Spy Tips on Optical Bugs, Using the Cops, Pick Pockets, and more
Sprinkle a mixture of flour and dayglo powder on your floor before you go out, and you’ll know whether you’ve had any visitors and what they were after.
There are two kinds of government surveillance – the kind that’s there to look for something and the kind that’s just there to make your life difficult.
You can tie up a lot of resources by keeping a bugged phone line open. As long as it’s open, they’re supposed to keep listening. Say a few cryptic things now and then and they’ll be stuck in their little van, trying to figure out what the hell you’re doing. They can’t go home, can’t grab a bite to eat, can’t take a leak. And the longer they’re stuck in a van with a set of headphones, the more you can find out about them.
As a rule, spies don’t like dealing with cops. Covert ops are illegal by definition. If they were legal, they wouldn’t need to be covert. Still, the police can be useful if you need a little insurance against people shooting.
When you’re going into a meeting cold with people you know nothing about, you have to be extra careful. Pay attention to every detail. map out an escape route or two just in case. And never, ever show up as yourself. Another thing you look for is people who seem overly upset that things have changed, details that shouldn’t matter so much.
The optical bug is a high-tech toy that shoots a light beam in a window. It picks up vibrations from the glass and translates it into speech. You can’t see the beam with the naked eye, but take the infrared filter off a digital camera, and it shows up nicely. As high-tech as a laser mike is, they’re not hard to defeat. They pick up vibrations on the glass, so you supply your own vibrations.
When working a cover identity, the safest thing is to let the target take the lead. You’ve got more information than he does. You want to keep that edge.
Anyone with a security clearance is going to know not to leave anything in a hotel room. They’ll keep the important stuff with them. Usually it’ll be in a secure laptop with a few layers of encryption. Means you can’t break into it. But if you’re just looking to make somebody angry, you don’t need to break into it. Put a big enough magnet where that laptop is going to be, and you can turn it into an expensive paperweight.
When something serious is going down, it’s a good idea to show up nice and early so you can see the ground and assess the situation.
Anyone who’s ever handled large amounts of cash can tell you, it’s one of the toughest things in the world to move. It’s heavy and dense – dead weight. If it’s on fire, of course, that complicates things further.
Getting information out of someone who doesn’t want to give it up is all about upsetting the target’s emotional balance, impairing their judgment. Fear’s good for that. Anger’s not bad either.
Sometimes, intelligence gathering involves sophisticated techniques and a lot of high-tech equipment. But sometimes it’s as simple as picking someone’s pocket.