Saturday, April 3, 2010

Operations security (OPSEC) and what bad guys want

Hi there Fernando,
Love your blog and words of experience and advice.  I have a quick question.  I've been interviewed by a few news outlets (Newsweek, a FOX affiliate, a few radio stations, newspaper) on the topic of preparedness or 'preppers' as we're known here in the U.S.  The latest request comes from a news magazine called Nightline.  It is very widely known, has lots of viewers.
From the very first interview, I have been criticized, sometimes mercilessly, not by dopey oblivious-niks as much as people on MY side!  They have all said I'm putting my family in danger by talking about preparedness and what I have done and am doing in terms of water and food storage, firearms training, etc.  I know all about OPSEC but have figured that home invasions by people searching for food is nearly 100% a non-happening, and if truly bad times come, my family will likely be gone and long forgotten.  Even as bad as Katrina was, people weren't stealing food from homes.
My question for you, before I make this interview decision, is this.  Is that kind of crime common in Argentina?  I've read that you keep a low profile, e.g. no fancy jewelry, very plain looking clothes and vehicle, etc., and that would be us.  But are people so desperate that they would break into homes and possibly kill others in search of food and water? 
That world seems so far from my experiences here in America, although no one can predict the future.  My own opinion is that we will more or less slouch into socialism with a much higher rate of unemployment and poverty.  With all the recent changes that have been made, our country will have been overtaken without the shedding of any blood.  Surreal.
At any rate, do you have any advice for me?  The news producer said they would like to do a Day in the Life...story about me.  Follow me around as I use our solar oven, food dehydrator, go to the shooting range with us, etc.  All the other stories have been extremely fair.  I think I have even managed to convert at least a couple of the journalists.  :o)  My name is already out there, along with my city, so on one hand, maybe it won't make any difference.
Thanks so much,
Lisa Bedford

Hi Lisa, several interesting questions there I'm sure others are asking themselves too.

First of all, you have to accept that there is a certain amount of people in the survival and preparedness community that you wouldn't get along well with if they lived next door.
Everything from religious fanatics of all sort that believe this or that group of people should be exterminated, to racists of all kinds, missoganists that believe women are on this Earth to "obay" men, and all sorts of extremists and nutcases. Then you have the hopeless doomers that get depressed during the good times, cant imagine what they would do during the bad ones, and lets not forget the "When SHTF... I'll be the king of the hill and have 20 year old swimsuit models fighting over me".
You also have people that make a living out of paranoia, promising the end of the world every 5 years or so, always finding one situation or another that will trigger a snow ball effect that will inevitably end with the world as you know it.

Its true that many of us are just sane, normal people with none of these delusions but you have to accept that they are out there, installed in the survival and preparedness community.  They'll pick up the phone, write angry emails and critizise everything you say.
Can you let that affect you? Of course not.
Regarding Opsec and letting strangers know what you do, you have to find a middle ground. Of course you cannot, teach others, make videos and such without compromising in that area.
Something similar happens when you talk to people trying to get them on board.
Try finding a middle ground. If your face is out there, try not mentioning the exact county were you live, try not mentioning the names of your kids or how old they are, specially don't name the school they go to.
If all they have is your face and name, its much harder to find you if you don't give more exact information.

About your question: No, food isn't targeted. Bad guys here want cash, jewelry, guns and expensive gadgets, mostly in that order. There's no home invasions to steal food, money is still much more compact and gets you more food than you can carry if you have enough paper currency so why bother?

It is true though that in some cases, people will kill for just a bit of food or water. The aftermath of the earthquake in Chile is a recent example and proof of that. Avoid showing off pics of large amounts of food, a few items is enough to illustrate and make a point.
When it comes to interviews, know that sensationalism sells. A typical thing is asking you to show your guns or ammo. Dont do it, Editing is everything and they'll find a way to make you look paranoid or weird in some way. Its an image that makes you look bad but it attracts more viewers. Even if they are fair, you always have to keep in mind that they have to sell a product, so even if its fair they can use all sorts of strategies to bring more attention to the gun, everything from camera closeups to music, silences, its too good for them to let it go to waste.
Tell them that you'd gladly talk about armed self defense but that for security measures you dont want to show around your guns.
Of course dont say much at all about your home security, use another home or combination of a couple others and their setup so as to not give bad guys a road map to your home security setup.
 Same for a camera walking around showing the layout. Ask for still video in one place and not walking all around the house while filming.

Good luck with the show and interviews, keep those things in mind!


PS: About packing a 22LR. Its comfortable but you sure dont want a 22LR to fight the next maniac that walks into the fast food joint where you are with your kids. Comfort and price (of gun or ammo) Should not be an issue. You're life priceless so go for the best you can carry, teh best round you can fire. Your life and the life of your kids is well worth the $25 x 20 round premium ammo box and the $500 for a good handgun. For the size of your Walter 22LR, there's 9mm subcompact Glocks. Keltec also makes a very small 9mm pistol. Dont go for smaller than 9mm, that's your caliber limit for a serious self defense gun.


Kal said...

Eegh, Nightline is anything but unbiased, I can't imagine the kind of spin Terry Moron would put on it.

Oh, and I hope she doesn't show them a P22, what an awful example of a hand gun

Anonymous said...

From one press experience, a long time ago, my philosophy in talking to the press is, "Don't".
One, they're out to make money and two, they always have an agenda. If they can do both at the same time, so much the better...for them.
If you do talk to them, you will regret it later

CapnRick said...

It is good to see that there exists a segment of the USSA who feels that there is a 90% chance that we will be defending our homes the best way we can from the IRS man, and only a 15% - 20% chance (if that) of defending ourselves from post-apocalyptic zombies and/or the USMC and National Guard. I believe that the guys who want to kill zombies from the top of a hill with their .50 cal sniper rifle are getting all the attention by the Lame Stream Media (of which NightLine is a proud member), and making life difficult for folks who are trying to take a common sense approach: prepping first, then bug-out fall-back locations 2 - n.

For that reason, I hope you take every opportunity to tell your story... it is a story that the public needs to hear. I am glad that the folks at NightLine are inclined to give you a podium to speak for us. Even if they try to edit the story from a SHEEPLE slant, enough of your common sense approach will get through.

Go get 'em Survival Mom!

Anonymous said...

OPSEC IS important especially when people will know your name, city/town you live in etc and especially in these growing troubling times.

I'll have to agree 110% on the whole "don't show them your firearms". To many "journalists" want to focus preparedness on firearms when everything else is far more important - a good 75% of their viewers have no clue how to make a meal from scratch most likely! The preparedness community always gets to wrapped up in the firearm debate/possession IMHO. While it's important to have the training/firearms, it's also to let others know it's none of their business of what you have - would you tell people you don't know how much money is in your bank account? So why should you tell them/show them how much food is in your food account, how many firearms are in your firearm account, how much fuel is in your fuel account.

Wasabista said...

I'd just like to echo Iowa Patriot, I've been interviewed by the MSM (nothing to do with prepping) and it was gruesome. They don't think of you as human, you're just raw meat for their sausage grinder. Don't do it.

Just_In_Case_The_SHTF said...


If you want to become a celebrity and you also have the thick skin that goes along with stardom, then go for every media interview you can. Remember the first rule of promotion -- any publicity, either good or bad, is better than no publicity at all when it comes to building your base of fans and your base of detractors.

If, on the other hand, you want to show how ordinary Americans are preparing for the coming financial and social storms (which may or may not actually happen -- preparation is just an insurance policy), then direct all media inquiries to your Web site where the content can speak for itself. Responsible journalists will be grateful for the excellent resource on preparation they can share with the members of their audience.

Note that the above is free advice and you've paid exactly what my free advice is worth.

Unknown said...


nice to see a woman do the prepardness work and brings the mindset of survival to the kids.

Kids. When you consider the press + celebrity thing plus the option to make some money out of may want to consider the situation of your kids as well.

The payment better be good because your kids will only have disadvantages from media attention.

Idahoser said...

I sure am glad our founding fathers didn't keep that 'freedon' thing to themselves. Though we have been poor guardians, I'm still glad it was left to us.
If we had done our jobs better in educating people we wouldn't be having this problem now.
And no, you don't want to plan your defense around a .22 Mom. Work your way up and keep that .22 for all the great things it excels at. Defense is not one of them.

Chief Instructor said...

I teach emergency prep workshops and firearms training. I did a post on OpSec a few days ago:

A key, I believe, is that you gain no benefit by disclosing the amount or location of your preps, regardless of the size.

Teach people about prepping. Spread the word, so to speak. But don't disclose what you have or where it's located.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, getting people into prepping is a good idea...there are positive externalities (fewer desperate people, more people willing to band together as like-minded citizens against looters and thugs, etc.) that make the risks of disclosure less serious.

Perhaps get something in writing that requires them to keep your last name & location confidential for some length of time?

Anonymous said...

I would agree even more with Chief Instructor and somewhat disagree with you, Ferfal. I don't see any advantage that will accrue to the average person like survivalmom for discussing anything in the mass media. Putting herself online (as you do) is a courageous thing to do, IMHO, but I wouldn't go too far.

I was recently interviewed briefly on a local tv news station for a local benign topic and, despite asking me my name twice before I went on camera, they used the wrong name and ran the wrong name caption underneath me for the Evening News!

I like to keep a low profile when it comes to prepping.


Resident Author said...

Okay, so there is some risk in doing the interview, but what there are two good things that can come of it.

1. People may become aware that we live in a time of unprecedented risk. Things are far more fragile right now than governments or media is admitting.

2. A few may actually LISTEN and start prepping. Each prepper = a family that may not starve. People who won't be beating down your door for help. And for those who need a clear conscious you can feel good about spreading the word. If people didn't want to listen, they deserve the coming reality.

I believe these are greater than the risk provided locations/weapons/and plans are not revealed.

Unknown said...

So they don't look for food? Did they a year or two ago? Because I remember around that time, you said they did. You said thieves would torture people until they told where they had food hidden.