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Secret Meetings
Tradecraft for managing clandestine contacts...
Copyright ©1998 Lee Adams. All rights reserved. Updated September 11th, 1998.
NOTE – Spy & CounterSpy does not endorse, condone, or encourage any illegal act. The material in this article is presented for information, research, entertainment, and education purposes only. The words "you" and "your" and "I" and "we" are used in this article for ease of readability only.
     A security service like the FBI can only achieve its objectives by intercepting communication between people. This means you can beat the security service if you can deny them the ability to overhear your meetings with your contacts.
What you'll learn here...
     This article teaches you how to check for surveillance before you meet with a clandestine contact. You'll learn a protocol that will beat security services like the FBI, BATF, DEA, and others. The method is particularly effective against standard police surveillance. It also works against the so-called inspection teams of the IRS.
     Tradecraft origins.  The method described in this article was originally devised in 1943-1944 by countersurveillance expert Anthony Blunt for Britain's MI.5. Unfortunately for the British, Blunt was a deep-cover agent for the KGB.
     Six years later, Blunt taught the protocol to his new KGB controller, Yuri Modin. Together they perfected the technique as it is known today. They successfully thwarted MI.5 surveillance for three years, sometimes even meeting daily to exchange information and top secret documents. In effect, Blunt was using his inside knowledge of MI.5's surveillance techniques to beat them at their own game.
     Proliferation.  This countersurveillance method has since been adopted by Israel's Mossad, Germany's BND, Russia's KGB (now the SVR), the American CIA, and many others. The protocol is taught by intelligence agencies to their controllers – these are the intelligence officers who manage and meet with deep cover agents in foreign countries. The method is also being used today by resistance movements and urban guerrilla groups.
     When this countersurveillance protocol is methodically applied, it is extremely difficult for a security service to breach your security.



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Step-by-step instructions...
     Here's a hypothetical situation. Assume that you and I wish to meet clandestinely. We wish to ensure that our meeting is not observed by a surveillance team.
     You and I have previously agreed upon a place, date, and time. In addition, we are familiar with each other's appearance – we can recognize each other on sight.

Step 1
     You and I independently arrive at the previously agreed-upon general location. Rather than fixing a specific location, we agree to be only in the general vicinity. This is an important principle.
     This might be a large park, a residential district, etc. The location must be outdoors and free of video surveillance cameras. It should also be selected with the intention of thwarting telephoto lenses.
     You and I should each know the area well. The location should provide reasonable cover for each of us being there – strolling in the park, walking through a residential area to a bus stop, convenience store, etc.

Step 2
     You and I will eventually make eye contact at some distance from each other. We do this discretely, so others are unaware. I use a pre-arranged signal to alert you that I have spotted you. Perhaps I'll throw my jacket over my shoulder, or remove and clean my sunglasses, etc. The signal must be a natural movement that does not attract unwanted attention.
     Safety first.  Even though you and I have seen each other, we do NOT approach each other. This is an important safety valve. If either of us has grown a tail we do not want to compromise the other person.
     BACKGROUND – The phrase grown a tail is spy-talk for being under surveillance. The phrase is somewhat inaccurate, because they don't just follow you, they often surround you.

Step 3
     When you see my signal you simply walk off. Then I follow you in order to ensure that you're not being watched. I carefully check for the presence of a floating-box foot surveillance team. I check for agents at fixed observation posts. I also watch for drive-by support from a floating-box vehicle surveillance team.
     BACKGROUND – In particular, I may follow you, I may walk parallel to you, I may occasionally walk ahead of you. The goal is simply to be nearby so I'm in a position to detect surveillance around you. I always remain at a distance from you, of course, never approaching too closely.

Step 4
     When I have satisfied myself that you are clean, I again signal you. Perhaps I re-tie my shoe laces.

Step 5
     Now we reverse roles and this time it is I who simply walks off. You begin to follow me in order to ensure that I'm not being watched. You check for floating-box foot surveillance, fixed observation post foot surveillance, and drive-by support by a vehicle surveillance team.
     What to look for.  You carefully watch for persons who are pacing me or moving parallel with me. You check for persons loitering at positions with a good line-of-sight to my location. You watch for an ongoing pattern of people coming and going that results in someone always being in a position to monitor me. You watch for vehicles dropping someone off ahead of me.

Step 6
     When you are satisfied that I am clean, you signal me that I'm not being watched. (On the other hand, if you suspect that a surveillance team is in the vicinity, you simply abort the operation and walk away.)
     BACKGROUND – You must trust your instincts, because if something seems not quite right it's better to be safe than sorry. Many people are surprised to learn that it is not difficult to detect a surveillance team watching someone else. This is the subtle elegance of Blunt's countersurveillance system. And the goons are helpless against it.

Step 7
     You and I can now approach each other and meet. After our discussion we agree upon the date, time, and location of our next clandestine meeting – as well as two backup plans in case the meeting is thwarted by surveillance. If we are unable to meet at the first venue we will use our fallback position and we will meet at the same time and place one week later. If we are unable to make that meeting happen, we will shift to a previously agreed-upon failsafe plan and we will meet at a different location at an agreed-upon date and time.
     Neither you nor I writes down the particulars of our next meeting. We commit the details to memory.
     BACKGROUND 1 – If you have any documents to give me, I will not accept those documents until the final moments of our meeting. I will have already started making my getaway when I accept the documents. This reduces the chance of discovery and arrest by a surveillance team that has managed to elude our countersurveillance protocol. If the security service acts too quickly, they will have no evidence against me, because the documents have not yet been passed to me.
     BACKGROUND 2 – The best agents never mix discussion and documents. If a document is to be passed, no discussion occurs. The entire contact takes only a moment – the perfect brushpass. The principle is simple. It is foolhardy to stand around holding incriminating documents.

Spook talk...
     Spies in North America call this seven-step protocol for countersurveillance drycleaning. In Europe, it is called parcours de sécurité – a French phrase which can be translated as security run or security circuit.


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