I first met Marc Barry, my co-author and founder of the New York-based consulting firm C3I Analytics, while I was researching a story on corporate espionage for the Forbes magazine web site. At the time I was pounding out a feature and two sidebars a week, and my usual routine was to spend four days on research and one day drafting stories.
Unfortunately that didn't leave much leeway for dead ends. Which is where I found myself when I called Marc.
I had spent the previous three days interviewing a shady character located on the West Coast, and I was having trouble confirming certain facts. The source, a detective, claimed he had used a nifty piece of technology on a caper, which he had secreted away under a photocopier. Three weeks later, dressed as a repairman, he bluffed his way on to the premises again and was able to collect a cache of valuable photocopies from his client's business rival. But no matter how far and wide I searched, I could not find anyone who sold this handy spy gizmo. This made me nervous.
So I phoned Marc, whom I'd been made wise to by a colleague in the newsroom. He fired up his espresso maker, lit up a cigarette, and in a single conversation blew my mind. He told me he had never heard of such a contraption, "but if you find one, Slick, let me know and I'll buy one." I was disappointed. I'd been trying to find a source for a story on corporate espionage for months. Now I had one day of research left before I had to write, and I had diddly squat. Then he said, "You know, corporate espionage is a real growth business."
"Really?" I said.
"Yeah, absolutely. It's like having a threesome. Everybody's doing it but no one's admitting it."
Really I laughed.
"I mean, ask yourself," he continued, "What happened to all those hardcore spooks after the Berlin Wall came down and the Cold War was over? They had to find jobs somewhere."
Marc started recounting stories about some of his various capers and right there and then I was hooked. Before long, he was putting me in contact with sources I didn't know even existed. It was through him I connected with Karim Fadel, a spy with a guilt complex who works the trade show circuit, and Jan Herring, a former-CIA analyst who built the first corporate intelligence unit in history. He put me in touch with Department of Justice attorney Marc Zwillinger, ex-CIA agent McClellan A. ("Guy") DuBois, Teltech researcher Liz Lightfoot and Charles Hunt, a former assistant director of French Intelligence. He worked his own network of NSA and Defense Intelligence Agency officials, who provided me with valuable background and insight into the intelligence communities. He explained how he was routinely hired by so-called "ethical" research companies to get dirt for a client. He demonstrated step by step how he could pull up a target's long distance phone records and personal credit file. He expounded on techniques he had perfected that enabled him to glean whatever nugget of information he wanted, whenever he wanted it. He regaled me with tales. My favorite: The time he posed as a venture capitalist and flew out to Silicon Valley to meet with the inventor of a hot new technology. When he got to the meeting, he could barely keep from blowing his cover and laughing out loud when he realized everyone in the room, except the inventor, was a corporate spook.
I'd tell you who hired Marc for that one, but I don't know. He is under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), which ensures his silence under penalty of civil litigation. This also indicated he was a man of his word. After all, if Marc decided to let it slip, who would know? I admired that, although I quickly learned to loathe the term NDA; I knocked heads against it practically every day while researching this book. Thankfully I had a navigator, an insider not only willing to share information, but who ensured its accuracy by putting his name to it. Because Barry is a co-author on the basis of his research, deep contacts and experience within the spook world, hes also presented as a character in Chapter Five: The Kite.
From Spooked: Espionage in Corporate America, by Adam L. Penenberg, Marc Barry. © December 5, 2000 , Adam L. Penenberg, Marc Barry. Used by permission of the publisher
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