A Lesson In Self-Snitching

by comrade jane

Anna Kochakian, a 26 year old anarcho-communist and CDSA member, was arrested at her home on Feb 9, 2022 on the charge of criminal damage to property – defacement of the police memorial of Ella French, which is a class 4 felony. In fact, she was arrested using the handcuffs of French’s partner, Carlos Yanez, in some bizarre, revenge-esque type symbolism. The pigs were quite quick to publish a press release the same day she was arrested. She deserves every bit of defense she can get right now, and her being made an example of does not mean it’s her fault she was arrested, yet this instance still warrants its own analysis, particularly in that of self-snitching.

The first question we ought to ask ourselves is why are they arresting her now when the incident happened months ago? Well, pig Van Dyke was released early, Amir Locke was killed in Minneapolis and sparked an enormous protest, over 900 thousand people have died from covid, covid unemployment benefits ended in September of 2021, and most everyone is broke or sick. The conditions are gearing up to make this summer look like 2020’s, which is cause of great concern to pig departments all over the u.s..

When pigs make arrests like this, they are doing so with a larger political purpose in mind. Sure, they’re flexing their surveillance apparatuses, but what they want to do is make an example out of some leftist, and Kochakian happened to be the unlucky person they picked. But the why, is that they are aiming to strike fear into the hearts of other leftists and would-be revolutionaries over what is really, simply, crumpling up a photograph and throwing it away. Step out of line even slightly, and you’ll get your ass sent to prison–the message they’re sending is quite clear. What better time than close to summer! They wouldn’t want to lose another precinct, would they?

But there’s an additional effect here, in that it galvanizes the right. The right are losing it over the “justice” in using Yanez’s cuffs to arrest Kochakian like it’s some buddy-cop movie. Now, think of this, the right knows that they can get away with quite a bit. Rittenhouse walked free, the right rioted at the capitol and got away with it with mostly a slap on the wrist and some reactionary getting killed, northside nazis recently vandalized Jewish neighborhoods, Patriot Front started making a nation-wide propaganda run with an appearance in Chicago, reactionary militia groups are posting recruitment videos of themselves training, and more. They’re getting bolder, and they know the pigs ain’t gonna stop’em–too many recent examples to count. If they can get away with rioting at the capitol of all places and murder at a protest with little or even no consequences to their movement, then that sets a precedent, that’s for certain. And the left appears broadly unprepared for this or in denial of its reality.

Well, it’s (been) time to think far more seriously about security. Some are aware that there’s instagram live snitches, that one should cover up tattoos when going to an escalating protest, and some are aware of how somebody can snitch on themselves. But far fewer seem to be aware of how we protect the personal information of our comrades and ourselves.

Kochakian, unfortunately, made a very significant security mistake: she posted a video of the incident. Probably thinking nothing of it, really, it’s just a photograph, who cares, right? While it isn’t immediately obvious that this could get her arrested, and that she just snitched on herself, why’d she post the video in the first place?

She was clout-chasing, posted it for the approval and cheers of online strangers–such behavior remains a rather omnipresent problem amongst the left. It’ll put yourself and others at risk, it’s undisciplined and egoistic. This behavior is, in fact, a liability, a security risk. Now, ask yourself, would this have happened if she had never taken the video, much less posted it? In all likelihood, the risk she would’ve taken on would’ve been near-zero.

To be as clear as possible: you should never post about doing anything that could get the attention of pigs, because they will find something to charge you with. Maybe not right now, maybe not even in the next few months or even this year, but they will if they find your action to be politically useful to them. Does it create terror? Does this discourage others from engaging with these political groups? Does it quell resistance? Does it lock our enemy up in a legal battle, using up precious financial resources? Does it sow distrust, damage morale? Does this make their associates fearful of them, thinking they may become an informant?

Remember! Every arrest is part of a larger counterinsurgency strategy. This demonstrates, yet again, the sheer importance of good security practices. One mistake, filming a small act of resistance (as individualistic and clout-chasing as it was) and posting it to her public profile, suddenly her entire life has flipped upside down. She’s facing a felony charge, her “comrades” over at Midwest Socialist seem to be abandoning her by removing her writings from their website, and now her personal information is all over twitter and google not too long after her arrest.

It’s important to note that all of these social media websites share varying amounts of personal information, and together form a rather complete picture of a person. You can find out where they work, where they have worked, what they look like, their identifiable features, where they frequent, who their friends are, and you start to understand how easily somebody can be compromised just by having a public social media presence. If you’re really sharing that much about your life online, including your legal name, you are one quick search on whitepages away from somebody finding out where you live. The revolutionary’s goal needs to be anonymity, scrubbing as much of this information away as possible, engaging with the internet through creating degree after degree of separation from one’s true identity.

There’s a collection of essays that broadly lays out the deep need for secure practices called “So That We Don’t Fool Ourselves — Again: Study Notes On Secure Communication.” One quote which demonstrates this rather well is, “They know we’re coming. In fact, they know far too much about those of us already here. And, unless we grasp this fact, in all its implications, we’ll contaminate everything we touch, and expose everything we try to build.” If they know you’re a conscious individual engaging with other conscious individuals, they’re interested in what you’re doing, who your associates are, what places you go to, anything that they can get their hands on. They obviously can’t have every would-be revolutionary pinned down by 24/7 tails, that’d be logistically impossible, but that’s why they’ve got the internet, metadata, face & fingerprint ID, location services on your phone that you constantly opt into (which actually track your most frequented locations), etc. We offer up far too much information about ourselves, willingly.

One of the most important security principles is the “need to know.” Either don’t give any information at all, or only give enough. An example of the latter comes from the collection mentioned earlier, “A sister doing maintenance work at an office building is mopping the floor of one of the offices. An employee of the firm approaches the office, stops at the door upon seeing the wet floor, and asks, “Is that wax?” The sister says, “You can walk on it.””

Notice here, that she only gave exactly the amount of information necessary when asked the question, and understood what question the employee was really asking. She didn’t elaborate, she didn’t even say that it was waxxed. Clearly, the office worker just wanted to know whether or not they could walk over it to get into their office, and that’s the only answer given, ending the conversation quickly and having the employee think nothing of the interaction, probably even forgetting her face.

Good security practices mean would-be revolutionaries are able to sustain themselves in the long-term. This is gonna be a long fight, and there’s no reason to get arrested prematurely. Being able to prevent arrest means being able to grow alongside the masses we organize, hone our own skills and those of the masses, develop further our military doctrine, our command of theory, our combative capabilities, steel ourselves psychologically through struggle, and prepare for what is to be the long road of People’s War.

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