a network of potential spies just waiting to be recruited.
Sometimes the best way to get past security is to make it seem riskier to keep you out than it is to let you in.
The average security guard won’t risk angering someone important. At an illegal chop shop, the lady in the $90,000 stolen car is a V.I.P.
Intelligence gathering tends to involve a lot of number crunching. Analysts have computers specially programmed to turn raw data into useful information. But as with repairing a radio or dressing a wound, in the field, it’s important to be able to do the same work with what you can find in a third-rate hotel room.
Any security-conscious person knows to protect their computer and shred their documents. They tend to forget, though, about the step between computer and hard copy. Most printers store documents in their memory. It’s a convenient way for users to print another copy and a convenient way for spies to steal information.
Any run-of-the-mill car thief can hot-wire a standard vehicle, but dealing with a custom hot rod equipped with a kill switch requires special skills. Splicing the right wires together to create an electrical bypass takes a seasoned pro.
If you’re planning on doing heavy mechanic work in hostile territory, it’s not enough to make sure you can’t be seen. You also have to make sure you can’t be heard, which means silencing your tools. It’s hard to concentrate on getting the engine timing right if you’re worried about getting shot. In the field, skill with a wrench is often just as important as skill with a gun. When time isn’t on your side, you can’t worry about passing a government inspection. But you have to do enough to make sure your point gets across.
Special-forces squads are built around the skills of the individual members. But no matter how good each member of the squad is, every mission comes down to one thing, how well they work together. Because in the end, you don’t need a hero to succeed in the field. You need a team.