How to keep undercover work secret?


Maintaining the secrecy of undercover work involves several critical strategies, as highlighted by Jordan Harbinger and his guests:

  1. Avoid Suspicion: A crucial aspect is ensuring the undercover agent blends in with their environment. If an agent is too conspicuous or acts suspiciously, it jeopardizes the operation. As noted by Jonna Mendez, the foreign agent needs to act like a regular member of the public without attracting attention. Any form of counter-surveillance training or technology aids in maintaining this covert status 1.

  2. Training and Preparation: Essential to staying undercover is rigorous training, including learning counter-surveillance techniques. Jack Barsky described extensive drills where he would spend hours on public transport, visiting various locations to ensure he was not being followed. This thorough training helped him evade detection repeatedly 2.

  3. Use of Dead Drops: Direct face-to-face meetings are avoided if possible, especially in high-risk environments. Instead, agents use dead drops—concealing information in everyday objects, which are then retrieved covertly. This method minimizes direct contact, reducing the risk of exposure 1.

  4. Documentation and Evidence Handling: Ken Croke emphasized the importance of meticulously documenting activities and gathering evidence without exposing themselves. This includes taking copious notes and ensuring any illegal activities forced upon them are duly reported to maintain credibility in legal proceedings later on 3.

    Covert Operations

    Jonna explains how the CIA trains foreign agents in counter-surveillance techniques and how they use dead drops to avoid detection while obtaining information. She also shares some of the creative ways they conceal information in everyday objects.

    The Jordan Harbinger Show

    344: Jonna Mendez | The Moscow Rules
  5. Maintaining a Consistent Cover Story: It’s critical to keep the cover story as close to the truth as possible. Using real first names helps ensure quick reactions when called, and sticking to a simple, truthful background minimizes the risk of slips 4.

  6. Limits on Undercover Duration and Decompression: Long-term undercover agents might only operate for one case at a time due to the psychological toll it takes. Balancing personal life with undercover roles requires compartmentalization and sometimes decompression periods to maintain mental health 5.

These strategies collectively help in keeping undercover operations secure and effective.