Editor’s Introductory Note: This article first appeared in the American Partisan blog. It is re-posted with permission.
I get a lot of questions about recruiting. How to do it, when to do it, when not to. While the best way to answer those questions is in an actual class (and there are still a few spots open in the webinar class I’m teaching on it), there are some hard and fast rules about the type of people you want and don’t want in your group. In fact, there’s a list of automatic disqualifications that I tend to use and teach others. If someone is on the disqualification list, they’re an automatic no-go. It doesn’t mean they aren’t friends, or that I suddenly see them as not worth having in my life; I’m talking about purely an ally standpoint. The 0300 call for assistance. The people who I can count on no matter what. After all, what’s the purpose here? If your goal is just to go to rallies and be seen “doing patriot stuff,” then don’t even bother reading the rest of the article, because it’ll fly right over your head.
The rules tend to make people uncomfortable or even angry. “Well, my friend Jack might meet one of those automatic disqualifications but you don’t know him. I do. He’s solid.” Here’s the thing: your knowledge of him doesn’t trump your adversary’s knowledge of how to take a person like Jack and manipulate him into doing things he would not normally do. The bottom line is, are you willing to trust the rest of your life, to be spent in a prison cell, to every person in your group? If you have a “group” of 30, 50, or even 100 people, the answer to that is no; at least, it should be — especially in this age of social media “groups” where you haven’t even MET half the people in the group, let alone had an opportunity to observe them in a variety of situations. In fact, that’s one of the reasons we advocate for such small groups in Basics of Resistance. There’s nothing that says you can’t network with other groups for specific one-time purposes, with the proper compartmentalization.
One of the biggest complaints I hear is that everyone eventually breaks, and will inform on their group if they are threatened. The thing about leverage is that it requires a fulcrum. The point of this list is to remove the standard go-to things that are typically used as keys to infiltrate a group or leverage members into detrimental actions. In other words, make it harder for your adversary to find something to use. If they normally have a 10-item list of openings to choose from, take away 9 of them and hide the 10th. Even in a worst-case scenario, you’ve bought your group some time. Everyone will break, given enough pressure and time — which is why you should go to great lengths to avoid anyone in your group even put in that situation.
As we go through this list, hopefully you’ll see past what’s said, and focus on why it’s being said, and why each of these people are on the list to begin with. Also keep in mind that this isn’t the whole list — not by a long shot. It’s just a few of the top entries.
7 People You Don’t Want in Your Group
- The Sloppy Online Guy
- The Anger Problem Child
- The Vice Lover or Addict
- The “Let’s Get it Started” Guy
- The Guy Who Can’t Stand Up to His Wife
- The Unteachable Guy
- The Welfare Recipient Guy
Let’s break these down a bit more.
The Sloppy Online Guy
People who are sloppy online will be sloppy elsewhere.
This works on both a group and individual level. If you are approached by a group who tells you they get on Zello every night to do a “roll call,” run away. If a group is all over Facebook posting their “training videos,” inviting the public to their training, or generally talking about group activities anywhere online, they should be an automatic no-go. Instead, look for people who, if they have social media at all, manage it appropriately and keep their “worlds” separate. In fact, ideally you should not be able to tell from their online presence they’re in a group at all. What? There’s no way your group members would ever sit for that? See the previous articles on core motivators.
The Anger Problem Child
People who cannot or will not control their temper are easily leveraged and will get you into trouble.
If you can’t control your emotions in normal, everyday situations, then you can be manipulated quite easily by someone who knows how to drive you with your anger. People with tempers often talk a lot of trash, and you’ll see their group members making excuses for him or trying to pull him aside to ask him to tone down the rhetoric, but you usually won’t see them just kicking him to the curb — and they should. Without question. Instead, look for people who are capable of keeping their cool across a variety of situations.
The Vice Lover or Addict
If someone has a secret (or not-so-secret) vice, you can rest assured it’ll be used against them.
Skeletons get their power from their secret nature. If you have a group member who’s got a secret, it WILL come out, and it will be used for maximum effect. We’ve seen this over and over; someone’s having an affair, someone else has a past violent felony, another guy is involved with the production of meth in order to fund his “patriot” activities, still another guy is abusing his wife and kids. All of those are real situations that have happened, and they ended up having two main effects: 1) they degraded the public image of the group and the larger cause, and 2) they were used as leverage to push the person into something they would not have normally done. Now consider — had their respective groups and contacts shunned them immediately (or done their homework and blocked the person from joining to begin with), would they have been under the same amount of risk? The short answer is no.
Same with addicts, drunks, drug users, etc. They’re a liability. No one’s saying you can’t have a drink or whatever else you do. But if you can’t be trusted to have a clear head when it’s needed, you’re dead weight. If you’ve ever had to alter a plan because Jack can’t perform his function right now because he’s drunk — or you know that he WILL be — then Jack needs to go.
Let’s Get it Started Guy
Anyone who advocates for, or tries to get people to engage in violence while shaming others for being “soft” or “uncommitted” is either a coward or a fed — or both.
You’ll see these folks a lot on social media. They’re constantly making vague references that insinuate anyone who isn’t parked on the Capitol steps with a rifle is somehow a coward. No one’s stopping him from going all Rambo if he believes in it so much, but that’s the point. He doesn’t — or at least, he doesn’t have the balls to do anything, so he tries to get others to either do it for him or band with him so he can act within the safety of a group. Then there’s also the possibility that he’s simply working on an entrapment scheme. Either way, give this guy a wide berth.
The Guy Who Can’t Stand Up to His Wife
If a man cannot stand up to his wife, he is not only extremely exploitable but he will fold very quickly in a variety of situations.
This article isn’t the place for some discussion on feminism or household roles or whatever else. I’ll simply leave it at this — if the person you pledged your love and loyalty to scares you enough that you have to hide your activities or allow that person to control you, then it will take nothing at all for someone else to own you. The flip side of that is sometimes men who are henpecked or emasculated at home tend to try and gain that power back outside their home, and can end up being overly confrontational as their repressed anger boils over in other situations. That can also be leveraged without much effort. This also applies if you have a female member whose husband is not involved and may feel threatened. That husband is a liability — and that makes her one too.
Some people tell me that the reason they hide their activities isn’t out of fear, but out of love and a desire to “protect” their wife from unpleasantness. There’s just one problem — what happens when they can’t protect their spouse anymore? How will their wife handle an actually “unpleasant” situation? Chances are, that husband will be out of commission trying to help his wife deal with what’s going on.
The Unteachable Guy
If someone thinks he has nothing to learn, then he will not learn anything, even if that puts others in danger.
I know several people who are absolute experts in their field, and part of what makes them amazing is their humility. They’ll tell you plainly if they don’t know something, and they’re always open to recognizing when they aren’t the smartest person in the room on a given subject — and they’re always open to learn from anyone.
There’s always that guy, however, who doesn’t need to learn anything. He always has an excuse. There’s no point in learning OPSEC because “the government knows everything anyway.” He doesn’t care about comms because that’s “not his job.” He refuses to change, refuses to learn. Or he’s the expert that knows all about the subject you’re talking about — just ask him. Drop that guy, because he’s putting his own arrogance above the safety and training level of the group. If anyone in your group thinks they’ve “arrived,” they won’t go anywhere except where they’re at right now.
If someone is dependent on government welfare to provide for themselves and their family, they have a massive conflict of interest and cannot be trusted.
This is pretty self-explanatory. If an adversary is feeding their family and paying their bills, when the rubber meets the road, they’re going to ensure that money keeps coming in. End of story.
There are many other types of people you should be avoiding as well, and we will go over them in a later article. This, however, will get you started either cleaning house or picking up rocks to stone me with. If these people are in your group, you’re at risk. If you’re on this list yourself, then fix it for the sake of your fellow group members.
A lot of people think this is pretty draconian. “How are we supposed to make a group now?” Others will complain that “no one’s perfect,” and they’re right. Everyone has a weakness; whether it’s booze or money or a deep-seated need to feel like they’re someone. The point of all of this isn’t to sit down, cut everyone in your group, and revel in the knowledge that you were the only one without a problem. But here’s the thing: If you have 30+ attack surfaces and potential “ins” to your group, don’t you think it’s in your best interest to at least try and cut that number down? Maybe make it a bit harder for your adversary to get in?
Note: This article originally appeared in the highly recommended American Partisan. The author, Kit Perez, is the co-author of Basics of Resistance: The Practical Freedomista, Book I, a primer on resistance methods. (It was co-authored by Claire Wolfe.) Perez is also a counterintelligence and statement analyst, as well as a longtime political writer on national security, intelligence and privacy/tech topics. She holds a BA in Counterintelligence and a Masters in Intelligence Studies. She specializes in deception detection, HUMINT, and digital surveillance issues.