“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”

"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Don't Break the Rules... Except When You Do

"The Moscow Rules" exist in various versions dating from the Cold War - originially developed as a set of guidelines for CIA personnel operating in the unforgiving environment of espionage in the Soviet Union. They still apply today in terms of dealing with possible hostile or criminal actors for people going in harm's way, or just trying to stay smart and safe in an uncertain world. One of the rules is "Don't harass the opposition." Meaning, even if y ou know who the players are, it's considered bad form to tweak their noses in it. This is fundamentally sound guidance. Irritating those you are working against can give away things you aren't ready to, clue them in enough they escalate things, or just generally piss people off and get egos involved where you then become an object lesson. Like most rules, sometimes you just have to break it. Case in point, last week I was spending time with some foreign partners helping them step up their security testing program at a location. It's a healthy relationship, as such things go, with a long history of "trust". And, while we weren't being super-sneaky about the process, it certainly wasn't intended to be public knowledge or broadly shared even on location. Yet for some reason one of their other agencies got a hair up their backside, and decided to drop a major surveillance team on us. Which is one thing. But, they were also complete amateurs about it - the closest comparison I could give is the classic "Pink Panther" movies with Inspector Clouseau. People doing the most awkward outfit changes to shift appearance, "trying" to surreptitiously take pictures, "talking" on their phone with it visibly not on and so forth. It was almost professionally insulting. So, yes, I had to play around a bit with them. We *might* have managed to add about 4 miles of "extra" steps in our routes around the place that day. Gotten a huddle together and then split in five different directions. Gone up and talked to strangers just to confuse the opposition as to what was going on. Taken selfies with their groups in the background. I mean, I had *some* courtesy. I resisted the urge to take one guy a bottle of water when he looked worn out. I was nice enough to say thank you when one of them got stuck awkwardly holding the door for us. And we all waved goodbye from the taxi at the end of the day. Worst part? Even with all this attention, we still got in...