18 March 2004

A technical surveillance countermeasure (TSCM) professional analyzed the alleged Freddie Scappaticci (Stakeknife) secret recording and reported:

The audio is obviously a multiple pieces/recording, taken at different locations and under different conditions and spliced together into this file.

The eavesdropper did a very poor job of making the recordings, and at least one person in the conversation was completely aware of the interception, controlled the equipment, optimized microphone placement, and so on.

The initial call that takes place over the phone is likely just a primitive pickup device or microphone that the user of the telephone used to bug his own phone. I suspect that the operator of the surveillance equipment simply tied into the handset of the telephone with a simple adapter readily available at Radio Shack for less than $20.

The conversation that takes place in the car is obviously being recorded by the driver of the vehicle, and the audio recording has been fine tuned for both the vehicle ... and specially configured to where he was sitting, his body, etc. As the person operating the bug moves, the microphone picks up sounds that tend to indicate that the microphone is concealed below his clothing.

When this user uses his car phone the brief "buzz" heard is due to the eavesdropping system being concealed on his person picking up EMI from the RF signal saturating a wired microphone. This important as it indicates the eavesdropper (in this case a reporter) had wired himself up with a body microphone or tie-tack microphone, and had the recording device concealed elsewhere on his person or vehicle. This is a sign of a truly amateurish eavesdropping effort, and typical of a Spyshop toy.

On the other hands the person who enters the vehicle (suspect) has very poor microphone coverage. His audio is clipped in amplitude and is generally poor quality with numerous segments being inaudible.  This is likely being caused by the microphone being placed too close to the suspect, the lack of an AGC circuit, and the failure to use multiple microphones to better isolate the audio.

Careful examination of the audio signal reveals that the noise present (hissing) was mixed onto the audio tracks AFTER they were recorded and were not created at the moment of the recording. This is a common tactic used by an eavesdropper who wants to obscure details, or wants to manipulate the audio in order to soften transition points.

I find it highly doubtful that this recording was made by either the British government, or by a professional spy.

Something is fishy with the Scappaticci interview.

The cadence of how he answerers IRA-related questions is way off that of simply recalling details of what he observed or has knowledge of, and instead sounds like he is either recalling details told to him, or is making it up as he goes.

Cryptome: Clive Entwhistle, one of the Cook Report journalists who took part in the "Scappaticci" interview, said on a TV show Monday that a microphone was hidden in the automobile glove compartment.

The last comment of the TSCM analyst above supports the notion that "Scappaticci" was deliberately faking disclosure of IRA information, either on behalf of the IRA or on behalf of his British Army handlers or both. There is also a good chance both sides were duping the other. The Cook Report journalists have admitted to being in cahoots with the police, and the IRA and the British Army are known to have sent secret agents into the opposing camp, as well as to the media, posing as disgruntled members seeking revenge by disclosing operations. These disinformation operations to cause suspicion among the enemy and to manipulate public media and public opinion are standard fare of the underworld.

The Stakeknife operation has the characteristics of a long-running ruse. Who initiated it, who enlisted, and turned, the secret agents -- journalists as well as operatives -- and who double-crossed and triple-crossed who, remains to be "disclosed" by disinformation artists: ex-spies and -secret agents, media moguls and advertisers, historians and memoirists, govenment leaders and consumers of Tom Clancy spy-fiction, you and me.