Super Spook Course - Cutouts
Some of us really screwed up the first time we were required
to pass a very small item to a courier in a public place.
We were required to use a homemade concealment device.
Trying to devise a practical concealment device in which to
place that item and a practical way of passing it to the
courier, nearly drove me nuts.  Of course, we had not yet
had any training in constructing concealment devices or
passing items to a courier.

Finally, I decided on a bar of soap as a concealment device.
Don't ask me why, I have not idea.  First, I divided the bar
of soap in half and hollowed out a place in one half to hold
the item that I had to pass.  Then I put the bar of soap
back together and sealed it back in its original wrapper.
It took me three bars of soap to get it right.  Next I
pondered over how I was going to pass that bar of soap to my
courier.  Then it came to me; I would pass it in front of
the supermarket in Dundalk Shopping Center.  First, I would
buy a few oranges and one bar of soap and then, after
leaving the supermarket, I would switch bars of soap and
tear the bottom of the bag.  As soon as I spotted the
courier, I would let a couple of the oranges and the bar of
soap fall out of the bag.  The courier would “palm” my soap
and replace it with his own bar of soap as he helped me
gather the fallen oranges.

This was my first try at this Super Spook stuff and it was
really dumb.  They had not yet trained us how to do this
because we must first try it on our own, which would vividly
impress upon each of us “how not to pass material to a
courier.”  The wind was blowing that afternoon and my
oranges took off as soon as they hit the pavement.  I had to
chase a couple of the oranges.  We were supposed to pass the
item without attracting any attention to ourselves or the
courier and if any bystander did notice us, we weren’t
supposed to be doing something that would make them
suspicious.  Oh well, one out of two isn’t bad.  Is it?

As soon as the instructors read my plan, they smelled blood.
They had planned to video tape the passes that they thought
would make the most negative impression on the class.
Naturally, I was one of those selected for that honor.  They
set up the video camera in a parked van in front of the
supermarket.  Fortunately for me just as I dropped the bag,
a large van pulled up in front of me and stopped.  Old Val,
the Class Leader, was saved from being embarrassed silly in
front of his entire class because they couldn’t see what I
was doing.  They showed the attempts that some of our guys
made to pass their item to a courier and then they showed
some clips from previous classes.  During the film, they
explained what was going on and critiqued the student.  That
film was absolutely hilarious.  That film should have been
on television, it would have won a prize.  After watching
that film, I didn’t feel so stupid even if we did look like
the old Keystone Kops from the silent movies.

Next we had to learn how to leave an item in a safe spot and
wait for a courier to pick it up.  Our classroom instruction
included a demonstration using the “Real Life” method, of
course.  The only two props on the classroom stage were a
desk and a chair.  Both were facing the students.  The
instructor briefed us on the situation.  He said, “Pretend
that this is the lobby of an office building.  Behind the
desk on the wall is a directory showing room numbers and
floors to the various offices in this building.  Off to the
left of the desk is an elevator.  Your job is to retrieve an
item that is taped to the bottom side of the center drawer
of that desk.  You can have a couple of minutes to plan how
you’re going to retrieve this item.  If you need anything
just ask and you can have it.”  Well, at first he got no
volunteers but finally one of the guys volunteered.  As soon
as the student got near that desk, a side door opened and
out popped two other instructors.  They intercepted him and
introduced themselves as the Aggressor Police.  They wanted
to know who he was and why he was in this building and he
had to show his “pretend” identification and travel
authorization papers.  Of course, the student’s hasty
attempt to establish a cover story was inadequate and his
lack of confidence were apparent.  So things quickly went
sour for our brave volunteer.  He clung desperately to his
mission.  He finally tried a sneaky attempt at retrieving
that information with them both hovering over him and of
course they got the item and he was a goner.

The learning points of this demonstration were many.  For
one, it reinforced a very old army adage, “Prior Planning
Prevents Piss Poor Performance.”  For another, “You never
make a drop or pick up, if you know the enemy is observing
you — never!”

On the next practical application exercise, students were
also used as couriers.  After you select the drop site, you
also select a site to use as a load signal and another for
the unload signal.  Then you deposit the item in the site
and make the load signal.  You must notify your superiors
about these sites and signals.  They pass this information
on to the courier.  They gave us just the barest of
instructions on how to do this and of course, they also
videoed us again, but I was not videoed this time.  Thank
God for small favors!  That first film was just funny, this
film made you laugh until your gut hurt.

The film showed a tall student leaving a package atop a wall
that was over his head and then it would show a short
courier come along and try to retrieve it, without
attracting any attention.  The couriers would eventually
give up on the clandestine methods and carefully check out
the area for anyone looking and then when the coast was
clear they would start hopping as high as they could hoping
to grab that package.  They never got it.

One long-armed student deposited his package beneath a
ledge.  A small courier tried several times to clandestinely
retrieve the package without success.  The package was taped
to the bottom side of the ledge and so far back the courier
couldn’t feel it anywhere.  Finally he checked the immediate
area and after satisfying himself that no one was watching,
he got down on his knees and crawled around under that ledge
until he finally found his package.

Several students left their packages inside buildings.  They
used privately owned stores and government buildings.  Some
students didn’t bother to check the office hours for those
buildings.  Please rest assured, the instructors did!  If a
pickup was scheduled when the building would be closed,
naturally the camera crew had to be present just in case the
frustrated courier’s reaction was worthy of recording for
posterity - and a few laughs.

Don "Val"  Valentine