Quotes from Michael about how spies operate

Season 1 Episode 1 Edit

"Covert intelligence involves a lot of waiting around. Know what it's like being a spy? Like sitting at your dentist's reception area 24 hours a day. You read magazines, sip coffee, and ever so often, someone tries to kill you."

"What do you say to them, "No"? Explain that a lot of spies don't work directly for the CIA? A lot of good that'll do."

"Sometimes, the truth hurts. In these situations, I recommend lying."

"In a fight, you have to be careful not to break the little bones in your hand on someone's face. That's why I like bathrooms. Lots of hard surfaces."

"Southern Nigeria isn't my favorite place in the world. It's unstable, it's corrupt, and the people there eat a lot of terrible smelling preserved fish. I will say this for Nigeria though... It's the gun running capital of Africa, and that makes it a bad place to drive a passenger sedan into a crowded market."

"If you're gonna collapse on a plane, I recommend business class. The seats are bigger if you start convulsing, although once you pass really doesn't matter."

"Most people would be thrilled to be dumped in Miami. Sadly, I am not most people. Spend a few years as a covert operative and a sunny beach just looks like a vulnerable tactical position with no decent cover. I've never found a good way to hide a gun in a bathing suit."

"When a spy gets fired, he doesn't get a call from the lady in HR and a gold watch. They cut him off. They make sure he can never work again. They can't take away his skills or what's in his head, so they take away the resources that allow him to function. They burn him."

"When you're being watched, what you need is contrast: A background that will make the surveillance stand out. An FBI field office is full of guys in their forties. At most South Beach business hotels, it would be tough to tell which middle aged white guy was watching you, so you stay in the place where everyone is a Jell-O shot away from alcohol poisoning. If you see someone who can walk a straight line, that's the fed."

"Need to go some place you're not wanted? Any uniform store will sell you a messenger outfit And any messenger can get past a security desk."

"With this much money, things get complicated. Change a lightbulb in a place like this, and a week later you're on a speedboat in the Cayman Islands with someone shooting at you."

"My mom would have been a great NSA communications operative. Drop me in the middle of the Gobi Desert. Bury me in a goddamn cave on the moon. And somehow, she'd find a way to call me and ask me for a favor."

"I don't like stealing cars, but sometimes it's necessary. I have rules, though. I'll keep it clean, and if I take your car on a workday, I'll have it back by five."

"Figuring out if a car is tailing you is mostly about driving like you're an idiot. You speed up, slow down, signal one way, turn the other. Of course, ideally, you're doing this without your mother in the car. Actually, losing a tail isn't about driving fast. A high speed pursuit is just gonna land you on the six-o'clock news. So you just keep driving like an idiot until the other guy makes a mistake. Again, all of this is easier without a passenger yelling at you for missing a decade's worth of Thanksgivings."

"Sleep through an aerial bombing or two, and noise isn't an issue. You just need some privacy and a bed. In a pinch, you can lose the bed. But the privacy is important for projects like this one. With everyone x-raying and chemical testing their mail these days, a box of wire and pipe and batteries sprinkled with chemical fertilizer is a great attention getter."

"Whether you're a coke dealer, a thief, an arms dealer, or a spy, you need someone to clean your money, which makes a good money launderer the closest thing you can get to a Yellow Pages for criminals. Even better, a money launderer will always take your phone call, burn notice or no burn notice."

"Doesn't matter how much training you have. A broken rib is a broken rib."

"I never run around in the bushes in a ski mask when I'm breaking in some place. Somebody catches you, what are you gonna say? You wanna look like a legitimate visitor until the very last minute. If you can't look legit, confused works almost as well. Maybe you get a soda from the fridge or a yogurt. If you're caught, you just act confused and apologize like crazy for taking the yogurt, nothing could be more innocent."

"Cracking an old school safe is pretty tough, but modern high-tech security makes it much easier. Thing is, nobody wipes off a fingerprint scanner after they use it, so what's left on the scanner nine times out of ten is a fingerprint."

"Fighting for the little guy is for suckers. We all do it once in awhile, but the trick is to get in and out quickly without getting involved. That's one trick I never really mastered."

"Powerful people don't like being pushed around. You can never quite predict what they're going to do, or have their washed out Special Forces security guys do. Point is, blackmail is a little like owning a pitbull. It might protect you, or it might bite your hand off. That's why it pays to make sure you know what they're thinking, and that means eavesdropping."

"To build a listening device, you need a crappy phone with a mic that picks up everything, but you want the battery power and circuits of a better phone. It's a trick you learn when the purchasing office won't spring for a bug."

"Once somebody sends a guy with a gun after you, things are only going to get worse. But like it or not, you've got work to do. For a job like getting rid of a drug dealer next door, I'll take a hardware store over a gun any day. Guns make you stupid. Better to fight your wars with duct tape. Duct tape makes you smart. Every decent punk has a bullet proof door, but people forget walls are just plaster. Hopefully you get him with the first shot, or the second. Now he's down and waiting for you to come through the front door; so you don't come through the front door."

"People with happy families don't become spies. A bad childhood is the perfect background for covert ops. You don't trust anyone, you're used to getting smacked around, and you never get homesick."

"Thirty years of karate, combat experience on five continents, a rating with every weapon that shoots a bullet or holds an edge; still haven't found any defense against Mom crying into my shirt."

"Airbags save a lot of lives, but they also put you out long enough to get your hands cable-tied to the steering wheel."

"When you work solo it's about preparing the ground. Home court advantage counts for a lot. You never know what's going to happen. You prepare for everything. Most bad guys expect you to just sit there and wait for them like those are the rules or something."

"If you're going to put prints on a gun, sticking it into somebody's hand isn't going to do it. Any decent lawyer can explain prints on a gun. But try explaining prints on the inside of the trigger assembly."

"As a spy, it doesn't matter if you're helping rebel forces fight off a dictator, or giving combat tips to a third-grader. There's nothing like helping the little guy kick some bully's ass."

"There's nothing worse for a spook than knowing you're being played. Someone is pulling strings. Who? Not some intelligence agency bureaucrat in a cubicle. This is someone with more style. Not FBI either, they're not this creative and they don't do surveillance on their own guys. This is someone who knows what they're doing; someone who wants to send a message: Welcome to Miami."

Season 1, Episode 2 Edit

"A surveillance photo can tell you a lot about the photographer. Surveillance takes planning. You have to scout the area. You need a place to sit and wait for an hour...or ten. You need to take a leak now and then. Lots of chances to get seen."

"You can't choose your intelligence sources. Might be a heroin smuggler, a dictator, or your mom."

"My mother's understanding of my career changes with what she wants from me. One day, she can name everyone on the National Security Council; the next day, she thinks I work for the Post Office."

"Not all bugs are the same. If it's got a battery, it's disposable, short-term. If it's wired into the house power, it's a longer-term bug. If it has a transmitter, you can figure out how close the listener is. Once your surveillance knows you're onto them, the clock starts ticking. They know you're coming, so the question for them is whether they can destroy their equipment and get out of there in time. The question for you is whether you can find them before every bit of useful information is turned into a pile of burning slag."

"There's a reason spies don't have a lot of parties. Everybody's got a history with everyone else."

"Often, the best way to get intel is to provoke action, set people in motion. Pros know better, but they usually have to work with a few amateurs, and they panic. So you beat the bushes a little and see what flies out. Once you're frightened amateur leads you to the pros, the work begins."

"Con artists and spies are both professional liars. Cons do it for the money, and spies do it for the flag, but it's mostly the same gig. They run operations, they follow security procedures, they recruit support staff and issue orders."

"When you go after a spy, you send another spy. The same goes for con artists. To catch one, you've got to beat him at his own game, be a better liar than he is. No matter how good your cover identity is, you've gotta sell it, and that's not always easy. Sometimes you have to decide just how committed you are to pretending you are who you say you are. I don't like running from cops, but it has it's advantages. It builds your credibility with a criminal when you flee a crime scene."

"Eavesdropping and field work go hand-in-hand. You wanna know what your target is saying and what he's typing into his computer, but technology can't work miracles. Bugs don't plant themselves. The fact is, even the fanciest equipment usually needs good help from a good, old-fashioned crowbar."

"It's always useful to be able to disable a car remotely. A cellphone, some wire - you can ground the circuit on the electrical system with a phone call."

"A good cover identity keeps the target feeling in control. You talk too much, drink too much, just to let him know he's got the edge."

"Go after a group of people directly, and they pull together, they get stronger. Taking out a tight-knit group is about making them turn on each other. Plant the seeds of distrust and watch them grow. Of course, sowing seeds of distrust is harder when nobody trusts you."

"Sometimes a great plan comes together just a little bit too early."

"You've been in business way too long when you recognize the sound of a .45 caliber over the phone."

"That's what happens when you wire a cell phone to a blasting cap in the gas tank instead of the electrical system."

"Whether you're in Moscow, Tehran, or Miami, club girls are a good source of information. Men say things to a beautiful woman. They give out phone numbers, hotel keys. They let down their guard. Getting information from a club girl means buying drinks. It's non-problem with an operational slush fund. It's a big problem if you're spending cash scrounged from your mom's purse."

"A hit man is like a plumber, a dentist, or a mechanic. Everybody's always looking for a good one."

"I don't much like dealing with paranoids. They get erratic, make bad decisions. Of course, that could be a big help when you need them to make a bad decision."

"Truth is, identity theft isn't hard. A number and an ID is all you need to drain a bank account and return a lot of money to some very surprised retirees. But why stop there? As long as you're stealing someone's identity, why not use it to contact some known terrorist organizations on unsecured phone lines? Why not use it to threaten some local judges and insult the local drug cartel? Most fun I've had in Miami."

Season 1, Episode 3 Edit

"International conferences attract spies for the same reason hotel bars attract hookers. You can do business and drink for free. Any high-security function is going to have a lot of oversight, a lot of meetings, a lot of bureaucrats checking up on each other. In all the confusion of the big event, it's easy for another bureaucrat to up. The important thing is to disappear before people can ask questions. If they do decide to ask questions, you just have to hope you're in a building with lots of hallways, a good service basement, and plenty of exits. But in the end, sometimes making an escape is just about being willing to do what the guy chasing you won't. Like jump off a building."

"Asking my mom for anything is a lot like getting a favor from a Russian mob boss. They'll give you what you want with a smile, but, believe me, you'll pay for it."

"My father's approach to machinery was similar to his approach to his family. If you don't like how something works, keep banging on it 'til it does what you want. If something doesn't fit, force it. And above all, make sure it looks good on the outside."

"Convincing a bully to back down is usually just a matter of showing you're not afraid of him. Of course, some bullies have guys with .357 magnums. Then you change tactics."

"When faced with superior force, you can do two things. You can retreat quietly, or you can attack with as much fanfare as possible."

"Outfitting a safe house is about two things. You need to know if someone's coming, and you need to know how the folks you're protecting are going to get out of there if they do. If you can't be on babysitting duty all the time, you need to make sure that you know the minute something's wrong. A thirty-five-dollar outdoor floodlight has a decent motion detector on it. Wire that to a cell-phone, and you've got a remote alarm system that will call you if there's trouble."

"I love commuters. Anybody who drives the same route to work every day, it's like they're doing all the work for you, and a punctual commuter, a guy who's in the same place every morning at 8:36 AM, it's almost too easy."

"Threaten any serious criminal organization, and they're going to do one of two things. They'll send someone to make a deal... Or they'll send someone to make a corpse. Either way, you've got something to work with."

"When you go on the run, the first thing you do is lay down tracks in the opposite direction.}

[As she walks, two Colombians watch her from inside a car. One of them answers his cell phone.]

{But that only works if the bad guys find the trail and believe it's for real, which means selling it. You need to put on a little show, make them feel clever. When you make somebody work to get a piece of information, he'll believe it that much more because it's hard to get."

"Approaching a spy in the middle of a job gives you a lot of leverage. They're playing a delicate game, and the last thing they want is someone coming in and smashing their delicate game with a brick."

"Basic rule of bodyguarding - never fight with the protectee around, mostly, because if they happen to catch a stray bullet, you just lost your job."

"Modern technology has made it possible to do sophisticated electronic surveillance with stuff from your local electronics store. It sounds more fun than it is."

"Faking surveillance video has come a long way. It used to be you'd spend days slaving over a VHS tape with a razor blade. Now it's a few hours and a computer."

"A drug cartel is a business. If killing a witness to protect a valued employee from jail time is the best way to keep making money, they'll do that. If it looks like that employee is testifying to the FBI, though, they're just as happy to leave the witness alone and take care of the problem another way."

"An alphanumeric tracking code and a special-access program code name. It's not much, but it's a start."

Season 1, Episode 4 Edit

"You wanna blend into a new city? You'd better be up on local sports."

"Covert ops has its perks; you travel, make your own hours, and expense most of ur meals. The downside? Lots of people want you dead. If it looks like you're about to get into a fight that could get you killed, try starting another one."

"When booby-trapping your home, it's important to keep it simple; make it easy to setup, easy to disable. One more thing about booby-traps, make sure your friends know not to drop by unannounced."

"You can learn good self-defense fighting with students in a class. But great self defense, that you pick up fighting with your family."

"Spies go to bars for the same reason people go to libraries: full of information, if you know how to ask."

"The key to a good knife-defense is to control the knife hand and strike with everything you've got. Fighting is often about tactical retreats, like running away from two knives. It's also about knowing how to make the body count unacceptable."

"Pimps are all about show, high-end or low-end they like to make a show."

"Any good operative is careful not to leave much behind. Everyone gets careless though, and even the littlest things can turn out to be useful. A receipt, a paperback, room service records, every bit helps."

"A rescue attempt is hard enough when it's someone who actually wants to be rescued. It doesn't matter if it's a brother with a compulsive gambling problem, or a girl who thinks she's about to launch a modeling career. So you eliminate escape options, keep a low profile, but no matter what you do, you'll still have someone screaming bloody murder in the back of your car."

"Some situations just come down to probabilities. The chance that an assassin with a handgun can hit you at fifty yards, the number of shots he can get off. You might have a one-in-five chance of taking a bullet, maybe a one-in-ten chance of dying. Or a hundred percent chance of getting blown away by a shotgun wired to a door."

"A ricochet is usually not deadly, but it sure feels that way."

"Any decent criminal will change his plans at the mention of the word 'cops'."

"Spend a little time in countries without hospitals, you pick up a few things."

"Running an operation, you can't let personal feelings get in the way. It's about planning and execution, not about being angry. Although occasionally, you may get a little angry."

"There's a reason family is always a good source of leverage. Whether it's a brother that always owes people money, or a brother stuck in the trunk of a car, you can't really turn your back on them."

"The drive home is often a grueling experience for someone you just rescued. Especially if they were unaware of their situation. They ask you a lot of questions, you give them a lot of answers. And then it dawns on them: the truth. It can be a little overwhelming."

Season 1, Episode 5 Edit

"There's a good reason covert operatives keep their work a secret from their families. Once your family knows what you do, you've got problems. Best case, they're scared. Worst case, they figure they can get into trouble and you'll get them out of it."

"In gathering intel, little things can tell you a lot; a top flight alarm system, well-placed cameras without blind spots, paying attention to strangers in the area. More aggressive intelligence gathering is more delicate; but someone who knows what to look for can find out a lot. If you know what to look for, a bunch of little things can tell you all you need to know."

"One cheap and effective security measure is working in an area with low or no traffic. Anyone in a car is too obvious, so you force any would-be followers to get out and walk."

"Fighting is something you wanna avoid, once you fight someone he knows your face. You kind of blow your cover when you hit a guy with a piece of rebar; but when you have no choice, rebar it is."

"When you want to turn someone into an asset, get him to betray the people he loves, you have to get to know him. You need to know his frustrations. You need to know how he spends his time and money. You need to understand his hopes and dreams."

"C4 has a plastic sheen and a putty-like consistency. If you need to counterfeit it, the best thing I've found is cake icing, or fondant, as it is known in the baking trade. If you need a moldable explosive that makes a bang, someone with Fiona's skills can make homemade C4 with spackle, petroleum jelly, and a bunch of other things I don't even wanna know about."

"You ever meet someone and it just seems to click instantly? You like the same things, share the same opinions, it seems like you've known them all your life. It could be fate, or it could be you have a listening device planted under the dashboard of your car."

"You'd be surprised how often covert operatives pose as international men of mystery. Fantasies about glamorous covert ops can be extremely useful to exploit, though some secret agent fantasies are more useful than others."

"Anybody in the arms trade knows that the mark of a pro is the blow and burn, a detonator on whatever you're selling in case the deal goes bad."

"Dealing with a blown cover is about stalling for time. Stay alive long enough to figure out what they know, and tell a bigger lie to save yourself."

"Riding in a car with a blindfold on takes getting used to. The good new is that the driver's busy making sure you can't see anything, he's not paying attention to whether or not he's being followed."

"Any good operative is gonna be a bit of a control-freak. Above-all, they don't wanna hear that the people they think they own, really belong to someone who can destroy them."

"There's nothing worse for anyone who spent time in intelligence work, than being up against a ghost. You can deal with an enemy you know, but an enemy you don't know? He could be a competitor who knows all about your operation. Could be law enforcement getting ready to bust you. Could be a foreign agent setting you up in some deep spy game. Your only option, is to disappear."

Season 1, Episode 6 Edit

"For most people, a night out at Miami clubs is a chance to see and be seen. When you're under government surveillance, it's a different story. You still wanna know who's watching you, but the reasons are a little different. Sprinkle a mixture of flour and day-glo powder on your floor before you go out, and you'll know whether you've had any visitors and what they were after. You don't always have to get that clever though, sometimes they want you to know what they're up to."

"There are two kinds of government surveillance, the kind that's there to look for something, and the kind that's just there to make your life difficult."

"You can tie up a lot of resources by keeping a bugged phone line open, as long as it's open they're supposed to keep listening. Say a few cryptic things now and then, and they'll be stuck in their little van trying to figure out what the hell you're doing. They can't go home, can't grab a bite to eat, can't take a leak. And the longer they're stuck in a van with a set of headphones, the more you can find out about them."

"As a rule, spies don't like dealing with cops. 'Covert ops' are illegal by definition, if they were legal they wouldn't need to be covert. Still, the police can be useful if you need a little insurance against people shooting."

"When you're going into a meeting cold with people you know nothing about, you have to be extra careful. Pay attention to every detail, map out an escape route or two just in case, and never ever show up as yourself. Another thing you should look for is people who look overly upset that things have changed, details that shouldn't matter so much. Some tip-offs aren't so subtle, like a detonator to incinerate a city-block."

"You can turn an old TV into an oscilloscope with about a hundred and fifty dollars worth of hardware. It'll electrocute you if you're not careful, but it makes a decent bug-detector. If you don't wanna tip off anyone who might be listening, you have to be prepared to keep talking for a few hours. Of course when you have to keep talking, it's an opportunity for someone to hijack the conversation for their own purposes."

"The optical bug is a high-tech toy that shoots a light beam at a window, picks up vibrations from the glass, and translates it into speech. Can't see the beam with the naked eye, but take the infrared filter off a digital camera and it shows up nicely. As high-tech as a laser mic is, they're not hard to defeat; they pick up vibrations on the glass, so you supply your own vibrations."

"When working a cover identity the safest thing to do is let the target take the lead. You've got more information than he does; you want to keep that edge."

"Anyone with a security clearance is going to know not to leave anything in a hotel room. They'll keep the important stuff with them. Usually it'll be in a secure laptop with a few layers of encryption, means you can't break into it. But if you're just looking to make somebody angry, you don't need to break into it; put a big enough magnet where the laptop is going to be, and you can turn it into an expensive paperweight."

"Doctor's are well-known to be the worst patients. Similarly, anyone with special-ops training is tough to protect; they think they can handle anything."

"When something serious is going down, it's a good idea to show up nice and early so you can see the ground and assess the situation."

"When enough people hate you, sometimes the only move is to stand in the middle and hope they kill each other before they kill you. Anyone who's ever handled large amounts of cash can tell you it's one of the toughest things in the world to move; it's heavy and dense, dead weight. If it's on fire, of course, that complicates things further."

"Getting information out of someone who doesn't wanna give it up is all about upsetting the target's emotional balance, impairing their judgment. Fear is good for that; anger's not bad either."

"Sometimes intelligence gathering involves sophisticated techniques and a lot of high-tech equipment, but sometimes it's as simple as picking someone's pocket."

Season 1, Episode 7 Edit

"For anyone who works in covert ops, names have a special power. Knowing someone's real name, who they work for, you've got something on them. Out a spy in the field and you could get him killed; out a bureaucrat in a restaurant, and you'll just piss him off."

"The longer you run from the police, the more certain you are to get caught. There's a small window of time after a chase begins before backup arrives, before helicopters are deployed. If you want any chance of getting away, you'd best use this time to find someplace secluded...and bail out."

"In intelligence work, surveillance is called 'coverage'. It's like basketball, you can run zone defense or man to man. Man to man's risky, follow someone too long they're going to get suspicious. Zone is usually the way to go; stay put and let targets come to you. Less obvious, easier on the feet, and you can catch up on your celebrity gossip."

"Explaining the rules of covert ops is always a challenge. It's a world where good guys look like bad guys, and two wrongs do, in fact, make a right."

"As cover ID's go, I prefer rich business man or international playboy to crazy thief. But if the situation calls for it, you do what you have to do."

"the term 'shock and awe' gets misused a lot these days. It's a popular name for a military tactic known as rapid dominance. Whether you do it with a thousand pound bomb or a can of turpentine and a power drill, it's all about being spectacular. Kill the electronic brain of any late model car, and it's dead, won't start, the windows won't open. Then you can pretty much do whatever you want."

"Piss off a criminal organization and you could end up dead. But if they don't kill you they've got plans for you."

"There's no substitution for improvisation. Even the best plans can't anticipate everything. You'd better be able to roll with the punches."

"They say you only get one chance to make a first impression with an employer. Doesn't matter if you're a store manager or a strong-arm guy, you've got to put your best foot forward."

"Any new employer is looking for the same things. Are you willing to go the extra mile? Can you take the initiative? Impress them."

"In any new job, there's always friction with your coworkers; they're wondering if the boss likes the new guy better, if you're going to make them look bad. In some jobs, that can get you a dark look in the break room, in others it can get you a bullet in the back of the head."

"Military fire bombs are typically white phosphorous or chlorine tri-fluoride, these are remarkably effective but they're also unstable, lethally toxic, and hard to find at the grocery store. The main ingredient in a homemade fire bomb, on the other hand, is Styrofoam. A military demolitions expert can put something together in a few hours; an IRA trained guerrilla can do it in twenty minutes...give or take."

"Being a spy you have to get comfortable with people doing bad things for good reasons, doing good things for bad reasons. You do the best you can."

"In any kind of covert intelligence operation, it's important to be careful what you wish for. The information that you fight so hard to get may be everything you wished for or, it may just make your life more complicated."

Season 2, Episode 6 Edit

"One of the reasons surveillance is done in teams is that it's exhausting. Sitting in a car remaining constantly alert while you watch a mailbox will knock you out like a handful of sleeping pills. Doing it in shifts, is the only way to make sure you don't miss something."

"Tailing a trained operative requires a number of time-consuming preparations. Everything from acquiring a vehicle they can't recognize or trace, to familiarizing yourself with all the local traffic patterns. Of course since you can never be sure who's a trained op, there's always a chance you'll take all those precautions just to follow a secretary back to her cubicle."

"Covert security is designed to blend in; people you never notice, until you see them in action. That means you have two choices: you can either sit and wait for an incident to occur, or you can create one."

"Criminal hide-outs tend to be pretty nondescript. Underground caves and spooky old mansions are dramatic, but a boathouse in the keys is easier to find."

"When you're looking to get somebody arrested, bad guys can't always be counted on to commit crimes on your schedule. Sometimes you have to give them a little push. Once you've got a crime in progress, you can let the authorities take over. That assumes, of course, that the authorities are paying attention."

"You can't stop a door alarm from going off, but you can explain it. Leave a few cigarette butts on the ground and anyone coming by will assume somebody was just sneaking a smoke break. 24-7 surveillance on a location used to require a whole team of operatives, these days you can get by with a webcam and wireless signal booster from your local electronics store. Ideally, you drill holes and mount it on brackets, but when time is an issue, I prefer dental putty. Easy to mix and easy to apply, and strong as cement when it hardens, but it hardens quickly. So you better aim right the first time."

"Making yourself invisible when you need to, is a crucial skill for a covert operative. It sounds exotic but it's not like there's a super secret move they teach you at spy school that allows you to vanish into thin air. Often it's just a matter of quick thinking, fast feet, and strong fingers."

"Safe-cracking skills are a basic part of espionage training. Spies steal secrets and people keep their secrets in safes. But staying current with safe-cracking is a little like staying current with computers; new model every year. Bottom line, if you wanna breach a safe, you have to practice."

"Any time you recommend a friend for a job you're on the hook if things don't work out. In the retail sales business, for example, make a bad referral and you might get fired. In the armed robbery business, on the other hand, make a bad referral and you might get killed. So you really, really have to hope that the new guy knows what he's doing."

"Sending messages in the middle of an operation is among the most dangerous things you can do. Sometimes you just have to drop a note and hope your back-up team is paying attention."

"A certain kind of leader insists on controlling every aspect of an operation. So that nothing can possibly go wrong. The downside to insisting on controlling everything is that when something bad happens, people tend to think that it was all part of your plan."

"When you work in intelligence, there's no bigger slap in the face than a picture of yourself during an operation. It sends a clear message: We're one step ahead of you, we're in control, we own you. Mylar balloons and a bottle of champagne, that's just twisting the knife."

Season 2, Episode 7 Edit

"When meeting a covert operative for the first time the arrangements can tell you a lot. If they give you a map and a photo, they trust you. A place and a time, they want to check you out before they make contact. A cryptic clue like, 'tidy pelican', they've just got an irritating sense of humor."

"Sometimes when you meet a new operative, it's a good idea to open with an aggressive move. You learn about people when you make them play defense. Their reflexes, weaknesses, how they handle themselves under pressure. And even if they're able to counter, it never hurts to know how far they're willing to go."

"You can use cell phone towers to triangulate the position of someone's cell phone, but you're going to have problems anytime they go out of range. Use an enhanced GPS, on the other hand, and you can pinpoint their location in real time almost anywhere on the face of planet. Try disconnecting a GPS wired into a phone's motherboard, you risk disabling the phone. A much simpler solution, is call forwarding."

"Most modern bomb squads are equipped with an RF jammer. It blocks a wide spectrum of radio frequencies, preventing people from detonating bombs by remote control. It will block all electronic transmissions in the area. Cell phones, for example. Or wireless security cameras."

"The interior locks in an office suit are usually low key. Just there to keep white collar workers from stealing coffee cups. File cabinet locking bars, on the other hand, are a more serious security measure. Their main vulnerability is that they depend on people's faith in padlocks. People have too much faith in padlocks."

"Air ducts in a modern office are eighteen inches wide, so if you need to make a quick escape and you're older than four, you won't fit. A more viable option is the sub-ceiling. Once you're in the sub-ceiling, you can get to a bathroom or closet and make your way out from there."

"When you're working a target, it's all about getting a good read. What makes him tick? Is he insecure? Does he have something to prove? You might only have a few seconds, but it all factors into your approach."

"There's nothing in the world easier to get into than an empty condo that's been on the market for six months. Never mind picking the lock, you can just call and ask for the keys."

"When your cover is compromised, often the best defense is a good offense. Admit nothing, deny everything. Make counter-accusations."

"Once somebody's watching for cops, they see them everywhere. Anyone in dark sunglasses is FBI, any car with tinted windows is a tail. Their paranoia does most of the work for you."

"Knowing what someone wants can say a lot about who they are. So if what they want comes in a wooden crate that you're not going to be allowed to open, you might have to turn your trunk into a makeshift x-ray machine. The tube from an old TV set is a good place to start. As part of the projection process they emit x-rays. They're meant to handle around 30,000 volts, any more than that and they'll cook your eyes with the radiation. So pump 100,000 volts into one from a taser, and you won't be able to diagnose a hairline fracture, but you'll get the basic idea."

"Criminals are, as a rule, paranoid and self-serving. So if you're using a criminal cover ID, you can't be too helpful. Luckily, you can usually count on the other guy not to let you off easily."

"In any kind of covert operation, one of the toughest challenges is using information you're not supposed to have. If going in guns blazing will blow your cover, sometimes you've got to get creative. Under the right circumstances, a well-placed as good as a bullet."

"One of the most difficult skills to master in combat, is taking a dive. Sometimes an operation demands that you lose a fight, but it's the hardest thing in the world to see an opening...and let it go."

Season 2, Episode 8 Edit

"Spies make great neighbors; they're polite, they keep the lawn trimmed and they never crank the music at night. They don't stand out because they don't wanna be found. So if you're searching for a covert operative and all you've got to go on are the names of a few dozen suspects, you're out of luck. Unless you know where to look"

"The garbage someone leaves at the curb can often tell you more than a face-to-face conversation. Shredded documents in the trash used to be a strong indicator that someone had a secret. But nowadays, everybody and their mother shreds bills to prevent identity theft. Laundry bluing is a synthetic dye that dry-cleaner's use by the thimble and covert operatives go through by the bottle. It blots out secrets and works like a poor man's dye pack, staining anyone who digs through your trash."

"Work long enough in covert ops and you're bound to be offered some pretty nasty assignments. When a bad job comes along you have two choices, and neither is very appealing. You can pass and watch the op go down, or you can take the job and make sure the op gets blown."

"Covert operatives try to avoid assuming other people's identities whenever possible. There's just too many pitfalls when you're dealing with someone your new identity has corresponded with. What have they said? What have they been told? What have they agreed to? Of course it helps if the person you're deceiving is terrified of the person you're pretending to be."

"When a pro plans an ambush, they capitalize on the element of surprise. They attack aggressively so their opponent has to react from a place of weakness. An amateur, on the other hand, is more likely to take a defensive posture, which means they are the ones acting from a place of weakness."

"Cell phone jammers emit radio waves at the same frequency as commercial cell phones. They're useful when you really wanna make sure someone stays out of touch."

"It doesn't matter if you're trying to take out a moped or a dump truck, every vehicle has three areas of vulnerability: the driver, the engine, and the tires. A can of paint across the windshield could blind the driver, a 50 millimeter cannon could kill the engine, but neither will guarantee the truck won't swerve into oncoming traffic. But if you force a vehicle's front tires off the road, you drastically diminish its maneuverability. That way it can't swerve.Of course getting a dump truck's tires off the ground is more difficult than it sounds, and a hell of a lot more dangerous."

"Staging a fake death and a believable emergency response is almost impossible on a budget, one lone ambulance isn't going to sell it. So unless you happen to have a fleet of fire and rescue vehicles, uniforms, and a dozen actors you trust, you really do have to call nine-one-one; you just have to have called your people first."

"Spend a career in covert ops and you're going to know some bad people. You'll work with them, you'll live with them, you might even trust your life to them. But none of that makes them your friend, it can't. Because one day, you might have to end them."

"Black bag missions are often broken into separate parts. Operates are given discrete tasks to ensure secrecy. They're like jigsaw pieces, and you never know if any of the ones you're given are from the same puzzle. But if you can get your hands on a corner piece, the part where the puzzle starts to take shape, sometimes you realize all your pieces fit together."

Season 2, Episode 9 Edit

"When you have to get information about an enemy position, you have a choice: you can watch from a distance, slow and safe. Or you can go inside and take a look; quick, but potentially fatal."

"Most people think snipers like to shoot from ledges. The fact is, the best sniper position is in an open room, through an open window. It hides the shooter, masks the rapport of a supersonic round, and makes the muzzle flash impossible to see."

“It’s always a challenge hiding something sensitive that you might need quickly. Any hiding place involves a trade-off between security and access. Hiding something in the sewer main beneath your floor and it's secure, but good luck getting to it. Hide something in your sock drawer and it’s easy to get to but hardly secure. The best hiding places are easy to get to but tough to find. The do-it-yourself versions are known in the spy trade as slicks, easy to slip something in, easy to slide it out.”

"When an operative recruits someone. He'll let the target make the first move. He'll dress like him, drink like him, move like him, but he won't talk to him. He'll wait to be approached."

"When selling yourself as a traitor, you can't be too eager. A good op will walk away from a recruitment that seems too good to be true."

"Surveillance is the leading cause of weight gain among operatives. In a job that's equal parts boredom and tension, eating is a way to pass time and calm nerves."

"Facial recognition systems are often used to replace human guards. Since they’re cheap, they don’t sleep, and they can’t be bribed. They have a big weakness though. Unlike guards, computers can’t tell the difference between a photocopy of a face and a face. When you search a spy’s room, you don’t waste time checking the safe. You have to assume they’re as creative as you are. Slicks come in all shapes and sizes."

"There's an art to drinking without getting drunk. Start with a lot of ice to dilute the alcohol, order a new round before you're done so your half-full drink gets taken away, and, of course, spill."

"A cover ID that involves drinking comes with a price, but the tactical advantages make the hangover worth it."

"Operatives do a lot of bodyguard work. On any given day the average commando is more likely to be watching a VIP walk his dog than engaging the enemy in battle. Not glamorous, but part of the job."

"Anybody who runs a few assets knows that some crack under the pressure. You have to be tough enough to keep them in line, supportive enough to keep them stable."

"When someone turns you into an asset, their main weapon is fear. If you fear poverty, or exposure, or death, that's what they use against you. Their worst nightmare, then, is an asset with no fear."

"Blowing an operation is a delicate business. You have to convince your opponent to abandon his plans, make a case that the smart move is to pack up and go home. Problem is, even when you do your job well, people don't always go with the smart move."

"There's a reason they call the spy trade 'The Hall of Mirrors'. You can never tell for sure whether you're in control or you're being played; but if you do it long enough, you learn to trust your instincts."

"Unlike cars, motorcycles don't have much of an aftermarket in stolen parts. So any theft measures are outdated and easy to get around. The steering lock on a smaller bike breaks fairly easily, then it's just a matter of getting away."

"When you're tailed by multiple vehicles, you're at a disadvantage. They can flank you, take alternate routes, box you in. It helps to have a team of your own."

"The electronic stability program was originally developed to help keep cars from sliding on icy roads, but it's a great tool for the precision driver; when you need to slide you can simply turn it off, then turn it on again when u need to maneuver."

"A semi has about four feet of clearance under it. Sliding beneath it on a motorcycle is possible, but risky; too low and the pavement will grind you to a pulp, too high and any part of your body that hits the trailer, will no longer be part of your body."

Season 2, Episode 10 Edit

"When you're a spy, you learn to live with the idea of people wanting you dead. An old enemy, a dissatisfied employer, a disgruntled asset. Work long enough and the line to kill you gets pretty long. Still, getting blown up isn't something you get used to."

"When you're being hunted, paranoia is inevitable. If you don't know what to do with it, it turns into cold, directionless fear. With the right training, it turns into hyper-awareness of your surroundings. Not always pleasant, but a lot more useful."

"Distinguishing between different kinds of suspicious behavior, is crucial for an operative. Someone doing surveillance, for example, looks different than someone who's trying to commit suicide."

"From the first day of training, you're told not to get emotionally involved in operations. But sometimes it happens and there's nothing you can do."

"Medical scammers, like pimps, drug dealers, or feral dogs, need to protect their territory. They can't let anyone new operate there, or they're asking for problems. Like a corporation has a lawyer to handle with copyright infringement, a scammer will often have an enforcer to deal with unwanted competition."

"As a spy, the best approach is usually to become a target's friend. Some situations, though, call for a different approach."

"Empty commercial buildings are useful when you're looking for a place to interrogate someone. No one pays much attention to people coming and going, and the floors are typically sound-proof."

"Securing a room isn't about walls. A determined captive can kick through plasterboard, but he can't bite through steel bars or pry out screws with his fingers; though, it might be fun to watch him try."

"There's a saying in interrogation, 'violence perceived is violence achieved'. You don't want someone screaming, you want him asking questions, like 'What is he doing with that knife?' Asking, 'If he'll do that to himself, what will he do to me?' Mostly you want him asking, 'How do I make this stop?'"

"Nearly getting killed shakes you up, no matter how much experience you have. Brushes with death are like snowflakes; each one is unique, and icy cold."

"The 'Who Talks First?' interrogation technique originally involved taking two blindfolded prisoners up in a helicopter and tossing one out to get the other to talk. When a helicopter is not available, any tall building will do. You don't actually want to kill anyone of course; the screaming, is all you really need."

"For the truly security conscious, there's no better meeting place than a pool of water. Even if you manage to hide a bug in your swim trunks, chlorinated water conducts electricity well-enough to short out any listening device."

"In covert work, you try to make friends with the bad guys; but sometimes you just can't pull it off. Once it's clear you're not gonna be friends, you have to resolve the situation as quickly and as cleanly as possible. Sometimes, you can't pull that off either."

"Using sound to determine an enemy's position is one of the oldest techniques in war. Whether it's putting an ear to the ground or bouncing sonar off a submarine. If you can get your enemy on the phone, that opens up new possibilities. Hook up your cell phone to an amplifier in a computer that can analyze sound, and you have a powerful weapon if you know how to use it."

"In modern warfare, a well positioned microphone can tell you anything from where troops are moving to where a sniper is firing from. The same basic technology will also tell you when an ambulance passes someone talking on a cell phone."

"When you've spent enough time as an operative, recovering from a brush with death isn't about an appointment with a psychiatrist or a week in Hawaii; it's about having a purpose. Whether it's something to fight, or someone to hunt."

Season 3, Episode 4 Edit

“In any operation, whether it’s sneaking into an embassy or collecting debts for a bookie, it’s important to lay out a plan before you go into action. If you’re going to disagree, it’s best to get it out of the way before any shots are fired.”

“For many operations, two-man teams are ideal – Simple chain of command, easy to delegate responsibility, and little room for confusion. Of course, with a two-man team there’s not a lot of margin for error. All it takes is a cop showing up at the wrong moment, and the team ceases to exist.”

“In any sort of operation, flirtation is always a tactical option. Romance is a powerful force and under the right circumstances, it can achieve your objective. Of course, not every circumstance is the right one.”

“Finding a way into a criminal organization is about observing social dynamics. You start with a target. You’re looking for just the right person to approach. People in the inner circle are usually too tough to go after. Anyone with real power is bound to be cautious. Drivers and bodyguards are easier, but they usually don’t have real access. You want someone with enough juice to be hungry for more, someone desperate to make a move. In short, you’re looking for a frustrated middle manager.”

“To the educated eye, a prison that tells a story – Where you did time, why you did time, and who you did it with. It’s a little like a job résumé for criminals.”

“Every kid who ever went to a new school knows the secret to fitting in – Copy everyone else. Spies do the same thing – Tailor their wardrobe, their movement, and their behavior to imitate their targets. All the little things that say, ‘I’m your kind of guy.’”

“The lock on a cash register drawer is designed to keep it from pulling open. Whack it hard enough the other way, and it breaks.”

“When a padlock is held onto a doorframe by three-inch wood screws, it’s no match for a dry-cleaning rack that can move 30,000 pounds of clothes.”

“It’s a challenge to place a bug on someone’s body without them noticing. It helps if they always carry something you can reproduce – A phone, a watch or a pack of cigarettes. Then it’s just a matter of planting it on them, and hoping they keep ignoring the surgeon general until you get what you need.”

“Building up an asset is a little like raising a kid – You can give him the tools to succeed but when the first day of school rolls around, they’re on their own.”

“Work in intelligence long enough and you get good at predicting human behavior, but sometimes people surprise you. And when they do, you can surprise yourself.”

“Super Glue's cheap, quiet, and powerful. Lay it on thick and force-dry it with canned air and you can cut bonding time to less than a minute.”

Season 3, Episode 15 Edit

"If someone calls a meeting in a deserted location, they want control. They can tell if you’re alone and if you try anything, they can take you out with a sniper. So if someone wants a chat in the middle of nowhere, it’s best to bring a sniper of your own."

"Fighting two against one is never ideal but there are ways to even the odds. Jam your opponent into a corner and they won’t have the room to use both arms. It’s like fighting one person with two angry heads. Which makes them easier to engage and easier to disengage."

"It’s never fun being used as a diversion, but it is an effective way to get the drop on an enemy with superior numbers and firepower. Then it’s all about making a clean getaway. If you can’t do that, it never hurts to be in an armored car."

"Operate in the field long enough and you’ll find yourself getting tested by very dangerous people. The more immediate and unexpected the test, the more likely they’re up to serious trouble and the more likely they’ll kill you if you don’t pass."

"Between matching holograms and color-shifting inks, altering a page in a modern passport is virtually impossible, so if all the pages are full and you have to adjust someone’s travel in a hurry, it's better just to swap out the page entirely. It’s as easy as pulling out the stitching on a cheap t-shirt; you just need the skill to put it back together."

"There’s no saying ‘I’m sorry’ in the field, so if it feels like a gamble’s about to come up short you put on a smile and try to get your hands on a weapon without anyone noticing."

"As a covert operative you learn that not every locked door leads to the secret you're looking for. You may be searching for a hostage but find something just as important. Like wh==Season 3, Episode 15== "If someone calls a meeting in a deserted location, they want control. They can tell if you’re alone and if you try anything, they can take you out with a sniper. So if someone wants a chat in the middle of nowhere, it’s best to bring a sniper of your own."at your target is obsessed with, like what your target loves."

"The hardest thing to do when an operation goes bad is nothing at all. It's pure torture; but if it's the only way to give a team member a chance of survival, you have no choice but to stand by and watch."

"Anyone with a little trade-craft knows spilling a drink on yourself is a common excuse to leave a table. To convince a pro it's truly an accident then, you have to sell it with more than iced tea."

"Planting a surveillance device inside an existing item is all about using what you have. If the battery necessary to power a bug is too big, you can't use it. A tracker with a ping system on the other hand, can send your location in bursts and doesn't suck a lot of power, making a terrific accessory for any lady on the go."

"Like con-men, spies know that in the workplace, a clipboard is as good as a skeleton key."

"Restaurant kitchens have grease fires all the time. A little oil on a burner and you can clear out a restaurant without raising too much suspicion or causing too much damage. Still, it's best not to stick around too long after you've set a kitchen on fire."

"The most careful bad guys don't just watch for tails and wipe off fingerprints. If you wanna be extra sure you can't be traced, you rig all the evidence to go up in flames if anyone starts looking somewhere they shouldn't."

"There's a risk in being to obsessed with counter surveillance; spend your life paranoid always looking for threats and it makes it easy for someone to find them for you. Pros call it seeing ghosts."

"Like new parents, spies take preventative measures to ensure a safe environment. Only instead of baby-proofing cabinets and electrical sockets, they use more extreme methods. When you're creating an explosion to keep people back, you can't go halfway. It's never ideal, but for their own protection you have to make sure they know you mean business. Then the only trick is setting it off without blowing everyone to kingdom come."

Season 4, Episode 6 Edit

"Hydraulic arms are safety features that slow the speed a door can close to minimize injury. But, wrap a belt around them, and they can be turned into an improvised lock."