Spy Tips on Drug Dealers, Deception, Navigation Systems, and more…
There’s a long tradition of using doubles in espionage. They’re mostly used by dictators who want to confuse would-be assassins, but they have other less-common uses, like framing someone for a crime they didn’t commit.
When confronting an armed enemy, the big question is what weapons they’re bringing to the fight. Trick your enemy into bringing the wrong weapon, and you’ve got the advantage. Someone thinks they’re taking fire from a sniper, for example, they’ll choose something long range with a long barrel. Which won’t do you much good in close combat.
For a spy, one of the most useful contacts in the criminal underworld is the small-time drug dealer. Their work demands that they stay informed about their rivals, their suppliers, the police, and any other bad guys who might be operating in their area.
The key to robbing an armed transport is to stop the vehicle without putting the guards on the defensive. Shooting a tire can cause a blowout without arousing suspicion, but it takes a gifted sniper to hit a target moving 40 miles per hour.
Staging a scene is one of the most important deception techniques in espionage. You’re telling a story, arranging evidence for someone to discover so they’ll believe what you want them to. If it works, there’s nothing like it. If it doesn’t work, well, it’s good to be nearby with a sniper rifle.
For a spy, there’s no greater victory than successfully inserting an asset into a hostile organization. Of course, it’s a little hard to celebrate that victory when the hostile organization is a bunch of trigger-happy drug dealers and the asset is your best friend. The first moments of an infiltration are crucially important. That’s when you’re establishing yourself what you know about them, what they know about you, and, most importantly, how useful you’re going to be. If the target decides you’re useful, you’re in. If they decide you’re not useful, you’re usually dead.
Establishing a cover as a drug addict isn’t glamorous, but it has its advantages. People don’t expect addicts to be rational. Thank you. So they don’t question their motives. Nothing explains an unwanted intrusion quite like the impression that you’re high as a kite.
Not all of the intelligence spies use is stolen or even secret. When the information you need involves a lot of data like searching for a single face in the population of Miami what you really need is access to the right database, which is usually behind the counter at the closest government agency.
The most advanced computer is worse at identifying faces than a newborn. Unless a photo is taken straight on under direct lighting, facial-recognition software is nearly worthless. Fortunately, driver’s license photos are taken straight on under direct lighting for exactly that reason.
Navigation systems combine data from traffic helicopters, police scanners, and road sensors to estimate the driving time along your route. But compiling all that data creates a time lag. There’s still no quicker way to get across town than being guided by somebody who has access to real-time satellite imagery and driving a very, very fast car.
For a spy, sneaking into the middle of a gun battle to pull someone out is one of the less popular assignments. It’s mostly about timing. Go in too early, and you have both sides shooting at you. Go in too late, and, well, you’re too late.