How To Spot A Spy - from People Rise Up Radio
Special thanks to People Rise Up Radio for making this information available.
People Rise Up Radio presents some information for activists on how to spot infiltrators and keep yourself safe.
How To Spot a Spy
One way to neutralize potential activists is to get them into a group that does all the wrong things. Why?
1) So the message doesn’t get out
2) Time is wasted
3) to frustrate and discourage activists
4) And simply Nothing good or effective is accomplished
FBI and Police Informers and Infiltrators will infest any group, but they have also been known to establish phony activist organizations themselves.
Their primary purpose is to prevent an effective movement for social, environmental or economic justice from developing.
Agents come in small, medium or large and be of any ethnic background. They can be male or female.
The actual size of the group or movement being infiltrated is irrelevant. It’s the idea behind a movement and its potential for increasing in size and impact which attracts spies and saboteurs.
These are some tactics agents use to slow things down, foul things up, destroy a movement and keep tabs on activists.
One tactic is to destroy a group outright. Another tactic is to manipulate from within.
For example, an agent may tell an activist,
"You’re dividing the movement."
Because, this invites guilty feelings. Guilt is an especially potent control mechanism when relations have been established through dedication to a cause.
When an agent criticizes an activist in such a manner, they are not only questioning their dedication to the cause, but making the activist feel responsible for any issues that threaten the cause.
An agent might tell an activist:
"You’re a leader!"
This is designed to enhance the activist’s self-esteem and creates a sense of shared perspective. Agents often benefit from empowering any feelings of righteousness an activist may develop from making altruistic contributions.
"Malignant pseudo-identification" is the process where an agent consciously imitates certain behaviors or mannerisms to nurture the activist’s identification with the agent, thus increasing the activist’s vulnerability to exploitation.
If an agent successfully creates this sense of kinship with an activist, the activist may be more likely to commit an illegal act in service to their new found “friend”.
Agents may also employ tearfulness, sadness, longing, fear, remorse, and guilt, to induce empathy, with the aim of manipulating the good natured activist.
It may be difficult to differentiate such constructed dramas from the real thing; however, it's possible for activists to identify a fraud by employing two simple tactics.
First, remain cool and detached. Second observe. In the face of such a cool response, an agent will often quickly readjust. This will appear to be an abrupt about-face in context to the emotional drama the agent had just played out. Knowing the activists cannot be “emotionally hooked”, the agent will usually move on to other activists in short order.
"Follow the leader" is another tactic an agent may employ.
A good agent will want to meet as often as possible. He or she will talk a lot and say little. One can expect an onslaught of long, unresolved discussions.
Some agents take on a pushy, arrogant, or defensive manner in discussions, both online and in person. An agent employs these techniques in order to disrupt the agenda, or side-track the discussion. And agent will often interrupt a discussion repeatedly or feign ignorance - causing others to constantly repeat themselves or waste time explaining a very simple point others quickly understand. An agent may also make an unfounded accusation against a person.
Calling someone a racist, for example. This tactic is used to discredit a person in the eyes of other group members and in turn, derails the discussion, while invalidating whatever point was being made.
Some saboteurs pretend to be activists. She or he will ....
1) Write encyclopedic flyers or website pages, to deter potential activists from participating by making the issue too complex and boring to ignite taking action.
2) Print flyers in English only, disenfranchising communities whose first language is not English.
3) suggest demonstrations be held in places where no one cares about the issue or where it will not be seen by many people.
4) Confuse issues. Blurring the lines between issues and broadening the scope beyond reason.
5) Make the wrong demands. As in, making demands that are unrelated or far reaching, unprincipled according to group, demands ineffectual or serving no strategic purpose, making too many demands in order to obscure the focus on the issue and suggesting impossible or improbable demands which may make the effort appear unreasonable.
6) Compromise the goal. Derail a vital tactic, discredit movement, marginalize a goal by asserting it is hypocritical within context of the group’s broader efforts, break with the movement’s stated principles, or broker a compromise on behalf of the movement which falls well short of the groups stated goal and may limit the group’s ability to take further action.
7) Have endless discussions that waste everyone’s time, by turning the topic at hand into philosophical diatribes or adding lengthy personal stories.
The agent may engage in endless discussions and accompany them with drinking, pot smoking or make amusement to slow down the group’s work. Complaints of needing social time together and taking things too seriously, while complex issues or plans are being discussed.
1) Try to establish "leaders" to set them up for a fall in order to stop the movement.
2) Suggest doing foolish, illegal things that will get the activists in trouble and make the movement look bad in the eyes of the public.
3) Will taunt the authorities above and beyond the context of the scene on the ground and encouraging others to follow suit.
4) Attempt to make the activists compromise their values, which they may use against an activist at a later date, to discredit or invalidate anything of value they contribute.
5) Instigate violence.
Provocateurs will attempt to escalate a situation by agitating to the point of physical confrontation with other activists or bystanders. Some will stage an act of vandalism from within a crowd as a means to trigger violent responses from others or the police; which is particularly effective when among people who are ill-prepared to deal with such violence.
Causing violence to occur not only serves to smear the movement in the press, but can also deter future participation by current members and the public at large. Causing this type of chaos, fear and confusion can also aid agents in concealing their identity when fleeing the scene after their goal is accomplished.
1) Want everyone to sign up, sign in and sign everything. - record keeping, evidence and contact info for tracing/tracking?
2) Ask a lot of questions for data gathering on individuals. Police compile this information and keep it on hand at protests to identify activists and make targeted arrests.
3) Want to know which events activists are planning to attend, to further the shared perspective facade, continue surveillance efforts and expand databases.
4) Attempt to make the activist defensive in order to identify beliefs, goals and level of commitment. Playing the "contrarian" or questioning as if they don't understand or playing stupid, but arguing nonetheless.m
Legitimate activists do not subject people to hours of persuasive dialog. Their actions, beliefs and goals speak for themselves.
Groups that DO recruit are missionaries, military, and fake political parties or movements set up by agents.
ALWAYS assume that you are under surveillance (on the ground and online) -and that there are infiltrators/agents amongst/within your group.
At this point, if you are NOT under surveillance and being infiltrated, then agents are not doing their job and you are not a very effective activist or group!
They use them.
Such tactics include slander, defamation, threats, getting close to disaffected or minimally committed fellow activists to persuade them to turn against the movement and give false testimony against their former comrades.
They will plant illegal substances on the activist and set up an arrest; they will plant false information and set up "exposure," they will send incriminating communications in the name of an activist; and more; they will do whatever society will allow. - And NOT allow!
Putting activists in a sticky legal situation, can lead to cooperation with the police state and this tactic is especially effective when an activists has developed a sense of disconnection, typically heightened by a bond with an agent.
If an agent is "exposed," he or she will be transferred or replaced. Communications between trusted activist groups across the country can be very useful for this reason.
COINTELPRO is still in operation today under a different code name; although, it's no longer placed on paper where it can be discovered through the freedom of information act.
The FBI counterintelligence program’s stated purpose is to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, and otherwise neutralize individuals who the FBI categorizes as being opposed to “National Interests”.
As Noam Chomsky has correctly pointed out, “A slight breach in orthodoxy is sufficient to terrify authoritarian ideologues, who see in it the collapse of the system of thought control, that has been so effective in depoliticizing American Society.”
This in no way covers all the means agents use to sabotage the lives of sincere and dedicated activists or movements.
Many of these activities may appear innocuous enough and that is true, as networking is a vital part of activism. This isn’t a blueprint for paranoia, but rather tools vigilance.
train your brain, create a habit, make mental notes, remain vigilant, small incidents may add up to patterns of behavior over time.
Speak with trusted comrades to see if they have also noticed these types of behaviors.
Trust your gut, never do anything you’re not completely comfortable with. The best way to create security is to build community!
How To Spot A Spy by People Rise Up Radio is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.
COINTELPRO - Techniques for dilution, misdirection and control of internet forums.
There are several techniques used for control and manipulation of an internet forum. Please keep in mind that when we say, “internet forums” it is just an example. These techniques can also be applied to other social media platforms such as Facebook or Google Groups. We will go over each technique, while showing how only a minimal number of operatives are needed to drive the conversation and even eventually, gain control of forums.
Technique #1 - 'FORUM SLIDING'
Forum sliding is a method where posts are kept out of the view or attention of the forum users. If an agent perceives a post to be particularly effective or otherwise critical in nature, it can be quickly removed from public view by 'forum sliding.' In this technique, a number of unrelated posts are added and other off topic threads will also become active, causing the critical post to be buried. Another element an agent may employ is the use of fake accounts to ensure post become buried and to mask an agents tracks, making it appear as if people are interested in the old and/or off-topic posts. This brings the unrelated postings to the top of the forum list, while the critical posting 'slides' down the page and quickly out of public view. Ultimately, if this technique is successfully employed, the critical info or discussion will not be seen or engaged in.
Technique #2 - 'CONSENSUS CRACKING'
Consensus cracking is an highly effective method where an agent will try and introduce easily debunked arguments into a developing narrative related to a group’s efforts surrounding an issue or objective. It can take a fair amount of time to employ a good crack, depending on the vigilance and willingness of the group’s members’ to call bullshit and set the record straight with the facts. To develop a consensus crack, an agent will use their account to create a post that looks legitimate and speaks to a central, critical issue, but has a VERY WEAK PREMISE at its core, neglecting to provide any substantive proof to back the premise of the post. Once this is done, under other accounts they control, otherwise known as “sock-puppets,” a very strong position in favor is slowly introduced..... as postings and replies are added, the “evidence” or disinformation is slowly seeded in. Once many members of the group appear to have reached consensus on this vulnerable premise, then this disinformation might spread accordingly where it can be debunked elsewhere, leaving the overarching issue open to invalidation. In cases where the forum members effectively counter the disinformation with actual facts, sourced by links, the agent might then 'abort' the consensus cracking by initiating a 'forum slide.'
Technique #3 - 'TOPIC DILUTION'
Topic dilution is not only effective in forum sliding, it is also very useful in keeping the forum readers on unrelated and non-productive issues. This is a critical and useful technique to cause a 'RESOURCE BURN.' By implementing this technique to distract and disrupt, the productivity of forum members can be effectively stopped. If a particularly effective topic dilution is employed, forum members will simply slip into a 'gossip mode' or a spiral of uninformed conjecture and opinion. This is a subtle form of “trolling,” that is less argumentative in nature. Agents also employ this technique in order to identify issues that may be used as a wedge later on to splinter the group.
Technique #4 - 'INFORMATION COLLECTION'
Information collection is a core objective of any good agent. This allows the agent to not only build profiles of group members, but also determine the psychological make up of members so future methods may be tailored to “hook” members based upon a members natural disposition. Agents often look for and create situations where a member will say something incriminating so they may use it against them at a later date, either in court or as a means to discredit the member in the eyes of the rest of the group. In this technique an agent may employ a casual 'I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours' posting tactic. For example, an agent may post “what is your weapon of choice? Mine is...” - collecting replies from group members will give the agent an estimate of the types of and numbers of weapons members may have at hand. Or an agent may ask “what is your favorite protest technique?” - gathering such replies gives an agent various methods that the group may utilize so they can be studied and effective methods counter-measures can be developed to stop them.
Technique #5 - 'ANGER TROLLING'
Statistically, there is always a percentage of the forum posters who are more inclined towards violence. To determine who these individuals are, agents will present an image to the forum to deliberately incite a strong psychological reaction, at which point, they can be effectively singled out for reverse IP location and possibly local enforcement tracking. Sometimes an agent will 'lead' a forum by replying to their own post exhibiting violent intention, adding they 'don’t care what the authorities think!' designed to inflame others. Showing no fear can be more effective in getting the more silent and self-disciplined members to slip and post their real intentions or reveal their violent tendencies. This can be used later to manipulate the member into committing illegal acts or in a court of law during prosecution.
Technique #6 - ‘BREAKING the BANHAMMER’
An agent may come into a forum adopting an anti-authoritarian, anarchist tone. This seems legitimate enough at first glance, but the agent will quickly use this this anti-authoritarian attitude towards the forum’s own moderating team in order to undermine the authority of and respect for the moderation team. An agent may use phrases such as, "You mean you're banning people? Aren't you about free speech" Etc. This is a technique presents the moderator or moderators with a catch-22; either ban the troublemaker and lend credence to the claim that the moderation team is hypocritical, or don't ban him or her and continue allowing the agent to complain about how the site's staff is hypocritical and push other items the group may be discussing off-topic.
Technique #7 - 'GAINING FULL CONTROL'
Agents will often be continually maneuvering for a forum moderator position. Once this position is obtained, the forum can then be effectively and quietly controlled by deleting unfavourable or vital posts and then agents can eventually steer the forum into complete failure and create a lack of interest among members to participate. Depending on the level of control an agent obtains, they can deliberately steer a forum into defeat by censoring postings, deleting memberships, flooding, and or accidentally taking the forum offline. This is the 'ultimate victory' as the forum is no longer active or useful in mobilizing, engaging or informing its members. By this method the forum can be quickly killed. However it‘s not always in the agent’s interest to kill a forum as it can be converted into a 'honey pot' of information and to misdirect newcomers. A compromised forum is also useful to an agent as a mechanism of control.
Remember, these techniques are only effective if the forum participants DO NOT KNOW ABOUT THEM. Please help make more of your fellow activists aware of these techniques and discuss strategies for how they may be combated communally, ideally, BEFORE they become an issue.
COINTELPRO - How Agents Disrupt Online Forums by People Rise Up Radio is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.