NICE QUIET TALK ABOUT SECRECY
Archived Interview of Joe Barber of the Gazette Telegraph
The other two men in the room lean back in their seats, studying me with lidded stares.
By using a certain device, says the bigger fellow, “I can sit right here and dial up your phone. You don’t even have to answer it. It makes your phone into an open microphone.”
Briefly disconnecting the phone and extensions, he adds, normally severs the contact. Unless someone thinks your comments are worth the price of “Cadillac-type equipment, the kind that will keep a lock on the line.”
Truly, such marvels of electronics are to ponder.
Which I do, then the second man warns me about parabolic microphones. Looks like a medal umbrella, picks up sound through glass. Maybe your neighbor has a couple.
His advice: “Don’t have a (confidential) meeting in the exterior room.”
Even so, there are micro-transmitters that can be hidden in a half-inch-long space. Their best antidote is a physical search and sweeping the room with electronic gadgetry.
So, with a hushed voice, carefully looking away from the window, I ask Joe Dickerson and his colleague to confide in me further. Why do they find Colorado Springs so appealing?
The many high-tech electronics firms, they say. The Consolidated Space Operations Center, the Air Force Academy, Fort Carson, and the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the anticipated Free Foreign-Trade Zone to name a few.
Because the two are computer cops. Bug exterminators. Office sweepers.
They help other protect trade secrets, and ferret out white-collar crime.
As they see it, technological espionage in Colorado Springs is a growth industry.
“We feel like we’re getting in on the ground floor out here,” says Dickerson, smiling.
He reads me a recently published quote by William Gavin, who was in charge of the regional FBI office in Denver.
“White-collar crime heads the list of priorities…all up and down the Front Range where high-tech and defense industries are springing up.”
The quote adds: “In Colorado Springs alone, the building of the Department of Defense’s Consolidated Space Center, from which all (U.S.) manned space flight will be controlled, and the relocation of Ford Aerospace, will make it even more a target for the information thief and the communications saboteur, than it already is.”
Dickerson is stout and courtly, with a deep Texas drawl. Drop a Stetson on his salt-and-pepper hair and he’d probably fir most people’s image of an oil baron or gentleman rancher.
His colleague is deeply tanned, sound like the native New Yorker and he is, and sports a blond goatee and cowboy boots. He worked 380 homicides in his 20 years with the Nassau County, N.Y., Police Department.
Both guys are ex cops.
Dickerson was the youngest detective on the Houston Police Department. He left after 11 years to start his own company, mainly anti-crime and asset recovery consulting to energy companies.
“Generally, we’re called in after there’s been a loss,” Dickerson Says. “But apprehension of crooks, in such cases, is treating the symptom, not the problem.”
He contends “80 to 90 percent” of the criminal losses in the business world can be attributed to insiders – employees, contract employees, or vendors assigned to the company property.
“And the courts have said that you can’t prosecute someone for taking a trade secret unless you can show you had actually treated it as a trade secret, limiting distribution, locking it up.”
Where high-tech goes, high-tech espionage follows. Fact is, no board room or conference room can be kept completely bug-proof, he says.
However, with advance work, “We can tell you that on such and such hours, the room will be clean for your meeting.”
I thank them for sharing their secrets. And I depart, my firm handshake is a bond between us.
It was only a little private talk between friends.
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