My short bio: Hi Reddit! I'm Marc Ruskin. I am a former FBI Special Agent, and I spent 20 years in Undercover Operations. I've juggled a dozen different aliases and have been awarded five commendations from the Director of the FBI. I've worked at US Embassies in Paris, Madrid, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, and Asuncion, the latter where I was given a Letter of Recognition from the Minister of the Interior for the rescue of a kidnapped former Miss Paraguay (Mariangela Martinez).

Since retiring, I've divided my time between a law practice in New York and extended sojourns in Liaoning Province, China where I've been studying Mandarin. My new book, The Pretender: My Life Undercover in the FBI, is now on sale.


Thanks to All of You For Stopping By.

** Had a Great Time! **

Comments: 1823 • Responses: 68  • Date: 

mynkgpta1260 karma

During an undercover operation..have you ever got this feeling.."OH shit! They know..thats it this is my end" If yes, how you coped up with it?

MarcRuskin3141 karma

I was in a car with a subject, he was driving - generally a big mistake for a UC - but this was in the early days, and I learned as I went along - and he said to me "How do I know you're not an FBI agent?" I was posing as an Argentine public official receiving bribes in exchange for contracts (a white collar case). My response was that If anyone should be worried about the law it was me, not him, as in my country they'd lock me up and throw away the key if I got caught. For some reason, the logic seemed to satisfy him, and the moment passed....

MeowntainMix1101 karma

What was the craziest thing you ever saw in your years as a special agent?

MarcRuskin3206 karma

Working on the darkside, I often was exposed to the people whose greed made them act in ways we would think of as crazy. Such as the nuclear engineer who offered to sell me -- believing I was a spy for a hostile nation -- the blueprints for making a dirty bomb. For use here. And he was American....

pretendradio274 karma

Did you ever slip up and mix up characters? How do you recover from these situations?

MarcRuskin783 karma

I never mixed up alias IDs. Each one was tailored to a specific case, each a unique persona. It was not that hard to keep them apart. When possible, I would try to use the same birthday, so a not to have to remember a dozen of them.

picnic-boy1058 karma

What are some of the differences between real life FBI agent work and what you see in movies?

MarcRuskin2327 karma

FBI Agents have, or used to have, a great sense of humor. In the films, like Die Hard, they're all black suits and grim faces: "We're taking over now." That never happens. We'd kid around with the locals, cops and trooper, and work together all the time.

picnic-boy190 karma

What kind of clothing would you regularly wear? The stereotype is the black suit. Is there any truth to that?

MarcRuskin769 karma

The stereotype is just that. For the movies. An agent going out on an interview, particularly in a white collar case, will wear business attire. I would dress to fit the role I was playing, from street hustler with lots of gold chains (courtesy of FBI Seized Property) to refined European jewel thief in elegant suit and $30,000 watch.

Naranjas1913 karma

What's your theory on DB Cooper?

MarcRuskin1597 karma

He died when parachuting out of the 727.

holycow33829 karma

Did you find it difficult to juggle between all the different aliases? What alias was your favorite? And do you ever bust them out anymore now that you're retired?

MarcRuskin1958 karma

There were about a dozen over two decades as a UC, but never more than three at a time. Alex Perez was my fav, with the pony tail, the bling, on the street day in- day out. One tough moment: had one 800 beeper for both Alex and Sal Morelli (budget issues), and got a beep from an unknown number. Me: "Yo" Him: who's this?" Me: "you beeped me! who you looking for?" and so on, until finally Him: "You Alex? Julio gave me your number." And so it went!

5trong5tyle829 karma

Why do so few Wall Street bankers go to jail?

MarcRuskin2283 karma

They can afford the best lawyers.

TellYouYourFuture735 karma

aren't you worried you just posted the target on your back to reddit?

MarcRuskin1267 karma

They were doing their job and I was doing mine. Most guys understand that. And having the entire weight of the FBI come crashing down isn't what most former subjects are looking for.

Air_Hellair713 karma

One of the big plot points in UC stories is when the criminals test the agent by having him commit a criminal act in front of them. Does that really happen? Did it happen to you?

MarcRuskin2071 karma

Meeting with one of the heroin organization players at a hotel by LaGuardia Airport, for a buy, I asked him casually how good it was. Meaning, what % purity. He misunderstood, and answered "I don't use this stuff, I sell it." I almost fell off the corner of the bed I was sitting on. The point: If a real drug dealer can say that he does not use the merchandise, then certainly I can. So, if any dealer would want to test me: "I don't use this poison, this is about money. Lots of money." Completely credible. If a subject were to ask me to commit some kind of criminal act so as to prove myself, the response - in line with being a real criminal - would be "What, are you kidding? Forget about it, I'll take my business elsewhere." Looking like I was willing to walk away from a deal always enhanced my credibility.

Azozel664 karma

What do you think about conspiracy theories in general?

MarcRuskin1707 karma

As to conspiracy theories, there is an appropriate saying attributed to an outlaw motorcycle group: "The only way three people can keep a secret is when two of them are dead." Someone will always going to talk.

_bobby_tables_609 karma

When you were UC on Wall Street what was your cover? Trader, lawyer? Did that kind of cover require a lot of financial education?

MarcRuskin1479 karma

In COMMCORR, I started of as a clerk on the floor of the COMEX, one of the commodities exchanges, learned the business, and a year later passed the written and practical exams to become a local trader on the NYMEX. The case went down in flames after someone recognized me from my time at the DA's office, and blew my cover.

_bobby_tables_511 karma

Wow, that's impressive commitment. I would have guessed that a position would have been arranged somehow. During that educational process were you ever tempted to leave law enforcement and become a trader?

MarcRuskin1020 karma

When the case was over, it did occur to me that I could earn much more as a broker than as an agent. But if making a lot of money was a prime motivator, I would not have left the law to become an FBI agent.

Jearik594 karma

Has there been any occasion where your mission/objective conflicted with your own personal ethics?

Edit : follow-up question : given your experiences, how has your perspective of the world changed from when you started to now.

MarcRuskin1797 karma

Before working as a UC, it was black and white. The good guys (us) and the bad guys (them). I came to realize that it's a continuum, evil on one end, Mother Theresa on the others. And most everyone in the middle. And early on, I did form friendships with subjects, was invited to an intimate wedding, had a guy's son scratch my phony initials on his skateboard. Did not make me feel great.

UniqueUsernameYouBet543 karma

When you were actively undercover, was duplicity more like a game to be won, or a burden to bear?

MarcRuskin676 karma

Not a burden. Rather a way of life. You could call it a game, but I saw it more as a challenge. Did I have what it takes?

tommydvi529 karma

Hi I'm interested in becoming a special agent. I am a 23 year old male with a degree in pr and a national guard Intel officer. I plan on either getting a master's in international relations or a law degree. My other plan to be competitive is just volunteering to get orders overseas. Any advice?

MarcRuskin761 karma

The law degree would be the way to go. Makes you more competitive. Not so for the MSIA.

cakebatter473 karma

What are your thoughts on James Comey? Can you talk a little bit about how (if ever) politics affected investigations while you served?

MarcRuskin1030 karma

Politics never effected cases that I worked on. One of the reasons I was attracted to law enforcement was that, ideally, it's objective and not political. In my time, I saw public corruption investigations of both Democrat and Republican officials -- no one in the Bu cared what the political affiliations of an official happened to be. The perception among many agents, in and out of the Bu, is that Directory Comey allowed the FBI to become politicized, to the detriment of the institution.

IAmShinobI414 karma

What are the requirements for becoming and undercover agent?Were family or relationships allowed?

MarcRuskin971 karma

To quote from the surveillance agents in Reservoir Dogs, you have to "have rocks in your head" to be a UC. Seriously though, you need five+ years agent time, and if you have a family, they will need to have lots of patience to accommodate an unusual career. Most agents don't do UC work, and of those who do, most don't do it often. There are about 100 full-time UCs in the FBI at any given time - for a country of 300+ million people. I was privileged to be one of them.

wibblett370 karma

Have you ever been close to dying before?

MarcRuskin1414 karma

In the Buenos Aires shootout, there was a minor miracle. The shooter, on the back of a motorcycle, fired one round into my Ford Escort's windshield, I returned fire. Later, the locals found, a few yards from my car, the magazine (clip) from his 9mm Glock. Full of ammo. After he fired the first round, the one already chambered, the magazine fell out. Either it was not properly seated, or he inadvertently depressed the release. Had that not happened, he could -- would -- have sprayed 15+ rounds into my windshield, and you wouldn't be AMAing me today.

funk_truck350 karma

In terms of doing illegal things to keep your cover, is there a line that UC's can't/won't cross? In other words, what would an UC do if the crew they had infiltrated wanted them to join on a murder or assassination attempt?

MarcRuskin998 karma

There are absolutely lines that can not be crossed. There is policy, for UCs and Informants, concerning authorized criminal activity. Some property crime might be authorized in order to avoid compromising the safety of the UC or CI, not violent crime. And that is realistic -- many real criminals may be fine with property crime and want nothing to do with violence. If I, in my UC capacity, refuse to participate in a violent act, that does not compromise me as a UC. Me: "No way. I'm a thief, not a killer. If you want to risk a 20 year stretch, and enjoy hurting people, that's your business. Count me out." If anything, my credibility as a real criminal just went up.

todayIact325 karma

You don't look Asian, how did you infiltrate a Chinese gang?

MarcRuskin664 karma

As the nephew of imprisoned Mexican cartel boss Gil Sandoval. His fellow inmate, Bing Gong Yong, serving life for kidnapping and murder, ran his heroin organization from inside prison. Gil was pretending to run his cocaine business, with me as his trusted lieutenant. And we wanted to expand into the heroin business. And so it went....

SirLenzalot320 karma

Obligatory "Have you ever shot someone?" question.

But seriously, since you spent a long time in undercover operations, is it really a thing for an agent to be "in too deep" that they begin to turn or sympathize with the groups they've infiltrated?

MarcRuskin600 karma

First, I was in one shootout, in Buenos Aires of all places, Intervening in a carjacking while off duty. First (documented) shooting by an FBI Agent outside the U.S. No one was killed, and it's not like in the movies. Not like I had imagined. Take my word for it, once was enough. I did not like being shot at. And I'm impressed, all the time, by our combat men and women in arms, more now than ever. And yes, a UC can be to deep, that's why the Bu (as we call it) had the Undercover Safeguard Unit. To monitor and protect UCs. Check out MIPORN, with UC Pat Livingston, to see what can happen to a UC who spends too much time on the dark side.

IrishBA120 karma

Currently living in Buenos Aires, fascinated to know what you were doing down here?

MarcRuskin347 karma

Living in La Lucilla, as a kind of diplomat. Myself and one other agent covering Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. It was in the early 2000s, the peso had just been devalued, and a steak -- excellent steak -- dinner for four at Puerto Madero, the waterfront, would cost $65, including a couple of bottles of Malbec.

IrishBA144 karma

Now 65 pesos wouldn't cover the tip!

MarcRuskin199 karma


SirLenzalot63 karma

Thanks for answering!

I know usually that's not a great question to ask a lot of people in these positions because usually having to shoot at someone isn't ideal.

And having read up a little on Livingston, I can understand how integrating into that kind of lifestyle be dangerous. But do you think it's still likely for that to happen in other kind of organizations like the right-wing terrorist group you mentioned? Or is it more complex than people realize?

MarcRuskin206 karma

My friend Mike G. infiltrated many Aryan Nations type organizations, and came out psychologically unscathed. To do this sort of work, one needs a fairly unusual skill set and personality make up. That's why the Bu's UC Safeguard Unit is so important.

coryrenton276 karma

what is the strangest thing you've had to put on an expense report for an operation?

MarcRuskin461 karma

Myself and agent Rita F. put together carriers for my Mini-Nagra recording device that would allow me to carry it the place least likely to be searched - guess - It had an elastic waistband, and flaps with Velcro pockets in the front, and was worn over briefs, with baggy pants. I'd cut hole in my right pants pocket to run the on-off switch, held in place with a safety pin. Very high-tech. The bean counters authorized the minimal expense for the materials, but voucher must have read a bit odd!

legostarwarszach267 karma

I know when preparing a new alias, you try to get as much real life experience to make sure the alias is authentic. Did you ever have to do anything disturbing/unethical/illegal when preparing for a new alias? And if so what did you have to?

MarcRuskin592 karma

An example of the kinds of unusual things I'd need to learn: For one case, I went to Waste Management's facility in South Florida to learn about the working of the business. Over the years I learned a little bit about a lot of professions, in order to get on the inside. As to "unethical," it depend how you view lying. I was constantly lying about who I was, my history, etc. I learned to "live a lie." But nothing illegal, and no lying that would bring harm or loss to innocent bystanders (except a little bit, in COMMCORR - I learned my lesson). Often appearing to be doing illegal activity, when I really wasn't. Selling "hot" Swatches at 1/3 of list, out of the trunk of my car in RUN DMV, to create the appearance of being a hood. I had really bought them at market price, legitimately.

holditjunior243 karma

Hi Mr Ruskin, would you please shed some light on the psychology of the people you have met UC during your investigations. Would you also talk about the motivations and behavior of the "bad" guys , did you find any patterns of similarity between them?

MarcRuskin512 karma

The motivation is usually greed. As is often the case with those who are not technically "bad guys." Just that in the case of the subjects I dealt with, they did not let laws interfere with their business activities. For the Malaysian Chinese heroin dealers, it was all business -- it just happened that selling heroin was immensely more profitable than selling a legit product.

owencrump224 karma


MarcRuskin475 karma

I'm pretty sure Ivan Boesky and Mike Milliken were indicted, and I believe they served time. It happens, but you're right, not enough. Leaving tens of thousands of senior in poverty after stealing their savings is worse than pretty much any crime I dealt with.

KubrickIsMyCopilot224 karma

Which Mafia family, and what decade?

Which movie that ISN'T Donnie Brasco were your experiences most like?

What's your favorite mob movie?

Who should play you if there is a movie about your experiences?

MarcRuskin458 karma

Genovese, around 2005, in Queens and Long Island. Couldn't watch an episode of The Sopranos for years after that op. Favorite mob film: Goodfellas based on Nicholas Pileggi's book. They got it right.

KubrickIsMyCopilot109 karma

Cool. Goodfellas is my favorite too. I would recommend "Find Me Guilty" and "Rob The Mob" as some lesser-known ones.

MarcRuskin273 karma

Duly noted. Infernal Affairs/The Departed are great and really hit home for a UC. Reservoir Dogs I saw when I was doing a lot as Alex Perez, and it was a chilling reminder of the risks.

AbramH85215 karma

What were the most important things to do or remember while undercover?

MarcRuskin535 karma

You have to be "on" constantly, never out of character. And think like a criminal, act like one -- not like a cop. A cop would ask "where did you get the heroin/guns/ whatever." A real criminal couldn't care less. I never asked that kind of question, which would set of alarm bells with the subjects -- even though the prosecutors often pushed me to do so. By acting like one of them, I was accepted as one of them.

marculiu212 karma


MarcRuskin431 karma

We would coordinate with the National Police and Intel Services of the host country. Exchange info on international cases and work together. In Europe it was all very formal and proper. Me: "Can you provide bank info on a suspected Wall Street fraudster?" etc. The receive a report two week later to pass on to the NYO (New York Office). Now in Paraguay, it was different. I'd be bouncing in an unmarked car with locals, a revolver tucked into my waistband.

liarandathief194 karma

Favorite fictional FBI agent(s)?

MarcRuskin337 karma

Vincent Terranova, the agent played by Ken Wahl in the TV show Wiseguy was great, and very realistic. Showed the emotional issues of deep cover work for the first time.

obtrae175 karma

Greettings Marc Ruskin. Were there any instances where you had to compromise your principles, and were there any time that you had to turn in a bad guy who genuinely became your friend whilst you were undercover?

MarcRuskin470 karma

No, I did not compromise my principles, and was never pressured to do so. If there was a gray area, I'd talk it out with the case agent or supervisor. And yes, there were times were I had become friends of sorts, and the subjects were ultimately arrested. Particularly in RUN DMV, in the early nineties. (Young UCs can be too eager to succeed, as I was, and as was my fellow UC in the TURKEY CLUB UN OP, with the mob, years later). Afterwards, I resolved to keep it strictly business. My attitude: "You've got friends, I've got friends -- I don't need more friends, I do need more money. I'm here to do business."

Willy-Fisterbottom152 karma

How do you feel about the portrayal of the FBI in pop-culture?

Also, did you ever flaunt the fact that you were an agent? Not for anything nefarious, just to see how people react. Let's face it. It's a pretty bad ass job!

MarcRuskin281 karma

Agents are for the most part very nice guys and gals, with great humor. NOT like in the films at all. And we did not flaunt it. I would tell people that I was an attorney, and leave it at that. A friend from San Juan, Bob B., would tell people he worked for Social Security (he never had a follow-up question!). It's not the kind of job you want everyone to know you're doing. Just a matter of discretion. And if one person in your building finds out (as happened to me in San Juan), then the whole building knows.

prairiegirl18151 karma

Hi Marc, I know this isn't exactly your area of expertise, but is there a real "X-Files" type of department within the FBI? Or is that just purely for entertainment purposes?

MarcRuskin271 karma

If it existed, I would have heard about it. I got around a fair bit throughout the organization. It would have been a challenge: UC infiltrating the Alien Community!

coryrenton125 karma

What is the best way for a criminal to secure and leverage the best deal in exchange for assistance in an investigation? What's the highest level of crime you've seen essentially forgiven in exchange for such help?

MarcRuskin244 karma

In SUNBLOCK, a UC op targeting a Malaysian Chinese global heroin importation and distribution investigation, I was posing as the nephew of Gil Sandoval (not his true name, of course), the head of a Mexican cocaine cartel in the eighties, serving "natural life" with no hope of parole. One the most interesting and challenging cases of my career. At the end, I testified on his behalf at the re-sentencing hearing. Altogether he must have served about 18 years. For a long time, our lives were in each others hands. A slip up by me, and a shiv in the back for Gil. A slip up by him, and I'd be going to a UC meet with a melancholy end.

Elfino122 karma

Madrid, 1983-1985. A short bald man with a coat walks very fast. Suddenly, licks a stamp and fixes it to a traffic light. A child looks at it. He keeps walking with his mother, and looks back. Another man, tall, with a coat, walks fast crossing the street in the same direction as the bald man.

5 years later that child sees a documentary on tv. It was a method spies used in the cold war to go to a meeting. That memory came to my mind like a flash. I've never seen anything about stamps, spies and meetings again.

Still not sure if the memory is completely real, or I modified something (a stamp? I'm sure that he glued something unusual to that traffic light), or even if it was the imagination of a child. But I share it with you. I'm not sure. Does it sounds feasible to you?

MarcRuskin152 karma

What you describe would be common tradecraft to signal that a meet is still on, that all is safe. The signal could be a chalk mark on a wall, anything that would not attract the attention of those not in the know.

coryrenton122 karma

what's something that was considered standard operating procedure when you started, but was changed by the time you left?

MarcRuskin285 karma

This may not be exactly what you're asking about, but addresses the issue of changing times as they affect UC work. When I started, I carried a real tape recorder, reel-to-reel. A Nagra or a Mini-Nagra. If the bad guys found it....Now recording devices are all digital, nothing to worry about, they can be disguised as anything. On the other hand, in those days there was not internet. As long as you did a decent job crating your fictitious ID, you were relatively safe as to your alias. Now there is Google, and if it looks like Alex Perez did not exist until two months ago, you've got problems.

ebbandflow96119 karma

What are the best ways to figure out if someone is lying to you in a face to face conversation?

Also, are you any good at poker?

MarcRuskin248 karma

I believe that it takes years of being lied to get to the point where you can tell. As and Asst. DA, I interrogated several 100s of subjects when I worked in the Investigations Bureau, and after being lied to a zillion times, I developed a feel for it. Very useful to me as a UC.

ScootaG116 karma

What's the closest you've come to being uncovered?

Also have you ever had any near death experiences?

MarcRuskin244 karma

There were a few times. Once, in RUNDMV, I was chatting with a few subjects - we were friends already - in the lobby of Yonkers DMV when a subject from COMMCORR walked in. I extricated myself, close call. Then there was that shootout in Buenos Aires....

orionsgreatsky114 karma

Best advice to prospective agents?

MarcRuskin307 karma

Get a law or accounting degree, work out regularly, and don't post anything online that can come back to haunt you.

ashkei103 karma

Hey! Thanks for doing the AMA. How'd you get started in your field?

MarcRuskin310 karma

When I worked for Senator Moynihan in DC, as a young legislative research assistant, I met a special agent from the DEA (it may have still been the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs - BNDD in those days). He was about to retire, and made a big impression on me -- his integrity compared to what I saw around me in the Congress. If you think the mean streets are rife with crime, the absence of ethics in Washington was staggering. (I'm not referring to Moynihan, who's integrity was unparalleled).

FuxBeta102 karma

How did you make your way "in" as an undercover? It's always puzzled me how a random person can make their way into something like a NY Mafia Crime family or a big heroin organization.

MarcRuskin205 karma

Developing a credible scenario that allowed me to get my foot in the door would take months of planning. In SUNBLOCK, case agent Mark C. and I came up with a plan that I would pose as the nephew and trusted lieutenant of imprisoned Mexican cartel boss Gil Sandoval. I even traveled to Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary and spent a day with Gil, in the visitors' hall, working on our common history, so that we could pull it off. Fellow inmates saw us embrace and talk warmly, and had no doubt that I was family.

W4terb0y92 karma

What percentage of construction companies in a close proximity to NYC would you say are involved in the mafia?

MarcRuskin146 karma

The La Cosa Nostra case that I worked in the mid-2000s involved money laundering and hot jewels. I could not comment with any personal knowledge on construction.

Gods_Gunslinger91 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! My question is:

As an active military member transitioning out soon, I have always wanted to work as a special agent and work on domestic cases. I already have a TS SCI done through a SSBI from the FBI for my current job. Could this help me with the application process and what is the best way to contact for setting up an interview?

MarcRuskin141 karma

Your background sounds great. With your clearances, you've already been vetted once, and emerged as trustworthy. You'll need to apply to take the written test, but keep in mind that is years since I went through the process. You'll need to check the website for your local FBI office, and speak to a recruiter there. Good luck!

coryrenton70 karma

What is the typical budget for an investigation, and what is the largest budget you've seen?

MarcRuskin99 karma

There is not typical budget, really. The case agent, the agent running the show, drafts a Proposal, which includes a budget (I drafted one once, for a case that I later was the UC in, and my RUN DMV case agents then handled that part of the op)s. It's a comprehensive undertaking. Big cases have to be approved at FBIHQ, with DOJ input, and if approved, so is the budget. Whatever it take to get the job done.

thimkerbell52 karma

Would it be possible for the people with integrity to lose control of the organization, and if so, what would be signs that this might have happened, that the public might notice?

MarcRuskin160 karma

It is hard to imagine a scenario where leaders with integrity lose control of the Bu. There would have to be "rogue agents," a virtually impossible situation to develop. On the other hand, where there to be leaders at the top with questionable integrity, or absence of independence from political pressure, then there would be a real problem. Signs to look for would be apparently unsubstantiated investigations conducted against critics of those in high places, or conversely, the shutting down of investigations targeting those in high places.

DarkPasta52 karma

Are those "agent movies" realistic? If so, which ones?

MarcRuskin176 karma

Recently saw The Infiltrator and was very impressed. One or two scenes were I thing the Hollywood screenwriters got out of hand (I would NEVER have allowed myself to be take to a meet blindfolded, no way). Better to blow off the meet. If Mr. Big wants to meet, we do it in a way that's safe for everybody. THAT is how real criminals behave. They're not going to jeopardize their safety to make a few dollars.

XenMonkey50 karma

Have you even been forced into a situation where you had to get drunk, or take drugs to keep your cover going? How do you deal with situations where you might have to "party"?

MarcRuskin123 karma

My attitude would be "I'm here to do business. Make money. I'll party when I get back to Miami." My line was often that I lived in Miami, doing deals all over the U.S. and overseas. By being elusive about where I was at any given time, I could avoid situations where a subject would want to meet right away. "Sorry, won't be in New York until next week." Ie. not until we've had time to plan it out and make it as safe as possible.

dietderpsy49 karma

Have you ever worked with the Irish police?

MarcRuskin91 karma

Unfortunately not. I've worked with the National Police of France and Spain, but not from other European countries. A posting to Legat Dublin! That would have been something. I was able to obtain the overseas assignments in part due to me language abilities. The competition for slots in English language countries is fierce.

VeryLazyLewis47 karma

Have you ever had to make an arrest out of working hours?

MarcRuskin128 karma

There is no such thing as normal working hours for a UC. I would return beeps (pre cellphone days) from subjects at 11:00 PM on weekends. Otherwise those alarm bells go off in the back of their mind: "how come he only works on weekdays?"

VeryLazyLewis48 karma

What I mean is like you were you going to coffee and some assface assaulted someone etc...

MarcRuskin93 karma

Got it. The Buenos Aires shootout was on a quiet Sunday afternoon, as I drove home, contemplating which wine I'd open and what film to put on the VCR.

michigring38 karma

Which FBI TV show/movie/series do you consider the most (or somewhat) accurate in your opinion?

MarcRuskin82 karma

TV: Wiseguy. Film: The Infiltrator, Infernal Affairs, The Departed.

olliegw35 karma

The FBI have always been protreyed in media as always wearing black suits no matter what.

Is this true in real life FBI?

Or do you dress differently sometimes.

MarcRuskin62 karma

The black suits are for Die Hard and Men In Black. Its a popular stereotype, and just that. Just as the stern visages and absence of humor.

thimkerbell23 karma

Your thoughts on COINTELPRO, and on whether the organization is doing anything today that, when revealed, will be seen as being on that same level?

MarcRuskin33 karma

The positive consequence of COINTELPRO was the creation of the Attorney General Guidelines, which delineate in minute detail what FBI agents can and can not do. There are sections of the AG Guidelines for UC ops, and for everything else. And it is my experience that they are adhered to with near religious attention. Deviation from the Guidelines is really not tolerated. Not to say that there can't be a bad apple, but that would be the exception.

Wataru200116 karma

I have to ask (so apologies in advance) considering the current political climate, but how to do you feel about reports that the current presidency is attempting to influence the FBI and who they choose to investigate? (aka, firing Comey influencing Mueller)

MarcRuskin55 karma

Political leaders have always, and will always, try to influence the FBI. That is why it is imperative that the Bureau have a strong and independent director, who can push back and maintain the institution's independence and objectivity.

R_U_B_I_X10 karma

How can one get his career started with the FBI, especially undercover operations?

MarcRuskin12 karma

Becoming an FBI agent is a loooooong process! To event sit for the written exam you need to meet minimum qualifications. And once you're in, you have to have five years experience as an agent before you can apply to do UC work. It may sound like not very original advice, but as a start, check the website, and call the local FBI office to speak to someone in new agent recruiting. And, good luck! You have to persevere.

forava78 karma

If you could choose to work any cases in history, what are a couple you would have enjoyed working?

MarcRuskin10 karma

Every type of case that I had read about or heard of -- Donnie Brasco, the Chicago Commodities UC Op, etc. - I ended up working something similar. It was my good fortune, if you would call it that, to work a truly diverse array of cases. The only kind of UC that I did not work was outlaw bikers - which is fine, that was not for me.

trite_username7 karma

What was the most interesting thing you have seen in all of your years?

MarcRuskin26 karma

There was never anything Not Interesting about working as a UC. In a nutshell, being exposed to the inner working of so many worlds, from Wall Street to the Mean Streets was always fascinating.

hurrayinfamy6 karma

Ni hao! Your thoughts on Mueller? (Sorry if this has already been asked. At work and trying to be sneaky on Reddit.)

MarcRuskin21 karma

Mueller was the only Director I ever met personally -- He personally interviewed all agents who were being assigned overseas. He was personable and not at all arrogant. And he kept the Bu out of politics, unlike another Director of recent fame...

lcrowso25 karma

First off, thank you for your service! I truly appreciate the work you do for this country. After all of the time you spent in law enforcement and undercover work, what are your feelings regarding the war on drugs? Do you feel that it is beneficial for our country? Do you feel that it is beneficial to the world in general? Thank you for providing such an interesting AMA!

MarcRuskin13 karma

You are very welcome. The war on drugs raises thorny issues indeed, on the one hand there is elimination of the profit motive for dealers. And on the other hand, the terrible effects that the use of drugs such as heroin and cocaine have on individuals and the culture at large. No quick answers, I am afraid.

CallMeBaitlyn3 karma

So, this is multiparts parts. 1) Have you met Donnie Brasco/Joe Pistone. Did he influence you in anyway.

2) What the most gruesome shit you've seen by the mob to date?

3) What happens to Jimmy Hoffa it's about time we know, or what's your theory anyway

PS, out of all the big bosses who did you want to take down the most.

Sorry for the questions, I've always had an obsession with the mafia.

With these right-wing terrorists, are we talking KKK, AB, or people like Kaczynski?

MarcRuskin11 karma

Joe Pistone is an icon among FBI UCs - all UCs, really. Very much admired and respected. I read Donnie Brasco when I started to work as a UC, as a textbook. The Bu had no school for UCs at the time, so it was all OJT. Later, he was involved in a few of my early cases, in a capacity that I can't talk or write about. It was for me an honor and a privilege. He wrote an Editorial Review for my book, which appears at the Amazon site, for which I am very, very grateful.

Legal_Fiction2 karma

What was the lawyer-to-agent transition like?

MarcRuskin5 karma

Not easy. When I arrived in San Juan, the Macheteros were in full swing (an unintended bad pun) in their war for independence, and FBI agents were considered "combatants." I hadn't signed on to be a combatant, and did not want to get killed in a fight that did not concern me (not at the time). I knew nothing about the terrorists, and ignorance really does breed fear. I was able to face my fears, and overcome them, and that's when I became an agent.

gapingroast-3 karma

Will you be infiltrating left wing extremist groups like Antifa as well some time in the future ? And what were your discoveries from the right wing groups?

MarcRuskin11 karma

How much they had in common with the extremist on the other end of the spectrum. Total disregard for human life - an inability to listen to competing views - no compassion. And often, cowards at heart.