Humans are social animals---even those of us who are introverts. Being in the resistance can be a very lonely existence. Having to compartmentalize parts of your life even within the existing compartments, having to “live the life” of privacy and security, having to constantly keep track of ever-changing threat landscapes even within your own groups, never being able to really trust anyone...all of this is exhausting. It requires a mental discipline that quite frankly, most people don’t have and aren’t interested in cultivating. As the saying goes, the human element is always the single greatest point of failure in anything. This is true even if (especially if) you're talking about security protocols and resistance members.
Imagine going an entire 24 hour period--or longer--where you specifically attempt NOT to talk to anyone, not to interact with anyone, not to let anyone really see or notice you, being absolutely forgettable…while being in public and around people. Can you do that? You might think so. You don't like people anyway.
But now consider all the tiny things that humans do to stand out without even thinking about it (and believe me, this list applies to us all—I’ve had to make some changes myself as I’ve learned and grown over time).
- T-shirts with various sayings
- Hairstyles and colors (including men’s haircuts and specific styles of facial hair)
- Other clothing that defines your interests (Motorcycle leather, etc)
- Anything that does not fit in the environment where you are (wearing a jersey for the Minnesota Vikings while in Green Bay, for instance; or camo pants in a section of town more known for its vegan restaurants and yoga clinics)
- Things we are interested in or collect.
Now imagine that whether you get arrested or even killed today depends on your ability to fade, to go without talking to people you know, to go without being yourself. Now could you do it?
Whether we admit it or not, the same thing that drives us to get tattoos, to wear that in-your-face T-shirt, to put the bumper stickers on our car and announce to everyone who we are and what we are willing to do, is the exact same thing that is exploitable by anyone who’s trying to watch/track/hunt you. That’s what will make someone remember you when you desperately need to not be remembered. That’s what will get you caught, or make it impossible for you to carry out certain tasks.
No one remembers the guy on his laptop wearing a button-down shirt and a clean-cut appearance in a coffee shop full of guys on their laptops, all dressed like businessmen and sipping lattes and whatnot, who come in for an hour, get a bit of work done on their laptops or have a quick meeting. They do, however, remember the guy with the big ol' beard who came in to that same trendy little shop wearing a shirt that brags about his willingness to kill for liberty, tactical pants and a DTOM hat while ordering a large coffee, black. If someone comes to the shop later showing your driver's license picture around, which of those two scenarios would result in someone saying "Yeah, I remember that guy!"
We could talk all day about being the gray man, about fading into your environment and being invisible even in public, but that's not the focus of this article. Today we're talking about something deeper: the drive that makes humans naturally want to NOT fade. The drive that craves identity and wants to let that identity shine through, whether it be through our clothing, our vehicles, our stickers, our hair, even our mannerisms and habits. We are who we are--and that leaks everywhere we go, unless we learn how to control it and how to hide it when necessary.
The greatest point of failure in your operations, your security, your group, your life...is you. By extension, that means that the people you work with are also on the hook for your mistakes---and you are on the hook for theirs. (Reason #489 why you should be very careful who you associate with and/or even discuss liberty resistance business with.)
Even basic good character traits can be exploited. People's desire to help others, their need to impress people, even to feel accepted and liked; all of these things can be used against you. In other contexts, criminals use these all the time. There is a reason why in many places it's not safe to pull over and help a stranded motorist. There is a reason why Ted Bundy was able to rape and kill a number of women by wearing a fake cast and pretending to need help. Human nature is, by default, exploitable.
Take the time to sit down, go through your life, your closet, your vehicle, yourself. Find the places where you "leak" information or make yourself vulnerable, and find a way to plug the holes. Plan out how you would go about getting a burner phone, for instance. Don't just plan the location, plan it all. How will you get there? What will you wear? How will you act? If you already have that burner phone, think through how you did it. Is there something you could have done better?
You might be surprised at how much you give away...even when you're hiding. We all learn, we all evolve. If you're doing everything the same way you did a month ago, a year ago, you're not learning.