TIP SHEET for Staff Organizers
Common Sense Security
by Sheila O'Donnell
As the movements for social change become more sophisticated,
the techniques of the state, corporations and the right wing have
also become more sophisticated. Historically this has always
been the case; caution in the face of the concerted effort to
stop us, however, is both prudent and necessary.
Here are some useful suggestions: If you wish
to have a private conversation, leave your home and your office
and go outside and take a walk or go somewhere public and notice
who is near you. Never say anything you don't want to hear
repeated when there is any possibility of being recorded.
Never leave one copy of a document or list behind; take a
minute to duplicate an irreplaceable document and keep the duplicate
in a safe place. Back up and store important computer disks
off-site. Sensitive data and membership list should be kept under
lock and key. Keep your mailing lists, donor lists and
personal phone books away from light-fingered peopel. Always maintain
a duplicate. Know your printer if you are about to publish.
Know your mailing house. Know anyone you are trusting
to work on any part of a project that is sensitive. Don't
hire a stranger as a messenger. Sweeps for electronic
surveillance are only effective for the time they are being done,
and are only effective as they are being done if you are sure
of the person(s) doing the sweep. Don't use code
on the phone. If you are being tapped and the transcript is used
agianst you in court, the coded conversation can be alleged to
be anything. Don't say anything on the phone you don't
want to hear in open court. Don't gossip on the phone.
Smut is valuable to anyone listening; it makes everyone vulnerable.
If you are being followed, get the tag number and description
of the car and people in the car. Photograph the person(s) following
you or have a friend do so. If you are followed
or feel vulnerable, call a friend; don't "tough it out"
alone. They are trying to frighten you. It is frightening to have
someone threatening your freedom. Debrief yourself
after each incident. Write details down: time, date, occasion,
incident, characteristics of the person(s), impressions, anything
odd about the situation. Keep a "weirdo" file
and keep notes from unsettling situations and see if a pattern
emerges. Write for your file under the FOIA and pursue
the agencies until they give you all the documents filed under
your name. Brief your membership on known or suspected
surveillance. Report thefts of materials from your office
or home to th epolce as a criminal act. Assess your undertaking
from a security point of view; understand your vulnerabilities;
assess your allies and your adersaries as objectively as possible;
do not underestimate the opposition. Do not take chances.
Recognize your organizational and personal strengths and
weaknesses. Discuss incidents with cohorts, family and
memberhsip. Call the press if you have hard information about
surveillance or harassment. Discussion makes the dirty
work of the intelligence agencies and private spies overt.
VISITS FROM THE FBI
Don't talk to the FBI ( or any government investigator)
without your attorney present. Information gleaned during the
visit can be used against you and your co-workers. Get
the names and addresses of the agents and tell them you will have
your attorney get in touch with them. They rarely set up an
interview under t hose circumstances. Don't invite
them into your home. Speak with the agents outside. Once inside
they glean information about your perspective and life style.
Don't let them threaten you into talking. If the FBI intents
to empanel a grand jury, a private talk with you will not change
the strategy of the FBI. Lying to the FBI is a criminal
act. Any information you give the FBI can and will be used against
you. Don't let them intimidate you. So what if they know
where you live or work and what your do? This is still a democracy
and we still have Constitutional rights. They intend to
frighten you; don't let them. They can only "neutralize"
you if you let them. Remember. The United States prides
itself in being a democracy; we have Constitutional rights. Disatisfaction
with the status quo and attempting to mobilize for change
is protected; surveillance and harassment are violations. Speak
Civil Liberties watch