Operational security

This brief article deals mainly with a couple of ID and forensics issues. Other aspects of operational security are treated in Agent pay, Explanations for agent absence, Stopping leaks, and Friendlies, among other articles. This article is based primarily on Operational accountability discussion. See also the Joseph Camp letter of 31 July 1998, posted in the aforementioned discussion.

Identity management

This is based on an e-mail from Russell Rayburn, 2009-06-11, ordered by the power level of A Cell in your simulation.

Powerful A-Cell

  • Government IDs provided for agents are genuine. They were issued by the agency in question and are backed up by personnel records. Presume Friendlies were subverted at a high level. Fake IDs of this kind are “backstopped” in CIA jargon.1
  • Expenses are covered via US Government-sponsored American Express credit cards linked to the fake ID of each agent. Presume A-Cell gets the bill and pays all charges.
  • Health insurance is covered under existing plans for Federal employees (if apropos) under the same fake ID.

Average A-Cell

  • Government IDs appear genuine but there are no backing records. Calls to confirm the identity of the agents result in bureaucratic run-arounds at first and later criminal investigations. The source of the ID is blank documents stolen from various HR or Civil Service offices.
  • Expenses are covered via credit cards in fake names, hopefully linked to the fake ID. Presume regular charges are covered, but excessive spending may lead to default. A Cell may just decide credit card fraud is part of doing business in fighting the Mythos.
  • Health insurance is negligible; existing enrollee information is used for treatment. This fraud will be investigated in 1d6 weeks. As long as the agent has left the area, they should be untouchable.

Weak A-Cell

  • Government IDs are products of Adobe Photoshop. Good luck.
  • Expenses are covered via a roll of $100 bills, the currency of international crime. Tracing of the serial numbers will lead to incidents of theft from property rooms.
  • Health insurance is a blood-stained field surgical kit, a few rolls of kerlix bandages, antibiotics and morphine sulfate with syringes / needles.

Forensics and clean-up

Delta Green may have access to clean-up teams for removing evidence, or the agents do it themselves. This would include traceable bullets, but also things like the blood stains that give non-typable DNA, or seem to contain something else entirely. (Graeme Price)

On who does the cleaning

  • It seems that with so many possible sources of compromise within an op, DG agents are really at the mercy of those who are covering their tracks. More than a few NPCs the investigators depend on could in fact be double agents or moles planted by intelligence agencies, foreign and domestic, official and unofficial. A-Cell would have to run extensive background checks on all friendly cleaners, but you can never be too paranoid, so there's an incentive for agents doing their own cleaning. (Christian Klepac)
  • One person's career may ultimately mean nothing when the world is at stake. (G. Wyckoff)

On biological remains

  • A sample of untypable DNA from some "blood" substance from a crime scene would probably be dismissed as bacterial/chemical contamination or a shitty job by the people at the crime scene. (G. Wyckoff)

On weapons

  • DG might have a source of untracable weapons, or else the individal agents do. Agents might have been in a position to pick up "throw down" pieces during their investigations, military people might have weapons captured from enemies, or DG friendlies that work at an arms factory might have access to guns with no serial numbers or serial numbers which have not yet been registered. (G. Wyckoff)
  • If an agent has to use a service weapon without retrieving all the bullets, a well-placed friendly then reports the weapon stolen as of several weeks earlier. (Chris Strong)
  • The majority of illegal automatic weapons on the street today come into the country with the drug trade, or are stolen from National Guard armories. (Charles O. Baucum Jr.)
  • H&K P4 and P9 as well as the Tanfoglio 9mm have interchangeable barrels. You can get them and others at any gun show, leaving no record of the purchase. Also, there's (only) a rumor that the way H&K makes their rifling renders the bullet untraceable to a specific weapon; ballistics labs can tell immediately that the bullet was fired from an H&K weapon, but not which specific weapon. (Charles O. Baucum Jr.)
    • A hitman was arrested in Chicago in the early 1990s. He always used the same gun; he just changed barrels. When he was arrested they found a box full of new barrels in the place where he was staying. (Dhl9)
    • Most semi-autos and many revolvers have interchangeable barrels. They're assembled from identical parts. This includes the 1911A1. (Josh Shaw)

Plot hooks

Potential plot-hook: A cell sends the agents a credit card already overdrawn by some previous cell, and they try to pay for something in front of local law enforcement; or worse, their use of it triggers a visit by a debt collector, or even the Secret Service (wire and currency fraud, right?) at just the wrong moment…

Plot-hook 2: a few papers are mis-filed, and local law enforcement thinks that the cover identities have arrived to investigate some OTHER crime - the cell don't dare protest the misassignment in case the locals start hitting the phones to double-check, so they have to solve the unrelated(?) crime AND the DG case at once…

Plot-hook 3: in their real identities and day jobs, the cell gets contacted to do the research and pull the strings (eg how many blue cars purchased in Chesterfield, fingerprints, etc) for some other cell - the requests from the other cell point to something which the other cell and A cell don't seem to have noticed, and they are (from your cell's POV) going down the wrong track; since A cell frowns on direct cell-to-cell contact, do you jeopardize security to intervene, or watch from a distance as the disaster unfolds?2

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