ratsMHB has admittedly not had an “EBOM” in several months. The April 2015 Electronic Book of the Month is RATS! Your Guide to Protecting Yourself Against Snitches, Informers, Informants, Agents Provocateurs, Narcs, Finks, and Similar Vermin by Claire Wolfe. (H/t to Professor Darrell Hamamoto for bringing the document to our attention.)

This short, valuable guide is something that every citizen will probably need at some point in their lives. The volume may be downloaded by right-cliking here.

From the first pages of RATS!

This book is for you if …

You are a non-violent person engaged in any activity that may be controversial, illegal, or merely “sensitive” or unconventional. These days, anything out of the ordinary can make you a target.

Some people who could use this book:

Anti-war or environmental activists
Recreational drug users
Participants in the underground economy or anybody who
does business in cash
Critics of local or national powers-that-be
Anyone whose profession involves “sensitive” information or
Gun owners or dealers
Third-party or “fringe” political activists
Hobbyists who work with dangerous materials
Religious dissidents
People with offshore or unconventional investments
(including perfectly legitimate ones)

It doesn’t matter where you fall in the political spectrum or even if you’re apolitical. If police might target you or your
activities, you need to understand how snitches could mess up your life.

This book is NOT for you if …

You aim to commit violence against innocent people. In that case, reporting on you isn’t snitching, it’s self defense.

What exactly is a snitch?

There are a lot of different types of snitches. We could write an encyclopedia defining them. But we’re going to keep this simple.

For purposes of the book, a snitch is anybody who inserts him-or herself into your non-violent activities on behalf of government. “Government” may mean local cops. It could also mean the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, or a host of other state or federal agencies. It’s absolutely mind-boggling how many seemingly innocuous agencies these days have arrest powers, armed enforcers — and snitches employed in sneaky sting operations. And thousands of them use snitches.

There are two common categories of snitch you need to lookout for:

The infiltrator/agent provocateur. This is someone (often a professional) who is inserted into a group for an active purpose, such as disrupting the group, or worst, talking formerly innocent (or at least formerly non-violent) people into committing crimes in order to bust them. Agents provocateurs may, among other things, try to turn nonviolent protest into violent action, thus discrediting movements, giving excuses for crackdowns, and giving more publicity and power to government agencies.

The informer/informant. This snitch is often a legitimate member of a group or social circle who continues to be active while giving information to the police. This person may be acting under duress (to save his own skin after being arrested, for instance). This person may be hoping the cops will pay with money, drugs, or ongoing criminal immunity for her dubious “services.” While this person isn’t necessarily a professional agent provocateur, he may nevertheless try to talk friends into committing crimes so he can get more credibility or rewards from his police handlers.

These aren’t the only types of snitches. For example, there’s also what we’ll call the “accidental snitch” — though idiot snitch might be more appropriate. This is the person who simply can’t keep her mouth shut about illegal or controversial activities. Cops love these guys! They don’t even have to threaten them, pay them, hire them, train them, or gain any leverage over them. They just sit back and listen to them reveal secrets.

Then there’s the type of snitch the British call a grass and old American gangsters might have called a stool pigeon. This is a person who blabs to cops or other government agents after you (and probably he) have already been arrested. This person isn’t going to interfere with your activities; that’s already been done. He’s “only” going to give sworn affidavits and courtroom testimony against you, justifying it as a means of saving his own skin. There’s not much you can do about this person. By the time you learn one of your former friends is a “stoolie,” it’s too late.

There are vengeance snitches — people who turn on friends and associates after having a falling out or not getting their way. There are jailhouse snitches — either deliberately planted in your cell after you’ve been arrested or just opportunists who happen to be there and are willing to share whatever you say (or make up lies about things you said).

Each and every one of these people is a betrayer of friendship and trust. All of them are just plain rats — and they’re as welcome in the company of good people as rats are in a pantry.

To keep things simple we’re going to call them all snitches — though we’ll differentiate when we need to help you look out for specific problems.

Leave a Reply

6 thought on “April EBOM: RATS!”
  1. Loyola Law Professor Alexandra Natapoff, a former prosecutor and public defense attorney, wrote an excellent book called Snitching (2011). She explains that over 50% of narcotics cases are made through the criminal informant in America today. In her opinion, the system is perverted with information on criminal activities and networks taking precedence over expeditious prosecution of offenders through old fashioned police work. Here, is a link to the CSPAN interview on her book:


  2. I never practiced criminal law, but, this book seems to imply that lying to an undercover officer without knowledge of an investigation, or, without knowledge that the undercover is indeed a cop amounts to obstruction of justice. My hunch is that this could not amount to a crime legally speaking (actus reus plus mens rea). Here, is a link that explains the sticky situation, from an attorney search web site, with a little more nuance:


  3. I would be cautious about the suggestion of sharing your experience on social media after being questioned by police. This could lead to an obstruction charge, especially if you are informed that there is an ongoing investigation about which some of your comrades are unaware. IMO, proceed with caution or through an attorney.

Leave a Reply