Human Intel

SADRAT: Developing Assets
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Here’s another of those things most ninjutsu people never talk about, the development of Human Intel assets or informants. As mentioned before, I used informants as a correctional officer and while in patrol, and continued to do so after gaining the position of shift supervisor and crisis negotiator. (To be honest, I had to as a negotiator because negotiations teams are supposed to be groups of 4-6 people [including an intel collector], but there were just two of us.)
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Now, the reality is that use of informants in law enforcement doesn’t really match up to the use of assets in national security matters, especially in smaller departments with no budget for “unofficial human information sources.” The key manipulation tools of MICE — money, ideology, compromise and ego — aren’t usually applicable because there’s no national or political division to work with. Often, the officer or detective is approached by the potential informer because that informant will benefit from the info being applied. That means most of the Intel gathered in police work generally comes from those who seek to harm or remove others from their picture — be it a rival drug dealer, a ganger getting too many of his own followers for his superior to be comfortable with, or just a teenage kid trying to get rid of another suitor for his desired girlfriend — which is why courts are often so hesitant to act on info obtained from street sources.
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One of the main differences between espionage and police investigations is that it’s often EASY to get info on a criminal operation, just by listening to street talk and quietly observing. So, the role of the police informant is often to verify and record that info in a legally acceptable manner. That’s an important distinction.
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Nonetheless, there is generally a process for working with informants and assets. In a nutshell, it’s a cycle from start to finish, like an extended version of the nurse/ patient “therapeutic relationship.” So, let’s go over the steps and make them relatively clear. Collectively, we can call this process “SADRAT.”
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1. Selection — In espionage, this generally means finding a potential asset who can provide information sensitive to a foreign power, but in police work it’s more about picking a ”credible” source. (Can’t manipulate people to commit crimes in investigations, because that’s “entrapment.” But you can help them to prep for a crime they proposed, then take them down afterward.) If they benefit directly from your target being arrested, more than an average citizen in that area would from a criminal being taken off the streets, then defense attorneys will quickly use that to advantage. So, often, someone on the periphery of a criminal group is better for investigations (and prosecution) purposes than someone in the center of the action. As long as that person can still get access to info.
2. Assessment — Here’s where we determine if a potential asset will be dependable or can handle the pressure of an occasional task. After all, it does no good to have a ganger’s significant other in your fold if she flips and cries out her affiliation every time she feels guilty or gets drunk. So, it is important to pick someone who is stable and emotionally controlled.
3. Development — Having determined that a potential asset is both in access to needed info and stable enough to perform the work, then you start to “develop” a relationship that allows you relatively regular access to this person. This is also when you determine what various needs they have that you can meet. In corrections and police investigations, the target often tells you his/ her need, but you can still dig deeper to find other needs to be used as leverage.
4. Recruitment — This is the process of actually getting the relationship on paper, or on payroll for paid confidential informants. It has to be in writing that this person is not doing the task against his/ her will, that this person isn’t acting ”under duress,” is aware of the risks and additional requirements (like giving written testimony or court appearance), and that they may be paid in exchange for their time/ service. If I recall correctly, even if the asset is motivated by political ideology and is already giving good Intel, the DIA and CIA pretty much HAVE to have an acknowledged pay/ trade program in place (even for those types that refuse to take payment) before it’s considered an official asset relationship.
5. Asset “Handling” — After it’s been established that this person is of value, is stable enough to perform the functions expected, and is now in a paid “commitment,” then you start the process of training/ equipping him to do what needs to be done. Additionally, you have to deal with the frequent stresses that occur when working secretly against others they deal with daily. (The best informant I ever had was a former bounty hunter who ended up behind bars after a suspect died while evading capture; just doing the right thing of keeping him out of the danger of general population somehow made him feel indebted to me, so he fed me all manner of info we were able to verify and act on, both in the streets and behind bars. Nonetheless, there were family and financial stressors we were able to help him fulfill while he was incarcerated, often just by increasing his access to paperwork and family.)
6. Termination — At some point, either because a major target is taken down or because you’ve gone as far as you could on a case without putting the informant into unnecessary danger, you have to cut him/ her loose. (Which doesn’t mean you can’t make use of that person again later.) In corrections, that may be because the valued inmate has finally gained parole, something you may have helped him achieve. To me, effective and humane handling was very important — something often forgotten in police and corrections work — because former inmates would often end up in the same streets and neighborhoods I lived for years.
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So, that’s it, a concise explanation of the stages of asset relations for investigations. Hopefully, you can all see how this might relate to ninjutsu, espionage and guerrilla force relations with supporters.
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Discuss it, ask questions, or share ideas. How might you apply this process in your daily dealings with others?
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