Spy & Counterspy

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” – George Orwell

This website Copyright 1998 Lee Adams. All rights reserved. Quoting, copying, and distributing for free are encouraged. Links are welcome.

Updated with new material October 28th, 1998. Recent changes to our website – FBI field offices added to Spy address book – Hit counter reset after server problem fixed – Hibernation file caution added to Security Software – Formatting guidelines added to Use a one-time pad – New article Handling the risks – Numerous terms added to Glossary – Hard disk obliteration method added to Uncrackable Email 2 – Information link added to Tax resistance primer – New tools added to Security software

Your source of skills for freedom…

Spy & CounterSpy is a practical course in freedom skills – including counter-surveillance, anti-surveillance, and underground urban activism.

If you live in the USA, the odds are one in four that you will someday become a target for surveillance and repression – by a government security service like the FBI or BATF or DEA, by an intelligence agency like the NSA or CIA or DIA, by undercover cops, or others. Being innocent is no protection against the apparatus of surveillance and repression. If you’re involved with any group that wants to change the status quo, then you’re a target for surveillance – no matter how benign your goals.

Sometimes simply being an American with an open mind and a diverse range of interests is enough to invite surveillance.

Spy school for the rest of us…

The world is full of writers who claim to know a spy – until you ask for an introduction. Spy & CounterSpy goes even further. It contains methods that have been field-tested and proven during a decade of forced encounters with government security services, intelligence agencies, and undercover cops.

Whether you’re just trying to protect your right to be left alone – or whether you’re working to change a system that you see as unfair – Spy & CounterSpy gives you the know-how you need.

Written with an insider’s knowledge and an outsider’s outrage…

You cannot get this information anywhere else. Period. The only other people qualified to teach you these skills are the goons themselves. But they won’t. They get prison sentences – and worse – for talking.

Make no mistake about it, Spy & CounterSpy is the world’s only open source of skills for freedom – including counter-surveillance, anti-surveillance, and underground urban activist tactics.

You can explore this site using the links at the left side of the screen. We suggest you start with Bureaucrat’s Toolkit for insight into how widespread the problem is – and how it’s getting worse. Then try Uncrackable Email for a look at how persistent you must be if you want to beat a surveillance team. Click on FBI vehicle surveillance for insight into how the goon squads actually operate.

Stop and ask yourself…
If America is the land of
the Free, then why does it
take someone in Canada
to write this? Our offices
are just across the border.
We’re 9 miles outside the
FBI’s reach, from where
we are able to help our
many American friends.

It’s your constitutional right to know…

The Constitution recognizes your right to protect yourself from the government’s secret agencies and goon squads. The readiness of these invisible groups to deceive the public, the courts, and the media is why this Web site was created. Our commitment was further strengthened in October 1998 by Amnesty International’s stinging indictment of widespread, systematic police brutality across the USA.

The best defense against any of these threats is an informed citizen. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is not on your side. The First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment give you the right to read about ways to protect your privacy. (Just because you want privacy doesn’t mean you’re hiding anything. You put letters inside envelopes, don’t you? You close the door when you shower, don’t you? The problem is not you – the problem is the government’s thought-police.)

If you love your
country but fear
your government,
then F9 is for you.

A growing awareness…

More and more citizens are beginning to quietly resist the unfriendly, unaccountable, elitist mentality that pervades government. How about you? Browse the links along the left side of this page for insight into the situation. Then click on Free F9 Subscription if you’d like to learn more about protecting your right to be left alone.

Some of this material involves playing the game by Big Boys’ Rules, so if you’re easily offended by frank talk, please stay away. (Hey, if you’re happy and you know it, clank your leg-irons.)

How to get the most from this Web site…

This is a living Web site, constantly growing, changing, evolving. No document ever represents our final position on a topic – and we reserve the right to contradict ourselves as we continue to expose the tactics of the government’s secret agencies.

After reading any of the pages at Spy & CounterSpy, return to this page (our home page). All of the free features at our Web site can be accessed from this page.
Our credo. What principles does Spy & CounterSpy support?

1. Individual privacy, yes – institutional secrecy, no.
2. Individual empowerment, yes – the unaccountable elite, no.
3. Family values, yes – government’s war on the people, no.

End of Page 1

Learning the basics…

The FBI is not just a police agency. It is more than that. It is a security service. There are important differences between police agencies and security services.

Every government has a security service. The mission of a security service is to suppress anti-government activity. That’s because the prime directive of a government is to stay in power. This means that most governments see their own population as the most serious threat.

That’s where the security service comes in. This means suppressing dissent and criticism. It means preserving the status quo. It means keeping the government in power, no matter whether the government rules with the consent of the people or without the consent of the people.

Look around you. It is a self-evident truth that the nastier the government, the nastier its security service. Referring to a security service as The Thought Police is not too far from the truth.
The FBI understandably does not have a history of respect for civil rights in its capacity as a security service. The FBI’s record of unconstitutional and illegal actions against American citizens is readily available to anyone who takes the trouble to investigate.

But don’t overlook the bigger picture. The FBI is not out of control. On the contrary, it is very much in control. The FBI is acting with the knowledge – and approval – of the government. The FBI is, after all, the government’s security service. The FBI is responsible for protecting the government from the people.

The people, alas, have no such protection from the government.

Until now.

The goal of this
Web site is to
level the playing field
by providing skills
to supporters of
freedom and

What’s really happening here…

The goal of this Web site – and the purpose of Spy & CounterSpy – is to level the playing field. Our mission is to provide knowledge and skills to people who support freedom and fairness. Our goal is to empower people. What does this mean? In theory, it means showing people how to protect themselves against government tyranny. In practice, it means teaching people countersurveillance skills.

Who needs countersurveillance skills? Anyone who is concerned about freedom and fundamental fairness. This means activists, dissidents, civil rights groups, militias, patriots, journalists, religious groups, grass-roots political movements, writers, minority groups, and others.

Countersurveillance skills give you the ability to reach your goals – political or otherwise – in spite of surveillance and interference by a security service like the FBI.
If you don’t have countersurveillance skills, you are not going to reach your goals. The security service is going to make sure of that. In fact, you probably won’t even realize that your plans have been secretly and systematically thwarted.

It’s time to wake up.

Any group that engages
in discussion or action that
threatens the status quo
should consider forming a
countersurveillance section.

Wake-up call…

If you’re involved in any group that challenges the status quo, the security service is going to take an interest in you. No matter how benign your goals, you are seen as a potential threat to the government. Ipso facto, you become a target for surveillance by The Thought Police.

Being innocent is no protection against surveillance.

Spy-proof Lesson #1 – Any group that engages in discussion or actions that challenge the status quo must have a countersurveillance section. That means any group. That means you. It is not a matter of choice. It is not a matter of opinion. It is not a matter of preference. Here’s why.

Your adversary is going to engage in covert actions against you. For your group to survive and reach its goals, you must defend yourself against these covert actions. It does not matter that you don’t see the government as your adversary. In fact, it’s irrelevant. All that matters is that the government sees you as their adversary.

If you don’t grasp this fundamental principle, then your group is doomed to mediocrity. It will never reach its goals, no matter how noble. It’s like trying to play professional hockey without learning how to avoid a body-check against the boards. Wake up, sissy. Just because you’d never dream of intentionally assaulting your opponent doesn’t mean that he isn’t planning to deliberately cripple you at his first opportunity.

It is important that you understand what this means. A security service – and this includes the FBI – plays according to Big Boys’ Rules. This means they play for keeps and they play to win. They offer no mercy because they expect none.

Part of growing up is the realization that the world is infested with unpleasant personality types like thugs, bullies, and sociopaths. A sizable percentage of these types end up working for – you guessed it – security services.

Another part of growing up is accepting that you just can’t reason with some people.

How surveillance works…

Most people don’t realize that a security service will use surveillance in four different ways – for four different purposes. These are observation, infiltration, sabotage, and intimidation. All of these threats can be lethal to you and your organization.

Surveillance threat #1 – Observation. A security service uses surveillance to watch you. They find out what you’re doing. They discover who your contacts, members, operatives, associates, and friends are. They learn your plans. They use your conversations as evidence when they arrest you on charges of conspiracy. Most people don’t realize that conspiracy is the most common grounds for arrest when surveillance is involved. Yes, just talking about some topics can get you arrested. What about free speech? Not when The Thought Police are around.

Surveillance threat #2 – Infiltration. A security service uses surveillance to learn enough about you so they can infiltrate agents into your group. Infiltration is dangerous for two reasons. First, an infiltrated agent can act as an informant, alerting the security service to your plans and providing evidence that can be used later for arrest, coercion, or blackmail. Second, an infiltrated agent can act as an agent-provocateur. This is someone who pretends to enthusiastically support your cause, while in reality encouraging you to commit illegal or reckless acts that become grounds for arrest by the security service. Many groups have been tricked into illegal behavior that they otherwise would have never considered. Do not underestimate the damage that an agent-provocateur can do. It is a wicked game. That’s why the FBI plays it.

Surveillance threat #3 – Sabotage. A security service uses surveillance to learn everything about you, your group, its goals, and its plans. They can use this information to secretly sabotage your operations. Things just seem to go wrong at the worst moment, yet you can never really pin down what the problem is.

An effective security service has a range of sabotage capabilities, ranging from dirty tricks to death squads.

Some American citizens are beginning to speculate that the FBI may operate death squads. They claim it is easy for an organization that operates in secret to arrange situations where murder can be camouflaged as misadventure, accident, illness, criminal activity, chance events, or suicide. How better to disable a persistent grass-roots movement than by arranging the demise of its leader via a traffic accident, mugging, or suicide?

Surveillance threat #4 – Intimidation. A security service can use surveillance to control you. It’s a form of mind control. The FBI is currently enjoying success with this tactic against a number of militia and patriot groups. That’s because fear is a powerful tool. If you know you’re under surveillance, you’re afraid to do anything. The FBI has developed this mind-game to a sophisticated level. After they’ve let you see their surveillance team, they merely need to make an appearance once a month or so. You’re so terrified that you assume you’re under surveillance 24-hours a day. The FBI has won. You are paralyzed by fear. For some targets of surveillance, all that’s required is an appearance twice a year by the FBI to keep you immobilized. Of course, none of these mind-games work if you’ve got countersurveillance skills and can spot the gaps in surveillance.

How countersurveillance works…

Most people don’t realize what countersurveillance can achieve for them. First, it gives you the ability to detect the presence of a surveillance team. This means you can immediately stop engaging in any behavior that might incriminate you. But, even more important, countersurveillance skills can give you the ability to cloak your actions. You can carry out operations without the knowledge of the surveillance team. This means your group can reach its goals even while under hostile surveillance.

Countersurveillance advantage #1 – Detecting your adversary. If you can detect the presence of the surveillance team, you can avoid arrest by immediately stopping any activity that might incriminate you. Being able to detect surveillance gives you a margin of safety that you otherwise wouldn’t have.

Countersurveillance advantage #2 – Thwarting your adversary. Knowing that you’re under surveillance means you can begin to thwart your adversary’s attempts to gather information about you. For example, realizing that your vehicle is bugged means that you’ll stop engaging in incriminating conversation in your car. Or, even better, you can engage in contrived conversations and feed misinformation to the surveillance team. Being able to detect surveillance gives you the opportunity to confuse and confound the security service.

Countersurveillance advantage #3 – Achieving your goals. Detecting surveillance and thwarting the surveillance team are noteworthy achievements. They enable you and your group to survive. But they’re strictly defensive. You’ll never achieve your goals until you go on the offensive. And that’s the most powerful benefit that countersurveillance can give you – the ability to keep doing what you want to, even though you’re under surveillance.

Around the world, a number of intelligence agencies and guerrilla groups have proven that you can carry out operations while you’re under hostile surveillance – and the security service will be none the wiser.

These intelligence agencies and guerrilla groups have developed a system for surviving – and thriving – while under surveillance. A number of underground groups are already using this system to conduct operations in the United States.

Here’s why it works. A security service 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 watch, read, overhear, or participate in your communication with other people. In effect, you can beat the security service by using stealth. You can do this in two ways.

Stealth method #1 – If you are skilled in countersurveillance, you can exploit the gaps that are present in surveillance operations. This means you engage in operational activity only when the surveillance team isn’t monitoring you. Even round-the-clock surveillance has gaps in it. If you’re under sporadic FBI surveillance designed to intimidate you by keeping you frightened, you’ll enjoy huge gaps that you can exploit.

Stealth method #2 – If you are skilled in elliptical conversation, you can carry on communications even though you’re under surveillance. Elliptical conversation is dialog that says one thing but means another. Quite often two people who’ve known each other for a long time have built up a kind of shorthand conversation. By referring to past shared incidents that the surveillance team is unaware of, the two individuals can send hidden meanings to one another. They can also use code-words to disguise the real meaning of their communication.

Where do you go from here?

If you are involved in a group or enterprise that is attempting to change the status quo, you must accept that countersurveillance needs to be a part of your planning and operations. The keys to success are twofold – knowledge and skills. First, you need knowledge of your adversary’s capabilities. Second, you need skills in the art of countersurveillance. You can get both by reading Spy & CounterSpy. In fact, that’s the only way you can get them.

End of Page 2

Too good to be true?

Maybe you’ve looked through the Spy & CounterSpy Web site and now you’re thinking to yourself, Gee, this is too good to be true.

An attitude like that shows common sense. It’s smart to be skeptical. Being skeptical is one of the first things you learn in countersurveillance. Take nothing for granted. Take nothing at face value.

And that includes the Spy & CounterSpy Web site.

We don’t mind being held up for close inspection. Keep reading and we’ll explain how you can test us and prove to yourself that we’re not an agent-provocateur for the FBI.

Yes, it’s okay to be cautious, even a bit suspicious. But you don’t want your choices to become limited by fear. You don’t want to let fear run your life.

And it can easily happen. Here’s why.

The urban setting. Surveillance often occurs in an urban setting. Offices. Homes. Streets. Sidewalks. Motels. Restaurants. Neighborhoods.

Surveillance is urban conflict. It’s that simple. As soon as you become aware you’re being watched, surveillance becomes urban conflict.

A number of governments have done research into urban conflict. Why? Because governments create urban conflict with their security service, undercover cops, and other operations. They do research so they can understand how to fully control the urban conflict they create. (Example: intelligence units of US Marines are currently mapping Chicago.)

Urban conflict is stressful. Extremely stressful. Here’s how it affects the people who are involved. In this discussion we’ll refer to them as combatants.

75% of combatants in urban conflicts suffer from an affective disorder. That’s shrink-talk for your mood – you’re stressed-out, high-strung, on edge. It also includes measureable things like an exaggerated startle reflex, as well as your ability to concentrate and stay focused.

25% of combatants suffer something more serious called a neurotic disorder. That’s shrink-talk for anxiety. You’re being really cautious, really suspicious – a bit paranoid.

And, finally, nearly 10% of combatants have a psychotic episode – forget the shrink-talk for these folks, they’re just plain gone.

The conclusion? Urban conflict is very stress-inducing for people like cops, narcs, SWAT teams, riot squads, informants, you know the type. It’s also stressful for surveillance teams – and for the targets of surveillance. That means people like you and me. This is just part of the unavoidable damage a surveillance team inflicts on you, no matter whether you’re guilty or innocent.

Here’s what you need to do. First, remember that you’re not alone. All targets of surveillance go through this. It’s natural. It’s part of the game.

You need to be careful not to fall into the trap of being too suspicious, too cautious. You’ve got to be careful to avoid becoming one of the 25% who let fear run their lives. Even falling into the 75% category can significantly degrade your ability to function under surveillance.

The best way to avoid this? Think things through. Logically. Sensibly.

Of course the FBI doesn’t want you to do that. The FBI would prefer you let fear make your decisions. Don’t let the FBI win that head-game.

Thinking it through…

There are three factors that affect you and the Spy & CounterSpy Web site. You should think them through. These three factors are lawfulness, dataveillance, and openness. The good news is – you’re in the clear in all three of these factors.

Lawfulness. This is the first factor affecting you and the Spy & CounterSpy Web site. It is completely legal for you to read Spy & CounterSpy. Even though the information is extremely sensitive, it has been compiled using accepted methods of investigative journalism. Plus, the Constitution of the United States recognizes your right to protect yourself from the government’s secret agencies. So you’re not doing anything wrong by being interested in surveillance and countersurveillance.

Of course, an FBI or ATF surveillance team will do their best to make you feel guilty about trying to learn more. That’s because they don’t want you to level the playing field.

The goons prefer to have you always fighting an uphill battle. They don’t want you to get smart.

Dataveillance. This is the second factor affecting you and the Spy & CounterSpy Web site. Dataveillance is spy-talk for using data as a surveillance tool. If you’ve browsed this site, you’ve probably already browsed other controversial sites. That means you’re already on a list somewhere.

The National Security Agency routinely monitors electronic communication in the USA. Not just some of it. All of it. That means telephone conversations, fax transmissions, telexes, email, and the Internet. All of it. They’re continually scanning for communication that might interest them. And they’re very good at what they do.

The NSA has some very powerful computers. And they’ve come up with some clever ways of using them. They use them to search for keywords. They also have some powerful voice-recognition software. For the NSA, tracking someone on the Internet is child’s play.

So don’t kid yourself. If you’ve done any serious browsing on the Internet – or if you’ve ever engaged in any “interesting” telephone conversations – then your name is already on an NSA list. And the NSA shares its information with the FBI, ATF, DEA – even other countries. They’ve already got you pegged as someone with a predisposition, whatever that means.

So you’re not necessarily attracting new surveillance by reading Spy & CounterSpy. In practical terms, you invite surveillance simply by being an American citizen with a diverse range of interests. Don’t feel guilty about what you’re doing – you’re not the problem, the government is. They’re the ones running the secret agencies who function as thought-police in the USA.

Openness. This is the third factor affecting you and the Spy & CounterSpy Web site. It simply doesn’t matter if the FBI, ATF, DEA, or any other surveillance team sees you reading this stuff. They don’t gain any advantage. You don’t suffer any disadvantage.

Think of it this way. Reading Spy & CounterSpy is like reading a book about playing chess. The fact that your opponent knows you’ve been studying books on chess doesn’t hurt you. It’s irrelevant. What counts is what happens on the board.

Likewise, the fact that the FBI knows you’ve been reading articles about countersurveillance doesn’t hurt you. It’s irrelevant. What counts is what happens on the board.

Spy & CounterSpy will teach you techniques for use in specific situations that surveillance teams can’t avoid. But, even more important, Spy & CounterSpy will teach you the concepts and principles of countersurveillance. When you understand these concepts, you’ll be able to adapt to many different surveillance situations. Best of all, the FBI simply has no way of knowing how you’re going to use what you’ve learned.

Where do you want to be?

Let logic, not fear, run your life. Think things through. Consider where you are now. Then consider where you’ll be if you take advantage of the information and know-how available through Spy & CounterSpy.

Privacy is your right. Just because you want privacy doesn’t mean you’re hiding anything. You put letters inside envelopes, don’t you? You close the bathroom door when you shower, don’t you? You have a pre-existing right to privacy that is recognized by the US Constitution.

So if you’re presently engaging in behavior that you don’t want the FBI to find out about – here’s what you should do. Suspend your activities while you read Spy & CounterSpy. You’ll soon see that our articles have the ring of truth to them. You’ll be able to apply what you learn right away – and you’ll start seeing results right away.


Are we an agent-provocateur? Well, we can’t prove a negative. We can’t prove we’re not an agent-provocateur. But we can prove a positive. We can prove that we provide reliable, useful, hard-hitting information about countersurveillance, antisurveillance, and methods for underground urban activists. We’re not asking you to take our word for it. We’re asking you to try it for yourself.

Who funds us?

Spy & Counterspy is not beholden to anyone – not government, not big business, not multinational corporations, not the mainstream news media, not the military-industrial complex, and not the newly-emerging police-industrial complex.

So our articles are hard-hitting. We point fingers. We name names. We don’t pull our punches. Everyone here works hard to make Spy & CounterSpy a trustworthy source of information about how to protect your right to be left alone.

So where do we get funding? From people just like you. From supporters who understand the value of an ongoing independent source of information about countersurveillance, antisurveillance, and methods for underground urban activists. People who understand how important it is to protect freedom against what they see as a growing threat of government tyranny.


If you would like to make a contribution, please make your check, money order, or bank draft payable to Here’s-how, Right-now! Seminars Inc. and mail it to PO Box 8026, Victoria BC V8W 3R7 Canada or send it by courier to 3273 Tennyson Avenue in Victoria. If you prefer to use your credit card, call Vickie at 250-475-1450.

We are grateful for this support, because it helps us keep up our corporate front. The corporate veil is one of our defense mechanisms against the goons.

End of Page 3

Vehicle surveillance: The FBI’s system…

Part One in a 5 Part Series

Wheel artist – that’s spy-talk for an outdoor surveillance specialist operating in a vehicle. The FBI has lots of them – agents and bucars (bureau cars). Together they’re called vehicle surveillance teams.

Know your adversary. Make no mistake about it, FBI vehicle surveillance teams are deadly. They get results. Consistently. FBI agents receive the best training and the best equipment.

They don’t just follow you – they surround you. They become part of your environment. You never see the same vehicle twice. They blend in with traffic. Up to twenty FBI agents at any one time. Even more if the investigation involves national security.

Every agent on the surveillance team has just one thing on his mind – to get you. And they will.

Unless you read this article. Carefully.

What you’ll learn

This is the first article in a five-part series that teaches you how to respond when you’re confronted by an FBI vehicle surveillance team.

Article #1 – In the first tutorial (the article you’re reading now) you’ll learn the fundamentals of how vehicle surveillance teams operate.

Article #2 – In the second tutorial you’ll learn about the tactics, diversions, and decoys that an FBI surveillance team uses – including how they support the foot surveillance team.

Article #3 – In the third tutorial you’ll learn about advanced methods like setups, traps, ambushes, and attacks – as well as the FBI’s psychological operations against you while you’re driving.

Article #4 – In the fourth tutorial you’ll see how to use antisurveillance and countersurveillance. You’ll learn how to detect and obstruct the FBI.

Article #5 – In the fifth and final article you’ll receive step-by-step instructions for breaking out of FBI surveillance. You’ll learn how to give them the slip.

How you’ll benefit. This five-part series of articles provides practical training in professional countersurveillance and antisurveillance techniques. If you are the target of FBI surveillance, this article will give you the edge you need to outwit the goon squads of government tyranny and repression.

The FBI: A dangerous adversary…

The FBI is mainly interested in activity that occurs while you are out of your vehicle. The goal of an FBI vehicle surveillance team, therefore, is to track you to that location – and then help the foot surveillance team establish contact on you.

Background. The FBI’s vehicle surveillance system is the result of six decades of experience. From rudimentary beginnings during Prohibition, the FBI system as it exists today is built in large part from techniques originally developed from 1938 to 1943 by the Gestapo to monitor and suppress resistance in Nazi-occupied countries. With the addition of more than 50 years of modifications and improvements, the FBI today possesses a surveillance apparatus that has led to the ruin of many suspects.

Triple threat

Depending on the situation, FBI agents can choose from three different methods of vehicle surveillance. These methods are floating-box surveillance, hand-off surveillance, and static surveillance.

Floating-box surveillance. Floating-box surveillance is based on continuous coverage by the same team. FBI agents create a box of surveillance vehicles around you. The box floats with you as you travel along your route. Hence the name floating-box. It is very effective in urban and suburban locations. Very few suspects break out of a properly-run floating-box.

Hand-off surveillance. Hand-off surveillance involves more than one team. At key intersections or other decision points along your route, surveillance control is passed from one floating-box team to another. This is called phased coverage. It is very effective when large distances are involved – freeways, expressways, long commutes, highways, and so on. It is also used in city situations when lengthy periods of time are involved.

Static surveillance. Static surveillance is also based on phased coverage, but it uses fixed observation posts instead of a floating-box. Each observation post is located at a decision point (major intersection, etc.) along the target’s route. Although this method of surveillance leaves many gaps in coverage, it is very difficult to detect this type of surveillance. The FBI uses this method when they first begin coverage on a hard target (such as a trained intelligence agent who is likely to be on the lookout for surveillance). The FBI swtiches to floating-box surveillance after they have identified general locations where coverage is required.

The FBI’s floating box system…

The FBI’s floating-box is a powerful system. The wheel artists don’t follow you – they surround you. They blend in. They become part of your ecosystem.

An FBI floating-box can be run with as few as three vehicles – or as many as 20. A team consisting of seven to ten vehicles is typical. It is not unheard-of for 50 vehicles to be involved, especially in a major case where arrest is imminent.

The FBI has for many years managed to keep secret the size of their vehicle surveillance teams. Even in court proceedings, the most they’ll admit to is 20 vehicles. In some surveillance situations, FBI wheel artists don’t just blend in with your environment, they become your environment.

The image shown below illustrates the major components of the FBI’s floating-box system of vehicle surveillance.

fbi floating box system

The target’s vehicle is shown in blue. The vehicles of the surveillance team are depicted in gray. The green rectangles represent urban terrain.

The illustration is not rendered to scale. Distances in the real world are significantly greater. Furthermore, surveillance vehicles in the real world are never the identical make, model, and color. FBI teams use sedans, coupes, station wagons, pickup trucks, vans, minivans, sport utility vehicles, taxis, motorcycles, commercial trucks, ambulances, 18-wheelers, and others.

Specialized roles

Each of the surveillance vehicles in the above illustration is charged with carrying out a specific assignment.

Command vehicle. The command vehicle is tasked with maintaining visual contact with the target. The agent is said to have command of the target. This is a pivotal role. This agent keeps the other team members informed of the target’s direction, speed, intentions, etc.

Backup vehicle. The backup vehicle provides a fill-in function. Because the command vehicle is the vehicle most likely to be detected by the target, the FBI has devised a number of strategies that let the backup vehicle take over the command role, thereby allowing the previous command vehicle to exit the surveillance box. Many suspects have been duped by this strategy, as you’ll learn later in this article.

Advance vehicle. The advance vehicle is like an early warning system. The agent provides advance warning of obstacles, hazards, or traffic conditions that would otherwise catch the surveillance team unaware. The advance vehicle also fulfills another important function. If the FBI has bugged your telephone or your office or your residence, they’re likely to already know your destination. Naturally, the advance vehicle arrives before you do. Many suspects have been completely fooled by the undercover FBI agent who is already seated at the restaurant when the suspect arrives.

Outrider vehicle. The outrider vehicles patrol the perimeter of the floating-box. Their assignment is to make certain that the target does not get outside the containment of the box. They also play a key role when the target makes a turn at an intersection, as you’ll learn later in this article.

Surveillance advantages

The floating-box is a very powerful and flexible system. It allows the FBI to successfully respond to a variety of situations. The FBI is almost never caught off-guard.

Recovery from mistakes. If visual contact with the target is lost, the box can be collapsed inward, enabling the agents to quickly re-acquire command of the target. (Whenever the FBI loses visual contact with the target, the surveillance team immediately executes a lost-command drill. The FBI has a number of strategies they use to re-acquire command of the target.)

Quick response. The floating-box also allows the FBI to react quickly to a target who is attempting to evade surveillance. If the target unexpectedly makes a left turn, for example, the left outrider vehicle turns left and becomes the new advance vehicle. The other elements in the team shift roles as appropriate. More on this later.

Signature shift. The floating-box makes it possible to quickly alter the signature of the team, making them more difficult to detect. In the previous illustration of the floating-box system, there are five surveillance vehicles. At first glance one might assume they can be reconfigured five different ways if they switch roles. In actual practise, a team of five vehicles can be reconfigured 5x4x3x2x1 = 120 different ways. Not all of these configurations are useful in the field, especially when the command vehicle’s role is unchanged. In practise, about two dozen configurations are practical – more than enough to deceive most targets.

The FBI’s stakeout box…

A vehicle surveillance operation begins with a stakeout box. The FBI watches your office or residence, waiting for you to get in your vehicle and drive away. At that moment the stakeout box becomes a floating-box.

The image shown below illustrates the basic components of an FBI stakeout box.

fbi stakeout box

The target’s vehicle is shown in blue. The vehicles of the surveillance team are depicted in gray. The image is not rendered to scale. Distances are much greater in the real world.


Note how vehicles Alpha, Brava, Charlie, and Delta are prepositioned. They are pointed away from the parked target vehicle. Each of these four layup vehicles is ready to initiate a follow, no matter which direction the target takes.

Trigger vehicle. The trigger vehicle is responsible for maintaining visual contact with the parked target vehicle. When the target begins to drive away, the agent in the trigger vehicle alerts the other members of the stakeout box. The agent is triggering the rest of the team into action – hence the name, trigger vehicle.

Layup vehicle. After being alerted by the trigger vehicle, the appropriate layup vehicle – Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, or Delta – picks up the follow and becomes the command vehicle. The other vehicles assume roles as outriders and backup until the team can be augmented with other FBI vehicles being held in reserve.

Picking up the follow. In a smoothly-run stakeout box, the layup vehicle that is initiating the follow will often pull out in front of the target vehicle, as shown in the illustration above. The layup vehicle becomes the command vehicle, with command of the target. When the command vehicle is in front of the moving target vehicle, it is called cheating. A cheating command vehicle is more difficult to detect that a command vehicle that is following the target.

Command of the target…

The phrase command of the target refers to visual contact with the target of the surveillance operation. The surveillance vehicle having command of the target is called the command vehicle.

The name is appropriate, for the command vehicle also has virtual command of the entire surveillance team. The agent in the command vehicle informs the rest of the team whenever the target vehicle changes direction, adjusts speed, or stops. The surveillance team follows the guidance of the command vehicle.

The control and power that is provided by this approach is offset by the vulnerability of the command vehicle. In many surveillance operations, it is the command vehicle that is first detected by the target. In order to overcome this vulnerability, the FBI has developed a number of tactics to dupe the target of the surveillance operation.

Hand-off. The image shown below provides an example of how the FBI often reacts to a turn by the target vehicle.

fbi box

After watching the target make a right turn at the intersection, the command vehicle continues straight through the intersection. The agent has, however, alerted one of the layup vehicles that the FBI has prepositioned at major decision points along the target’s route.

As you can see from the illustration above, this is a very potent maneuver. The target sees the car that has been following him continue straight through the intersection. He starts to question whether or not he was actually under surveillance – perhaps he was just “imagining things”. As a result, the layup vehicle is often able to pick up the follow without attracting any suspicion.

Cheating. The image shown below shows a variation on this maneuver. Instead of pulling in behind the target, the layup vehicle acquires command of the target by pulling out ahead of the target. This is called a cheating command. It has fooled a lot of suspects of FBI investigations.

fbi box system

A hard target, however, will eventually notice a telltale pattern of vehicles on side streets who pull away from the curb and turn the corner in front of him. (This is how you detect surveillance teams – by watching for patterns of behavior around you.)

Commit vehicle. In order to further disguise their activities, the FBI often utilizes a commit vehicle, as shown in the illustration below.

fbi box technique

The commit vehicle is prepositioned at a major decision point along the target’s route. The FBI agent in the commit vehicle is charged with watching the approaching target vehicle. His assignment is to observe when the target has committed himself to a specific route. Hence the name commit vehicle. Because he is parked in a parking lot, driveway, or side street, his presence is difficult to detect by the target.

Using a tactic like this allows the layup vehicle to be parked out of sight, as shown in the image above.

At the appropriate moment the commit vehicle cues the layup vehicle to begin moving. This permits the layup vehicle to smoothly enter the situation and acquire command of the target without attracting the attention of the target. The target does not see the layup vehicle pull away from the curb – he only sees what appears to be just another vehicle in the normal flow of traffic.

BACKGROUND – A significant portion of the FBI’s training program is devoted to timing. Agents must become proficient at judging distance and time during surveillance operations. If the agent in the commit vehicle does her job properly, she can cue the layup vehicle to enter the situation in a manner that is invisible to the target. FBI recruits spend weeks learning these skills – and an entire career perfecting them. The FBI denies that Seattle, Atlanta, New York, and Philadelphia are key training areas for their vehicle surveillance teams.

End of article #1

Coming up in Article #2…

In the next tutorial in this five-part series you’ll learn about the tactics, diversions, and decoys that an FBI vehicle surveillance team uses to keep you from detecting them. You’ll see how the FBI modifies its vehicles. You’ll find out about the basic driving skills of FBI wheel artists. You’ll learn why you never see them communicating with each other. You’ll see how the vehicle surveillance team supports the foot surveillance team.

Coming up in Article #3…

In the third tutorial you’ll learn about advanced methods of vehicle surveillance, like setups, traps, ambushes, and attacks. You’ll also find out about psychological operations that the FBI can run against you while you’re driving. You’ll discover how they can use operant conditioning to covertly coerce you to alter your route – and leave you thinking it was your idea. Case studies supported by custom-prepared illustrations show you exactly how it’s done.

Coming up in Article #4…

In the fourth tutorial you’ll learn how to defend yourself against a vehicle surveillance team. You’ll find out about antisurveillance – that’s spy-talk for detecting the presence of vehicle surveillance.

You’ll learn about the telltale patterns that give them away. You’ll be able to detect them without them realizing you’ve spotted them. You’ll see five maneuvers you can use while driving to trick them into revealing themselves.

You’ll also learn about countersurveillance – that’s spy-talk for obstructing and harassing a vehicle surveillance team. You’ll see ten maneuvers you can use while driving to make things very unpleasant for the FBI.

Coming up in Article #5…

In the fifth tutorial you’ll receive step-by-step instructions for breaking out of surveillance. You’ll see how to give the goons the slip. You’ll learn three methods for exploiting the flaws in the FBI’s floating-box system.

The first method teaches you how to out-maneuver a cheating command vehicle and its backup unit. The second method shows you how to beat the FBI’s stakeout box. The third method explains how to slip away while the goons are shifting from vehicle to foot surveillance.

In each case the FBI is forced to implement a lost-command drill in order to try and find you again.

How to make certain you get all the tutorials…

The next article is scheduled for publication in mid-September. There are three ways you can ensure you don’t miss any of the articles.

1. Visit our site regularly. Spy & CounterSpy is a living Web site, constantly growing, changing, evolving. We are involved in a continuing struggle to expose the tactics of the government’s secret agencies. Return to our home page and bookmark our site. Visit us weekly – and you’ll be assured of keeping up with the latest developments.

2. Become a member of F9. Return to our home page and click on Free F9 membership. In addition to receiving the free F9 weekly bulletin, you’ll receive email notification whenever a new article is posted at our Web site.

3. Get on our contact list. Simply click here to send email asking Vickie to add your name and your email address to our contact list. We’ll email you whenever we issue a news release or publish a new article at our Web site.

NOTE – If you’re concerned about your personal privacy, please consider using a cyber-cafe and a nom de guerre with an anonymous free email account.

End of Page 4



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