I am going to couch this in a way that I hope removes the background political debate, as I would like to bring focus to an anomaly that may be part of the very out of character FCC warnings to not misuse ham radio.
High Government folk occasionally bring Ham Licenses with them as they rise in the public ranks. This seems to be also the case in the technical side of public service (three letter agencies and the like) when people rise in responsibilities.
It seems rather rare though when someone established in the high position earns their first call sign.
When they are rarely or not at all heard on the air, yet have purchased gear, is it a case of good intentions meeting a busy schedule, or something else all together?
Again setting aside the political goings on that seem to have overtaken the ham radio discussion, why would middle aged senior government types take up a hobby, buy equipment, and yet not seem to participate after their investment of time and money?
Switching to my very dusty investigator’s hat, it would seem that adding the capabilities meant something to them differing from the usual ham radio motivators. It isn’t like they decided to start youth elmering (mentoring), or wanted to do ARES/RACES Emcom stuff (they are high enough to have “big boy” EmGov resources available to them).
And it is not just to listen, as that they could have done without leaving the puzzling licensing trail.
Simply the facts we know:
- Some well placed folk earned ham calls, ranging from Tech to Amateur Extra
- Some acquired equipment
- They haven’t participated in other ham activities
- They have other communicating capabilities ranging up to secure phones and satellite stuff in their lives
- Some had VHF HTs but again nobody remembers them on the air
- They haven’t revealed why they tested and earned licenses or declared any level of personal interest in ham radio
- As they have been caught up in investigations, some of the other parties who share the same rare high government positioning also have ham licenses
Certainly you will draw conclusions that parallel mine – the licenses and radios had another purpose.
It is pretty doubtful that a couple of hams would talk details by insecure amateur radio (in the clear) where their conversation could be overheard.
More likely the radios were a way to signal that a dead drop (see https://infogalactic.com/info/Dead_drop ) was loaded ready to pick up, or that the material had been collected, or to perhaps to call a meeting. The conversation originator would need to transmit, and likely the respondent would transmit to acknowledge. The actual transmissions could be anything from simply keying the radios up to some sort of exchange, but unlikely would have any reference to the actual subject matter.
You can do a deeper dive into “tradecraft” https://infogalactic.com/info/Tradecraft but without some additional information what was happening is speculation. Any way you look at it spending time to get a license and acquiring equipment for our hobby is nothing impulsive. A person could buy a pickleball racket and shoes on the hope that they might take up the sport, but studying, testing and reaching out to ham vendors shows a different level of motivation.
Is the circumstantial evidence of ham radio being used for tradecraft part of why the FFC suddenly verbally spanked the ham community? Do they have intercepts suggesting something more?
At the time most of us thought it was more about the various street protesters and Marxist Agitators burning some of our cities, both openly carrying cheap Chinese HTs – the HTs that are known to allow reprograming which ahs been indicated could include encryption and frequencies both outside of ham radio hobby usage.
And were the on-air ranters blathering about things political on HF a factor?
Or quietly was it learning that ham radio was being used as a back-channel for basically operations coordination by questionable actors the real cause?
The answer likely has a big red classified stamp on it, locked in safe somewhere.
Makes for interesting stories and speculations though!