In these days of government over-reach and open militia groups on both the left and the right, it’s time to discuss a sensitive topic. Counter-Surveillance is a key tool in preparedness.
Every time I start talking about stuff like this, people say, “If you aren’t doing anything wrong, why worry?”. Don’t fall into that trap; it’s nonsensical and irrelevant. The fact is, I shouldn’t be subjected to law enforcement or private surveillance if I’m not doing anything wrong. See the difference? It’s subtle but vital.
I base my philosophy on this, and nearly every other topic, on the Ultimate Tactical Handbook. While several verses apply, this one applies to directly to the “Why Worry” naysayers:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Allowing yourself willingly to be subjected to surveillance when you aren’t doing anything wrong is slavery. Freedom involves freedom of not just movement, but UNOBSERVED & UNDOCUMENTED movement.
On the other hand, it’s naive to assume that you can live a life in our modern society without being subjected to near constant surveillance. What we seek to do is to strike a balance.
We do that by focusing on what we will term “hostile surveillance”. Hostile surveillance is surveillance by anyone, whether they be corporate agents, government agents, or private citizen groups (militias), that intend on using their surveillance findings against your interests in any way.
A note: Law Enforcement surveillance is NEVER benevolent towards the subject of the surveillance. The same is not true in the executive protection world. Sometimes, we are placed on a protective services mission, and the protected party doesn’t know (someone sends people to watch over someone else on a trip, at a meeting, etc).
But, why should I, as a person interested in preparedness, think about counter-surveillance? For good or bad, the federal government views people who are interested in self-sufficiency, preparedness, and Constitutional rights as a danger. They even list these traits in their training materials on domestic violent extremism. I don’t agree with that view and neither do you, but we must accept reality as it IS, not as we want it to be.
The other reason is that left-wing militias (ANTIFA is a left wing militia) have strong surveillance and intelligence gathering arms. Right wing militias also have intelligence & surveillance teams, but they aren’t anywhere near as active, except when targeting left wing militias. Make no mistake, there is a serious cold war running between right and left wing militias and we need to be aware of it to keep from being caught in the middle.
The first step is looking at your home (and your workplace) from the perspective of hostile surveillance. In other words, walk around and view your home/workplace from the perspective of someone wanting to observe you or who comes & goes. Sketch your house and neighborhood and mark the best locations to watch from.
Begin with those locations as your focal points. Begin maintaining an awareness of what goes on in those locations and be aware of what vehicles are there. For that matter, become familiar with the vehicles that are normally in the area, so that you can spot an out-of-place vehicle.
A great resource for this process is Jonathan Gilliam’s “Sheep No More” book and workbooks. I use the workbook pages professionally for every protection detail and every surveillance detail. There is an Amazon Affiliate link here (I may make a few pennies on this, fair notice):
The next step is remaining aware at the critical times. In Executive Protection, we teach that there are two places every person can be found every day, and that’s where attacks or surveillance can happen. Their workplace and their home. This applies equally to temporary workplaces (work travel) and temporary homes (hotels). Every day, the average person generally goes to both of those places. Increase your awareness when entering and leaving these two areas and most hostile surveillance can be spotted. We call these “Arrivals & Departures” and in EP, they are the most dangerous times.
Incorporate “Surveillance Detection Routes” (SDR) into your day. The time to check for surveillance isn’t when you think you’re being followed, it’s beforehand, because to be honest, if a federal level surveillance team is following you, an SDR is the only way you’ll ever know. An SDR is pattern of movement that seems completely random to an outside observer, but if another person or vehicle followed the exact same route, it could not be written off as chance.
For example, what are the odds that the car behind me also makes 4 right turns to end up right where we started? What are the odds that the car behind me also passed behind the row of shops in a strip mall, and then right through the same apartment complex parking lot, back onto the main road?
If you analyze your routes, you’ll find plenty of opportunities. Is there a park? Pull into a park, park you car and open the door, just to close it and immediately drive back out the same entrance. Anyone following you would either have to be obvious or stop following you. Is there a corner gas station? Pull in & stop at a pump, get out and lift the handle from the pump. Put it right back, get into your car, and drive out. Again, anyone who does the same will be obvious.
Yes, a truly exceptional team will not fall for these tricks, but counter surveillance is an odds game. You aren’t exactly Carlos the Jackal running terror operations on 3 continents, so you won’t be up against the varsity. We are talking about casual surveillance by amateur militia-type teams. If you need to worry about a top-tier FBI counterintelligence surveillance team, I don’t want to help you.
When talking counter-surveillance, it’s important to mention phones. Your phone is a surveillance device that pretends to be a convenience for you. Google and Apple make BILLIONS tracking your every move and selling that information to whoever wants to pay for it. Yes, that’s scary, but as I always say, see things as they are, not as you want them to be.
Walk with the wise and become wise,
for a companion of fools suffers harm.
Buy a Faraday bag to store your phone in if you don’t want to be tracked. You can also build Faraday cages from old cookie tins by lining them with foam or cardboard and they work great. When using a Faraday bag, you have to remember that a phone will track it’s last known position and the first position when you took it out of the bag. What this means is that you need to secure it a LONG way from where you don’t want to be tracked to. Do this logically as well, because phones don’t just lose signal driving down the road in an urban area for 2 hours at a time. A more believable scenario would be to pull into an office building lot, put the phone in the Faraday bag, then go to your meeting or whatever, returning to the exact same lot before taking the phone out. Now, it looks like you were inside a building that blocked your signal that whole time.
Another point to consider is radio interception. Surveillance teams use radio to communicate, because it’s better for group communication and will work without a cell network. Having a scanner or a Baofeng radio set to scan certain frequencies can help. I recently was working with a reporter at an event and I used a Baofeng to quickly locate ANTIFA running counter-surveillance and intelligence groups via radio. A practical exercise would be to have a radio scan the FRS/GMRS/MURS frequencies around your location. Since radios work on line-of-sight, any radio traffic you can hear can generally see where you are standing. It’s a good indicator of potential hostile surveillance.
I used this principle once working inside a BLM/ANTIFA protest. I heard them describing ME over the radio (no worries, full mask/hat/sunglasses, not my first rodeo). Since I knew I was under surveillance I was able to listen to their teams try to find me as I did a break contact drill (Not in this article – maybe in a book). After I broke contact, rather than going directly to the vehicle, I continued listening while conducting a foot SDR (exactly the same as in a car, but you can use alleys and front & back doors of businesses), before heading to the car.
Other key aspects of counter-surveillance are having different hats and shirts/jackets to swap out, completing a “profile change” when you know you aren’t being observed.
A key point, though, is that once you detect surveillance, do nothing OVERT to break contact. You don’t want a surveillance team knowing that you know. Sometimes, letting them see you do a bunch of boring and routine things ends the surveillance. If you decide to break contact (which is ANTI-surveillance rather than counter-surveillance), do so in a way that leaves doubt in their mind as to whether you broke contact on purpose.
Again, I don’t present this because you or I are doing anything wrong. I present it because criminal groups and both left & right wing militias use surveillance.
You have a right to go about your life without being surveilled, ESPECIALLY if you aren’t doing anything wrong.
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