You might book your hotel rooms on Expedia, book direct because you prioritize hotel points and elite benefits, or care most about saving money and head straight to HotelSlash. But what would Jack Ryan do? If you’re a CIA analyst, you may be trying to stay under the radar or protect your data – or yourself.
I assume my devices are compromised by a state actor when traveling to China (and to some other places), even though I’m probably too obscure for any intelligence agency to be interested. For China trips I’ve brought burner devices.
But let’s turn to a real CIA veteran for hotel booking secrets. David McCloskey, a former CIA officer-turned-novelist (Damascus Station and Moscow X), outlines how to book hotel rooms like a spy.
- Assume your room is wired for audio and video during your stay. This one even I do.
- Don’t let them know that you know. They may move things around in the room, or ruffle through your safe. A colleague of his had someone ‘poop on their bed’. Just clean it up and deal with it. Revealing that a rival agency’s tradecraft was sloppy will offend them and just create problems for you.
- Block entry to your room while you’re sleeping Travel with a plastic door stop and use it on the door. A rival agency is going to be able to overcome the door lock, or compromise a hotel employee for a key.
- Book a room between the fourth floor and the tenth floor below the fourth floor you’re susceptible to car bombs, above the 10th floor fire department ladders may not reach you. Langley won’t allow penthouse bookings for safety.
@mccloskeybooks Hotel tips from the CIA, including what to do if the internal security service poops on your bed, and why you should always book a room between the 4th and 10th floors #hoteltip #travel #cia #poop ♬ original sound – David McCloskey
Most CIA employees don’t tell you they work for the CIA. Instead, they work for the “State Department.” And when you see a video on TikTok you don’t necessarily think ‘oh yeah they’re on the level, they really are CIA’ right?
In the small world department, though, I can confirm that David did, in fact, work there. When I saw this my first reaction was, “wait I know him!” As it happens I worked with his wife 15 years ago, and helped to book their honeymoon – Aeroplan 120,000 mile roundtrip first class awards to Southeast Asia on Lufthansa and Asiana using points transferred from Membership Rewards.
(HT: Paul H)