© Copyright 2005 Kurt Snyder
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Now, it was February of 1999. I tried to think of many reasons why the surveillance would have continued for more than a year. I thought, "Perhaps they still think I am paranoid?" I tried to look for signs that THEY were testing me to see whether I was paranoid or not. I noticed some things that seemed to indicate that was exactly what they were doing. One day, I came out to my truck in the morning, and I found the doors unlocked. There was a ribbon sitting in the passenger's seat. I had never seen the ribbon before. I was pretty sure that I did not put it there, and I was also sure that I had locked my truck the night before. Nothing in the truck seemed to be missing. I thought this was very strange. I blamed the incident on THEM. THEY had opened my truck and placed the ribbon there to see how I would react. A few weeks later, a similar event occurred. I came out to my truck one day and found a little doll in the passenger's seat. It was a Barbie doll, or something similar. This time, I was absolutely sure that I did not leave this object there. I certainly did not own a doll. I once again blamed this incident on THEM. However, I reacted differently this time. I realized that they now had access to my truck anytime they wanted it. I was worried that they could plant some type of evidence in my truck and that I could be connected with a crime of some sort.
I went to the police station to talk with one of the officers and get their opinion. The officer that talked to me, a woman, said that maybe it was a little neighborhood girl who had a crush on me, maybe she had put the doll there. She suggested that I forget about it. After I got home, I began to think about her suggestion, and I decided that I was worrying too much about it. I thought I needed to counteract my fears. I decided that if THEY really wanted to do anything malicious to me, they would have done it already, and putting a doll in my truck was actually a very benign act. One thing was clear to me--THEY were playing games. I decided that in the future, I would leave the doors to my truck unlocked while it was in my driveway. That way, THEY could know that I didn't care about their games. In addition to my truck, I also owned a work van full of equipment and tools. I still kept this one locked. These incidents taught me to be alert for other 'Paranoia Tests'.
Shortly after this incident, the security chief at Iridium, Bill, asked me one day "Which way do you drive to get home from work?" I proceeded to tell him the route I usually took to go home. Honestly though, I took several different routes home depending on the traffic. The following week, he asked me the same question again--"How do you drive to get home from work?" I told him again the route I normally take. Then, a few weeks later, he asked me the same question for a third time. This time, I told him I go different ways depending on the traffic. I thought it was extremely odd that he asked me this same question three times in a month. I thought for sure the questions were tests to see if I was paranoid.
Bob, my current boss at Iridium, also started asking me what I thought was a strange question. Every time I would call him at Iridium from somewhere outside the building, he would immediately ask, "WHERE ARE YOU?". He would say this very emphatically, almost demanding an answer from me. I would tell him, and then we would have a normal conversation, usually about my work schedule. The funny thing is, he would ask me this question immediately, every time I called. I thought this was another test for paranoia. But, these questions didn't bother me at all. This 'Evidence' seemed to indicate to me that THEY were still wondering whether I was paranoid. It also seemed to indicate to me that Bob (my boss), Bill (the security director), and THEM (the surveillance team) were somehow working together.
I still wondered why the surveillance would have continued for so long. After all, conducting surveillance must be extremely expensive. Why would they spend all this money on one person? If they were only interested in finding out if I was paranoid, I was sure they would have collected enough information to make a decision months ago. If they had any doubt about this, why wouldn't they just cancel my contract? I thought, "That must not be the only reason for the surveillance. There must be another reason. Perhaps they are wondering about my work with Fractals."
I often went online to try to learn new things about Fractals. However, I never found what I was looking for. I never found enough material about the mathematics of Fractals. The only information I ever found was very basic beginner level mathematics. At the same time I searched for information on Fractals, I would also often search the Internet for information about encryption. I had some ideas about using iterative formulas to encrypt information. This was tangentially related to Fractals. I thought, "If the intelligence community was conducting cyber-surveillance on me, they might have noticed that I was interested in encryption." This assumes that they were specifically tracking my online activities. I thought maybe they were wondering whether I had devised a new method of encryption. The intelligence community might be interested in that. This might encourage them to continue surveillance on me. I thought to myself that maybe I was a genius, and I was actually going to develop some incredible mathematical theory combining ideas on fractals, encryption, and the growth of organic forms. I had already picked out a name for it. "Formation Theory". I was having grandiose thoughts. I was projecting my own thoughts onto THEM. "Maybe they think I might be a genius. Maybe they think I have developed a new revolutionary theory. Maybe that's why they are still observing me."
Sometime in the spring of 1999, I began hearing clicking noises while I was on the telephone at my apartment. I only heard these noises on that line. I never heard the noises on my cell phone, or any other phone. They sounded like someone else was picking up another phone. They would happen quite often during a conversation, perhaps three times a minute. It also seemed like I could hear them only on my end. No one I talked to heard them on their end. I wondered what might be causing the noises. I thought it might be from some device that tapped my phone. At the same time, I wondered, "Why would anybody use a tap that would give an indication that it was being used? Certainly a good spy would not use a tap that caused noise on the line that was tapped." These clicking noises continued for several months.
I also started to wonder about people I saw in various places. While I was at the store, I would notice people in the same aisle as myself, and I would wonder, "Is that guy observing me? Is he with the surveillance project?" I would think this especially when I saw someone who was not buying anything. If they were just browsing, I would be particularly suspicious of them. On one particular day, while I was at the Home Depot closest to Iridium, I saw a guy doing just that. I was wondering "Is that guy observing me?" I decided to alleviate some of my concerns by talking to him. "Hey, can I help you with anything? I come here all the time. I run my own handyman service." "No thanks, I actually run my own company too. We install shades and blinds. My name's Brian." We talked a little bit more, and I told him about my contract with Iridium. He seemed very interested in what I was doing at Iridium. I gave him my business card. He did not give me his card. I left feeling a little more relaxed.
At Iridium, because of my close work with Bob, my anxieties were decreasing, my confidence was increasing, and I felt I was doing a better job overall. Bob was a great manager. But, I still felt and thought that I was being monitored all the time, and it was causing me a lot of mental stress. I desperately wanted to decrease this stress. The obvious 'solution' in my mind was to get the monitoring to stop. Of course, I never realized it would not stop. I never realized that it would continue perpetually because it only existed in my mind. I never wanted to talk to the security chief directly (at least not to initiate a discussion about surveillance), because although I was 95% sure it was happening to me, there was still that remaining 5% doubt. I decided that I would talk to him after I was 100% sure it was true. I would prove it was happening to me first. I decided I would find the tracking device that was located on my truck.
Where would I find the tracking device? Obviously, it was located somewhere that any normal inspection would not detect. What if I had gone to a repair shop and the mechanic working on my truck noticed it? That wouldn't happen. THEY would hide it somewhere out of plain site, somewhere it would be difficult to find. However, they would be taking a risk that they might be discovered while planting it on my truck, so they would choose a place where they could plant it quickly, and get away quickly. They would do it in such a way that it required a minimal amount of time. Perhaps they would choose a particular part of the car that they could change with minimal effort, replacing the original part with a replacement part that also has a tracking device in it. Or, they would place it somewhere that was unlikely to be inspected, like the inside of a door, or the underside of a seat. In any case, I thought the search would take all day, maybe several days. I had to use the truck often, so any search had to be completed within one day. I couldn't do it myself. I needed help. I decided to ask two of my best friends to help me. We would tear that truck apart until we found the tracking device.
Expecting them to be reluctant to help me if they knew what it was about, I decided I would get a commitment from my friends before we got to work. I called my friends on the phone and I told them that I needed their help for a whole day sometime in the next few weeks. I said I could not tell them exactly what we were doing until that day. The main reason I did not tell them what we would be doing was because I didn't want THEM to know. If THEY knew, THEY might remove the device ahead of time. I told my friends I would choose the exact day around their schedules. I told them what we were going to be doing would be difficult, that it might seem unnecessary, but that it was very important to me, and I reminded them that I had never asked them for a specific favor before. I was counting on their help. One of my friends asked, "Is this going to involve guns or explosives? Are we going to rob a bank?" He was joking, but I said "NO. THIS IS NOT GOING TO INVOLVE GUNS OR EXPLOSIVES. We won't be doing anything illegal. Will you help me?" "Yes."
Both of my friends had pledged to help me. Because I had these conversations over the phone, I was sure THEY would know I was planning something, but THEY couldn't know what it was. I scheduled the important day a week ahead of time. It happened to be one of the same days I was scheduled to work at Iridium. I waited until that morning to contact my boss, Bob, however. I called him at about the same time I would normally get to work. The conversation went something like this:
"Hello, this is Bob".
"Hey, Bob, this is Kurt"
"You're not coming in today are you?"
"No, I'm not."
"Boy. I'm disappointed in you. Okay. Do what you have to do. I hope whatever you're doing today is important. When are you coming in then?"
"Friday, I'll be in on Friday".
I thought from his immediate reaction, that Bob already knew ahead of time that I probably wouldn't be at work. Once again, this seemed to indicate to me that he was getting information from THEM.
I still had a few more hours before I told my friends to be ready. I took the time to think about what we were going to do. I thought, "What am I looking for exactly?" I didn't know what a tracking device would look like. Probably it would have some power source, like a small battery, or perhaps it was connected to the electrical system of my truck. What if I actually found something? What would that mean to me? I still wouldn't know who exactly was following me. I could go talk to Bill, but he could simply say he knew nothing about it. I couldn't see how discovering the device would improve my working conditions, or my mental state. I couldn't see how finding the device would make me less anxious at work. It would only make me more anxious. At the last minute, I decided that instead of looking for a device, it would be better if I simply stopped thinking about surveillance altogether. I should focus my energies on making these worries and my anxiety evaporate. I called my friends and told them to forget about helping me. I cancelled the project.
A month or two later, I got a call at my apartment one morning.
"Hey, this is Brian. Do you remember me?"
"Yeah, from Home Depot, yeah I remember you. You install shades and blinds, right?"
"Yes. I'm calling because I might have an opportunity you might be interested in." "Great. What is it?"
"I was wondering if you might want to go to work for my company?".
I couldn't see myself simply hanging blinds and shades all day, so I said:
"Well, I'm pretty comfortable working for myself right now."
"I could offer you a salary up to fifty thousand dollars".
"Wow. How do you earn that much money hanging blinds and shades?"
"We have contracts with the FBI and CIA. I would want you to work there."
"Really? Don't they have their own people to do that stuff?"
"Not really, they have contractors who do maintenance work for them."
"Well, my long term plan is to continue building my own business, by myself. I don't really want to go to work for another company at this point. However, I have a guy who has been working with me part time for over a year. He's a great worker. I'm sure he would be interested."
"Has he ever been involved with drugs, or other criminal activity?"
"Actually, yes, he had a drug problem a few years ago but he's been clean for more than three years. I've never had a problem with him since he's worked for me."
"That doesn't matter. He wouldn't be a candidate. We need people that can pass a security clearance. I thought you might be a good candidate."
"That's too bad. Sorry I couldn't help you."
Hmm. FBI, CIA. I thought it was very unusual that this guy, who I originally thought might be observing me, would be calling me to discuss a possible opportunity at the CIA. Hmm. The very next day, I was talking with my neighbor Alfred. He lived downstairs below my apartment. He was from Russia. He had emigrated with his family one or two years earlier. We were talking about his various experiences in the United States. I was asking him some questions about the differences between government in the USA and Russia. He mentioned to me that he had recently been visited by the CIA. Two agents had come to his apartment and asked him many questions. He told me that they were especially interested in the last job he had in Russia. Alfred had previously worked in the defense industry in Russia. He said one of the agents spoke fluent Russian. They asked him many questions about who he had worked with, what were the names of his coworkers, what jobs did they perform, etc... He also told me that they already seemed to know the names of many of his previous coworkers. I wondered whether I had been under surveillance by the CIA because I was living in close proximity to Alfred. I wondered whether Brian from 'Home Depot' had communicated with the CIA about me prior to calling the day before. Would he have gotten approval from them?
© Copyright 2005 Kurt Snyder
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