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Guest Article: A Tale of Possible Surveillance

Article by figosdev

Nuclear power plant

Mark Kennedy spy

Summary: "If people subconsciously hire private investigators the same way they hire lawyers, that would explain a lot."

Usually, "A PI" stands for something else.

I've heavily considered not writing this, but I thought it would make a nice follow-up to this post and yes, I have considered the slight possibility that by doing so, I am contributing to my own surveillance.

Having considered that, I'll now tell you what happened.

As I said in that article, I am aware that activists sometimes end up under surveillance. It's far less of a leap these days -- though while you would (having read history) expect it for someone like Malcolm X or Martin Luther King, I wouldn't normally assume Roy or I were "important" enough. But I don't claim to be an expert on the subject anyway.

"And it's known that no less than 2/3 of people (probably far more) in the country are under surveillance, it's just a matter how much."Still, it's known that people involved with Occupy (I was) were under surveillance, it's just a matter of how much. It's known that people involved with more recent protests are under surveillance -- it's just a matter of how much.

And it's known that no less than 2/3 of people (probably far more) in the country are under surveillance, it's just a matter how much. Though you never know exactly what will trigger that bracket of importance -- like that kid who rode past an area on his bicycle where a crime was taking place -- because of his GPS.

I still don't know if this person was actually following or interviewing me, or if they were just weird. But having done a lot of volunteering and activism over the years, I've met loads of weird people. I've even dated some -- to be certain, at one point I married one (but she was very nice, and I honestly wish her the very best.)

Having met lots of weird people, I can also say what stood out to me about this particular individual -- it's all relative, really.

I will leave out many details here, though she was (or appeared and claimed to be) older, I've dated just one person with grey hair (before I was married) and I used to know someone who went grey early. Her face was younger-looking, but I've known plenty of people who aged well enough that this was plausible. I still think it's worth mentioning.

Despite what my intuition tells me (correctly or otherwise), I can honestly say I found her charming. When we started talking, I did not assume her intentions were romantic. Though most of the people I've had lunch with who acted similarly revealed romantic intentions eventually.

"When I say that she established rapport, I would almost compare it to the day I met my first wife."Many efforts were made to establish rapport -- that's not necessarily significant by itself, that's what people do as they become friends. When you meet a person who is narcissistic and/or a compulsive liar and/or they're trying to take advantage of you, there are certain signs to watch out for although covert narcissists are different. I've dealt with both, I've certainly dated a narcissist before. They make up enough of the population that it's possible many of us have.

I'm not by any means claiming to be the horse-whisperer of narcissists -- they're tricky, experience doesn't make you completely immune to their tricks. I had chicken pox when I was a kid, someday that will likely show up again as shingles. But despite my experience, this person seemed to be going out of their way to establish rapport (more than an average person does) and I started wondering if they were going to reveal their intentions. [Editor's note: I've seen similar things before (somebody else) and have solid reasons to believe I too was targeted; the presumed spy admitted to know Mark Kennedy, shown at the top of this article, and later admitted to me that he had been infiltrating groups]

As to why I continued to meet this person, I already said they were charming enough as company (my intentions were not romantic either, although she was attractive and pleasant to talk to) and I was not immediately suspicious anyway. We would keep bumping into each other, though there are reasons this was not (by itself) suspicious either. I'm leaving the reasons out, because I don't wish to say more than needs to be said.

All in all, I would not find it shocking if a year from now, I discover that this person was really just a slightly awkward person who thought it would be nice to have lunch with some company. We only scheduled a single meeting -- in the interim, we met a handful of times.

We went for a walk in a very public and very populated (well lit is an understatement, it was a sunny day during a heat wave -- I had a LOT of water, with and without electrolytes) area. We wore masks and social-distanced as well; this is the most exposure I've had to other people in months.

When I say that she established rapport, I would almost compare it to the day I met my first wife. The difference is that by the end of the day (when I met my first wife) I was in love, while with this person I simply thought she was interesting. She was cute, but a lot of people are cute. I talk to people with nice smiles (when you can see them at least) and pleasant personalities almost every day -- and this in a place I consider to be very stuck up and snobby on average.

We did talk about politics, but (being a big nerd) I mostly limited my talk of politics to the articles of the Constitution, which she either found interesting or feigned interest in. I'm heavily inspired by Lawrence Lessig, and I can speak about certain aspects of the topic as passionately as I can write about them -- and I did exactly that.

"Although a few people who do are in fact lying, and don’t really care what you look like at all because that’s not why you interest them."We talked about loads of personal subjects, but mostly mundane things (this would still happen during surveillance of course) and while I don't deny being a bit of an open book, I don't think I revealed all that much you couldn't get from tapping my communications anyway. Which of course, people most likely already do.

After our second or third meeting, when it started to remind me a little too much of when I met my first wife (the first time we met, I wasn't even sure I would bump into her again, and we had never had lunch or anything) I pointed out that this would have to be a "friends" thing, that I was not trying to date her.

She acknowledged the same, citing her own previous but partly unresolved relationship issues. We both acknowledged that the other was attractive, which I honestly found flattering enough -- IMO it's always nice when an attractive person admits they find you attractive. Although a few people who do are in fact lying, and don't really care what you look like at all because that's not why you interest them. I had no trouble taking the compliment however. I'm a dork, and even if I was as attractive as Roy for example, I would still be flattered by people who thought so.

Why do I find this person suspicious then, to the point where I make it into an article about surveillance? I've met literally hundreds of odd people, and nobody else I've met (including people who do surveillance for a living!) have ever inspired me to do so.

So here's what stood out for me, among all of those people -- this one person:

* Seemed to work as hard as any compulsive liar I've met, just to establish rapport.

* Most people who do that are more casual/informal, or more obvious about their intentions, even if they are hidden. There were broad and notable efforts to be "informal" and friendly, but I couldn't shake the feeling of a professional tinge to the whole thing -- despite there being zero cause for one.

I've met people from New York, DC, Numerous people who have met the POTUS (Including one I lived with) and I've met Buzz Aldrin at an event where I could have met both Hillary and Obama -- but I didn't care about them (only Buzz, he's awesome!) And all of these people have a more casual vibe than I got from this person, who was very clearly being casual and saying casual things.

"Why do I find this person suspicious then, to the point where I make it into an article about surveillance? I've met literally hundreds of odd people, and nobody else I've met (including people who do surveillance for a living!) have ever inspired me to do so."I just couldn't shake the feeling that it was professional, even though it was clearly not intended to feel that way.

* They did say a couple of things that I just swear are NOT TRUE. This is what made me think "compulsive liar?" for a day or so.

* I've met a lot of compulsive liars, including ones who are very slow to reveal their intentions. But with this person, the rapport (which was heavily pronounced) simply WENT NO-WHERE.

By "went nowhere" I mean no matter how slowly someone lets you know what they really want from you, it still MOVES. They work their way up, however slowly, to what they want.

This didn't move. It moved when I met my first wife. It moved with narcissists I dated. It moved with another friend or two who were narcissists or just selfish people. This person didn't WANT anything -- ANYTHING.

But they worked overly hard to get it -- like someone does if they want something from you. But they didn't want anything.

"The complete lack of interest in ANYTHING specific, paired with the sheer lack of professionalism and the STRONG sense of being professional, made me think this was just a fishing expedition."So I didn't seriously think this was a government agent (Really? Moi?) but I did toy with the idea. They did SO LITTLE probing though. And while they seemed too professional to be a friend, they seemed too much like a genuinely odd person to be an agent. I'm NO expert, and if it wasn't for HBO dramas I would know even less. But whatever.

The complete lack of interest in ANYTHING specific, paired with the sheer lack of professionalism and the STRONG sense of being professional, made me think this was just a fishing expedition. Okay. But even for a fishing expedition, it seemed a bit contrived and even pointless.

So if they're not a run of the mill compulsive / eccentric / dork / person like me, and they're not federal (I suppose it's possible but this is about my own impressions, and that's not what I'm sensing) what else could it be?

Are they corporate? I know that some cults have hired private investigators to get information on people before, but I'm not going after any cults at the moment -- maybe I pissed one off but I don't think so.

"All to establish rapport, all to get absolutely nothing but lunch with me, with no interest in either romance or friendship?"One of the things that tipped me off in the first place was that they had a few things in common with me that I just don't believe are truly part of who they are -- right down to a country I've lived in that they are supposedly from originally.

Yeah, I don't believe that at all, actually. I've lived with people from those countries, we met simply by chance that we had both lived there -- but when this person said it (repeatedly) it was the most suspicious thing they said. But not the only thing like it.

So, maybe a P.I., but someone who knows a handful of things about me (some of which are trivial to get for a fee, others are slightly more personal and less likely to be on file -- could be cold-reading or a lucky guess though?)

All to establish rapport, all to get absolutely nothing but lunch with me, with no interest in either romance or friendship?


Oh, did I mention they showed up out of nowhere very recently, and took IMMEDIATE interest in me? I'm not saying this to flatter myself -- I mean I'd never seen them ever before, then one day they were chatting with me, then a couple days later I bumped into them again, then we were having lunch -- going for walks, having lunch again--

"She claims to be from around here, though I really don't think she is."And then after our (only) scheduled meeting, which honestly seemed to go just as nicely as the others, they promptly disappeared?

She claims to be from around here, though I really don't think she is. I would probably know people that know her -- at the very least, she's newer than she claims. (Perhaps just a recluse -- but not for little old me.)

And IMO she acts in every way like a P.I., but doesn't seem to be interested in ANYTHING in particular about me (I realise that's an ideal impression for a P.I. or other investigator to give off.)

I do have one theory, that I consider pretty reasonable.

I come from a VERY controlling family. We have minimal contact now, and I'm glad they're not in my life. They have always showed some level of interest, even when we aren't speaking. When I've had relationships -- any level -- marriage, girlfriend, friends -- they've meddled. I've all but cut them off.

I looked into what this sort of venture would cost them. Sadly, it's well within their means (even if they were simply bored or curious.) Would they stoop that low? I don't know, it's the most reasonable (least nutty) explanation, IF this person is a professional. The other guesses are still possible, but I'm trying to put together the most reasonable explanation. That's what sane people do (I don't know, I read it on a matchbook.)

When you're going through a divorce or similar issues, your ex will often hire someone they subconsciously feel is the most like they are, personality-wise. This is particularly unpleasant if your ex was aggressive and manipulative, and they want to subject you to more of the same in the divorce proceedings. My divorce was unpleasant, but it wasn't as bad as that. I've seen a lot worse.

If people subconsciously hire private investigators the same way they hire lawyers, that would explain a lot. It would also explain why this person is so familiar with me. Sure, they could also get a lot of that from observing me from afar for long enough -- or perhaps tapping my communications. But this feels a little more like family. That would really explain basically every odd thing about this, including the "why bother?" part.

If that's what it turns out to be, I will be certain to distance myself even further from them. On the other hand, if it somehow turns out to be something far more sinister... CHEERS! It's been fun.

Family is overrated sometimes. Also sort of priceless in general... but not this one!

Long live rms (and me, if possible) and happy hacking.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

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