The short version:
Listen for the stand-out question that seems forced, prepared or otherwise out of place. It will come from someone who presents as a friend, colleague or co-worker.
The long version:
When chatting with someone who presents as a friend, colleague or co-worker, take note of any questions that strike you as peculiarly probing. Time has a habit of revealing clandestine interrogators and their masters’ intentions.
Here’s a fresh example for you. Please understand that I’m not clutching at straws here. Episodes like this have occurred in my life MANY times in the past 6 years or so.
Recently, someone I hardly know felt compelled to ask me whether I was interested in a particular defense facility. The question, and the conversation for that matter, seemed to come out of the blue, so it stayed with me. Today, I discovered that a a new book on that very facility’s history is approaching publication.
Governments, politicians and intelligence agencies are all WAY too concerned about what commentators or journalists might say on any given topic as the news cycle rolls along. They call this “media risk” and yes, they even worry about tiny little voices like mine. I struggled to believe this at first, but after years of analyzing and reflecting on scores of anomalies in my life, my doubt has been reduced to trace levels only.
This, dear friends, is what the gathering of so-called “forward intelligence” looks like. In this case, I assume the forward intelligence seekers wanted to know my opinion on the subject and gauge my level of interest ahead of the book’s launch. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as “beating the news” and data inputs appear to include personal and population scales (data mining) techniques.
Interrogators feign compassion and interest in you in order to tease out answers to the specific questions that in all probability, they have been ordered to ask by their superiors. They deceive you into trusting them, then they abuse that trust to do their master’s bidding. The askers are often impatient though, so they almost invariably blurt out their stupid question at some inopportune juncture. It might come right at the start of the conversation if they are nervous, or it might be the last thing asked before wrapping up the chat.
Their objectives are thinly veiled, and their interrogation technique, at least in my experience, is detectable.
So should I just brush this off? No. Because this is just a tiny slice of the whole putrid pie. Since 2016, when the surveillance reached unmistakably intimidating heights (when people were regularly stalking me in my own street) I have worked hard to try and establish distance from people whom I perceive as pawns or probable pawns of institutions that treat me as a target or prey. I have done this not because I have something to hide, but for my own peace of mind. I have been psychologically damaged by the Surveillance State. I am a victim of a kind of institutional abuse that just a decade ago, I was blissfully ignorant of. This soft interrogation stuff is just one tiny example of the regular intrusion and misguided harassment that I experience as I simply attempt to live my life with curiosity and endeavor to understand the world in which I live, peacefully and lawfully.
As it has gradually revealed itself to me, I have grown to resent the Surveillance State in its current form, direction and intensity, on account of its relentless, perverse interest in my life, my opinion and my daily personal and professional affairs.
This post, like all previous posts I’ve made on this topic, should read as a warning to others. Noone should have to endure trauma of this kind on an ongoing basis without the parties responsible being required to justify their efforts. I feel as if I am captive in what feels like a “free range prison”… a novel manifestation of the panopticon prison design in which a single watch tower in the centre of a ring of inward-facing cells could maintain an entire prison cohort in a heightened state of anxiety, under the apparent perpetual gaze of the wardens.
Think “Oh, I’m not interested in defence, or nuclear industry so this couldn’t be happening to me”?
I’ve had similar episodes with people asking me about everything from the management of certain fisheries, to the possibility of standing for election, to drilling for oil in certain sensitive areas. A more bread and butter ask is to inquire what I’m going to do next (as in immediately) which usually comes as a meeting or scheduled occasion draws to a close. I’m sure Surveillance State wardens resent those of us with the formidable combination of a flexible schedule and sharpened powers of perception.
To anticipate these approaches and identify potential clandestine operatives, a target (yes, it could be you) must learn to think like the Surveillance State. How have you been categorised? What are your known interests? How might a Department of Paranoia imagine those interests might evolve over time, or lead you to other, related interests or activities? Do you have an audience? Are you a person with some cultural influence through your work? What threat might a paranoid administrator conceive that you present to their authority or (gulp) to National Security?