When Plan A didn’t work out, he created a website: peoplesintelligenceagency.com. Richie didn’t object to all the spying. He thought it was cool, but none of the official agencies would hire him. So, he started his own.
The first step was crowd sourcing. On Kickstarter, Richie ran a campaign to raise money to recruit private spies. It was very patriotic. He used lots of red, white and blue and flags in the images. He even did a video, in which he intoned solemnly: “It’s a dangerous world. For our safety, for the safety of our children, and for the future—if there is to be one—we all must be watched. Our government cannot do it alone. We need to do this together, all of us.”
In three weeks, Richie had $750,000.
For his spies, Richie hired obsessive young people like himself. Charlie was a tea partier who wanted to do more than chant slogans and wear funny hats. Irene was a quietly ambitious nerd, always overlooked, frustrated. They would be intelligence officers, recruiting volunteers and directing activities.
But Richie would be handing out assignments and control the whole operation. For him, this was big. Of course, online media treated the PIA as a humorous feature story and it disappeared from public consciousness in a week. Being forgotten was good for the PIA.
With Charlie and Irene working feverishly in the field, activity started up on the website, especially in the sections Overheard and Seen. Audio and video was posted of garbled and shadowy figures, mostly entering and exiting large public buildings. The sounds and images were fascinating and perplexing and unidentifiable.
Then the equipment came in: better cameras and microphones. Computers and software to clean up the images and audio.
Clearer images of unfamiliar people were posted. Snippets of conversation could be understood now. Were these terrorists, plotting attacks, operating brazenly right here on American soil?
People started watching, talking, trying to understand, especially when the site started live streaming of its intelligence gathering. There were spies overseas, too. Soon, there were dozens of live cams, seemingly everywhere, broadcasting even the most intimate moments of hundreds of people.
Finally, with HD video and superior digital audio. The identities of these people became clear: intelligence agents and high level spy agency officials—at work, at home, going to the bathroom, having sex, discussing operations. Richie didn’t get the job, but he got revenge.